It takes more than a roomful of beanbag chairs to impress the ConFonz. Valleywag's favorite conference correspondent comes away from Sun's JavaOne conference with an upset stomach, a full bladder, and a case of the shakes.
Have you ever wondered how to put 5000 programmers, analysts, journalists, and Sun employees to sleep? Well, just ask Mr. Gage, Sun's chief researcher, and he'll explain that the best way to do this is to open your conference with an 8:30 AM keynote that starts out with a lengthy explanation of the myriad misprints, mix-ups, and overbookings. Gage spent 20 minutes speaking in a monotone about why conference attendees shouldn't be shy, why they have to register ahead of time for every session they want to attend, and why the documentaiton handed out at the beginning of the show was mostly incorrect.
The ConFonz is no stranger to boredom. After decades of attending conferences filled with dull developers, plodding programmers, and fizzling flaks, the ConFonz has gained the ability to sleep with his eyes open and in the seated position. But Tuesday morning's keynote pushed even the ConFonz's minimal patience to its utmost limits. After Gage came Schwartz, who's unscripted discussions of the future gave the press lots to write about, but little to actually say. Rather than tell developers that Sun would now be giving away Niagra servers for free, Schwartz decided to wave one of the things around over his head beneath a banner that read "Free Kits," then to replace the thing under a desk and move on without mentioning it again. Sun didn't even issue a press release on this.
And then, Jackson and Green took over the show, boring the audience to absolute tears. Between Jackson's lame Monty Python jokes (Jesus, dude, there are so many other Python things to quote than the Holy Grail) and Green's "I'm new here, don't ask me to be interesting" approach the entire attending public was ready to slit its own throats just to stop the cavalcade of bad public speaking.
As if all this weren't enough, the rest of the conference was in complete dissaray. Sessions were crowded, lines for food, speeches, and shwag were exceptionally long, and the actual attenance numbers look very low from down here in the reeds. With Sun spiralling downwards, out of control, and the entire organization in complete chaos, this year's JavaOne isn't even about Java. It's about AJAX.
Time was, years ago, that Sun took care of its developers in a manner similar to Microsoft. The incandescant company used to hold all night parties and coding sessions, fueled by free coffee, soda, and schwag. Now, the company makes its developers jump through hoops, chase from booth to booth, and generally dance like monkeys for all those goodies.
Sure, they fed the press, offered free coffee in the media room, and the show floor had some remarkably good schwag, but in general, this year's JavaOne is the most underwhelming developers conference in recent memory. Sorry, Sun, you had a good run, but these days yer just not any fun!
Photo by Pat McGovern [Paul Boutin on Flickr]