The Eternal Newbie

It’s been over a decade since I first heard Tom Kyte talking about Project Marvel, which eventually became Application Express (APEX). Since then I’ve “used” just about every version of APEX. I use the term “used” very loosely, because I typically use APEX for a few days to get a job done, then never touch it again for months. By the time I come back, I pretty much have to start the learning process from the beginning again.

This is a perfect example of the “Eternal Newbie”. I could quite legitimately put 10+ years experience of APEX (including previous names) on my CV and it wouldn’t be a lie, but in reality I’m only about as good as any PL/SQL developer that’s been playing with APEX for a week.

It’s not that APEX is difficult, quite the contrary, but the process of getting good at anything takes time and repetition. You’ve probably heard the variations on “10,000 hours to become an expert” saying. It doesn’t matter that it’s not true or accurate. What matters is it highlights the need for time, repetition and constantly striving to improve. A little plodding once in a while does not count for experience in my book.

As an example of this, on Friday I was trying to get something to work with a Shuttle control in APEX 5.0.2. I found a couple of great examples on Dmitri‘s and Denes blogs, which (I thought) got me 90% of the way to what I wanted to achieve, but the last 10% took me half of Friday, then the whole of Saturday evening. If I was actually any good at this stuff it would have probably taken me 2 mins. What’s more, if I was good, I would have probably realised Dmitri and Denes’ examples actually got me to 99.9% of what I was trying to achieve, but my inexperience meant I kept shooting myself in the foot. After all that time playing and reading, I felt like a master of Shuttle controls in APEX, but if I don’t look at APEX for a week I’m going to be totally screwed. I have some knowledge now, but it will take repetition to make it stick, and based on past experience, that’s not going to happen. :)

I did a video a few months ago about the term “Senior” in relation to IT jobs. My recent fumblings with APEX made me think about this subject again.

With my 10+ years of APEX experience, I’m obviously a “Senior APEX Developer”. Just remind me, how do I alter a breadcrumb? :)

Cheers

Tim…

APEX 5.0.2 : Let’s get patching!


APEX 5.0.2 was released just before OOW15. Today is my first day back to work, so I’ve started to patch some stuff. We were already on APEX 5.0.1 across the board, so we didn’t need to do any full installations, just patches.

SO far, so good. No problems in any Dev or Test databases. I expect a pretty quick roll-out across the board.

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : It’s a Wrap

I’m back home from Oracle OpenWorld 2015. My overall feeling for this year was evolution, not revolution. We got newer versions of some products, like APEX, WebLogic, SOA Suite and Oracle Forms, just before the conference. We got previews of new versions of products, like Oracle Database 12cR2 during the conference, which we might get next year.

Of course, there was a heavy emphasis on cloud, but the difference between this year and previous years was some of the product are now generally available (GA), so it’s possible to trial or buy them. In previous years, you could only use some of the cloud products if you were “special”.

Not surprisingly, Oracle are trying to ease the migration from on premise to cloud with hybrid options, like their private cloud offering. I expect this is pretty much the way OpenWorld will be for the next few years until the cloud vision is complete, or something else comes along.

Many thanks to the Oracle ACE Program for getting me across to San Francisco again. Thanks for the invites to the EMEA group presentation and the Oracle SQL Panel session. Both were good fun. Also, a big thanks to everyone who took the time to speak with me during the week. It is this aspect of any conference that I enjoy the most.

Here is a list of posts during the trip.

Cheers

Tim…

Update: You can see a random video of some footage from OOW15 here.

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : The Journey Home

I was awake at 04:30, about 15 minutes before my alarm and wake-up call. That reduced the levels of panic normally associated with such an early start. I dropped off my key-card with the guy on the hotel check-out and got into the waiting car and off I went.

I think this was the first time I’ve ever left San Francisco via the domestic terminal. Getting the bags checked in and doing security was pretty straight forward, so I sat down with about 90 minutes spare before the flight.

The flight to Newark was event free, but the guy on the arrival gate at Newark was a complete dick. As we walked through, he said, “Welcome to Boston”, which I can only assume was meant to be a joke. Yeah. Great joke. Idiot!

When I originally booked the flight I had a choice of a 1, 2 or 3 hour layover. Having had a couple of bad experiences at Newark before, I opted for the 3 hour layover. As it turned out, our arrival gate was right next door to the departure gate, so I found myself wishing I had picked the 1 hour layover. Of course, the later planes may not have been so conveniently located, so better safe than sorry.

The flight time from Newark to Birmingham was mercifully short. So short in fact we had to wait for a gate to become free to disembark on the Birmingham end.

