OUG Ireland 2014

As you probably know by now I was at OUG Ireland yesterday.

It was a pretty early start for me. I needed to be up by 03:30 to get a taxi to the airport, but fear of missing my flight meant I was awake from about 01:00 onward. My taxi driver wanted to talk about some rather strange stuff during the ride. A conflicted individual I guess…

The Ryanair flight across to Dublin went smoothly enough. There were 18 people on a 737, so I’m guessing that flight didn’t cover the staff costs, since I paid £30 for a return flight. Once at Dublin I took the AirLink bus for 10 euros, which dropped me outside The Convention Centre Dublin.

I headed straight for the RAC Attack table at the Oracle stand, where I met some of the conference organisers and of course some of the RAC Attack Ninjas. I pretty much spent the rest of the day there, speaking to anyone and everyone that came within a three yard radius of me. :) Thanks to Mina Zadeh for getting the ball rolling on organising this! I hope we will be able to do this every year. Even if people don’t want to spend time during a one day conference doing the RAC installation, it acts as a good focal point for people to come and chat about RAC and any other Oracle technology that they are interested in. Kinda like a “meet the geeks” thing. :)

It was good to meet up with Debra Lilley again, as it must have been at least 9 days since I last saw her. Thanks for my little brass Ganesha!

My first presentation of the event was “An Oracle DBA’s Guide to WebLogic Server”. I felt really nervous at the start of this presentation. I’m very quick to tell people I am still a newbie and this is very much sold as, “What I wish I had been told in my first hour of learning WebLogic”. Even with that in mind, there is always a niggling doubt that people might be expecting something different, which feeds into the insecurities and the inferiority complex. I think it went OK, but the nerves made me race a little and it might have freaked some people out with the pace.

My second presentation was on “PL/SQL : Stop making the same performance mistakes”. Being back on familiar ground felt good! I was really relaxed for this one and just went with the flow and enjoyed it. I had to miss some slides at the end because of the shorter time slot, but all the information is on my website, so it’s not that big a deal in the scheme of things. :)

Despite the jetlag, Tom was on great form during the day. He’s got a very British sense of humour and he handles having the piss taken out of him really well, so when he pulled out his phone I couldn’t help but comment on how massive it looked next him. I think it was a Galaxy Note of some description, but it looked like me using an iPad for a phone. :) That prompted a comparison in hand sizes and I can now categorically state that my hands are smaller than Tom Kytes! That’s hardly surprising, since my hands are smaller than most humans above the age of 10 years old. After that bit of banter it was off to watch Tom do his thing for the last session of the day. I was in a playful mood, so I couldn’t help but heckle a bit. :) This morning I got an email from him pointing to this Dilbert strip.

From there it was a quick trip to the boat/bar next to the conference centre for a farewell drink, then it was off to get my plane. Patrick Hurley was on the same flight as me, so we got to chat for a while at the airport. We’ve met a few times, but I’ve never really got to speak to him for that long before. He’s a totally cool guy! He is also a witness to the fact I drank a pint of Guinness in Ireland before I got on the plane home!

I got back into my house at about 23:00, so it was a very long, but very enjoyable day.

Thanks to everyone at OUG Ireland for making this event happen and thank you for inviting me. I’m hoping this will become a yearly entry in my calendar from now on. Thanks also to all the RAC Attack Ninjas and of course to all the attendees, without whom there would be no conference. Thanks to OTN and The Oracle ACE Program. It’s a privilege to be able to represent you folks at these events!

Cheers

Tim…

The Language of Pseudoscience

If Google were to characterise me based on my YouTube views, they would probably list me as some major conspiracy theory junkie. I watch a lot of conspiracy theory rubbish on YouTube, but for me it is light entertainment. I find it amusing to see how they try to present a bunch of random nonsense as science. Watch any of this stuff and you will hear the same types of phrases again and again…

  • “Many experts now believe” : Nice work. They are experts and there are many of them, so it must be true right? No qualification of who these experts actually are, what qualifies them as experts and how many of them constitutes “many”.
  • “There is a growing belief” : So yesterday there was one person that believed this and today there are three. That’s a belief that is certainly growing, so this is proof of that theory right?

Along these same lines, there is this idea that popularity is in some way related to truth. According to Wikipedia, the most popular religion in the world in 2012 was Christianity, so by this measure Christianity is scientifically proven to be true right?

There seems to be this strange disconnect these days between actual science and the public perception of what science really is. I get quite frustrated when I watch science shows on TV that have been dumbed down to the point where they sound more like pseudoscience. When real science is presented like pseudoscience, how is the general public meant to differentiate between that and your average Daily Mail story?

The term pseudoscience itself is open for interpretation, but the first paragraph of it’s definition on Wikipedia is quite interesting.

“Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.”

