This is an offshoot of the original Liam & Janet blog. That blog has become overrun by Liam's inability to keep his mouth shut when something annoys him. The serious rants there seemed incongruous with the humor columns. The plan for the humor columns continues to be to post a new one every Friday, plus occasional extras when the mood strikes.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

IOUG-A Live! 2005 - Day Three, morning

If you’ve been following this blog (and shame on you if you have, don’t you realize you’ll never get those brain cells back?), you already know that my first talk of the day was given by Rich Niemiec, who “phoned in” a mere 133 slides for a two hour presentation. Nevertheless, Rich kept the crowd laughing and well educated, showing once again why he’s considered one of the top speakers at Live! (there were people standing in the back and not a free seat in the house, in one of the largest session rooms in the entire conference center).

Rich began his talk, in typical Rich style, by engaging the crowd with humorous stories while the last stragglers filed in. Clearly, Mr. Niemiec missed his calling, and the stand-up world is the worse off for it. And who can possibly know what drives a man to make such poor choices. CEO of a major consulting company when he could be living in a one bedroom apartment over a garage somewhere, struggling to get laughs nightly from jaded audiences. Clearly, Mr. Niemiec has no sense of proportion.

Also in typical Rich style, his anecdotes, jokes and pre-talk patter carried on for a good 10 minutes after official start time, and then at some point, you realized that it had BECOME the talk with no discernable break or segue. I learned a lot about Statspack, lessened only by the fact that, not being a DBA, I had no idea what the heck he was talking about. Nonetheless, I was entertained, and got enough of an inkling that I’ll be able to go home, read the paper on which the session was based, and end up with… no more understanding than I have right now. He’s just that much smarter than the rest of us.

Following the session, I sprinted downstairs to post the “Breaking News” onto the blog, thus proving that I have clearly lost all prospective and have started to believe I’m an actual reporter, or that anyone actually cares. I then slammed down a quick lunch and then sprinted back upstairs in time for the start of the annual “Brownies with the Board” meeting. (Yes, I’m using poetic license when I say I “sprinted”. Ambled, waddled or moseyed (all words much more appropriate) do not convey the sense of hurry which I felt during the walks in question). Strictly speaking, this was not “after the session”, because Brownies with the Board began roughly at the same time as Rich’s session was ending, in the room directly next door. Fifteen minutes past Rich’s session end time, we were still hearing applause and cheers through the wall.

During Brownies with the Board, we learned, surprisingly, that every board member had a batch of accomplishments in the past year. The web coordinator worked on the web site, the publisher of the Select Journal put out four quarterly issues, the marketing director found new ways to marked the group, and director of Education Ian Abramson successfully made it through another year without being deported back to Canada. The Board: Working hard so that those of us who don’t can make jokes at their expense.

By the way, the lunch today was once again wonderful, consisting of food with an Asian flavor, salad with a ginger dressing, lo mein noodles, rice, oriental-style chicken breasts, beef with broccoli and egg rolls, all of it wonderful. Paul and Pradeep, my co-workers and first time attendees, will be so disappointed next year if the food returns to it’s previous standards. This year, we ate like kings.

In uncharacteristic fashion for this blog, I will actually present one important fact: This was the final ever IOUG-A Live!, next year the conference will be done in conjunction with several other groups’ conferences (OAUG and Quest) for Collaborate 2006 in Nashville, TN. On a personal note, this means that I’ve attended every Live! ever (prior to my first attendance in Dallas, the event was called “IOUW” or “International Oracle Users Week”).

After the “Brownies with the Board” (which, by the way, did not include any brownies this year. Also, three of the board members were absent. This is an excellent trend in efficiency, so mark my words, within three years, “Brownies with the Board” will consist of one attendee, sitting in the back with a box lunch and several questions he or she shouts to the ether, in the vain hope that the Universe will answer. Which is probably just as informative as anything Ian has ever said. Could this parenthetical remark be any longer?) I attended a session on Semi-Joins and Anti-Joins, thus named because if the title had referenced “Exists/In and Not Exists/Not In” (as we all know semi- and anti- joins better as), no one would have attended. The session was actually quite informative and well attended, with many of us milling about in the back, until the conference committee, on pain of a severe “wedgie” from the fire marshal, made everyone find a seat.

This was, to me, somewhat counter intuitive. The room was filled with DBAs and developers. Logically, if it had burned down killing everyone inside, the rest of us would move up in value and command better salaries. Why does no one ever see the GOOD side of massive tragedy?

Seriously, the session was a good one, although it mostly covered information I already knew.

Final note: This will probably be the last blog entry until I get home. By the time the afternoon is complete, the Internet Café (my one connection with the internet) will have been closed for the final time, so my closing session write-up will have to wait.

Copyright © May 4, 2005 by Liam Johnson.


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