Mind you this was actually written more than a week ago but I didn’t have time to review and upload the photos on time so sorry for this delay.
I’m on the plane back to Canada and I’m extremely satisfied with the conference this year. I should say that I found it harder to keep up in the evenings with some slightly non-sober DBA’s around and get up “early” in the mornings to visit several good morning technical sessions. You might blame age but I shouldn’t complain… not yet, at least!
Enough whining… This is my final UKOUG 2007 post as you might have figured already so let’s get to it.
The last day was the shortest but the most difficult. I set my alarm at 8AM and it worked, unfortunately. I got up but couldn’t find my way around bouncing from the walls and bumping into the corners so I had to catch another couple hours of sleep. I could only wake up after 10 and by the time I took a shower, packed my luggage and checked out, it’s almost the middle of Doug Burns’ presentation and I didn’t want to disturb his speech which was very good I heard. Christo’s presentation was over by that time but I saw it already anyway in a full 60 minutes format so I didn’t really need a 45 minutes refresher. In addition, I can always shout in the office if I need an answer to a memory questions.
I waited in the speaker lounge until Doug’s session is over and used this opportunity to chat with few other speakers and later bumped into Lisa Dobson (or did she bump into me?). I had an interesting observation that we both were whispering and my explanation would be that we didn’t want to bother several other speakers who were focused on work, presentations and emails. There is another theory as well but I like this one more. ;-)
By the way, UKOUG Conference has the best speaker lounge of all conferences I presented at, there are several laptops available for public usage (maybe about 10) that are connected to the wired internet. There were two WiFi networks available exclusively in the speaker lounge and tables are arranged nicely to maximize space usage while still providing convenient working conditions. Organizers are also taking good care that there are enough power bars around and it’s easy to plug a laptop anywhere in the room. Actually, speaker lounge occupies two adjacent rooms.
I.e. ideal geeks environment. I can only complain about one small inconvenience but it’s rather disturbing for a geek especially when you are working long hours the night before. Coffee quality was way below average, this was brownish semi-transparent liquid that has nothing to do with coffee. There was a cafeteria downstairs and Italian bar-restaurant and the latter served better coffee even though it’s more expensive.
Finally, I popped into the Haul 9 where Doug had just finished his presentation. Yesterday, he was leaving our usual evening destination (more on that later) rather early and I had my laptop with me. I know that I’m particularly good at loosing laptop bags in certain state of mind so he was very kind to take my bag with him and carry it back to the conference the next day. In appreciation, Doug is excused for not keeping the secrets in secret.
Back to Hall 9, the security on the entrance didn’t let me into the hall even though the presentation was already over. I didn’t have my conference badge on me since I left it in the bag that was inside the hall that I couldn’t enter without the badge that was¦ However, a word of a UKOUG Director revealing my identity was enough and I should thank Peter Robson for recognizing me. It might have been a bit more difficult that morning though.
The first thing I noticed entering the scene is a new toy, nice color Doug! (Late update: of course, it’s a very old news now)
Few minutes later, we bumped into Christo and couldn’t believe our eyes:
He looked happy and it means that his presentation went well.
I couldn’t attend any of the masterclasses after lunch as we had to dash out at 2PM to catch the 14:35 National Express coach to London Heathrow airport so that we are on time for the 7PM flight to Toronto. It meant that attending the first 30 minutes of 2 hours masterclass was not worth it. Instead, I had quick session at All Bar One with Jose Senegacnik and Niall Litchfield. There, Jose bought me the best beer of this conference yes, it felt that good!
I should apologize to few people I didn’t have a chance to catch up with and say goodbye. Everyone went to masterclasses and that’s not something you want to miss, indeed.
To finish the travel topic the bus wasn’t late and we were in the airport more than 90 minutes in advance. Heathrow is a busy airport so security control and customs are especially annoying but we even had some time for shopping and used it well (at least, Olga was happy). Now is probably a good time to mention the rest of yesterday and give you a hint why getting up at 10AM was still quite heroic…
Pete Finnigan closed Wednesday technical program with session on Oracle Forensics. Interesting talk and I have specific interest there as I’ve done some work in this area for few Pythian clients. I blogged a while ago about couple cases and Pete even mentioned them in his presentation as a good source. That’s hell a lot of a compliment from Mr. Oracle Security. Thanks Pete!
