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OTN APAC Tour 2014 : It’s Nearly Here!

airplane-flying-through-clouds-smallIn a little less than a week I start the OTN APAC Tour. This is where I’m going to be…

  • Perth, Australia : November 6-7
  • Shanghai, China : November 9
  • Tokyo, Japan : November 11-13
  • Beijing, China : November 14-15
  • Bangkok, Thailand : November 17
  • Auckland, New Zealand : November 19-21

Just looking at that list is scary. When I look at the flight schedule I feel positively nauseous. I think I’m in Bangkok for about 24 hours. It’s sleep, conference, fly. :)

After all these years you would think I would be used to it, but every time I plan a tour I go through the same sequence of events.

OTN APAC Tour 2014

As well as losing the ACED OpenWorld confirmation email, it turns out my website/mailbox move also caused me to lose the email about being accepted on the OTN APAC Tour 2014. I saw a tweet this morning saying that I was on the agenda for the NZOUG event and checked with Francisco to see what was going on. That’s when I found out that yet another important email had gone missing… :)

The good news is I had already agreed the time off work, so everything is good for the tour.

APAC OTN Tour 2013

Just a quick plug for an upcoming OTN tour, that I’m not on this year.

  • Auckland, New Zealand : 8th November (agenda)
  • Perth, Australia : 12th-13th November (agenda)
  • Tokyo, Japan : 13th-15th November
  • Beijing, China : 17th-18th November
  • Guangzou, China : 19th November

I attended the OTN Asia Pacific Tour in 2011, which included some of these locations. Hopefully I will get to do it again in the near future. :)

Like any conferences, these events are all about the attendees, so the more people that turn up and the more vocal the attendees, the better the events are.

OTN APAC Tour: NZOUG Day 1 & 2

The evening before the NZOUG conference was a bit chaotic. There was still no resolution to the Qantas fiasco and I was starting to believe I would have to cancel my sessions in Perth and try to fly home from Auckland. I tried to switch my flights, but everything was sold out.

By the next morning the Qantas strike seemed to be over, but there were reports of delays and disruption, so I was still not sure if I would make it to Perth.

NZOUG Day 1:

OTN APAC Tour: Beijing, China (update)

Following on from my previous post, once the OTN APAC event was over I managed to see some of the sights of Beijing and the surrounding area, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and Ming Tombs. I’ve uploaded some photos here, but it seems my photography skills are getting worse, not better. I’m ashamed to say these are the better photos. Let’s not discuss the ones I’ve not bothered to upload. :)

I have a few suggestions for any travellers to China:

  • Do not consider driving yourself. The traffic is crazy! I’ve never seen anything like it before. I experienced several “we’re all going to die” moments in every trip I took. Probably the worst was when two lorries moved together with our minibus between them. If our driver had not sped up in time, I’m quite convinced the ACE program would have lost several members. As you may have already read, some of the ACEs were in a crash, but came out of it unharmed. I was only able to wear a seat belt on one journey because all but one of the vehicles either had no belts, or belts but nowhere to plug them in. This takes a lot of getting used to.
  • If you have any sort of respiratory issues, it’s probably best to avoid Beijing completely. The pollution is very bad. It quickly makes you feel like you’ve smoked 40 cigarettes for breakfast. Even at the Great Wall (50+km from the city) it is still really bad.
  • Make sure you have printed copies of the Chinese names for any locations you want to visit. Having an English address is pretty much useless. Even with the Chinese addresses, it was often very difficult, especially if the print was small.
  • Don’t rely on any cloud services for your journey. You need local copies of everything and any apps you want to work with should have full offline functionality. Why? The Great Firewall of China is very effective at blocking a variety of services. Most Google services were trashed. Gmail was intermittently offline and I was never able to access attachments. Google Docs essentially doesn’t exist. Google Reader would work for about 5 minutes at a time, then fail bigtime. Most annoyingly, I was unable to use Google to search for anything. :( I was able to search with Bing, but I could only see results in Chinese. Even when I switched to English, I still got results in Chinese. Like I said, be very well prepared because searching for information is not easy. I’m sure there are ways to cope if you are clued up, but I was a little naive and went with very little preparation as far as logistics were concerned.
  • Take money with you. I was able to get cash advances from my credit cards, but the ATM failed to get cash from any of my bank accounts.

I’m now stationed at my friends house about 40 minutes from Auckland. There are cows in the garden, including 6 new calves which are pretty funny, and two pre-school children who are pretty funny too. Although I’m very much a towny at heart, I must admit the change in pace and air quality is very welcome. Last week I was talking about Oracle and this week I’ve chopping down some trees, cleared some scrub and pretended (very badly) to be a farmer. I’ve nearly mastered saying, “Get off my land!”, or as the Kiwi’s say it, “Gt ff my lnd aye!” I’m trying to introduce vowels to the natives, but with the exception of the word “aye” that is added to the end of every sentence, vowels seem to be lost forever. :)

In a few days I will transplant to Auckland and start the NZOUG conference.

Cheers

Tim…




APAC OTN Tour: Beijing, China

My flights to China were rather uneventful. The Birmingham to Dubai leg was delayed by an hour due to fog in Dubai. I had a 4 hour connection in Dubai originally, so the delay was no big deal.

Arriving in Beijing was a little unnerving. I misplaced the Chinese version of the hotel address, but had the English version. Finding someone to translate it proved very difficult and as it turned out they translated it incorrectly. Fortunately I found a cached version of the address on my iPad, so that saved by bacon. The second hitch was that I couldn’t get cash with by debit cards. Just a flat-out refusal from any ATM in China. Arrrggghhh! Fortunately, I was able to get cash advances using my credit card. I’m going to pay through the nose for it, but at least I can survive.

Today is the first day of the conference and I had a morning slot. For the English speakers, we had one screen showing our slides in English and one showing the Chinese translation. I was asked to speak more slowly than usual (kinda difficult for me) and as a result I had to reduce the content somewhat. I did a run through last night to make sure my timing was OK with this adjustment.

The conference has a single track, so you get a room full of people from different technical areas. This is always a little unnerving as you worry about the relevance of your material to audience. Here are a couple of photos of the audience I took while I was setting up.

 

Everything seemed to go OK. I hope they understood my accent. :)

With a bit of luck I will get to see some of Beijing over the next couple of days. I’m behing the Great Firewall of China, so some sites (Facebook and Twitter) are blocked completely and many other sites (like Gmail and any other Google related services) seem to come and go. For the time being my blog seems active. If I lose access to it I will update things once I get to New Zealand.

Cheers

Tim…