Contrary to what my family, friends and coworkers believe, not every aspect of these OTN tours is glamour or relaxation, but there is actually quite a lot of dull travelling involved (with the time used to compose blog posts like this one). The travel to Shanghai was such a day. After a last dinner in Perth, Tim and I hitched a ride with Connor to the airport, then spent the first part of the night there, waiting for our plane to depart shortly after 2am. I managed to sleep a fair bit of that first leg to Singapore where the little transition time that we had was a great reminder of the wonderful time I spent there just the prior weekend. This was one of those times were I would not have minded a cancelled flight and an extra day there. But our flight to Shanghai was right on time and another 4 to 5 hours long.
We took the maglev train from the airport which was quite an experience because a) you do not get to ride 430km/h every day and b) it was good to see what was done with my german tax money that went into the research of this technology. I felt adventurous so instead of taking a taxi for the final bit to the hotel we took the metro after a bit of a fight with the ticket machine. First of all there was only one machine that accepted bills so it had a bit of a queue. And when it was our turn we could not buy the tickets we needed because the english screen did not allow us to select the right line (only a subset). But after a bit of pointing the guy behind us helped out.
Later I enjoyed a wonderful dinner in a restaurant that was also partly a museum, met two of the other speakers. Maclean Liu from the UG and also the sponsororing partner in Shanghai, Joe Huang who has been working for Oracle at HQ as a product manager for years but was raised in Taiwan, so he knew mandarin. And then also our liasion and local coordinator Bo Feng who did an excellent job at looking after the international speakers and introduced us to a lot of new and strange food items.
Again, I felt adventurous and walked from my hotel to the conference site which was about 40 minutes. And I was pretty much blown away by stepping into a completely different world. I passed a street packed with little hardware shops selling all kinds of screws, nuts and bolts and other building materials, then some very local and raw parts of town next to the river. It really felt like diving into a completely different world.
The conference started with updates by 刘冰冰, a lady from Oracle, and even though all I could understand were a couple of keywords (CDB, PDB, big data SQL, cloud) I am pretty sure I have heard a very similar presentation in English a few times already. The audience understood english well enough but the organizers also translated the slides of Tim and Giusseppe Maxia into chinese so when they were talking they sometimes had to guess at what each bullet point said because there was not much english text left. Tim talked about how to avoid the most commin performance problems in PL/SQL and it was an excellent presentation with good points and a lot of small demos.
Giuseppe talked about mysql replication, how to set it up and also how to monitoring and some advanced cases, I am already looking forward to seeing him again at the Beijing conference in a few days.
I did my talk on RAC connectivity which I have done many times now. I am sometimes getting a bit tired of my older presentations but still like this one a lot and think I should maybe turn this more into a general talk about RAC rather than just talk about load balancing and services.
Since the rest of the sessions were going to be in chinese we snuck out and walked around a bit. One of the more bizarre things we saw was a shopping mall with 3 or 4 floors of nothing but mobile phones and accessories. Even some repair shops were people were taking phones apart. We wondered how many of the phones we saw were counterfeits and how many were originals.
We made it back to for the end of the conference and enjoyed another great dinner with the guys from the Shanghai User Group and speakers. The oddest food was fermented stinky tofu. Think of blue cheese. Tim made the mistake of taking a sniff first, then eating, I just avoided breathing through my nose. The taste was actually pretty good.
I decided to go for a brief walk over to the Bund and take some pictures of the Pudong skyline. It was a bit over the top with the colourful blinking lights and screens and couples in cheap tuxedos and polyester dresses having their pictures taken. The constant presence of hawkers advertising cheap “massages” was very annoying and I dared to walk about in some of the sidestreets and was rewarded with scenes of street food carts, interesting smells (both good and bad) and just generally loads of bustling life happening in the streets.