Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The benefits of mind expansion at #oow09

I've been joking, via tweets and blog posts, about the FTC disclosures that I as a blogger am mandated to publish when I receive goods of value that may potentially influence the blog posts that I write. (Would that true newspapers were obliged to do the same - does this mean that blogs are more trusted than newspapers?)

Well, I was joking about it for a while, especially based upon things that have happened here at Oracle OpenWorld (for example, I am typing this on an Oracle-supplied laptop manufactured by Lenovo), but now the stakes got a little higher. Not a lot higher, but a little higher. You see, the Oracle Technology Network (which, at last count, has supplied me with three beers, two cookies, and one Red Bull) held a drawing today for various Oracle Technology Network items.

And I just won a prize.

Now the grand prize was a Flip camera, and the other prizes were technical books. This is, after all, the Oracle Technology Network, where even the toy giveaways serve a technical purpose (the building blocks subliminally emphasize Oracle's stack, after all).

Now I was interviewed earlier today (you see, I don't spend all of my time playing with toys and sitting in bean bags), and the interviewer asked how much of the Oracle stack my employer uses for the biometric products that we deploy. While there are some portions of the Oracle stack that we could use, but don't, there are portions of the Oracle stack that really provide no benefit to our customers. When you're a cop and you want to know whether two biometric samples match or not, some of Oracle's higher-level applications just plain don't make sense to you.

So with that in mind, I will tell you what I won: Judi Doolittle's PeopleSoft Developer's Guide for PeopleTools & PeopleCode: Create and Distribute High-Performance Applications and Reports. Which, incidentally, "Covers Oracle XML Publisher."

Now this is not the first time this week that I've been pretty much out of my depth. I've already blogged about how I would clearly lose in a battle of wits with Daniel Morgan, and I tweeted about how I would clearly lose in a battle of wits with Jonathan Lewis. And I think that I would lose wits with many of the 40,000+ people who are here, including Roger Daltrey and Shooter Jennings.

And of course even that analysis is based upon my role as a product manager in the marketing department. What if my role within my company changes? (More on that later, at the appropriate time.)

But at least I'm not alone. When Arnold Scharzenegger participated in the keynote speech today, he made a point of mentioning the intelligence within Moscone North Hall D, and how his IQ was raised ten points just by being there.

He wasn't kidding.

When you're around people that know things that you don't know, your IQ - or, more accurately, your store of knowledge and your thinking and comprehension skill - IS going to be raised. And it goes both ways. I bet that if Tom Kyte hung out with the Governor, Kyte would learn things about bodybuilding, the movie industry, and politics that he didn't know before. And I probably have some understanding of biometrics and procurement that some of my readers may not have.

So I'm not going to throw Judi Doolittle's book away, even though technically neither I, nor anyone else in my company, can technically use it. I'm going to read it, and while I'll see some things that I understand (I have a bit of knowledge about XML, primarily derived from ANSI/NIST-ITL 2-2008, which can be found here), I'm going to be exposed to things that I have never seen before, and there will be a lot of it that I don't understand, but after a while a little bit of the stuff that I didn't understand will start to make sense. (Assuming Doolittle writes well, but I assume that she does if Oracle Press invested the time in printing her book.)

Perhaps this suggests something that I should do more - namely, investigate something that I know little or nothing about. While my formal education officially ended when I received my MBA in 1991, that's obviously no reason to shut my mind off completely. I don't believe that I've shut my mind off completely, but perhaps I could do a bit more.

Oh, and FTC investigators, the list price of this book is US$69.99, which is more than all four Empoprises blogs have earned in advertising revenue.

And, as Larry promised, PeopleSoft will be supported for ten years, although that doesn't mean that 8.9 per se will be supported.
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