Sunday Mar 02, 2008

The Final Day

There is a German proverb which says, "Aller guten Dinge sind drei," meaning, "All good things are three." [Translate it here]. It's no coincidence then that a good event like Sun Tech Days last only for three days. Friday, February the 29th was the final day of Sun Tech Days 2008. A memorable one indeed and as my boss reminded, for another Feb 29th like this, it would take four long years .

Third and the final day of Sun Tech Days 2008 was meant for the community. It was rightly called as the Community Day. Who else could address us better on such an important day than this man below, whom you would all know as the founder of Debian project. Why did a Linux guy join Sun? Hear it from the man himself here.

Ian clarified that what people meant when they say they want Linux is not actually Linux, but a Linux Kernel and lot of softwares on top of it. He pointed out that the idea of having a variety of distro available wasn't really a good one and further took his discussion to mention about Sun's decision to combine the powerful features of Solaris with good and useful utilities from other side of the world (free and open source softwares like Mozilla, Thunderbird to name a few). After joining Sun as the Chief Operating System Strategist, Ian recalls the first step taken to close Solaris 'usability gap.' I don't think it would be out of context to guide you to an interview with Ian that I read an year back or so. Please click here to read it.

Ian shared with us how excited he was to hear the news about Sun's decision of open sourcing Solaris Operating System, upon which he browsed the official OpenSolaris website only to discover how complicated a process was it to get the OpenSolaris up and running. His blog would supplement what I just mentioned above. And hence Project Indiana. Know more about it and get OpenSolaris Developer Preview 2 [code named: Project Indiana] here.

Ian quickly ran through the breakthrough features in Solaris like DTrace, ZFS etc. and detailed about the new and exciting Image Packaging System.

Ian then reiterated the business model of Sun making it clear to all of us how a bunch of "Garage Engineers," who wouldn't have much money initially would try to get only those products (read softwares) that are freely and easily available, support their business on their own and when their business would flourish, they may possess enough money but not sufficient time to scale up their infrastructure or even to support themselves, which is when they would start turning to the appropriate vendors to support their business. Gee, that's when Sun chips in.

Overall, this last keynote of Sun Tech Days 2008 by Ian Murdock was fantastic and offered a perfect foundation for the Community Day.

After Ian's keynote, prizes were distributed to the Code For Freedom winners. It's a motivation to see a lot of University students participating in such programs. They have every opportunity for going places for sure. You can find the detailed list of Code For Freedom winners here.

Matt Thompson picked up a lucky winner (by shuffling), who got to carry back the last available Java Jacket.

After this event I rushed to join my colleague Ajay Ahuja to participate in a presentation on Solaris 10 Features Workshop. It was a full day program with around 50 participants sitting through the whole day, performing hands-on practice on various features of Solaris 10. Ajay led the show and I chipped in and spoke whenever required. Overall it was a very satisfying effort and I felt happy to be a part of such an event.

More than a hundred and fifty machines were installed with Solaris 10 OS for conducting our session as well as a Web 2.0 session taught by Stacy Thurston. Alongside Stacy and Ajay, you would those gentlemen who were responsible for setting up the lab for conducting our sessions. Great job folks!

These three good days went like three hours. But I am sure the organizers of this event would have spent several sleepless nights to make this event the largest ever in the history of Sun Tech Days. Kudos to all those worked behind the scenes to make this happen. It's sad that the next edition of this World Wide Developer Conference is one year away from now. Thankfully, I have enough recollections from the Sun Tech Days 2008 concluded at Hyderabad, the sweetness of which I intent to carry forward at least until the next Tech Days.

Thursday Feb 28, 2008

SELECT keynotes FROM suntechdays08 WHERE day=02

Doesn't the title sound really weird? The gentleman in picture would disagree. Neither would he tolerate someone pronouncing MySQL as "My-See-Kwel" . Didn't Rich Green in his keynote make it clear that MySQL is actually "My-Ess-Kyew-Ell" and NOT "My-See-Kwel"? Most of us are used to say it the 'wrong way' and now It's hard to change, I know. But for this man and his mate, who opened up immense opportunities in the field of database, can't we extend at least this small favour of twisting our tongue slightly differently? Let's try it.

