Saturday, December 22, 2012

UKOUG 2012

My third time visiting the annual UKOUG conference in Birmingham started all wrong. At Schiphol Airport, the usual luggage check routine took place: laptop out of the suitcase, wallet/keys/belt apart, toothpaste apart. And afterwards putting everything back in. But I forgot to close the wheeled suitcase and when putting it on the ground, my MacBook Pro fell out. A quick inspection revealed that it still worked, but the screen just stayed black. When I arrived at the hotel, I also noticed that my international power adapter set included everything except the British one. The hotel didn't have a spare one and the local store did not sell adapters. Fortunately, Roel Hartman offered his MacBook for my presentation at Wednesday, and I could borrow a British power adapter from Luc Bors, who was leaving Birmingham monday afternoon. And when I told the story to Hans Forbrich, he also offered me a set. And then I learned that this year's speakers gift was .... an international power adapter set.

So, back to the conference itself. Again, it was full of excellent presentations. These were the presentations I chose to hear:

Opening Keynote by Dermot O'Kelly and Andrew Sutherland
Keynote by Tom Kyte: Oracle's Latest Generation of Database Technology
David Peake: Oracle APEX 4.2 Unplugged
Dimitri Gielis: Moving to the APEX Listener
Hilary Farrell: RESTful Web Services in Oracle Application Express 4.2
Roel Hartman: Pump Up the Volume! The APEX Data Loader Inside Out
Martin Corry with funny anecdotes about rugby and team play.

Anthony Rayner: Build a Great User Experience with Oracle Application Express
David Peake: Deploying and Developing Application Express with Oracle Pluggable Databases
John Scott: Apex Error Handling Enhancements
Tanel Poder: Exadata Performance Method
James Morle: Building a Winning Oracle Database Architecture
John Scott: Oracle APEX: Websockets (or When Push Comes to Shove)
Aino Andriessen: Deploy with Joy: Using Hudson to Build and Deploy your ADF Fusion Application
Tom Kyte: What's New in Oracle Database Application Development

Me: Professional Software Development Using APEX
Tony Hasler: The MODEL Clause Explained
Anthony Rayner: Building Mobile Web Applications with Oracle Application Express
Paul Broughton: APEX: Why Not Google It?

Although most presentations were very good, the one that stood out, for me, was John Scott's Websockets presentation. With illustrative and very entertaining demo's, he not only showed how Websockets work, but especially what's possible if you let your imagination run wild. If you ever get the chance to see this presentation, please do yourself a favour.

My own presentation was on Wednesday morning, called "Professional Software Development Using APEX". It is a talk about how to do version control, parallel development, one-step builds, daily builds and unit tests with APEX. In a small room, Hall 7b, but well attended with 40-50 people. Using Roel's MacBook Air, the presentation itself went fine, but I was not entirely satisfied. Although I have some experience with presenting, this time I was more nervous than usual. Probably due to the changes I had made the weekend before and not being able to prepare those last-minute changes well enough because of not having access to my MacBook Pro. And it showed. All presenters talk about a topic they are passionate about, but you need to get that passion across. And nerves do exactly the opposite. Usually, my presentations score a tiny bit above conference average, this time my presentation scored a bit below. Still good (above 4), by the way, especially considering the other amazing presentations out there. The benefit is that I think I've learned a lot more from this experience than usual and I'm looking forward to improve on the next occasion.

On the social front, I visited the ACE dinner at Sunday evening, organized by Debra Lilley (thanks Debra!). Had some nice conversations at the dinner table with Sten Vesterli, Michael Abbey, Killian Evers and Piet de Visser among others. Next to the presentations, one of the benefits of such a conference is that you get to meet a lot of Oracle friends again. And you meet some new ones. This year for example, I had the pleasure of meeting Timo Raitalaakso, also known as "rafu", Finnish SQL guru, who came to me at the end of my own session. Together with Tuomas Pystynen and Jacco Landlust, we were on the same plane back home.

After the conference, I took my MacBook Pro for repair and I got it back last weekend. So if you are wondering why I waited almost three weeks with this post: that's the reason. Next year, the conference will be split up to get an even more technology focussed event in Manchester. Hopefully I'll get an abstract accepted again. For this year, a big "thank you" to the UKOUG team for organizing a great event, developing a good event app and even responding to tweets.