The evening before the NZOUG conference was a bit chaotic. There was still no resolution to the Qantas fiasco and I was starting to believe I would have to cancel my sessions in Perth and try to fly home from Auckland. I tried to switch my flights, but everything was sold out.
By the next morning the Qantas strike seemed to be over, but there were reports of delays and disruption, so I was still not sure if I would make it to Perth.
NZOUG Day 1:
Following on from my previous post, once the OTN APAC event was over I managed to see some of the sights of Beijing and the surrounding area, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and Ming Tombs. I’ve uploaded some photos here, but it seems my photography skills are getting worse, not better. I’m ashamed to say these are the better photos. Let’s not discuss the ones I’ve not bothered to upload.
I have a few suggestions for any travellers to China:
I’m now stationed at my friends house about 40 minutes from Auckland. There are cows in the garden, including 6 new calves which are pretty funny, and two pre-school children who are pretty funny too. Although I’m very much a towny at heart, I must admit the change in pace and air quality is very welcome. Last week I was talking about Oracle and this week I’ve chopping down some trees, cleared some scrub and pretended (very badly) to be a farmer. I’ve nearly mastered saying, “Get off my land!”, or as the Kiwi’s say it, “Gt ff my lnd aye!” I’m trying to introduce vowels to the natives, but with the exception of the word “aye” that is added to the end of every sentence, vowels seem to be lost forever.
In a few days I will transplant to Auckland and start the NZOUG conference.
My flights to China were rather uneventful. The Birmingham to Dubai leg was delayed by an hour due to fog in Dubai. I had a 4 hour connection in Dubai originally, so the delay was no big deal.
Arriving in Beijing was a little unnerving. I misplaced the Chinese version of the hotel address, but had the English version. Finding someone to translate it proved very difficult and as it turned out they translated it incorrectly. Fortunately I found a cached version of the address on my iPad, so that saved by bacon. The second hitch was that I couldn’t get cash with by debit cards. Just a flat-out refusal from any ATM in China. Arrrggghhh! Fortunately, I was able to get cash advances using my credit card. I’m going to pay through the nose for it, but at least I can survive.
Today is the first day of the conference and I had a morning slot. For the English speakers, we had one screen showing our slides in English and one showing the Chinese translation. I was asked to speak more slowly than usual (kinda difficult for me) and as a result I had to reduce the content somewhat. I did a run through last night to make sure my timing was OK with this adjustment.
The conference has a single track, so you get a room full of people from different technical areas. This is always a little unnerving as you worry about the relevance of your material to audience. Here are a couple of photos of the audience I took while I was setting up.
Everything seemed to go OK. I hope they understood my accent.
With a bit of luck I will get to see some of Beijing over the next couple of days. I’m behing the Great Firewall of China, so some sites (Facebook and Twitter) are blocked completely and many other sites (like Gmail and any other Google related services) seem to come and go. For the time being my blog seems active. If I lose access to it I will update things once I get to New Zealand.