I spend the last five days in Zurich. I wanted to visit the city again - and still owed one of my friends there a visit. I am really happy the weather was quite nice over the weekend. That way I could spend quite some time in town (got another one of those puzzles) and go for a hike on the Ütli mountain: I took the steep way up that had quite a lot of stairs. Interestingly though, despite being quite tired when I finally arrived on top, my legs did not have sore muscles the next day. Seems going to work and back again by bike does indeed help a bit, even if we have no hills in Berlin.
Yesterday I was allowed to present the Apache project Mahout in a Google tech talk. Usually I am talking to people well familiar with the various Apache projects. Giving my talk I asked people who was familiar with Lucene, with Hadoop. To me it was pretty unusual that very few engineers were aware of these. It almost seemed like it is unusual to have a look at what is going outside the company? Or was it just the selection of people that were interested in my talk?
I tried to cover most of the basics, put Mahout into the context of the Lucene umbrella project. I tried to show some of the applications that can be built with Mahout and detailed some of the things that are on our agenda.
Some of the questions I received were on the scalability of Hadoop, on the general distribution of people being paid to work on Free Software projects vs. those working on them in their freetime. Another question was whether the project is targeted to text only applications (which of course it is not, as feature extraction so far has been left to the user). Last but not least the relation to UIMA was brought up by a former IBM-UIMA engineer.
To summarize: For me it was a pretty interesting experience to give this tech talk. I hope it did help me to do away with some of my "Apache bias". It is always valuable to look into what is going outside one's community.