Archive for the ‘Sun’ Category

PyConUK 2008

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

I am slowly recovering from the transatlantic flights for PyCon UK, so I think that I’m ready to give a report.

The conference

PyCon UK 2008

In Europe, at least, the Python community seems to be sprouting more regional conferences as opposed to having the single EuroPython conference. This probably makes it easier for people to get to a conference, but it also means that people like me have to travel more in order to attend all these meetings. PyCon UK, also takes place over a weekend, again to facilitate people being able to attend without the hassle of getting time off from work and so forth. The conference was roughly the size of EuroPython, with attendance in the 230-250 range.

As usual, I did some of the regular program and some hallway track. The top three talks that I went to were Jacob Kaplan-Moss‘s update on the new stuff in Django 1.0 (that’s Jacob in the picture above). Chris Withers did a good talk on the problems with Python package management. The basic answer there is that a lot of stuff layered on top of a shaky foundation, in this case, distutils. Chris discussed some (partial, in my opinion) solutions to the problems, the virtualenv and buildout packages. Perhaps one day there will be a really good solution. Micheal Sparks from BBC research described the Kamaelia project, which includes a Software Transactional Memory (STM) module. I am neutral on the benefits of transactional memory, so I am glad to see that someone in the Python community is exploring how STM might fit with Python. Slides for some of the talks are being posted on the conference wiki. In the hallway track, I attended a BOF for Python Bloggers, and a PGP keysigning. I also had some excellent extended conversations with Holger Krekel and Maciej Fijalkowski of PyPy, Adewale Oshineye from Google, and Michael Foord from Resolver Systems.

I was invited to give one of the two keynotes for the conference, and my topic was “Challenges for Dynamic Languages”. I tried to step back from the specifics of Python and look at some of the challenges that face all of the dynamic language communities if we want to gain broader adoption of dynamic languages. I was somewhat concerned when Mark Shuttleworth covered some of the same topics during his keynote the day before, but maybe it’s a good sign when people from two different organizations and backgrounds can come to similar conclusions about the future of Python and related languages. My presentation is very picture oriented, without a lot of text or bullet points, so I am not sure whether posting the slides will actually help anyone or not. This was my first time giving a keynote, and it seems like it was well received, despite some laptop/projector interaction problems. Thanks to Jacob Kaplan-Moss for saving the day by lending me his MacBook Pro, remote, and memory stick.


PyCon UK 2008

This was my second transatlantic flight since June, and it seems that I really can’t sleep on long airplane flights. This turns the 10 hour flight from Seattle to most Star Alliance hubs into a pretty long ordeal. I did manage to finish a book and read a few papers, but I spent way too much time using the in flight entertainment system (I prefer Lufthansa’s to SAS’s). I also experienced my longest wait (1 hour) in passport control in the Birmingham airport. During that wait, I listened to the two American women right in front of me discovering that each of them was moving to the UK to marry an Englishman. Ten people or so before I reached the inspectors, a passenger collapsed in an epileptic fit (no previous history apparently), just to make sure things were memorable.

I was only in Birmingham for two and a half days, and spent almost two days inside of airplanes. Several people commented on the jet lag, which didn’t seem that bad until it caught up with me when I finally arrived home.


Photographically, perhaps the bigger story is the pictures that I didn’t get. The D3 does not fit in my camera/computer bag with a lens mounted on it, which means that it is hard to get shots where you just need to pull the camera out, point and shoot. I had a flight leg from Seattle to Frankfurt, and on the Frankfurt end we took busses from the airplane to the terminal. While we were waiting for all the passengers to board the bus, I realized that I was staring at a great view of the rear left quarter of an Airbus A330-300. Perfect for a wide angle shot, but there wasn’t enough time to get the shot.

When I arrived on Thursday, I went over to the Pycon UK social, had some dinner and hung out. I left a little early when the noise level got to be more than I could handle. As I was walking back to the hotel, I saw some beautiful artwork that was being projected on the side of a building in Paradise Circle as part of Birmingham’s Light Night and Artsfest. I had left the camera at the hotel because I didn’t want to have to haul it around, but I was so taken with the display that I went and picked it up. Here’s some of what I saw:

PyCon UK 2008

PyCon UK 2008

PyCon UK 2008

This is a shot as I walked back to my hotel via one of Birmingham’s canals.

