Realcon2011 Essen


Realcon2011 has been and gone. Here is the long and hopefully not too boring story complete with my exclusive ratings, so no need to read the whole rant - I'm so good to you!

The Journey - UK side

The journey to Heathrow from my home/office in the countryside was horrible. I think that £60.00 for a return train ticket to the airport (that was the advanced discount rate!) is shocking!

I've just found out that my ticket was "Off Peak". To travel at 7:00 am (Peak?), an advance booking ticket to London is over £90! That is 'bleeping' extortion. How can it be cheaper to drive the 125 miles to London with the price of petrol as high as it is today? The highest fares in Europe and they are going up!

British Rail - Ridiculously Expensive **

Heathrow Terminal 5 was nasty and de-humanising. The security staff were rude and surly. We were kept waiting in a line for 20 minutes while an unfortunate lady was shamed for having undeclared liquid in her bag. There were at least 8 staff standing around, none of these could be bothered to provide any information to the growing queue. What a nice impression for visitors to England!

Heathrow Terminal 5 - Unpleasant *

British Airways

British Airways - my LEAST favourite airline! I am 6'2" ( 188cm ) - so not huge, but I only just fit into the allocated legroom. When the person in front reclined his seat I couldn't even open a newspaper. The late departure excuse was that a lot of planes wanted to take off that afternoon! The flight was advertised as providing a 'snack'. Well, that 'snack' was a packet of crisps (chips) that was so small I needed my glasses to find it! On the return jouney the snack was ONE biscuit!

British Airways - Nasty *

Dusseldorf Airport to Essen

Easy! Follow the signs for the Sky Train. Buy a ticket. A kind German chap pointed out that there was a UK Flag icon as my German is very rusty! Buy a ticket to Essen, take the Sky Train to the rail station then jump on the very crowded train. I got off at the wrong station as I couldn't see through the millions of people crammed on the train (rush hour?), but luckily reallised my mistake and jumped back on! Phew! Cost was 9 euros 60 so not too bad.

DB Journey - Quick but overcrowded ***

Movenpick Hotel Essen

Right opposite the main train station. Very clean and comfortable, the staff were very nice and helpful. I got a good 3 for 2 nights in a deluxe king bed room deal from Expedia - nice! They very nicely allowed me to check out at 15:00 on the Monday for no extra charge as my flight wasn't until 18:00.

Movenpick Hotel Essen - Recommended! ****

Unperfect House - Friday 18:00

I arrived at the Unperfecthaus at around 18:00. Met up with Nils Heeren, Christian Schmitz and some other folks. Had some beers. Walked back to the Hotel - around 15 minutes walk.

The beer was Stauder, cost €1.50 per bottle and was very welcome after the nasty long journey. The Unperfecthaus system is easy, just get a card from reception and they mark it for each beer, then you pay when you leave. The entry cost was the standard €5.50 for the pre-conference evening.

Stauder beer - hit the spot ****

Breakfast at Tiffany's?

Essen McDonalds


Well M Donalds actually! Right opposite the hotel, at the entrance to the railway station is a McDonalds. I only ever eat McD's when I am away from home.

I love Sausage and Egg McMuffins for breakfast - and amazingly the German for this breakfast feast is....... Sausage and Egg McMuffin!

A FREE cup of coffee was provided so for €1.89 a marvellous breakfast was available! I actually had 2 McMuffins each day - even better!

McMuffins with free coffee? Perfect! *****


The conference kicked of at 09:30 with introductory speeches from great people like Nils Heeren, Jens Boschulte, Christian Schmitz, Stéphane Pinel and some English bloke.

Stéphane entertained us with his very informative keynote section on RealStudio and I tried not to argue with him too much.

Then the Conference began. There were two rooms - the main conference room were important people presented their topics and the smaller room were unimportant folks like me presented! No - I'm only joking! The smaller room was nice! We had sofas and nobody feel asleep in my presentation ) probably because I was shouting!)

I am not going to list all the topics presented - you can see them at the Realcon2011 schedule page, if this is still online.

Let me just say that I attended several presentations each day and found them all to be informative and fun. I liked the informal atmosphere of the Unperfecthaus. Picking out individual sessions to comment on would not be fair - they were all good and the time seemed to fly by.

Nils did a great job organising the presentations and keeping delegates informed - not an easy task when the relaxed setup of the Unperfecthaus meant that connections to projectors and TVs were 'interesting'! Well done Nils and your team!

Keeping the sessions to a maximum of one hour worked well for me. I would have liked a break between each session for discussion, but that would probably mean that a three day conference was needed. Hmmm, that's an idea. There were several times I wanted to be in two places at once. Two super interesting presentations were scheduled at the same time, or I was presenting my humble offering on database design while a much more interesting session that I wanted to attend was going on in the big room. I think there would definitely be enough interesting speakers to fill a three day gig? What do you think?

I really enjoyed doing my presentation on database design. The people who attended were very kind and did not shout at me, fall asleep, throw things at me or walk out, so that was nice!

There were delegates from many countries and the 'common' language was English, which everyone spoke amazingly well. I tried to speak some German, especially after several beers on Saturday night when I probably could not even speak English - I hope it didn't sound too funny! I enjoyed meeting all the other delegates and hope to meet them again next year.

Luckily I won a RealBasic shirt in the raffle (an antique collectors item?) as I had not packed enough clothes!

RealCon2011 - Nice people, Informative, fun - 6 stars! ******

Saturday Night

A tour of Essen with professional guides was organised. We walked a bit and the guides explained the history of the city. We walked some more and the guides showed us more of the city. The ultimate aim of the tour was to arrive at the Brewery and drink beer. The Brewery was always 10 minutes away! I explained that I had a note from my doctor stating that I must not be allowed to go without beer for more than ten minutes on a Saturday night - but still we walked and still the brewery was 10 minutes away. There were some nice things to see on the tour and as I forgot my camera I had to go out on Monday and snap the sites:

Essen - Coal Miners Statue Essen - Willhelm 1
Essen- Abbey Essen - Plaza

We eventually arrived at the Brewery and a good night of chatting and drinking commenced.

Essen Tour - Interesting! Brewery - even better! *****

The Unperfekthaus

Delegates to the conference were provided with badges which entitled us to free buffet food all day and free soft drinks. There were fridges all over the building were fizzy and still water, coke, juices and horrifically - alcohol free beer, could be found. Coffee machines kept my caffeine levels up to an acceptable level.

Essen - Unperfekthaus Essen - Unperfekthaus Essen - Unperfekthaus

There were art rooms all over, strange statues were scattered around - one of which I discovered in a WC (scarey!) . WiFI was included ( a bit slow with all those techies hammering it! ). There were roof terraces and balconies, relaxing areas. eating places and surprisingly a smoking room, we don't have these in England.

The food was tasty and plentiful. I love German bread as it doesn't blow away in a light breeze like English, so called bread.

I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere - sometimes hotel conferences can be to formal.

Unperfekthaus - Perfekt for me! *****

My Database Design Presentation - The Slides

While I was there I did some ranting about Database Design. I hope it wasn't too boring - at least nobody fell asleep.

Here are the slides

Slides Part One
Slides for Sessions

Session One Recap first

Slides Part One
Slides for Normalisation

Not presented as way to much for one hour, but may be interesting

The Only Database Design?

I designed this for the conference - a Database design to cover everything! It is included at the end of the slides but just in case you don't want to plow through them all - here it is, just click below ( Warning: Implementing this design may lead to insanity )

The Everything Database Design