Oracle’s giant yearly business expo in San Francisco. It is a week of Oracle
trashing the competition and talking up its own product line. Oracle DB will
save you money, double performance, cure cancer, fix your marriage, etc. The
conference was flashy and large and not interesting to me. What was interesting
was JavaOne. A hold
over developer centric conference from when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems
(the creator of Java). Being an Oracle employee I got permission to go which is
why I was awake at 5AM last Sunday.
The deal here is, Oracle will try very hard to keep its own developers from
actually going because they make bank on the registration fees from other
companies. A single JavaOne pass costs $2,050, which is pretty absurd. But, if
you actually do get permission to go, Oracle will bankroll the whole trip.
Which is why they paid for a car to come pick me up at that borderline absurd a
hour. I am used to always taking the train into Boston (then presumably a bus),
but the trains do not run that early, so sweet Oracle car it was. I was in full
business garb: army jacket, t-shirt, and jeans. It was pretty exciting to have
someone open a car do for me, made me feel like a real hot shot. The ride was
very pleasant too, classical musical and everything. Pulling up to the airport,
seeing everyone else in their taxis and minivans, I really was a business man.
The illusion suffered when I checked in and was told Chicago
was having trouble. I might have made it a bit further, but then I had to
do the security dance so whatever respect for myself I had left I lost to the
TSA agents. Still Oracle paid flight, Oracle paid hotel, cannot be too bad.
Wait why am I flying to Oakland? Must be for the fancy accommodations and sweet
view since I will be right near the bay.
Ok, maybe not. Turns
out hotels in the city are for the real big shots and/or people who register
early. Which means, I became very familiar with Bay Area Rapid Transit. The
subway system here is pretty unique. Not only do you get charged when you get
off (hope you have enough money), but the trains are the loudest I have ever
been on. Frighteningly banshee-esque screams every time it takes a turn. So
loud, I am sure the driver has to wear ear protection for fear of an OSHA sound
violation. The best part of commuting out by train was watching all these
suited business types waiting for the hotel shuttle in this incredibly awful
Oakland neighborhood which the hotel driver described to us as “not great”.
None of that is actually important though because the actual conference was
Being the dirty, unwashed, Oracle employee, I could not actually register
for sessions to attend, so I had to hope they did not fill up before I could
get in (five minutes before it started). Generally this was not a problem and I
got into some real cool sessions. Some of the stuff in JDK 8 is going to be
very helpful. Lambdas
in particular are going to help out a lot. Some of the stuff scheduled for JDK
9 like value types and primitives in collections are going to be real useful
too. There was also a number of sessions that deepened my knowledge of the JVM
such as how the volatile keyword is implemented on the byte code level and the
different types of garbage collection strategies available to Java. A couple
dud sessions in there too, but what can you do. Of course no convention is
complete without an expo hall (both at Java One and OpenWorld), but it was
mostly a waste of time. I am in no position to actually buy any of the products
they were selling, but it was fun to watch how quickly the sale rep tried to
disengage once they found that out. Apparently the product I work on was demoed
somewhere on the floor so hopefully something good came out that.
All this work did lead to long days. I got up, went to the convention, sat
in as many sessions as I could, then rode the subway home to sleep. Some of the
sessions ran pretty late for a 9-5 guy with the latest being 9PM on some days.
In between I got the chance to enjoy some San Francisco food. Weirdly regular
convention goers get served lunch, but not Oracle employees. Presumably Oracle
would prefer I expense a meal that cost more than what they are serving? The
best was, oddly enough, the Korean barbeque I had near the mall at the Moscone
Center. I got way too much rice though.
We also got a chance to visit mother Oracle at nearby Redwood Shores and see
the sweet Oracle boat.
Turns out there are some perks to having a slightly eccentric CEO. At the
convention I got to see him speak for the first time at the key note and I was
greatly impressed. He was funny and engaging. Calling out the competition,
poking fun at himself, he really has a flair for speech and clearly loves being
the big shot. The gift shop at HQ was pretty disappointing though so he is not
perfect. After that it was two quick flights back, and a midnight car ride to
Franklin. Business managed.
The big takeaway from all this is two fold. One, this convention is not for
Oracle employees. Two, find all the Oracle employees you can so they can tell
you who to talk to in the company to actually get stuff done.