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Oracle related rants (and lots of off-topic stuff)...
Updated: 11 hours 46 min ago

Oracle Midlands : Event #11 – Summary

Wed, 2015-09-02 03:14

oracle-midlandsLast night was Oracle Midlands event #11 with Chris Antognini.

The lead up to this event was not the best for me. I had been on the verge of a headache all day. By 14:00 I gave up, went home and went to sleep for a couple of hours. It wasn’t great, but it was just enough to take the edge off, so when the time came, I felt sort-of OK to head out for the event. The drive started to convince me this wasn’t the best move, but once I got to the event and sat down I figured I was going to make it. :)

Chris did two talks at the event.

The first talk had lots of people’s heads nodding. It’s kind-of depressing, but we’ve all seen, and continue to see, these same things happening again and again. I, like others in the audience, am convinced it is because of the lack of emphasis on database technologies in development. Too many frameworks encourage a hands-off approach to the database, hiding it behind persistence layers that end up doing a mediocre job, at best. Anyway, enough of my rambling. This session should be mandatory viewing once a month for every developer that goes near a database! :)

redstacktechThe second session was pretty neat too. I must admit I’ve become addicted to the Enterprise Manager 12c performance pages, so a couple of the things Chris mentioned took me by surprise, including the use of some V$ views that I assumed were part of the Diagnostics and Tuning Pack, but aren’t. I’m purposely going to avoid mentioning them here because I would want to confirm the status before accidentally leading someone astray, but the idea was, query the V$ view and you are good. Query the DBA_HIST_* view and you’ve sourced the information from the AWR, so you need the D&T pack. This definitely *does not* apply to all V$ views, but it’s worth checking out if you don’t have D&T, or you are working with standard edition.

I think the evening went really well. Thanks to Chris for coming to speak to us and thanks to the Oracle ACE Program for getting him across. Thanks to Red Stack Tech for sponsoring the event, allowing this to remain free. Thanks to Mike for doing a great job of keeping these events rolling. Of course, thanks to everyone for turning up after the Bank Holiday weekend. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Midlands : Event #11 – Summary was first posted on September 2, 2015 at 10:14 am.
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Oracle Cloud : First Impressions

Fri, 2015-08-28 07:55

cloudFollowers of the blog will know I’ve been waiting to get access to the Oracle Cloud for a while. Well, I’ve finally got access to a bit of it. Specifically, the “Oracle Database Cloud Service” (DBaaS) part. :)

The Schema Service has been around for a few years and I had already tried that out, but IMHO it’s not really part of Oracle Cloud proper*, so I was reserving my judgement until I got the real stuff. :)

I’ve written a couple of articles already. Just basic stuff to document setting stuff up and connecting etc.

So here are some first impressions…

Oracle Cloud : Look and Feel

Overall the cloud offering looks clean and modern. Tastes vary of course, but I like the look of it.

The navigation is a bit inconsistent between the different cloud services. It feels like the console for each section (Compute, Java, DBaaS etc.) has been written by a different team, each doing what they think works, rather than working to a single design standard. Here’s a couple of examples:

  • In the “Oracle Database Cloud Service” section there is a “Consoles” button on the top-right of the screen that triggers a popup menu allowing you to switch to the Dashboard, Java Cloud and Compute Cloud console. In the “Oracle Compute Cloud” section, the “Consoles” button is not present. Instead there is a hamburger on the top-left of the screen that causes a navigation panel to slide out on the left of the screen, pushing the rest of the page contents to the right. On the top-level services page, the same hamburger produces a popup menu, kind-of like the “Consoles” button, but with the colouring of the navigation panel. I don’t find any method better or worse than the others. It would just be nice if they picked one and stuck with it, otherwise you are looking round the screen trying to decide how to make your next move. :)
  • Some consoles use tabs. Some use navigation tiles. Some use both.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard to navigate. It’s just inconsistent, which kind-of ruins the overall effect. If they can bring it all into line I think it will be really cool.

I think Oracle Cloud looks neater than Amazon Web Services, but the navigation is not as consistent as AWS or Azure. Having used AWS, Azure and Oracle Cloud, I feel Azure has the neatest and most consistent interface. Like I said before, tastes vary. :)

Probably my biggest issue with the Oracle Cloud interface is the speed, or lack of. It’s really slow and unresponsive at times. On a few occasions I thought it had died, then after about 30 seconds the screen just popped back into life. Some of the actions give no feedback until they are complete, so you don’t know if you’ve pressed the button or not.

Oracle Cloud : Ease of Use

I found DBaaS pretty simple to use. I’ve already spent some time using AWS and Azure, so there is probably some carry-over there. I pretty much completed my first pass through creation, connections and patching before I even considered looking for documentation. :)

The documentation is OK, but contains very few screen shots, which leads me to believe the look and feel is all in a state of flux.