PyCon UK 2008

Here‘s the rest of the set. There are not many pictures of the conference proper — I go to a lot of conferences now, and I’ve shot enough pictures of people sitting in rows or giving a talk. There’s an entire group on Flickr for PyCon UK if you want better coverage of the conference.

OSCON 2008

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Another OSCON has come and gone, and as usual, I am exhausted in the aftermath. I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with OSCON over the years. The diversity of the OSCON community is one of the huge pluses of the conference. I got involved in open source via Apache, and OSCON was where I really started to get more of a sense of the open source community as a whole. That’s led to friendships with people doing all sorts of open source stuff, which makes the conference a natural place to reconnect with many of those folks. Which leads to the primary downside of OSCON, which is that there is just no way to keep up with, never mind see all the people that you’d like to see. Combine that with the sheer scale of the event, and you have recipe for burnout. This year is no exception, which is why this post is delayed by a few days.


It’s fitting to start a review of OSCON with programming languages, since OSCON began as a Perl conference. There are still lots of Perl hackers running around, and by the distribution of the program (the Python track was 1 day shorter than the Perl, PHP, and Ruby tracks), it seems that Perl is not going anywhere anytime soon. I think that we are going to need to drum up some more Python talks for OSCON next year. Then again, with PyCon topping 1000 people this year, maybe all the Python folks are going there. It certainly is cheaper than going to OSCON. Despite all of this, I saw lots of people that I knew from the Python community, as well as plenty of people who had affixed a yellow Python ribbon to their badge. The ribbons are a nice way of helping people find their tribe at a big show like OSCON – a lower tech version of what the Pathable folks are doing.

I spent a lot of time nosing around various concurrency oriented sessions. I attended Steven Parkes’ tutorial on Actors, which was pretty well attended. Steven has implemented a version of Actors as a set of Ruby and Python libraries. During the tutorial I was able to meet Debasish Ghosh, who has a great blog and Twitterstream on high-level languages, and concurrency topics in general. I also took in a BOF on Actors, which had some really interesting conversation. There were a lot of Erlang folks in the room for that one, which made the discussion pretty interesting.


OSCON 2008

There was lots of non-traditional database stuff happening at OSCON this year. I am one of the mentors for the CouchDB project at Apache, and I was finally able to meet my first CouchDB commiter, Jan Lehnardt, at the show. Jan gave a nice high level overview talk on CouchDB, which was well attended, and I was interested to see Brian Aker of MySQL/Drizzle in the audience and among the throng of questioners after the talk.

OSCON 2008

I also went to a talk on Prophet, which is a peer to peer database that is being done by some of the folks that brought us SVK. I’m not sure that I quite recovered from my initial reaction to that revelation, but Jan was sitting next to me during the entire talk, and was saying something about stealing some ideas from the Prophet guys. In open source we call that standing on the shoulders of giants, or something like that.


The XMPP folks had a three day summit during the conference, which I gather was well attended. There was a decent amount of XMPP buzz floating around in the hallways, so I expect the blogosphere to be full of XMPPness during the next week or so. I’ve done a bunch of blogging on XMPP in the past, and while things have improved, they haven’t improved to the point where XMPP is taking over the world. Things like Twitter are definitely helping, but there is still a long way to go before XMPP achieves world domination. But we can hope. And at least XMPP makes a great advertisement for Erlang.

Along with XMPP, we had the microblogging meme. I made heavy use of Twitter throughout the week, and it definitely played a useful part in making connections with people. Well, except for the times when it was down. I was able to spend a little time with Leah Culver, the founder of Pownce, which has the virtue of being written in Python, and of having a very nice API for dealing with the service. It’s interesting to get additional perspectives on a problem, and since I had already talked some with the Twitter guys, it definitely helped to hear Leah describe Powce’s take on the problem(s) and solutions. O’Reilly was not to be outdone, and did some very active boostering for I’ve got very mixed feelings on One the one hand, I should love, because it’s open source. On the other hand, it’s written in PHP, which means I won’t be touching the code, and more importantly, my network is not there. Actually, it was kind of annoying to have to explain to lots of zealots that it’s the network that’s the value, not the software, or ironically, the quality of the service. Still if another microblogging service can convince my network to move, and remain up, and even deliver some new functionality, I would definitely switch. I think I could probably write another post about “microblogging”, but I’ll refrain for now.

