Friday, May 26, 2006

My afternoon with the SAS

Now, this post has absolutely nothing to do with Oracle Databases in any way, shape or form.
It will however give you an opportunity to laugh at my expense, as if I really needed to give you another one.


Today, I spent a few hours with the SAS, no, not the muscular men dressed in black and abseiling down buildings, but rather the Speed Awareness Scheme, delivered by DriveTech

Yes, that’s right, I got caught speeding.

I have tried to defend myself, in that the road I was driving along used to be 40mph, but has recently, apparently, changed to a 30mph zone.

So I got papped by a mobile camera unit doing 35mph.

I didn’t think anything of it at the time, I remember looking at my speed and thinking ‘oh, it’s ok, I’m only doing 35 – I’m fine’

Then the letter arrived in the post about a week later.

At one time, that would have meant an automatic £60 fine and 3 points on my lovely clean license.

However, a new scheme is in operation to educate drivers of the dangers associated with speeding. Instead of the above penalty, you can now opt to pay a £65 fine and attend a ‘Speed Awareness Workshop’ instead of receiving points.

This scheme is only open to drivers caught going slightly over the posted speed limit, and does not include excessive speeders or boy racers.
You know the ones – they’re driving round in a clapped out car they bought second-hand for £500, but have ‘added value’ by including a £2000 body kit, a £5000 stereo and an exhaust that looks like it belongs on a space shuttle.

Anyway, I decided to go for the workshop as I didn’t want to think about how my insurance company would react to the points on my license.
Us blonde females have a hard enough time getting insurance as it is. :-)

It’s a 3 hour workshop aimed at improving a driver’s awareness of speed and the associated dangers.

I have to say, despite my initial reservations, I did in fact find this both interesting and informative.
It’s an informal workshop, and the guy leading it was very clear that this was not a naughty person’s telling off – it was to be an interactive session designed to make us think.

It was split into two sessions, the first was a series of computer generated exercises (apparently a bit like the new theory test).
Basically, all of us were sat at individual workstations and there were a series of video clips taken from a dashboard mounted camera.

The exercise was to imagine you were the driver of the vehicle, and simply click the mouse every time you saw something that was a potential hazard.
This included things like pedestrians stepping out from behind parked cars or cars coming out of side-streets.
The purpose of this was to assess our hazard spotting abilities and measure our reaction times.

Again, the guy leading the workshop made it pretty clear that this was not a playstation game and there would be no spectacular crash scenes if we failed to stop in time.

The second exercise was to watch a clip of a car journey on certain roads in varying conditions, then decide if we would have taken the route at the same speed or would we have driven slower or faster.

The third was to again be the driver of the car, this time following behind another. We had to click the mouse to determine at what distance we would stay behind the car in front.

At the end of this session we were given a print out which had assessed our reaction and response times against the national average.

I came out as driving at an average speed, with an average following distance but had above average hazard spotting abilities and response time.

(Maybe that means I should have been able to brake a bit quicker when I spotted the speed camera. :-))

The second session dealt more with the potential dangers of driving at speed and included some quite scary facts about the links between death rates and various speeds.

For example, did you know that if a person is hit by a car doing 30mph, then there is an 80% chance they will survive.

If you up the speed to 35mph then there is only a 30% chance of survival.

Up it again to 40mph and there is only a 10% chance of surviving the impact.

Quite scary stuff.

If anybody is wanting more information about the scheme, you can check out the DriveTech
website or look at the Safe Speed for Life website.

The last one is particularly useful as it has maps detailing the locations of all of the fixed speed cameras in the North East and also tells you which region the mobile units are going to be in, which is updated on a weekly basis.

Well it was a rather long, un-Oracle related post, but I hope it may have made some of you think.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

UKOUG BI and Analytics Event

I attended the UKOUG's BI and Analytics special event on Tuesday, and as Peter Scott commented, it was indeed a good day out.

I got to meet up with Peter again and I also managed to meet some more of my colleagues from SolstonePlus who I hadn't yet met in the office.

Mark Rittman gave a good presentation on Oracle's new BI Suite Enterprise Edition. See the article here .

It was interesting to see Mark's presentation, which was based around his experiences of spending a couple of weeks playing around with Siebel Analytics, and to then see the presentation by Morgan Russell which gave the road map for Oracle BI Fusion.

Mark's presentation also gave me the opportunity to prove that I can introduce a speaker without unintentionally insulting them.

The day ended with a Q&A Panel session and there were many questions raised about Oracle Fusion, what it all meant and what the implications were for customers.

If you do have any questions or want to know more about it, then check out the docs on the Oracle website.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Forgotten Notes

Well I'm sat here in my hotel room in Brighton, and was all set to write a post on the UKOUG Northern Tech Day.

Unfortunately I seem to have left my notes at home so it will have to wait until the end of the week.

I suppose I should be grateful really. At least I know that my notebook is sat on my desk at home. Unlike Doug, I have not lost it.

I should also be grateful that I was able to enjoy a meal in my room tonight without the plate exploding.