I think the general Oracle Compute Cloud Service network/firewall setup is really quite clear, but you can’t edit existing rules. Once a rule is created you can only enable, disable or delete it. I found myself having to delete and create rules a number of times when it felt more obvious to let me edit an existing rule. I’ll mention a DBaaS issue related to this later.

DBaaS Specifically

Just some general observations about the DBaaS offering.

  • The “Oracle Database Cloud Service” DBaaS offering looks OK , but I noticed they don’t have multiplexed redo logs. I never run without multiplexed redo logs, regardless of the redundancy on the storage layer. Even if they were all shoved in the same directory, it would still be better than running without multiplexed files. This is a bit of mandatory configuration the user is left to do after the fact.
  • The DBaaS virtual machine has Glassfish and ORDS installed on it, which is necessary because of the way they have organised the administration of the service, but it’s not something I would normally recommend. Databases and App Servers never go on the same box. Like I said, I understand why, but I don’t like it.
  • The management of the DBaaS offering feels fragmented. For some administration tasks you use the main cloud interface. For others you jump across to the DBaaS Monitor, which has a completely different look and feel. For others you to jump across to [DBConsole – 11g | DB Express -12c]. For a DBaaS offering, I think this is a mistake. It should all be incorporated into the central console and feel seamless. I understand that may be a pain and repetition of existing functionality, but it feels wrong without it.
  • I found the network/firewall setup done by the DBaaS service to be quite irritating. It creates a bunch of rules for each DBaaS service, which are all disabled by default (a good thing), but all the rules are “public”, which you would be pretty crazy to enable. Because you can’t edit them, they end up being pretty much useless. It really is one of those, “Do it properly or don’t bother!”, issues to me. If the DBaaS setup screens asked you to define a Security IP List, or pick an existing one, and decide which services you wanted to make available, it could build all these predefined rules properly in the first place. Alternatively, provide a DBaaS network setup wizard or just don’t bother. It feels so half-baked. :(
  • Dealing with the last two points collectively, the fragmentation of the management interface means some of the management functionality (DBaaS Monitor and [DBConsole – 11g | DB Express -12c]) is not available until you open the firewall for it. This kind-of highlights my point about the fragmentation. I’m logged into the DBaaS console where I can create and delete the whole service, but I can’t use some of the management features. It just feels wrong to me. It is totally down to the implementation choices. I would not have chosen this path.
  • Unlike the AWS RDS for Oracle, you get complete access to the OS and database. You even get sudo access to run root commands. At first I thought this was going to be a good thing and a nice differentiator compared to RDS, but having used the service I’m starting to think it is a bad move. The whole point of a DBaaS offering is it hides some of the nuts and bolts from you. I should not be worrying about the OS. I should not be worrying about the basic Oracle setup. Giving this level of access raises more questions/problems than it solves. I feel I should either do everything myself, or pick a DBaaS offering, accept the restrictions of it, and have it all done for me. The current offering feels like it has not decided what it wants to be yet.
  • When I patched the database through the service admin console it worked fine, but it took a “really” long time! I waited quite a while, went out to the gym and it was still going when I came back. Eventually I started an SSH session to try and find out what was happening. It turns out it took over 2 hours to “download” the PSU to the VM. Once the download was complete, the application of the patch was done quickly. Interesting.
  • The “Oracle Database Cloud Service – Virtual Image” option seems pretty pointless to me. On the website and console it says there is a software installation present, but this is not the case. Instead, there is a tarball containing the software (/scratch/db12102_bits.tar.gz). It also doesn’t come with the storage to do the actual installation on, or to hold the datafiles. To do the installation, you would need to “Up Scale” the service to add the storage, then do the installation manually. This process is actually more complicated than provisioning a compute node and doing everything yourself. I think Oracle need to ditch this option and just stick with DBaaS or Compute, like Amazon have done (RDS or EC2).
Conclusion

I like the Oracle Cloud more than I thought I would. I think it looks quite nice and if someone told me I had to use it as a general Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) portal I would be fine with that.

I like the DBaaS offering less than I hoped I would. I feel quite bad about saying it, but it feels like a work in progress and not something I would want use at this point. If it were my decision, I would be pushing the DBaaS offering more in the direction of AWS RDS for Oracle. As I said before, the current DBaaS offering feels like it has not decided what it wants to be yet. It needs to be much more hands-off, with a more consistent, centralized interface.

I don’t have full access to the straight Compute Cloud yet, so I can’t try provisioning a VM and doing everything myself. If I get access I will try it, but I would expect it to be the same as what I’ve done for EC2 and Azure. A VM is a VM… :)

When I read this back it sounds kind-of negative, but I think all the things I’ve mentioned could be “fixed” relatively quickly. Also, this is only one person’s opinion on one specific service. The haters need to try this for themselves before they hate. :)

Cheers

Tim…

* Just to clarify, I am not saying the Schema Service isn’t “Cloud” and I’m not saying it doesn’t work. I’m just saying I don’t see this as part of Oracle’s grand cloud database vision. It always seemed like a cynical push to market to allow them to say, “we have a cloud DB”. If it had been branded “APEX Service” I might have a different opinion. It is after all a paid for version of apex.oracle.com. This is a very different proposition to promoting it as a “Cloud Database”.

