Tag Archives: conference

Trip Report: Joker 2018 🇷🇺

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It will be a bit strange to call this blog post a “Trip Report”, bearing in mind that I’m fairly local. Yep, technically I’m living in two homes – St. Petersburg, Russia and Sofia, Bulgaria. So coming to Joker was kinda switching home, but to make it more unified I’ll still call this post a “Trip Report”. A trip report to Joker Conference!

There is one disclaimer I have to make: in this post I do not follow any timeline. Here I just want to share some thoughts and emotions.

So, what is Joker Conference? This is Russia’s biggest Java event, which usually takes place at October/November  in St. Petersburg.  The city itself is now unofficially considered as a technological hub, accommodating a lot of IT offices and foreign representations. Like Oracle for example, they used to have a big R&D office in it. You may be surprised, but Java ME for example, or the biggest part of lambdas in Java 8 were created in St. Petersburg. Now, for some reasons, there is no more R&D, but some other activities. Still a lot of banks, telecoms, retailers, aerospace etc have some quite big R&D offices in St. Petersburg. The Universities produce a lot of very qualified developers to satisfy the huge needs for that.

So, as a result Joker is a big conference. There are usually about 1500 attendees.

The conference is run by JUGru group, and it is absolutely professionally organised.By professionally I mean that conference organisation is their main job. Joker was the first one guys&gals have made, now there are more than 15 conferences they manage. And they  are not only Java oriented.

This was my fourth Joker Conference, and I kind of see its evolution.

For me it all started back in 2015 when it was held in one of the hotels and it was sincerely crowded, but starting from 2016 the conference moved to the Expoforum – a huge expo center near the Pulkovo airport.  This venue definitely has opened some new possibilities like convenient transforming auditoriums, big expo and dining area. The venue is really one of the best I’ve seen in my vast “conference junkie” career.

The stage is cool!

And there is a lot of attendees!

The conference has mixed Russian/English set of sessions, so the speakers were also mixed local and foreign. The audience is mainly local. By local I mean Russian/Belorussian/Ukrainian/Kazahk – or in other words Russian–speaking. But the quantity of foreign speakers grows constantly trough the years, and I consider this as a good sign. All the visa barriers are handled gracefully by the JUGru team.

Russian conferences tend to focus on more hardcore topics. Just introduction talks receive the lowest scores. Russians prefer hardcore stuff! Yes, the talk should be hardcore, with a lot of deep dives, algorithms and case studies. If you can describe, for example, why your JVM consumes few bytes (or gigabytes) more than expected, and you know what experimental flag to put in the JVM params to stop it from doing this, describing in implementation details why this actually happens – this will be a cool talk! You may say, oh, isn’t it kinda JVMLS? Not exactly, dissecting Spring Boot or some Micronaut or Microprofile stuff is the expected topic. Not just knowing that the framework/technology can do this or that, but how actually it does it, and what are the corner cases causing unexpected bugs.

Yes, hardcore is highly tolerated! Why am I saying this? Actually I know this from the source. This year I had the honor and privilege to be invited as a member of the program committee. We had a wonderful team of eight – Gleb Smirnov, Victor Polischuk, Andrey Kogun, Oleg Anastasiev, Vladimir Sitnikov, Ivan Krylov, myself and first Valentina then Daria, to select the best possible talks for this conference. So, we were able to preview all the submissions, make rehearsals, make corrections in the talks, sometimes even redo the talks from scratch. Yes, you’ve got me right. On this conference (or actually on all JUGru conferences) the committee actively works with all the submissions and the speakers themselves. If you submit your talk to Joker – be prepared, that in few days someone from the committee will contact you and ask you for a rehearsal.

Many foreign developers  find this weird. They usually say: “Hey, hey man, I gave my talks at JavaOne, Devoxx etc. I had my rooms packed. Why should I do a rehearsal?”. But at the end of the day, those who accepted to rehearse usually say: “Damn, that was so much useful! And the feedback you gave me is so valuable! And that was totally for free!”.

As a result – the content is very strong and nicely prepared!

This is one of the key aspects that makes this conference kind of unique – a very intense content preparation. Usually the committee starts its work half a year before the conference, and active rehearsals are made until almost the last day before the conference.

