Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Plans for Spring 2022

 Because Covid is over and Conferences are re-starting, I can finally plan a Real Trip again.

Via lunch/coffee/visits to friends in Germany, Austria and Slovenia, I will be on my way to the combined conferes of JavaCro and HrOUG from 15-20 May.



Then a short (working) holiday and there is MakeIT in Portoroz.




After that: there are some meetups scheduled, notably RoOUG in Bucharest on 14 June (link soon).

And on the way back I hope to visit several more friends for coffee.



Sunday, August 29, 2021

About ACE program, Conferences, and Dev-Rel

 The oracle “community” has been buzzing about the ACE program.

Firstly I want to Welcome all the new+promoted ACE-es. I know some of you personally, and I am glad to have you on board. Hope to meet in person (again) soon.


But given some of the discussions I’ve seen, I’ll briefly do 4 statements, will elaborate each of them in text below and end with some final thoughts. My aim is to help the discussion, without popping a load of less-relevant text into tweet-threads or slack-channels.


Statement 1: Neutral. 

I want to encourage objective, independent information about IT, tools, products, usage, practices etc…  And I want to stand with the user/developer/sysadmin, not with the vendors. But I am OK to provide feedback and suggestions to vendors, some  of my friends do Good Work in the employment of vendors.


Statement 2: In-Person. 

I want to encourage in-person meetings, of both large and small groups. Communication is simply more complete when done in person. All other networking (online, stackoverflow, youtube, zoom etc) will also just happen and grow. But I dont want to comment too much about "online" now.


Statement 3: No bribes to speakers.

As an independent conference-customer and sometimes speaker, I dont want money from a Vendor, not even “travel and lodging”. As such, I am Happy with oracle cutting the travel-funding for ACE-Ds.


Statement 4: Transparancy. 

A Vendor-sponsored event will be biased, but I may still come to the event. I want organizers to be transparent about their funding. A sponsored-event can still provide good opportunities for in-person meeting and exchange of real information. A clever and wise vendor will understand.


So far the TL;DR part. I will elaborate for the curious in text below.




The Elaborations...


Caveats:

 - Some ppl will disagree. Please Keep exchanging Ideas, politely.

 - I make assumptions, and the usual ass-u-me applies, so be it.

 - I have my own “desired state”, and I probably reason towards that.



Stmnt 1 Neutral.


This one, Neutrality, is the most difficult; What is Objective, neutral information ?


In the IT landscape, “neutral” is probably whatever you + I say is “neutral”. 

But I would add the criterium that the information given is verifiable, demonstrable, or measurable.


Where do you find Neutral information ? 

From users /Developers ?

From testing and benchmarks (can of worms….)?

In University and Scientific institutions ? 

In the market : whichever product survives the longest, or sells the most licences is the bests ? 


This "neutral" item needs expanding, maybe later… Compare for example how the pg-day organisation tries to enforce rules and transparency for conferences under that brand. Or the Oak-Table-Network of “scientists”. I think the oakies had some good criteria, but also a self-proclaimed high consumption of alcohol, and a vetting process for members that could depend on "who pays for drinks tonight”.



Stmnt 2 : in-person meetings.


I specifically want to encourage in-person meetings, because I think the in-person communication is the most complete. As someone said during dinner in Vienna: “We could never have discussed all this over zoom”.

In-person needs encouraging, sponsoring, because all other forms of information-exchange will simple happen anyway. There are very few restrictions on creating online-groups, forums, listings and more. In Database-land, Twitter seems to be the platform of choice, followed by Stack-Overflow etc. The moderations of blogs, aggregators, forums and mailing-lists is a different topic, but I will try to subscribe to “neutral” ones as well as to vendor-driven ones.


In-person or “Physical” conferences and meetup need some sponsoring because venue, food, transport, lodging all require a budget. And this is where Oracle “helped” in the past: they did not only send “employees”, but they used to sponsor some of the other speakers as well, the ACE-Ds. 


My controversial stmnt here is: Only sponsor Organizers, don't Sponsor Speakers. See als stmtn3: don't pay the ppl, pay the event. 