David Axmark walked quite unhurriedly on to the dais. He spoke very calmly and with minimal body movements. It was indeed a charm to watch the co-founder of MySQL speak about its history, Innovation by different means, the decision to make it freely available and finally joining Sun on Tuesday, February 26 2008. The story that David told this morning was a pleasure trip for all of us on the evolution of a popular database, used by some big names in the market. Here is a humble attempt to produce the summary of his keynote today at Sun Tech Days 2008 :

I captured the first slide that David used, titled MySQL History and I think I can safely INSERT (God I'm already influenced this db) that in here, undistorted:

\* 1982: First database code is written
\* 1995: First pure MySQL code
\* 1996: Public release & over 1000 downloads
\* 2001: 'Real' company started. First investment CEO joins
\* 2008: Sun acquires MySQL for 1 Billion USD

David then continued his story telling us how adamant they were to stick on to the '15 minutes rule.' Now in case if you wonder what this 15 minutes rule is all about, this is what David would say about it: "So we worked hard to make the installation and the first use as easy as possible. We came up with the 15 minutes rule: we wanted a user to be able to have MySQL up and running 15 minutes after he finished downloading it." [Read about it in an interview with David Axmark here].

Another one slide that David displayed during his keynote talked about the fact that Innovation in OpenSource tends to be a lots of small but very useful ideas. As an example he mentioned about how the SELECT statement made its way into MySQL, an idea came from the founder of PHP, which now has spread to other databases.

David admitted that he didn't know much of Java and when there was need to develop a JDBC driver for mysql, they looked at various drivers developed by the University students, picked up the best one and hired the guy who created it! He went on to say how open sourcing a product helps to easily identify the right talent (may be for hiring) as against the traditional method of going through the CV, a process that would take longer time for obvious reasons.

He recalled how difficult it was to convince the market on the advantages of giving away the product for free and that too in an era when open source wasn't a very popular affair. I felt excitement in his voice when he mentioned, because it was open source and free, they could find a lot of people using their database in a very in a very short span of time. And when such a free and open stuff works, then why think of another.

One another advantage of open sourcing a product, he says, is to have the code scrutinized by a number of Security organizations rather than one company certifying a product as secured, get instant feedbacks about the security flaws and fix it immediately. He mentioned that a large amount of code in MySQL was written by the community.

When David listed a number of programming languages that could connect to MySQL, I wished I could think of one language that I knew or heard of, which wasn't in the list. But I doubt, coz just about any programming language on this planet can connect to this database.

David concluded his keynote telling us all how excited he was to join Sun, but at the same time didn't conceal his anxiety of moving from a smaller firm to organization with well over 30,000 people. David's presentation was such an informative one.

Vijay Anand, Vice President in the Server Technologies Division at Oracle Corporation, India was the next keynote speaker this morning. Tell you what, I was quite impressed with his flawless presentation and his in depth knowledge on the topic that he was handling. He had two Senior Product Managers from Oracle showcasing a demonstration of their Middleware Fusion components.

I have seen Vijay Anand speaking at last year Sun Tech Days as well. Last year, it was as if he was stuck to the podium and maintained very minimal eye contact with the audience. But this year, he walked around the stage, made proper eye contacts with the audience, paused at the right spot to induce curiosity among the audience. He had broken his presentation into several logical sections, which made really good sense and more than that he injected the right amount of information, with appropriate examples everywhere and illustrations. Thanks to Vijay Anand, I got a much better clarity on SOA.

The first few slides in Vijay Anand's keynote talked about the Web 2.0 experience. He then discussed Mashup and the need to employ something similar even in Enterprise, which he called Enterprise 2.0. I enjoyed the way he displayed a slide building one component after the another in such an architecture and that included an ESB, BPEL, and CEP.

A demonstration of the shopping cart experience summarized the whole discussion. One of the Managers who was assisting Vijay Anand in his keynote, demonstrated the Oracle WebCenter and how an Administrator could login to it, check his E-mails, detect credit card frauds, review policies and perform so many activities which are otherwise performed in isolation. A damn neat and convenient way of brining in data from various sources to a single browser space; just the way Web 2.0 magic works. I thoroughly enjoyed what Vijay Anand spoke for about 40 minutes or so.

'Java Jacket Give Away' is a fun event at Sun Tech Days. A handful of delegates are given an opportunity to perform their weird talents on the stage and the audience would choose the weirdest of talent among them and winner gets to take a leather Java Jacket. I don't think this years 'Java Jacket Give Away' event was as good as the one last year. The Java Jacket was given to a girl who sang a classical song. Let me reveal the pattern here: last year also it happened the same way. So make sure that you fine tune your throat before the next Sun Tech Days so that you could give yourself a good chance to carry a leather Java Jacket. This event was followed by cutting a cake, marking tenth anniversary of Sun Tech Days in India.

