Thursday Apr 25, 2013

JayDay 2013: Bigger and More Java

Let's list the many ways to introduce Anton Epple: NetBeans Platform consultant, trainer, developer and author; a blogger; a NetBeans Dreamteam member and recent Java Champion. It's an already impressive profile, yet there's more. Over the years, he has also steadily carved out a niche for himself as a conference organizer.

He got his start hosting annual NetBeans Day events in Munich for local enthusiasts and fans of the IDE. Each year, the gathering grew in size along with interest in a wider range of topics. Eventually, JayDay was born.

I reached out to him recently with a few questions about JayDay 2013--an all-Java powwow now in its second year that attracts an international crowd of Java developers and top Java experts.


This is your second JayDay event and the agenda looks to be bigger. What extras do you have planned for attendees this year?

We got great feedback for our JayDay last year, so we felt confident to allow more attendees and more speakers this year. The most important thing is that we decided to add a second track to give attendees more choice. Another extra is the embedded part, where we will show experiments with devices and sensors--that might be extremely cool. We're also trying to make the conference unique in that we're "eating our own dog-food". For example, we created a Java game for the JayDay website, as well as JavaFX-based presentation software for some of the talks.

You've already confirmed a number of well-known Java experts: Bien, Eisele, Grunwald, Weaver, and so on. What topics are they going to tackle?

We're trying to get a good mixture of great local and international Speakers, and actually the list has gotten bigger although not all the speakers have officially been announced yet. Simon Ritter and Gerrit Grunwald will both be covering different aspects of Java and JavaFX on small devices such as the Beagleboard or the Raspberry PI. In the JavaFX track, Wolfgang Weigend will share the latest information about JavaFX on the iPad and Android. Jim Weaver will talk about the cool new lambda expressions in Java 8. Adam Bien will do some great Java EE7 live hacking, and Markus Eisele will show how to test what Adam created using Arquillian. And I'll show how to write games for any device in Java. So basically we're covering Java on any device from Pi to Cloud. But I intend to add some more speakers and talks.

What inspired you to start the first JayDay conference?

I loved the NetBeans Day worldtour events back in the era of NetBeans 5. So a few years ago I decided to revive that and I organized a couple of NetBeans Days and meetings in my area. It was great to bring enthusiasts together and to do something for the NetBeans Community. The biggest event was in 2011. That year the topics were already getting more general, so we decided to broaden the scope to general Java. This is how JayDay was born. The first JayDay took place last year (December 2012). It was a great event, but I thought it might be even better in the Summer, when we can go outside to a typical Munich beer garden for lunch and the after-event party. :-)

Can you share a few tips about what goes into starting-up a new conference?

I'm still in the process of learning myself, but these are some of the more practical things that I've learned:

  • Do enough breaks. The attendees need breaks to walk around, meet and discuss the content. An important part of a conference is to be able to hang around with your peers and chat with the experts. That was the one thing we didn't have enough of last year because there was just too much great content and too little time.
  • Don't be afraid to charge for the tickets--it's a good registration reminder. :-) For free events sometimes up to 40% of the registered attendees won't show up. That can be very disappointing for an enthusiastic conference organizer especially if he has to pay for the catering. Even a small fee makes a big difference.

The JayDay homepage banner is actually a game called "Duke's Revenge". (But Duke seems to have a "death wish" and refuses to budge! Am I doing something wrong...?) Can you tell us more about this?

If you click the banner, a little browser game will load and you can use the "a", "s", and "d" keys to help Duke to protect Munich against some evil aliens. :-) The cool thing about this is that the game is written entirely in Java, but it doesn't require Java to be installed on your machine. It actually runs in every modern browser, even on the iPad and Android.

We call it the "Chuck Norris experiment", because up to now only Chuck Norris was capable of running Java in the browser without a Plugin. The trick is in a project called bck2brwsr started by Jaroslav Tulach. At its core is a virtual machine written in JavaScript together with an implementation of the Java Core APIs. This way you can run Java ByteCode loaded from regular JAR files in the browser.

What makes bck2brwsr special is that it doesn't tie you to a certain API or a set of widgets, but makes it easy to create your own APIs. It took me just one day to learn how to extend the project and create the API for drawing on HTML5 Canvas that I'm using in "Duke's Revenge". I'm really exited about this project and we'll definitely cover that at JayDay. By the way, the game is Open Source.

What would you like most for attendees to take away from this conference?

Our goal is to give them a ton of information about the hottest topics in the Java universe, and we want them to leave inspired to create their own cool projects. I guess what all the speakers of this conference have in common is that they're not only experts but also enthusiasts. They love to create cool stuff and share it with the community. So if we're able to get that across and share it with the audience I'll be more than happy!

