About two months ago I received an email from Andrej Targosz asking if I would like to present at Java Developer’s Day in Krakow, Poland. Being of Polish decent (yes, Burke is Irish, but my grandmother is a full blooded Pole), I really wanted to go just to see the country. The fact that I would be speaking in front of about 400 Polish Java developers was also a huge plus. Jonas Boner, a long time adversary in the AOP space was slated to give a talk. Me and him always had gotten along really well, and it would be good to seem him. The JBoss guys that run JBoss.org live in Warsaw and decided they’d come down. The lead of JBoss Business Activity Framework, Maciej Machulak another Pole, was also invited to talk about his project. Considering how I have blogged about his stuff recently, it would be really cool to meet him in person. Besides, when JBoss guys get together, it’s always a party no matter where in the world we’re from.
First, I want to give kudos to PROIDEA, the organizers of the conference. Besides organizing a professional, well-run conference, they went above and beyond the call of duty and made my stay truly special. They picked me up at the airport and even though the conference was held outside of the city , they set me up at a nice apartment right in the city’s center. When Anna Kolodziejczyk, one of the conference’s key organizers, heard that other JBossians from Warsaw were coming, she scheduled and booked their train for them. She even gave up her weekend to show me and the other JBossians around Krakow. Andrej Targosz, the head of PROIDEA, got up at the early hour of 4:00 am to drive me to the airport Monday morning. Finally, I missed my daughter’s birthday to attend the conference. To make up for it they sent me home with a traditional Polish doll and a stuffed animal of the city’s mascot, the Krakow dragon. I can’t thank Anna and Andrej enough for such a great trip.
I arrived on Thursday morning. After a nap, Andrej and Anna picked me up for dinner and to meet one of the sponsor’s of the conference, DRQ. Besides talking business, tech, and the general discussion that people from different countries always make, I was introduced to some tasty Polish food: their traditional Polish soup (Help me out guys! I can’t remember the name to save my life), and a sweet, hot, red and spicy wine(come on Poles, give me the name). I ended up ordering those two things any time I went out to dinner the whole trip. The DRQ guys made me feel special by giving me a gift of a painting of Krakow’s city center as well as a copy of my O’Reilly EJB 3.0 book translated into polish. I could not believe my book had been translated. They told me that the Polish publisher donated 40 copies of the Polish version of my book to the conference. Man, my 92 old grandmother is gonna freak when she sees it!
The second day was the actual conference. I was first up and gave a talk, of course, about EJB 3.0 and covered both its integration with JPA and how to use EJB 3.0 interceptors. I didn’t get to see the 2nd by DRQ’s, Artur Basiura, because PROIDEA was having some online magazine (I don’t remember their name) do video interviews of each presenter. Jonas Boner gave a nice talk on Terracotta’s product. He always gives a great presentation and it was interesting to see how Terracotta stacked up with JBoss Cache and JBoss POJO Cache. I didn’t get to see Dariusz Zbik, of Software Mind’s presentation as PROIDEA wanted me to sign the 40 copies of my book they were giving away. It would have been difficult anyways as I believe his presentation was entirely in Polish.
In the afternoon I had a one-on-one meeting with some of the developers of DRQ, one of the conference’s sponsor. The meeting lasted a few hours in which DRQ drilled me for information about JBoss, open source, and the general state of Java. You can pretty much gauge the talent of a developer by the quality of questions they throw at you. From that I could tell, DRQ had some pretty good engineers. Being a JBoss user, it was also cool to learn what pieces of JBoss they were using to solve their customer needs.
After meeting with DRQ I rushed to see Maciej’s presentation on JBoss Business Activity Framework. Being lazy, I had only looked at the basic examples of his project and didn’t dive down into the gory details. His presentation filled in the gaps for me. One cool thing I learned was that his framework turns every transactional event into a callback. A bunch of ideas are brewing in my head around this that I hope to blog about later.
Lastly, I was able to see the last presenter of the day, Jacek Laskowski, give a presentation in Polish about Geronimo 2. He was probably the most energetic presenter of the conference. One funny thing he did was that he was wearing 5 different t-shirts. Whenever he changed subject, he changed the t-shirt he was wearing which had the audience roaring in laughter. He had the audience pretty captivated. I will give him one critism though. He talked way too much about us. I counted about 30-35 times he said the word JBoss. Why are Geronimo contributors so obsessed with us? If you’re giving a talk, yeah, maybe you might want to mention who your competitors are, but if you talk about your main competitor continuously throughout the presentation, its just free marketing for them and detracts from your project. Geir Magnusson made the same mistake a few years ago when I saw him give a speech on Geronimo. I was able to shake hands with Jacek after the talk and I thanked him for mentioning us so many times.
After the conference, I hung out with the JBoss guys and their wives and girlfriends in the Jewish sector of Krakow. I experienced what they called Polish fast food (guys name please again!) and had something that looked like pizza on a half loaf of soft bread, but it was much more tastier and satisfying. We had an early night because I was tired from the long day and they had all gotten up at around 4am to take their train to Krakow from Warsaw.
The rest of the weekend was sight-seeing. Since the JBoss guys were staying a few minutes from me, Anna, one of the conference organizers I talked about above, picked me up to meet them at the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow. There was a time miscommunication and the JBoss guys actually got there an hour before we did and did the tour without us. The ironic thing was they ended up going to the English tour and I ended up going to the Polish one. The Wieliczka Salt Mines were really cool. These 900 year old mines had beautiful statues carved right out of the stone and a lot of windy passages that reminded me of the Lord of the Rings. The prettiest part was the Chapel of Saint Kinga which was again, carved right out of the stone. Afterwards, Anna dropped me off with the JBoss guys and they took me out to a another traditional Polish dinner where I ate too much. Afterwards we went to a cool bar in the Jewish sector of Krakow and had kamikaze shots and a bunch of beer. Later we went back to the place they were staying and I was introduced to Polish Vodka. *sarcasm* Thanks guys! *sarcasm*. The night ended with Tomek (a JBossian) and I getting into a heated, Vodka-induced argument which we laughed about heartily the next day.
On Sunday, again Anna took some time out of her weekend to show me and the JBossians around a little. In the late morning she and and one of her friends picked me up and took me to the flea market in Krakow. American antique collectors would have drooled over all the old stuff that was there. After also going to the beautiful, and sad, Jewish cemetery there, we met up with the JBoss guys for lunch which followed with a tour of Krakow’s castle. I truly liked Krakow. It was a beautiful city. I hope to take the wife there someday when our kids our older and we can just dump them off at their grandparents for a week or so.
WOW! Hope this wasn’t too much information. JDD Krakow was a great trip and I was honored that PROIDEA pegged me as a speaker. If I have something interesting to talk about I hope they ask me back next year.