June 6, 2000

On the road: Java One, Day One
   by ZenShadow

I must say, Sun put a lot of cash into this conference. It smacks of geekdom -- in fact, geekdom oozes from every last crevice of San Francisco's Moscone Center. Technoids of all ages, races, and platform preferences are crammed into every last iota of space, all sporting fancy Java backpacks and other free paraphanalia from Sun.

Of course, they better give us "free" stuff, considering that the most inexpensive entry fee is right about $1300.

So here I am, having arrived late, about an hour after the keynote address (no great loss there, IMHO). Hell, I'm on the company dime, and I'm here to learn, not to dive into the big Sun hype machine. All I know so far is that I should've brought my laptop instead of the Palm Pilot... Much easier to write that way.

But that's water under the bridge. Let me see if I can describe the place in somewhat more detail.

Everywhere you look there are red, yellow, and purple Java One signs peeking out from amidst crowds of geeks and wannabes alike. Large multi-thousand dollar flat plasma monitors at each of the conference halls display the upcoming lecture. Kiosks line the halls showing off various bits of Java related stuff.

Projectors adorn various screens around the Moscone Center with the Java One logo -- making me wonder if that's all the projectors are really there for. That's a lot of money for a static display.

There are movies playing in the hacker's lounge, right alongside big multi-display walls where fifteen or twenty geeks at a time sit and play Sega Dreamcast games. Food and beverages are everywhere, much like the people.

There is an unusually large female contingent present. The place strikes me as the hacker's dating heaven. I feel sorry for the women.

Inside the halls, the sets are dressed as if it were a rock concert. Bright colors wash across the stage, morphing the boring white cube sets into a fantastic form of modern art. People mill about looking for seats and generally enjoying themselves.

Not for the first time, I wonder if I'll ever find my coworkers, who are also supposed to be attending this illustrious event.

The first session, one on high-performance design using servlets, starts off strong and surprises me by staying that way though the first half. My hopes are dashed as we reach the second half of the talks, however, and the Netscape-payrolled speaker turns to platform specific issues. A surprising number of people walk out of the session at that point, myself included.

So after the session I run off to the PalmOS configuration area to configure my trusty Palm Pro and download my schedule -- and that was where the disappointment really hit.

After struggling to get it to synch up in one of the new-style cradles, I finally got the software downloaded -- only to find that their nifty software won't work on my venerable Palm Pro (granted, the unit is so old as to be emblazened with a USRobotics logo, but c'mon!). It looks like I'll be after a new unit soon.

Of course, here's where Sun's legendary reliability shines; scattered throughout the complex are rows of hundreds of identical SunRay workstations, each attached to an identical 17" monitor, and each displaying the same telltale hourglass.

Their system would remain down for the remainder of my visit, stripping me of the ability to view my online schedule and find more interesting talks than the ones I'd frantically copied into my Pilot the previous night.

Finally giving up, I make my way to my second session - one on the forthcoming JDO specification - and sit down as the room begins to fill up. Tip for the novice: get to your sessions fifteen minutes early if you want a seat. Often, there's standing room only by the time the session starts.

This session is somewhat more technical, but it's all vapor; JDO isn't official yet. The speaker delves into the murky depths of how transactions work with JDO and other such minutae instead of telling me what I really wanted to know: where would I use JDO?

Of course, I figure out the basics of what JDO is within the first twenty minutes of the session, and am left to wallow in the dark depths of the speaker's droning description of the intricate details of just how JDO works. One question: why do I care how it works, as long as it does?

An hour into the two hour session, I finally cave in and leave; I'll get more out of reading the spec online later (the URL to which being one of the more useful things that I learned).

Wandering through the halls, I try once again -- and fail -- to find a working SunRay to plug this fancy smart card of mine into. I'm not impressed. In fact, I'm downright disgusted; it looks like they spent all their money on the gloss instead of the inner workings.

And they forgot to support my Palm Pro. That's a cardinal sin.

Finally, I give up and go home; it's 5:00PM by this time, and the San Francisco traffic is notorious for getting bad by about 5:30. I make it home in record time, only to find that the only local Fry's Electronics is all out of Plam V and Palm Vx handhelds...

...and I never did manage to find my coworkers in the throng of people.

Tune in again tomorrow for the continuing adventures of Java One 2000, from my perspective. And may it be a more productive day.


Published: June 6, 2000
Editor: stacy

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