Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Oracle ACE Alumnus - so long, and thanks for all the fish

The Oracle ACE program has morphed once again, with ACEs at all levels now required to fill out their contributions in the ACE Program app (written in Oracle APEX of course).

The level of detail includes:
  • type of activity (presentation, book, article, blog, forum activity, tweets etc.)
  • substantiation (conference links, presentation links, book ISBN etc)
  • analytics where relevant (blogs, tweets)

Meaning the Oracle ACE program website is out of date:
What expectations does Oracle have of an Oracle ACE?
The Oracle ACE designation is given to individuals as recognition of his/her past contributions.
Oracle's only future expectation is that the recipient maintains his/her level of community activity.
Currently to maintain an ACE status requires 200 points of activity for a year.
I did look at entering my activity, but quickly decided it just wasn’t worth the time and effort to do so.

Here is how I calculated what I would need to do to generate 200 points using my typical activities:

A new presentation takes about 100 hours to write and prepare.
A decent blog post takes about 2-4 hours to write, a cynical one to rort the system takes a few minutes.

2 presentations (2*100 hours) presented 3 times (20 points each)             => 200 hours, 120 points
16 blogs (16*3 hours) (5 points each, unless mention "Cloud" for 15 points ) =>  64 hours,  80 points

So roughly:
6 weeks to produce content (spread over months of evenings and weekends)
1 week  to present content (travel, accommodation)

Direct cost to present content (lost income, travel and accomodation expenses) => 2 weeks salary
Indirect cost to family and work/life balance - incalculable.

Plus the time taken to record activities; all this effort for something that is just a nice accolade.

I don’t get any financial benefit for presenting, either directly or indirectly, it’s just my way of giving back to the Oracle community and sharing my insights. Similarly with blogging, I only blog when I’ve got something worth sharing.

I believe the ACE program contributions criteria will have the following impacts:
  • large reduction in the number of ACEs (probably the intent)
  • a number of disenchanted and disgruntled ex-ACEs
  • rules driven behaviour to maintain status at the cost of quality/integrity
  • ACEs predominantly coming from consulting/training firms with a direct financial incentive.

Overall I think I’m better off to not bother with the ACE program, hence I've now converted to an Oracle ACE Alumnus.
Instead I'll contribute when I have something worth sharing,  and use the time/money recouped with my wife and family.

So in the words of Douglas Adams, "so long, and thanks for all the fish".

Monday, January 2, 2017

Always read the latest documentation

Something that stuck in my mind from a presentation I saw several years ago was:

Always read the latest documentation, even if you're not using that version

- Connor McDonald

 So just before Christmas APEX 5.1 was released, giving me some new APEX 5.1 documentation to read over the break. Yeah - "get a life" I hear you thinking.

Where I'm currently working we're already pretty current (Oracle 12.1 database, APEX 5.0), so I'm hoping I can convince the DBA to upgrade to APEX 5.1 reasonably soon. For me the case to upgrade is pretty simple - the application was built in 5.0 using declarative development as much as possible, has legacy features switched off, and only went live a few weeks ago, so not much data or users just yet.

Obviously reading the latest documentation is completely relevant in this situation, but why would you read the latest documentation if you're unlikely to upgrade for some time?

Here's a couple of reasons:

  • documentation improves with new releases just like code does, so you will often see better examples, improved content, or features that were previously un(der)documented.
  • by knowing whats in newer versions of APEX, you can make better decisions on how to build your application and thus future proofing todays solutions
  •  APEX 5.1 has quite a few deprecated features and desupported features, so knowing what they are allows you to start pro-actively removing them from your application now, even before an official application upgrade project kicks off.
I'm sure you can think of more/better reasons, so now you have no excuse - get reading!!