Wednesday, March 22, 2006

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming...

Sorry, been a while since my last real posting here. Been a busy period of time – lots going on during the week and weekends. Last weekend I spent most of it standing by a soccer field (it was really cold out, spring is in the air? I think not – it was 28f/-2c and windy). It was worth it though as my daughters soccer team did take first place in the “Icebreaker Tournament”. An appropriate name, but unfortunately, the ice was not breaking. I still don’t know how these little guys do it in such freezing cold weather. There is no way I’d be out there in shorts early in the morning in the freezing cold – but they just get it done.

I spent the last couple of days at the GOUG. I spoke there two years ago and came back this year. They do a two day session with two or three concurrent tracks – plus two “entire group” sessions a day. I like the format – it works well. I did two of the entire group sessions plus one of the break outs. I was scheduled just to do the two entire group sessions but at 9:25pm Sunday night – as I was eating dinner (yes, of course – the flights in and out of Atlanta were delayed, late dinner) I received a call from the organizer David Scott. He was scheduled to do an Oracle XE talk the next day but just thought I might be interested in doing it. I think that really means he hadn’t finished his slides yet and was hoping I just might have something to say! So, I picked up that one as well – nothing like “just in time presentation preparation at 7am in the morning – which coincides with the current “last update time” on asktom:

Logical Reads vs Physical Reads 20 Mar 2006 7am

The conference was quite good – I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was good to meet old friends, make new ones, and get to know others better…

I stayed for half of day two just long enough to see Cary Millsap’s talk – it was well worth it. He said a lot of the same things I said the day before (always good to have continuity and agreement) – but using different examples, a different way to look at it. I really liked that – the consistency of the message and similar conclusions being reached, using different methods.

Speaking of user groups and conferences – Howard had a recent posting on that. I don’t really agree with his premise – I wish he would have attended and spoke at the conference. The user groups are a great venue for exchanging information and people are drawn to come to them not only are looking for technical information, but for the informal networking and yes – sometimes to meet someone they’ve interacted with “electronically” or have received advice from in the past on a forum, via email, whatever. The posting is an interesting read though as it generated quite a bit of commentary. In any case – I’ll keep attending the user group conferences as time permits. I’m a big fan of the infrastructure they represent.


Anonymous Paul said....

Welcome back Tom!

Wed Mar 22, 12:38:00 PM EST  

Blogger Tom said....

Welcome Back Tom!

I agree that attending the user conferences are an excellent venue for exchanging information.

The local users' group I attend was a great avenue for networking and helped me land my current job, but I have also met many great people, made wonderful friends, and learned a great deal. There are so many great reasons to join a local users group and I think everyone should find the time to be involved in any way they can. We used to do an "ask Eric", sort of like an AskTom session at our meetings. The format was great and we had a lot of Q&A at the end.(No copyright infringement I hope (: ) But by doing this, it gave our members a reason to come to the meetings. Even if they didn't want to see the main presentation, they still came.

I saw what Howard said and I disagree with him. He cites the Oracle documentaation, which is a great wealth of information by the way. But there is more than just how something works from a technical standpoint. There are things that you learn. There are best practices. There are situations when you think you may want to do something--according to what you read in the documentattion--but you really shouldn't. He then cites articles. Ah Yes, articles are great and allow someone to present an argument or a how-to in a nice synopsis. However, with a live presentation, you have the ability to capture an audience. You get to feel if your presentation is having an impact--And here is the kicker, you get to interact with them and they get to ask questions. Have you ever tried asking an article a question when it comes to clarification? You can try, but you will look awfully silly talking to yourself.

We had Steven Feuerstein last month to speak at our User Group monthly meeting and it was informative, funny, and interactive. People were firing off PL/SQL questions at him and he was firing back great answers. That is a great example of how information flows at these meetings. Try doing that with an article.

A live presentation by someone who is very knowledgeable about something and is willing to share is what makes the Oracle community so great. The user groups help facilitate that and then some.

Cary Millsap was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to speak to our group about 4 years ago. He will be speaking to us again when he comes out next week. I just hope the weather turns out better. (It rained last time he was here, but it doesn't usually rain in FL this time of year--"knock on wood"). As busy as Cary is, it's amazing that he makes the time to go out and speak to user groups. I don't think he would be willing to do it if he didn't think it was that important.

You do the same thing Tom. You are a parent, you are a VP, you run, you assist with the XE forum, and you are constantly following up. You also write books, you do this blog, and you do sales meetings etc... Yet, with all of that, you still find time to travel, prepare, and do presentations. That is amazing to me! Maybe you can create a presentation on Time Management? :)

I'm also thankful that you will be making a visit down to our group here on May 25th to speak to us. (Suncoast Oracle Users' Group). All of our members are very excited. (Ok REALLY excited!) It will be a unique format as we will be utilizing a collaboritive lab. Pretty neat stuff!

