Dec 2: UKOUG Day 1
Arriving on Sunday was a little weird because everything seemed quieter than normal. That was mainly just time differences in people turning up, but there does seem to be a perception floating around that attendance is down. Eventually a small group of us found our way to the UKOUG party and gate-crashed that, not least so some of us could feed quite a hunger. Of course, just before I was about to attack the food, there was a fire alarm and so everyone was kicked out, never to return after they closed the venue for the night (and it's *cold* outside this week). So we trundled around a few bars, ending up in the traditional Tap and Spile but by now I was completely bushed and starving so off to bed for me. I did hear tale of a 3 or 4 am finish for some!
It's been pretty good hanging around the Pythian Europe guys this week* and it's the first time I've been able to see my ex-boss Paul Vallee in almost two years who has always has plenty to say and lots of interesting opinions which means, of course that a simple couple of pints spreads out to something entirely different once a few of us get going Last night's 'I was into computers before you were into computers' arm-wrestling had to be seen to be believed! Serves me right for going off on a dinosaur rant about the shocking lack of passion in today's new IT generation. Yeah, I know, it's just a job
My first presentation yesterday was Jonathan Lewis' Beginner's Guide to Partitioning which, although a beginners guide, wasn't completely lightweight. I thought he highlighted two of the areas that I've seen cause the most problems in my own work in the past. The first is that people tend to understand table partitioning very easily but perhaps not index partitioning and the implications for performance through accessing multiple index partitions for certain queries. It's not something I'm going to be able to cover in a lightweight blog post, so maybe he'll add it to his list of future blog posts. The second, how fiendishly difficult it can be to get partition elimination to work. Once you understand how it works and the need to be very explicit about how you use the partition key to access data, it makes sense, but until you reach that point, what can seem an obvious situation where partition elimination could be used doesn't seem quite so obvious to the CBO! Good stuff, but I could probably listen to Jonathan reading the phone book out.
Next was Jason Arneil's presentation on ASM and ZFS. I like Jason's presentations because he just talks about what he's been working with rather than whatever interesting feature has come on to the market, so there always a few funny stories about how things can go wrong sometimes. This one was probably a bit light for me, but that's my own fault for going to a presentation about a subject I read a book about not so long ago The audience in this presentation were certainly very opinionated and interactive but I found the final question just bizarre as someone seemed to be calling ASM a poor man's SAN but I would have thought most people would be using ASM on top of a SAN and he didn't seem to get the more obvious filesystem comparison. It just got weirder and weirder, frankly, but maybe it was just a confusion of terminology or maybe he was just talking about mirroring? Again, I'm sure that plenty of people with SANs use external redundancy. Anyway, I just found the whole mini-debate a bit bizarre.
Next up was Tuomas Pystynen on Flash Recovery Area which is interesting to me because a) a lot of places I work at don't really use it, so I'm still learning and b) we might have a very good use case for it at my current site on a big Data Warehouse we're implementing. So I walked away from this one with a couple of good ideas that I'll reserve judgement on for now and lots of new understanding. Excellent.
The day was wrapped up by Tom Kyte's keynote - The Best Way which tackled the thorny subject of Best Practices. Really, this was end-to-end humour and wisdom that I won't even begin to try to do justice to here. I'll say this, though. Whilst Tom has clearly always been good on the technical stuff, I think his presentations are light years ahead of even a few years ago. He's just an extremely engaging speaker and everyone I spoke to was agreed on that. He even had the good grace to finish *early* which was a good thing because ....
Then it was free drinks at the Exhibition opening, the longest wait for an Indian meal that I've ever had (particularly as I wasn't even eating anything) then more drinks, then a few more drinks while I *should* have been attacking the nearest takeaway ..... (Mmmm, eat more, drink less. Perhaps, just perhaps, the penny will drop one day) The truth is that the company was again top-notch and so we got talking, and talking ...
I didn't just miss food, I missed 8 possible hours of presentation time. They're almost done, really, but after being pretty sick last week, I always planned to do some work down here. So that's what I'll be doing nearly all of today - hiding and working. I might attend a couple of presentations later, but I doubt it. Which means I'm probably going to miss Marco's XML presentation but, as he also seemed to be invisible yesterday I suppose he'll understand
* Oh, and although I didn't partake, I believe they have pretty tasty Czech spirits to hand!
Sounds like a great time so far. Wish I could be there, but alas, I am stuck at work keeping an an eye on an eclectic mix of Oracle SQL*Server and RedBrick databases from several generations.
Sounds good, I'm speaking for the first time on Thursday (in a hall that looks way too big), hopefully I'll get an easy crowd, probably a little light wight for you, what I'd really have liked would have been to be speaking at the same time as Tom kyte/johnathon Lewis so I'd get a really small attendance, it all seemed like a really good idea at the time.
I would have popped in, but you're on at the same time as a presentation by Robyn Sands that I've been wanting to see for a while.
Good luck, though, and don't worry, Hall 5 seems like one of the nicer halls to me
I caught Robyns' earlier presentation
Stopping the Madness with Root Cause Analysis, excellent stuff really highlighted the difference between an engeneering approach to a problem and the (from my somewhat limited experiance) firefighting approach, next year I'm going to make sure I can make the whole week as only got time to attend a couple of presentations.
Sadly enough I am missing out all the fun at UKOUG, at least I spent my time working on an awesome project with some excellent teammembers (even an other oakie).
Anyway, hopefully I will seeing you again at some conference where we just might kill a couple of lagers