I remember on a flight to the UKOUG, I was doing what all presenters typically do on a plane. They enter the cabin with the thought of "OK, I’ll spend most of the flight getting those slides just right". Then…a set of broadcast advertisements, safety messages, hot face towels, exit row briefings, beverage services, coffee services, and before you know it you’ve burned 2 hours without touching the laptop…and then the meal service starts 🙂
Anyway, I digress. I eventually got the laptop fired up and started flicking through my slides for the 800th time – I suffer from that silliness where if I’m thinking "Hmmm, if replace with ‘database’ with ’12c database’", then this somehow will make a significant improvement for the attendees. After a while the laptop gives me a little ‘beep’ telling me that battery is low.
I close the lid, and reach into the laptop bag for the power supply….and then the realisation hits me.
Uh oh….I’m heading to UKOUG, with all my content on laptop which is running at 10% battery and I’ve got nothing to charge it with. Whilst everyone around me are in that state of languor associated with long haul flights, my heart rate has hit 200, the adrenalin has gone from a trickle to a flood, and the sweat beads are forming on my brow.
A hostess stops as she passes by… "It’s OK sir, just a couple of little bumps. No need to be nervous. Flying is the safest form of air travel", and gives me a pat on the hand. It very nearly wasn’t a safe form of travel for her, as at that point I wanted to swat her with my laptop…but I figured that might reduce its charge even further.
6 hours later we land in Birmingham, and even on sleep mode, the laptop has ceased to be. So I take a taxi to an internet cafe and send out a call for help on some Oracle discussion forums:
"In UK, with a 6 year old Dell laptop, no power cable…HELP!"
And what happened next changed a nightmare start to a conference, to being an incredibly uplifting one.
Emails came firing back, all being incredible keenness to assist:
(from a fellow presenter who I knew)
"I have a universal adapter, and I’m not presenting on Sunday."
(from a fellow presenter who I’d never met)
"I might have one that fits. What hotel you in, I’ll drop it over to you."
(from a local attendee)
"I’ve called PC-World, they have one that should work – here’s the address"
Isn’t that just amazing.
Yes, we all share a technology (Oracle). And we all love it some days, and other days we hate it. But by and large, its still a group of relative strangers being happy to reach out and assist. In the end, I got a taxi and PC-world and got an adapter that did the job. But the importance of community in our technology arena was the lasting lesson from this experience. Whether it be user groups, conferences, your working departments, communal activities such as the PL/SQL Challenge website, or OTN Community forums, just keep remembering the mantra…
We’re all in this together
I’ve recently joined Oracle and a number of friends and colleagues phrased the transition to me as “being on the other side of the fence” or “wrong side of the train track” etc etc. I find that a little sad – the theory that who you work for dictates the amount that you can contribute to a technology community. I’m aiming to contribute more rather than less. And another cool thing with a community, is that if I’m not contributing – they’ll call me out on it. That way, we all develop.