Sorry to get off topic here.

I hope people like Cary Millsap, Steven Feuerstein, Jonathan Lewis, and yourself keep speaking to users groups. I think the people out there that benefit are truly appreciative of it. (I know our members are)

You couple that with the local member presentations and the User Group becomes a very powerful entity. This is why presentations are beneficial.

Wed Mar 22, 02:48:00 PM EST  

Blogger Howard J. Rogers said....

I do hope the two Toms here will have the grace to acknowledge that my blog piece was about *me*. There's a dirty great clause in there which reads "IN THAT CONTEXT...", and the context mentioned was, "What value-add do I bring to the piece".

I don't quite see what there is to disagree with the statement, since it's a statement about me and my perception of my own abilities... about which I think I am best qualified to judge.

It's a statement about whether *I* am "worthy" (think of a similar adjective if that one bothers you) to present at a OUG. Not whether OUGs are a good, bad or indifferent thing. Neither was it a statement about whether presentations were good or bad.

The idea that in some way I was suggesting presentations are not beneficial is just silly.

Wed Mar 22, 03:06:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Ahh, but Howard - not to inflate your ego - it was assumed by me that YOU would bring great benefit to the meeting.

Whether you want to admit it or not, you are a known entity.

Whose knowledge is respected and sought after.

And are known to be able to string coherent sentences together.

With some humor here and there.

That provides useful information.

And has experience speaking in front of groups for extended periods of time.

Maybe that is why I thought the article was about something different - I made the assumption that of course you are "worthy", that went without saying for me.

Wed Mar 22, 03:20:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I just went to my first Rocky Mountain Oracle User Group (RMOUG) "Training Days" here in Denver, and it was worth it just to hear Mogens give the Keynote address. The man is riotously funny! He gave me all sorts of new insights into beer -- things I wouldn't have known otherwise, given how I'm a non-drinker. :)

Alas, I couldn't stay late enough to attend his presentation on SQL tuning, as it was the last session of the day.

Although the RMAN demos all seemed to go horribly awry, I did pick up a few useful things along the way. (Note to myself: when having to choose between two presentations in the same time slot, go with the one without the "live" demos! My co-workers all seemed to be much happier with the choices they made.)

It was certainly nice seeing one or two former co-workers and meeting some of their new associates, so the networking aspect is not to be discounted.

All in all, I'm glad I got to go. I would certainly love, in the future, a chance to hear ones like you, Jonathan Lewis and, yes, Howard, give talks in person. I enjoy all your writing styles, and am always wondering if your real voices match the mental voices I hear when I'm reading.

Bob Shepard

Wed Mar 22, 03:33:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

common tom we get a call almost every day at 9:25...

Wed Mar 22, 03:41:00 PM EST  

Blogger Rachel said....

Howard said

since it's a statement about me and my perception of my own abilities... about which I think I am best qualified to judge.

ah, but Howard, while you are certainly best qualified to judge about your perceptions of your abilities, you may not, in fact, be best qualified to judge your actual abilities.

I have found that people tend to have either an inflated or deflated perception of what they are really capable of and what value they bring to the table.

So... to echo Tom, I do wish you had chosen to present. It's less about parroting back what's in the documentation and more about how you've managed to use, in real life, those things

just my USD 0.02 worth

Wed Mar 22, 07:06:00 PM EST  

Blogger Herod T said....

My two cents on this...

There are people that should present to the public, there are people that think they should present to the public, and there are people who should not present to the public.

From experience I have learned that people tend to "grow" through all 3 aspects of that, in either direction.

I often have issues with myself during meetings and training seminars (all internal) sounding like I am simply regurgitating the manual for the sake of the people who don’t want to read it. Wondering why I am doing this.

I am adding no value to their lives, other then they get time off work to hear me drawl on. Yet, I have seen & heard Mr. Kyte speak and he belongs on stage, his demeanor is excellent, his experience is amazing, yet as he often says he learns something new about oracle every day, it doesn’t go to his head, it is his job and he does it well.

I just had to give my first presentation in 9 years on APEX, with less than 24 hours notice to prepare the material. It has been SO long, I had never used power point before for anything other than reading other peoples slides. I did well, it went off without a hitch – but I should not be presenting in front of people, I was nervous, my voice cracked, I kept dropping my notes, I kept standing in front of the projector blocking the screen. My pants weren’t straight, my shirt was askew at the back (luckily a lady I work with fixed the clothing issues as much as she could – don’t tell my wife of 15 years). And basically, I did not tell these folks anything that they couldn’t glean from 1 hour on the APEX web site. I got applause at the end, and the 15-minute Q&A session turned into an hour.

