This post is a little late, but better late than never! Here is a recap of what I like to call the most nerdiest, fun week of the year!
ODTUG Board members arrive to Kscope early because we have an all-day meeting the Friday before Kscope starts. Therefore, the Board descended upon San Antonio Thursday afternoon. I drove into town since I am from the Dallas area, a mere 5 hour drive away. I wanted to have my car with me for ultimate flexibility and to help folks make runs to the nearby grocery and liquor stores.
(Welcome gift from the JW Marriott for being a return guest!)
I took my fellow Board member buddy, Mike Riley, on a liquor run before the festivities began. Sometimes Board members host meetups and parties in their room during Kscope week.
Then the Board had a nice dinner together and caught up.
Afterwards, I drove a few Board members to the famous local grocery chain, H-E-B. H-E-B is one of the best regional grocery store chains I’ve ever shopped at. They have not infiltrated the Dallas area yet, but they will next year. I once worked down at their corporate headquarters (in San Antonio) as a consultant in a past life and learned all about their business. Fascinating stuff.
(Mike Riley, Danny Bryant, and Karen Cannell [not pictured] in the H.E.B. house!)
I have to say that these Board members were surprised. Things really are bigger in Texas!
Then Danny and I went for a walk. Danny and I have a tradition at the JW Marriott. We generally walk the property at night after dinner and events. Sometimes we convince others to join us. It’s good exercise and it gives us time to wind down from the day and discuss ODTUG and technology matters. We also see random wildlife. One time we saw a skunk on the trail with some fellow Board members.
Friday morning I started with a run. I had been training for the 5K for a couple of months and was still on a plan. Every time I run on the JW Marriott property in the morning (this was the 3rd time overall), I see random wildlife. It’s hard to miss when you’re in the Texas hill country. I promised my Facebook friends that I would post a picture of whatever I saw. And within 5 minutes of my run, 2 families of deer crossed my path.
After a short breakfast with Board members, we descended on our all-day meeting. I can’t get into the details, but it was pretty productive.
Friday night is the combined Board member-Conference Committee dinner. We started with a quick happy hour in Danny’s suite where all groups got to mingle. If you are unfamiliar with how the ODTUG/Kscope system works, there are 3 main groups: the ODTUG Board, the Kscope Conference Committee, and Your Conference Connection (YCC). The ODTUG Board is elected by paid ODTUG members and they run ODTUG. The Kscope Conference Committee is an assigned committee and they are responsible for planning and running ODTUG’s annual conference, Kscope. YCC is ODTUG’s management company. YCC runs the back end processes and they have an integral influence on both the Board and Kscope. Each year, all 3 teams have different people on them, generally. The conference committee is a formal committee of ODTUG, however, so it reports to the Board. This dinner allows folks from all 3 groups to mingle and get to know each other.
Afterwards, I caught up with my friends Jessica Cordova, Tim Tow, John Riley, and new friend Katherine Price at the tequila bar down in Cibolo Moon.
Early early Saturday morning, most of the Board and Conference Committee joined the awesome ODTUG community service crowd for our annual journey to give back to the local community. Last year’s help to the homeless inspired the Conference Committee to choose a similar venue. This year we were proud to serve Haven for Hope. If you have never heard of them or are not familiar with their story, please take a moment to view the details here. This particular shelter welcomes the homeless from all over the United States and provides full services to help them get back on their feet. They have been so successful that they’re even consulting other U.S. cities on how to replicate their model.
(Courtesy of OTN)
Community Service is a grueling task. This year we split into teams to help mulch the outside, paint parking lines, sort warehouse donations, play bingo with the residents, and more. We are happy to be there, so we give it our all. We don’t get to work in air conditioned buildings the entire time, so we get very sweaty, dirty, and hot. I was fortunate to be able to help in multiple ways: my teams sorted hotel toiletries, went through 1/3 of the floor-to-ceiling donation bags.
Then I stayed late to help Natalie Delemar, Peter Koutroubis, Jessica Cordova, and John Riley do a 3rd round of bingo with the residents. I definitely left feeling exhilarated and looking somewhat like a drowned rat after the crazy downpour that seemingly came out of nowhere (typical Texas weather).
(Courtesy of ODTUG)
On Saturday afternoon the Board was asked to skip the usual bag stuffing so that we could prep and do Board interviews on camera. If you attended Kscope, you may have seen us near the flower hallway with a full video production setup. I also took advantage of the opportunity to take high quality pictures for the Six Degrees of ODTUG board in the exhibit hall (more on this later).
