Monday, November 06, 2006

UKOUG: Comin' up fast

"I count as lost any November that does not include a visit to Birmingham."
Gore Vidal

Yes the grand old man of American letters really said that. And even more unbelievably he was talking about Birmingham, England and not some other Birmingham. In other words, whilst I have barely had time to recover from Open World, it's already time to gear up for the UKOUG Annual Conference. The juxtaposition of these two events is an unfortunate piece of timing for me personally: it means I have had to turn down a chance to speak at the LogicaCMG LOUD event in Amsterdam. On the face of it there is no contest between the canals of Birmingham and the canals of Amsterdam. But as a UKOUG committee member I have overriding commitments to the conference. Dedication indeed.

I am still working on my presentation. Originally my submission on Oracle Types didn't make the cut. I was disappointed but over the summer my workload got tough and I found it hard to get the time to finish my paper for Open World let alone anything else. So eventually I had been quite relieved that I wasn't presenting at the UKOUG. Then last month I got an e-mail from Rachel saying my paper had been accepted after all; I was on the reserve list and somebody had dropped out. On top of which I am facilitating a round table session on development tools. But, in the words of Col. "Hannibal" Smith, I'm sure the plan will come together. It certainly gives me the adrenalin jolt I need after Open World.

The conference this year has been stretched to accommodate the additional members we gained due to the various Oracle purchases. Oracle themselves fixed this in San Francisco by hiring additional venues but this option wasn't open to the UKOUG. So the conference now extends over four days. The directors have taken the decision to offer a compelling conference experience for the newer members of the UKOUG family. The schedule has been organised around a core of PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Apps presentations on Wednesday and Thursday. The sessions for the technology stack have been spread, sometimes very thinly, across the four days. Tuesday is very strong, there's a dip in choice on Wednesday, a single stream on Thursday and an upturn on Friday.

I understand why the schedule has been so structured and I suppose it is the correct decision. But the upshot is that it is tough for technologists who don't use Apps to justify their attendance for all four days. Certainly I will only be doing two whole days. This is a shame because the Annual Conference has always been strong its range and depth of presentations; traditionally it has been much stronger than Open World, which is more of a networking and marketing event (albeit still the most exciting Oracle event I get to attend). So it's ironic that this year OOW2K6 put a lot of effort into attracting developers, with a whole separate series of presentations under the Oracle Develop banner - and a free T-shirt too!

At least the Development Engineering SIG still has a visible presence at the UKOUG Conference. We seem to have subsumed at the poor old Modelling and Design SIG altogether. And, despite all my grumbling, there are still more sessions I want to attend than there is time available. I'm going to miss some of the ones I really want to hear because they clash with my presentation and the SIG Chairs' meeting. Oh well. I'll be chairing a few sessions and propping up the bar at the Bloggers' thrash. So one way or another I hope to meet some of you next week.

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