Oracle Cloud : First Impressions was first posted on August 28, 2015 at 2:55 pm.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.

Adaptive Query Optimization in Oracle 12c : Ongoing Updates

Thu, 2015-08-27 12:09

I’ve said a number of times, the process of writing articles is part of an ongoing learning experience for me. A few days ago my personal tech editor (Jonathan Lewis) asked about a statement I made in the SQL Plan Directive article. On further investigation it turned out the sentence was a complete work of fiction on my part, based on my misunderstanding of something I read in the manual, as well as the assumption that everything that happens must be as a result of a new feature. :)

Anyway, the offending statement has been altered, but the conversation this generated resulted in new article about Automatic Column Group Detection.

The process also highlighted how difficult, at least for me, it is to know what is going on in the optimizer now. It wasn’t always straight forward before, but now with the assorted new optimizations, some beating others to the punch, it is even more difficult. There are a number of timing issues involved also. If a statement runs twice in quick succession, you might get a different sequence of events compared to having a longer gap between the first and second run of the statement. It’s maddening at times. I’m hoping Jonathan will put pen to paper about this, because I think he will do a better job of explaining the issues around the inter-dependencies better than I can.

Anyway, I will be doing another pass through this stuff over the coming days/weeks/months/years to make sure it is consistent with “my current understanding”. :)

Fun, fun, fun…

Cheers

Tim…

Adaptive Query Optimization in Oracle 12c : Ongoing Updates was first posted on August 27, 2015 at 7:09 pm.
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Fedora 22/23 and Oracle 11gR2/12cR1

Tue, 2015-08-25 08:53

linux-tuxAs always, installations of Oracle server products on Fedora are not a great idea, as explained here.

I was reading some stuff about the Fedora 23 Alpha and realised Fedora 22 had passed me by. Not sure how I missed that. :)

Anyway, I did a run through of the usual play stuff.

While I was at it, I thought I would get the heads-up on Fedora 23 Alpha.

The F23 stuff will have to be revised once the final version is out, but I’m less likely to forget now. :)

I guess the only change in F22 upward that really affects me is the deprecation of YUM in F22 in favour of the DNF fork. For the most part, you just switch the command.

#This:
yum install my-package -y
yum groupinstall my-package-group -y
yum update -y

#Becomes:
dnf install my-package -y
dnf groupinstall  my-package-group -y
dnf group install  my-package-group -y
dnf update -y

This did cause one really annoying problem in F23 though. The “MATE Desktop” had a single documentation package that was causing a problem. Usually I would use the following.

yum groupinstall "MATE Desktop" -y --skip-broken

Unfortunately, DNF doesn’t support “–skip-broken”, so I was left to either manually install the pieces, or give up. I chose the latter and use LXDE instead. :) F23 is an Alpha, so you expect issues, but DNF has been in since F22 and still no “–skip-broken”, which I find myself using a lot. Pity.

Cheers

Tim…

Fedora 22/23 and Oracle 11gR2/12cR1 was first posted on August 25, 2015 at 3:53 pm.
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Oracle Midlands : Event #11

Tue, 2015-08-25 07:36

Just a quick note to say Oracle Midlands Event #11 is nearly here.

om11

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Midlands : Event #11 was first posted on August 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm.
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Windows 10 Again

Sat, 2015-08-22 11:55

DiagnosticsI wrote a few months ago about having a play with Windows 10 (here).

I’m visiting family today, catching up on all the Windows desktop (and mobile phone) support that I missed while I was away.

I purposely postponed the Windows 10 update on the desktops before I went away, but now I’m back I did the first of them.

The update itself was fine, but it did take a long time. Nothing really to write home about.

I’ve installed the latest version of Classic Shell on the machine, so the experience is similar to what they had before, Windows 8.1 and Classic Shell, which felt like Windows 7. :)

I’ve also switched out their shortcuts from Edge (Spartan) to Internet Explorer 11. They already use a combination of IE, Firefox and Chrome, so I didn’t want to add another thing into the mix. Also, the nephews use the Java plugin for some web-based games, so it is easier to leave them with IE for the time being. Maybe I will introduce Edge later…

So all in all, the user experience is pretty much unchanged compared to what they had before. I guess I will see how many calls Captain Support gets over the coming weeks! :)

Cheers

Tim…

Windows 10 Again was first posted on August 22, 2015 at 6:55 pm.
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WordPress 4.3 “Billie”

Tue, 2015-08-18 14:02

WordPress 4.3 “Billie” has arrived.

