UKOUG Tech18 : Day 3

The first session of the day for me was Alex Nuijten with “and from the chaos comes the perfect APEX application”. This session was focused on the organisation and structure of APEX applications. You could describe it as #SmartDB or #HardShell I guess. The emphasis was on a functional API layer, with APEX used as a skin over that API layer. I share this opinion, but Alex takes it further than me, and in a more structured manner. He was having some problems with the screen blinking, but he’s a pro and took it in his stride. 🙂

Next up was Amy Simpson-Grange with “Robotic Process Automation”. This was Amy’s first technical presentation, but you would never know it. There were some problems with the screen at the start of the session, and I’m sure she was freaking out inside, but she shrugged it off and did a great job switching between laptops. I’ve not really been involved in this type of automation before, so it was a learning experience for me, with a few light-bulb moments along the way. The content was great and the delivery was so relaxed and natural. I really hope she keeps on doing tech conferences in future!

After that I followed some of the analytic folks into a session by Abi Giles-Haigh called, “Open Source & Oracle Complementing not Competing”, which was focused on the AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning space. I freely admit to being clueless about this area, and Brendan seemed surprised to see me there. 🙂 I was kind-of expecting to be totally lost, but Abi did a good job of making it noob-friendly for me, as well as giving the pros something to bicker over. 🙂

Continuing the theme of watching stuff I knew nothing about, I went to Lonneke Dikmans presenting an “Introduction to Blockchain for Developers”. Over the years I’ve gained my first insights into the worlds of SOA, microservices and then serverless from Lonneke, and here I am learning about blockchain at one of her sessions. I wonder what next year will bring. 🙂

Next up in the same room was Roel Hartman with “Docker for Database Developers”. I’ve seen a number of Docker presentations for DBAs and developers, including my own, and they all bring something different to the table that make you think. I guess so much depends on your area of interest and the use cases you have in mind, as that will direct your attention. A hardcore DBA will see things differently to a developer, and a generalist like me will probably sit somewhere between the two. 🙂 It’s good to see things from a few angles, as it gives you a more rounded perspective.

From there I tagged along with Dawn and met up with a few folks at a local hotel bar for a quick drink before heading off to get the train home. I got a table on the train, but disappointingly there was no wifi, so I had to write this blog post in a text editor, to post later. 🙂

Me looking pretty in Machu Picchu, Peru, wearing a Chile hat. Photo taken by Debra Lilley a few minutes before I was hospitalised. 🙂

So that’s the last conference of the year for me! Thanks to everyone at UKOUG for making the event happen and inviting me to speak. Thanks to the attendees and speakers who came along and made the event what it is. Thanks also to all last year’s attendees who filled in the speaker evaluations, that resulted in me getting the “Prettiest Speaker Ever” award this year! To this year’s attendees, please fill out the evaluations. It gives UKOUG feedback that helps with speaker selection in future, and it’s a nice pat on the back for the speakers if they get a prize. Finally, thanks to the Oracle ACE Program and the Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassadors for letting me continue to fly the flag.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Previous posts in this series.

UKOUG Tech18 : Day 2

Day 2 started at 07:00. I hadn’t slept that great, so when the alarm went off I was thinking it would have been nice to stay in bed a little longer…

I got to the conference venue at about 08:00 and went straight to the “Women in IT – What has Changed?” session. Debra Lilley introduced the session and the speakers, then it was on to Daya Haines Haddock and Amy Simpson-Grange telling their stories and speaking about their experiences and inspiration. Both were super-positive people and really inspirational. It was great to hear Amy is involved at the grass roots level at schools and colleges, spreading positive messages, letting people know they can be themselves and still succeed. The overriding message of the session was “Be brave. Be yourself. Take on challenges!” A good lesson for everyone.

I kind-of got lost for a while, chatting and catching up on the blog.

The next session I went to see was “Identifying Performance Problems in a Multitenant Environment” by Christian Antognini. It’s good to hear his thoughts on his approach and he pointed out a couple of things I had missed in the docs, so I’ve got them on my list to check out. 🙂

Pretty soon it was time for my session called DBA Does Docker. It’s a real struggle to get this done in 45 minutes and I failed again. 🙂 Nobody was following on from me, so I didn’t ruin the next speakers life. I hope people found it useful.

