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OOW13 - Day 0 - Before presentations

Sunday
Most presenters would tell you that there are two distinct phases to conferences that they're attending. Before and after their presentations. It's difficult to truly enjoy the conference experience when the presentations that you've yet to deliver are rattling around in your mind. The effect is magnified, of course, if you're one of the bad boys like me, Alex Gorbachev, Kerry Osborne and a host of others (lets not even *start* on Tanel Poder) who haven't finished their slides before the conference starts. While that might sound like a scandalous dereliction of duty, it should be pretty easy to understand actually. Most people have busy work and personal lives and presentation work needs to be slotted in around those. As a contractor, I can't exactly work on non-client slides during office hours!

But this time was going to be different and I made sure of it by

1) Not submitting any abstracts for the Openworld agenda.
2) Putting myself down for one presentation at Oak Table World using slides that I'd already delivered several times over the past few months.
3) When Graham Wood asked me if I'd co-present with him on AWR, I started thinking about suitable examples in advance of the conference and went over to San Francisco the week before with enough time to agree on the examples and think how I would present them.

3) went kind of wrong when I realised that Graham thought I should put the examples as images over multiple slides which was probably always the best idea and I just hadn't thought it through enough. Suffice to say I'd underestimated the amount of work that needs to go into a co-presentation that you don't have complete control over. (Don't get me started on that Oracle Corp Powerpoint template either - we'd be here all week!)

Which meant that I didn't manage much in the first couple of days of the conference, but once I'd relaxed a bit, I was able to pop my head into Jason Arneil of e-DBA presenting 'Exadata From Installation to Go Live: Experiences in Banking and Retail'. As well as Jason being a mate from the user group and blogging communities, e-DBA and I share the same banking client, so I've worked with him a bit more closely over the past couple of years and know that he absolutely has real world experience! The stand-out things for me from the bits of the presentation I saw were that sizing the platform you need is extremely important, as is giving proper consideration to primary, standby and test environments. Fortunately our shared client thought about these things and had the money to implement them properly but I do think there's a tendency to think Exadata is expensive and so people skimp on their normal deployment models, which is a big mistake. Another personally enjoyable aspect was hearing Jason pronounce Exadata as only a Scot could, which I found hilarious but I suspect took the average US attendee a while to get used to ;-)

Then I was determined to go to the opening keynote before the ACE dinner at the Walt Disney Museum. The reason I was so keen on the keynote was that I knew there would be the In-Memory announcement and as there was likely to be a shout-out to the dev team that worked on it, I wanted to be in the hall for a change. So imagine my Xtreme (sic) disappointment when I had to sit there for over an hour being bored senseless by the Fujitsu section. I was pretty rude about it on Twitter but try to understand where I'm coming from. Yes, I know Fujitsu pay the big bucks to be on the stage. I even know that the content looked relatively interesting if I just focussed on the slides. I know the guy was trying his best. But when a lot of people have attended the Welcome Keynote for a kickstart to the conference and a bit of buzz, the last thing they want to do is to be bored senseless by an unengaging presenter. Sorry, but if you're at that level of a company you should be able to cope with the criticism and for the good of your organisation, let someone with some presentation skills do the job next time.

An hour in I was nicotine-deprived and could take no more and the bus to the ACE dinner was going to be soon, so I went outside and started watching the keynote on the massive monitors in the Howard Street chill-out area. A much better experience (and an approach I used for the
rest of the week), particularly as the Oracle guys eventually
started presenting on In-Memory Database.

Despite the announcement of the In-Memory Database Option (follow @db_inmemory for more on that going forward), several people agreed that the true innovation is that Larry seems to be able to use a clicker after all, although not hearing him saying 'Next Slide' is going to take some getting used to!

As for the keynotes and the big announcements, I've never really been one for blogging about them because I don't think I have the analyst gene inside me. But there's a few simple solutions to that. First, people like Mark Rittman cover them in so much more depth than I could hope to. Second, remember that anyone who cares can watch the keynotes online here ... and get this! You can skip Mr Fujitsu!

I got so caught up in enjoying it that I suddenly realised I was late for the ACE Dinner, still had some work to do for the next day's presentation and so ended up missing it completely :-( I was pretty gutted to say the least because I'd promised a bunch of people that I'd be able to meet up with them at that, having hidden out to work on slides over the weekend and I hate missing a dinner invitation in any case.

It was worth missing it in the end, though, as I was able to look over my section and send some more notes over to Graham, before we arranged to meet for the last time the next morning.

Disclosure: The OTN Oracle ACE Director Program paid for my flights
and accommodation and invited me to dinner at the Walt Disney Family Museum but I decided to work on presentations instead. My
conference pass was paid for by one of Oracle Blogger program, Oracle
ACE Director program or being a conference speaker. All three would have
qualified for that. Fujitsu bored me to tears but recovered some ground by sponsoring the welcome party in Howard Street and dishing out free drumsticks.