What a week!
It's a long blog posting, but it feels like it was a very long week ... I was so tired by the end of it that I can only imagine just how shattered Thomas Presslie must have been after all of the organisation. Having witnessed some of what's involved in putting a conference together, count me out! He'll need a long break after that one.
I suppose I should start off by apologising immediately for my biggest mistake of the week. Yes, it's true that The Boys and Polly were dragged around Edinburgh in a suitcase for almost 24 hours. In fact, most of them were in there for much longer, although some are being a little disingenous. Then again, now isn't the time for arguments, so more on that later.
I thought I should leave the blogging alone this week because I knew the conference was going to be very intense, technically and socially, and I needed to catch my breath both in between the presentations and after the event as a whole. Here's a rough idea how it went for me ...
Alex Gorbachev arrived on Monday lunchtime and we had a lot to catch up on.
That's a castle behind him but you probably can't see it for the very bad air which he found unbreathable. He should try LA! As well as being good company and apparently immune to jet-lag, he tried a few local beers but we were home reasonably early. We had such a good time that we just devoured any time I might have had to finish off my presentation so, in the end, I took the next day off work to get it done.
That was a good move. Even after Alex headed off to The Castle, I kept working away on my presentation until I was eventually happy with it. From there, it was a quick bus trip up the hill and then as I walked towards the Whisky Heritage centre, I bumped into Jonathan Lewis and family walking up the Royal Mile. A typically weird experience to start the week. As I said to a few people, it was strange seeing faces I recognise from other conferences, but in my home town environment. Having said that, I'm not often up at The Castle area. I've always considered it to be for tourists but the conference made me reconsider that. Great views, for a start!
I received a welcome gift from Daniel Fink, but you'll find out more about that in a few weeks, I reckon
I didn't take the Whisky Tour as it made no sense for a non-whisky drinker, but others seemed to enjoy it. Before long, everyone moved downstairs to the bar and presentation area for the keynotes, whisky tasting and food. A really enjoyable night and both Jonathan Lewis and Graham Wood were on fine, entertaining form. I found myself shouting out stupid questions about ironing boards, so there must have been one or two beers consumed! Oh, and I learnt that Laphroaig smells like a hospital ward! Perhaps I should have checked that before buying bottles of it as presents before leaving Ottawa in February. Stranger still, Alex G. likes the stuff!
I've never been the first speaker at a conference, so that was both an honour (Thanks, Thomas) and a new experience. It means getting up early, for a start, particularly as I had to pack every single one of my Housemates into a large suitcase! The plan was to make it the entire family's only public conference appearance ever, as a special treat for MSDBF attendees. However, I hadn't thought through the fact that I would be a little flustered as we tried to get the projector sorted out etc. and I was very concerned about keeping to my time slot because it was a packed agenda. As a result, I never got them out of the case and I can only offer my most sincere apologies to all of my Housemates. It really was an unforgiveable oversight, but an oversight it was. About 10 minutes after the presentation, I suddenly realised they were still in there.
I think the presentation itself went fairly well and there seemed sufficient interest that I realise DTrace is probably a sensible subject for a few blogs over the coming weeks or months. Graham Wood made an interesting comment afterwards that DTrace, rather than being a tracing tool, is "more like a meta-tool", capable of being used to build all sorts of interesting tracing tools. For my part I was just glad to get to the end and feel a little happier than normal.
After some minor logistics (a euphemism for carrying boxes up-hill in the rain ...) I introduced Alex G's presentation. He was good enough to let me do that for two reasons :-
a) Present Jonathan Lewis with his Hotsos Symposium Speaker's gift. If that seems a little strange, it's because the crafty so-and-so managed to get me to carry it back from Dallas for him to make use of my large suitcase. The plan was always to hand it over in Edinburgh. Job done.
b) Alex also wanted me to introduce some of The Boys but there are so damn many of them that it would have ruined his presentation time, so we settled on Flatcat (Alex's favourite - he's a man of taste) and Alex/Pierre (a gift from Alex). So, and this is important, some of The Boys (ok, only two of them) were able to watch a few presentations!
I think Alex's presentation went pretty well. It was on a project we'd both been working on at Pythian, load testing a specific RAC configuration, but I think it's a little difficult to summarise a project that went on for quite a few months in 40 minutes or so. Personally, his suit was probably my favourite bit (JOKE!)
Then the mists of time start to swirl and I became lost in a little more logisitical work, but not quite enough to justify the time gap. But, hey, there were friends there that I don't see very often and it's not like I'm getting paid when I'm at conferences!
I knew I had one key responsibility remaining that day, though, and that was to help Kurt, 'the DUDE guy', hand out his ORA-600 chocolates (hand-made in Belgium) as part of his presentation. This is a picture that I know many ladies will appreciate!
It was a special gesture from a special guy and that chocolate was *yummy*! (He also had some beautiful pralines for me and Mads, but don't tell anyone!)
From there it was back to the pub so that I could meet my little sister, Heather, who was going to the gala dinner in the castle with me. (Mads would have loved to have made it but she was at her parent's place most of the week.) When Heather heard there was an invitation, she was very keen and I know that she had the time of her life. Maybe I shouldn't share this but, at the end of the night, she said to me 'I want to be a geek and hang out with them, they're all really nice!'. Ah, sweet. Personally, I think she just got lucky with the ones she met (Oh, and when I say little sister, she's in her mid-thirties!)