(Courtesy of ODTUG)
Saturday night is pretty much the only free night that I get during the entire conference. After grabbing a quick local dinner with my friend Alice Lawrence and making another liquor run for friends, I started to set up for a special party that Danny and I hosted for some “fine spirit” buds. We threw a “Fine Spirits Tasting Party” for a handful of our friends that enjoy liquor. Everyone was asked to bring a special bottle.
(Courtesy of Jeff Smith)
Here’s where I have to segue and tell a story about the special bottle of liquor that I brought. Those who are friends with me on Facebook know that I’m completely obsessed with the John Wick movie series. In the movies, he drinks a very special type of bourbon called Blanton’s. This is made in Kentucky and widely available there. I searched high and low for it, and it took 4 months to acquire it. My husband and I looked everywhere in Dallas and it’s nearly impossible to obtain a bottle in Texas without paying 3 times the price or having a secret connection. Hubby even called into the local KERA radio show “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know” to see if that would generate any good leads. It didn’t. I finally obtained “my Precious” when I randomly wandered into an Austin Spec’s (one of Texas’ largest liquor stores) and told my story to the kind man who greeted me. Luckily, the bourbon distributor just made a delivery so he sold me a bottle. Big shout out again to the Arbor Walk Spec’s!
(A recreation of the same photo taken 6 years ago in the same suite at Kscope12! Courtesy of Mike Riley)
It was a nice night of visiting with some new folks in the “fine spirits” crowd. My favorite part was the education of each spirit. The party indulged my request of going around the table and telling a story of why they picked their specific liquor and special notes on how it was made. We also got great lessons from Justin Biard, Jeff Smith, and Wayne Van Sluys on how bourbon is made in general, and what exactly the differences are between bourbon, scotch, and whiskey.
(Mike Riley and Jeff Jacobs reminiscing about the history of ODTUG)
I brought bullet shaped whiskey stones to go with everyone’s tasting of John Wick’s bourbon.
By Sunday, I was running on fumes. I hadn’t slept well the first 2 nights and once Kscope gets going, it’s nearly impossible to catch up. I ran early Sunday morning (my last practice run before the 5K) with my buddy Alice Lawrence. Then I got ready for the day.
Luckily, I got to attend the morning session of the EPM Sunday Symposium. If you missed the social media buzz, the following very important EPM on-prem announcements were made in Matt Bradley’s keynote (#SafeHarbor):
- Oracle announced their commitment to provide Premium support for on-prem deployments until Dec 2030. Here is the breakdown of the schedule:
- 184.108.40.206 – S1 defect fixing until May 2018
- 220.127.116.11 – Defect fixing, 3rd party certification updates, enhancements through Dec 2020
- This is a new release
- Scheduled for early 2019
- Defect fixing, 3rd party certification updates, enhancements through Dec 2030
Then it was off to a quick lunch and then General Session rehearsals for Board members and speakers. Rehearsals are always hilarious. We get goofy on the stage (probably due to delirium since we’re all exhausted by then).
Right after rehearsals, it was a race to get ready for Sunday night. The Newcomer’s Orientation, Ambassador Meeting, and Speaker Reception were all happening prior to the Welcome Reception.
(It was standing room only at the Newcomer’s Orientation!)
If you are at all familiar with who I work for, you’ll know why there was a “get ready” process. interRel is known for our booth and costumes on Sunday night. This year we unveiled Harry Potter world.
(Courtesy of interRel)
Why? Did you know that Harry Potter, ODTUG, and interRel are all celebrating their 20th anniversaries this year?
(Courtesy of interRel)
My costume was “random Gryffindor quidditch player”. It was the easiest to put on and take off!
(Courtesy of Matt Gilchrist)
The Welcome Reception was fun. We had a famous Mariachi band, Nuevo Estillo, playing. They like to mix up traditional mariachi music with modern day pop hits. They were contestants on America’s Got Talent, Season 8. In addition, in the Exhibit Hall there were a lot of little areas to disappear and play in.
(Courtesy of Jorge Rimblas)
Did you miss it? Along the back wall we premiered a new “Six Degrees of ODTUG” board. We put pictures of all of the Board and Conference Committee members and had folks write their name and connect to all the other ODTUG folks they know.