I spent some time chatting to Pete Finnigan about life, the universe and everything. That was followed by his session called “User Rights & Least Privilege”. I would like to say my systems don’t suffer from loads of the stuff he mentioned, but… It’s always good to go to Pete’s sessions and remind myself I need to try harder…

After that it was Jeff Smith with “Oracle SQL Developer – Everything you Need to know About Tuning”. Not surprisingly, this was a tour of the features available in SQL Developer that relate to performance tuning. There’s a lot in there these days! 🙂

After Jeff’s session I bumped into Amy Simpson-Grange and had a total fanboy moment over her talk in the morning.

I went to my hotel to drop off my bag, then went back to the venue for the social event. Carbs! I chatted to a bunch of people, who kind-of provided counselling for me. Thanks folks! Then it was back to the hotel to crash.

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG Tech18 : Day 1

Day 1 started at 05:00. Normally I start trips with a 30 minute taxi ride to the airport, leaving about 2.5 hours before the flight. Today I left the house 30 minutes before my train was due to depart. Not needing that 2 hour buffer makes a big difference.

I had upgraded to first class, a whopping £10 extra, to get a set with a table and wifi. The wifi was a little slow and it restricted a whole bunch of sites, but I was still able to do some stuff. I got an Uber from the station to the venue. The driver was playing The Prodigy and Nirvana. Awesome.

On exiting the taxi I tweaked my back. I tried to put my coat into my case and noticed it was locked, and I couldn’t remember the combination. What a surprise. I’m at a conference and things are going wrong… 🙂

The first session of the day for me was “Using Vagrant to Build, Test & Debug Ansible Scripts Easily” by Martin Bach. Followers of the blog know I’m a meddler with Vagrant and I’m an Ansible wannabe.  Martin was extolling the virtues of reliable and repeatable builds, which I’m all for. 🙂

Next up was the keynote, which started with Martin Widlake doing the introduction to the event, and announcing the speaker awards based on last years evaluations.

Big shout out to all the winners in all the categories.

This year I picked up my third UKOUG speaker award, which means you are given the “Lifetime Achievement Award” and you are not included in “the race” in future years. I join an illustrious list of people who’ve been told to “get out and don’t come back!” 🙂

Later on I had to pick up my award and get a photo opportunity. Thanks to everyone who filled in the speaker evaluations last year. It always surprises me when this type of thing happens, especially when I think how far I’ve come over the last 10 years of presenting. I still consider myself a “nervous speaker” and I watch other people present and think I’ve still got a lot to learn about presenting.

Next up was the “Exadata – Roundtable Discussion with Development” hosted by Gurmeet Goindi. I don’t work on Exadata, but I like to keep my ear to the ground, and get invited to a meetup later of course. 🙂

After that I got lost in a whole bunch of conversations with a variety of people. I could lose a day doing this.

The next session I went to was “How Autonomous is the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse?” by Christian Antognini and Dani Schnider. I have to admit I was a little distracted during this talk because I was logged into work looking at some stuff. I spoke to Christian later to fill in the gaps a little.

From there I went to a panel session about the ACE program. Unfortunately it had been put in the wrong track, in a room the other side of the building, and up against a load of really good speakers who were going to soak up the audience (Maria). The audience was compact and bijou. 🙂

From there I went back to the hotel to drop off my stuff, then it was off for a brief visit to the Exadata meetup, followed by the ACE dinner.

Looking back it was a really random day, but I got to speak to a lot of people, which is the best thing about conferences for me. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG Tech18 : See you there!

Next week is UKOUG Tech 18. It’s going to be an unusual event for me for a couple of reasons.

