JavaOne vs. TSS Java Symposium
The people I work for have rewarded my countless hours of hard labor by approving my application to go to TheServerSide.com's Java Symposium. This comes a year after I attended JavaOne in San Francisco. So why did I choose TSS Java Symposium over Java One? I'm sure you give a rats ass about my opinion but here it comes anyways.
JavaOne is too big: It's f***ing huge! There's like 10,000 people there and although you might argue that the size of people attending is proportional to the quality of the presentations, you're wrong. I did attend a couple nice sessions last year but there were more than a few crappy ones (Spring Web Flow, Composite Applications etc.) which tells me (keeping proportions in mind) that there are many crappy ones. The rooms are huge which takes away from the learning environment that it should be; it feels like a first year chemistry class rather than a conference where you're supposed to quickly pick up stuff while having some fun at the same time.
The Commercialism: Everyone's trying to sell you something and as soon as you tell them you don't have any purchasing power in your company, they throw sharp pointed objects at you. I talked to the guy from Terracotta last year for about 15 minutes asking him all kinds of questions and at the end he asked me what I did at my company and when I said I was a measly developer, he gave me one of those I-can't-believe-I-wasted-20-f***ing-minutes-on-this-guy look.
Bad Food: Just horrible and awful. I was scared to touch it, let alone eat it. But when I finally mustered up the courage to eat it, I regretted it after two bites. I threw the sandwich away and gave my warm soda to what appeared to be a homeless developer.
Repetition: There were around four different sessions on Java Persistence API which covered the same subject matter. I made the mistake of attending two of them only to realize they're talking about the exact same thing, they just labeled the sessions differently just so everybody on the expert group had their crack at impressing the bored audience how they copied Hibernate.
Bad Party: Any party where the ratio of men to women is 6:1 is never going to be good but you can make up for it by actually providing accessible food and drink. When you shove 10,000 people in one big room and setup 4 stations where you can get drinks and food from, your appetite will force you to exit the premises and the lack of women will only motivate you to do so quickly. I scampered off to the Marriot nearby and admired San Francisco from towering heights. Also, chugging T-Shirts out of a cannon is not entertainment.
Long lines at sessions: Again, the size issue. The Gestapo regime that is the event staff forces you to lineup before every session and swipe your conference card. The lineups are long and painful and if you're in the line, you'll often here more than a few people muttering "I don't believe this shit". Don't believe me? Ask anyone who attended last year.
Spam after you come back: Here's a tip to anyone attending this year, give a fake phone and email address in your JavaOne registration form. You'll thank me as you're laughing at your friends for having to deal with daily spam and intruding phone calls imploring you to buy some product from Quest Software and pay for training courses from Sun. These people have a knack of bothering you during lunch hour which is a double whammy. Every moment you're in the pavilion, somebody's begging to swipe your conference card like they were get paid by the swipe. They probably are.
No Networking Opportunities: Aside from the BOF's which you may or may not be interested in, there are really no parties or events that will allow you to network with other people. Given how most IT folks are socially inward and scared of light, the task of networking at JavaOne is a little tough. The best time I had last year was at the Geronimo party, although I've never even used Geronimo, I sure enjoyed the free food and drinks provided by IBM etc. Side note: Again, aside from the waitresses, no women at this party either. I actually exchanged a few business cards with some fine folk; more of these events would only help JavaOne.
Now I've never been to TSS Java Symposium before but from what I can gather from the session descriptions, they seem to cater more to my line of work: enterprise development. I read some horror stories about TSS last year but it's time I take a look and judge for myself.