I had a slight schedule clash yesterday afternoon. Steven Feuerstein's 10 Things NEVER to do in PL/SQL
started at the precise time that Tom Kyte's Database Worst Practices
ended but they were in buildings a brisk ten minutes apart. So I decided to attend Steven's talk. I'll be hearing Tom speak at the UKOUG Conference but Open World is my only opportunuity to hear Steven. This was a good call.
I'm tempted to gloss his talk as Chicken Soup for the PL/SQL Programmer's Soul, because it was full of sound advice: drink lots of water, take regular exercise, play mind-developing game
with your kids. He didn't quite say "eat up your greens" but it was definitely implied. This is, of course, sensible advice. The rest of his equally sensible points were on best practice in software development in general, although obviously focused on PL/SQL. Ask for help. Don't trust a guru just because they've written a book: verify everything. Share code and ideas.
I liked this talk a lot precisely because it dwelt on process. The tendency for conferences is to focus on features and functionality, which is useful but such information is usually obtainable if you know how to use the documentation and Google. So it's a nice change to hear somebody talk about ways we can make ourselves better programmers and do our jobs more effectively. People do take exception to some things Steven has written. But over the course of ten books it is inevitable that he has said stuff that is incorrect, dumb or just doesn't jive with our world outlook. But at least he admits it when he's been wrong. I think if we all applied the practices in his books rigourously in our coding we would universally be writing better code than we are right now. Of course, never take a guru's word for anything ;)
I think Steven will have trouble launching his new acronym on the world. He was talking about having a Single Point Of Definition for everything - formulas, business rules, SQL. This is like the Pragmatic Programmers' Don't Repeat Yourself
rule. The thing is, spod is already a word, at least in England, and it's not complimentary
. So the statement "I'm going to SPODify my code" is likely to be met with the rejoinder "Don't you think it's spoddy enough already? Why not try improving it instead?"
Hanging with Eddie
I met Eddie Awad in the Feuerstein talk and we did a tour of the Moscone South exhibition hall. The big hit of the open hour was the EDS stand. They were giving away these cool-looking blue lagoons (a cocktail, m'lud) with a flashing "ice cube" in them. Major queue for those. Another stand had a guy riding a Segway to drum up trade for a presentation about their product. Eddie managed to blag a ride on the thing in return for watching the presentation. I always thought that people on Segways look a bit dorky but Eddie managed to make it look cool. Before boarding the vehicle Eddie handed me his camcorder, which is why the video on his site
is not up to his usual standard.
OTN Night at the Oasis
This was a bit of an odd one. Every conference seems to do it: put a group of overwhelmingly male software geeks of an unathletic disposition into a big room and play really loud dance music at them. This year OTN had hired some lithe female dancers in bizarre costumes
to really point up the contrast. In one of the other rooms there were some low stages with exotic dancers of various persuasions - contortion artiste
, snake dancer, belly dancer. It wasn't actually a burlesque show but I found it a bit disturbing. Oh, and the bars closed an hour before the event was due to end. On the plus side I got to talk with my Dutch colleague Roel Hartmann, Oracle's Sue Harper and some people from the UKOUG.