September 20, 2008

OpenWorld - Saturday, Sep. 20

11:35 PM: Back at the hotel

We just got back from Annabelle's.  Due to the size of our group, we had a special "limited menu" which had a small amount of vegetarian food in addition to the meat plethora.  They started out by bringing us plates of meat with some vegetables on them, bread, and mounds of calimari.  I ate the veggies not touching the meat (mostly tomatoes and cheese) and sampled some rather fluffy bread.  For the main part of the meal, I had zucchini parmesan soup and risotto primavera (arborio rice, petit vegetables, greens, and 3 cheeses).  It was all rather tasty.

It took hours to go through all the courses.  Apparently, service is not Annabelle's strongpoint.  My friend, Mike Riley, the ODTUG Kaleidoscope content chair, was about 90 minutes late for the meal.  Apparently, he was taking the elevator down at the Marriott with Debra Lilley from UKOUG when the elevator temporarily forgot that an elevator's job is to move people up and down.  Elevator 11 decided that it wanted to go on some sort of work strike and stop between the 10th and 11th floors.

It took over 90 minutes for the Marriott to get someone from Otis to come out and save Mike and Debra.  The Otis guy had to get onto the roof of the adjoining elevator, lower it down to their level, and push on some rollers to get the door to Mike & Debra's elevator to open.  They then climbed onto a chair to squeeze out between floors.  While one might think that all this would be kind of scary, Debra seemed to be having the time of her life.  She live blogged the entire experience on her blog:

Debra has quite the dry British sense of humor.  For instance, during her ordeal, she went on the social network Oracle Mix site and created a "Stuck in an elevator at OpenWorld" group (only Debra and Mike are allowed to join).  I'm glad to hear they're both safe, and should you be about to board an elevator with either of these two individuals, go ahead and let it pass.  It's better to have to wait 3 minutes for another elevator than to have to be stuck in a small metal box 100+ feet above the ground with only a couple of cables holding you away from plummeting to certain death.

I'm back at the hotel now (after a quick stop at Walgreen's for water and granola bars) preparing for my "How Essbase Thinks" presentation at 1PM in Moscone West, room 3016.  Eduardo and I stopped by 3016 earlier today.  It looks like it holds about 300 people.  I'm starting to fall asleep, so I guess I'd better get to the PowerPoint review.  I'm sure that'll wake me right up.

That's all for today, but tomorrow starts at 10AM with the Oracle ACE Director product briefing. Fun, fun, fun!

6:22 PM: Registration and Annabelle's

Eduardo and I took the shuttle bus from our hotel to the Moscone Center because we weren't sure how far of a walk it was.  Turns out to be about 7 blocks and totally walkable.  We registered at Moscone South and caused quite a stir.  Eduardo was "Oracle Club Gold" and apparently, the first of the day.  The Gold level entitles Eduardo to a new iPod Touch (which they had to go find), 25% off at the Oracle Bookstore, better food at lunch, better seating at keynotes, and access to a lounge with free drinks and snacks.  I'm not sure why Eduardo got the Gold level and I didn't, but I am in no way jealous of that jerk.

I confused the Oracle registration personal, because I am a speaker, an official blogger, and an Oracle ACE Director.  Each of these designations entitles me to free OpenWorld pass, so no one could quite figure out where I was supposed to register.  A nice lady at speaker registration ended up helping me.

Speaking of Eduardo, I've asked him to provide color commentary of this week's OpenWorld proceedings.  He'll be talking about random things that interest him at the conference in the hopes of lightening up my normally oh, so staid blog.  I've also asked him to take a few pictures, because as many of you have pointed out, my blog is seriously lacking in visual stimulation.  I've always felt that a 1,000 words are better than a picture, but Eduardo is more of a "big picture" type of guy.  We just spent an hour touring the Moscone taking pictures of the massive set up under way.  He'll probably post a picture or two.

