Tonya's Java Journey, Pt. 2
Oracle User Group Norway - Spring Seminar
The OUGs are not the typical place for Java developers or community managers (namely me) to be. But OUGN has been working hard to build out a decent Java track with very good speakers, and it was a chance to see how the broader Oracle community is working together when it comes to Java. Also, I was in the neighborhood, more or less, and had never been on a cruise ship. The Spring Seminar is another special conference venue. After leaving Phantasialand and JavaLand, this conference is held on a cruise ferry going from Oslo, Norway to Kiel, Germany and back while keynotes, sessions, networking and fun are ongoing.
The M/S Color Magic is a 735 feet long and nearly 115 feet high ferry which can carry up to 2.700 people in it's 1016 cabins, plus 550 cars. It's BIG, and features, shopping, clubs, dancing, shows, and restaurants. Level 12 is the conference deck with rooms of different sizes and some exhibition space, along with a small catering area which holds food and coffee all day. One leg of the trip took over 20 hours, which equaled enough time to fit everything in that the ship had to offer. With roughly 400 conference attendees there was still a significant number of civilians on board, leading to an...er...interesting mix of people and faces.
The Sessions and Speakers
With more than 60 sessions the speaker number is basically the same number as JavaLand, but for half of the number of attendees. This made it more difficult to pick the right schedule. While there was an exclusive feel when it comes to well known names in the Oracle sphere, the sessions were sometimes a little too empty. Having the opportunity to speak to Bryn Llewellyn, Cary Millsep, Kellyn Pot'Vin and many more, and listen to Oracle's Andrew Sutherland (Senior Vice President, Oracle EMEA) in this very closed setting made for a completely new experience for me.
The Java Track this year was the second try to bring on more Java interested attendees. Starting with Arun Gupta last year, this year we hade Bruno Borges (Oracle), Aslak Knutsen (Red Hat) and Markus Eisele (Java Champion and ACE Director) as the main acts for the Java track. As I said earlier, some of these sessions were attended by only one or two people, which was the loss of those who didn't participate. It was a very personal way of connecting with popular speakers who are used to speaking in front of larger crowds. Questions were answered on a 1:1 basis, and occasionally prepared sessions were thrown aside in favor of direct coaching. The Oracle product-based schedule wasn't up my alley, but the quality of the names and the talks made a very good impression.
Feeling and Mood
Honestly, this conference was kind of a party. The enclosed space, mix of conference attendees and civilians, and opportunities to carouse lent itself to a jocular atmosphere. Most of the same faces I saw studiously attending sessions were at the disco later that night, loosening their ties and dancing until dawn. I think in a small conference like this there's more of a bonding experience, even though I found my biggest language gap to date. I met fewer people, but felt I really got to talk to them, and know them professionally and personally.
Let's do it again next year!