SQLRoadtrip, part the 6th


My #sqlroadtrip is now over (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5). I have had 2 1/2 weeks of offline time, where I ignored technology as far as I could and spent some much needed time with my family. During that time I had two more flights and a hotel stay, although a much more relaxed version (a week in Sardinia and not a server in sight!).

@Fatherjack (Web|twitter) requested a DBA-typical numbers breakdown of my trip, I have attempted to oblige him here:

38 days
20 flights
15 countries
11 servers
11 hotels
5 continents
4 power cuts
1 case of food poisoning

In that time, I racked up 37229 miles (according to www.gcmap.com) and reached the “Frequent Flyer” status with Lufthansa. I had a total flight time of approximately 80 hours (according to Lufthansa’s site), with the shortest flight being 150 miles and the longest 6526 miles.

I am happy to say, the rollout went well. The systems have been up an running since, and even survived a 5 day outage in one of the offices. The office came back online and synched up within a few hours, I was most surprised at that!

I am now easing myself back into my daily work, with an eye on my next trip to the PASS Summit in October – I hope to put my new Lufthansa status to use, maybe even upgrade this time round!

P.S. A final picture update is now online, with a few sites from Rio. Really nice city, if it wasn’t for all the smog!!

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The Home Stretch


I am now on the final third of my #sqlroadtrip (part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4).

My last post saw me in New Zealand where I spent a great 36 hours taking in what I could of Auckland. Unfortunately I didn’t meet up with Dave Dustin, his work got in the way at short notice 😦 – this didn’t stop me from checking out quite a bit of Auckland, including the SkyTower. I got a great view of the city and then walked around town taking in the sights and sounds.

The evening flight from Auckland to Los Angeles ended up being really comfortable. Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy is a major step up from standard economy, offering miles of legroom and the business class menu and winelist (for a snip at $150 on top). I didn’t sleep, but was definitely comfortable for the 12 hour flight. This was followed by a 90 minute layover at LAX, where I was given priority entry into the US so that I could get to my connecting flight on time.

Calgary offered up another uneventful installation, allowing me and a colleague to check out the Banff National Park. It has some great views, with some of the mountain ranges looking like the mountains from the start of my trip in Switzerland (decide for yourself by checking out my web-album – link at the bottom of the page).

As luck would have it, when I checked into my flight from Calgary to Houston, I was offered an upgrade to Continental First Class for the wallet-friendly price of $100. I took them up on the offer and had a very comfortable 4 hour flight down to Houston. I was picked up from the airport by my data-courier colleague who had landed in Houston a couple of hours before me. He had managed to get a nice rental car upgrade because the rental company had messed up the reservation and only had a big SUV left! 🙂 We took off and setup the server in Houston and were treated to a relaxing evening at the local IT manager’s house. We were able to cool off in his pool and enjoyed a few ice-cold beers. This was the first real chance of relaxation since starting the trip all those weeks ago – thank you Volker! After missing the chance to meet Dave Dustin in New Zealand, I got another opportunity to meet an online acquaintance from the ASKSSC forumOleg Netchaev – for lunch in Houston. It was great to put a name to a face.

I then flew down to Veracruz for the next server installation. This was a little touch-and-go, because the hardware had been stuck in customs for a few weeks (it had been sent before I started my trip!). This was sorted out whilst I was in Houston and the server was brought online just in time to get things setup before my flight down to Mexico.

I arrived and finished setting up the server in Veracruz, no problems, everything ran like clockwork. The local IT manager then took us for a quick drive round the city, showing us a few sights and letting us get an idea of what the “real” Mexico is like. We ended up eating some mexican food (although I skipped the pigs brain in tortillas!) and heading down to the Aquarium. Whilst there, we were offered the opportunity to get into a glass box and feed the sharks in the big shark tank. We jumped at the opportunity and spent a fascinating 15 minutes in the water with an oceanologist who speacialises in sharks. That was definitely an experience I will never forget.

From Veracruz I set off to Rio de Janeiro (via Houston – where I am right now) to setup the 11th and final server. This will be a short hop, arriving Thursday and leaving on Sunday, but at this point I really don’t mind. The trip has been really interesting, but extremely challenging, both physically and mentally, and I’m looking forward to going home.

Luckily, I will be arriving in Germany next Monday and taking a 3 week break from work (and possibly technology). I should be able to recharge my batteries and get back to some sort of normal daily routine. My son has been asking if I’m in the planes that fly over our house since the first week of my trip. He seems to be looking forward to me coming home, I was worried he wasn’t bothered or had even forgotten about me 🙂

So, time to sit back and relax before the second longest flight of this trip. The President’s Club is comfortable and quiet and I’ll be fine for the 4.5 hours I have till boarding.