First up, I’m going to be in Liverpool from Mon-Wed. I can’t go on Sunday as it’s nephew #1’s birthday, but this is the first time I will be at the event for this long. Depending on who else from the company goes, I might have to work (from the hotel) on one of the days, but…

Next, it’s a pretty quiet conference for me, as I only submitted one presentation, but I’ve just been invited to a panel, so I can pretend I’ve got two sessions. 🙂

Title : Understanding the ACE Program & it’s Value
Time & Place : Room 20-21, Monday 3rd December 5:10 PM – 5:55 PM
Abstract :
Have you ever wondered what the ACE Program is about? What does it mean to those who are part of it and what is it’s value to Oracle? Have you wondered about being part of it? Come along to this session and we will answer your questions.

Title : DBA Does Docker
Time & Place : Database 2 – 1C, Tuesday 4th December 2:25 PM – 3:10 PM
Abstract : here

This will be my last event for the year, so I’m hoping it goes OK. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2018 : The Journey Home

It was a 03:00 start, which is never a good thing. I got down to reception to meet my fellow travellers and we started on our trip to the airport. As we walked out of the hotel we were greeted by a lite scattering of snow. It was clearly visible on some of the mountains the day before, but it was quite a surprise to see it here, especially as I left my balcony door open for the whole of my stay…

The drive to the airport was quick, as there was very little traffic. The baggage drop and check-in queue for Lufthansa was pretty large, but fortunately I had checked in online and I was hang-luggage only, so I walked straight to, and through, security. That left me with over an hour before the flight.

The flight from Sofia to Frankfurt was pretty easy. I had an empty seat next to me, so I got the laptop out and started to write two presentations I’ve got to give at work.

I was expecting the layover in Frankfurt to be about 70 minutes, but it turned out is was nearly 5 hours, because I didn’t read the itinerary properly, so I logged into work and cleared down all the crap that collected during the two days I was away.

The flight from Frankfurt to Birmingham was about and hour and went pretty smoothly. Once again I had an empty seat next to me, so happy days!

Getting through security was pretty quick, then I was in the bounciest taxi ride ever to get home, and that is was my last international conference of the year complete.

As followers of the blog will know, this year has been problematic for me from a conference perspective. It’s especially disappointing when my travelling curse hits my favourite conference of the year.

Thanks to everyone from BGOUG for letting me come for the 8th time. Thanks to the people who came to my sessions. The turnout was great, and it certainly lifted my spirits! Sorry I wasn’t able to get more involved on the first day, but at least everything went well on the second day. See you again soon!

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Here are the other posts from this trip.

 

Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2018 : Day 2

I woke up feeling a little dodgy, but much better than the day before. I even got down to breakfast.

The first session of the day for me was “Oracle Database infrastructure as code with Ansible” by Ilmar Kerm. I’m pretty early on in my Ansible journey, so it’s good to see what other people are doing with it. I had a long conversation with Ilmar after the session, and was joined by Oren Nakdimon, which meant we missed the next block of talks.

Next up I went to see “So, my query plan says ‘Table Access Full’ – what happens next?” by Roger Macnicol. There was some stuff I knew, some stuff I’d written about and forgotten, and some stuff I will pretend I always knew, even though secretly I didn’t. 🙂

After lunch I went to see “Upgrade to Oracle Database 18c: Live and Uncensored!” by  Roy Swonger. In addition to speaking about the options to upgrade to 18c, he also covered some 19c stuff, and did a live demo of upgrading from 11.2 to 18.3. Funnily enough, this is exactly what I’ll be doing on Monday for one of my systems. 🙂 I spent the whole of the next block speaking to Roy about a bunch of different things, including upgrades of course. 🙂

From there I went to see “Oracle Exadata – Laying the foundation for Autonomous Database” by Gurmeet Goindi, which was a run through of Exadata and In-Memory features, amongst other things, and how they have been used as a platform for the autonomous database cloud service to be built on.

From there it was on to a panel session where we were discussing our opinions on Autonomous Systems. I think this was a funny session, and I feel like I was doing a sales pitch for autonomous databases at some point. 🙂 I think the word autonomous is a big sticking point in heads of some of the audience. I don’t really care what it is called. I care more about what it can do.