I'm now sitting at Annabelle's Bar & Bistro which is about 2 blocks from the Moscone.  I thought the ODTUG get-together dinner started at 6PM, but apparently it was 6:30PM.  The table is set for 12, and as of 6:22PM, there are only 3 of us so far.  Oh, a ton of people just walked in.  More later...

4:00 PM: Checking in at the hotel

I just go to the Serrano hotel.  It's cute and quirky.  They are supposedly all about having fun, so they have lots of games to play in the lobby and in the room.  The lobby has Scrabble, Jenga, Monopoly, and the like.  The room has more solitary fun including a deck of cards, a yo-yo, and a small-footprint Etch a Sketch.  They're hosting a wine reception tonight from 5-6PM that will include - and no, I'm not making this up - a game of Twister.  While that sounds fun in principle, a game of Twister with potentially drunk strangers sounds like there may be a full blown hootenanny in store.

interRel's co-founder, Eduardo Quiroz, and I are off to register at Moscone South.  After that, we have dinner with the nice people from ODTUG, so I probably won't be posting again until late this evening.

2:30 PM: Baggage Claim

Forget everything I said: I love OpenWorld.  Why?  Because the kind folks from the Oracle ACE group sent a limousine to pick me up at the airport.  There’s nothing cooler than getting to baggage claim and there’s some guy (let’s call him “Jeeves”) waiting for you with a sign that says your name on it.  I felt like a rock star, so I treated baggage claim to some “Free Bird” on air guitar.  I’m going to presume that the people laughing were laughing with me not at me.

Okay, I’ll admit that Jeeve’s sign did say “Rosky” (instead of Roske) but close enough for me.  Limo drivers aren’t hired for their spelling ability, I’m assuming.  You don’t suppose that there’s some guy actually out there named “Rosky” who was expecting a limo do you?  Well, he should care more about the environment and take public transportation anyway. Think green, Mr. Rosky. Think green.

As I am chauffeured in luxurious style to my hotel, I’m going to contemplate whether or not Oracle is trying to bribe me and whether or not I’m susceptible to bribes.  In the meantime, I love you, Oracle, and I want you to have my baby.

No, bribes have no effect on me.  I’m sure of it.  Jeeves, could you please pass me the bottle of bubbly?  Non-alcoholic, please, I’m working.

1:07 PM: Still on the airplane

I ended up listening to several podcasts from the “Get it Done Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips.”  While I normally enjoy them, I was starting to fall asleep, and as I am forbidding myself from sleeping for the next week (standard conference rules apply), I opened my laptop back up.

So what am I least looking forward to about OOW?

  • Hordes of people.  Have you ever seen the battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies betweens 1,000s of orcs and humans?  OpenWorld is kinda like that but without the good CGI.  But Edward, not to point out the massive flaw in your logic, but you said you’re here for networking  and that sorta requires people, doesn’t it?  To clarify, I love the individual attendees, it’s the massive addition of 45,000-50,000 to the San Francisco eco-system that I can’t stand.  OOW has gotten too massive for its own good.  Let’s say that there are 1,000 people at OOW interested in Oracle EPM. That means the odds that the random person sitting next to you at lunch is also there for Hyperion?  Around 50-to-1.  OpenWorld really needs to be broken up into a series of smaller conferences (on that note, try Kaleidoscope or Collaborate).
  •  Neverending marketing.  I’m all for a good sales pitch once in a while: it’s day-after-day of it that I can’t stand.  Oracle is the best enterprise software developer in the world (sorry, Microsoft, but a lot of your products, to repeat a phrase I heard last week, “suck like Vista”).  Oracle is one of the best software acquisition companies in the world (I’m still impressed at how they can acquire and then integrate multi-billion dollar companies so quickly).  But where Oracle is one of the best companies regardless of industry is in their ability to market themselves.  While I admire their marketing abilities, it gets old after a week of non-stop commercials.
  • Conference food.  I know it’s petty, but the food at these conferences is generally horrible (though admittedly, OOW has better food than Collaborate).  I normally lose 2-4 pounds being at one of these conferences for a week.  Kaleidoscope was the notable exception where their food was so good I gained 3 pounds.  (Stay away from Kaleidoscope if you’re on a crash diet.)
  • Exhaustion.  For those of you who haven’t been, it’s almost difficult to comprehend the massiveness of this conference.  It takes up two convention centers, two massive exhibit halls, several hotels, and frankly, the entire San Francisco bay area.  This would be hard enough to navigate (without blisters) in a normal city, but San Francisco is not exactly flat.   Add to that the fact that the days start at dawn with networking breakfasts, continue with presentations throughout the day, then it’s on to dinner(s) followed by receptions and parties, and by the time you get back to your hotel at midnight (and later) each day, you can barely stand.  I wonder if it’s too late to rent a Segway?