TTFN!

P.S. I have recently updated my web-album with the pictures taken since my last blog-post, with views from Calgary, Houston and Veracruz.

Sqlroadtrip – Half Way Point


I am now at the half-way stage of my round the world trip (see part 1, part 2 and part 3).

After part 3 I went on from Kuala Lumpur to Perth. This time I flew with Singapore Airlines – an extremely good airline as far as I am concerned, the entire experience was positive. I had a short hop from Kuala Lumpur to Sinpagore and then a 5 hours flight to Perth.

There was a mix-up at my company regarding the data transport, so I arrived a full 24 hours too early in Perth. I finally caught up on some of the missing sleep – I slept a full 18 hours!

The data finally arrived and I got to work at the Perth office. The installation ran without any issues (we’ve got the rollout totally sorted by now) and even managed to do a little more testing of the performance improvements of running readonly reporting on the local server. Who would have thought it, a server in the LAN is faster than a server over WAN!!! 😀

I only saw the hotel (Esplanade in Fremantle), the office and a micro-brewery pub (The Mad Monk in Fremantle). This was the shortest stop of all so far, but I was more than happy to take that hit to allow me to have some “real” free time in New Zealand.

I arrived in Auckland this morning after an uneventful flight from Perth to Auckland. I spent the day exploring the city and adding to the photo collection. I will hopefully be meeting up with Dave Dustin (Twitter) for lunch tomorrow before jumping on my longest flight so far – Auckland to Los Angeles to Calgary. The first leg is over 10000 km and 12 hours, luckily in Premium Economy flying with Air New Zealand – a little extra legroom is always nice.

So, time for bed, the day starts early with me trying to take part in the PoSh webcast held by Aaron Nelson (Web|twitter) for the UK Sout West User Group. That’ll mean a 5am start, but my brain is scattered from timezone-hopping anyway.

Round the world in 38 days – Teil 3


If you have been following my adventures so far, then you will know that I have embarked upon a trip around the world. This trip entails setting up a load of SQL Servers for my employer. For more details, see part one and part two.

I was unable to blog whilst in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, so I have a little catching up to do.

Dubai turned out to be the highlight of the trip so far. I was staying in the Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate. I managed to snag an extremely good deal on the hotel and upgraded to an executive room priced at 90 Euros a night. The hotel was absolutely brilliant and really proved the five star rating. The remainder of my trip will be comparing the other hotels to what was on offer in Dubai. I think it will be difficult to top though.

The roll-out has been pretty smooth so far. All those practice runs and copious notes seem to be paying off, who’d have thought!

Rolling into Saudi Arabia was a fun experience too. I landed at Dammam International Airport after a normal 90 minute flight from Dubai. The fun started at passport control, where I waited about 90 minutes to get processed. The men at the counters were rather lax in their work attitude, stopping to chat with their colleagues, smoke or just read a newspaper! I was luckily not waiting for a work-permit, some not so lucky Indians had already been waiting for 3 hours.

After finally collecting my suitcase, I went through to the arrivals lounge. It was then that I found out that no hotel and no pick-up had been arranged for me. Thus ensued a great deal of phoning around trying to find out who could help me out. As luck would have it, someone was still in the Dammam office. A car was sent to pick me up and a room was arranged for me at the Dhahran International Hotel. The hotel is a throw-back to the 70s (not a new hotel built to look that way). I’m sure I saw people with bell-bottom trousers and gold medaillions around their necks!

The roll-out in Dammam went equally smooth. The local IT man really looked after me while I was there. He took me to a couple of local restaurants for lunch, where I gorged on the brilliant arabian food on offer.

I then set off to my next destination – Kuala Lumpur. This was to be the longest leg of the trip so far, involving 3 flights. Dammam to Dubai, Dubai to Bangkok, Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur. I got to Dubai without any problems and treated myself to 3 hours of lounge access. I attacked the buffet and had a few beers to relax before the 6 hour flight to Bangkok.

The real fun started on the flight to Bangkok – Thai Airlines Flght TG 518. This will be burned in my brain until I die. I had a comfortable seat (32A) in a relatively new A330. The flight started nicely and I got stuck into the onboard film. Things changed when the food arrived. I tried the side salad (something with fish) and it didn’t taste right. 20 minutes later, my body decided that the fish really wasn’t right. I spent the remainder of the flight in a delirious cold sweat, running to the bathroom to throw-up. I can safely say, that was the longest 5 1/2 hours of my life.