From there we went to get some food, but I has to duck out quite early because tomorrow is a 03:00 start again for me. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for all the folks at BGOUG for inviting me again. This was my 8th visit to the conference. I wish I hadn’t been unwell at the start, but it was good that I managed to get involved today!

See you all again soon!

Cheers

Tim…

Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk #7

Yesterday I went to Birmingham City University (BCU) to do a talk on “Graduate Employability” to a bunch of second year undergraduate IT students. I’ve done this a few times at BCU, and also at UKOUG for a session directed at students.

The session is what originally inspired the my series of blog posts called What Employers Want.

I’ve mentioned before, these sessions are a little different to your typical conference sessions. Perhaps you should try reaching out to a local college or university to see if they need some guest speakers, and try something outside your comfort zone.

Thanks to Jagdev Bhogal and BCU for inviting me again. See you again soon.

Cheers

Tim…

Becoming an Oracle ACE

I got asked about this a few times at OpenWorld 2018, so I figured it was about time to visit this subject… Again…

I’m not saying becoming an ACE should be your motivation for contributing to the community, but it is for some people, and who am I to judge. 🙂

Remember, this is just my opinion! Someone from the ACE program might jump in and tell me I’m wrong. 🙂

What do I have to do to become an ACE?

It’s explained here, and if you follow the links. In the past it used to be a bit more “fluid”, but there are still a lot of different types of things that can count towards your “community contributions” with various weightings, but most of the points come from technical content creation and presenting.

If you follow the links provided you can fill in the score card and see if what you currently do adds up to a “reasonable” number of points. I’m not sure if they tell you how many point you need up front, and I’m not going to talk about specifics, but you may be unpleasantly surprised by how few points some contributions get.

Does Oracle User Group work count?

The program was born out of online content. The old timers reading this will remember a time when any user group work, like being on the board, organising conferences and conference volunteering counted for zero. It was not considered as part of your contribution where the ACE program was concerned. Later on it was given a little credit. Now, if you do everything possible with regards to a user group, you can get about half way to qualifying for the ACE program without producing any content. That still means you have to pick up about half of the points from presenting and producing technical content. User group work alone will not get you there.

There are a lot of people who do loads of work for their local user groups. In addition, some write lots of blog posts to promote events. Some are super active on social media to promote events. No matter how much of that you do, from what I can see you qualify for *about* half the points needed to become an ACE. Assuming my calculations are correct, that’s really important, because there are probably some people that think they should be an ACE, and believe they more than qualify, but in fact don’t. You can question the *current judging criteria*, but as it stands, that’s the way it is.

I happen to think this is correct because it’s relatively easy to reach a very wide audience with technical content. In comparison most user groups have a very limited audience. They both have value, but from a “product evangelism” perspective, I think the focus on reach makes sense. Once again, just my opinion. 🙂

Does Twitter (and other social media) count?

No, not really. Technically it does, as you can get 5 points for being super-on-message with your tweets all year. I don’t even attempt to count and submit tweets, because what’s the point? I can get the same amount of points for one technical post. 🙂

If you are using social media to push out your own original content, that’s great. You will get credit for your original content, not the social media posts linking to it. If you are just being “active” on social media, or tweeting out other people’s content, you are not doing something that will earn a lot of points. You are providing a service by introducing people to content they might otherwise have missed, but you will not get a lot of points for it, which means you will not qualify for the ACE program.

Going back to the previous point, it’s mostly about creating original technical content, not curating other people’s content. Some people will feel like they are super active and will feel hard done by if they are not included in the program, but on the *current judging criteria* they should not be included.

What should I spend my time on then?

In my opinion, your time would be best spent on the creation of original technical content.

  • Technical blog posts and articles. Notice the word technical. Blogging random crap doesn’t count, which is why most of my blog posts don’t go on to my score card. 🙂
  • Presenting at conferences and meetups.
  • Videos, webinars and podcasts, but the rules for inclusion mean if you do the 2-3 minute technical videos on YouTube, like I used to, they are not going to count, unless you batch them together into playlists and submit as a single video.
  • Technical books. They get a lot of points, but take a crazy amount of time.