I also think that only “small events” need explicit support. Larger, professional events, (UKOUG, DOAG, Buildstuff) do not need a lot of  artificial “vendor sponsoring”. They are able to draw sufficient crowd and sponsors to run on their own. The smaller events act as proving-ground and training-space for the larger ones. For this reason I want to visit both types of events: small meetup/groups and large conferences. Compare it to a football-fan who likes to see both the local amateurs and the professional teams, and who knows the sport can only exist with both types of clubs.


From this reasoning, it follows that the attendees (delegates?), will have to pay some fee to participate in most events. This means not everyone will be able to visit, but it also means you end up with the more motivated, and spending-power audience. A free event (as in free beer) attracts way too much freeloaders like myself: I only go to conferences for the food and drink.


For small events, it may be as simple as paying for your travel and own food+drink at the venue, but some meetups/user-groups would definitely benefit form some dev-rel-funding or marketing-budget (e.g. the old oracle ACE-funding).


Supporting evidence:

Firstly, the ppl that met in-person before Covid still seem to form a fairly good network, and 

Secondly, the existence of both commercially and voluntarily organised, physical conferences proved there is a market, a demand for them.  My intention was generally to seek-out the more “neutral” and serious conferences and go there to meet ppl and learn information.

In the Postgres world, I know the local meetups in NL were quite successful. But they benefitted from a few large “installed base” customers that made venue and food available for meetings of up to 100 ppl. Those “users” noticed the direct and indirect benefit of keeping a user-community alive, even if this did not bring them immediate measurable revenue (oracle + cstmers take note - I never see a large “financial institution” hosting an OUG of 100 ppl!)



Stmnt 3: No Bribes. Don't pay speakers, pay the (small) events.


When a vendor pays (or reimburses) the speaker and this is not explicitly clear (e.g. ACE-D funding), the message becomes biased. Even if the speaker tries hard to remain neutral. If the Organizer (and thus the audience) pays for the speaker, it is a more transparant and more a system of demand+supply, and therefore more Neutral, IMHO.

I would try to ensure that the whole setup of a conference stems from the demand + supply. The more a vendor pays (visibly or invisibly), the less neutral the event is going to be. I accept that some organizers will pay for “rock star speakers” (Hoogland, McDonald, Lewis etc…), because those speakers draw in the crowds, and that is fine. But if the money comes from the event or from the attendees, there is more room for neutral or critical views, and possibly better information, just saying…



Stmnt 4: Transparency. 


vendor-organised events are biased.

Hence, please make it clear when a vendor pays for the event or for some of the speakers.

This doesn;t need much elaboration. At least be transparant: you want to know who is paying for the event.

But I might still use the opportunity to meet with like-minded ppl, and to gain as much information as I can. There may still be a whole off-stage or informal gathering going on at the same time (e.g. the Tap-n-Spile in Birmingham during UKOUG).



Final thoughts.


Looking back at it all... It comes down to : Honest and Neutral information, and “meeting ppl”.

For “honest information”, it may mostly be a matter of educating IT staff to think critical, ask quesitons, and put the interest of user/customer first.

But Also, to help see through the BS (Who remembers : You probably don't need…. ).

For meeting ppl: You will always depend on funding and motivated ppl. But I am of the opinion that transparency and “serendipity” can only occur if ppl can see each other in the eyes from time to time.


Of course, I also wrote this whole text to improve my hopes/chances of riding around europe by motorcycle, visiting events, meeting ppl…

(insert picture of motor with view over Silezia: Some ppl only go to POUG for the beer… )





And if you are a new or promoted ACE: Welcome again. 

Dont pay too much attn to me or other dinosaurs and Do Whatever YOU Want to do with the ACE-status. 

Hopefully we can meet somewhere over coffee, food or a drink.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

You can Speak at IT conferences

Conferences are Great - you should go (and Speak)



Conferences are for getting out of the (home)office, to discuss topics, meet people, and  learn new things, ideas, concepts, trends. And for the food+drink, although that varies from place to place.

And the best way to get to a conference is ... to do a Presentation.