The flight from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur was a little better as I fell into a deep sleep.

All is well again this morning. I setup the system in Kuala Lumpur and have a day off tomorrow. I hope to climb the Patronas Towers and take a look around the city before flying to Perth on Sunday.

So, time to shut up shop for the day and relax a little. I’m only half way round the world and the travelling and time difference are certainly taking their toll!

TTFN!

Sqlroadtrip part deux


Hello again!

Here is an update on the #sqlroadtrip, which started out in Switzerland (part one of the trip).

I have spent the last few days in Kiev in the Ukraine. I arrived at 01:30 (EET) at the airport and spent the next 45 minutes waiting for passport control. They had 8 control gates, but only two open!? They are seriously expanding the airport in preparation for the european football championships next year. This is also the reason for all the road works in and around the city.

I was driven from the airport to the hotel (Rus Hotel, Kiev), where I slept until 9am (local time = CET+1). Then setup our replication system. After 4 hours, and only one error message, I was done!

I went to the hotel, had some rather uninspiring food and some cheap Danish and Ukrainian beer, then fell into a deep sleep.

The following day was spent checking the replication was working properly (it was) and explaining the replication system to the people in the office. We are running transactional replication to allow reporting offloading for each office. It is quite impressive to see our data being updated at near real-time (~5 seconds), even to the offices with the worst network connection. They were happy about the new system, but also gave me a lot of information to take back to HQ regarding performance problems. The perceived performance is different to the measured performance. I have already identified areas in our software that can be optimised for a better user experience, where the devs back home would think the behaviour/performance is acceptable.

I will finish up today and make sure the next location is ready for the replication, then check out some sights around the centre of Kiev. After that, it will be time to pack up and get ready for my next flight. I check out of the hotel tomorrow morning at 08:00 (EET) and take a flight from Kiev to Vienna 10:50 (EET) departure, arriving 11:55 (CET). This is followed by a 90 minute layover and then an Austrian Airlines flight to Dubai (13:30 CET depart, 21:10 GST arrival).

The colleagues from the Kiev office have been really friendly and helpful the entire time. The same can be said for the majority of the people I met. I can definitely recommend Kiev as a holiday location, or at least as a place on a european tour. Most young people speak English, which is good if you can’t speak/read Ukranian or Russian!

Check back again soon for the next part of my #sqlroadtrip, where you will see what I get up to in the Middle East.

Just as a teaser, I will be staying in a slightly better hotel in Dubai, details to follow when I have arrived 🙂

Round the world in 38 days


Saturday 28th May 2011:

Here I am in Zurich airport waiting for my next flight in my round the world trip.

Maybe I should back up a little and explain.

Without going into too many details and possibly getting in trouble with work, they want me to go to some of our branch offices to setup some sql servers and get replication up and running. This project has been in the planning stages for millenia and it finally got the green light. I found out on Wednesday evening (25.05) that I would be starting my trip on Friday (27.05). My first port of call was our company headquarters in Switzerland, so that meant jumping on a plane on Friday morning and flying down to HQ.

Whilst there, I made the finishing touches to the setup and initialised the third branch office and created a snapshot of the data. This took me until this morning (28.05 – 03:00 CET), after which I had a 3 hour nap. I then went back to the office and got my stuff together ready for my trip to the first branch office in Kiev (we had done two offices as a practice run).

I then drove back up to Zurich to take my next flight, Zurich to Frankfurt (where I am whilst writing this). This is basically the warm-up for the real thing, as my Star Alliance “Around The World” Ticket starts in Frankfurt and takes me to Kiev, Dubai, Damamm, Dubai (again), Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Perth, Auckland, Los Angeles, Calgary, Houston, Veracruz, Houston (again), Rio de Janeiro, Frankfurt, Muenster. This is *by far* the most international travel I have ever done in my life (over 36000 miles), and it is all compressed into a 5 week schedule! I finally arrive home on the 4th of July. Right on time to see my parents (who are stopping by on a road-trip through europe), then celebrate my wife’s birthday on the 8th of July and, last but not least, go on holiday on the 10th of July.

To take a look at the route, follow this link: Great Circle Mapper

I shall be documenting the trip here and via the twitter hash-tag #sqlroadtrip, so keep coming back to see what I’ve been up to.