What is this barcamp thing anyway?

Derek Organ is brave enough to ask the question below about the Barcamp Ireland unconference. He’s deeply involved with Web 2.0 startup 1time.ie, so we know he’s not thick! I’m writing this post, as Enterprise Ireland recently posted an invite to everybody that was at the Web 2 Ireland get together, and I can just picture the people there scratching their heads and wondering ‘What is this Barcamp thing anway?‘.

Dereks’ Question:

I’ve never been to one of these events but I’d love to go there and show off our own web 2.0 product and also see what other people are at in ireland. I’m struggling at the moment though to figure out exactly how the the day will be formated. As in who talks, organizes etc? I’m sure they work but i wonder could anyone share there experience if they have been to one. What usually happens?

So, below are the answers the top questions I had before attending. Yes, the answers are strange, but yes, the whole thing seems to work.

1) Where is the event going to be held? At the time of writing , it’s going to be in Dublin, Cork, Galway or Waterford. Yes, it makes it slightly difficult to book accomadation, but hopefully a consensus will be arrived at soon. In general , Barcamp is dependant on people ‘donating’ a place to meetup. For example , last Octobers Techcamp Ireland was held in the Northside Civic Centre , Dublin.
2) When is the event on? This appears to be a little clearer, with current opinion favouring Saturday the 23rd September.

3) Who should attend? Anybody with a passion for the uses of technology – not just geeks in the traditional sense of the word, but people who can string two sentences together and still get excited about new possibilities.
4) How do I get invited? You invite yourself. Go to this page on the Barcamp site , and add your name to the list (click on the ‘edit page’ button on the top left). Yes it’s one of those web pages that everybody and anybody can edit (a wiki). In exchange for you being trusted to change the page, please don’t go mad with it.

5) How do I get in touch with the organiser? The organiser is you. I understand this may come as a bit of a shock, but at least you have about 30 other people (at the last count) to help you out. The wiki (see point 4) is what makes it all come together – the more you put in, the more you get out of it.

6) What will people be talking about? Anything that interests you. The current list is on the wiki, and first timers are actively encouraged to sign up to speak – not as a sales pitch, but if you genuinely think you have something useful to share.

If you’re looking for more information, you could do worse than check out the people that have already blogged about the event:

And by way of apology to Derek for damning him with faint praise , here is his company logo – well worth checking out.

onetime logo

What is Java Me and do I need it?

James Corbett asked on this post

Any advice on mobile java (Java ME, formerly J2ME from what I understand)? I’m thinking of developing a mobile app, or rather getting someone to develop it, and it strikes me that Java ME is the most widely supported platform on consumer mobile

J2me picture

Java ME is the version of Java that run’s on small devices (like Mobile phones). Speaking as a Java consultant , here’s my thoughts on it:

  • Java Me is a cut down version of Java , so any Java Developer should be able to help you out. There are also a range of Emulators (things that run on your PC pretending to be a phone), so you don’t have to have 20 mobiles sitting on your desk for testing.
  • I think there will be a big demand for the sort of Games / Gadgets / Gizmos that people can show off on their mobile phones (look at the money paid out for simple things like Ringtones). The trouble is the route to market – how do you get your gizmo onto somebody’s phone and get them to pay you for it. It’s a lot easier if you have a friendly Telco like Vodafone or O2 on board.
  • Strictly speaking , Java ME is not the most widely supported mobile platform – that honour goes to XHMTL , a stricter version of normal web pages. This is the approach that Google takes with it’s mobile Gmail product. This also has the benefit of running on phones like O2’s imode.
  • There is the small problem of not every version of Java that runs’s on a mobile phone is the same – there is multiple versions, differences between the handset companies and even a couple of different subsets of Java.
  • Personally I’ve stayed away from it, given that mobiles will be powerful enough within 18-36 months to run the full version of Java. Any major investment of my time learning J2ME would be thrown away at that stage.

So , in one line: If you really need the extra power of Java on the mobile, it should be doable. But think long and hard about delivering it as a Web Application (using XHTML) instead. All depends on what you are trying to do.

    And the results of the Virtual Java Meetup are …

    And the results of the Virtual Java Meetup are … here. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

    If you couldn’t be bothered reading the entire thing , the results of the Dublin Jury on ‘what technologies should I be learning in the next 12 months’ are:

    • Web services are going to be big, but only if they can be simple.
    • EJB 3 and Netbeans are both worth taking a look at again, they are now much better than the previous versions that gave them a bad name.
    • Middleware (e.g. workflow and Rules Engines) are interesting in a corporate environment, but there is a high barrier to entry.
    • Struts , and to a lesser extent JSF , will continue to be dominant Java Web frameworks, despite not being the best technical choice.
    • A lot of companies are still using Java 1.4, but may make the leap to Java 6 (Mustang).
    • Service Orientated Architecuture (SOA) is a nice idea, but not so many projects have been implemented using it.
    • IDE’s (Netbeans / Eclipse / JDeveloper) can deliver a lot of value, but only if backed up by lower level tools (e.g. Ant and Maven).
    • More for the next 24 months , keep an eye on Apache Service Mix.

    Anybody up for BarCamp Ireland?

    It’s been a while (9 months already) since TechCamp Ireland. Just when I was thinking of ‘when is the next one’ up pops this post on Web2Ireland. (Hint: If the previous sentence just lost you , imagine an (almost) self-organising event where everybody just turns up and makes an ‘unconfernece’ happen.
    For more information , check out the BarCamp Ireland page. Early details are sketchy, but it’s pencilled in for the 23rd September , possibly Cork , Galway or Dublin. Techcamp covered everything from Ajax to Web 2.0 and every thing in between (podcasting , Digital rights, user generated content) , so expect the same and more besides.

    If you’re not quite sure what Barcamp is , some useful links:

    JRuby – Web 2.0 in the Enterprise Java world

    On a recent project , the choice was between Enterprise Java (using frameworks such as DWR and Struts) , or Oracle Forms. The newest latest Java technology , versus a 15 year old technology that Oracle is comitted to phasing out (and moving to ADF / Oracle fusion). No contest , you think , until you hear that the decision was made (and rightly so) to us Oracle Forms.

    ‘What?!’ I hear you say – how could this happen? The project in question was fairly simple – get information and store it in a database. The problem is , despite being mainstream for the last 6 years, there is no standard, easy ‘drag and drop’ method of doing these applications in Java. C# does it in Visual Studio. Oracle does it with Forms. With Java (and despite having doing 10 or so of these projects), there is still too much plumbing that the developer needs to know.

    I’m expecting a deluge of ‘have you tried project X’ on this post. And yes, I expect that an Eclipse based tool will probably fill the gap. But for these simple applications , there is no standard way of doing this (standard being a solution that dominates the market in the way Struts did the Web App framework space, until recently). But we’ve been waiting 6 long years!

    ruby on rails logo

    All of which brings me to Ruby. Ruby on Rails’ sweet spot is exactly these kind of simple, ajax enabled , no frills ‘get info from web and store it on database’ applications. Enterprise Java’s sweet spot is the heavy lifting workflow , Rules , Calculations, Integration with Legacy and other systems , web services and basically anything to do with Business logic. The two are a perfect complement to each other, which is why the news that JRuby now runs Ruby on Rails is especially interesting.

    JRuby is a version of Ruby that runs in the Standard Java Virtual Machine (JVM). It means that (1) You don’t have to install Ruby, which might meet resistance in a corporate environment. It also means (2) that all the methods you have available in Java you have available in Ruby. The O’Reilly Ruby site and this Javaworld Article are good places to start learning more about Ruby and linking it into Java.

    Java Meetup in the Virtual Dublin Pub

    Java Meetup in the Virtual Dublin Pub

    By Paul Browne

    Did you want to go to the recent Java Meetup (also here) but couldn’t make it? