May Java be with You!

May was quite a hectic but fun month for me. The month began with a new state of mind as I found myself without a job albeit not for long as I’d join my next employer at the beginning of June, and though that was the plan all along I couldn’t shake the feeling of having to cut short a particular experience just to get back to work e-mails. Despite finding myself unemployed for a month I didn’t get much time to slack off as the next 5 weeks proved to be quite the ride round the globe (quite literally!) as I jumped from one event to the next.

The first stop was the brand new JAlba Unconference, hosted at the city of Edinburgh. This unconference is modeled after the very popular JCrete Unconference which has been running successfully since 2011. I had the honor to be part of the disorganizing group alongside Maurice Naftalin (founder), Heinz Kabutz, Ix-chel Ruiz, Rabea Gransberger, and Dmitry Vyazelenko. Wait, what? Yes, unconferences require some organization but not too much so we prefer to disorganize rather than organize 😉

We had an amazing time during the whole stay, and could you believe it, just one rainy day and lots of sunshine. The unconference ran for 3 days which were quite intense. We had a wide variety of topics, starting with the elephant in the room: is your organization ready for the new JDK release cadence? Followed up by Graal is the new hot thing in the Java space; containers, containers, containers! A quick introduction to MethodHandles; how to organize an unconference; Microservices here and there; and so on. You can catch a glimpse of what transpired during these days by reading the tweets posted by @JAlbaUnconf and searching for the #jalba hashtag. Word on the street is that JAlba 2019 has been greenlighted so stay tuned for the registration!

The next stop was DevoxxUK which has developed its own flavor and character under the Devoxx family. I was there manning the Hackergarten while Ix-chel awed the audience with her Team Dynamics/Diversity presentation

There’s simply too many things to do at DevoxxUK, you just have to be prepared to be amazed and look out for the opportunity to engage in a friendly conversation with a speaker and/or project lead; this is precisely what the Hackergarten enables, so next time search for its location if there happens to be a Hackergarten meeting scheduled near you. As great as DevoxxUK is we couldn’t stay for the whole duration as we had an early flight on Friday from London to Osaka, yes, our next stop was the land of the rising Sun as we prepared ourselves to join the Japan Dev Tour that Stephen, Sebastian, Takashi, and Aki were already running for a week up to that point.

As we landed on early Saturday (yay timezones, not!) we had time to adjust and visit some of the sights before engaging the Java community at Osaka on Monday and Nagoya on Tuesday. We also had the pleasure of being accompanied by fellow Java Champions/Oracle Dev Champions Fernando Babadopulos and Edson Yanaga as well as Lori Lorusso which was instrumental to the success of the second leg of the tour.

The @dev_champions Twitter account has a good series of posts for the whole duration of the tour, including the next stop: Java Day Tokyo! Traveling from Nagoya to Tokyo meant we had a chance to see Mount Fuji, thus on Wednesday morning we set forth with that goal in mind.

Hooray! Once settled in Tokyo we recharged batteries as the next days would prove to be yet another challenge. Java Day Tokyo was a full day event with presentations in Japanese and English. I must confess the Japan Dev Tour started to feel like a typical Japanese RPG video game as we continued to collect and recruit members into our party: Kirk Pepperdine, Uberto Barbini, Mikael Vidstedt, Chris Thalinger, Matthew Gilliard, David Buck, as well as Japanese Java Champions Yuichi Sakuraba and Yoshio Terada. The event ran smoothly as you would expect, there were even questions posted international speakers despite the natural modest and shy personality of most Japanese. It goes to show that Java helps transcending cultural barriers, what matters is to share knowledge. We closed the event by rounding everyone and moving to a Karaoke jam session, which was epic!

Now for the relaxed part of the journey, JOnsen Unconference, the most relaxed Java unconference that exists (so far). JOnsen is yet another unconference modeled after JCrete; Steve and Sebastian started this event as a means to increase visibility of our Japanese counterparts and their efforts in the Java community. The second edition of JOnsen did not disappoint, we found ourselves immersed in a typical onsen (hot spring) with a traditional Japanese hotel built around it, next to Mount Hakone.

Topics discussed were similar to those discussed at JAlba: JDK release cadence and Graal, proving once again they are quite hot right now. We also touched on the subject of education; work vs hobby/open source balance; writing technical documentation; submitting proposals to conferences; hosting your own unconference (yet again); flying drones and more.


We said goodbye to Fuji-san and went back to Tokyo on Sunday afternoon. Alas all good things come to and end and our party started to shed members as each one of us had to continue with their own plans. Except there was an extra event planned for Monday morning: darting through the streets of Tokyo using street legal go-karts, dressed as popular video game characters! Yup, that’s a thing you can do in Tokyo!

Mario Carts in Tokyo from Lauren on Vimeo.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to drive but Ix-chel did. The second Mario in the video is Vincent Mayers which also happens to be a very good Venkat impersonator

And this is where I reached the point where I had to part ways and go back to Europe. Ix-chel, Sebastian, Matthew were joined by Takashi once more and continued to Sendai and Sapporo for the week, later to be reunited on Saturday with Aki, Yoshio, and Yuichi at JJUG CCC Spring, the biggest community driven, Java event in Tokyo. While they were still having fun in Japan, talking about test containers, microservices, serverless and other interesting topics I was on my way to Sofia for the next JCP EC meeting.

Previous to this meeting we had a chance to meet up with the Bulgarian JUG on the night before, where David Belvins, Ivar Grimstad, and myself made presentations on Microprofile config, MVC 1.0, and JSR 377 respectively.

The month is about to end but not without a funny “coincidence” set for May 25th: the GDPR Law came into effect on Towel Day, so Don’t Panic! Funny thing, my second Towel Day in Sofia until today. Last stop on this crazy month was Copenhagen, for the 10th year anniversary of Gr8conf! Gr8conf is the premier Groovy conference, started by Søren Berg Glasius and Guillaume Laforge. This year we had a great event once again, with 3 days of all things Groovy, Grails, Griffon, Spock, Gradle and even DepOps. Wednesday we had a surprise organized by the crew, the rock band Press Play on Tape made an appearance and brought us back to the joys of the 80’s

There were two releases during the conference: Groovy 2.5.0 and Griffon 2.15.0, continuing the long tradition of releasing software live on stage. Perhaps the most iconic moment of the conference was the Hackergarten on Thursday evening. We had several teams working side by side with project leads and Groovy gurus in order to bring new features and fix bugs on popular Groovy projects. This session showcased once more how amicable and self-organized the Groovy community happens to be, it’s a no-hype, get things done kind of deal, and I love it!

And with this the month of trips came to and end. On Saturday we headed back home on our last flight, getting ready for the challenges that lay ahead. All in all it was a fantastic adventure, I’m quite happy to have had the chance to interact and mingle with such diverse cultures and wonderful individuals, brought together under one roof thanks to the JVM and its ecosystem.

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