I was on my blog admin pages doing something else and I noticed the update was available before the auto-updater kicked in and updated the site automatically, so I gave it a nudge and now I’m upgraded.

Like most of the recent WordPress updates, there is little new that interests me, but it’s always a good idea to be up to date, so whatever… :)

Cheers

Tim…

WordPress 4.3 “Billie” was first posted on August 18, 2015 at 9:02 pm.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.

MobaXterm 8.1

Mon, 2015-08-17 00:58

MobaXtermcommand-prompt 8.1 has been released.

The downloads and changelog are in the usual places.

If you are a Windows user and you use SSH and X Emulation, you need this in your life!

Cheers

Tim…

MobaXterm 8.1 was first posted on August 17, 2015 at 7:58 am.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.

KeePass 2.30

Mon, 2015-08-17 00:50

KeePass 2.30 was released about a week ago. This passed me by as I was distracted with the whole tour thing. :)

The downloads and changelog are in the usual placed.

You can read how I use KeePass (Windows & Linux) and KeePassX2 (Mac) here.

Cheers

Tim…

KeePass 2.30 was first posted on August 17, 2015 at 7:50 am.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.

My Glamorous Life : Just so you don’t misunderstand…

Sun, 2015-08-16 10:10

If you’ve subscribed to my YouTube channel, you will have noticed me posting some videos with the title “My Glamorous Life : …“.

I had several distinct plans for this trip:

  • Do the OTN tour itself. That is of course the real reason we are doing this!
  • Collect some video footage of the conferences so I could produce little montage for each, just to help me remember it. I’ll do that when I get home and can sift through the footage to see if any is usable. Fingers crossed.
  • Film Machu Picchu. I kind-of failed there because I got I’ll, but I do have this little montage of the journey.
  • Document how boring, tedious and stressful the logistics of doing these tours really is.

I started on that last task with the footage of Charles de Gaule airport and Buenos Aires airport, which I think pretty much summed up how dull travelling is. Its not a criticism of the airports themselves. Just that most of your time on these tours is spent sitting in airports, planes, taxies and sleeping in hotels. There is very little time actually in each country.

After those first two videos, I went a bit off the plan and started to film the hotel rooms, which are actually rather glamorous really, at least to me anyway. Added to that, we were rushing around airports so much I kept forgetting to film them. So this series that was meant to convince you how bad travelling can be, now looks more like two weeks in the life of a budget Kim Kardashian.

That makes me a little nervous, as I don’t want people to get the wrong message about what we are doing here. Just to clear things up, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • We use Oracle approved hotels, typically with an Oracle discount, unless we can get it cheaper than the corporate rate. In most cases, this discount makes them a similar price to staying in a Travelodge in London. So despite how cool some of these places look, they are really rather cheap. If you booked them yourself they are crazily expensive, but with the corporate discount, they are a bargain.
  • Several people on the tour travel for work and have airline and hotel status, allowing them to sign mere mortals like me into executive lounges to get freebies, like breakfast and evening meals, which means I’m not having to pay for them myself. Without this, the tour would be even more expensive as we can’t claim those expenses back.
  • All sightseeing discussed is naturally at our own expense. We (Debra really) arranged flight times to maximise the time we spent in cities, so we could fit in the odd tour, but if we had gone for midday flights we would have seen pretty much nothing of any of the cities, as it was conference-fly-conference-fly pretty much all the way through.
  • Since this tour finished in Peru, Debra and I decided to tag on an extra couple of days to go and see Machu Picchu. All flights, transport, hotels etc. during this time came out of our own pockets.
  • During my trip home from Peru I spent the day in a hotel because of a long layover (14 hours) and upgraded my flight home to business class. These costs came out of my own pocket. They are not paid for by the ACE Program.

I guess I’m getting a bit paranoid now, but it does make me nervous to think I might be giving people the wrong impression about these tours. They are bloody hard work. Anything else you can fit in around them is a bonus, but certainly not the main focus.

Anyway, enough of my paranoid wittering. I’m off to eat more food in an airport executive lounge, which I paid for myself. :)

Cheers

Tim…

My Glamorous Life : Just so you don’t misunderstand… was first posted on August 16, 2015 at 5:10 pm.
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Lima to Amsterdam

Sun, 2015-08-16 08:59

I left the hotel a little late, but the airport was literally across the road, so it was no big deal. Having a business class ticket meant I checked in immediately (+1) and even had time to hit the lounge (+2). High class swanky time, and without needing to be signed in for once. :)

Boarding the flight was pretty straight forward. Once again, the business class ticket gives priority boarding (+3), without me having to tag along with Debra.

The KLM flight from Lima, Peru to Amsterdam, Netherlands was about 12 hours and 30 minutes, but it was a great flight. Upgrading to business class was a great move. I find it really hard to sleep in an upright position, so being able to lie flat is awesome (+4). I was in a seat with nobody either side of me, so I felt really isolated, which made sleeping even easier. These long flights are so much better if you can get some sleep!

