A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to accompany a group of twenty-four exchange students from a local university. Some of them came from countries as far as Singapore. While up in the North, the Aurora Borealis might be a common sight, for tourists, it is still pretty much a calculated risk that it might be a fruitless journey. The night skies were overcast on the first night that they arrived, and it was bitterly cold for folks used to tropical weather, but they persisted. On their second night, there was a minor emergency that delayed a few of them from heading out to the remote site for viewing the Northern Lights, but again, they were determined. Within minutes of their arrival at the viewing site, there was a sudden break in the cloudy skies that coincided with a display of greens and purples that illuminated in the heavens. What a treat!
As we near the end of 2022, I'd like to reflect on the year's challenges and milestones.
Published a Second Book
In 2021, I had started work and finished two chapters for a would be Pro Oracle Application Express along with a few other community members. However, that book never materialized and was cancelled by the publisher. Not willing to throw away the work that I had done, I did the unthinkable of asking the publisher if I could complete a book under a very different title. One that would cover different Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) services that could be used in an Oracle Application Express (APEX) application.
Midway through the book, I was told that the esteemed Heli Helskyaho would be the book's technical reviewer. And since I had some chapters on integrating APEX with OCI AI Service and Machine Learning planned, I figured, why not ask if she would be more interested on being a co-author instead. That was the best decision ever! Heli's a great person to work with. She's dedicated, hardworking, and always optimistic. I don't think I would have been able to complete the book on time had she not gotten involved.
We published the book Extending Oracle Application Express with Oracle Cloud Features in September 2022. Book projects are very demanding, and more often than not, would fail without strong external support. I am first of all very grateful to Heli for sharing this burden with me. I also want to thank Jonathan Gennick, who has since moved from Apress to Manning. Jonathan's a great editor to work with and very experienced. He's been a great guide for both the books I published through Apress, and will miss working with him.
Anyone who actively writes on the OCI without company support, and was not an Oracle ACE Director, would know that it is tough justifying the monetary costs of experimenting with its services. Fortunately for us, we had some support through Guillermo Ruiz and Bo English-Wiczling. Not just with resources, but the access to Oracle Product Managers and early access to OCI Services. Thank you "G" and Bo.
Finally, much thanks to Karen Cannell for replacing Heli as the book's technical reviewer. Thanks for taking time to read through all our chapters thoroughly, and offering many value advices and suggestion to improve the quality of the publication.
Travels and Conferences
It was stressful, but refreshing, to be travelling to conferences again. This year, I was fortunate to be at two: Kscope22 and Oracle CloudWorld 2022 (OCW22).
It was almost customary to attend one of the regions most important annual technical conferences of the year, until the pandemic. After a two-year hiatus, we were once again able to gather to share knowledge, and meet old friends and colleagues. Here's the scene where Oracle ACEs were assembled for their annual photo op!
This year, I delivered two presentations: Build Intelligent APEX Applications Now! and Packing Your Bags for a Journey to the Metaverse. Both are topics that I am extremely passionate about. I am very grateful for everyone who attended my sessions, and the very flattering evaluation scores. One of which resulted in this very, very cool prize!
I was also extremely glad that this year, we had more attendees from the Faculty of Medicine's Digital Solutions at the University of British Columbia, and even had one of them present at OpenMic Night!
I'm glad that APEX is gaining more traction at the university, not just for research, but in education and operations.
The last time I attended OpenWorld was in 2014, before I joined Insum. I miss San Francisco, but Las Vegas can be just as fun (./assets/and expensive). I still reminisce the village atmosphere around the Moscone Center though and smell of seawater.
This year, I fulfilled a lifelong dream: to speak at the conference!
Special thanks to the Oracle DevRel team for inviting me to present on Solving Everyday Problems with Oracle Cloud. It was pleasure delivering this session to a few great friends in the community, and I hope everyone enjoyed listening as much as I did preparing for the presentation and demos.
As with all conferences, it was also a great opportunity to meet other Oracle ACES, but most importantly, my co-author and mentor!
Perhaps the most important trip I had to make this year was the one to Singapore in late August.
In late 2021, I was delighted that the company was ready to expand to the Asia Pacific (APAC) market, with our regional base in my home country, Singapore. The primary reason for our trip was to officiate and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (./assets/MoU) between Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) and Insum.
We also took the opportunity to introduce APEX and OCI to the local community through a half-day seminar with speakers from Oracle, NYP, and Insum.
It was also a great opportunity to meet the NYP interns that we have trained and continue to train. Here's a very touching virtual meeting between the team in Singapore, and the past and present CEOs of the company.
There was also great team-building activities for the Singapore and Canadian leadership teams. Check this out:
Finally, a little learning lesson by observing the All Nippon Airways (ANA) crew members prepare the flight for takeoff and landing. It begins with a preflight huddle, and then on board, a systematic approach including pointing at the obvious, to ensure that the plane and passengers are safe. We need this dedication to task and non-assuming attitude when readying applications and infrastructure for production release.
Oracle ACE Director Award
To cap off a great year, I was deeply honoured to be appointed as an Oracle ACE Director.
I wanted again to express my deep gratitude to:
- Heli for nominating me for the award, but more importantly, her friendship and mentorship. You have inspired me since the day I received an autographed copy of your book Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler for Database Design Mastery.
- The Oracle peeps who supported my nomination: Monica Godoy, Chaitanya Koratamaddi, and Joshua Chua. Thank you for your confidence in me, and I look forward to working with you more closely in 2023 to spark greater interest in APEX and the OCI, most especially in the Asia Pacific region.
- Opal Alapat, for nominating and starting my journey in the Oracle ACE program as an associate. I cannot thank you enough for how joining the program has transformed my life in many ways.
- Martin D'Souza, for getting me involved in community a decade ago. Wow, time flies by very quickly! Thank you for your friendship, encouragement, and always challenging me to go further, and further.
In 2023, I hope to pay it forward. If you are an Oracle technologist interested in community work and looking to join the Oracle ACE program, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I'd be happy to share my experience and guide you through this journey.
The Northern Lights
The banner image for this post was from a 360 photo. If you are interested, here's a link to view it in its original format.
A little thought from a First Nations tour guide about the incredible natural phenomenon:
"In our indigenous culture, when the Aurora is moving very fast, my grandmother told me that somebody on the other side is sending us a message saying that you don't need to be sad anymore. We had some good times. Think of those good times. We are going to meet again someday, but right now, don't be sad because I'm over here, [and] you're there. Continue to live a good life while you're there, and we'll meet again someday." ~ Joe Buffalo Child [Source: Meet the North]
Joel, I missed you at all the events I attended this year. Meeting you in person has always been the highlight of my trips to Kscope and OpenWorld. I hope I have made you proud.