After a quick taxi ride, I was home…

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : Thursday

Thursday is always an odd day at OpenWorld. The exhibition hall and demo grounds are closed, people start to drift off during the morning and some people party too hard the evening before. :)

Moscone South was really quiet, but there were still enough people to distract me from going to sessions. :) I headed off to get lunch with Martin Klier and John Kelly, which was good fun. I also spent a long time talking with Zahid Anwar, before meeting up with Heli and heading back to the hotel.

It was a short day, but it marked the end of OOW15 for me. I’ve got a very early start tomorrow for the journey home…

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : Wednesday

Wednesday started early. I was invited over to breakfast with the Dbvisit crew, which was a great start to the day. I met Arjen years ago and the Dbvisit team have continued to be good people ever since. It’s always good when I get to meet up with them!

After breakfast I headed over to the OTN Lounge and just parked there for a big chunk of the day. Having the lounge in the main concourse of Moscone South is great as there is a constant flow of people to meet, but it does mean that someone like me who likes to chat will get stuck there for hours. :) Every time I meant to leave, someone interesting would come along. As a result I missed all the sessions I was meant to go to. :)

At about 16:00 I walked over to the “Optimizing SQL for Performance and Maintainability” session. The panel was made up of Mohamed Zait, John Clarke, Connor Mcdonald and me, with Gerard Laker keeping the show running. The quality of the other panelists and the fact I was the only non-Oracle person made it a little daunting. Looking out on the audience didn’t help much either, as there was a who’s who of people you really don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of. :) I think collectively, we handled the questions pretty well, but I left the hard ones to the clever people. :) I like to think I represented the average-Joe DBA/Developer. Connor and I hung around for a while after the session to continue answering questions.

From there, it was across to the Bloggers Meetup, which was a great opportunity to hook up with all the people I had not already seen during the week so far. I got to have a good chat with Robyn Sands, who said some nice things about my comments during the panel session, which was a relief. Not surprisingly, I also got to film a few more “.com” clips. :)

As people started to leave for the Appreciation Event, I planned to head back to the hotel to crash, but I was easily persuaded to go for a curry with Jeff Smith, Scott Spendolini, Mike Hichwa, Kris Rice, Colm Divilly and Todd Trichler.

After that, it was back to the hotel to reflect on another rather random, but enjoyable, day…

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : Tuesday

The day started in the normal way, with a quick blog post about the previous day and a visit to the gym.

The original plan for the day was to hit the demo grounds again. I popped into OakTable World for the quick chat with a few folks and ended up staying for quite while. I watched some of the Ted-style talks, specifically Tim Gorman, Jonathan Lewis and Martin Klier. I then got chatting to some folks outside, before heading back in to see Gwen Shapira do a session on Kafka.

Whilst I was there I got to film a few “.com” clips for my videos, with funniest setup being Tanel Poder. He saw me filming some other folks and just launched in, not knowing what was going on and struck a pose. It took a bit of prompting before he realised he had to say something. You’ve got to love the enthusiasm. :)

GrahamWoodI got to admire Connor’s t-shirt and most importantly, I got to meet up with my dad!

From there I headed off to the demo grounds, where I inevitably ended up at the SQL Developer stand, speaking to Kris Rice and who turns up but Connor McDonald. :)

From the demo grounds I went to grab some food with Connor, then I headed back to the hotel to crash out.

It was a good day, which goes to prove my point, you’ve just got to go with the flow when you are at OOW. Plans are good, but don’t worry if they don’t work out.

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : Monday

Monday started with a trip to the gym, where I met Scott Spendolini. At the end on the session, we were sitting on bikes next to each other chatting, whilst peddling at an incredibly slow rate. After getting cleaned up, we headed over to Lori’s Diner and ate more calories than be burned at the gym. :)

From there we headed down to the conference. I spent some time chatting to folks at the OTN Lounge, where I met one of my former colleagues Ian MacDonald. He had just come out of an Oracle Forms 12c session and I had a bunch of questions to ask also, so we headed down to the demo grounds to find the Oracle Forms stand, where then spent ages talking to Michael Ferrante about life, the universe and everything Forms related. :)

As I mentioned the other day, the installation and configuration of Forms and Reports has changed in 12c. During my first run through I noticed the Web Tier that links everything together was present in the domain, but not configured during the process. I was curious if I had done something wrong, if it was expected behaviour or if it was an implied statement of direction. I guess the web tier is surplus to requirements for many people if they are fronting their infrastructure with a reverse proxy or a load balancer. It turned out to be expected behaviour, and we discussed the configuration of the web tier, which is very simple. Just amend a couple of files and copy them to the “moduleconf” directory under the OHS instance. Happy days.