Aside from sleeping, I watched:

  • Wild Card : Not too bad. I like quite a few of the films Jason Statham has been in. Even the bad ones. :)
  • Seventh Son : Typically fantasy stuff. Witches, dragons and slayers etc. Quite good, but Jeff Bridges voice annoyed me.
  • The Big Lebowski : Seeing Jeff Bridges in the previous film made me want to re-watch this film, where his voice does not annoy me. :)
  • The Amityville Horror : Slept through a lot of it. I’ve seen it before. It’s an OK remake I guess.
  • The Green Lantern : OK. I know it is a pretty poor film, but I just scanned through to find clips that looked cool. :)

The staff were really pleasant and helpful. All in all a very good experience and well worth the money in my opinion.

On arriving in Amsterdam, I headed over to the lounge to see if I could get in. I’m not sure how other lounges work, but KLM allow you in on arrival as well as departure (+5), which is awesome, because I’m stuck here for about 6 hours in total. If I had spent 14 hours in Lima airport and 12.5 hours in economy, I would be feeling totally psycho by now. As it is, I’m feeling pretty good. Hopefully, by the time I get home I will be tired enough to sleep and I can wake up and go to work as normal tomorrow…

So for me, that was +5 for the flight upgrade. Thanks KLM! I could get addicted to this, and very poor. :)

I’ll write a wrap-up post when I get home… :)

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I’ve also got some quick montage videos of the conferences to edit when I get home, provided the footage I’ve got works OK…

Lima to Amsterdam was first posted on August 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm.
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Cusco to Lima

Sat, 2015-08-15 14:40

It was a 3:30 start, which after broken sleep and the events of the day before had me a little worried. We got a taxi to the airport in Cusco, which is the coldest airport I have ever experienced. After checking in, we headed to the departure gate, which was also freezing. The departure gate was interesting. The lady brought her own laptop, microphone and speaker to make the announcements. :)

We got on to the coldest plane I’ve ever been on. I don’t remember seeing people on a plane in coats and woolly hats before. :) After a quick flight we got to Lima airport, where I said goodbye to Debra, who is flying back to Northern Ireland, via Miami and London.

Having a 14 hour layover in Lima, I decided to check in to a hotel at the airport and sleep for a while. I also upgraded my flight home to a business class flight. The combination of the Machu Picchu trip, airport hotel and business class flight home have added up to quite a lot of money, but if I get home in a reasonable state, it will be worth it. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Cusco to Lima was first posted on August 15, 2015 at 9:40 pm.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.

Machu Picchu

Sat, 2015-08-15 14:03

At about 04:00 we were queuing for the bus ride to the base of Machu Picchu. I started to feel a bit ill again. A little after 05:00 we were on the bus driving up to the base of Machu Picchu. It took about 30 mins to get there, most of which I spent trying not to puke.

I was very dissapointed with the entrance to Machu Picchu. It felt like the entrance to a theme park. There was even Machu Picchu WiFi. We were there to witness wonder and spectacle, but seemed to be getting Disneyland. After being on the verge all morning, I puked and felt much better.

When we eventually got through the turnstyles, we started to walk up the hill. The stairs are quite steep, but nothing I would be worried about if it weren’t for the altitude. It makes it feel like hard work, so you have to take it slow. I used the turns to my advantage and mostly hid the fact I was repeatedly throwing up. After a few minutes we got to area that overlooks the former residential area of Machu Picchu. If you’ve ever seen a picture of Machu Picchu, chances are you’ve seen the one taken from this spot. A few levels up and we were at the guardhouse, which gives an even better view. I puked there too. :) For me, this was all I wanted to do as far as Machu Picchu was concerned. I wanted to stand there and see this for myself. Everything else was a bonus. People visit several times and spend days there. This was really all I wanted. :)

After that we walked down towards the residential area. At that point, I really felt like I was done for. I told Debra to carry on and I walked down to the entrance to look for medical attention. I finally got to see the medic, and puke in her bin a few times. She injected me with a concoction of anti-nausea and electrolytes and left me to sleep for a while. By the time Debra returned I was feeling much better. Interestingly, it was nothing to do with the altitude. My blood O2 was fine. It was pretty similar to what happened to me in India. I’m starting to think it’s nausea caused by a type of migrane, induced by lack of sleep.

Anyway, after my rather brief visit to Machu Picchu, we were heading down the mountain in the bus. We got some food and chilled out before boarding the train to take us back to Cusco and the rest of our luggage.

The train journey back took about 3.5 hours. Lot’s of great sights, only marred by some intensely annoying children, who were complaining about being bored. Why do adults drag children along to this stuff? They don’t enjoy it and ruin it for everyone else!