But, Howard… having Tom Kyte say he thinks you should present, and you have experience you should share is akin to having a centerfold tell you your cute and give you a valid phone number. Neither of which will ever happen to me.

Let your ego fly Howard, and next time it is offered – take it. At the very least, you can take some pictures to share.

Welcome back Mr. Kyte.

Wed Mar 22, 07:22:00 PM EST  

Blogger LewisC said....

I think everyone should post. Even the nervous, voice cracking ones. I tend to speak way too fast and have to rein myself in. I hope I get better over time.

I don't think there is anyway for a person, or even a group of people, to judge the value of a presentation for anyone but themselves. What may be pointless regurgitation to you, may be a great insight to someone else.

If you WANT to present, you should. If you DO NOT WANT to present, you shouldn't. It's a very personal choice. I also think Howard would be great but it is his choice whether or not he does.

Howard is one of those bloggers that can have me laughing so hard I'm crying even when I don't agree with him. I think he's crotchety but in a good, hilarious kind of way.

BTW, I am a member of SOUG (mentioned above) and I will be presenting AFTER Tom Kyte on May 25. Now that's something that can make a person give up on presenting. The whole time I'm presenting, the entire audience will be thinking, "He sure ain't no Tom."

But I'm ok with that. As long as I'm not pelted with anything.


Wed Mar 22, 08:50:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Michael Olin said....

LewisC said

But I'm ok with that. As long as I'm not pelted with anything.

I would make sure that whoever is introducing your talk makes "do not pelt the speaker" explicit. It's what we've been doing at our NY Oracle User Group meetings for over a decade (Tom, Rachel and many others who have spoken at our meetings and post here can attest to that).

Don't worry about it Lewis, I'm sure you'll do just fine. If you were looking for a reason to panic, just consider this alternative: Instead of following Tom as a speaker, Tom could have posted on his blog that one of the things he was going to be sure to do at the conference was ATTEND your presentation.

I hope the word verification isn't an indication of another transit strike here in NY - "ilwlk" - No subways. No problem. I'll walk!

Wed Mar 22, 09:27:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Sometimes one doesn't know what benefits will be realized until long after the presentation has been forgotten.

The McAfee antivirus dat 4715 fiasco showed the benefits of fully documenting system configuration changes. Had I not put together a presentation for RMOUG 3 years ago, I wouldn't have likely documented throughly the hardening steps.

My employer's win32 Oracle servers that are still running w2k server had been hardened and were not affected by McAfee. The newer Oracle servers that are running w2k3 server and were fully integrated into their domain and SMS, EPO deals were hosed - hosed as in a lsnrctl.exe that was in use was removed. Hosed as in ./patch_storage files were removed so that no future opatch attempt would likely succeed.

One other thing - fear. A healthy level of fear. Fear of being exposed as a fraud for not knowing the material well enough, that a well targeted question from the audience could induce a panic attack. To me that is a strong incentive to make certain that one knows the material exceedingly well, prior to publishing the article or getting up on that podium. Or make sure you have a go-to person sitting there in the front row ;)


Wed Mar 22, 09:44:00 PM EST  

Blogger Kurt Graustein said....

I like Bob's comment about avoiding sessions with live demos. Wolfgang Brietling opened his Hotsos Symposium 2006 session "Tuning by Cardinality Feedback" with the statement that after a bad experience with a live demo he decided to not do them any more.
It takes a great deal of testing, practice, coordination (switching back and forth between presentation and demo), courage and even faith to pull off a live demo. I applaud those who still do it despite the challenges, and admire those who make it look easy.

Thu Mar 23, 01:21:00 AM EST  

Blogger LewisC said....

If you were looking for a reason to panic, just consider this alternative: Instead of following Tom as a speaker, Tom could have posted on his blog that one of the things he was going to be sure to do at the conference was ATTEND your presentation.

Arggggghhhhh! Shhhhh!

Thu Mar 23, 07:28:00 AM EST  

Blogger Doug Burns said....

Oh, I wouldn't worry - he just sits at the back, blogging away or answering questions on asktom.

Or is that just a sign he's bored?


Thu Mar 23, 08:33:00 AM EST  

Blogger Tom said....


At least you don't have to follow him up when you post articles on OTN.

Currently #4 under DBA. Good job :)

Thu Mar 23, 06:56:00 PM EST  

Anonymous David Scott said....

Actually, my slides WERE finished before I asked -so there! Seriously, I couldn't resist hearing the 'inside angle' that comes from your close involvement with XE. How could I possibly say anything that would top your input? BTW, everyone had a blast at the conference - thanks for leading!

Tue Mar 28, 12:06:00 AM EST  


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