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Ready for UKOUG

Yes, I know the technical content has been non-existent recently but it's conference season and I've started my trip to UKOUG already, despite the fact Birmingham is only about an hour away on the train from my new home! So although a fun weekend in Edinburgh awaits, celebrating a couple of important birthdays before I head into the utter chaos of conference, a quick post seems a good idea. (Train journeys do that to you ...)

I'm very excited about UKOUG this year. It only occurred to me when I was looking back through some old mails to dig out some details that last year hadn't been one of my happiest UKOUG experiences. I don't remember thinking it was that bad and my blog post seems fairly stoic in retrospect, but ....

- The weather in Britain was horrible and I only just managed to make it to Birmingham after a long wait. To give that some context, it took me about as long to get to UKOUG last year as it did to OOW in San Francisco this year ;-) Others who I'd hoped to see didn't make it :-(

- My abstract wasn't accepted so I wasn't presenting which meant a little less pressure but a lot more expense for the conference registration, so I only spent 2 days away from work to make up for that.

- My skin condition was an absolute nightmare and it was only when it started to get better in the first couple of months of this year that I realised just how much it had been getting me down. But I do remember one particularly chilly afternoon trying to find something, anything that would make me more comfortable*.

- Whilst pointing out that one of those things was Baby Oil is Too Much Information (really, I was happy to take anything that Boots had on offer!), it is funny because the combination of that and too much alcohol combined to create a situation where I found Alex Gorbachev tieing my shoe-laces for me one morning!

- Oh, and lest I forget, there was the panto :-( But, on the good side, a lot of money was raised and it was fun really.

I really didn't remember it being an unhappy experience but, looking back, it was probably my worst UKOUG experience.

Well, fake positivity pushed to one side (as usual), I've got a good feeling this will be one of my best.

- I'm presenting a couple of times although part of me is unhappy but unsurprised that the presentation I really care about and think is important will be delivered to 3 people (and I'm including myself) at 9:00 after the party and the one I have almost no confidence in is going to be in Hall 1 immediately before Cary Millsap! Maybe I'm the worst judge of these things anyway, judging by this blog post and particularly the comments, but I've now started to worry about the SPM presentation more than I was. (See what happened there - I tried to be positive for a bit and it didn't work ....)

- I'm actually going to be presenting 3 times now as this will be the first time a few of the Oak Table Network members will be attempting a new approach loosely based on the TED talks called OAK Talks. Each lunchtime, 5 different presenters will be speaking for 10 minutes each on a subject of their choosing with no slides allowed. I decided on 'You Probably Don't Need Exadata'. Whether I'll be able to distill 18 months of whining down the pub into 10 coherent minutes is another matter ;-) These will be held in the Unconference area at lunchtime on the three main conference days. I've seen some negative comments on Twitter to the effect that the Oak Table have somehow nabbed the most prestigious lunchtime Unconference slot in advance, when it should be first-come-first-served, like other Unconferences so, just to expand on my recollection of how this came about when it was all organised very late in the day ... I was keen that we should give some of the Oracle visitors from the US as much presentation time as possible so we discussed doing some talks in a pub somewhere near the ICC. Then someone informed me there was an Unconference this year, which I'd been unaware of. So (and this is the important bit) rather than detract from that, steal slots that new speakers could use and potentially steal attendees away from the ICC, wouldn't it be a marvellous idea to do it at lunchtime when there weren't going to be any Unconference sessions (because, erm it's lunchtime). That way, we could add something new in a space that wasn't scheduled to be used and help advertise and draw attention to the Unconference! Whether you think that's good or bad, my own intentions were all completely positive and trying to support other speakers too, even though not everyone sees it that way. Sigh

- Did I mention? There's an Unconference! Sign-up in the Registration area - first-come-first-served which means that anyone can present and use a variety of styles or subjects that might not have made it on to the main agenda! I've always liked the Unconference at OOW, but attendances can be a little sparse, so give it your support.

- Just for a bit of variety, I won't be staying in the Jurys this year, but trying the Hyatt again after a long absence. It's a small change, but that can be as good as a rest, I believe. Not that I'm planning too much rest, you understand! ;-)

- The agenda, as always, is stunning although I may have to revise this after I've checked out what's happening at the Unconference.

- Although I won't be able to make the whole of Oak Table Sunday because of my travel plans, I'm looking forward to seeing three of this year's Oak Table Movember volunteers raise even more money through their final shave-off, which should take place at some point on Sunday - yet to be decided! Alex Gorbachev, Dan Norris and James Morle. Two of them even hit fund-raising targets that led to died facial hair! Come along and check it out of you can and, even if you can't make it, you can probably count on some photos ;-)

- Last, but definitely not least, there is another opportunity for anyone interested in a full day of training from Cary Millsap in Birmingham on the Thursday immediately after the conference finishes. If you want to know how much fun I had on the course, check out my thoughts here. Well worth your while if you can spare the day and seems great value to me. If I hadn't attended so recently, I'd be there myself.

A lot to look forward to then and I really can't wait to get going on Sunday and meet up with friends!

* But at least I was taking notes and learning lessons so started treatment a couple of weeks ago. More reason to be happy! ;-)