Monday 30 June 2014

KSCOPE14 - Awesome, Selfies, Brambles & The Cure for Low Technology

Another conference over
Yep an eclectic title, but it was a broad spectrum of content and fun at this year's Kscope the conference from ODTUG.

Apparently your technology wanes through the year and attending Kscope is the ultimate cure for "Low-T" and works "even for Fusion" (Cary Millsap 2:42 of video), but why as a non technical person did I attend? I explained this a few weeks back, I need to understand the technology and Kscope delivered. I love Kscope, it isn't as good as UKOUG (hehe) but I don't get the chance to attend sessions at home, so Kscope is one I want to attend.

Kscope starts with community service day and off I went to help out. They were working on forest restoration clearing brambles which I am not much good at, my dodgy wrist means I can't lift anything heavy but I did a good job making sure people took on water and then sorting tools, equipment and buckets. The organisers were so impressed with the buckets but I did try explaining that it was a mainly technical group and pattern matching is our daily life, so sorting buckets is easy.

After a shower I met up with Michelle Malcher Past president of IOUG and two of the many APEX people from the Netherlands Learco Brizzi and Alex Nuijten (who along with Iloon Ellen-Wolff are authors of Oracle APEX Best Practices). We decided to be typical Seattle tourists and made our way up the Space Needle for the first of many selfies.

Seattle is the home of Starbucks so naturally we had to have some at the top of the tower (and another selfie).

Not sure I should be admitting this but also went to the APEX meet up on Saturday evening which was great to catch up with old friends. Conferences get very busy and as always I don't get enough time with those I want to and this event was no exception, but I did try.

Sunday was Symposium Day and as Fusion Apps are all about the technology I was attending the ADF stream. SOA & BPM had new releases this week but the ADF stream was almost exclusively on mobile. I don't mind that, Mobile is the most prolific use of ADF and is very current.

However I thought ADF Mobile would help drive the use of ADF for other development but it is now being replaced by Mobile Application Framework which was actually released today and the licencing model is changing. Not sure what this will mean to adoption of either MAF or ADF and will be watching and learning. All that said there are some amazing things happening in Mobile.

OTN don't sponsor ACEs to attend Kscope but they do sponsor Lunch & Learns (where I got to earn my keep) and Community time at the conference as well as a wonderful ACE Dinner. It was a wonderful evening in a brewery and a chance for more selfies, this time with Jeff Smith whilst others like Richard Foote just concentrated on the beer. I spent quite a lot of time speaking to Roland Smart who runs OTN and have lots to think about around ideas to evangelise the ACE program. I also made some videos with Vikki Lira about the ACE program.

The split of sessions was very interesting. Essbase & EPM being the biggest slice and then APEX. When it came to the top 5 sessions of the event they had 3:2 respectively.


One thing I was really looking forward to was seeing Mike Riley who is Past President of ODTUG and fighting cancer. I was so pleased to see him but worried he would not take it easy enough, but I am pleased to report to his wife Lisa that he did and the news today that he has had his final chemo treatment is an answer to prayer. Mike was also rewarded as top volunteer at ODTUG and took that as an opportunity to say thank you to all who have helped him, ODTUG truly is a community.

On Wednesday there was the legendary Kscope party this year at the Experience Music Project or EMP. As I said in my previous blog I was dressing up as the Bay City Rollers but that didn't go quite to plan.. Michelle Learco and I decided on another quick adventure on a Seattle Seaplane and booked one for before the party. We got on board and the pilot said he needed to warm up the engine and then announced "we have a fuel starvation problem and it would be unethical to take off" - I have heard lots of excuses but none ever explained like that!

So off to the Starbucks next door, a drive thru no less and another selfie opportunity, and it was worth the wait it was awesome, which appeared to be the adjective of the week.

We then rushed to the party without my costume but I made up for it by wearing it to Chi Gung on Thursday morning, another ODTUG tradition led by Kent Grazaino. The party was also.... awesome followed by an after party in the President's penthouse suite (another difference between holding a conference in the US v the UK).

Thursday was a quieter day with some deep dive sessions followed by a very well attended closing session, then we had time to do some last minute sightseeing, in our case down to the Pike Street Market and the original Starbucks. We met up with the ODTUG board for dinner and then Friday it was just more goodbyes to old and new friends. The last breakfast was at the market a recommendation from several people and it was....yes you guessed it, awesome, defiantly the word to sum up Kscope14.


Tuesday 17 June 2014

Finally I made it to a BGOUG Conference

Milena Gerova is one of the great women of Oracle User Groups and has run the Bulgarian BGOUG for many years and is always asking me to come speak at one of their conferences which are held twice a year.

Finally this year I agreed and am currently on the return journey from their fabulous Spring Conference in Sandanski.