We also got a demo of the installation of the Forms Builder on Windows, which no longer needs a WebLogic installation, making it a much smaller footprint for developer machines. Our developers still use Forms 10g Builder. We then take the finished forms, move them to the server and recompile to 11gR2. It’s a pain, but simpler than putting Forms Builder 11gR2 on their PCs. If we can move to 12c Forms, they should be able to use the latest builder again. :)

From there I moved on to the SQL Developer demo stand, where I got to speak to Kris Rice and Jeff Smith, who are always good value. While I was there Jagjeet Singh, Sanjay Kumar and Baljeet Bhasin came up to say hello to me, which was really nice. Of course, I filmed them doing a group “.com”… :)

After that it I did a tour of the exhibition stands looking for things of interest. I used the GoPro to film a walk around some of the exhibition. I’ll see if I can make a little montage out of that…

Next, I went back to the OTN Lounge and spoke to a whole bunch of people, and filmed a load of “.com” cameos for forthcoming YouTube videos. :)

Then it was the weary walk back to the hotel, where I crashed for the night.

I think tomorrow may well be another demo grounds day…

Cheers

Tim…

 

 

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : User Group Sunday

My wake up times are getting gradually later and later. That’s a good thing for now, but will make the journey home harder. :)

The day started with a bit of work on those articles I mentioned yesterday, with the inevitable trip to Lori’s Diner for breakfast of course.

I headed off to the gym, which felt super-hard. I’m trying to get some cardio in every day, in addition to the weights. I enjoy lifting weights, but if you are fat it just makes you look bigger, so in clothes you look even fatter. I despise cardio, but it is a necessary evil. I’ve been pretty good on the exercise front since I’ve been away. Not so good on the eating front though… :)

During the day we had the EMEA User Group Community session called “More Than Another 12 on Oracle Database 12c”. I was one of the 16 speakers, which included:

We each got 7 minutes for our particular topic and a buzzer went off when your time was up, so there was no over-running. :) Some were much quicker than others, but that’s all good. We had a 2 hour block and we finished at about 1 hour and 45 minutes, so we I think we did pretty well.

I really like this format. If there is a topic you are not into, you are only 7 minutes away from the next speaker. It also forces you to be extremely specific and direct your talk. You can get a lot done in 7 minutes if you need to. I’ve uploaded a video of my section of the talk.

I hope the audience enjoyed it as much as the speakers. Please send your feedback, so we know if we should do this sort of thing again next year…

After the session, I chatted to a few people, including Gilbert Standen. You may have seen me tweet about some of the Oracle RAC on Ubuntu stuff he does. It’s pretty interesting and far more geeky than the stuff I do. :) He gave me a t-shirt and swag, which I’ll hopefully remember to wear at my session on Wednesday. :)

After chatting to a few folks, I hooked up with Jonathan Lewis and we went off to Ghirardelli to eat ice cream and chat about the stuff that had happened so far this year at San Francisco. I didn’t realise he was an ice cream fiend. :)

After that, we headed back to the OTN lounge for the group photo, but found we were too late, so when you are looking at it, imagine were are there too. :) Then it was back to the hotel to dump our stuff before heading to the Oracle ACE dinner.

This years ACE dinner was really nice, although semi-clad dancing girls, contortionists and silks performers were conspicuous by their absence. :) Jokes aside, what made it nice was it was great for mingling. Everyone was on their feet, moving round the room chatting to each other. As well as all the usual suspects, I got to speak to a bunch of people from the OTN tours I’ve been on. It’s always good to reconnect and talk about the next visit. :) I also got to speak to Liron Amitzi about his recent move to Vancouver, which is a pretty interesting life change! You also get to meet some people in person for the first time. I was really happy to finally meet Mahir M. Quluzade in person. I feel like I already know him, but now we have met. :)

At about 22:00 we got on the bus and headed back to the hotel, where I completely zonked out!

All in all, it was a good day!

This morning is the start of the main OOW15 conference and I’m already knackered. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : Day Off

You might have guessed from my last post, I was feeling a little bit deflated (insert fat joke here) yesterday morning.

I cheered myself up by spending the day in my hotel room doing installations. :)

On Friday evening the new Fusion Middleware 12.2.1 stack was released, so spent the day playing with it. I’ve written some articles, but they will need some tidying up when I get home. There are definitely some things I want to change.

The Forms and Reports Services installation is very different compared to the previous version. After completing the WebLogic installation, you have to install the FRS software, run the RCU, then create the FRS domain as three separate steps. In the previous version, the installation and configuration of FRS was a single step. If you’ve configured WebLogic 12.1 clustered domains, it will feel very familiar. If not, it’s probably going to mess with your mind a little at first. :)

I’ve done the FRS domain creation also, but the configuration of the web tier is not complete. If you want to see what I’ve got so far you can check it out here, but as the warning says, it’s a work in progress.

The OPMN stuff is out of the door and NodeManager has stepped in. If I don’t have time before, I will work through everything when I get home and knock them into shape.

I reserve the right to throw this all away and start again when I get home and spend more time on it. :)

Cheers

Tim…