Monthly Archives: December 2007

UKOUG Day 4

We’re here already, final day of UKOUG! It’s gone really quick, all that preparation and then it’s over until next year.

It was quite a ‘lazy’ start to the day, checking out of the hotel and loading up the car with bags, then heading over to Peter Lorenzen’s session on “How to make your APEX Application Secure”. I hadn’t seen this session before and it was full of good tips on using the features available within APEX to secure your app.

Peter had a full room and once again I heard a couple of people leaving saying things like “I didn’t know you could do that”, so Peter definitely did a good job.

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It was also a good chance for Dimitri, Peter and myself to have a chat after having not met Peter before UKOUG (but having corresponded with him via email/Apex forums etc).

After some lunch, it was time to make a difficult decision, i.e. which of the final sessions would be my final session at UKOUG. It was difficult because Jonathan Lewis and Steven Feuerstein were both presenting at the same time.

I’ve met Steven a few times (we created a simple APEX app for his new book) and he’s a superb presenter. However I decided to go to Jonathan Lewis’s session, as it just so happens I’ve spent the last couple of days wrestling with some queries and went to his session for some inspiration.

I’ve also seen Jonathan present a few times now and he is an absolute master at it, personally I like the more technical types of presentations and this didn’t disappoint at all. His session was titled “Optimisation Through Understanding” and whilst I wouldn’t even pretend to have understood everything Jonathan covered, it was perhaps one of the most instructive 2 hours of Oracle learning I’ve ever had.

All in all, an excellent first UKOUG for me, I’ll definitely try and go next year too.

UKOUG Day 3 (or “Sharing a stage with Tom Kyte”)

Today was the big ‘APEX day’, with 3 APEX presentations and the APEX roundtable.

I met Dimitri at the Hotel as he’d just flown in and had been unable to make the start of the conference. We headed over to the ICC for the first APEX session of the day –

  • Programming Real Applications with Application Express – Andrew Woodward, Yorkshire Building Society

Andrew did a good job of covering lots of the features he used to build their applications, as well as discussing things from the business perspective.

Next up, it was time for me to present my session on “Debugging APEX Applications”, by the way the title of this post is a blatant lie, I didn’t actually share the stage at the same *time* as Tom Kyte, but I did share the same stage he used for his Keynote speech. This room was absolutely huge and I’ll be surprised if I ever present in a room bigger than this one.

UKOUG 2007 - My Presentation

The room was not full obviously (there weren’t that many people at UKOUG interested in APEX!), so I’m still not sure why they put me in that room, but from my perspective it had two great advantages:

  • I didn’t need to zoom in for my demos that much as the screen was enormous
  • It was very good experience to present in a room of that size, truely nerve-wracking, but also a very good feeling afterwards when it all went well.

UKOUG 2007 - My Presentation 2

There was one downside to this room and it was the fact that on the stage the lights shine straight at you so you can’t really see the audience that well (at least nobody past the first couple of rows anyway), so it’s difficult to see if people are yawning or whether you’re showing them something they’ve never seen before. Anyway, judging by the comments afterwards the presentation seemed to go down well for some people (which is all you can ask really!).

Oh, I almost forgot, for this session Dimitri was my session chair. I’d ‘pre-warned’ Dimitri that my timing was tight and I needed every second of the 60 minute slot to fit all the material in so I asked him to keep his introduction nice and short….meaning keep it to less than a minute or two. Dimitri didn’t let me down…it took him 8 seconds to introduce me (there’s a nice big clock built into the stage in that Hall). I know I said ‘keep it short’ Dimitri, but there’s short and there’s short 😉

After my presentation it was time for the APEX Roundtable, I arrived a bit late as I stayed back from my session to answer a few questions and also it took me a while to put my laptop etc away. The roundtable was hosted by Jeremy Duggan and the panelists were Dimitri Gielis, Anthony Rayner and Peter Lorenzen. As usual with the Roundtables, there were lots of good questions covering a varied range of topics and the panel did a good job of answering them (I wasn’t on the panel for this one, but I did pitch in with a few answers).

After lunch, I started to unwind after giving my presentation (there is definitely an ‘adrenaline dump’ after you give a presentation) and also sat with Dimitri doing some work related things while he prepared for his presentation on “Integration of BI (XML) Publisher and APEX”.