Theo Schlossnagle gave an amazing presentation called “Full-stack introspection crash course”, which is code for “let me show you some amazing stuff that you’ll only be able to do with DTrace”. This was a brilliant choice of title on Theo’s part, because it didn’t scare away all of those people whose preconceptions about DTrace or Sun would prevent them from coming to such a talk. Instead, Theo played to a very full room, and I would say that about one-third of the audience actually uttered the phrase “Oh My God” out loud at some point during the presentation. This was certainly true for thetwo gentlemen sitting directly to my right and directly behind me. I later heard from people at the Sun booth, that a bunch of people came to the booth having heard about DTrace (I assume at Theo’s talk), asking for whatever CD’s they needed in order to be able to use it. Theo clearly understands how to communicate about DTrace. We at Sun need to learn that lesson.

Open Source

Of course, you can’t have a conference on open source without meta stuff about open source itself. I was fortunate to attend the morning session of Microsoft’s Participate08 event, which was an interesting case study led by Karim Lakhani from the Harvard Business School. The case was on and involved a lot of issues which are very relevant to injecting corporate involvement into an existing community based organization. I’ve been following Karim’s work over the years (he studied under Eric von Hippel, whose work I am also fond of), so I was happy for the chance to meet him and participate in an activity with him. I also met Siobhan O’Mahony, who is also doing great work studying open source communities. I’m not sure what direct value Microsoft got out of sponsoring Participate, other than being able to say that they did an event around OSCON, but I know that I definitely appreciated the chance to interact with a bunch of people.

OSCON 2008

Microsoft was all over the news by the end of OSCON, having announced that they would become a Platinum sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation. This was not a complete surprise to me: Justin Erenkrantz, the current ASF president told me what was happening the night before at a party. I think that this is an interesting step for Microsoft, an it’s definitely a step in the right direction. However, as one questioner pointed out, Microsoft has a long history of incendiary rhetoric towards the open source community, and that’s going to mean that just about everything happens in steps. I do find it interesting that one of the reasons that the ASF has taken donations is to build up a legal defense fund against what we regarded as inevitable legal attacks. It’s somehow ironic to think of Microsoft’s $100,000 going into that pool. I think that the next interesting milestone in Microsoft’s relationship with the ASF will be when the first Microsoft sponsored project shows up at the front door of the Apache Incubator.

I also contributed to the metaness with a talk titled “Open Source Community Antipatterns” (slides are now available on the O’Reilly slide page). The talk was decently attended, but I suspect that the all-star antipatterns panel immediately following my talk drew off some of the audience that might have come to my talk. The people track expanded a great deal this year, which I think is a good thing.


I always have photographic memories associated with OSCON. I got my first digital SLR, right before OSCON 2005, and I’ve shot a bit a each OSCON, and even won the OSCON photo contest one year. This year I found myself shooting less. There were too many other things that I needed to do, and between knowing that Duncan is making is covering stuff and some artistic blockage, I lacked both time and motivation to crank out the shots.

Duncan has been a great friend and photographic mentor, and I always look forward to catching up with him during OSCON. This time was no exception. We did a bunch of stuff together, ranging from hanging out, having a wide angle shootout (well he was wide) to Duncan putting one of his cards into my D3 and giving the pixels a once over. Probably the most fun thing that we did was an impromptu photoshoot. Duncan was shooting headshots of the OSCON staff for a thank you slide for the closing keynotes. Only problem was that he needed one of himself, so he drafted me. With the safe shot in hand, we spent a few more minutes doing something a little edgier and fun.

OSCON 2008


That’s it for another OSCON. I hope we’ll be back in Portland again next year.

My first EuroPython

Friday, July 11th, 2008

I’ve been doing Python stuff since 2003, and my first PyCon was back in 2004, but this was the first time that I’ve been able to attend EuroPython. The conference reminded me very much of the first PyCon that I went to back in 2004. It was around 250 people, and it had a much smaller and more intimate feeling to it. That made it much easier to find and sit down with people and really dig in to what they are doing.