When I agreed to go I expected it to be my first visit to Bulgaria but actually I ended up going there twice in 4 weeks as it was also the EOUC Presidents Meeting in Sofia last month.

I had heard many other speakers tell of how well it is organised and how truly hospitable the organisers are and now I have experienced it for myself. I was met Thursday at the airport by Tanya a BGOUG board member who then drove Tim Hall and myself to Sandanski which is in the south west  of Bulgaria and about 2 1/2 hours drive from Sofia.

The first thing we did was check out the hotel which was a Spa hotel with two beautiful pools so inviting, however Tim didn't have appropriate clothing so we walked into the town, just across the bridge and managed to find a pair of almost fitting shorts, well worth the effort as the pool was great. Yes this is called their spring conference but a little late this year and it was very hot, but that just gave an excuse to send even more time in the outdoor spa pool.

Later that evening there was a speakers' dinner but I was very tired and went off to bed at about 11 leaving others to party on through. However next and every morning I was in the pool at 8am feeling very healthy even if I didn't do much swimming.

The delegates arrived by bus at 10.30 on Friday morning and sessions went through till gone 7pm, followed by a brilliant dinner with local music and dancing. At the EOUC meeting Milena did tell us Tim was their expert dancer and I was amazed she was telling the truth, he was first up.

I had both of my sessions on Friday, 'How are Fusion Apps put together' and 'Is Cloud right for Fusion Apps'. Interestingly my audiences were mainly developers but it was a great crowd and I loved it. Feedback so far has been great and I felt truly appreciated. Tim attended the 2nd session and said what I was saying was mainly relevant to all Cloud and therefore had even wider appeal.

With no sessions to give Saturday, yes Saturday Bulgarians give up their weekend for this conference, which is child and family friendly, I took to the Spa. Probably not a good idea, I selected an algae wrap which I can only describe as being rubbed down with slurry, and then wrapped in plastic and left for 30 minutes to enjoy the aroma. Yes my skin feels great now but if I close my eyes I can still smell it!!!

What I did learn in Bulgaria is that the usergroup appeals to all ages and sexes, there is definatly no need for a WIT program and no one I spoke to had any issues.

When the sessions finished the speakers took to cars and drove to Melnik a beautiful little wine town about 20km away. we had a walk around the town and visited a wine cellar and museum and of course had to have a little taste. Then it was back to the hotel for a 'reflection' dinner before saying goodbye to those with an early start. There was then a terrific thunderstorm which I watched from my bed lighting up the sky all around, beautiful.

I was staying a night in Sofia so had another morning to walk around the town, enjoy the spa waters which leave the ground at 76'C, and to watch the world go bye in my rarely used sunglasses. Melina drove me back to Sofia and after a quick nap, I had a walk around the main park before an early night, and then this morning walked around Sofia which is flat, compact and so easy to navigate. I visited two small churches, and wandered around looking at the sights including a beautiful outdoor artshow of photographs near my hotel.

And all too soon it was time to go home, do the laundry and think about Kscope in Seattle. Thank you to Milena for the repeated invites and to the ACE program for facilitating.


Wednesday 11 June 2014

You say goodbye and I say hello

Words by the Beatles, but what I have been singing in my head all day having learnt that Lillian Buziak is leaving Oracle.

Lillian has been the go-to person along side Vikki Lira for the ACE Program and the person who also sorts out approvals, bookings and expenses along with all the ACE events around the globe. For some reason I seem to be a problem child and Lillian has to work much harder than normal to sort out my issues, but she does it with a smile.

In her own words she has seen the ACE Program grow from a few to a household name.

Lilian was also a great help with my imaginary friend Stanley, arranging stickers and his place in the Find An ACE directory. I know if he was still around he would be sad.

She is also a great friend and I remember a special hug when I needed it back in January.

The great thing about the Oracle Community is we don't go far, and our employers may change but we will still be around. She will be at Kscope.

OTN Crew picture by Justin

So Oracle's loss is InterRel's gain and one day I may even forgive Edward Roske for poaching Lillian.

Good luck Lillian see you soon

Understanding Technology - my way - ODTUG's KSCOPE

Last week I did a video interview with Bob Rhubart as part of his series talking to ODTUG Kscope 2014 presenters, and yet I am not presenting, so why is Kscope so important to me?

I am not technical, or rather I don't practice the technology but I do need to understand it, and the value to application users which is my area of expertise.

And then I also talk to technologists as to why what they do is important to business. My move into this area can be laid firmly at the feet of two great friends Heli Helskyaho who had me talk to her apps audience on a boat, and then filled it with technologists and who turned up at one of my sessions in Australia and Alex Gorbachev who said I could help him talk to executives about the tech. I have also been encouraged through the years by Jürgen Kress who runs the middleware community for EMEA partners, he even gave me an award for this.