UKOUG2007 - Dimitris Presentation

I’ve seen Dimitri present this topic a few times now, but he always puts a different spin on it every time he presents it, so it’s always worthwhile watching it again. The audience was quite split between people who had used BI Publisher with APEX before and those who hadn’t used it at all before. Afterwards I heard a couple of people discussing how impressed they were because they didn’t know that level of printing integration was possible, good job Dimitri!

After Dimitri’s presentation I met Borkur Steingrimsson, whom Dimitri already knew. Borkur told me that he’d already made dinner reservations for us to wind down after our presentations. This meant that he’d called Mark Rittman and Peter Scott and arranged for us to meet up. This was exactly what I needed, so thanks Borkur!

We headed over to some bar (which I forget the name of) and had some great tapas and a few good beers.

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I’ve met Mark before at Collab and OpenWorld, but I’d never met Borkur or Peter before, they’re both really nice guys and very easy to talk with. After the food we headed over to another pub which was pretty empty when we arrived, but soon started to fill up and rapidly became a ‘who’s who’ of the Oracle world, with Lisa Dobson, Doug Burns, Marco Gralike and many many others arriving.

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I lasted till around 11:30pm and then had to head back to the hotel to get some sleep…however I found out the next day that some people managed to stay in the pub until 4:50am…I won’t name names, but you know who you are 😉

UKOUG Day 2

It’s a nice short walk from the hotel to the conference centre, but it’s also a nice scenic one walking along the canal.

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Today I started off with “Oracle SQL Developer Latest Features” by Sue Harper, SQL Developer is a fantastic (and free!) tool that is becoming more and more tightly integrated with Application Express and I would encourage any APEX developers who aren’t using SQL Developer to try it out. There were some great tips and features on display here and after speaking to Kris Rice at OpenWorld there are plenty more to come I’m sure.

After a quick coffee break, it was time for a session very close to my own feelings on the subject, i.e. “Harvesting the Advantages of a Database Centric Development Approach” by Toon Koppelaars. This session in a nutshell was a breakdown of why you should almost always want to place your logic in the database because frontends (and front-end development tools) come and go, but the database and your data remain constant throughout. I’m very much ‘on message’ with Toon about this (hence my evangelism about APEX as a development tool). An excellent presentation and I was pleased to meet Toon in person after having swapped quite a few emails with each other over the last few months.

Next up it was another APEX session – “Building the Rich User Interface with Oracle Application Express and AJAX” by Anthony Rayner. Anthony is one of those APEX people who blog frequently and post very frequently in the forums, so I was looking forward to meeting him in person and seeing/hearing him present. The session was a good technical session on how to use AJAX in your applications to make the end-user experience much more rewarding (I’m definitely with Anthony on that one, it’s all very well designing an application that *you* like, but it’s whether the end-users like using it that matters!).

Unfortunately Anthony had a bit of a nightmare at the start when the projector didn’t seem to be working. From experience I know that it doesn’t exactly do your confidence any good when something like that happens right before you start. However, it happens to every presenter at some point (probably my turn for something to go wrong tomorrow!), however Anthony recovered well and the presentation managed to start more or less on time.

I mentioned to Anthony afterwards that he could have perhaps done with a longer time-slot, given the amount of technical information he was trying to convey (that’s not a criticism of Anthony, just that I know how difficult it is to present a lot of information in a relatively short space of time).

After lunch I caught the next session by Jonathan Lewis on “Understanding Statspack”, once again another Masterclass Presentation by Jonathan full of tips gathered from his extensive knowledge of the subject.

I had planned to visit one last session before the close of the day, but once again work beckoned and I ended up getting side-lined.

Tomorrow it’s a busy ‘APEX Day’, with –

  • Programming Real Applications with APEX – Andrew Woodward
  • Debugging APEX Applications – Me!
  • APEX Roundtable – Jeremy Duggan, Dimitri Gielis, Anthony Rayner
  • BI Publisher & APEX – Dimitri Gielis

I still can’t believe my session is scheduled to be in Hall 1…surely that can’t be right? Someone, somewhere has made a mistake (me?!).

Tomorrow should be interesting…I guess I’d better make sure my demos work!