EuroPython 2008

There weren’t really any tracks per se, but I spent almost the entire time in a single room which was occupied either by a Jython talk or a PyPy talk. I somehow missed the PyPy talks at PyCon this year, so it was good to see the people and reconnect with what they are doing. We had a fun discussion about ways that the two projects could collaborate in the future. I really hope that we’ll be able to establish a good collaboration there.

EuroPython 2008

During one of the meals I got to spend some time with Raymond Hettinger, one of the Python core developers, who is also a professional photographer. It is always good to find people in the same tribe, even better to find multiple tribal overlaps. Thank you also to several of you who read this blog and stopped by to say hi. I completely appreciate the encouragement.

EuroPython 2008

The most riveting presentation of the conference was Hans Rosling’s presentation on the data visualization tools at GapMinder, which was really an excuse for him to present all sorts of interesting slicings of international health and economic development data. Despite being very sleepy and hungry, this talk had my undivided attention – I didn’t even really notice the passage of time. Professor Rosling gave a talk at TED earlier this year, and I expect that this is part of the content which we saw in the keynote.

EuroPython 2008

Python conferences seem to be taking off. In addition to EuroPython, there was PyCon Italia earlier this year, which was well attended, from what I was told. Also, in September, I will be speaking at PyCon UK in Birmingham, and I was able to meet John Pinner, one of the organizers, and nail down a bit more of that.

Thus far, I haven’t had any major travel hiccups. I made all my flights (2 from Seattle to Vilnius, and another 2 from Vilnius to Prague) and no bags were lost or anything else. I am writing this from a flexible office at Sun’s Prague development office, which is home to much of the NetBeans engineering team. I’ll save Prague for a posting when I make my way home.

EuroPython 2008

Python in NetBeans: NBPython

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

One of the obvious things that Sun could do in the Python world is to make Python a supported language in the NetBeans IDE. Netbeans has really nice support for Ruby and Javascript, so why should Python be left out? So today Sun is announcing that a future version of NetBeans will provide support for Python. We are not announcing which release of NetBeans that will be because we are taking an unconventional (at least for NetBeans) path towards providing that support.

Before Frank Wierzbicki and I were even hired by Sun to work on Python and Jython, Allan Davis, a member of the NetBeans community, decided to start implementing support for Python in NetBeans in a project called NBPython. What we’ve decided to do is to work together with Allan and the rest of the NBPython community to produce a high quality Python plugin for NetBeans. The plugin is an early stage of development, but if you are brave, you can get Milestone 4, from the NBPython page and try it for yourself. If you decide to do that, you might find this blog post helpful with the installation – you will need a nightly build of NetBeans – NetBeans 6.1 will not do). Geertjan Wielenga from Sun did an e-mail interview with Allan Davis that has a few more technical details in it. There is plenty of work to do, so if you are interested in helping, drop into the development mailing list.

A month or two ago, the Sun Developer Network (SDN) started up a Ruby developer center. When that happened, I twittered to see whether there was any interest in a similar site for Python, and a number of folks expressed interest. So I am happy to announce that the Python developer center is now up and running. This is just a beginning for this site, and we are definitely looking for feedback and suggestions on this.

EuroPython 2008

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Next week I’ll be at EuroPython 2008, in Vilnius, Lithuania, where I’ll be moderating a panel on Jython. If you have questions that you’d like to put to the Jython committers, leave them as comments on this post. I’ll make sure that I post answers for any of those questions.

After the conference ends, I’ll be spending a few days at Sun’s office in Prague, which is where much of the NetBeans team is located. I’ve never been to Vilnius or Prague, so suggestions for things to see, etc., would also be great comments.

DTrace on Linux?

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I’ve been meaning to write a post about DTrace, and Tim Bray’s tweet finally got me moving. It looks like some people are trying to make DTrace a topic for this year’s Linux Kernel Summit. I hope they succeed. I also hope that those folks pushing for user level tracing have their voices heard. I was amused to read one of the messages which claimed that DTrace is:

DTrace is more a piece of sun marketing coolaid which they use to beat us up at every opportunity.