As mentioned, you will get points for other things too, but they are either inefficient, or will not get you “all the way”. 🙂

You get more points for content related to Oracle Cloud. When this was introduced the points difference between regular and Oracle Cloud content was significant and people freaked out. The difference is much smaller now and I don’t think it’s significant. You should be able to make the points easily without doing any cloud content.

But I don’t want to do that!

That’s cool. Do whatever you feel comfortable with, even if that’s nothing. Being an Oracle ACE is not a certification of greatness or a badge of approval. If you love doing this stuff, you get nominated and become an ACE that’s great. If you don’t enjoy creating technical content or presenting, it doesn’t mean you are worse than those that do. Do what you want to do!

I am awesome, but I don’t write/present much!

Remember, this is not a certification. It’s not a measure of how good you are. On countless occasions I’ve read people bleating on about how person X should be an Oracle ACE because they are great, even though they do almost nothing that qualifies for inclusion. It’s about community contribution. If you are great, but you are not out there, you shouldn’t be part of the program.

If you only write a handful of posts a year, even if they are great, you shouldn’t be part of the program because you are not meeting the criteria.

There are a specific set of criteria for entry to, and continued participation in the program. Do you live up to them? If yes, you should be part of it. If not, you shouldn’t.

That’s not to say you have to agree with the *current judging criteria*, but they exist. That is how your contribution is judged.

Conclusion

Don’t project onto the program what you want it to be. It is what it is.

Check out the criteria, rather than making up what you think the criteria should be. They do change over time.

Don’t listen to other people’s interpretation of what counts, even mine. 🙂

Related Posts

As I mentioned at the start of the post, I’ve written about the ACE program a lot over the years, and covered some of these points also. I’ve listed a few of those posts below.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. If I’m factually incorrect, I will gladly make corrections. Differences of opinion may be a little harder to sway me on. 🙂

Oracle OpenWorld and Code One 2018 : Oracle ACE Director Briefing (and 18c XE)

I woke up at 02:00. I tried to got back to sleep, but by a little after 03:00 I gave up and got out of bed. I hit the gym for a while, but felt pretty dreadful.

I mentioned yesterday, I had helped some people with setting up Oracle Cloud. Since I was awake I grabbed some screen shots and wrote a couple of small posts so I could forward them to one of the folks, so they could remember what we did. These along with a couple of other posts I released a few days ago pretty much show how we set up a demo environment in a few minutes..

Pretty soon it was time to go down to the Oracle ACE Director Briefing…

Like yesterday, the meeting was covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), so there isn’t really anything I can say about it, but during the briefing we were told Oracle Database 18c Express Edition (XE) had been released for download. I had previously done an 18c RPM installation on Vagrant, so it was pretty simple to modify it to do the XE installation in a similar way and leave it going while I was watching the sessions. Yay! Go automation! 🙂

I did my thing of not eating again, so I could stay awake during the meeting. By the end of the last session I felt pretty hungry, so I picked up a bag of cheese flavoured popcorn and downed that before heading to Chipotle (again). I think I’m done with Chipotle now. My vegetarian burrito had a huge chunk of meat in it, which I bit into and spat out. If it had been at the start of I would have demanded a new one, but as I had nearly finished I just walked up to the counter and said, “This is a vegetarian burrito and that is meat. Sort yourself out!”, then left in a bad mood.

I got back to the hotel and had about an hour before 19:00, when I was meant to go and meet people at some place about a block down the road. I made the fatal mistake of lying on the bed to watch TV for a bit, and waking up at 04:00 the next day. Sorry folks! 🙁 The fact I slept for about 10 hours, which is extremely rare for me, kind-of shows you were I was at by this point. 🙂

So that’s the first two days of briefings done. Tomorrow (today by the time you read this) is a “day off”, but I do have an event in the middle of the day and a dinner in the evening. I’ve also got to go through my three (and a bit) talks, because once the conference starts, there’s no telling when I will get time…

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I was forced to “disappear” Maria Colgan from the family because she came into the room and didn’t come immediately to say hello to me. If she is really good, and I don’t replace her with someone else, she may be allowed back into the family at some point in the future… 🙂