Well, I've been here in Crested Butte since Sunday afternoon, for the 3rd Java Posse Roundup. It's been an amazing experience, as always. I blogged earlier in the week about how this conference evolves to match the interests of the attendees. Of course, I should have anticipated that it was still changing. The attendees really take charge of this conference, and that's part of why it's so great.
In addition to the new (optional) hackathon day, there were several other changes this year. First of all, the size has exceeded the capacity of the Posse House and so the evening events were held at the conference location. This gave everyone a bit more breathing room and was just as fun.
The lightning talks offer a wide variety of topics, not all of which are Java-related. I enjoy the non-technical talks and tech talks alike. Some of the more amusing sessions from this year include Barry Hawkins' "Introducing Change" and Andrew Harmel Law's "Zombies". The lightning talks will make their way to YouTube at http://youtube.com/javaposse.
The sessions, as always, were fascinating. Ranging from the very specific to the very general, they were all great. Of course, they will be released on the Java Posse podcast channel, and it will be interesting to hear the reaction of those who didn't attend. But I did realize that if you're not here, you miss out on a lot. Not only will you likely not get the jokes, but you also miss out on the opportunity for "free consulting". People are very generous with their time and ideas. I have met some amazing people here over the years, and I do keep in touch with them throughout the year. We bounce ideas off of one another and I benefit immensely. I hope that I offer at least a fraction in return.
The afternoon activities were varied. Some people gathered at houses around town to hack together, while others "networked" (aka, skiied and snowmobiled). I was thrilled yet again to leave my downhill gear packed because of the interest attendees had in learning how to cross-country ski. We went out two days (so far; I suspect we will go tomorrow morning as well) and the groups were great! Some footage may make its way to the internet; we'll have to see. Fewer people downhilled this year than in years past, and I suspect that was a combination of the weather (it was grayish without new snow) and the fact that Bruce had broken his leg a few weeks ago. I think that his mishap may have spooked people.
Bill Venners was here as well, and he was able to find several willing participants to work on ScalaTest. Rumor has it that he and Tor got the NetBeans build working for ScalaTest, which will certainly improve the developer experience "out of the box". We had a group at our house one afternoon, and most of us were having difficulty getting it to build. I'm glad that they were able to make progress. Bill's done a great job with ScalaTest!
After lightning talks, groups formed. I never went to bed early, always intrigued by some interesting conversation at my house or another one, that went well into the night. As is consistent with the previous 2 Roundups, I found that I spent nearly ALL of my waking time with other attendees. I had one brief shopping trip alone to buy souvenirs for my kids. That's it. So, if any employers doubt the "hard work" that we do at this conference, pass this information along. Even while we were out cross-country skiing, we were talking about "things", either about Java things or business things or the conference. It's truly an experience in conference immersion.
Oh, and just to dispel the myth that geeks don't socialize and can't cook, here's a story:
Since several of us had rented houses around town (5 or 6 in total) rather than renting hotel rooms, we got together and organized a progressive dinner. While Wikipedia describes it as a complex process requiring a lot of organization, we didn't have that experience and it was awesome. So, if you're going to do one, don't do it THAT way. Try it OUR way … you might be surprised. Here's the official (LOL) Java Posse/Open Spaces version of a progressive dinner:
- Write down addresses of houses that are interested in participating. Each house will prepare "some food" (we left that open).
- Pick a start time.
- Pick a house to start at.
- Pick the successive houses and write down the order on the paper.
- Go to first house, and migrate to the next in line until done.
We announced this on Tuesday afternoon, and simply reminded everyone on Wednesday at noon. 40 people traipsed from house to house! It was a lot of fun.
Pretty simple. And FUN! Not only did it get everyone moving around, talking to different people, it was a great way to see the other rental houses and to learn who liked to cook. We didn't go to the trouble of telling people what to prepare, assigning a course, or even letting one another know our plans. Our menu was varied and we had a blast. Try it.
The week was way too short. There was a lot that I wanted to do. But, as usual, I'll be returning home with my batteries charged and new friends. Can't ask for much more than that.