The IOUC Trip Report
by Stephan Janssen
Bert Breeman (Chairman of NLJUG) and myself (BeJUG) attended last week the International Oracle User Group Committee Summit (IOUC) for the first time. We had synchronized our flights and we both staid in the "grandmother rooms" of the Warwick hotel, right in the center of San Francisco. This way we had a few days to digest our jet lag and do some family shopping. Of course we had multiple visits to the Apple Store followed by some serious credit card transactions.
Several European JUG leaders already attended the European OUC Summit in Brussels last year. So at least we already knew a few people like Mary Lou (who was also present during the JavaOne un-conference sessions). Tom Scheirsen, Janny Ekelson, Ronan Miles, Debra Lilley, Heli Helskyaho and many more.
The Summit was organized in the Oracle Headquarters in Redwood Shores where 6 break-out rooms were made available. It was my first visit to the "database" tower buildings and a rush of excitement did go through my body when the bus arrived.
I can summarize the IOUC Summit in one word: A-social-networking-mini-JavaOne-VIP-treatment-with-JUG-leaders-and-others
It was the first time that JUG leaders (15 in total including JUG Africa, NLJUG, Silicon Valley JavaFX and Web UG, NYJavaSig, GreenJUG, SouJava, JEDI, Bangalore Open User Group and of course BeJUG) were invited to the IOUC Summit. Another 140 Oracle User Group leaders attend from all over the world (many of them are named Presidents and do prefer more formal clothing). It was also no surprise that the JUG leaders had a different understanding of business casual dress code.
There was a dedicated Java track throughout the Summit where different Oracle execs and spec. leads gave a presentation in a very informal atmosphere where questions and uncensored feedback could be exchanged. On Monday Steve Harris gave an overview of the Java agenda. Ranging from Java SE, Java EE, JavaME ("Oracle, please OEM Android" was my suggestion) and last but not least JavaOne.
It was also announced that Oracle would nominate SouJava to the JCP Executive Committee... Congratulations Bruno!
Another first was the IOUC un-conference sessions (re-branded to unSummit). We suggested to have an online page where attendees could submit topics before the Summit. During the Sunday evening reception the submitted topics were displayed on a whiteboard where other people could add more topics. We had a total of 12 un-conference slots, the first batch was held on Monday and the second batch on Tuesday.
On Monday I was given a few minutes during the opening general session to explain the un-conference philosophy. Bruno suggested also to give each attendee 3 small post-its so people could vote for their favorite topic.
Based on the number of people involved (close to 70%) and the enthusiastic feedback I personally received I think the UnSummit sessions were a huge success. I hope next year we can compliment them with 4 minute informal lightning talks.
Oracle had arranged a Usability Tour on Monday evening. It was a bit unfortunate that the presentation took longer as expected and that our guide had to rush the real cool demos like iris tracking. When we left the building it was already dark and I noticed that the database towers were re-branded to "RAE". Its probably more "useful" to use 3 letter acronyms at night!
We had a very interesting and intense meeting with the people that organize JavaOne.
Based on the feedback from the Java Community and Champions it was clear that 2010 was not good from a logistics and infrastructure point-of-view. Content wise it was very good but of course Google speakers and related Android talks were deeply missed!
"So what can we do to improve JavaOne?"
Here's my personal list:
- Move JavaOne back to spring, 6 months away from Devoxx!
- Because of the limited availability of the Moscone venue, maybe move it to Las Vegas instead
- Make from JavaOne again a tier-1 conference where people can easily network, enjoy presentations in spacious rooms and have again some Java fun!
- Record as many sessions in Full Monty mode and make it available on Parleys.com like Devoxx does.
A potential big disadvantage of JavaOne will probably be the lack of Google (and maybe even Apache) speakers...
We did have a follow-up un-conference session on the JavaOne subject which is available as a podcast below. Unfortunately I only attended the last part of the JavaOne discussion because I had to orchestrate an un-conference at the same time on "How to record your User Group session?". More on that in the Parleys.com part.
|Make sure you give us your input on JavaOne in the survey below, we'll provide the results to Oracle!|
On Tuesday morning I was given a 10 minute slot during the "Best Practices" general session to present Devoxx and Parleys.com.
I was really excited to present my children to this group but also because we had a nice announcement to share: "Oracle OTN joins Parleys.com". This means that Parleys.com will host in the near future a dedicated "Java" space which will contain several presentations from last years JavaOne and the JVM Summit. Hopefully this is a start of a fruitful online eLearning relationship with Oracle. Thanks Justin and Yolande for making this happen!
The reactions on my presentation were very intense, let me share a few:
"I think you shamed all the traditional OUG's; we have become too set in our ways and do not display the agility of your group!"
"What a show you gave us today at the President Summit..."
The same day we had scheduled an un-conference on "How to record your sessions?" (see also related blog post) and based on the attendance it seemed I had really triggered everybody's interest.
During the closing keynote it was mentioned again that the Oracle User Group leaders have started a Parleys task-force named "Parlez-vous"!
We did record several un-conference presentations using the memo app on the iPhone, the audio recording is really good and the results are available on Parleys.com and the podcast directly here.
The Extraterrestrial Membership Card
During the "Best Practices" general session the chairman of the South African Oracle User Group (SAOUG) presented a creative strategy to find more members; a membership card. Not just a normal membership card but a card with extraterrestrial benefits, these include discounts for on online shopping, education, financial services, home assistance, home & decor, security, automotive, boating, concierge services, cellphone contracts, travel & hi-life experiences, restaurants, health & vitality and even medical support including HIV treatment!
All the JUG leaders were speechless after hearing this amazing initiative... Respect!
Juggy meets Stanley
On Tuesday evening we had another informal drink in the hotel. This was another tipping point because there we discovered that behind the more formal dress code the ACE directors are actually as crazy as we are.
Brenda introduced me to a new friend named Stanley. Stanley is not a person or puppet but a sleeveless red vest with the ACE directors logo on the back. Stanley doesn't know too much about IT so his Blog and quotes on Facebook and Twitter (yes Stanley does know how to write) are like symphony to my ears!
I'm convinced you can earn your PhD in Psychology by doing your dissertation on Stanley
The Google visit
Van Riper organized on Wednesday afternoon a GooglePlex visit which was another highlight.
The GooglePlex offices are actually a completely different universe compared to the Oracle cubicles. Super high-tech fitness rooms, snooker tables, relax chairs, a 10 meter long bed shaped whale, unlimited food & drink supply including free breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nooglers (new employees) are warned for the "Google 15" effect which are the 15 pounds you can get "gratis" when working at the internet search giant.
Colored bi-cycles take you from one building to the other and the luxury buses with wireless makes your commute a more pleasant experience.
Chet Haase and half of the JavaPosse (Tor Norbye and Joe Nuxoll) joined us for dinner with the other JUG leaders.
Really enjoyed the Google visit, thanks again Van for organizing this.
I'd like to thank Mary Lou and her team for putting this summit together! Already looking forward to the European Summit where hopefully more Java User Group leaders will attend.
Life is a sequence of highlights, this was definitely one of them! - Stephan Janssen