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What Have I Let Myself in For! – UKOUG this year November 16, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in development, Meeting notes, UKOUG.
Tags: , , , ,

One of my favourite Oracle happenings of the year is fast approaching, the UK Oracle User Group technical conference {see/click on the link on the right margin}. I’ve blogged before ( like here, last year) why I think it is so good.

I try and present at the conference each year and I go no matter if I am presenting or not.

However, this year I think I might have got myself into trouble. I put forward 3 talks, expecting one or possibly two to get through. One on Index Organized Tables, one on IT disasters and one as an introduction to database design – I’ve moaned about it being a dying art so I figured I should get off my backside and do something positive about it. Each talk is in a different stream.

Well, the IOT talk was accepted, the Disasters talk was rejected and the Database Design intro was put on the reserve list. I was happy with that. I did three talks the first year I presented and promised myself never to be that stupid again {I spent most of the conference in the Speaker’s lounge or my hotel putting the talks together and tweaking slides}.

What I was not expecting was for the OakTable to ask me to do the IOT talk on the OakTable Sunday. Yikes! {The OakTable Sunday is a great opportunity to see a set of presentations by people who really know their stuff in a smaller setting – You really want to get along to it if you can}. However I had two reasons not to do it:

  1. I would have to miss one of the other OakTable talks.
  2. That thing I said about people presenting who really know their stuff.

I was told that (1) was not a problem as the talks would be repeated in the main conference so I would have an opportunity to see  the one I missed and (2) stop being so British and do it. {In fact, one friend on the OakTable told me off after the last conference for my criticism of my own presentation that year – “yes it was poor for you but normally you do a good job, so keep doing it”}. Of course I said yes.

Then it struck me, I was presenting twice now. Once on Sunday and repeating on Wednesday in hall 5 {I’ll probably not simply repeat the contents, at the OakTable Sunday I’ll assume a little more knowledge by the audience and dig a bit deeper technically, in the main conference I’ll cover off the basics more, for those utterly new to IOTs}. At least it was only one set of slides to prepare.

A few days later I get a mail from the UKOUG office. A gap had appeared in the Development stream, would I be willing to do my “Oracle Lego – an introduction to database design” talk – but beef it up a little? Yes, sure. What do you mean about beef it up? The dev stream guys wanted something that went into more detail, was more about some of the more challenging systems I’ve work on. So we exchanged a few emails and it quickly became apparent that some wanted the intro talk I had originally proposed, to get people going with database design. Others felt there would be more audience for a more in-depth talk, so could I span both? I had to say no. I remember attending my Oracle database design course in 1993. It was 5 days long. If my memory serves there was also a second course a couple of weeks later that covered more advanced design for 3 days! I can talk fast but not 8 days fast. They were effectively asking for two quite different presentations, an intro and then a review of more challenging examples “OK” they said, “do Oracle Lego – But if another gap comes up, could you do the intermediate talk?”. Err, OK… So I wrote a quick synopsis for “Oracle Meccano” {Meccano is a toy construction kit made up of miniature girders, plates, bolts and stuff you can make proper things out of. If you liked Lego you would love Meccano as you got older} .

Since then I have been slightly anxious about getting an email from the UKOUG about a gap in the development stream for the conference…

This week I have started preparing the presentations for real {which so far has resulted in me breaking my server, finding a load of notes on blogs I was going to write and then doing this post} so I contacted the ladies in charge of the agenda and asked if I was now off the hook for the Oracle Meccano talk? “Yes, no more gaps, it is not on the agenda”. Phew. “But could you put it together in case of last minute cancellations?”. *sigh*. OK.

So I will, but I’m not signing up to do any Session Chairing, which I was about to. If you see me at the conference and I look a little crazed, it’s because I got a mail from the UKOUG just before the event about a sudden gap…

At least there is no chance I will be asked to do the Disasters talk at short notice, I saw the scores it got by the paper reviewers :-).


1. Neil Chandler - November 16, 2011

I hope you have time for a drink :o) Are any of the presentations on at 8am?

2. mwidlake - November 16, 2011

As a professional I will not touch a drop until my last presentation is completed.

I will of course be all over pints and drams 🙂

All talks are at equitable times and Boneist has said she will put me on a lead and drag me to the relevant locations 15 minutes before the session starts this year.

Boneist - November 17, 2011

As I recall, there was less about “a lead” and more about “a cattleprod” … *{;-)

mwidlake - November 17, 2011

You’re really worryingly keen to set to me with a cattle prod Dawn. What have I ever done to you? Apart from some comments in the pub that is…

Boneist - November 17, 2011

*grins* well, I’ve got to get my revenge somehow! *{;-)

3. jgarry - November 17, 2011

I thought everyone loved disaster stories. I know I do. Could you post what you have, would it make sense with no talkies?

mwidlake - November 17, 2011

Everyone does love disaster stories but I guess the guys judging the business stream (where I submitted it) either did not think it sounded very good or felt it was not serious and thus not suitable. I’ve given the talk many times over the years, at the UKOUG conference twice I think, and as I only use stories that are first or second hand, I have a limited (but worryingly large) pool. Maybe they felt they had heard it before. It’s a shame as, with all disasters, you can learn something from most of them.

I can’t post them Joel – half of what makes them good is in the flow of the presentation and I sometimes get a little close to the knuckle, either in what I say or the potential, if you really thought about it, to deduce where the disaster occurred. ALL businesses have disasters but they get very upset if an individual one can be linked back to them. Oddly it is never the people in IT involved who mind, it’s someone in Corporate who gets agitated.

Invite me over to do it for a user group some time 🙂 It makes a nice break from the more serious talks.

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