Back at Cusco, it was a quick taxi ride to the hotel, where I puked and went to bed. We were hoping to have a brief look at Cusco, but it gets dark so early in Peru, there really wasn’t time.

I would like to say I got a good night’s sleep, but the hotel we stayed at was so noisey. I woke several times in the night because of fireworks, music and general noise in the town, which made the 03:30 start the next day even harder to cope with.

Now I know this all sounds really negative and bad, but it was worth it. Machu Picchu is one of those places I always hoped to see before I died. The fact it nearly killed me in the process is besides the point. :) I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t been so beaten up by two weeks of travelling and presenting it would have been a breeze. Part of me thinks it would be nice to go back and see again, but part of me thinks I’ve done all I wanted to do. It is a very expensive experience, but worth it in my opinion.

I wasn’t really in a fit state to take photos, but fortunately Debra was and she let me have a copy of them, which you can see here. I especially like the ones of me looking like dreadful. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Update 1: I think it is great how much work they are doing to preserve the Machu Picchu site, but the amount of rebuilding is a bit of a concern. At the moment, about 30% of the site has been rebuilt and the work is continuing. If too much is done, it ceases to be an ancient site and becomes a modern site in the style of an ancient one. They need to tread very carefully, or risk taking the final step and completing the transition to Disneyland!

Update 2: At no point did I see Pikachu! Apparently, Machu Picchu and Pikachu are not the same thing. Who’da thunk it?

Machu Picchu was first posted on August 15, 2015 at 9:03 pm.
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Lima to Cusco to Machu Picchu

Sat, 2015-08-15 13:21

With the tour over, Debra and I had arranged to spend a couple of days visiting Machu Picchu, before heading home.

We woke up early on Friday to get a flight from Lima to Cusco. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time, got to our gate and saw a list of delayed and cancelled flights to Cusco. The weather was too bad in Cusco for flights to take off and land. Luckily, after a while the weather apparently cleared in Cusco, allowing us to take a flight which arrived about 1 hour late.

We had arranged to drop our luggage off at a hotel in Cusco a day early, then continue on to Machu Picchu. The taxi ride to the hotel was interesting. Cusco has some very narrow streets that are barely wide enough for get a car through. It was quite hairy at times. We eventually got there, dropped our bags off and continued in the taxi to Ollantaytambo, which took about 90 mins. This allowed us to briefly see some of the sacred valley up close. During the drive I had a funny turn, which I put down to the high altitude. Debra said I looked green. By the time we got to Ollantaytambo and got some food I was feeling better.

While we were waiting for the train, I noticed the arrivals/departures screen on the wall had a session of TOAD running, doing some queries. By the time we had cameras ready, it was gone and the announcements screen was back. Debra went on the hunt and found a lady in an office that confirmed they (PeruRail) were using Oracle. :) We got on the Vistadome train, which has lots of extra windows, including in the roof, which is essential if you want a good view of the mountains around you. The train has a rather narrow gauge, which is a little disconcerting at first. The train takes you to Aguas Calientes, now known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, which is the best place to stay if you plan an early visit to Machu Picchu.

Just a quick word of warning, I did not like Machu Picchu Pueblo at all. It is a great setting in the mountains with the river running through, but it is one giant tourist centre, full to the brim with restaurants, markets and tourist shops. Many of the write-ups about Machu Picchu talk about it being ruined by tourists. This town proves the point! We bought our bus tickets for the next day, grabbed some food and headed to bed for an early start.

Cheers

Tim…

Update: Here is a quick montage of the journey to Machu Picchu.

Lima to Cusco to Machu Picchu was first posted on August 15, 2015 at 8:21 pm.
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VirtualBox 5.0.2

Fri, 2015-08-14 11:29

VirtualBox 5.0.2 has been released. It’s the first maintenance release for the 5.0 version.

Downloads and changelog in the usual places.

Cheers

Tim…

VirtualBox 5.0.2 was first posted on August 14, 2015 at 6:29 pm.
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OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : PEOUG, Peru – Day 1

Wed, 2015-08-12 19:28

A quick taxi ride got us to the conference hotel really quickly, so we were nice and early for the PEOUG event.

After the introductions by Miguel Palacios, it was time for the first sessions of the event. Of the English speakers, first up were Debra Lilley and Dana Singleterry. Debra had some problems with her laptop, so she did her presentation using mine and all went well. Dana did his session over the net, so I sent a few Tweets to let him know how things looked and sounded from our end. I figured a bit of feedback would help reassure him there weren’t any technical issues.

My first session of the day came next. I had a good sized audience and some of the people were brave enough to ask questions at the end. :) I had some in English and some in Spanish using the translation service to help me. :)

Debra fixed her laptop by the time her next session started, but her clicker died, so she borrowed mine. Dana’s second session was at the same time as Debra’s, so I flitted between the two, sending a few feedback Tweets to Dana about his session again.

