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Symposium 2011 - Day 3

I woke up at 6:30 but just closed my eyes for a moment and it was 9:15! ;-) That was the first presentation blown away - another tough choice between Margaret Norman discussing Parallel Execution and Karl Arao on AWR (nice write-up by Karl). I only hope they're more timely and reliable in uploading their slides than I've proved to be this time so that, once I've got my portal access sorted out, I can look through all of the Symposium materials.

I managed to show up just a little late for Toon Koppelaars - Triggers Considered Harmful, Considered Harmful. Which I was very keen to see. If you have looked at AM4DP, the book co-authored by Toon and Lex de Haan, you will know that it discusses in detail the use of triggers to implement more detailed business logic in the database as assertions. Contrast that with the oft-quoted Tom Kyte mantras about the dangers of database triggers and there's a dilemma to resolve. In the end it turns out that Tom and Toon agree on many inappropriate uses of triggers and even when they disagree on using triggers to implement business logic, it's largely because Tom doubts the majority of developers ability to do so safely and correctly. I tend to agree with Tom, based on the majority of people I've worked with. As this is a very descriptive paragraph, I'll let them both know in case I've misrepresented their views. Fascinating debate, anyway.

I also managed to catch Maria Colgans - Implement Best Practices for Extreme Performance with Oracle Data Warehousing - well the first half of it, as she got so caught up in the subject that she ran out of time a little and didn't get through all of the material. I reckon that's what happens when you're having too much fun presenting to an audience who are interested in the details ;-) It was no big deal as, again, people can review the slides and her white paper later. However, I really must pull her up on what I am sure was a major error in her presentation! As far as I'm concerned, and I've now checked, the plural of synopsis is synopses! Not sure I'll be able to trust another word she says, now!

Which meant I missed Mark Farnham's: Physical Ordering of Data:Is it Ever Useful? Yet another tough call.

As the sessions switched to a single stream for the final afternoon, I was determined to have at least one beer with Alex Gorbachev, who I hadn't seen nearly enough of, although I saw even less of Marco Gralike who went down with what appeared to be food poisoning at the start of the week and was holed up in his room for the entire conference! Poor guy. Alex was convinced the hotel bar would be open at noon but alas not and I just about convinced him we shouldn't break in and serve ourselves! ;-) We didn't want to miss Tanel  Põders presentation, so it looked like beers were out and Alex had to head to the airport immediately after the Farewell ceremony :-( Then, in a genius moment, I remembered my mini-bar and produced one can of beer each which we cracked open in the back row just as Tanel was starting to present on The Most Complex Oracle Performance Problem I've Ever Seen. Tanel was as interesting and easy to listen to as always and ran through a good range of the different tools used to diagnose a problem with milliions of .aud files in the audit directory. Oh my god, that sounded so familiar to me! (Well, apart from the fact that we'd managed to build up a more impressive 20 million.)

The final session of the conference was Tom Kyte's Just in Time. Why Just in Time? Because this was a presentation written as the Symposium progressed with the intention to wrap up the major themes of the conference and anything that Tom had (re-)learned. Nice idea. Tom pointed out that it meant he'd been very much an attendee at the conference for a change and recognised the challenge of 3 days having your head filled with information! Here's some evidence, too, courtesy of Hotsos and (I suspect) Becky Goodman.

He kicked off with a list of funnies that he'd learned - including the fact that I used to write home computer games for a living and gave it all up for Oracle - and then moved through a bunch of subjects, including how systems have changed over the years but we keep reintroducing the same old problems. He also had a section on how prevalent Optimiser Statistics presentations had been at the conference which reflected the fact that it's an issue Oracle customers are really scared about or at least focussed on. I think he implied that he might have learnt something about the aggregation process from my presentation, which was cool, but not as cool as how he handled the mistake I'd made in my own presentation. Something else he learned - Never be afraid to admit you made a mistake. I'd emailed him the night before to ask if he'd mention it so that people knew to download the (cough) updated slides. (Oh, ok, so as he pointed out, maybe there was never a version 1.0 incorrect slides uploaded yet but let's not be too picky here ;-) ) He was very kind to point out that many people would want to sweep their mistakes under the carpet so I was actually quite touched by how he handled it and thanked him afterwards. Thanks to Jacco Landlust as well for suggesting this approach. Maria Colgan had offered me 5 minutes of her presentation to talk through it but, given her slack time-keeping, I'm glad I went with Tom. Tee hee :-)

Gary Goodman then ran us all through some farewells including the embarassing but welcome round of applause for the presenters and the results of the charity auction and then it was just time to say cheerio to a few people before heading for a night of drinks and more fun with several of my old Symposium friends. Not people I get to see very often. However, I'd prefer to draw a discrete veil over the moment when I was telling the story of a Cuddly Toy who likes to hang upside down on a rope in our living room singing 'No one I think is in my tree. I mean it must be high or low ....'.

You had to be there. Or perhaps not.

Disclosure: I'm attending this year's Hotsos Symposium with the
help
of the Oracle ACE Director program, which is paying my travel and
accommodation expenses. The time off work is at my own expense.