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Away Mission: JavaOne, SemTech, and Velocity

By Howard Dyckoff

In June, there were three great conferences within three very different spheres of the computer technology. One of these, JavaOne, is a long-time major conference. However, this may be the last year with a separate JavaOne: Oracle has been sweeping the user conferences of its new acquisitions into its own Oracle OpenWorld user conference, and Java development is already highlighted at OpenWorld.

The other two are up-and-coming conferences with very technical audiences. However, each is also recommended and well regarded in its own community.

For the April LG, I noted O'Reilly's Velocity: Web Performance and Operations Conference, in comparison to Web 2.0 Expo. The name says it all. It's aimed at technical people, mostly sysadmins, while Web 2.0 Expo focuses on Web-page developers and related marketing efforts. Basically, there is no comparison, and the better sessions from Web 2.0 Expo will be presented at Velocity. Readers of Linux Gazette will feel more comfortable here, and will get their technical questions answered.

Velocity brings together the go-to people from companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay, etc., who present the best current performance and operations work for the Web.

Steve Souders, co-chair of Velocity, is back, and will present the update to his SRO talk, Even Faster Web Sites, renamed this year to Website Performance Analysis, on the best practices he developed while working as a Performance Engineer at both Google and Yahoo. That improved presentation is the kickoff talk this year.

One talk I intend to catch this year is "Fixing Twitter: Improving the Performance and Scalability of the World's Most Popular Microblogging Site" by John Adams of Twitter's Operations group. Twitter runs on a combination of Ruby, Java, and Scala - all on x86 and Linux.

Another talk on my short list is "The Fast and the Fabulous: 9 Ways Engineering and Design Come Together to Make Your Site Slow." Check out the full catalog at http://en.oreilly.com/velocity2009/public/schedule/full/.

Presentations from Velocity 2008 are here: http://en.oreilly.com/velocity2008/public/schedule/proceedings/

(Presentation slides from June's Velocity are here: http://en.oreilly.com/velocity2009/public/schedule/proceedings)

Velocity takes place June 22-24, 2009 at The Fairmont hotel in San Jose, CA. The Semantic Technology conference also takes place in San Jose, but earlier (June 14th-18th). This year's SemTech is the fifth annual event, and is one of the major events in the Semantic Tech community.

SemTech attendees will hear about the latest semantic software advancements, from medical records management to bio-terrorism preparedness. The most recent SemTechs had technical people from those secretive three-letter agencies, discussing ways intelligence reports are processed into knowledge bases.

More signs of Semantic Tech entering the Web sphere comes from Google's recent semantics experiment: Google introduced a beta feature that they call "Rich Snippets", which enhances search and presentation results by marking up pages with special microformats.

SemTech conferences insist that attendees pre-select first- and last-day tutorials. However, on the last day, extra books from all tutorials are put out for attendees to take. SemTech perks also include good meals and a nice conference bag. Check out the conference Web site: http://www.semantic-conference.com/

JavaOne has been the annual Java event on the planet since its inception back in 1994. Although attendance has been slipping gradually since the dot-com bust, it still features many definitive talks on Java technology and emerging industry standards. However, conferences like Javapolis have emerged as strong regional conferences and viable alternatives.

The main drawing card is that founders and gurus like James Gosling are in attendance and hold court in keynote talks and panels. then there are those great t-shirts with original artwork from Gosling, launched out into the sea of Javaheads with sling shots and home-made mortars.

One 2008 presentation that joined Java and Semantic Tech was "Developing Semantic Web Applications on the Java Platform" (PAN-5532). This was a panel moderated by Henry Story, a Semantic Web evangelist, and had as panelists Lew Tucker, of Radar Networks and Sales Force; Jens Aasmen, of Franz, Inc.; Brian Sletien, of Siderian; and Dean Allemang from Top Quadrant.

Each panelist did a short presentation, some with demos. The demo from Lew Tucker showed off Twine, then a new Web site which translates between Java objects and RDF tuples. He used this to list friends of Tim Berners-Lee. Jens Aasmen showed off http://www.franz.com/agraph/ with a demo that found meetings attended in a geographic area by his friends or friends of friends (FoF). He also demoed a "circle of love" for people who knew each other "well" and were connected via social networking sites.

JavaOne is enhanced by the preceeding CommunityOne day, with Sun opening its arms to the disparate communities it has been building around Java, Solaris, and MySQL. Last year, CommunityOne registrants got to attend a session at JaveOne 2008 for free.

This year, CommunityOne will run for 3 days, overlapping JavaOne. Only the first day is free, but this free pass will also get attendees into the JavaOne "expo" and also into keynote sessions. In 2008, most sessions were technical and most had presentations from members of the developer community each track targeted. There was, however, a strange Linux track, where panels from the major Linux distros discussed some lessons they've learned, and how those may be applied to OpenSolaris. This track ran concurrently with the OpenSolaris technical track, which ended in a modest installfest for for 40-50 people (and included at least one Macintosh).

Sun provided box lunches as well as T-shirts and totes to CommunityOne attendees last year. The lines were a bit long, especially for the T-shirts, but it was all free. (Sorry to report, there was no box lunch in 2009, but there were more sessions.) This is certainly one of the better free deals in the computer industry, and is worth the effort to register, which, by the way, will also get you earlier access to the JavaOne archives and allow you to catch the streaming keynotes. An all-access pass to both JavaOne and CommunityOne and the earlier classes at Java University will set you back $3500.

For info, go to http://developers.sun.com/events/communityone/2009/west/.

Here's a list of the doings outside the tech sessions at JavaOne: http://java.sun.com/javaone/2009/activities.jsp

JavaOne archives are here, covering several recent years: http://developers.sun.com/learning/javaoneonline/

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Bio picture

Howard Dyckoff is a long term IT professional with primary experience at Fortune 100 and 200 firms. Before his IT career, he worked for Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine and before that used to edit SkyCom, a newsletter for astronomers and rocketeers. He hails from the Republic of Brooklyn [and Polytechnic Institute] and now, after several trips to Himalayan mountain tops, resides in the SF Bay Area with a large book collection and several pet rocks.

Howard maintains the Technology-Events blog at blogspot.com from which he contributes the Events listing for Linux Gazette. Visit the blog to preview some of the next month's NewsBytes Events.

Copyright © 2009, Howard Dyckoff. Released under the Open Publication License unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 165 of Linux Gazette, August 2009