I have to say it was a truly enjoyable night but I'm astonished how little I remember of it! Suffice to say that if you ever get an invite to dinner at Edinburgh Castle, you should accept. Drinks on the battlements were enjoyable enough alone, without adding dinner, drinks and Dave Ensor retiring once again. The music was a bit variable though!
Oh, ok, so there was a slightly sad under-current to the whole event as The Boys were still trapped in that suitcase. Well, not quite!
Next we went on to Whistle Binkies and minor chaos ensued as Alex managed to retrieve Flatcat from the suitcase for some late night dancing. The girls loved him (Flatcat that is, not The Russian). So, you see, it's simply not true that they were all trapped in there all day.
I know the picture quality is awful, but it's the best of a bad bunch. I wish the one of Flatcat dancing had come out properly!
... and so the day ended somewhat strangely, with me dragging a suitcase up the Royal Mile at 4am, looking for a taxi. Thank god the suitcase didn't burst open, or I might have had a little difficulty hailing one!
Mmmmm, I'm not quite up this 4am thing any more, am I? Waking up late the next day, I had a bunch of very angry cuddly toys who refused to come out of the case, squealing, 'Don't you touch us! Ever again!' So I called Mads and discussed how we should handle the situation. What choice did I have but to leave them in there until she returned home?
I got to the conference hopelessly late but fortunately I'd seen a number of the presentations at previous events. In the end the main highlight for me was Graham Wood's presentation on Active Session History (ASH). Because Graham's so intimate with the development of ASH, AWR and the rest, he always has interesting snippets of information and a strong belief that ASH is the way to go and, yes, he was asked 'the licensing question' again No, there was no sudden declaration that ASH would be included in the standard server licence.
The conference wrapped up with free MSDBF T-shirts for everyone. Very nice they are too, but damn me if I didn't lose mine later that evening while organising a game of skittles at the Sheep's Heid Inn. Should anyone have a spare one kicking around, it would be most welcome as it looked like one of the better conference gifts I'd seen.
That was more or less my conference. I couldn't attend the Whisky Adventure trip up north because I was back to work on Friday, but my week wasn't quite finished yet ....
Having thought I'd seen my last geek of the week, the Whisky Adventurers returned and paid a slightly un-planned visit to my place so that they could use my wireless access to book themselves some Saturday night accommodation. I think this scene made The Dog's year.
It would have been nice for us to spend Saturday night together, too, but Mads had just got back to the house an hour before they turned up and we had some much-needed private time booked, so I kicked the reprobate geeks out! Scottish hospitality isn't comparable to Danish hospitality unfortunately
That's me completely blogged out, other than to say :-
- I'm very, very, very sorry that I left them all in the suitcase. This minor disaster is entirely my fault and I will be made to pay for it over the coming weeks. They're all free now and Mads has rearranged them nicely . However, they've been on the net researching airline deals. Should I be concerned?
- Thanks to all those that made the time and effort to visit Scotland.
- Thanks to Thomas for putting the event together.
- No more conferences for me until UKOUG!
I've got a good picture of Alex and Flatcat before they invade the stage and Flatcat hogs the mike
Ehhh..."No more conferences for me until UKOUG!", does that mean we won't meet at Miracle Open World?
It would be a shame, but yeah, if it can't be helped, I can understand seen your schedule over the month's...(I would have enjoyed your Scottish variant of an OakTable
(Let's hope I am allowed / be proven worthy, to present then at UKOUG)
I sincerely hope I see you at UKOUG. I would attend every conference if I could, but there are definite limits to my endurance
Or maybe you should train your stamina somewhat and attend every oracle conference available.
Although I imagine having a conference in your hometown, and presenting there too, will stress you more than an 'ordinary' conference would.
Eric, you're so right.
Somehow being at home meant I felt I should hang out with people more, all day (erm, all night?). It's also more difficult to pop home for a break, than pop back to a nearby hotel room.
Hey Eric, very nice MSDBF blogs. *Proper* conference reporting. I'll highlight them.
That would be the advantage of travelling home by boat (but motorbike first). You get a full evening in a cabin with no windows and nobody to talk to. Drinking when I'm alone is not one of my habits, so what is there left to do?
I met the party that showed up in your home as well, by the way. Did not expect to see them while travelling north through the Cairngoirns. As you did not expect to have them turn up in your house. They get around, don't they?
but motorbike first
Enjoy the riding in Scotland?
As you did not expect to have them turn up in your house. They get around, don't they?
I should be clear that, despite my jokes, I did have quite a bit of warning and I did invite them in. I just kicked them out again a couple of hours later
Scotland has perfect roads for the kind of motorbike I own (Triumph Tiger 955i). Almost no traffic, lots of bends and curves, some blind summits (I don't like those very much) and beautiful scenery. I was a bit wobbly at first after the rather tiring conference, but changed quickly with the fresh air and the beautiful surroundings. I especially like the drive along the quiet side (south-east) of Loch Ness and of course Glenn Coe and Rannoch Moor the next day. Although I did see those two last November when I was walking the west highland way with my wife.
Actually, the air in LA has much improved since the '70s. There're plenty worse places in the world these days.
I could have picked London, for starters!
All I remember was how it seemed the few times I was there over the last few years. It's also a big area, so who knows?
Likewise, Edinburgh city centre is specifically bad because of the buses. Go a little out of the centre and it gets much better.