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UKOUG 2014

So it’s that time of year when I have to decide on my timetable for the UKOUG annual conference. Of course, I never manage to stick to it, but in principle here are the sessions I’ve highlighted:

Tweet

I don’t know why I ever agree to go anywhere near Doug Burns – he usually manages to persuade me into doing things I don’t want to. This time (at a meeting of the London Oracle Beer group) he’s persuaded me that I really should join twitter. So I have (jloracle) – and found that I was being followed by four people before I even created an account, and was advised that I’d really, really, like to follow:

  • Jack Rivera
  • Justin Bieber
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Katy Perry
  • Gwen Shapira

I had no idea who Jack Rivera might be, though I did recognise the next three names from those annoying ads that seem to appear on all sorts of news feeds. The one that baffled me was Gwen Shapira – by what mechanism did twitter manage to connect my name/tag/email address with someone relevant ?

Anyway, thanks, Doug – now I have to start thinking of something intelligent, perceptive or witty in 140 characters or less.

 

ISS

I’d like to dedicate this posting to fellow Oak Table member Richard Foote, for reasons that the readers we have in common will immediately recognise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo

The singer is Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield who has been tweeting and posting pictures from space – be careful, you may get hooked: https://twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/status/332819772989378560/photo/1

Update:

When I posted the link to the video it had received 1.5M views; less than 24 hours later it’s up to roughly 7M. (And they weren’t all Richard Foote). Clearly the images have caught the imagination of a lot of people. If you have looked at the twitter stream it’s equally inspiring – and not just for the pictures.

 

Travelogue 3

I’m sure I wrote something a little while ago about cutting down on long-haul flights – but I’ve just been subjected to a positive barrage of invitations that I’ve found hard to resist. So my international travel itinerary for the future is starting to look like it might be a little busy. Probable highlights:

I’m aiming to take a short city-break in Moscow in May, and I’ll be stopping off with the people at Innova to spend a day talking about Oracle.

I’ve volunteered to take part in the southern leg of the “LA OTN” tour in August – aiming to visit Chile 01/08, Peru 03/08, Uruguay 06/08, Argentina 08/08, and Brazil 10/08 – flying home just in time for my son’s 21st birthday.

Then, in late October, I have an invitation to spend a couple of days in Beijing presenting at the All China Oracle User Group conference.

Help Yourself

When people ask for help on (for example) OTN, they are often asked to supply further information – sometimes in the form of requests for results from SQL queries. If you are ever in this position, you may find that you don’t understand what the query does, or why the information is useful – nevertheless you can still do something to make it as easy as possible for your potential saviour to help you.

Here’s an example to show you how NOT to do it:
Request for information: “Please format the contents of v$sga_dynamic_components.”
Response:

Weather

I thought it was pretty cold in Sarajevo a couple of weeks ago, and therefore fairly mild in Minneapolis and Denver when the temperature was only just around freezing point – but after reading this report I don’t think I’m every going to say anything more about cold weather.

(Note: with my scientific/skeptic hat on, I have yet to be convinced that the story is completely true – there is one obvious weak point.)

 

Planet Earth

I know it’s another post that’s not about Oracle, but someone sent me this video link a couple of days ago and it’s too wonderful not to share. (I’ve just got back from Iceland, so the Aurora Borealis at 1:05 is particularly relevant)

Big Numbers

It’s hard, sometimes, to get an instinctive idea of how big a “big number” really is. I’ve just heard a brilliant description of a billion (American style: 109) that really gives you a gut feeling for how big the number is:

If you owed someone a billion dollars, and paid it back at the rate of $1 per second – how long would it take to pay off the debt (and don’t even think about the interest accruing) ?

The answer is 34 years.

The way I read it, that turns a big number into a number that’s small enough to comprehend but big to feel enormous.

Upgrades

Here’s a link to a truly ambitious document on Metalink (if you’re allowed to log on):

Doc ID 421191.1: Complete checklist for manual upgrades of Oracle databases from any version to any version on any platform

(Actually it only starts at v6 – but I don’t think there are many systems still running v5 and earlier).

Helpdesk

How to ensure that you never give the wrong answer – as demonstrated by my bank’s telephone help system:

Stage 1 – after calling in through a special high-cost number, of course:

“{long message extolling the virtues of using the bank’s internet system for all your requirements}”

Stage 2 – you wait for the list of options to be recited

“Press 1 for …”
“Press 2 for …”

“Press 9 to speak to a member of the helpdesk”

Stage 3 – you decide the only relevant option is to press 9 to speak to a person:

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you want.” click, brrrrrrrrrrrrr …

Maxim: If you don’t want to fail, don’t even try.