Seven things to do if you’re not going to JavaOne

7 05 2007

Today, I have not arrived at JavaOne.

Just like last year I won’t be there. Oh well, I didn’t get where I am today by galavanting off to JavaOne. And as crazy as it sounds, I guess most of us won’t be there.

So what to do instead? Here are a few possibilities:

1. Glue yourself to the internet.

Spend the week avidly consuming all the announcements and press releases. Wade through a zillion random blogs about it all (half of which will be about getting there, checking into hotel, registration etc). In between, check the same newsfeeds over and over again just to be sure you don’t miss anything. When all else fails, check slashdot again.

Assessment: Rather obvious, way too predictable, and somewhat pointless.

2. Hold your own JavaNNN 2007.

Give a talk to your colleagues. Maybe set up a “booth” and pitch some favoured tool to them. Host an unconference. Or if you’re on your own, catch up on Java Posse podcasts, or get a book on something new and read it out loud to yourself (ideally you need to fall asleep in the middle and miss half of it, but you might need someone else’s help for that).

If you’re of a less earnest bent, buy a bunch of pens and pretend they’re swag. Or hurl a t-shirt across the room.

Assessment: Nice try, but a poor imitation of the real thing.

3. Do something productive instead.

Whilst the world and its press-pass are busy talking about things that don’t quite exist yet, or exist but are still too flaky to use, why not actually do something useful?

Fix a bug. Implement an enhancement. Maybe even improve some Javadoc somewhere (or is that too radical?). Think what we could achieve if we all did one extra such “fix” each day this week, on top of our “normal” work…

Assessment: If only.

4. Invent a new web framework…

You probably can’t get away with this any more if anyone is paying attention, but maybe during JavaOne week you can sneak it in and nobody will notice.

There can’t be more than a few hundred web frameworks at the moment, so there must still be lots of small niches that haven’t yet been filled, or some combination of features that nobody has done yet. Off the top of my head, how about compiling JSP/HTML into an applet? Probably pointless, but if it hasn’t already been done I bet you could come up with some reason why it would be a good idea.

… Or a new annotation.

If inventing a new web framework sounds like too much work, how about inventing a new annotation instead?

We’re going to need an awful lot of new annotations if we’re going to fully realise the JSR 308 dream of having a dozen annotations before and after every actual keyword and name.

@Sentence(language=”en”) @Word(PRONOUN) @NotSearchable @NotKeyword You @Unfinished @Word(AUXVERB) @NotSearchable @NotKeyword can @Unfinished
@Word(VERB) @Searchable @NotKeyword help @Reply(OPTIONAL).

Assessment: Too late, everyone else is already doing this anyway.

5. Panic about the approaching singularity.

You’re an up-to-date kind of guy or gal, with your finger on (Eriks) pulse. So you’ve been meaning to take a proper look at GWT but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet, and suddenly everyone is talking about guice and apollo and silverlight and stuff and stuff, and you’re not even sure what they are.

It’s a bit worrying, and it’s only going to get worse. Think how simple everything was in the distant past, say five or six years ago, and how slowly things changed. When something new appeared, you’d wait for a book on it, read the book, play around a bit, use it for a few months, and be on top of it. Not like that now, is it?

Think ahead another five or six years. It’ll be like a whole JavaOne every day of every week. Nobody will know what they’re talking about, but it won’t matter because whatever it is, it will be obsolete before they’ve finished talking. You’ll still be trying to RTFM when everyone else has already moved on after just cobbling together something copied from somewhere else (and which almost works).

Before you know it, some kid straight out of college will be taking your job off you by virtue of having an entire day’s worth of experience in a dozen things you’ve never even heard of. He’ll mash-up stuff from a hatful of different services whose names you can’t even pronounce. It’ll probably all be running on some kind of infinitely-scalable grid of quantum computers that don’t actually exist or some such nonsense. Admittedly it won’t work, and the resulting security holes and data corruption will kill the company, but nobody will care because they’ll already be working on something else.

Then we’ll reach the singularity, the computers will take over, and nobody will ever get near to understanding anything ever again.

This is all going to happen too fast to keep up with, so you’d better get a good bit of panicking in now, whilst you’ve still got the chance.

Assessment: Some things are too scary to be worth worrying about. Get yourself a pair of Joo Janta 200 SCPSS’s and don’t panic.

6. Keep it all in perspective.

Do you feel like not being there means you’re missing out on all the juicy inside info on the latest and greatest stuff?

Go back to your bookshelf, and pick something that’s product or technology specific from a few years back (eight or nine years ago seems optimum). How much hype was there at the time? How many talks about it did you attend? How much time and effort did you spend learning it? But how much does it matter now, and how interested would you be today in an announcement, article or blog about it?

Well, in a few years time that’s how you’ll feel about most of this week’s stuff.

Examples from my own bookshelves include “Inside OLE”, “Corba 3”, “Delphi 4 Unleashed”, and a couple of books on EJB 1. All now about as much use as a Dutch-Dutch dictionary. Oh, the amount of time I spent mastering EJB 1, and then EJB 2, and struggling with it on a series of desparately bug-ridden application servers – all without ever actually using it for real. Do I wish I’d gone to more talks about it? No.

Assessment: This too shall pass.

7. Have a break.

Chill out, relax, take time off, catch up on sleep, watch some oddtodd cartoons. You’ve earned it. And you’ll need it before trying to catch up with everything again.

Rating: A bit of a cop out, but probably a healthy one.

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