Thank you Toni for the interview and best of luck with JayDay 2013.

Register for JayDay 2013.

Monday Apr 22, 2013

OWL Czech Republic Launch

The kickoff event for OWL Czech Republic (Oracle Women's Leadership) is only hours away!

Since this is a new blog, a bit of background is warranted. OWL is a global leadership development program within Oracle. There are multiple communities or chapters around the world; but there was none in the Czech Republic until one phone meeting last December.

(Actually, the story goes back even further, but no matter....)

Skip ahead almost five months later, 100+ employees have registered to listen [over breakfast] to what I hope will be the first of many open and progressive conversations about leadership in Oracle Czech. The kickoff event itself will feature two keynote speakers: the new Country Leader Josef Svenda and the new OWL EMEA Leader Odile Gerard; as well as a panel discussion with four senior managers/directors in the company. The longer plan is to model OWL Czech Republic after the more established OWL EMEA communities that are already running fantastic initiatives and events for their members. Details to come in the months ahead.

Life lesson: A bit of naivete can be a good thing. At the start I had very little idea what I was getting myself into or what I was to do for that matter. If I had had any inkling of the effort required there's a chance I would have opted to continue as a community of one, listening in my office to webcast replays from HQ.

Stepping up to start OWL Czech Republic has helped me in more ways than I could imagine--and so quickly too! I'm expanding my internal network; leading a team; using my creative and marketing skills in a different milieu; and learning to be a salesperson. And dare I add: I feel that I have a renewed vigor about my work.

It's been a heady two months of meetings and phone calls, pitches and planning to get this day here. Most of it would not be possible without local executive buy-in, the encouragement of OWL leadership in the US and across EMEA, and an awesome group of coworkers-volunteers who signed up to figure things out with me. I am very thankful for the support and collaboration, and I look forward to the good work and camaraderie to come with OWL Czech Republic.

(An early draft of an "invitation card" created for the launch; we ended up with three versions.)


Monday Apr 08, 2013

Jarda Tulach on the Slopes

Every Friday I send out an internal content call for the NetBeans Weekly Newsletter. (You are subscribed to it, right?....)

Typically, what I get are referrals to technical articles, blog entries and event announcements. Standard stuff.

Once in a blue moon, an unusual submission lands in my inbox.

Last week, it was a video link with the following [slightly edited] note:

"Jaroslav Tulach, the last NetBeans founder still with the NetBeans project, won a silver medal in the National Championship of Masters Slalom competition in the A2 Category (men under forty). Video from the second round, which catapulted Jaroslav to his second place finish, is available on YouTube.

When asked if he was satisfied with the result, Jaroslav admitted to having spent too much time with computers in his youth rather than practicing skiing, so he could hardly ask for more.

"Hopefully, the majority of NetBeans IDE users will not mind that I didn't win, and it's okay for them that I founded NetBeans instead."

I've worked on the NetBeans team for six years-plus and I know many of the engineers have very fascinating lives (and personas) outside of the office. But since the note came in on April 1st--Fool's Day, I wanted to be sure.

So I wrote back, "Is that really you?...."

He sent this picture in response.

Congratulations Jarda!

A Quick Intro

My name is Tinu. Welcome to my Oracle blog.

Who am I?

According to my HR file, I'm a "Principal Program Manager" in the Developer Tools organization. Concretely, what I do is run Outbound Marketing for a very cool product--NetBeans IDE!

On a personal note: I'm Nigerian by origin; born in China; raised and educated in New York City; and currently living in Prague, Czech Republic, where the development hub of the NetBeans project is located.

Why am I blogging?

Good question! By nature, I'm a writer, a storyteller, a communicator. I enjoy telling and hearing stories. Stories are a great way of connecting and sharing experiences and knowledge. My intent is that I get to do that again on this blog.

Again?

Yeah....well, this is my second try at a "work blog". I started one a few years ago, but I was a perfectionist about the matter and produced a grand total of three entries before shutting it down. A pity too, because even with three entries I had already acquired some fans!

This time around, perfection is not the goal. Just consistency, and the patience to find my groove.

Also, I'm inspired by the blogging discipline of my NetBeans teammate Geertjan Wielenga. As of this post, he's clocked in eight years of entries about NetBeans!

"Go for it!" He said, when I brought up the idea of writing again.

And so here we are.

About

Call me "Tinu". I'm a Principal Program Manager for NetBeans IDE in Oracle's Developer Tools organization, and Country Lead for the Czech Republic chapter of Oracle Women's Leadership (OWL).

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