Now I even write as a guest blogger for Oracle's AppAdvantage blog which is all about using technology with applications

So where do I learn about the technology? Jürgen does a brilliant keeping us up to date, both online and in person and I learn so much from the Fusion UX Advocates community and ACE program either at briefings or through the incredible network of experts that make it up. When a topic interests me then I need to drill down into it. Probably mobile at the moment and Sue Duncan and Ultan O'Broin from Oracle have really helped me to learn.

Another phenomenal way to learn about why and how is through user groups and as I said about Collaborate this year, I have to keep learning all the time. For FMW I go to Kscope, ODTUG attract fantastic speakers and it is a great conference.

Why don't I have UKOUG here as my learning source? Well the problem is, and ask any usergroup leader, when you have your own sessions to deliver and an event to be part of, you simply don't have time to attend enough sessions. Last year UKOUG separated Apps and Tech and I thought I would be ok but when the time came I was still just as busy. I was talking to Grant Ronald on Friday after our Agenda Planning Day and he said how great the FMW content looks for Decembers Tech 14 Conference and Exhibition so register your interest now, but I know I will have the same issue.

So I am off to Seattle next Friday, no employer, user group or ACE program to sponsor me, I am paying for travel and accommodation myself, a testament to the value this is to me, (thank you ODTUG for the conference pass).

 I will be taking part, I love the Community Service Day although I think I still ache from the last agricultural day in Monterey! I will also take part in the lunch with an ACE and ACE/OTN Lunch and Learn sessions, encouraging people to learn from the experts (and me). I will be attending sessions mainly along the ADF / SOA areas and the generic sessions, I will pop into the Women in Technology session led by Kellyn Pot'vin although I am not on the panel but it is always interesting to go along, I think there are more issues in the US than in the UK.

Oh and I will attend the party and I have made my costume. People will be pleased I haven't resurrected my 80s costume from Collaborate a few years back but this year the theme is musical idols and I spent the 70s dressed as my idols the Bay City Rollers!


Conference Planning & AGM

Wow, just into June and we have had Agenda Planning Day for our two UKOUG flagship conferences already.

Last Friday it appeared that UKOUG had taken over the Oracle London City Offices as both Apps and Tech committees met to go through the pre judged papers are create two very special agendas.

I was a little sad, this day clashed with OUGF conference which this year was held in a Finnish forest, and I wanted to be there, but UKOUG is my user group and that is where my commitment lies, and anyway I love this day, the buzz and excitement.

I write about this most years but it still amazes me how you start the day with hundreds of slips of paper and a blank agenda grid and finish with an agenda that looks amazing but so many really good papers still get turned down, not rejected, simply not enough room for them.

This year we have just as many streams for each event but are adding virtual streams, or additional tracks covering Social, Mobile and Cloud that are actually specially selected sessions from traditional streams building an alternative interest approach to the amazing content. (For those clever people who are wondering what happened to Analytics, we have several dedicated streams, this is mainstream).

photo from UKOUG
The UKOUG office have already shared the story of how the day went so I wont repeat it all but I will say it is a very busy but fun day. In Apps we had a new volunteer John Barnes from DSP who really pulled his sleeves up and got involved, a new look at what we do is very important to stay fresh. A big THANK YOU to all the volunteers who took part and especially Marisa who kept us all in order.

So we have most of the agendas now but there is lots of checking to do before people are advised, and in Apps I want the individual SIG leaders to look over the agenda and check it delivers what their communities want.

I said a few weeks ago how much I was looking forward to being in Liverpool for this year's Conference and Exhibition, and seeing the first draft of the agenda adds to that.

After we finished UKOUG held its AGM and for the first time it was available as a webcast so others could dial in. Our President David Warburton-Broadhurst spoke, along with Fiona Martin who gave the review of 2013 and look forward to 2014. David Rowntree went through the accounts and then our latest board member, James Haslam hosted the board Q&A.

Then it was off to the pub for volunteer drinks and a great chance to catch up with friends, old and new.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

EOUC Meeting

I have before explained how user groups have their own communities umbrella group IOUC which is hosted by Oracle and UKOUG are members of both this international group and the EMEA chapter EOUC.

The annual IOUC event is normally in January each year but this year it was decided that from the up coming Oracle Open World it would be held the week before, allowing delegates to attend both the IOUC & OOW in one trip. I understand the logic of this but on a personal note I will be unable to attend IOUC as it now clashes with the ACE Director briefings I am committed to.

Fiona Martin and James will hopefully be representing UKOUG this September and as this will be Fiona's first we thought it important that she attend the EOUC meeting in Sofia just passed at the end of May and here is Fiona's account

Fiona explains the highlights and things covered so I have no need to repeat but I would say we got a fantastic response to the 3 initiatives we shared. Our Next Generation, WIT and the recent LMS event.

Sofia was beautiful and before dinner the local user group arranged a walking tour around the city. I loved it so much I am back next week for their conference.