HomeUncategorized › UKOUG Tech and EBS Conference – the writeup, part 1!

UKOUG Tech and EBS Conference – the writeup, part 1!

Sunday – arrival in Birmingham
After visiting the not-quite-in-laws for the weekend (and helping out – in the kitchen – at this year’s Shrewsbury Model Railway exhibition that my Great-Uncle Jeff started over 25 years ago. Sadly he died earlier this year, and so this year’s event was held in his memory), I arrived in Birmingham.

Driving in Birmingham is as bad as driving in Leeds! Thankfully, my other half was driving, but even so, the exits to take weren’t clear on the sat nav until, typically, we’d gone past! Thankfully, we only missed one junction, but there were some hairy moments as we tried to work out which lane we should be in, etc! T’other ‘alf deserves a medal! Anyway, once I’d been dropped off at the hotel, I decided to go exploing.

The hotel I stayed at (Copthorne; would recommend – very handy for food, German market and the ICC!) was very central; I discovered a cut through and ended up just outside the Paradise Forum. Intending to find
the ICC first, I decided to go through the, um, “forum” and when I got to the other side, the German market … distracted me somewhat! So, with some Chrstmas shopping done, I decided to give up my quest for things, and decided I’d check my iPhone to see if I could navigate myself to the ICC. I eventually got there, but the long way round (typical!) – it turned out that if I’d headed away from the “forum” towards the giant lit-up Ferris wheel, I’d have soon found the ICC!

Once I was happy with knowing where to go in the ICC, I headed back to the hotel and, along the way, found yet more German market stalls (including one with puzzles… I ended up buying 4!).

Monday – #ukoug_tebs Day 1

I made sure I got to the ICC in plenty of time to register before the First Timer’s Briefing, and whilst waiting for that to start, I went round the exhibition. I was too shy to actually stop and talk to people, plus I hate being pestered by random sales guys when I’m just browsing, so having not found anything that I felt I could legitimately talk about with the vendors, I just wandered past each stall quickly! *{;-)

First Timer’s Briefing
The first timer’s briefing was ok; telling us about the ICC, the staff, wear comfortable shoes, etc, etc and mentioned the free bag with agenda guide and other goodies that I’d somehow missed from the exhibition hall! So, when the session finished early, I headed straight back to pick up my bag before heading off to my first ever conference session – the keynote by David Callaghan.

David Callaghan Keynote
This was in hall 1 (biiiiiig lecture theatre stylee) and was quite full. We had a talk by the UKOUG chairman, Ronan, and someone whose name I forget (sorry, sorry) – Deborah, I think?. This was quite entertaining and light-hearted and went on for about 20 mins or so, before David was introduced.

David talked for a while about how the recession was affecting things, etc, and (should I really admit this?) I found it a bit dry and boring, and despite trying to listen, kept finding myself drifting off onto other thoughts (what’ll I have for dinner? when’s Tom going to appear? etc etc). I never have been too good at wading through all the marketing spiel *{;-) Aaaanyway, Ronan came back on after David had finished and there was a bit more banter, before Tom Kyte was introduced.

Tom Kyte Keynote – What are we still doing wrong?
Unfortunately, there was no break between the end of the keynote and Tom’s session, so people were forced to just get up and leave whilst Tom was standing at the podium. A bit distracting for him, I’m sure, although I know that Ronan has already taken this on board and I’m sure it’ll be done differently next time! Tom’s session was about things that we as developers are still doing wrong – it was thoroughly entertaining and useful (and yes, I had a few guilty winces…).

I could have sat and listened to Tom talk for longer, and indeed, it seemed like he had more to say, but unfortunately ran out of time. The only negative thing I would say about Tom’s presentation is that there was too much RED in the slides; it made my eyes hurt! (And, to be honest, my eyes were struggling with seeing the slides, even though I was fairly close to the front!).

pause in the procedings
I’d had a bit of a headache (which I don’t normally get!) on the Sunday, and by this point in the proceedings, it had returned and I wasn’t feeling brilliant. My eyes had struggled with the slides, and I don’t think it was a problem with the projecters or the screens, either. I’m long-sighted, amongst other things, but I struggle to focus at distances. My prescription could be improved for long distance vision, but this would reduce my near distance vision. Given that I need to be close to the things that I’m looking at when I read, sew, write, etc, and that I do more of this than I do staring at presentations on large screens, it’s a compromise I’ve had to make. Didn’t help my headfail though!