My experience at Sun thus far is that people generally don’t really appreciate the benefits of DTrace. It stems from a view that I also saw in the LKS threads, which is that DTrace (and tools like Systemtap) is a tool for system administrators, because it reports on activity on the kernel. That’s not how I look at it. DTrace is a tool for dealing with full system stack problems, which initially manifest themselves as operating system level problems. The fact that DTrace can trace user land code as well as kernel code is what makes it so important, especially to people building and running web applications. Because of all the moving parts in a complicated web application (think relational database, memcached or other caching layers, programming language runtime, etc), it can be hard to debug a web application that has gone awry in production. Worse, sometimes the problems only appear in production. Tools which cut across several layers of the system are very important, and DTrace provides this capability, if all the layers have probes installed. When a web application goes wrong in production, you see it at the operating system level – high usage of various system resources. That’s where you start looking, but you will probably end up somewhere else (unless you are ace at exercising kernel bugs). Perhaps a bad SQL query or perhaps a bad piece of code in part of the application. A tool that can help connect the dots between operating system level resource problems and application level code is a vital tool. That’s where the value is.

One of the cooler features of DTrace is that you can register a user level stack helper (a ustack helper), which can translate the stack in a provider specific manner. One cool example of this is the ustack helper that John Levon wrote for Python, which annotates the stack with source level information about the Python file(s) being traced. On an appropriately probed system, this would mean that you could trace the Python code of a Django application, memcached, and your relational database (PostgreSQL and soon MySQL). That would be very handy.

I’d love to see DTrace on Linux, because I have it on OS X and it’s in OpenSolaris and FreeBSD, but I’d also be happy to see SystemTap get to the point where it could do the same job.

JavaOne 2008: Part 2

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I’ve been to so many conferences and seen so many talks that it’s hard for me to really get excited about conference presentations. I went to talks here and there, but nothing at JavaOne was really reaching out at grabbing me (in fairness, this happens at other conferences also, so it’s not just JavaOne). Or at least that was true until the last day.

Friday opened with a keynote by James Gosling, who served as the MC for a train of presenters on various cool projects.

Cool stuff

First up was Tor Norbye, who has done a lot of good work on support for editing different languages in NetBeans. Tor has been working on JavaScript support for NetBeans 6.1, and he showed off some cool features, like detecting all the exits from a function, semantic highlighting of variables, and integrated debugging between NetBeans and Firefox. All of which was cool. When I was managing the Cosmo group at OSAF, I tried a bunch of Javascript IDE’s and never really liked any of them. I haven’t done a lot with NetBeans 6.1 yet, but I will. Tor showed one feature, which was the killer one for me. NetBeans knows what Javascript will work in which browser. You can configure the IDE for the browsers that you want to support, and this affects code completion, quick fix checking and so on. Definitely useful. Here are several more references on the Javascript support in NetBeans 6.1.

The Java Platform

It’s easy for me (and others, I’d bet) to think mostly of JavaEE or perhaps JavaME when thinking about Java. That’s understandable given the worlds fixation on web applications, and looking ahead to mobile. But the majority of the talks in Gosling’s keynote session had nothing to do with Java SE, EE, or ME (at least in the phone sense).

Probably the hit (applause meter wise) of the keynote was LiveScribe‘s demonstration of their Pulse Smart Pen. This is an interesting pen that records the ink strokes that it makes, and any ambient audio that it records while the writing is happening. The ink and audio can be uploaded to a computer, as long as that computer runs Windows (apparently a Mac version is in the works). Unfortunately, the pen works by sensing marks on a special paper (that would be the razor blades), so there’s a limitation on how useful this can be. The presenter said that a future version of the software would allow people to print their own special paper, but that’s still a future item for now. By reading special marks on the special paper, you get a pretty cool user interface. The pen itself can run Java programs, and there is a developer kit available for it. If they can get by the limitation of special paper, I think that this is going to be pretty interesting.

Sentilla showed off their Mote hardware, which seem like RFID chips that can run Java programs. except that these RFID chips can form mesh networks amongst themselves and can have various kinds of sensors attached. There are lots of applications for these things, going well beyond inventory tracking and such.

Sun Distinguished Engineer Greg Bollella demonstrated Blue Wonder, which is a replacement for the computers used to control factories. Blue Wonder combines off the shelf x86 hardware, Solaris, and real time Java to provide a commodity solution for factory control applications. This is far afield of Web 2.0 applications, but just as cool, in my mind.

