On RAC, death and taxes
I must confess I originally signed up for this event because it was free and it was a day out of the office but the timing was actually very handy. We are currently specifying the architecture of the next phase of my current project right now, and migrating to 10g and Grid are key objectives for me. In the pub afterwards, Tim Hilton (SCC's Oracle Practice manager) made the point that RAC is a win-win situation. The high availability combined with cheap(-ish) components keeps the bean-counters happy and the techies get to play with some gnarly technology.
I should have known better
Originally there was supposed to be a RAC demo but unfortunately some navvy put his spade through a link between the SCC office in Brum and London so the day wrapped early. Thus proving that Sun plus Oracle really does equal faster throughput.
Where it all went wrong is when Tim said he'd be buying drinks in the pub afterwards. I should have gone straight home to the bosom of my family but I succumbed to the lure of free Guinness. Not that there was anything wrong with the Guinness. It's just that while I was enjoying them some poor sad soul was making the decision to throw themselves under a tube train at Balham. A fact I discovered when everybody was detrained at Stockwell due to "passenger action". I'll skip the details of public transport in South London. Suffice to say there's only one bus route between Stockwell and Tooting, running every ten minutes in rush hour, and crammed. Minicabs were a thirty minute wait. Black cabs? Don't be daft this is south of the river. So I got a bus to get as far as Clapham and walked it from there.
Give me slack or give me death
As I trudged the long walk home I was afforded plenty of time to ponder the irony of the situation. Most of the 10g features James had talked about - Flashback, RMAN, RAC, Data Guard - are about resiliance, recovery, continuity of service, seamless failover. But those are things we only have for IT systems these days. The transport system has no slack: if the northern line is running everything is okay, but if it's out there is no alternative except walking. Of course, the elimination of slack is a response to obvious economic imperatives (people don't like to pay tax) but these unplanned outages are becoming a regular event. Still, the person who went under probably had a worse evening.
One more thing. Whilst I was on the 88 bus I overheard (everybody overheard) some guy on a mobile phone planning his weekend in the Alps. He was telling a friend which extreme sports website to visit in order to book crampons, ice picks, etc. Which leads me to:
The Great Paradox Of Modern Life
If you're in Stockwell on Tuesday evening and you want to ascend a glacier in Chamonix on Saturday afternoon you're golden.
If you're in Stockwell on Tuesday evening and you want to get to Tooting on Tuesday evening you're stuffed.