Michael Abbey: Still Presenting After All These Years

Aug 14, 2014 / By Michael Abbey

A cool, wintery day in late 1989. This kid’s working for the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. I’d been working with Oracle and in my fourth year. I had cut my teeth on 6.0.27.9.4 after first seeing V3 some four years prior. I stumbled across a well-placed ad for a show happening in Anaheim USA in September 1990. I’ve got the bug. I apply to go to the show and was told by my employer ,”Just a sec, David and I were thinking of going to that show – let us get back to you.” Some three weeks I am told it’s a go.

I am off to sunny California for six wonderful days of International Oracle User Week (IOUW); this was a joint effort put on by Oracle and the International Oracle User Group (IOUG). I had spent the better part of the summer of 1969 in southern Cali so this was shaping up to be a resurrection. I toddle off to Cali and have a wonderful time. It’s magic – such a learning opportunity. I even came away knowing how to place a database in archivelog mode. I was so pleased with myself and got to meet one of my heroes. I had only been working with the software for 4 years, but already knew of Ken Jacobs (a.k.a. Dr. DBA).

I had the bug to present almost from day one. I saw an ad in one of the bazillion pieces of paper I brought home from that IOUW about a show in DC – Sheraton Woodley Park to be exact. I don’t even think that it exists anymore. I figured I’d attend ECO then present an abstract for IOUW 1991 in Miami. Some of the history is described in a blog post I made in 2013 located here. Enough said about that. It was quite a whirlwind of activity on the presentation circuit in those days. Starting in 1992 I became very active in the IOUG holding a handful of board positions up to the 2006 or maybe 2007 time frame. I attended a gazillion conferences in those days and the pinnacle was a show in Philly in 1995. I had been on the board of the IOUW for a few years and the paid attendance count at that show was staggering. Chubby Checker played at the big bash and arrangements were made for me to sit in on the bass guitar for the Twist. That got cancelled at the last minute but it was close. My paper was in one of the biggest rooms in the convention centre. There were over 1,500 people in attendance and it was intoxicating. I was pleased when I got my evals to find out the attendees were as pleased as I was. It was all (or close to all) about the CORE database technology in those days. In 1995, Oracle7 was the hot item having been on the street for over 3 years.

As guests of Oracle, a handful of us had the pleasure of attending the launch of Oracle7 at the Hudson Theatre in the Hotel Macklowe on 44th St. in beloved NYC. We were thrilled to be very close in those days to Ray Lane, then President of Oracle Corp. and we introduced Ray to a lot of his direct reports at that “party.” A mere four years later we were back for the release launch of Oracle8 at Radio City Music Hall. Again, a pleasant time was had by all. There turned out to be surprisingly little coverage/mention of Oracle8 at that event. It was more concentrated on Oracle Network Computer (NC) designed to bring computing power to every desktop at a low cost. Once during that Oracle8 launch, the operator of the boom mic in then pit swept the stage to get from one side to the other and almost hit LJE in the side of the head. I think I was the only one who heard what Larry said – “Watch out Bill.” Does anyone get the reference but me?

My torrid Oracle technology career was just that. Between 1991 and the date of this post I have probably given over 100 papers at shows from Ottawa to Hyderabad, Brighton to San Diego, and Vienna to Addis Ababa. There is still a voracious hunger out there for the heart of my expertise – anything that starts with an “O” and ends in an “E” and has the word database tagged on the end. After becoming very close to some of the kernel developers at Oracle, we discussed how they were still in the middle of their workday when the Loma Prieta quake hit in October 1989. Me and a few close friends hung out with the guys whose names litter the bottom of the “this change was done when” section of the ?/rdbms/admin directory on Oracle database software installs. We were in David Anderson’s office schmoozing and asked what he happened to be up to that day. He was ftp’ing source code from a VAX to a Sun box in preparation for the base-platform change that happened in the early 1990s. It was a magic carpet ride.

In some ways it still is. To finish off this year I am appearing at:

  • OOW (Oracle Open World) in San Francisco – September 29-October 2
  • ECO (East Coast Oracle) event in Raleigh/Durham – November 3-5
  • MOUS (Michigan Oracle User Summit) in Livonia – November 13
  • UKOUG in Liverpool – December 8-10

My personal top 10 moments (actually top 11 – the exchange rate) in my still developing tech career you say … drum roll:

Rank Event Date
11 First ever tech show 1990
10 Longest lasting tech contact – Yossi Amor 25 years
9 Number of IOUG yearly events attended 23
8 Books published in Oracle Press series (including translations) 42
7 Most attendees at a presentation – 1500 (Philadelphia) 1995
6 Fewest attendees at a presentation – 1 2013
5 Most exciting event attended – CODA in Burlingame CA 1993
4 First PL/SQL code block to compile – Oracle7 1993
3 Favourite version of SQL*Forms – 2.3 1993
2 First got hands wet with this famous technology – 5.1.22 1986
1 Biggest thrill – the rush of speaking to live audiences 1991-??

5 Responses to “Michael Abbey: Still Presenting After All These Years”

  • Judi Doolittle says:

    And don’t forget the time you forgot the microphone was on and dropped the F bomb at a presentation to the Utah Oracle User’s group. Because it was the great Michael the audience forgave you. I died a few deaths as your hostess but in the end it was a great time. I think the you only came out for the skiing but may be it was to see some of your old friends.

    Or the time you fell asleep in my presentation–oh wait there are too many of those to count!

  • Yossi Amor says:

    It’s an honor to be your friend for 25 years!!!
    Mazal tov on all your accomplishments.
    Yos

  • Paul Vallee says:

    You should post a picture of your badge tree!

  • Ben J. Abbey says:

    Conspicuously absent is the awesome event in NYC where your awesome eldest worked at the book store with Warren.

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