By the end of the keynote I was reminded of the long reach of the JVM platform, something that I’d lost sight of. The latest craze in the Web 2.0 space is location data — O’Reilly has an entire conference devoted to the topic. I think that sensor fusion of various kinds (not just location sensors) is going to play a big role in the next generation of really interesting applications. The JVM looks like it’s going to be a part of that. I don’t think than any other virtual machine technology is close in this regard.

Java’s future

I also went to a talk on Maxine, a meta-circular JVM. By the twitter reactions of the JRuby and Jython committers, I’d say that Maxine is going to get some well deserved attention when it is open sourced in June. I’m particularly interested because the PI’s for Maxine worked on PJava, and MVM. Given the differences between the Erlang VM and the JVM, I think that the ability to experiment with MVM is going to be pretty interesting. Apparently, there’s already some form of MVM support in Maxine – we’ll find out for sure in June.

During the conference I had a meeting with Cay Horstmann, and at the end of the meeting Josh Bloch saw Cay and wanted to talk to him about the BGGA closures proposal for Java. Turns out that Josh has an entire slide deck which consists of a stream of examples where BGGA does the wrong thing, generates really cryptic error messages, or requires an unbelievable amount of code. The fact that BGGA depends on generics, which are already really hard, doesn’t give me much confidence about closures in Java. If you are a statically typed language fan, I think that you ought to be worried about whether Java, the language, has any headroom left.

The last session that I went to was Cliff Click and Brian Goetz‘s session on concurrency. Unsurprisingly, the summary of the talk is “abandon all hope, ye who enter here”. I was glad to see a section in the talk about hardware support/changes for concurrency. The problem is that concurrency is going to introduce end-to-end problems, from the hardware all the way up to the application level, and I think that every stop along the way is going to be affected. Unlike sequential programming, where we are still largely reinventing the wheels of the past, there is no real previous history of research results to be mined for concurrency. Hotspot and other VM’s are close to implementing most of the tricks learned from Smalltalk and Lisp, but those systems were mostly used in a sequential fashion, and while there were experiments with concurrency, there was much less experience with the concurrent systems than the sequential ones. Big challenges ahead.

JavaOne 2008: Part 1

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

JavaOne is a pretty intense experience, simply by virtue of the size. If CommunityOne was twice the size of OSCON, then JavaOne is three times the size of OSCON, and it shows . There was an immediate change in feel and atmosphere once JavaOne got into full swing. You could barely move sometimes, and there were a bunch of people whose job was to corral the crowds into some semblance of order.

JavaOne 2008

As a Sun employee, I was on a restricted badge, which made it hard to get into sessions (you are basically flying standby). On the other hand, I had plenty to do. I participated in a dynamic languages panel for press and analysts (who have their own track), which was pretty fun. The discussion was lively enough that we could have gone for another hour. There was one persistent fellow who really wanted there to be just one language, or wanted us to declare language X better for task Y. When I got started in computing, people learned and worked in several languages. Its only been recently that a language (Java) was popular enough that people could just learn one language, and the growth of web applications pretty much guarantees a multi-language future because of server side and client side differences. In the end, we’re back to finding and using the best tool for the job, or at least the most comfortable tool for the job. This is probably going to cause heartburn for big IT shops, but developers seem to be happy about it.

JavaOne 2008

I took a walk through the Java Pavilion with Tim Bray one afternoon. He got into the AMD booth’s aromatherapy display (and yes, he has a similar shot of me doing the same thing). One of the highlights of that excursion was Tim introducing me to Dan Ingalls, who made a number of very substantial contributions to Smalltalk, including its original VM and the BitBlt graphics operation. I am a great admirer of the work that was done in Smalltalk, and it was an honor to meet Dan and have him explain the Lively Kernel to me. A short (and probably not quite fair) description of the Lively Kernel is to take the lessons learned from Smalltalk/Squeak and implement them in the browser using Javascript, AJAX, and SVG.

JavaOne 2008

Unsurprisingly, I got the most value at JavaOne from the networking. And that means dinners, hallway conversations, and yes, the parties. Usually when I go to conferences, I am just a party attender. This time, I also worked at some of the parties. It was a little different to walk around the SDN party wearing a t-shirt with “SDN Event Staff” painted large on the back. I still had a good time. Between the T-shirt and the camera, I definitely had some good conversations.