To all the Sun Tech Days 2008 absentees, if only you wouldn't feel depressed, let me share with you this: the Sun Tech Days celebration this evening had some gorgeous models taking the ramp and walking in tune to the music of a DJ. It was exotic, to say the least. I know your next question, "Where are the photos?" Not answering .

Wednesday Feb 27, 2008

Participate, Learn and Thrive

I hate people repeating themselves. This was the case even from my school going days. My teachers at the convent School always advised us; very often they uttered the same piece of advice again and again. We would pretend to listen to them and when they disappear, we would laugh over it. It took me years to realize how foolish of me to have neglected those words of wisdom from my experienced teachers. Had I listened to them, I would have done better in life. That's okay, I can't go back and fix my past. Mind you, I am not going to repeat those mistakes either. I still hate people repeating themselves. But I make an attempt to listen to all, listen carefully; especially to the great visionaries. Sun's World Wide Developer Conference a.k.a Sun Tech Days is one among a handful of opportunities to hear the Executives of Sun speak.

Rich Green had lot of slides to cover in his keynote. He blamed it on the developers to have put him through a bit of trouble to talk a lot. He covered so many things in just over sixty minutes and it was done pretty fast. He had a wide range of technologies to cover in his talk that included but not limited to Java, OpenSolaris, GlassFish, Virtualization solutions and how-can-I-not-mention MySQL, which is fully and completely a part of Sun, an announcement that was made only yesterday. But for all sections of the technologies that Rich Green talked about in his presentation, he had carefully inserted a common slide (almost), which carried the a title as follows: 'Participate, Learn and Thrive.'

I believe that slide, by and large, summarized Sun's strategy of open sourcing all its softwares and inviting the developer community from all around the world to participate and learn. The result: when a large number of people participate, Sun gets to know what's good in its offerings, what's not and what's missing. Certainly, It's good for business; it's good for all. Imagine if someone from a corner of this worlds can join you in solving your puzzle, wouldn't you be able to focus more on your actual job, not re-invent the wheel, but innovate and thrive?

Rich appeared quite excited about the Virtual Box software and had one of the folks from the Engineering team take the platform to perform a demo of making use of the power of Virtualization by running Ubuntu and Solaris SXDE on a laptop 'hosting' Windows Vista. It would be damn convenient for a developer to test his application across various platforms using a single machine. That's exactly what was demonstrated this morning.

One another slide that I saw this morning and can memorize is the one that lists the features of Java SE Update 10. I am going to try and list down all that I can remember from the slide that Rich used. A word of caution though: this list isn't complete and the words used here may not be exactly the same as in the slide.

\*Multimedia Support
\*Easier Installation
\*Faster Startup
\* (Even) Faster Graphics
\* Faster version detection

When Rich talked about the HD DVD format war between Sony and Toshibha which ended in favour of Sony, I wondered why he ever talked about it in a Sun event. And if you nurture similar thoughts, I recommend you read this.

There was no stopping Rich from talking passionately about Netbeans and its support for other languages like Ruby, which isn't a language developed by Sun. Again, the point that he was trying to make clear was Sun's willingness to offer the developers what they want. So if you haven't tried your hand at Netbeans yet, download it now.

After the keynote, two teams of three members each, demonstrated a few cool things. As far as my thinking goes, the entire show, which lasted for about half an hour so sent at least the following messages, very clear and loud, to the audience:

\* You can create some really cool games in the mobile device using the Java ME.
\* JavaFX Scripting is fun and can be used to create some funky stuff. More details about JavaFX in here
\* Solaris Express Edition Desktop (on supported hardware) is supercool. Believe it or not, it looks similar to the Mac OS X.
\* Java Swing is NOT all that bad to create some amazing user interface.

An SMS poll was conducted to figure out which team performed the most cool demonstration. In my opinion, it all looked great.

Sun has a culture of balancing some real serious stuff with lots of fun. I'm certain it shall remain so into the future as well. While there is also lot of learning at Sun Tech Days 2008 here at Hyderabad, the organizers were very particular about the delegates having some fun. And know what, the popular band Euphoria came and rocked the Sun Tech Days venue tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if I see some of the delegates limping their way to attend the keynote tomorrow.

People who danced to the tune of Euphoria may limp, but would still be able to make it for the keynote tomorrow. But if I keep myself awake any further to this, I would miss the second day of Sun Tech Days 2008 for sure. So, I'm leaving now. Good night!

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