By the way, there was even special time slot for direct interaction with the program committee.

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Another thing I’ve seen only on Joker are the discussion zones. Every speaker, after giving his talk, is usually invited to answer questions about his talk or continue the discussion. This usually lasts for an hour.

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In case of Dr. Venkat Subramaniam and Josh Long those discussion zones have lasted up to three hours. People had so many questions, and they both were answering them all that time!

This year’s conference continues its growth not only in terms of quantity of attendees, but also in terms of activities. There were two additional stages set in the expo area, so that the companies a the booths are able to present some quickes at the breaks.

The booths were also full cool stuff.

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Btw,  unlike other conferences, it’s not easy to win a prize at these booths. To do this, you have to solve several weird programming problems, most of which are like puzzlers.

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There were also so called experts areas set, where every attendee was able to ask the strangest questions  about certain technology to the coolest programmers and solve their concrete issue! .. Or ask them to sign a book!

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Everything was done to keep everybody busy till the late night (literally) the day one ended up with several cool BoFs. Together with Shelaev, Pangin and Chuyko we have hosted one of them regarding moving to Java 11.. And it was pretty cool! We had a very good discussion, with a lot of interaction, … and we were forcibly stopped, since this could have run all night long! I’m not totally sure whether the Java 11 was considered as a game changer, but one day we will have to migrate to it. The main discussion about it was, as expected, should we pay starting from now???

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The activities at the conference hadn’t been strictly about knowledge but fun too, like a big exhibition of retro computers and games everyone could try playing.

As always the greatest part on each conference is meeting great people! I’m definitely happy I could meet Sebastien Blanc.

So much great to meet Gerrit Grunwald! I think the last time we have met was in SFO in 2015!

Together with the coolest Tagir Valeev watching Andrey Pangin’s talk.

With the so cool JBaruch (as a JFrog)!

It was great to meet with Ivan Uglyanslki from Novosibirsk!

A great honor for we was to meet in person Robert Scholte – one of the maven creators! It was also great to discuss the future of maven with him!

And we all had a lot of fun!

I liked a lot talking to John McClean not only about Functional programming but about Irish music as well.

This is the most OMG picture I’ve ever taken:

It was very interesting to talk with foreign speakers not just about the technology, but also about Russia. The most of the speakers are for the first time in the country, and it is very delightful to hear that they like the town of St. Petersburg a lot! Some of them have said: “They show us different thing on the TV..”

And by the way (yes, yet another by the way), on this conference I was not only part of the committee, but also a speaker. I gave a talk about Microprofile.io based on the tutorial we have done together with Ivan St. Ivanov from our BGJUG. My session was scheduled as last of the day one.  Surprisingly the room for 700 people was almost packed! Never thought so many people would like to dedicate their time on Friday evening for the ” bloody enterprise”.

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I would like to say huge thanks everybody for coming! I hope this will be useful for your next projects! I liked the phrase several people have said – “Oh, this microprofile is like the light in the tunnel for the enterprise! This is great! It is so cool the technology is evolving so fast! And the community is there to help!”

At the end of the second day, as a final nontechnical keynote we all have listened to a very both interesting and strange talk about people’s digital mental health by famous in Russia Dr. Kurpatov.

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Actually there were a lot of take-aways for me from this talk. I still keep training my personal multithreading, but at the same time I train the concentration on a particular important task I have to finish on time with great responsibility.

And the last but lot least thing I should mention – just before the conference, the previous day the world’s greatest java speaker Dr. Venkat Subramaniam gave  his wonderful two (technically almost three) hours jug session. I was very happy to meet him after he came to jPrime to Bulgaria earlier this year. It was absolutely great to have his book signed for me! I’m feeling blessed now!

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As expected, it was fully packed on this event!

Just to mention that this event took place at the Oracle office in St. Petersburg. Like every other building there it looks like a palace!

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So, Joker was great! As always great! Getting more and more great!

Thanks Andrey!

Thank you Alexey!

And thanks to the team! It was huge honor and pleasure to be part of this event! Hope to see you next year!

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Cheers!

And St. Petersburg is just amazing in autumn…

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See you soon, beautiful home!

