Spinning for Swag at JavaOne

The content of conferences like CommunityOne and JavaOne is all well and good. The technical sessions are informative and meeting new people is fun but, getting to the heart of the matter, it's the swag that lasts longest. When it comes to free stuff, we're all Paris Hilton. If I can take home more than a handful of good t-shirts my wardrobe is set for the year. And I'll always play with the (SWAG ALERT) slinky that now sits on my desk.

Although Moscone Center was the place in San Francisco last week for the kick-off of JavaOne, you also had the opportunity to attend virtually (Second Life) and via webcasts. CommunityOne (with attendees numbering 50% more than last year) started the week with a full-day of free technical sessions pertaining to open-source projects. (There was a soft opening, as it was referred to by the Moscone Center employees, on Sunday for start-ups.)

SWAG ALERT: OpenSolaris cloth bag with new logo!

First thing I noticed when I arrived for the CommunityOne General Session was the lack of food. Last year, a big breakfast buffet was generously laid out but not this year so I quickly grabbed a spinach/egg/feta burrito and found out a seat for the General Session. (Food is swag but maybe we should consider ourselves lucky that there was none.)

SPOTTED: Peter Fernandez calling out my cap.

Ian Murdock opened the CommunityOne General Session and then brought Jonathan Schwartz up for some remarks. The general theme of all these speeches (including the panel discussion) was the dichotomy between open and closed (monolithic, proprietary) software. Sun is fully committed to opening the source code for all its applications, thus allowing innovation everywhere rather than in one place. Sun software is becoming simple, small pieces loosely joined together to produce a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

SWAG ALERT: CommunityOne water bottle (stacked at a water fountain)

A shout out to Stormy Peters for mentioning the need to document code and lamenting that there were not enough technical writers in the world.

SWAG ALERT: Netbeans cloth bag and cap

The big software of the day (besides OpenSolaris) was Netbeans which had different sessions all day. I attended the first to find out what was new with the product.

SWAG ALERT: GOOD CommunityOne t-shirt

SPOTTED: Paul Davies, Emily Xu, Shih-Yun Huang, Robertis Tongbram, and the real-life Ken Harper chatting during the lunch break.

Other CommunityOne sessions I attended were An Introduction to Web 2.0, Examining a Sample Application Built in Three Ways (very enlightening), Liberating Web Services, and Open Sourcing Music. Finally, our very own SuperPat Patterson moderated the OpenSSO Workshop with Daniel Raskin and Nick Wooler.

SWAG ALERT: GOOD Glassfish t-shirt

On Tuesday, JavaOne began with it's General Session (which included an appearance by Neil Young).

Following this I was through learning and ready to work the Spinning Duke game. All attendees can spin the wheel and win an appropriate prize, depending on the level at which the wheel stopped. The top-level prize was a JavaOne backpack from last year's conference.

SWAG ALERT: JavaOne backpack from last year's conference - legitimately won via a spin of the wheel

At one point, a gent walked up to me to ask about the backpack. "Is that the backpack from the 2006 JavaOne Conference?"

"Actually, I believe it is from last year's conference." I answered.

"Hmmm. I don't think so. Let me check." Out came his iPhone and the gent started scrolling.

"Tell me you have a picture of every JavaOne backpack on your iPhone?" I asked.

"Kind of geeky." he stated sheepishly.

He showed me the screen of his iPhone and I said, "Considering you have a picture of the backpack with a Post-It attached that reads 06?, I will take your word that it is from two years ago."

"Actually, I did that last night from memory so you could be right."

"Last night?"

"Yea. I felt the need to organize my swag."

SPOTTED: Shripad Pakti and Diann Olden checking out the Pavilion

People and their swag. I couldn't even keep count of how many spinners asked me for an extra commuter mug or a second dangling sea anemone because they have two kids who will fight over it. (Believe me, no child was hurt over a dangling sea anemone.)

SWAG ALERT: GOOD Google t-shirt

SPOTTED: JohnD, John Spencer, and Scott Carver checking out the Pavilion on Sun employee night.

SWAG ALERT: Ericsson yo-yo with enough string for a three foot tall person

By the time my two days of spinning and swagging were finished I was ready for a long weekend. While walking to Muni, I ignored a man playing a long, brass instrument for change in the subway underpass. It sounded like a clarinet but was NOT a clarinet and he was playing badly. Or maybe I had just given too much already.

OK, I'll give one more thing: a look at Dame Shirley Bassey hitting the notes in her version of Spinning Wheel.

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