OTN Tour of Latin America 2016 : Mexico to Guatemala

laotn16I met Debra at the executive lounge to get some breakfast, then it was a quick taxi ride to the Airport in Mexico City. Travelling by car at 08:00 on a Sunday morning is really weird, because the roads are empty. Every other time we’ve been in a car the roads have been packed. As a result, we got to the airport super-early and breezed through bag check and security.

I always complain about the way bag drops are handled, but AeroMexico do it really well. Your bags are weighed before you enter the bag-drop queue, so you don’t have people repacking their cases at the drop-off desk. Perfect!

While we were wondering around, we bumped into Alex, who was on the same flight, so we grabbed a seat by the departure gate.

The flight was pretty straight forward. It was a small plane, so it jiggled about quite a bit, but no real drama. The landing in Guatemala was very odd. We came in with the nose really high, which made it feel like something was going wrong, but we landed fine.

Another thing I liked was the AeroMexico staff were checking you had the correct baggage tag for your bag. I very rarely see this getting checked in airports around the world and it always amazes me more bags aren’t stolen.

There was a hotel minibus waiting to pick us up, and it was only a short drive to the hotel. The minibus had wifi, so I hit a couple of PokeStops and caught 3 Pokemon on the journey. The first I’ve caught in Latin America. 🙂

After check-in, I did a quick tour of the hotel, edited the latest video, then caught up with my mails and blogging.

I intended to sleep for a while, but that didn’t really happen, so I went to the gym and walked on the treadmill, really slowly, watching John Wick on my phone. If you like lots of action, shooting and death, it’s a great film. I know I should have walked round the city, but I didn’t realised I would be going for 90 minutes, or I would have done something more productive. 🙂

While I was waiting for Debra and Alex to come down to the lobby I had a quick chat with Deiby, who was getting everything ready for the conference tomorrow. Once Debra and Alex arrived we went to a Guatemalan place down the road to grab some food. There was melted cheese! 🙂 Then it was back to the hotel early to crash.

Tomorrow is the Guatemala event! See you there!



OTN Tour of Latin America 2016 : Pyramids of Teotihuacan, Mexico

Yesterday we had a day off in Mexico, so Rene took a group of us to see the pyramids at Teotihuacan.

As we arrived some men started a fertility ritual, which involved them swinging around a pole on a rope. One of the guys was playing a drum and blowing a whistle whilst swinging around. You can see it in my video.

As we entered the main site there were loads of people selling trinkets, including little wooden devices that make the noise of a Jaguar growl when you blow into them. From that point on the visit was punctuated with kids making Jaguar noises and blowing whistles. 🙂

At the entrance there is a small pyramid with quite steep steps. I walked up those and felt a little out of breath, which made me wonder how I would cope with the big one. Walking down the steps was a little unnerving too.

I love the look of stepped pyramids! They look so organised and symmetrical. As you are walking around you start getting a feel for the scale of the site. We were walking between two of the pyramids and someone commented that we didn’t seem to be getting any closer. 🙂

When we got to the big pyramid (Pyramid of the Sun) I just went for it. The first layer had quite steep steps, which are harder to deal with when you have little stumpy legs like me. The next two layers had smaller steps, so they were much easier. I’m not gonna lie, I was out of breath, but it was not as bad as I was expecting considering how unfit I am at the moment. The view from the top was awesome. Photos and videos never do this stuff justice, but hopefully you will get some idea from the video I posted.

For the most part, walking down the big pyramid was OK because there was a guide rope to hold on to. At one point there were about 10 steps that were much steeper than I remembered on the way up and there was a queue for the guide rope. Some of the braver souls just walked down without the rope. I took the kids approach and just shuffled down over the edge on my ass, until I could grab onto the step behind me. 🙂

Just as we started to head back to the car the rain came. It has been an overcast day, but warm, so the cool rain was quite pleasant. I thought I had brought sun cream and bug spray, but I had brought two lots of bug spray. Because of my cap, my head and face didn’t burn much, but my forearms got roasted.