(Courtesy of Jorge Rimblas)
Thanks to all who found it and participated! Here is the finished product:
Right after the Welcome Reception, I had to immediately get ready for the first ever Geek Game Night. If you were watching social media, you would have seen us advertise the contestants in the weeks leading up to Kscope. This year we only had one game: Whose Deck is it Anyway? This was a wonderful idea that came from the ODTUG community: 4 technologists sabotage/create a slide deck featuring their expert technology. Then it’s a random draw to see which order they present in. They didn’t see the other decks in advance and I made sure that they weren’t assigned to the technologies that they were already familiar with. Danny and I also threw them a curve ball – we added in a 5th wildcard presenter at the last minute. The game was totally insane crazy. All I’ll say is that it stayed PG-13, which was one of the stipulations made up front. The rest is…legendary. I can’t wait to see how the stories of that game night evolve over the years.
(Courtesy of the #Kscope17 twitter feed)
Thanks to the courageous presenters who were eager to kick off the first ever Geek Game Night!
- Stewart Bryson
- Debra Lilley
- Edward Roske
- Bjoern Rost
- Scott Spendolini
(The list of secret words contestants had to randomly drop into their presentations)
And a shout out to the judges who pretty much had no idea what they were getting into:
- Gary Adashek
- Danny Bryant (OK, he knew all of the details in advance)
- Karen Cannell
- Becky Wagner
Finally, the day ended with Werewolf. I was so tired by then that I watched only the first 15 minutes and then quietly slipped off to bed.
Monday is the halfway point for Board members. Due to the awful sleep start, I was still running on fumes. The actual Kscope week is a bit crazy. I spend most of it behind the scenes in meetings.
Monday morning was spent running from meeting to meeting. First, I had to do another run through of the General Session with the Board and speakers. Then we actually presented the General Session. Last year in Chicago we weren’t able to have a General Session due to room size availability. I missed having it. It was fun to bring it back this year and have a single stage to recognize all of the volunteers that make ODTUG great, the amazing Kscope17 sponsors, and any special recognitions. I am so proud of Matt Milella and Adrian Png for their volunteer contributions to ODTUG.
(Courtesy of Jorge Rimblas)
(Courtesy of Jorge Rimblas)
The 2017-2018 ODTUG Leadership graduates were also recognized, as well as the Women in Technology scholar winner and the Innovation Award winner. Check out the full list of award winners here. Congrats to all!
Scott Dikkers was hilarious…and maybe a bit R-rated. What else can you expect from the founder of The Onion?
(Courtesy of ODTUG)
I had also been lying to and redirecting Danny all week about his Oracle ACE Director promotion so that he would be surprised on stage. So proud of him for earning such a great achievement and being recognized! He’s been a wonderful influence on the ODTUG community and we’re lucky to have him on both the ODTUG Board and Kscope Conference Committee.
(Celebrating at the Oracle ACE dinner – courtesy of Jorge Rimblas)
Finally, after it was announced that I would be the Kscope18 Conference Chair, I had the honor of revealing the Kscope18 conference location. In case you missed it…”we’re going to Disney World!!!” SO many attendees and sponsors were excited about this. People kept stopping me and saying “I’ll be there” and “I’m bringing my family!”
I had Oracle meetings the rest of the day and then part of a customer advisory meeting with Oracle on Financial Close.
Monday night is the happy hour + Community night events. The community events were crazy and fun, as usual. I spent time in each one, checking out the crowds and enthusiasm.
(BI Community night madness – my abstract art to demonstrate the love shown there)
Afterwards, I missed Natalie and Cameron’s 10th anniversary EPM party so that I could rest up for the super early 5K. Sleeping was futile – I should have just gone to the party. Gabby Rubin was apparently bartending. Argh.
At the crack of dawn on Tuesday, the “crazy” ODTUG people (also known as the ODTUG runner and walker groups) gathered together to participate in the ODTUG 5K. This was the second year that we’ve held this event (the prior one was in Hollywood, FL back in 2015). Thankfully, Accelatis sponsored again and even allowed us to expand the group when we ran out of sign ups!
It was overcast outside (yay!). However, the humidity nearly did me in. Believe it or not, Dallas (where I live and train) is actually more of a dry heat. We did our fun run, which, due to logistics and safety reasons, ended up being 2.7 miles instead of the full 3.1. Hopefully, that didn’t bother the runners too much. We all finished, drank a gallon of water, and then raced up to get ready for sessions. BIG shout out to the walkers – I hope to see more more walkers at next year’s 5K!
Then I had Oracle meetings all morning, caught Jake Turrell’s REST API session, went to an on-camera interview with our WIT scholar winner, Ghaida Khader (catch her awesome WIT story when it’s released on YouTube), and went to more Oracle meetings.
