Published in the president's column of the Summer 2004 edition of RMOUG SQL>Update. As there is no electronic copies available online prior to 2009, I have pulled this from my email records.
There are a few things I’d like to discuss in this issue…
ORACLE-L list has moved
In a previous issue of SQL>UPDATE, I extolled the joys, virtues, and benefits of the ORACLE-L email forum. In addition, I provided instructions on how to join this wonderful global resource of technical information.
As luck would have it, the volume of the ORACLE-L list recently exceeded the capacity of its listserver host, so right about the time SQL>UPDATE was published, the list moved! My apologies to those who used my instructions on subscribing, only to be frustrated.
The new home of the ORACLE-L list is now “http://www.freelists.org”. If you’d like to subscribe to the list, go to the website and follow the links for “Oracle”. You might also want to configure your email client to redirect any traffic from that list to a special folder, to keep your “Inbox” from getting cluttered. Most email clients allow you to create “Rules”, starting from the “Tools” menu item. If you need any help, feel free to post a question to the “email@example.com” email list.
RMOUG “Training Days 2004” in Denver in February
Many of you attended the “Training Days 2004” conference at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. Peggy King, director of “Training Days 2004” (as well as “Training Days 2005”) will be summarizing the conference in the next issue of SQL-UPDATE. However, I wanted to mention a few facts about the conference:
- Speakers are not paid and are not reimbursed for their expenses
This is especially remarkable in that we had a large number of speakers from out of town, indeed out of the country. Some of these speakers have their costs reimbursed by their companies, but several are not, traveling on the own “nickel”. Nevertheless, the time and effort to travel to Denver from out of town is not trivial.
Consider the case of Tanel Poder, who travelled all the way from Estonia. Tanel spent 24 hours travelling each way, and had to connect at least three times each way. Pete Sharman travelled to Denver from deepest Oz (Australia), another itinerary with a 15-hour flight included. Mogens Norgaard rolled into town from his home in Denmark. Anjo Kolk commuted for the second year in a row from the Netherlands. This is not to minimize the efforts of our speakers from other parts of the US: New York, Arizona, Oregon, Texas, Michigan, Virginia. And then the commuters from outside the Denver metro area: Vail, Colorado Springs, Loveland, and Fort Collins. “Training Days” has grown into an international event, and I hope everyone will take advantage of this opportunity to interact with world-class technicians from the Denver area, around the US, and the world.
Denver has always had a strong Oracle community and “Training Days” is proof of that world-wide reputation. Please spread the word about the educational value of the conference and hopefully we’ll see you next year!
- Food and drink consumes more than half of the conference budget
Generally, any price increases in the cost of the conference is directly related to food and beverages. This year was no exception, as the total price tag for water alone, as an example, is breath-taking. Peggy King will provide a more detailed breakdown of where each dollar of “Training Days” goes, but as with any catered event, especially an event at the only venue in town capable of handling a crowd of our size, food and beverage constitutes the lion’s share of costs.
- RMOUG employs a conference coordinator for much of the legwork of the conference
Although RMOUG the “Training Days” committee is comprised of volunteers, it has been a long, long time since RMOUG handled all of the details and logistics of the conference. This past year marked the 7th year that “Your Conference Connection” (http://www.teamycc.com) of Wilmington, NC has handled the logistics and performed much of the legwork for the conference. I think you’ll agree that they do a fantastic job, as year by year the conference becomes more professional and smoother. This coming year, at “Training Days 2005”, the conference committee will be working even closer with YCC to streamline the organization of the conference. Each year, as RMOUG appoints a new board of directors and conference committee, YCC has to work with a new set of people on “Training Days”. Some years we have many of the same people returning, and that will be the case in 2005, so a lot of “lessons learned” from previous years will be applied to the 2005 conference.
- Budgeting – a.k.a. “firing an arrow through a high wind at a thimble from 100 yards away”
One of the most difficult aspects of “Training Days” is budgeting. While we have a rough idea of how many people are going to attend each year, we still have to be conservative while planning. The total budget for “Training Days 2004” was about $250,000. With that volume of money flowing around, it doesn’t take too much imagination to realize that a lot of bad things can happen if we don’t plan carefully and cautiously.
Last year, about a month prior to the conference, we made some drastic changes in order to stave off a projected budget shortfall. At that time, with four weeks before the conference, we saw that we were headed for red ink. Now, one thing about a conference this large is that a lot of money is “in flight” and not visible, especially in the last month leading up to the event. So, while our projections did not indicate a serious shortfall, our margin of error was quite large, meaning that we didn’t know exactly how big the shortfall would be.
Since we did not (at the time) have any corporate sponsors for the conference and were relying entirely on registrations and vendor booths for income, we decided to cut or reduce some extraneous items, such as T-shirts and conference bags. Later, when we acquired two sponsors, we re-instated the conference bag, but one much cheaper than previous years. Whew! Did we receive some spirited comments about those two decisions! All I can say is that, next year, we’ll try to make sure that there is a T-shirt and we’ll try to provide some better quality conference bags. But, if we find ourselves dipping into red ink again, I personally won’t hesitate to make those items disappear, if it will help us stay in the black. I hope you’ll agree.
Based on lessons from last year, YCC will be providing the conference committee with better and more accurate budgeting information throughout the lead-up to the conference, so I expect that the 2005 conference committee will have unprecedented accuracy and insight.
Each year, I am overcome with admiration for the hard work and enthusiasm shown by the conference committee, from organizing the agenda, to planning and execution, to the incredible level of effort shown at the conference itself. Please be sure to come to next year’s conference and be sure to invite all your friends and colleagues from around the world! Next year is going to be the best yet!
IOUG “Live 2004” in Toronto in April
This year, the IOUG “Live 2004” conference ventured north of the border, to Toronto, a welcome relief from Disney World and Orlando. What made the conference particularly exciting was that NHL playoffs were in full swing, with the hometown Toronto Maple Leafs vying with the rival Ottawa Senators for a best-of-seven-game series. This lent the conference a very Canadian flavor that showcased just how rabid yet good-natured Canadians are about their hockey. Personally, I’m not a big fan but it was a lot of fun seeing the city go beserk, and do it so nicely!
Still, little ol’ Denver showed itself to be a powerhouse in the world of Oracle at the conference. Two of our own were honored for their achievements over the years, sweeping the awards ceremony at the “Live 2004” conference:
- Stan Yellott – Chris Woolridge Award
- Jeff Maresh – Best Article in SELECT Magazine for 2004
Please be sure to congratulate Stan and Jeff for their hard work and dedication, as well as the recognition shown by the international Oracle community!