After that session, Ronald, Debra, Pelinio, Enrique and myself ducked out to get some lunch in a place down the street.

After lunch, both Ronald and I each had back-to-back sessions. I did my Cloud Database and Analytic Functions talks. I feel like they went well. I hope the crowd did too. :)

There was one more set to talks, all from Spanish speakers, including a very full web session by Edelweiss from Uruguay. After that we got together for the closing session and some prize draws. I didn’t understand what was being said, but everyone seemed really happy and in good spirits, so I think the whole day was well received. Certainly all the feedback we got was very positive!

Big thanks to MiguelEnrique and everyone at PEOUG for inviting us and making us feel welcome. Thanks to the attendees for coming to the sessions and making us feel special by asking for photos. :) Also, big thanks to the ACE Program for making this possible for us!

So that marks the end of this years OTN Tour of Latin America for me. Sorry to the countries in the northern leg. I hope I will be able to visit your folks soon!

Debra and I are going to visit Pikachu Machu Picchu over the next couple of days, then it’s back home to normal life for a while. :)

I’ll write a summary post to close off this little adventure when I get home. Once again, thank you all!

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : PEOUG, Peru – Day 1 was first posted on August 13, 2015 at 2:28 am.
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OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : PEOUG, Peru – Day -1

Wed, 2015-08-12 05:04

After the CLOUG event, Francisco drove us to the airport, where Kerry, Ronald, Debra and I parked ourselves in the lounge for a while. Lots of eating then ensued! Kerry was flying back home, but the rest of us were on our way to Lima, Peru, for the PEOUG event. :)

The flight across to Lima was pretty straight forward, taking about 4 hours, if you include the time sitting and waiting to take off. I think the flight time was about 3 hours and 30 mins. We arrived at the airport at about 02:00 and we were all pretty beat up. It was an effort to even speak, which if you know me is a rather extreme state. :)

I had a complete brain fade and forgot we were being picked up by Enrique Orbegozo, but fortunately he caught us before we disappeared onto the shuttle, so it ended OK. I’m so sorry Enrique! :)

We arrived at the hotel at about 03:00. I can’t speak for the others, but I was feeling like the living dead. I got to my room and I don’t remember anything else until the morning! :)

Debra has Hilton Honors status, so I got signed into the lounge for the day, which meant free food. :) We had a lazy day. Apart from a 10 minute walk down to the coast and back, it was a hotel day, trying to recharge the batteries. Some food, sitting in the pool and sitting in the lounge with our laptops, trying to catch up with the world.

This morning we are off to the PEOUG event. The last event of the southern leg of the OTN Tour of Latin America 2015. I’ve got three presentations to do, plus some backups in case speakers don’t show. :)

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : PEOUG, Peru – Day -1 was first posted on August 12, 2015 at 12:04 pm.
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OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : CLOUG, Chile – Day 1

Tue, 2015-08-11 09:27

The morning was a little confusing. I got up and went to breakfast, but there was no Debra. Once I had finished I got the front desk to call her and found out her clock was an hour behind. Chile has changed its timezone to match Brazil, but some Apple devices don’t seem to realise this, even if they are set to auto-update. One of those devices being Debra’s phone. When we asked at the hotel, they said it’s been a problem for a number of people. :(

Francisco drove us to the venue and we moved straight into the auditorium. After an introduction by Francisco, it was time for the first session. It was a three track event, so I’m just going to talk about the sessions I was in. :)

  • Kerry had a different version of the agenda, which had him on at a later time, so he hadn’t arrived by the time his session was due to start. I was originally down as the second session, so we switched and I went first with my “Pluggable Databases : What they will break and why you should use them anyway!”. Being in a auditorium is always hard unless it is full, as people spread out and you feel like you are presenting to empty chairs. :)
  • Next up was Kerry Osborne, with his “In-Memory In Action” session. I had to duck out of this early to get to across to my next session, which was on the other side of the building.
  • My next session was “It’s raining data! Oracle Databases in the Cloud”. This was in a much smaller room, so it felt really full and much more personal. As a result, the audience interaction felt a lot better. I spent quite a bit of time talking to people after the session, which is my favourite bit of this conference thing.
  • I got over to see the tail end of Ronald Bradford‘s session on “Testing and verifying your MySQL backup strategy”. I’ve got a couple of things I need to check in my own MySQL backups now. :)
  • Next up was Kyle Hailey speaking about “SQL Performance Tuning”. Kyle has a very visual approach, which works for me!
  • After lunch it was back to me for “Oracle Database Consolidation : It’s not all about Oracle database 12c!”
  • Next up was Kyle Hailey with “Database performance tuning”, which focussed on using ASH to identify problems and was once again, very visual.
  • The final person up was Debra, with “Do Oracle Cloud Applications Add Up?”. The answer is yes, they do add up, to 42!