(Interviewing Ghaida Khader – courtesy of ODTUG)
Tuesday night is the night of the week when Oracle partners host private events. It’s also the night of the Oracle ACE dinner. My night was packed. But first, puppy therapy at the happy hour! Great idea, Veronica Snow!
First, I went to the Oracle ACE dinner. interRel was so excited to celebrate Wayne Van Sluys’ promotion and the promotions of our friends. Congratulations to all of you recognized Oracle ACE’s!
(Courtesy of interRel)
Next, I went to the interRel event and, after catching up with some of my customer friends, managed to…talk shop for an hour and a half with the EPM & BI Oracle folks. I couldn’t help it. I know we meet with Oracle all week, but there is just so much happening and so many announcements…and so many sessions that I’m missing. There is never enough time. The interRel party was pretty awesome. We had outdoor games (baggo, ping pong, etc.), indoor games (4-way Pac Man, anyone?), dancing, and the works. interRel really knows how to throw down.
Finally, I went to my room where I was meeting 2 of my best buds. We talked late into the night, laughing, drinking, and catching up. Sometimes it gets to be too long between bestie visits and it’s nice to have a break in-between the Kscope madness.
Wednesday is one of the best days of the week for me. It’s the day that we host the over-the-top, amazing Special Event. But, meetings and sessions first.
First I attended an ODTUG Board meeting with Oracle. Then, Danny and I presented on IoT (the “Internet of things”) and Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC). We explained how we use the beacons at Kscope and how the analysis was done using OAC with Essbase Cloud and DV Cloud.
(Courtesy of Jake Turrell)
Next, I attended the Women in Technology (WIT) lunch, which was organized by my buddy Minie Parikh. EY sponsored again and Natalie represented. It was our biggest showing yet! Minie approached me last year and asked how she could help us out with WIT, a passion of hers. She organized the theme and put together the first ever ODTUG WIT newsletter! We all got to take home printed copies. Thank you, Minie and EPMI!
(Courtesy of Neviana Zhgaba)
Then, I was late to a panel on Business Analytics. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I was a panelist for this panel. Luckily, Edward handled it well and made a few jokes.
Finally, I attended the last Oracle meeting of the week.
Then I got ready for the Special Event. I tried to nap first, but that was a bust.
One of the events I look most forward to at each year’s Kscope is the welcome line that the Board and Conference Committee do at the beginning of the Special Event.
(Courtesy of Jorge Rimblas)
We welcome our conference attendees by making a greeting line into the venue. And this year, in full on costume we went all out. It’s so exciting to see the faces of our attendees as they enter the Special Event venue with wonder and awe after we applaud them and give out high fives.
(Courtesy of Jenny Forbes)
I also love the fact that I get to see the majority of our attendees in one location, partying together like long lost pals.
(Courtesy of Tammy Levin)
This year’s special event was a conglomeration of birthday party rooms that were all put together to help celebrate ODTUG’s 20th anniversary. The themes of the rooms included: Masquerade (which included a magician who performed 2 shows), Beach/White party, 80’s arcade, and Casino Royale.
(Courtesy of Jorge Rimblas)
I picked my favorite of the themes, 80’s arcade, and came dressed as Chun Li (from Street Fighter).
(Courtesy of Neviana Zhgaba)
It was a blast. The dance floor was amazeballs – YCC surprised the Conference Committee with a professional dancers – thank you, YCC! That group had some super cool moves and their presence really made the dance floor night. If you missed out on the social media buzz around some of the dance floor events, get yourself a Twitter handle and do a search on “#kscope17”. I still can’t get over some of the things I saw.
We started a tradition a few years ago in Miami to do an after party after the Special Event. This is typically at a night club and this year it was on the Riverwalk at Kremlin. I make it a point to go every year. However, this year I skipped. I was so, so tired. Those who know me well could tell as much when I stopped dancing halfway through the Special Event – I’m usually making my moves on the dance floor all night. The heat and lack of sleep won this year’s battle. I took the last bus back to the hotel and went to sleep.
On Thursday, I got to eat breakfast with the ODTUG community. Then I was a panelist on the Business Analytics Thursday Deep Dive for the first hour to represent OAC and EPRCS.
During the second half of the deep dives, I went to the Closing Session rehearsal. This is often quick, and consists of us speakers lazing around because we’re so tired from the Special Event the night before. I don’t remember most of it, but it was over soon.
