Flying back home from Cologne

2009-08-23 20:40
Last weekend FrOSCon took place in Sankt Augustin, near Cologne. FrOSCon is organized on a yearly basis at the university of applied sciences in Sankt Augustin. It is a volunteer driven event with the goal of bringing developers and users of free software projects together. This year, the conference featured 5 tracks, two examples being cloud computing and the Java track.

Unfortunately this year the conference started with a little surprise for me and my boyfriend: Being both speakers, we had booked a room in Hotel Regina via the conference committee. Yet on Friday evening we had to learn that the reservation never actually reached the hotel... So, after several minutes talking to the receptionist, calling the organizers we ended up in a room that was booked for Friday night by someone who was known to arrive no earlier than Saturday. Fortunately for us we have a few friends close by in Düsseldorf: Fnord was so very kind to let us have his guest couch for the following night.

Checkin time next morning: On the right hand side the regular registration booth. On the left hand side the entrance for VIPs only. The FSFE quickly realized it's opportunity: They soon started distributing flyers and stickers among the waiting exhibitors and speakers.

Set aside the organizational issues, most of the talks were very interesting and well presented. The Java track featured two talks by Apache Tomcat committer Peter Roßbach, the first one on the new Servlet 3.0 API, the second one on Tomcat 7. Too sad, my talk was in parallel to his Tomcat talk, so I couldn't attend that. I appreciate several of the ideas on cloud computing highlighted in the keynote: Cloud computing as such is not really new or innovative, it is several good ideas so far known for instance as utility computing that are now being improved and refined to make computation a commodity. At the very moment however cloud computing providers tend to sell their offers as new, innovative products. There is no standard API for cloud computing services. That makes switching from one provider to another extremely hard and leads to vendor-lockin for its users.

The afternoon was filled by my talk. This time I tried something, that so far I only have done in user groups of up to 20 people: I first gave a short introduction into who I am and than asked the audience to describe themselves in one sentence. There were about 50 people, after 10 minutes everyone had given is self-introduction. It was a nice way of getting detailed information of what knowledge to expect from people, and it was interesting to hear people from IBM and Microsoft being in the room.

After that I attended the RestMS talk by Thilo Fromm and Peter Hintjens. They showed a novel, community driven way to standards creation. RestMS is a messaging standard that is based on a restful way for communication. So far the standard itself is still in it's very early stages, still there are some very “alpha, alpha, alpha” implementations out there that can be used for playing around. According to Peter there are actually people who already use these implementations for production servers and send back bug reports.

Sunday started with an overview of the DaVinci VM by Dalibor Topic, the author of the OpenJDK article series in the German Java Magazin. Second talk of the day was an introduction to Scala. I already know a few details of the language, but the presentation made it easy to learn more: It was organised as an open question and answer session with live coding leading through the talk.

After lunch and some rest, the last two topics of interest were on details on the campaigns of FFII against software patents and an overview of the upcoming changes in gnome3.0.

This year's FrOSCon did have some organizational quirks but the quality of most of the talks was really good with at least one interesting topic in one of the sessions at nearly every time slot - though I must admit that that was easy in my case with Java and cloud computing being of interest to me.

Update: Videos are up online.