UKOUG 2006: In review
UKOUG followed hard on the heels of Open World, and I was still a bit jaded last week. Birmingham is different from San Francisco. For instance, the Fujitsu-Siemens branded umbrella was a wholly irrelevant inclusion in the OOW2K6 conference bag. Whereas a similar giveaway in the UKOUG bag would be genuinely useful. Anybody who sponsored such an item would likely get a great deal of brand exposure over the week, not to mention actual gratitude from the delegates.
Another difference from Open World is that the UKOUG agenda is much more substantial, at least for DBAs. Lots of juicy topics and a wide variety of perspectives. So it was a shame that the schedule was loaded with the bulk of the Technology presentations in the first day. I met several people who were only attending on the Tuesday. For me, the Development side of things seemed even thinner than usual. The topics on offer were good, but there was not much choice. There seemed to be very little on process, as opposed to functionality braindumps and cookbook-style presentations. It was the usual lean pickings for those of us who don't build front-end applications. Of course, if developers won't submit papers there's not much which the selection committee can do about it.
Because I didn't do the full four days I missed out on much of the socialising this year. Still, I enjoyed the Bloggers/SIG Chairs' do. Organisationally, one successful innovation was the no-comps policy for the event dinner. Apparently if you make people pay for the ticket they will actually turn up. Who'd a thunk it?
I thought the round table sessions worked quite well. With the Dev Tools one, as is often the case, it took a long time for the conversation to warm up. In fact it was just towards the end of the session that people started to offer opinions rather than just asking questions of the "experts". We really could have done with another forty-five minutes. Perhaps next year we should start with some beers beforehand. Unfortunately I failed in my role as facilitator and didn't remind people to fill in the evaluation sheets; I hope other facilitators were more diligent.
Overall in was an enjoyable conference but not a classic. The following are some random things which have stuck in my mind from last week.
The look on Tim Hall's face. He really should have stopped asking Doug Burns about those furry housemates of his. Mind you, as Tim has just read all ten of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles books in two months I'm not sure he is in a postition to accuse anybody else of having weird or unhealthy obsessions.
A copy of Oracle Scene on the floor of a toilet cubicle. To be honest this is not the sort of magazine one expects to find discarded in the Gents.
Tom Kyte's Instrumentation 1010 presentation saved by a Windows bug. Tom's laptop went into hibernation mode just as he was about to run his last demo. I was chairing this session so I pointed out he only had a minute to go anyway. Then the hibernation failed due to a Windows error so Tom was able to run the script and finish his presentation tidily.
"We're not wearing a company uniform, no siree." Both SolStonePlus and IBM decided to kit out their employees in snazzy dress shirts rather than polo shirts or business suits. It was unfortunate (in more than one sense) that both companies had gone for a pyjama-style design with stripes of varying hues of blue. Even more unfortunate that both companies stands were adjacent. I smirk because I know how these things happen. The first time I did a presentation at Open World I was issued with a branded, canary yellow rugby shirt. I held out for the black polo shirt with a discreet logo. Only the Dalai Lama can carry off yellow.
Because this year's conference theme was art related ("Create your masterpiece with Oracle"? What was that about?) the ambient music filling the space between sessions in the main hall was dominated by a tune called Leftbank II. Which is better know to Brits of a certain age as the music from the Vision On gallery. I have still that mellow jazz groove and those ethereal vibes slinking around my brain. All together now: do-di do-di DO do-do do DO do do do-do DI-di-di DI di-di DI di di di di-di ...