I was going to try and post this entry now, but it looks there’s no high-speed internet 30,000 over Northwestern Nevada.  Maybe when I land…

12:34 PM: Airplane

Life is a series of events, some memorably great and some forgettably mundane.  Most of them are mundane, to be honest.   At this moment, I’m on a plane headed from DFW to San Francisco.  Looking around, I see familiar faces from interRel, Oracle, our clients, and our competitors.  Some faces I don’t recognize, but they’re Oracle-branded bags and Oracle-themed accessories lead me to believe that half the plane is headed to OpenWorld.

This is probably my last bit of down time before the mania that is OOW starts, so I’m going to take a moment to collect my innermost personal thoughts (and share them with my close friends on the internet).  Here’s what I’m hoping to get out of OOW:

1.    Breaking news.  There won’t be many out of the ordinary events.  OOW is a tightly controlled marketing event.  Everything that can be scripted is planned out to the nth degree… but that does include news that Oracle wants to share.  I’m hoping for lots of “What’s New” information about the EPM products.  Also, once in a while you’ll get someone on an open mike (Robert Gersten is famous for this) who lets a few things slip that aren’t sanitized through a marketing department first.

2.    Education.  My expectations are low in this area, but I do have some.  While the content at OOW is less training-centric and more information-centric, Oracle does try to educate their clients on their product lines.  If nothing else, by the end of the week, I’ll be fully educated in Oracle’s marketing message of the moment.

3.    Networking.  I must admit that I’m not a big networking guy.  I realize the value of it, I’m just not very good at it.  Even after 11 years of heading up interRel, I still don’t feel comfortable walking up to someone and initiating small talk.  This might strike some people as strange who’ve seen me comfortably give presentations to rooms of 1,000+ and just conclude that I’m an extrovert.  To be honest, one of the reasons I deliver more presentations at Hyperion conferences than anyone in his right mind would is that it gives people an opportunity to come up to me.  When I give a talk or hold a book signing, people naturally come up to the front of the room afterwards and start up a conversation.  The next thing you know, we’re friends for life (especially if it turns out we both wore the same shirt, because for guys, that’s a serious bonding point).  Word of advice: go up to the speaker after a presentation and introduce yourself: you have a point of commonality (you were interested in the topic that the speaker was delivering) and sometimes that’s all it takes to expand your network.

4.    Presenting.  I have 4 presentations at the conference and since I’m one of those rare (some say “perverted”) people who enjoy public speaking, I’m actually looking forward to all of them.  I like sharing information, and as I already mentioned, it’s a great way for expand my network.  And once in a while, it actually results in some…

5.    Sales.  Someone just might come up to me at the conference and ask if interRel can come out and do Hyperion consulting for them.  Stop laughing: one of our largest clients reached out to me after a presentation (I think it was on optimizing Hyperion Planning forms).  Sales don’t always have to be outward.  If you’re doing your job right, customers will reach out to you.

I think I’ll take a break for a moment and watch Fringe or True Blood (escapist TV shows) on my iPhone.  Did I mention I absolutely, unconditionally love my iPhone (except for the lousy reception, dropped calls, and low battery life)?

I’m going to try to post this entry from the airplane, but the WiFi reception over New Mexico is atrocious.

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