UKOUG Day 1

About 2 hours before I set off to drive down to the UKOUG (thankfully no trans-atlantic Jetlag inducing journey for an Oracle conference this time!) I realised I’d ‘lost’ my IPaq which I use for GPS.

Knowing that my chances of driving down to Birmingham and finding the hotel (Jurys Inn, where all the ‘tech people’ seem to be staying apparently) without getting lost were next to nil, I had to race out to buy a new TomTom GPS from PC World (I know, I know! Desperate times call for desperate measures though, besides I’m not the only one who had to call into PC World at the last minute).

I also managed to forget to pack the cable to connect my camera to my laptop, so there’ll be a distinct lack of photos from these posts, although I can use my iPhone (with it’s woefully inadequate camera).

I literally bumped into Mark Rittman in the lifts at hotel on monday morning and we had a very quick chat before Mark had to race off to fulfill all his duties.

UKOUG is much smaller than OpenWorld, but that’s actually a nice thing (after the ‘excess’ of OpenWorld) since it increases the chances of bumping into people you know (or people you jus met the day before).

Registration was very straight-forward, then I did the usual ‘check my email’ early morning task while sitting down on one of the comfy beanbags. When someone came over and said ‘hello’, it turned out to be H.Tonguç YILMAZ, I’ve been reading his blog for a while now so it was really nice to meet up with him, like I say, it’s so much easier to bump into people at UKOUG!

It was time to head over to the Keynote headed by Ian Smith which was the usual sort of opening Keynote you’d expect from such a conference, talking about ’30 years working with our customers”.

Tom Kyte then talked about “30 Years of Oracle”, Tom was his usual self, very easy to listen to and a great presenter. I particularly liked his joke about the 1.0 Clock and 2.0 Clock (I guess you had to be there to be appreciate it though).

I then watched “Oracle Application Express 3.0: Introduction and New Features” by Barry McGillin, which was a good overview of all the nice ‘juicyness’ in APEX 3.0 and 3.1 for those people who aren’t currently using 3.0 (or have not seen the 3.1 demo/beta evaluation). The presentation was full with a few people standing up at the back, Barry did a great job trying to fit in all of the features in the time available.

Next I went to the “Playing Russian Roulette with Silver Bullets” session by Jonathan Lewis, Jonathan (like Tom) is another fantastic presenter, so no matter what the title of the presentation chances are I’d have gone along to listen to it. The content was extremely topical (especially if you follow the OTN forums), since Jonathan covered not only those people who suggest ‘Silver Bullets’ to people who post problems, but also covered people who actively search for ‘Silver Bullets’. There were also a few funny quotes and examples thrown in for good measure, very entertaining and highly recommended if you get the chance to see it in the future.

After lunch there was another APEX related session on, this time by Jagdev Panesar about “Oracle APEX and Photographs, a mashup made in….”. This presentation was about Jaddev’s requirement to build an application to manage his photographs (and of course he chose APEX to do it), whilst Jagdev said at the beginning of the session that it wasn’t a technical session, it actually was in places, there was some good technical content particularly when he discussed using Oracle Text to help to index his data to make it easily searchable from his APEX application.

Final session of the day was back to Tom Kyte for ’11g New Features for DBAs’ where Tom covered some of the features that make 11g an almost ‘essential’ upgrade in terms of making your life as a DBA easier.

Then it was time to head back to the Hotel (bumping into Doug Burns on the way) and catch up with some work, I then planned to go to the Blogger Meetup however unfortunately the fates conspired against me and the ’30 minutes work’ I had to do turned into 3 hours, around 11pm I decided it was far from sensible to go out and start drinking at that point.

Perhaps the most worrying thing from Day 1 was noticing that the session I’m presenting on Wednesday, ‘Debugging APEX applications’ is scheduled to be in Hall 1. Hall 1 is the same place that was used for the Keynote speed, it is *HUGE*.

Now I’m hoping at this point there’s a severe misprint in the schedule and they’re going to relocate it on wednesday since I seriously cannot see enough people being at the session to make it worthwhile being in Hall 1.

On the plus side, I won’t need to ‘zoom in’ during my demos, as the projection screen in Hall 1 is about the size of a small house.