We drove back to the city, got some food, then it was back to the hotel to crash. I had to soak my arms in cold water to try and reduce the burning…

Many thanks to Rene for being a great host. We really haven’t had to organise anything during the Mexico leg of the trip because he has done everything for us!

Next stop Guatemala!



OTN Tour of Latin America 2016 : Mexico

laotn16The person who had the hotel room before me set the alarm for 04:00. 🙁

I met up with Debra in the executive lounge at 06:30, grabbed a coffee and some food, then we went down to meet Rene for our lift to the event. Along the way we picked up Alex and Kamran.

We got to the event in plenty of time and it looked like a mini-OpenWorld. 🙂 I chatted with a few people, then I had to go and setup for the keynote…

The conference started in the normal way, with an introduction to the event and an introduction to the Oracle ACE Program by Pablo. By the time that was finished we were running about 20+ minutes behind schedule.

Doing a keynote about SQL and PL/SQL can be quite nerve-wracking. You start to wonder how many people in the audience use other technologies, or how many are students that don’t have the prerequisite knowledge. I would rather do a more general session as a keynote, but this represents a different challenge.

Originally my slot for the keynote was 40 minutes, but based the mixed audience, I dropped out a few of the demos and a couple of the more complicated slides, which allowed me to claw back a few minutes. I finished in 27 minutes, so we were 13 minutes closer to being back on schedule. 🙂

I think the session went well. I managed to get a few laughs and I got some questions and nice comments at the end, which was good. 🙂

From there I went to see Debra‘s session on “Upgrade or Migration to Oracle Cloud Fusion Applications. Debra had a mixed audience, so she altered her session to fit. Essentially she set the scene for what cloud apps are and why they are interesting for businesses.

The next session I went to was Alex Zaballa presenting “The Best Oracle Database 12c Tuning Features for Developers and DBAs”. This was a tour of the 12c new features (mostly) related to tuning. Alex also included a quick demo of SQLcl, which should make Jeff Smith and Kris Rice happy. 🙂

oramexAfter a short break it was time for Tim Gorman to present “RDBMS Forensics: Troubleshooting Using ASH”. He presented two case studies, both reporting the same errors, but being caused by different things. He talked through the process he followed to identify the root cause, in both cases using ASH to find the smoking gun. Tim has got a really good presenting style, which is really easy to watch.

There was a speakers lunch, then it was back to the sessions, with Tim Gorman speaking about “Three Types Of Table Compression”. He started with a basic explanation of compression algorithms, then moved on to talk about a variety of Oracle functionality, including table compression. Once he covered the theory, he moved on to discuss a case study involving compression.

The only English speaker for the next session was Alex, and I had already seen his presentation in Costa Rica, so I took a session of down time. 🙂

From there is was my last session of the day, which was me talking about Oracle databases in the cloud. It was a fun session, and a nice one to close the day with. Not too heavy.

After the conference presentations were done, we all got together for the wrap-up session. We got to have a quick chat with people, say goodbye and get some photos with people.

After the event was over we went straight out for dinner. I think a lot of us were super tired, but it was great food with great company and a really nice end to a really enjoyable day. Thanks to Rene and everyone from ORAMEX for inviting me, asking me to do the keynote and making everything run so smoothly. It was a fun day!



OTN Tour of Latin America 2016 : Costa Rica to Mexico

laotn16My day started quite early. I’ve been trying to sort out a problem at work and yesterday I reached out to Richard Harrison for some advice. I woke up to see his response, tried his suggestion and it fixed my problem. Happy days! This is why networking and community is important. Access to the “Hive Mind” makes life so much easier. 🙂

At about 07:00 I headed down to breakfast to meet Debra and Kamran, then it was back to the room to do a bit of blogging and video editing. Pretty soon it was time to leave for the airport, so Debra got us an Uber and off we went.

