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About Martin

These “about” pages are generally all the same – how long people have worked, for which organisations and what positions they have held, so I thought I would break with tradition a little and say more about what I do now…

I look similar to this, but with a tad more grey

I look similar to this, but with a tad more grey

I live in the UK, in a small village surrounded by fields 50km North of London, and I work with Oracle technology – mostly the core RDBMS (doing performance and system design) but also PL/SQL programming. I am lucky enough to be semi-retired and a result of working less is I am becoming more and more active in the user community. It is a little hard to say which trend leads the other!

Oracle User Community
I obviously write a blog, as you are currently on it. If you are new to the blog, it is a mixture of technical posts, observations on team management & the soft-skills side of working life, oracle user group activity and “Friday Philosophies” – articles {usually} written on a Friday to end the week with an irreverent or slightly silly take on some aspect of life – which may or may not have any connection with Oracle.
Oddly enough, if I don’t blog for a while, “Friday Philosophies” are the posts people let me know they are missing.

User groups and presenting now take up a good percentage of my time. I am very active in the UK Oracle User Group, having chaired or deputy chaired a Special Interest Group (SIG) since 2008 and I present at several SIGs a year. I also present at the annual UKOUG Technical conference and, when I can manage it, abroad at other conferences. I try and support other local non-UKOUG user groups by attending and presenting. You can see a list of my public appearances here. For the last 2 years I have helped organise the technical content of the UKOUG Tech conference and this year I am blogging about that process too.

I have also become quite passionate about the fact that new people are not coming into the Oracle community. I see the same people at meetings as I did 10 years ago (which is of course nice, I do like seeing old friends!) and so even though I still do some deep, technical presentations I am more and more concentrating on introductory topics. I’ve recently started writing articles for magazines and I intend to focus on general principles and beginner topics.

Despite my dislike of people being slaves to their mobile phones I have become afflicted by Twitter. You can see my latest tweets in the bar to the right and you can follow me if you like. Most of my twittering is more like chatting to friends than promoting my work, you have been warned.

Non-Oracle

Where to go now?

Where to go now?

Whilst my working life and Oracle is important to me, it is not everything. My academic background is in genetics & zoology and I remain very interested in genetics, biology and science in general. The career in computing came about almost as a happy accident. Start a conversation with me about evolution and I won’t shut up for hours. Just don’t ask me to identify any trees or birds, I’m useless at it.

My wife and I live in a house with bits dating back to 1700 or so (and other bits dating back to last year), which means parts of it keep breaking. We also have a quite ridiculously large garden – I wanted an excuse for a sit-on lawnmower. So looking after the house and garden take up much of my spare time. Seeing as my wife works full time I also cook more than I used to. OK, I’m a house-husband with a weakness for Oracle technology.

I’m mildly dyslexic. It has not held me back much, I only mention it as you will probably spot typos or the wrong word (or tense of the word) being used occasionally. Sorry, modern spell checkers help a lot but cannot correct all mistakes (or even change a mistake to a worse one!). So if you spot any such oddities in my articles, feel free to mention them or just let it go :-)

I go hill walking two or three times a year despite being scared of heights, I try to run regularly despite being very poor at it and I taught myself to juggle as I could never seem to catch things. Why do I insist on doing things I’m not very good at?

I like cats and beer.

If you insist, the work history

Whilst longevity is no guarantee of expertise, I have been working with Oracle technology since 1992 – when I joined the Oracle UK healthcare group. I only worked for Oracle the company for just under 3 years but I have continued to worked with the technology for well in excess of 2 decades. I was proud to be invited to join the OakTable Network in 2010 and then named an Oracle ACE in 2011, both of which are about as strong validations as I could hope for that I am doing something right with that experience.

Since my time working for Oracle I have mostly been self employed, as I am now. I have been very lucky in many of the roles I took on, working on databases that were either very large at the time or used the latest version of Oracle – or both. My roles were nearly always as a performance expert, database designer or oracle technical lead, with some development work thrown in to keep my feet in the real world. Oddly enough, I’ve never been a real production support DBA. I’ve worked in finance, utilities, betting (very like finance but with more honesty about what they are really doing!), healthcare, local government and academia. Over the last few years I gave tried to concentrate on shorter engagements providing consultancy and issue resolution services.

Human_genome

My working highlight was between 2001 and 2007 when I stopped being self employed and was the database services manager at a place called the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. This was the UK part of the Human Genome Project, an international scientific collaboration to carry out the first full human genome sequence. It was a big deal when it happened and I joined just as the project was coming to it’s much heralded conclusion in 2003. Obviously the role combined my two passions of Oracle and Genetics and my team were working with the latest Oracle technology, with Oracle corp and some of the largest IT companies (IBM, HP etc). Gene sequencing produces massive volumes of data and we held some of it in Oracle databases. We had a 40TB database in 2007 which I had designed and it grew (after I had left) to about 150TB. On behalf of the team, I was named Oracle Beta Tester of the year by Oracle magazine in 2003 for the work we did on Oracle 10. I’m proud of that but I never forget it should have been for the whole team.

It was during that time that I started presenting and sharing our experiences with the wider Oracle community, something that academic institutes are very supportive of, and being recognised as someone doing significant and challenging work with Oracle technology. It was also where I learnt about managing teams and people. Contacts I made then, both within Oracle and in the user community, lay the foundations for my becoming someone who shared knowledge. I think I owe my current place in the industry and community to that role.

Comments»

1. Fahd Mirza - August 10, 2010

I am also very much proud of my 2TB database, and yes I also ‘foolishly’ yes to most of my employer’s demands, but that has always resulted in learning new skills and pushing my limits.

2. Rohit - November 3, 2010

Very informative blog Martin.

Oracle people love tinkering with very large databases. Though I am not into Oracle, but delivered few apps. on Oracle back-end too.

I want to create a sample VLDB, but not following how to gather data.


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