After the final session, we hung around for a prize giving and a quick photo opportunity, then had to say our goodbyes and go straight off to the airport to get our flight to Lima.

Thanks to Francisco and the folks at CLOUG for inviting me, as well as all the attendees that came to my sessions and spoke to me during the day. I love speaking directly to people about the technology, so when people come to ask questions I’m in my element. :) Big thanks to OTN and the ACE Program for helping to make this happen for me.

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : CLOUG, Chile – Day 1 was first posted on August 11, 2015 at 4:27 pm.
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OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : CLOUG, Chile – Day -1

Sun, 2015-08-09 17:07

We were due to leave the hotel in Sau Paulo at 04:45 today, so I was planning to get up at around 04:00. Instead, I woke up at 03:00 and couldn’t sleep. I think I was a little nervous about missing the flight.

The journey to the airport didn’t present any major dramas at that time. There was a little mixup with the size of the taxi, so we had to travel in two cars, but that was fine. Debra and I travelled with David Peake, who was leaving us at the airport to fly to Brasilia for an APEX conference. Francisco and his son were in a separate care.

We had just enough time to get a coffee before getting on the 4 hour flight to Santiago, Chile. I was tired and in a terrible mood. A number of things happened on the flight that really pissed me off, so I shall be writing a letter of complaint to TAM Airlines!

During the flight I watched Avengers : Age of Ultron, which I thought was pretty good. Although I liked it, I’m not sure where this franchise can go. It does feel a little samey! Likewise with Fast & Furious 7, which I also watched and liked. Both franchises feel like they’ve run their course to me…

We landed in Santiago, Chile to find TAM had lost one of Francisco‘s bags. Then the hire car company AVIS/Budget screwed up, so were were in the airport for a while. At this point I switched from tired and angry to just tired and “Whatever!”

When we got to the hotel, Debra and I dumped our stuff and went on the 2 hour bus tour of Santiago. It started cold and damp, but ended very cold and very wet. Being tired and cold made it a bit of a trial, but it was good to do something, rather than just go to bed and sleep the day away. You can see some terrible photos, including various bits of bus, here. :)

So it’s been another incredibly long day, after very little sleep. Time for bed before the CLOUG event tomorrow. We fly straight out after the conference, so this will end up being a very brief stay in Chile.

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : CLOUG, Chile – Day -1 was first posted on August 10, 2015 at 12:07 am.
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OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : GUOB, Brazil – Day 1

Sat, 2015-08-08 19:27

I woke up pretty early again, spent a bit of time working, then headed down to meet the wife at breakfast. I was gabbing away, when she mentioned it was time to register. I had a mad dash to get back to the room, shower and head down to the GUOB event. Thankfully, I am stopping in the conference hotel.

This was a three track event, so I tried to get to sessions that I hadn’t seen at other events.

  • The event opened up with Pablo Ciccarello discussing OTN and the ACE program.
  • My first session for the day was “Pluggable Databases : What they will break and why you should use them anyway!” talk. I was introduced by Alex Zaballa, Brazil’s latest Oracle ACE Director. Well done mate! I was incredibly nervous for this talk. I think it was because of the rushing around before the session. Once I got going I calmed down a lot. I think the session went well. People were a bit shy about questions during the session, but people came up to me after the session to say hello and ask questions without being in front of the audience. The questions you get are the best bit of doing these conferences. In answering questions, you learn a lot yourself.
  • After speaking to a few people I headed (a little late) into Kerry Osborne‘s session on “Controlling Execution Plans (without touching the code)” Part 1. The room was too full for me to get into this session in Argentina.
  • After lunch I headed on to see Dana Singleterry speaking about “Development Platform in the Cloud – Why, What and When”.
  • Next up it was me with my “It’s raining data! Oracle Databases in the Cloud” session. I really like doing this talk. It’s not a heavy technical session, but I like to think it brings a bit of sanity to the Database on the Cloud discussion.
  • After me came Alex Gorbachev speaking about “Benchmarking Oracle I/O Performance with ORION”.
  • After a short break, it was on to Kerry Osborne‘s session on “Controlling Execution Plans (without touching the code)” Part 2.
  • Next up was Alex Gorbachev speaking about “Big Data and Hadoop for Oracle Database Professionals”.

The last session was in Portuguese, so I ducked out and spoke to a few of the attendees instead.

After saying our goodbyes to some of the folks, we headed out to a Brazilian barbecue. Obviously, it was a meat-fest, but it was a good place to eat as a vegetarian too. Unfortunately, I drank one and a half drinks that were designed to injure humans. :)

It was a long, but fun day. Big thanks to the organisers and attendees at the GUOB event. I hope to see you again! Thanks also to the ACE Program for getting me here!

I’ve got a ridiculously early start for Chile tomorrow! :) Goodbye Sau Paulo!

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : GUOB, Brazil – Day 1 was first posted on August 9, 2015 at 2:27 am.
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