With the exception of a couple of ignorant queue jumpers, check-in and security were fine. We got through really quickly and parked ourselves at the departure gate. I had enough time to finish editing the Costa Rica conference video and it actually uploaded on the free airport wifi. 🙂

I got lucky with the seating on the plane and got a two-seat exit row to myself, which allowed me the elbow room to use my laptop, as well as film some of the scenery from the window. I have to have an aisle seat, which means I can’t always get photos or video from the plane, which is a pain. The extra space on this trip was welcome and made the three hour flight feel pretty easy. There were a few patches of turbulence, but everything was fine.

We were met at the airport by René Antúnez, who took us to our hotel. Debra has God status at the Hilton, so I got to tag along with her and check-in at the executive lounge. When I went to my room it was really nice, but I could smell cigarette smoke. I went back to the executive lounge, had some food, then they gave me a different room, or should I say a small house. They upgraded me to a junior suite, which is massive. There are perks to travelling in the same party as Debra. 🙂

I went to the gym for a quick workout and now I’m back in my room. It’s an early start tomorrow for the Mexico City event. See you there!



OTN Tour of Latin America 2016 : Costa Rica

laotn16I left my air conditioned room and the heat hit me. It’s winter here in Costa Rica, and I think it was only 23 degrees, but it was so humid it felt like the mid 30s. Breakfast, then a taxi to the venue and the Costa Rica leg of the OTN Tour of Latin America 2016 began.

There was an introduction to the event, then an introduction to OTN and the Oracle ACE Program by Pablo Ciccarello. From there the conference split into six tracks, so I’ll talk about what I did.

We were assigned a student as a helper for the day. Mine was Ray, who was a fantastic and had awesome English! 🙂

Ray - Costa Rica

My first session was “It’s raining data! Oracle databases in the cloud.” I had a full room, which was nice, and I got some questions, which is always good. I was happy with the way the session went, so I hope everyone else was too. 🙂

After a short break it was Kamran Agayev with “Oracle 11gR2 RAC Best Practices. ‘What happens if …’ scenarios Oracle 11gR2 RAC”. As the name suggests, Kamran ran through a number of scenarios you might come across on a live system, using videos to demonstrate some of them. I think this method works really well. It’s hard to do live demos of Clusterware and RAC because some operations take a long time to complete. Having a video demo makes life easy as you can speed up bits where necessary, and you don’t have to worry about running lots of VMs on your laptop at once.

Next up was Alex Zaballa with “DBA Commands and Concepts That Every Developer Should Know”. His session started with an explanation of eDB360 and sqld360, which are pretty cool tools. From there he worked through a list of useful features that people may have missed. He included live demos for some of the features. 🙂

After lunch, I had back-to-back sessions to close the day, punctuated by really heavy rain, so it wasn’t just raining data! 🙂

  • Pluggable Databases – What they will break and why you should use them anyway!
  • Improving the Performance of PL/SQL Function Calls from SQL

Both sessions went really well. Full rooms again and people seemed happy with them, which is good. 🙂 People were a little shy about asking questions in front of the group, but were much less shy 1:1 after the sessions. I got asked one question about result caching I didn’t know the answer to, so I will investigate that and add it to my article once I know. It’s always good to be asked something you don’t know the answer to. It keeps you on your toes. 🙂

After the wrap-up session, the conference was over. The event went really smoothly, with good control over the schedule timings and the addition of the helpers was a really nice touch.

Once the event was over we went straight to dinner. Driving in Costa Rica during the rush hour is an experience, most of which does not involve moving. 🙂 It took about an hour to move 5km. It would be quicker to walk, but it was raining. As it was, we got a bit of a city tour and were schooled in the use of Waze. Watching the drivers crowd-sourcing information on traffic jams and clear routes is really interesting. We all arrived at the restaurant at about the same time, where we had great food, great conversation, with great people.

All round a fantastic day! Thanks very much ORAUG-CRC for inviting me and making the whole experience so enjoyable.

Next stop Mexico!