Official: Free lunches are non-existent

I got an nice offer from Oracle Singapore to attend a Developer Day at the Raffles Hotel (all nice, plush and ever so posh). Now as this is a freebie I assume that the day will be liberally sprinkled with plugs for Oracle this and Oracle that; it goes with the territory. So up I roll this morning full of the joys of spring, hoping that I will walk away with some new knowledge that will help me tackle my job better and maybe a freebie key ring or mug (ever the geek that I am). What I did walk away with was something quite different; the burning desire never to use Oracle’s products again and above all else, never to attend a so-called Developer Day ever, ever again.

It all started so well; the first presenter (I’m not going to name names through-out this, I think it is only fair to the individuals) was excellent, sure he laid on the selling (albeit the selling of free products) pretty thick, but he had some compelling arguments about why using some of Oracle’s toolset made sense. He was an easy presenter to listen to and it was clear that he knew how get his message across. So far, so good, this was an opener to get the geeks ears pinned back for the technical onslaught.

And boy did we need to have our ears pinned back, although personally, I think sticking the pins into our ears would have been more humane. The presenter seemed to have an amalgam of a rather nasty case of Tourette’s (when I say Tourette’s I mean the shouting out randomly, not the swearing part) and the belief that acronyms count. I don’t actually recall him actually saying a properly constructed sentence, he mainly strung acronyms together in the hope that the sum was greater than their parts. A snippet went like this: “BPEL, WS, AJAX, good for your customers, BPEL, UDL, SOA, SOAP, REST, …”. All this was said at breakneck speed as if the forty-five minutes he was allocated wasn’t enough to spew rubbish at us.

The horror dawned on me after about two minutes that not only was I going to have to sit out the remaining forty-three minutes; I was sitting two rows from the front and getting up would be rude (I’m a Brit, these things count). To add further insult to injury, he was also slated for the next presentation of an hour long! Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I did what any coward would do; I tried desperately hard not to listen to his incessant drivel. If you think I’m going on a one man rant here, the audience were so bamboozled that at the end not a single person asked a question. Silence permeated the room, I think I might have seen tumble weed roll across one corner.

I presume someone who was organizing the event cottoned on that things had gone horribly wrong and that people might be leaving very quickly, as they then pulled in the regional training manager to do an impromptu ten minute drone about why we should buy Oracle’s training before the 31st May to get a free backpack! I am guessing the thinking was that he would put us to sleep so that we would hang around in a vegetized state for the next presentation. However, by this time I was immune to the noise around me and it gave me the time to pen some choice phrases on my feedback form before handing it in at the exit and making for the nearest taxi rank.

I know public speaking is tricky; I had to give a presentation at the last minute a few weeks ago myself, and I was far from perfect. I feel sympathetic towards the presenter who was clearly out of their depth on stage, but I feel more sympathy to the poor saps in the audience having to put up with it.

Oracle should have known better. The day was miss-sold, it was not a Developer Day. At the very least I, as a developer, came away from it prematurely with very dark thoughts for them as a company. Hell, I was incensed enough to write this over my lunch; there is such a thing as bad publicity!