Especially when I had to "ask my boss", it would always Greatly help if I could say: "I'm Speaking at XYZ, can you please budget the trip+time" (maybe more on that later).


So... What to Speak about? Here is one of my best 3-step tricks to find a topic:

1. Find the biggest Obstacle you had at work in the last 12 months (e.g. learning python, creating K8s pods, Designing your Datamodel, arguing with your architect..). That can be your Topic.

2. Now write down what you want to Tell / Warn / Laugh to others about (The Quirks of Python, Yaml/Ansible-syntax, how to manipulate the architect). This will be your "Message".

3. Turn that into slides (max 25), notably with a clear Conclusion. Give your listeners a "Take Home Lesson" at the end.

There you are!


My reasoning behind this is multiple: 

First, you will be a better speaker if you have a grain of Passion, a Mission. Something you Really Want to Communicate. And even better: something you have Experienced Yourself. 

Secondly, you probably were not the only one with whatever challenge you had. Others will have been in the same situation and will recognise it. Those will be your Audience, and they will spark the discussion afterwards.

Thirdly: Because you are "On a Mission" to convey your learnings, you will be better motivated, and you will more easily overcome any stage-fright your may have.


There is more to speaking, but  you will learn in the process of Doing! 

A good source of information is also the MASH program (link). And there are the practicalities, things like: 

Avoid boring slides (important, but less important than Your Mission)

How to work towards the conclusion (important, but less important than your intrinsic Motivation)

Use of Clip-art and moderate humour (important, not Essential to your Message)

How to determine your Tempo, Timing. Your first presentation will run-over, that is normal, and not a problem: Organizers will keep-time, or not. And getting late to other talks is (partly) the problem of the audience. Truly Motivated listeners may even remain behind, and harass you with Questions. The secret to not run over is.. a) do the presentation a few times, and b) remove irrelevant content (this can be hard - especially if you want to tell a "whole story")

Note: running-over is Totally Impolite because it creates problems for audience, for other speakers, and for organizers. If an experienced speaker goes over time, you can tell him off. But every beginner-speaker should be allowed to run-over (once, just once :-) ). If a "sales-pitch-speaker" runs over time: Ban Him (that is 99% of cases a him) and Shame his Product.


Oh, and about that food+drink: After the event, tell the organizers how good or bad their catering was. Some will learn, some wont.

Now go out and Enjoy!





Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Beginner Level Material



 “We need more beginner-level material, more Basic-knowledge topics”

This was the cry from a conference routinier and organizer(m/f)


My replies to this remark are multiple:

  1. Agree: I see many app/dev/ops/archs make basic (known-)mistakes.
  2. Beginner-level topics are not sexy, the don't draw crowds.
  3. Basic topics don't promote/sell products.
  4. Beginners are not at conferences, they are on stack-overflow.
  5. I first want to Talk to their managers and “architects”.

And of course, in Covid-19 days, there are hardly any conferences anymore, just web-video-youtube-streaming-meetings. The remark comes from meeting ppl at POUG and from a weekly zoom call with some friends.


I will say that whatever goes wrong in IT (and a lot goes sub-optimal or plain wrong), it is not the fault of the "beginner" or even of the Dev.

The "root cause" of most wrongs is with the lead, the architect of said "Dev". 


Mistakes I seem to see are (in +/- random order)

 - No basic Design.

 - Chasing interesting technology, rather than building a useful system.

 - No database-design: you don't know what your data looks like!! 

 - Use of object-store (hierarchical datamodel) rather than a well-designed (table/relational) model.

 - No (data-)life-cycle, and unlimited growth.

 - Inefficient data-access (e.g. no indexes, or very poor datamodel)

 - Use of technology (RDBMS or any other) without much experience or knowledge.

 - No testing, no “verification” (despite good intention of automated "pipeline")


So, in all my "Senior Arrogance" I stated that, rather than "more beginner level material", we need some sort of "curriculum for IT-professionals". 


Currently I'm thinking of “how can I help on this ?” 


Expect a few blog-posts on t his topic soon. Probably starting with pointers to the likes of HeliH, ToonK, JeffS, TimH etc.. 