JavaOne 2008

Another benefit of being at a huge is company is that they can really throw a big party. Like hiring Smash Mouth to play for a private concert:

JavaOne 2008

I’ve uploaded the rest of my photos from the conference to this Flickr set.

I actually do have some technical commentary, but I am going to put that into another post.


Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Live or semi liveblogging conferences has been getting more and more difficult for me to do. The combination of meetings, networking/parties, and photographs means that it takes longer to assemble the requisite material. Here’s a bit on CommunityOne, which took place on Monday.

Many people (mostly Sun folks) have been asking me if this is my first JavaOne. My answer is, “it’s not, but it is my first one in ten years”. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been to a conference run by a big company like Sun (as opposed to an O’Reilly or open-source community conference). Even though the basics are the same, I definitely feel a kind of culture shock. I was asked to be on a panel during the general session, first thing in the morning, in order to get miked up and to run though the flow. Production values are much higher than I am used to. I keep thinking of CommunityOne as a small event, but in reality it is huge. I am told that registration was around 5000 people, which is twice the size of OSCON, which is the largest conference that I’ve been to in the last 4 or 5 years. Some pictures might help with the scale and production values:

CommunityOne 2008

CommunityOne 2008

The panel was on community models, although the content was closer to the edge where companies and open source communities meet/collaborate/fight. I think that I had two or three chances to speak, including the final set of remarks before the close of the panel. I have some more thoughts on that topic, but they are deserving of their own post, so that will be showing up after JavaOne is over.

Probably my favorite thing that happened at CommunityOne was the demonstration of ZFS’s reliability in the face of hardware failures. Sun Fellow Jim Hughes has demonstrated this a few times at Sun Tech days, and I’ve been meaning to write about that. I got to meet Jim before the keynote, and I had a very good seat to observe the hardware failure.

CommunityOne 2008

Jim usually destroys 2 of the drives in the ZFS pool, and it looked like Rich Green (EVP of Software) was going to get to smash the other one, until Jeff Bonwick, the inventor of ZFS, showed up to do the honors himself.

CommunityOne 2008

Smashing things makes for cool demos – you can watch the video replay if you like.. I’ve been paying more attention to ZFS ever since Theo Schlossnagle sat with me and a few other people in a bar at ApacheCon in Atlanta last year. We were talking about the voracious storage needs of photographers, and Theo was really singing the praises of ZFS. There were so important things that happened to ZFS for OpenSolaris 00805 (which was launched at CommunityOne). The most important is that you can now boot off of a ZFS volume. I hope (but don’t know for sure) that the work that made this possible will make it possible for Macs to boot off of a ZFS volume. My photo storage is getting all fragmented, and I could really put ZFS to good use. I suppose that I could build a ZFS storage appliance based on OpenStorage, but at the moment that is more work that I want to do.

I spent much of the rest of CommunityOne at the Redmonk unconference. I was drafted for an impromptu discussion on dynamic and other programming languages, which included a drop in from David Pollak, developer of the very cool lift framework for Scala, and organizer of the Scala liftoff which is happening on Saturday, right after JavaOne. There was also a very active session on Twitter – probably the biggest of the unconference. Jim Jay Evans Edwards from Twitter came along to participate in that one

CommunityOne 2008

I have a bunch more photos from CommunityOne. At the rate that things are going, I will probably just do a single post on JavaOne. There are plenty of other people doing liveblogging, for those who need a bigger information flow.

Update: corrected Jay Edwards’ name. Thanks to @monkchips

Next Stop: CommunityOne/JavaOne

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

I’ll be in San Francisco for CommunityOne and JavaOne. My schedule is fairly full for CommunityOne, but I am only on the hook for one official program thing during JavaOne. I’ll be around till the end of the Scala liftoff unconference on Saturday the 10th.

The last time I attended JavaOne was when I worked on porting Java to the Newton back in the late 90s, almost 10 years ago. I have no doubt that it will be quite the madhouse. If you’d like to get together, you can leave a comment, or send mail. Once the conference starts, the best way to reach me will likely be direct messaging me on Twitter, since that goes directly to my phone via text messaging. With any luck, this will be my last conference without a modern cellular/wifi handheld device. Bob Lee has posted a good directory of people to watch on Twitter.