Real science is not a popularity contest and it’s not about vague statements. All information must be presented in the correct context with the appropriate caveats where necessary. If what you are reading/hearing/watching is not qualified properly at best it is watered down for public consumption. At worst it is total bullshit!

Rant over…

Cheers

Tim…

Update: Following on from Noons comment, disproof is the other side of the same coin. Same rules apply!

Oracle Midlands : Event #2

Just a quick reminder that the second Oracle Midlands event will be taking place on 25th March 2014.

At this event you will get a chance to see Graham Wood (my Dad) speaking about “Advanced ASH Architecture and Usage” and Nikolay Manchev speaking about “Using Clusterware 11g to protect single-instance databases”.

The event is sponsored by those kind folks at Red Gate Software, which means it is not going to cost you anything to come to the event. You can register here.

These events live or die based on your support. Please spread the word and come along. See you there!

Cheers

Tim…

Copyright Theft: WordPress.com not making my life easy!

Yesterday I was informed about someone stealing my content again. I take a pretty hard line to this these days. I used to be a little unsure about how to approach it, but now I just hit them with a DMCA take-down notice straight away. I’ve not got time to explain to everyone and their dog about copyright law…

So the current thief has nicked 35+ of my articles. I went to the WordPress.com DMCA Notice page and they say the usual stuff, except that you have to file a separate notice per blog post. All other services I’ve encountered allow you to post a single notice, listing all the offending posts. Not WordPress.com! (see update below)

So now I’m faced with posting 35+ notices, or not bothering. I’m posting the notices and a shitty email to WordPress.com. By making this process significantly more clumsy than other service providers, they are playing into the hands of the thieves. I think this is an almighty fail on their part!

Cheers

Tim…

Update: WordPress.com have got back to me saying they have removed the offending content. They also said I should have posted a single DMCA notice for all the URLs on this blog. Easier said than done when the form prevents this! I think someone at WordPress.com needs to do some proper testing of their form.

OTN Yathra 2014 : It’s a Wrap

The OTN Yathra 2014 tour is over and I’m back home now. Here are all the blog posts from the tour.

Although I come from the second biggest city in the UK, Birmingham has a very slow pace in comparison to other UK cities. Friends had told me how busy India was, so I was quite nervous about this trip and how I would cope with it. My initial fears were confirmed during my first taxi ride from Amritsar airport to Jalandhar. Getting ill on the first morning of the tour wasn’t a good omen either. Once the kind folks at the Lovely Professional University sorted me out with some medical attention, things started to get better and I started to believe I might make it to the end of the tour alive. :)

As the tour progressed I got into my stride and really started to enjoy the whole process. As I’ve said many times, I’m not a fan of travelling, but I like being at different places. The travelling part of this tour was very strenuous, which was my own fault for choosing to do all 7 events, but that was easily outweighed by getting the opportunity to connect with the attendees and speakers in all the cities.

Here come the much deserved thank you messages:

  • Thanks to everyone from All India Oracle Users Group (AIOUG) involved in the organisation of this tour. Aman, SaiSatyendra and Murali did a great job of making the logistics as simple as possible.
  • Thank you to Oracle Corporation for the use of their offices and to all the Universities that let us visit them.
  • A big thank you goes out to Oracle Technology Network (OTN) and the Oracle ACE Program, without whom this tour would not have happened.
  • Thank you to my fellow speakers. I’m not sure I would have stayed sane on my journey from Jalandhar to Noida without the company of Raj Mattamal. :) Raj, Debra and Hans were welcome distractions from the hours spent in airports, planes and taxis. Thanks everyone for putting up with me. Thanks to all the other speakers that dotted in and out for specific events. It was fun to hook up with you all.
  • Finally, thank you to all the attendees for coming and supporting this event! Without you being there, the events would not happen, so if you want to see more of these events in future, please join AIOUG and get your friends to join too. :)

My lasting memories of India will be:

  • Crazy traffic.
  • Fantastic food.
  • Very friendly people.

Until next time…

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Yathra 2014 : Chennai

Yesterday’s flight from Bangalore to Chennai was very short. It felt like less than an hour to me. Hans Forbrich wasn’t coming to this event, so it looked like Debra Lilley and I would be on our own for this journey, but we bumped into Kuassi Mensah at the airport. :)

The hotel was very nice, but doing in-room check in freaks me out. I know the hotels think it is something special, but I would rather check in at the front desk and go to my room on my own. There is something about having other people in my room that reminds me I am only one in a very long procession of people to use that space. Gives me the creeps…

Today’s Chennai event was held at the Loyola-ICAM College of Engineering and Technology (LICET), not far from our hotel. The keynotes from the University staff focussed on development of knowledge, rather than focussing just on facts or what skills you need to get a job. One of the slides read,

“Data becomes information when it is organised. Information becomes knowledge when it is placed in actionable context. Without context there is little value.”