And we know: You can lead a horse to water, but it still needs to drink...


Suggestions welcome (in comments or on twitter…)




note: I find it better to put extensive ramblings on a blogpost rather than to string a set of tweets together. But reactions on Twitter tend to start better and more accessible discussions.



Saturday, September 05, 2020

How To... Meet for Coffee with a motorcycle rider.

 If we decide to meet for coffee during one of my (motorcycle)trips, here are some tips.


In Short: Keep it Simple. 

Meet at some easy-to-find place where we can talk and have coffee.


The more elaborate version...


The Goal:

To meet and to listen to eachother.

Hence we optimise "coffee time" and face-2-face time.

I don't want to have to search too much, or have to go through hoops to park the moto in some vague-underground-payable parking, nor do I want to walk for >1km in motorcycle-gear.


Requirements, in order of priority:

- A place to sit, quietly, to have coffee and a snack.

- Easy to get to for both of us: near your office/home, easy to find via GPS. 

- Ideally, a moto-parking where I can keep an eye on the bike. 80% of my life is loaded onto that motorcycle when I travel.

With the above, Simple, instructions, we should be able to arrange a good meeting.



Bad Examples, things to avoid...

1. Sightseeing and showoff are not a priority. 

You don't  need to Show-Off your landmarks and there is no urgent need to show me around your city. E.g. don't ask me to meet under the Eiffel tower or in front of Sagrada Familia. I already have those pictures, and getting there can be complicated for both of us during normal daytime hours. Talk-time is more important than sightseeing. (I might make an exception for Red Square and Kremlin, or for for the statue of Genghis Khan, I don't have selfies there yet... ).

2. No Office. 

There is no need to "check me into your office". It is often easier to meet outside, much less hassle and less parking+security complications. I'll make an exception for Abakus.si: I have really enjoyed working from their offices, occasionally, for about 6 years now.

3. Not too much food.  

Quality of Coffee + Snacks is not crucial. I don't eat much when travelling. Even MacD will do if not too busy with kids. Exchange of Ideas is the main aim, and that can be done almost anywhere.

4. No pages of instructions. 

Don't worry about "detailed directions". Just give me the GPS-coordinates or a clear address. My GPS, combined with google-maps, can find most places. Parking for a moto is not a problem in most cities (some French and Dutch cities have special regulations for motorcycles though).


Let me now if the above is too Pedantic... 



Friday, September 04, 2020

whoami

If you came here to find out who I am: read on, and then Google a bit more...

I work in IT, I help people with data and databases.

And I try to speak about my work in various places around Europe, places I can visit by motorcycle so as to combine work and fun.

In some earlier jobs, I did a lot of travel by air as well, but I got tired of that and switched to Motorcycle. I can recommend it!

When Covid-19 had reduced a lot of travel-opportunities, I felt a little confined. But life was not too bad for me (as long as I have customers, I am ok...).

And I Did manage a few small trips in 2020 and some Good Ones in 2021. 

There are a few on the agenda for 2022 already. Dont give up Hope! 


Want to meet up, drop me a line.

And keep this in mind: How to meet up with a motorcycle-rider.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Ego document - videos - must sink to bottom quickly.

The buzz around RigaDevDays for 2019 made me realize that there are some videos of me out there.

Now, I am a bit camera shy: I dont look good on camera, or in video.
but I didnt want to loose the link, so here we go..

RDD, Smart-DB (2018)


RDD, Funxtion Result Cache (2017)


And Russia : Consolidation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6CUs_EQYJo

and Smart-Databases..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yni-TeLLV34

 

This is the footer...and this should be small text for disclaimers and the like. and some small stuff

Locations of visitors to this page And this text is placed next to the map. we could possibly hide some stuff here too for the benefit of the search-engines and if it is at color ffffff cam we put all sort of rubbish that we do not want readers to see. travel itinirary reservation ticket agent flight plane boarding attendant train connection rail ticket wait time booking flight boardingtime taxi ramp luggage suitcase trolley wheely laptop bagpack corpaorate wifi connection oracle. it will also be interesting to see what happens when this wrap around. or even if we put in spherus and worwood as additional word.