Next, we presented the Closing Session. It also went by in a blur, but we recognized the best speaker award winners (check out the full list of award winners here – congrats to all!), Kscope18 sponsors, and said goodbye to our attendees. We also said goodbye to Martin D’Souza and thanked him for his many years on the Board and service to ODTUG. He is terming out on the Board at the end of this year.
Natalie and I made sure to grab a special photo with a new friend afterwards. If there were an award for “ODTUG Newbie of the Year” it would definitely be given to Neviana Zhgaba. She really helped make this year’s Kscope special with her enthusiasm and excitement. Thank you, Neviana! It was a pleasure to meet you!
When I started my Kscope17 week, I made a resolution to be in bed by midnight every night (with the exception of Wednesday night due to the Special Event). I almost made my goal – only 2 nights were the exception. Age is obviously wearing on me.
The Thursday afternoon after Kscope is always a much needed treat. The ODTUG Board and Conference Committee had special cabanas gifted to us from the hotel for the entire afternoon. We sat out there and did nothing but fight sleep and chat with each other. ODTUG’ers stopped by…even our Oracle friends stopped by. It was great to finally relax and bask in the Kscope afterglow.
After taking a quick shower, some of us stragglers made plans to hang out for dinner. And we decided to finally execute on the “3 pound cinnamon roll” strategy that we’d been planning for months. There is a 24-hour bakery called Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe that serves 3 pound cinnamon rolls. Yes, that’s what I said. THREE POUNDS. Natalie, Danny, and I were determined to make that dream happen.
But first, dinner. Danny, myself, Cameron Lackpour, Tim German, and Pete Nitschke all went to Pearl, an up and coming area of San Antonio.
We went to a restaurant called Cured that had a hip menu and vibe.
(Courtesy of Pete)
After dinner, we met up with Natalie and Joe Aultman at Lulu’s and broke into some serious cinnamon rolls. It was awesome! In case you were wondering how this worked out, we ordered one total for the entire table (7 people).
And we killed it!
(Courtesy of Joe Aultman)
Then it was back to glorious sleep on the final night in San Antonio. This was officially the latest night out by a long shot.
Friday morning: happiness due to another successful Kscope, but sadness because it’s all over (and so quickly!). Danny and I ate our final JW Marriott Cibolo Moon breakfast buffet (man, that breakfast buffet is something else). I ate twice as much (yes, even after the 3 pound cinnamon roll the previous night) because I knew I was starting a serious, month-long detox diet after the July 4th American holiday.
For several hours Danny and I rehashed the Kscope conference and came up with strategies for next year. Then it was time to say goodbye. Natalie, Danny, and I said our farewells in the lobby and we all departed San Antonio.
I had a long drive back and it was good because I was totally addicted to my new Audible book (courtesy of Natalie), Trevor Noah’s autobiography Born a Crime. Finished it! It’s amazing – every childhood story is hilarious, heartfelt, or gives you something to think about.
The drive from San Antonio back to Dallas goes through Austin and Waco. I made a pit stop at Magnolia Market in Waco to grab a late lunch.
I finally arrived back in Dallas Friday night. And then I slept the sleep of the Gods in my own bed. 11 hours, folks…
It was another spectacular Kscope on the books! There was definitely something special in the air. Many attendees congratulated me on a well executed Kscope and a couple of others told me it was their best Kscope to date! WOW!
Two final important mentions:
1. There is one post-Kscope event that we hold virtually every year. If you are interested in IoT (the “internet of things”) and still have your Kscope17 beacon (or were not able to attend but still want to participate), check out the 2nd annual GeekAThon (#GAT17). This is an event intended to develop the creative juices within our ODTUG community. IoT is on the rise and it’s becoming a real force of nature. Glory and cash prizes are at stake! Sign ups end Sunday night, July 16, 2017. Anyone can participate.
2. I know that Kscope isn’t a perfect conference, but we love it and take it very seriously. Sometimes we try new things and they don’t work and sometimes we hit it out of the park. If you have any compliments or gripes, please fill out the post-conference survey (sent via email). As I mentioned at the Closing Session, we really do read all of them.
This is about as good as my memory gets at this late date. Apologies to anyone and any events that I forgot to mention! And a big SORRY to my friends that I didn’t get to catch up with during the conference! Next year if I don’t see you at another conference first!
This upcoming year is going to be awesome. So many folks are excited about being on property at Disney World. I can’t wait to see you all at Kscope18!