ODTUG Wrap-up – Part I

June 19, 2008

Dang, I really meant to post regular updates while I was here at the Oracle Developer Tool User’s Group conference, but had too much fun going out to  New Orleans’ French Quarter.  Now I’m sitting in the airport waiting almost 2 hours for my flight because so many people were leaving at once that I had to share a cab to the airport, so left super-early.  So if this is more convoluted than usual, it’s because I got up at 5:15 and haven’t gotten enough sleep any night this week.  Forgive me (if anyone’s reading this, I rarely get comments).

I’ll try to get some more content in a later post if I don’t fall asleep here and now.
There were a huge number of Application Express sessions, which was great for learning, but I feel like they cut off the top of my head, peeled back my skull and poured information in.  Now it’s so full that they can’t close it back up!  And some of the speakers spoke so fast that my ears have been filled with their words by a firehose.  That’s even less-comfortable, especially when they were doing it.
My hat’s off to the ODTUG organizers on a great job.  I haven’t been to many conferences but this was easily the best in terms of organization, providing amenities for attendants, friendly service, good hotel, fabulous location and GREAT FOOD.
I already raved about the conference to one of the lovely organizers (whose name I didn’t catch) at the party last night.  I also gave a little constructive criticism about the problems with the quality of some of the speakers, which she acknowledged and clearly understood.  I joked about only getting 2 drink tickets and she immediately tried to give me another.  I declined because I’d already hit my limit (I’m a cheap date).  If anyone cares (or is even reading this), check out the podcast follow-up, where they briefly interviewed my co-worker and me about how we liked it.  I’m the one slurring his words after the second Chivas.  
Conference Party tips:
  1. I know we got drink tickets, but if you tip the bartender a buck for your drink, they’ll usually make it a tall one, a very good value IMHO!  But remember your limits, no puking on the conference organizer’s shoes!  (I didn’t, in case you’re wondering)
  2. On that vein, carry lots of singles around town for tips.  The service people work hard and really appreciate it, even if it’s just a buck, because you’re showing you care.  Tip freely and you’ll see a better time.  I tipped the street musicians and break-dance team I stopped to enjoy – pay for your entertainment.  On the other hand, don’t engage with the hucksters for the strip bars (ubiquitous on Bourbon Street) and the grifters and beggers.  Just say “No thanks” and keep walking.The party’s at the end of the conference and you’ve proven to the people who matter that you’re technically competent, so don’t be afraid to kick up your heels and do stuff that you wouldn’t normally.  At the beginning of the party when the band invited guys up to play the washboard, I was the bald guy on the left.  Nobody was going up when invited, but I had a ball!
  3. Make sure you check out all the food stations around the room, because they weren’t all the same and I almost didn’t see the shrimp (horrors!).
  4. Enjoy the noisy party, but check out the quiet corners too.  My co-worker and I stepped outside to the balcony to look at the city.  Even though it was the smoking lounge, we met up with a guy from Amsterdam who was fascinating to talk to.
Conferencing tips: (like I said, I don’t do conferences much, but maybe you don’t either and these will help)
  1. Even though we’re geeks, try to be more outgoing with conference attendees than you usually are.  Half the benefit of these things is networking, not just for that next job but for an answer to that tech question you need next month.
  2. Similarly, hand out your business card – Bring lots and give them away freely.  They’re paid for and you don’t get a credit for not using them when you need new ones.  I gave out a dozen and probably should have done more.  I was surprised more people didn’t have their cards with them.  Or maybe they didn’t want me to have their contact info???
  3. Don’t be late for the session starts (like I was yesterday).  I was amazed that most sessions started on time (though many went late).
  4. Get your butt out of the hotel and enjoy the local area.  We walked at least once a day and saw stuff that we would have missed.  We found some great jazz only because we kept looking and trying out different areas.  Though Todd from InstallFest told me this morning that he had even better luck by asking the concierge at the hotel, which I’ll use more next time.
  5. Read the conference brochure when you get here.  I missed a couple great opportunities because I didn’t.  One I would have loved was the walking photo tour of New Orleans that was right there in the brochure!  Aagh!
  6. Book the airport shuttle – I did on the way in but not the way back, which caused the abusively-early cab ride this morning.
  7. Take session notes – even if they’re just the highlights, it’ll help you remember later which whitepapers you should study later.
  8. Laptop users – If you like to take notes in sessions like I do, borrow an extra battery from your IT dept for the conference.  Mine hadn’t been holding a charge long before I came so I asked for a got a new battery plus a loaner second battery to replace my CD-ROM drive for the week.  Turn off your WiFi to extend the life too.  And charge it up during lunch in your room or between sessions.  I took comprehensive notes in every session, except for Tuesday when I forgot to charge up over lunch.

[More to come]


2 Responses to “ODTUG Wrap-up – Part I”

  1. Roel Says:

    It surely was a great event and your tips and remarks are absolutely true – especially the ones about networking (I didn’t get your business card 😉 – maybe next time!).

  2. stewstryker Says:


    Thanks for the comment!

    I recognize you from your blog photo and definitely saw you at the conference, ambassadoring at least once. I figured you were a friend of Dimitri or Deetmar (sp). As you said, maybe we’ll meet up next year. I’m impressed that you did blog entries each day. I really planned to do that, but didn’t spend enough time just writing something brief, spending my time on getting really-detailed notes instead.

    I read through your blog from the conference and so I know you saw me there. I was the one who provided equipment support at Karen’s iAdvise presentation when her laptop battery ran dry. It turned out that the powerstrip her machine was plugged into was defective. When I saw the laptop was the only thing plugged into it, I just removed it from the equation.

    The fact that I was the only one who offered to help reminded me of the old joke:

    Q: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: None, it’s a hardware problem!

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