Roundup Thoughts

This is a roundup of my thoughts about the Roundup, the Java Posse Roundup 2010 that is. If you don't know, the Roundup is the yearly conference put on by the guys who do the Java Posse podcast and tech writer/speaker Bruce Eckel. If you're a Java person, you should be listening to their podcast, no question. The conference is an unconference/open space conference/camp/etc. where it's not about getting lectured to or watching slides but discussing topics with a group. There's no speaker, just a bunch of smart people talking. This was my second Roundup and I very much hope it won't be my last.

One of the best parts of the Roundup is seeing people I met and made friends with in person again. We drove up on Sunday and Bruce had a get-together for early attendees at his house that ended up being mostly returning folks catching up. It was great to see people again, even though I felt like I hadn't spent any time away from some people thanks to Twitter.

The next day was Day 0 of the Roundup, the language dojo day. I had left last year's Roundup with a great feeling about JavaFX and had done a little coding in it since then so I went to the JavaFX day Dick Wall of the Posse proposed. We spent the day writing a JavaFX version of OmmWriter (called ZenWriterFX) and fighting with git/github. If we hadn't had so much trouble with git, we would have made it a lot farther but even so we made good progress. I helped a little generally and ended up doing the little bit that played the background sound for the app. Dick has since moved the project to Bitbucket so we can use Mercurial and I'm going to be participating in further development for sure. I already have some cool ideas I want to try out and I really like JavaFX.

I'll go into the individual sessions at some later point when I can go over my notes but overall, the sessions were great again this year. I learned a lot, as always, and actually had something to say in more than a few. I do find that I like the sessions where I don't talk as much more though. :) The Roundup attendees are all super smart people and it's great to get everybody's perspective and uses of things.

One of the best parts of the Roundup is the Lightning Talks. These are 5 minute talks people give on any subject that interests them, technical or not. This year there were talks about car engines, shaving, donating bone marrow, open mapping technology, and much more. The talks are recorded and will be on YouTube at some point. I even gave a talk this year! I did a short demo of the note taking system I use in my notebooks. Despite some technical difficulties (turns out Ubuntu does not like to be plugged into a projector while it's coming back from sleep mode), I think my talk went well. I was super nervous so I rushed and forgot a couple things but people seemed to like it. I'll have the video here when it's up.

The Roundup is a very unique experience. If you're expecting a regular conference or want to just blend in with a crowd it's not for you. We don't do technical stuff all the time (though of course if you want to, it's up to you) and this year I did much less programming than last year. I spent my afternoons snow-shoeing and shooting a shotgun, watching the movie Vertigo, shopping, watching an impromptu demo of Scala, and lots else. It's kind of a Geek Summer Camp, but in the blowing snow of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Like I said, I love going to the Roundup and hope to do it every year. I have a bunch of new friends because of it, I learned a lot, made some decisions about my career, and recharged my batteries to better attack the year to come.