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Bagels, Ariports and User Groups

Posted by brunos on November 14, 2007 at 10:35 AM PST

I have been upset with myself for not blogging for way too long (not that I am a particular prolific blogger by any stretch of imagination...), and I wanted to return to the blogosphere. Well, once you are away for so long, any reason is a good reason to start, and I just found one.

A few hours ago I eat a bagel sandwich in Heatrow, the London airport. I always love the European sense of humor and specially the subtle british humor. Most developers that I know appreciate good humor, and it does remind me of Brazil, where, as we say there, we lose a friend, but never the opportunity of a joke. What this have to do with a bagel sandwich? Well, the one I had in London came in a kind of paper "plate", and if you turned the plate upside down, on the bottom you could read:


"Sorry Mate, your beagle's either on the other side, or you've lost it"

This did crack me up, specially the more "legalese" part in small letters, that they referred as "American Translation". I was needing something to make me laugh: I had just missed my connection to Moscow, and was waiting to get a plane to Istanbul, Turkey. I'm trying to get to Rostov-on-Don, a city in the south of Russia, where I'm an invited keynote speaker at the Rostov CIO Summit.

Because I lost my connection, had I kept on my original course trough Moscow, I would arrive there too late to my other connection, where I would also change airlines. From past experience, this is where you fall in "no-airline-land", and not only I would end up spending the night in Moscow, I would be without any support or hotel. Not a good idea. I'm glad that Isabella, a nice and helpful British Airline operator, was very understandable and spent almost an hour with me, checking on my flight options.

So, as I type this, I'm in Istanbul, Turkey, just passing through. Not a good way to see anything, but I can say that the airport here is amazing: I'm just in the international area, and this place is not only huge, but very beautiful, with large corridors, and very nice shops.

But, the main reason why I'm writing this is to talk about User Groups. What bagels and missed planes have to do User Groups amazes even me, but for the past several weeks, I have been in such a crazy schedule of travels, visiting so may cities and User Groups, that they are all intermixed.

While I'm going to Russia, I'm taking a few days break from the "Caravana da Tecnologia", a joint effort of several Java, Open Solaris and Linux User Groups in Latin America, Sun and many Universities, to discuss open source initiatives around Java and Open Solaris. During the course of the "Caravana", we're visiting 4 countries, 12 cities, more then 30 universities. And of course, many User Groups. But staying for a single day in each city does not allow us to see much, mostly airports (and an eventual bus station or two...)

You should take a look at what the other speakers are saying about this joint effort. We had lots of fun, from eating shrimp with the JavaBahia JUG in Brazil, playing "futebol" (yes, yes, soccer) with the JUG in Uruguay and dining steak with the Linux Group in Argentina. But also, lots and lots of work, including giving 10 hours of talks right after an 11 hours bus trip between Buenos Aires and Cordoba, with only a quick shower in between (our flight was canceled because of some kind of trouble with pilots in Argentina). It has been very rewarding to work closely with the User Groups in this trip, and we are learning how we can collaborate even more. Juggy has been around too, as well as Jack Adams.

During this year there was a lot going on around User Groups. Both in collaboration among Java User Groups, the fast evolution of the Open Solaris User Groups Communities, and even a much closer relationship between Java, Linux and Open Source User Groups, that was promoted with the release of Java as GPL in the beginning of the year.

And lots more are coming along before the year ends: BeJUG and SouJava have just proposed a JSR to the JCP (still pending if it will be approved or not, but even if it is not, the organization needed to make this happen is the important thing here), and BeJUG is promoting the JavaPolis event in a few weeks, where JUGs from all over the world are already organizing a large encounter. PanamaJUG is joining many Latin American JUGs in their event in December, while the Brazilian NatalJUG hosts a 2 days event in one of the most beautiful beach cities in the world. Lets not forget that IndonesiaJUG organizes, together with the Indonesian Government, a large event in the Java island. The Open Solaris User Groups have a new home in, what is helping grow the community, and the collaboration among User Groups can be seen in the JUGs Map, and discussions around common projects like the Event Manager tool and the certificate generator.

With all that, I'll spend a few days in Russia, and then will head back to visit a couple more cities and user groups. While I'm away, Caravana da Tecnologia goes on, and visits the Brazilian cities of Florianopolis and Natal. I wish I could be in all of those places and initiatives. But I'm glad I can't -- they are actually too many for anyone to be able to follow them all. This is the beauty of communities, user groups and open source: they are much larger then the sum of all parts. You should add yourself to it too!

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