Review of Hotsos Symposium 2007

Posted in: Technical Track

Two weeks ago, I was at my first Hotsos Symposium. Needless to say, I was quite excited and looking forward to it.

Day Zero

The flight was pleasant. I went through Toronto, and the only disappointment was the US border control, but that wasn’t as bad as it could be (believe me, I know what a nightmare it can be sometimes). During the flight, and waiting on the check-ins, I worked on my paper for IOUG COLLABORATE 07, as the deadline had arrived and it was urgent that I finish it. Obviously, my laptop didn’t survive on batteries until the very end, but I did get 4+ hours, and that’s quite impressive for my old ThinkPad.

The arrival was uneventful and since I had only hand luggage, I was at the cash machine and off to the taxi stand in no time . The trip was 15 minutes at the most. To my surprise, the taxi driver didn’t want to fill in the receipt and just provided me with a blank one.

The view of Dallas from the hotel was very nice:
image: view of Dallas from my hotel suite

image: view of Dallas from my hotel suite

I arrived few hours prior to Mr. Burns’s arrival and had some time to finish my paper on change-tracking internals, so instead of enjoying the beautiful, almost-summer weather, I spent a couple hours in my room. That was enough for me and I was already thinking of going out when my phone rang. Surprise, surprise — it was my very good mate Doug, and he was in fine shape, considering that he had been slacking off almost the whole week, and had had quite a long flight (apparently he was sleeping in the first class in Lufthansa).

It was very nice to see him again, and few Coronas and beef fajitas made me even happier. After 6pm we went to registration and joined the crowd. There were many old friends as well as new ones — always a pleasure to see them all. Free beers only add excitement to the party. So does free food I suppose, but I was so full by then that I couldn’t afford to lose more space to food, so I decided to stick to beers. After registration, a gang of us floated over to the hotel pub.

Day One

Sunday evening was quite busy as you can imagine, but somehow I made it to the room shortly after 1am; so I was very fresh Monday morning. This was my first time seeing Cary Milsap speak. I very much liked his style and the talk was just what I expected. Christian Antognini delivered very good stuff on parallel queries in RAC — his findings were very interesting and there is definitely a place for more research there. The highlight of the day was presentation from Stephan Haisley on Undo and Redo optimization in 10g and 11{pick a letter}. A great presenter with very good material. Unfortunately, I missed Anjo’s speech but I can catch up offline as the material is available.

Julian Dyke delivered very good RAC material as usual. I was actually smiling through the whole presentation because I have been constantly hitting the problem he described and this week saw it once again. Julian must have spent hundreds of hours in Power Point to get all his animation done.

Jonathan Lewis closed the day sharing with us how to get through the jungles of execution plans. Very hardcore stuff.

The evening was very good — the Hotsos dinner with excellent food and free drinks — what could be better? Unfortunately, the bar closed relatively early but the party wasn’t over. Somehow I ended up in my room shortly after 1am again — unexpectedly early again.

Day Two

I chatted with many of the very bright guys at the conference. I should mention the excellent presentation from Jonathan Lewis on Statspack, Joze Senegacnik’s talk on SQL Profiles, and Tanel Põder with his insights on internal optimizations in 10g and 11{whatever}. I closed the day with James Morle presenting benchmarks with Simora – very good stuff and a good project to get involved in. I’m using HammerOra for one of our clients now and I didn’t know of Simora’s existence until now. I should have a closer look at it. I missed Wolfgang Breitling’s presentation on Histograms and I’m very disappointed about that. I hope to make it to his presentation at one of the next conferences.

This evening I went to the Oracle-L list dinner and after that joined the Russian Oracle gang in the pub. Apparently, there were about 10 Russian-speaking visitors at this Hotsos Symposium. Anyway, I made it to bed by about 2am, a bit later this night — the Russian influence.

Day Three

This was a short day as my flight was at 5 pm. It was actually delayed a bit but how could I have known?

The highlight of the day for me was the presentation of my team mate, Doug Burns. He was talking about parallel execution profiles and how to find where “unaccounted-for” time is being spent. He looked very confident and quite credible in his suit — unlike every other presenter. ;-)
image: Doug Burns

He even made the attendees famous on his blog by taking a picture:
image: Doug Burns takes a picture

Unfortunately, it didn’t take him long to ruin his credibility by uncovering his very fashionable belt:
image: Doug Burns shows off his hideous belt
Apparently, his brain was so occupied with his presentation that his usual belt didn’t make it to the bag (and it was a big bag). Where was Madeleine looking?

However, he quickly recovered his credibility by walking us through the jungle of parallel tracing, prstat, and DTrace. You can judge the quality of presentation by the number of people that didn’t let him go for lunch for at least 40 minutes:
image: Doug Burns waylaid by admirers
I had to politely hint to the visitors it was fajitas day, and they might not get the food if they didn’t hurry. That didn’t work very well, but Doug’s promise to follow up on all questions off-line helped. And he actually did.

So it was time to go. I would really have loved to stay couple more days and talk to my old and new friends, but life is life. I enjoyed the event and the venue very much. The presentations very generally very good, and to my surprise some of them were somewhat lighter than I would expect. However, that might actually play positively in extending the audience — there are only so many freaks interested only in hardcore performance and internals.

P.S.: Did you wonder why I haven’t been blogging much recently? I won’t say the usual stuff about being busy because the truth is, I was probably not in the right mood. Note that spring is coming to Ottawa – it’s time to get back to the blog again!

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About the Author

What does it take to be chief technology officer at a company of technology experts? Experience. Imagination. Passion. Alex Gorbachev has all three. He’s played a key role in taking the company global, having set up Pythian’s Asia Pacific operations. Today, the CTO office is an incubator of new services and technologies – a mini-startup inside Pythian. Most recently, Alex built a Big Data Engineering services team and established a Data Science practice. Highly sought after for his deep expertise and interest in emerging trends, Alex routinely speaks at industry events as a member of the OakTable.

6 Comments. Leave new

Syed Jaffar Hussain
March 20, 2007 12:47 am

Thanks for sharing your experience with us Alex. Very impressive journey.
Can we expect more stuff on your blogging now?



Thanks for the kind comments, Alex.

At this point I feel the urge to point out that you might think that 1am is early but I think I was always in my bed by 11pm at the latest. Some people might think this makes me an anti-social creep, but it was just the timezone disruption.

P.S. Business class home was pretty good too. Lufthansa – highly recommended.
P.P.S. Madeleine is not allowed to be involved in my packing. The last time, Polly Piggy turned up as a stow-away!


Doug: you’re covering for the fact that once you have kids, you can’t stay up late like us young’ons anymore :)

Alex Gorbachev
March 20, 2007 8:56 am

Can we expect more stuff on your blogging now?

I just realized that it was more than a month since my last post… radio silence. :)

I was always in my bed by 11pm at the latest.

Which is about 4 am your time so you are quite nice pro-social Scott. (are there any other kinds? ;-)

Alex Gorbachev
March 20, 2007 8:58 am

once you have kids
you might actually find yourself staying much longer ;-)

Off to Hotsos Symposium 2008
March 1, 2008 11:22 pm

[…] year’s Hotsos Symposium was the first for me. These were exciting few days and I fully enjoyed the conference. I’m very pleased that this […]


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