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Trip Report: JavaZone 2018 🇳🇴

Hmm, too few posts. I definitely have to change this. In my defence I’ll say, that only for this summer I’ve visited 12 countries. But you will argue, that for example Josh Long (my hero) made 12 countries only for this week, and he still has written several blog posts for this time. And you a right, I’m too lazy, I have to post more often!

Finally I’m in the local Starbucks, my cappuccino is ready, looks like it’s a perfect time to remember one of the greatest adventures of this year so far – JavaZone 2018!

When earlier this year, in May, I have received this email telling me that my talk “Java and the GPU: unlock the massive performance” was accepted for this year’s edition of JavaZone in Oslo, Norway, I literally jumped out of mu chair shouting out “Yes!!!”.

Visiting this conference was definitely one of my dreams, I’ve heard so many good words about it! Now finally this dream came true. Huge thanks to the committee for accepting my talk!

Finally September has arrived, I’ve landed in Oslo and literally fell in love with Norway from the first site!

An express train brought me from the airport directly to the Oslo central station for only 19 minutes. You may ask – so what? Actually the airport is about ~60 km away from the city and we were cruising with more 220 km/h. And those trains are scheduled to make this route every 10 min. This so cool!

For this conf choosing the train was the best choice, as the venue – Spectrum arena is just next to the central station. The hotel was there as well. So we were perfectly located.

Oslo welcomed us with a grey rainy weather

But just 20 min later it was beautiful and sunny, like in every northern town

In the evening we were invited to the speakers dinner that took place in a beautifully located restaurant with some stunning views of Oslo!

Oh, thats Chris Thalinger also making some photos of this wonderful sunset. By the way it’s raining.

Definitely a wonderful place to relax before the conference. We stayed there until late.

The next day was the first day of the conference. The first thing I saw was the looooong queue of the attendees.

The good (or may be the bad) part was that my talk was scheduled on for the second day. So the first day I had a chance to explore a little bit.

The conference organisation, or I may even say “architecture” is totally different from all other conferences I have attended. The venue is a huge arena, where big concerts take place. There is a big central area where you can find a lot of software company’s booths.

 

Just take a look how big is it and how many people are in!

The conference kick-off was lovely with some guitar players

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The coolest part is that practically all the booth serve their own food all day long! Yes, yes.. you can have food all the time, all day long.. all two days! There was only one major problem for me – I couldn’t taste it all! I haven’t had enough capacity! Definitely OMG.

But not only food, but tons of other cool activities

One of the unique features of JavaZone are the 8 parallel tracks. Yep, 8! That’s a lot! The rooms are themselves not very big, but that makes the cozy.

That’s me attending Vlad Mihalcea’s great talk.

And like every conference the main reward is actually meet and talk to people! Hey, that’s Chris (..and Doug)!

My good friends Simon, Simon, Phillip and my new friend Jennifer

Finally could meet Sharat Chander in person!

Awesome hardcore JVM company of Doug, Volker and Steve

The discussions we had were really useful to me!

At the end of the day we had a wonderful hangout with David, Vincent and Matthew

Then actually came the funny part. My talk was scheduled for 9.00 the next morning. I was sincerely wondering who will ever be interested in GPUs and massive parallel computation so early in the morning? I was a bit nervious wen my talk was approaching.

But I was ready!

So I was expecting a maximum audience of 3 people to show up. What was my surprise when I found my room fully packed!

Oh My God! Absolutely unexpected!

I sincerely want to thank everybody that came. I hope the talk useful and fun to you!

By the way, it became available just few hours later in vimeo! Cool organisation at JavaZone!

When I was done with my talk I took the chance to hang around the beautiful city of Oslo!

Definitely a beautiful capital!

JavaZone 2018 was a great new experience for me! I’ve seen a cool organisation, met great friends and made great ones!

I want to say huge thanks to Rafael, Rustam, Mark and all the team for having me and making this conf a blast!

At the end as always my best five IMHO sessions of the conf from those I was able to see myself live:

Now I’m on may way watching the other talks I’ve missed (and those I’m able to understand)! They are just great!!!

So good bye Oslo! Thank you for being awesome! Hope to see you again!