I'm here in Crested Butte, for the 2nd Java Posse Roundup (my second time as well). It's been great, and much different than last year. That's cool because the theme was "Don't Repeat Yourself". Here's my overview. I'll post more detail later.
This is an open spaces conference, which means that the conference participants (about 35 people, including the Posse) are defining the content and shaping the character. This year, we're doing sessions from about 8:30 am until about 12:30 pm, then breaking for lunch/afternoon activities. The 160" base on Mt Crested Butte is amazing. Some people have been downhill skiing, others snowboarding. Groups have gone out snowmobiling. I've even spirited some people away (Dick Wall and Joel Neely and Mike Levin) to nordic skiing, which is fabulous here. And, of course, some people spend the time working, collaborating with other attendees, or simply relaxing. In the evenings, after dinner, we've been getting together for lightning talks (5 mins), which have been video-recorded and will be released on YouTube. I'll post the link when they are available. But this year, we found that the collaboration aspect of the conference was really growing, and many of us have wanted to have some "workshop" experiences. So, we've conspired to add in some workshop and hacking sessions in the early evening, either over dinner or just before lightning talks. Joel and I hung back one afternoon and collaborated on some Scala code, and then presented a session comparing Java and Scala during one of those early evening sessions (before lightning talks). The flexibility to do this speaks loudly for the benefits of open spaces. At more traditional events, people might still hole up in a hotel room and work on code together, but only they would benefit from that experience. The other attendees likely wouldn't even know of their experience and certainly wouldn't get to listen to a talk about it.
I don't think that I have attended a single Java specific talk this year. They've been scheduled, and others are attending those, but I've been more interested in some other talks, like "Startups: Mistakes not to Make", "Hiring and Retaining Technologists", "Brainstorming New Structures for Organizing Companies that serve Programmers Better", "Component Based Systems", "Organizing Community Based Conferences", and "Why is Agile Hard". But I'm getting some technical mojo out of workshops and hacking sessions. We spent some time with Dick Wall on Android and that was quite interesting. Chet Haase did a lightning talk on "Filthy Rich Clients with Flex", which motivated me to strong arm him into doing a more indepth session on that. A bunch of us sat around for several hours last night hacking some Scala, and we had a lot of fun. And, of course, there were more lightning talks last night and they were awesome as well.
So, I'm off for the final day. Some people will be leaving early today, but I think that they're missing out by not staying for the evening. Sessions end at 12:30 or so, but we'll be doing dinner together and an informal gathering this evening as well. Last year, that evolved into "Check out this cool thing on YouTube", but since we're in the mode of "Don't Repeat Yourself", I bet we'll come up with something different tonight. And I'm taking a group out x-c skiing this afternoon! Off to breakfast … at Camp4Coffee.