I was going to go to Carl Dudley’s “Constraints – for complex business rules and improved performance” presentation, but decided that I really, really needed to give my eyes a break, so I ended up wandering through the exhibition again, before flumping in the lounge area.

Graham Wood – The ASHes of time?
I went to this primarily because Doug has previously mentioned about ASH both as part of his “How I learned to love pictures” presentation, and separately when we were discussing a performance issue I was having, and it sounded like it would be a good session to learn more about it from an introductory level. And it was!

I picked up some useful tips and information from this, that when I finally persuade my team’s DBA’s to reset our Grid Control password, will come in very handy! And, of course, if I query the table myself! *{:-D

Jonathan Lewis – Writing Optimal SQL
By now, I was really struggling, as my head really was becoming fuzzy and painful, so I took some ibuprofen (which didn’t do a thing to help!). Still, managed to stick with it, and I was glad I did! This session by Jonathan took us through the decisions we need to think about when we write SQL, in order to come out with better plans.

Most of this was familiar to me, but not in such an organised fashion. The one thing I did pick out of this session that I will be applying at work is (and this is probably sooooo obvious, only I’ve never considered it!): to draw a diagram of the tables and how they relate to the number of rows generated, etc. You can then see pictorially which might be the best table to start with, and where to go next. Simple, but brilliant!

Tom Kyte – Top 10, no 11, new features of Oracle database 11gR2
Aaah, Mr Kyte (or “Uncle Tom” as I used to refer to him back when I first started learning PL/SQL etc, and I followed AskTom religiously. Actually, for the first year or two, that was the only thing I really knew about; and I found it invaluable as a learning aid – Tom is one of the best teachers around, IMHO!) again. This was a list of features that he wanted to bring to our attention that are new in 11gR2. Some of them I already knew about, but some were completely unfamiliar to me!

I’ve already had some ideas on how to improve my db app once the databases have been upgraded to 11gR2, whenever that might be! I may well be pestering our DBAs for that to be sooner rather than later! *{;-)

Still too much red in this presentation, which unfortunately did not help my poor achey head and eyes any!

Doug Burns – More Parallel Fun
I know that Doug was less than happy with this presentation, and to be fair, he did suffer from a touch of BluePeter-itis, as the demos that had been running happily for him when he ran them earlier in the day went veeeeeery sloooooooooow during the presentation.

I thought that the presentation was good, though, as I was able to keep up with the content and understand what Doug was saying (although perhaps the graphs could maybe have done with being animated, to highlight the fact that we were looking at slices of time, rather than the whole thing at once – my confusion was soon put to rest when he explained what it was representing, though!). Having attended this and an earlier presentation on parallel that he gave at work, I now feel much more confident in working with parallel. I may even try making some of our big queries run in parallel – something that I’d never really considered seriously!

Meet the Speaker
I headed briefly to this, but didn’t really have anything intelligent to say or ask, plus I really was feeling unwell by this point, so I decided the best thing to do would be to go back to the hotel, and have some rest. I wasn’t really thinking coherently by now, because I passed one of my friends that I’ve known for years now from a bulletin board system that I am a member of – he was eating alone in a restaurant *{:-(

If I’d been thinking properly, I would have arranged to have met up and gone to dinner or dragged him along with me when I would have tagged along with Doug and met the big hitters that were apparently about on Monday evening at the exhibition party/technical pubs. But it was not to be – sorry @Farkough *{:-(

I ended up walking round the city centre trying to find somewhere that was open so I could buy some paracetamol, once I’d worked up the motivation to leave the hotel room. Thankfully, Boots were doing late night opening, so I got some, and on the way back to the hotel, I passed a Pizza Hut and couldn’t resist the comfort-food factor!

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