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Jonathan Schwartz, C|Net, and me

Posted by davidvc on August 5, 2005 at 5:05 PM PDT

After Derby graduated last week, those of us working on Derby
thought it would be a great time to get the word out about Derby and
Sun's support of Derby. Noticing that Jonathan Schwartz was
scheduled for a “fireside chat” with Nat Torkington the
following Wednesday at OSCON, we saw it as a golden opportunity for
us to reach a large audience to congratulate Apache Derby for
graduating, to announce that Sun is putting resources behind Derby,
and how we think it's a great Java database.

Our marketing team worked overtime to work up the chain of command
to get approval, get the message just right, get the talking points
to Jonathan. Emails flying, phones ringing. As a Derby committer I
got sucked into all of this to help ensure “technical accuracy”
-- that and I always seem to have an opinion and can't keep my mouth
shut.


So it was with great expectations that I attended the Wednesday
keynote session. I sat through a number of talks, some good, some
not so good, waiting for the “great moment.” The speaker
before Jonathan, Jeremy
Zawodny
from Yahoo!, jabbed that he wanted to move quickly
through his slides so he could hear Jonathan explain why Sun was
still backing Solaris (chortle chortle). Sigh...


So, up comes Jonathan, and this is no fireside chat. After an
attempt at a “soft question” about the return of Andy
Bechtolsteim that was a bit of a flop, Nat launches into the
expected “hard questions” for Sun – what do you
think about Apache
Harmony
, why are we using CDDL rather than a more standard open
source license, what do you think about software patents, etc. More
on this can be gleaned from this Eweek
article
and Phil
Windley's blog
.


Anyway, the interview was fast and somewhat intense, ending in
under ten minutes. There was one brief sub-second moment where the
word “Derby” came out of Jonathan's mouth. It shot by
like a 50-person town on the open highway – you blink and
you miss it. No splash, no announcement. OK.


I had put together a Derby BoF assuming that there would be some
buzz, but none was there. The BoF was at 8:30 at night with about 15
other BoFs, and some kind of party going on elsewhere. Besides
myself and two other Derby representatives from IBM, only three
people showed up to the BoF, scattered forlornly across a sea of
chairs. Well, what the heck. I brought up my slides, shared some
details about Derby and Sun's involvement, and we went down various
ratholes until we were all exhausted and we all went home.


The next morning I get emails from our PR and marketing folks and
two different Derby engineers about a C|net
article
that just came out. It talks about Derby graduating,
it's 10.1 release, and Sun's involvement in Derby. Our PR folks are
running around trying to figure out where this information came from
(it even says “according to Sun” at one point), as they
had nothing to do with it. They don't like feeling out of control
like this. Sitting on the lobby floor with my laptop (everyone seems
to sit on the floor here) and my cellphone cradled in my ear
listening in on a con call about this (“Must Get New
Headset,”
I remind myself), I start reading the article.
An uncomfortable feeling of recognition washes over me. All the
details were pretty much verbatim from what I shared at my BoF. As I
share this with the folks on the phone, I mentally picture them shaking
their heads in disbelief.


So there you have it. Our attempt to have Jonathan Schwartz talk
about Derby in front of 2,000 people fizzles out, and then a lone
engineer in an room with three other people at 8:30 at night gets the
news out.




P.S. My OSCON trip ended with some great icing on the cake. I get
onto the MAX light rail to head off to the airport; it's crowded, but
I find an empty pair of seats and squeeze myself and my luggage over
to let one more person sit down. A somewhat tired-looking man with
his own luggage sits down next to me with a word of thanks.


After a moment of trying to figure out where I know his face, I
recognize it's Tim O'Reilly. Feeling a bit punchy, I ask him what
he's doing sneaking off before his conference was over (I mean, it
does have his name on it). He says something about other
meetings, and I say “I won't tell anyone.” Well, I guess
I lied :) Anyway, we had a great conversation about blogging and
Derby and the social impact of open source in developing countries
and what it's like trying to publish technical books fast enough so
they stay relevant. I always thought he was a nice guy when I heard
him talk, and now I'm convinced of it. Wish there were more
Presidents/CEOs like that.