I am always concerned when people or institutions focus totally on what is job-worthy as I think it develops blinkered individuals. Applied research can only be a part of the whole picture, not the total focus. It seems LICET has the same point of view as me. At the end of the keynote I felt really inspired and quite excited about the day ahead. :)

As part of the engineering course, the LICET students have access to a stripped back car, which has all the internal systems on display, allowing the students to see both the individual systems and how they fit into the big picture. I was asked if I wanted to drive this car, so I can now say I’ve driven in India. :)

I had a few minor issues with my laptop, but despite that my sessions got very positive feedback. As always, I spent a lot of time answering questions between my sessions and at the end of my last session as well.

Thanks to everyone at LICET and all the attendees for coming to the event. It really made for a great last event of the tour!

I fly home early tomorrow morning, so that I can get back in time for work on Monday. I’ll write a wrap-up post when I get home. :)

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Yathra 2014 : Bangalore

Yesterday’s flight to Bangalore was pretty quick, about 80 minutes if I remember correctly. We landed and were picked up by a car from the hotel. We were told the traffic would be terrible in Bangalore, but it wasn’t too bad. Debra managed to keep her eyes open for much of the journey. There were also a lot fewer car horns in comparison to Hyderabad. :)

The Marriott in Bangalore is very swish indeed and of course it has a buffet for dinner! :) I slept OK, but felt quite tired this morning. I think the events of the week are starting to get to me…

At the conference today, my sessions were at 15:00 and 17:00, so after the introductory session, I went to the speaker room, which was open to the attendees so we could chat in small groups. I played with APEX, between chatting to attendees and listening to Debra speaking to attendees about Fusion Apps.

After my first session I watched Supriya Ananth do a session on Pattern Matching in 12c, which was very interesting. I think I’m starting to understand it, but it’s going to take a lot of practice. Then it was back to me for the final session of the day. The group were asking lots of questions, which I love, but it did make me overrun by 20 minutes and there were still more questions to answer at the end. :)

Thanks to everyone at the Oracle office for another great day and thanks to everyone who came along to the talks, especially those that put me on the spot with some really good questions. It would have been nice if there was more time to just sit and chat about Oracle, but sadly, that was not to be.

So that was my penultimate event. Tomorrow I fly to Chennai for the last event on Saturday…

Cheers

Tim…

VirtualBox 4.3.8

VirtualBox 4.3.8 has been released. The downloads and changelog are in the usual place. It’s a maintenance release, so lots of bug fixes.

Happy upgrading!

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Yathra 2014 : Hyderabad

I literally got no sleep last night before the Hyderabad event today. My hotel room overlooked what looked like the busiest road in the world and Indian drivers have a love affair with their car horns. Every time I was about to nod off, a different tone of horn would wake me. :)

So this morning, with a breakfast of coffee in me, we headed off to the huge Oracle campus in Hyderabad! The event was split into a technical track and an apps track. Not surprisingly, I spent the day in the technical track.

After introducing ourselves, we started with the first session by Satyendra Kumar talking about 12c New Features, which focussed mainly on the CDB/PDB functionality. As I’ve said previously, it’s interesting to see how different people approach this topic. We all have a slightly different angle on the same subject. The next session was by Chaitanya Koratamaddi, who talked about APEX. I’m trying to get my APEX mojo back so I’m happy to listen to as much as possible about APEX. :)

I avoided lunch as I didn’t want to have an afternoon slump. What with missing a nights sleep, I would probably have fallen into a coma if I had eaten anything. After a coffee lunch it was my first session, which was on PL/SQL performance. That was followed up by Hans Forbrich talking about Oracle Linux, a subject dear to my heart. :) After that came Satyendra Kumar speaking about performance tuning in 12c, then lastly me speaking about Analytic Functions.

As usual I got chatting to people at the end and made us late. :) Thanks to everyone for making this run smoothly. Thank you to all the attendees, who asked lots of great questions and helped make the event a success!

So that is 5 out of 7 cities done! I’m going to go down to hit the buffet hard, then pray for sleep tonight, before tomorrow’s flight to Bangalore.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I got back to my room to find my freshly washed clothes waiting for me. Happy days!

Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) : I’m in a promotional video!

I received a Facebook comment from Václav Kozák to say I was in a promotional video for the Oracle Education’s OCP Program, rockin’ an oraclenerd t-shirt I might add… :)

That was a 2 second soundbite from a 10+ minute interview I filmed with Oracle a couple of years ago. I am a fan of the OCP program, but my opinions are not necessarily in line with Oracle Education’s marketing message. Even so, I am happy I was included in the video, even if it was a small soundbite. :)

If you want to know more about my opinion of OCP, you might want to read this article.

Cheers

Tim…