I wasn’t attending the official UKOUG dinner on Wednesday (45 quids is way too high I think). Instead, I took a chance to meet the whole bunch of socialists for CERN and it was a great dinner. We met at 7:00pm at the Sports Bar on Broad Street and went to Indian restaurant, Bar A Jee. I’ve been there on Sunday already and I should thank Tom Kyte for showing this place (or was it Melanie Caffrey or Mark Bobak who suggested it?). The food was excellent and value for money was great. I think everyone liked it, even Christo was satisfied and that’s quite an achievement if you know what I’m talking about.
We had interesting discussions with CERN guys about pretty much everything starting from Oracle and finishing with how it feels to work at CERN. I tell you the projects they are working on are very interesting. By the way, I think the presentations from CERN were one of the best on this UKOUG conference good topics, right level of details and all based on the real-life projects. Well done guys! We also received an unofficial invitation to come to CERN to present one day and I think I might use that chance one day.
Since Bar A Jee was just around the corner from Tap and Spile, we naturally moved there and it was my pleasure to buy few rounds there. (By the way, I thought Christo doesn’t drink)
I should say that younger population led by Christo left for some clubbing experience (Birmingham never sleeps) and only Philip and Luca left from CERN. But at that time the usual suspects started to show up. That evening, someone, finally, recognized the importance of Tap and Spile for UKOUG conference and the next year it was proposed to make it an official part of UKOUG and add Tap and Stpile to the agenda as the venue for networking sessions. If my memory serves me correctly (I wouldn’t be too sure about it already), this idea was also supported by UKOUG directorate representative there.
Indeed, it seems there was half of the UKOUG conference at Tap and Spile while another half was at the official dinner. After midnight some of the less endurable participants started to leave but around 1AM a fresh wave of thirsty geeks came from UKOUG dinner. That was very much awaited reinforcement and pints counter went into overflow according to BWR (Beer Workload Repository) reports that I was trying to produce next morning maybe even few times.
Countless pints, Icelandic blokes, one beautiful Oracle DBA, newspaper hand-made hats, dancing and, I suspect, some singing judging by my voice next morning. What can be better?
Newspaper hat (Russian style):
We were playing “last one standing” but it seems that this night the prize would go to one female representative. In the end, it turned out that Tap and Spile does close at some point and that fact saved us, men, from a complete fiasco. As I said already I wouldn’t trust my memory at that point but I reckon the small arrow on my watches was in the area of 5.
Some of the last standing (or sitting?):
I’m back to Ottawa and well rested as I’m finishing this line. I will post about next year plans soon and which conferences I’m going to so you can consider showing up there yourself for an interesting educational program. Stay tuned.
I can only complain about one small inconvenience but itâ€™s rather disturbing for a geek especially when you are working long hours the night before. Coffee quality was way below average â€“ this was brownish semi-transparent liquid that has nothing to do with coffee.
And I though this was because we were in Britain / abroad…
Toon (Koppelaars) solved his (and my) problem regarding this issue by adding extra decaffeinated coffee powder to the so called / presented “coffee” liquid. One straw of decaffeinated coffee powder was just enough to experience a coffee sensation.
Hi Alex, it was nice to meet you and Christo and well done with your presentations .. + thanks for leading us into the ‘Birmingham by night’ after the conference!
PS: I fully agree with you on the quality of coffee at the speaker’s lounge (I am proposing Italian espresso for next year’s UKOUG :)
Yes, agreed on the coffee. I would share it with the UKOUG directors but I wouldn’t want to give away too many secrets!
Thank goodness! You’re getting as bad as me ;-) (Must be old age …)
Yes, I think the pub shut around five o’clock. Practically the first time I’ve seen the new licencing laws in action.
My first UKOUG conference, so my head was spinning anyway. I’d just about recovered in time for the excellent masterclass the next day, but that wasn’t helped by the conference lunch on Thursday!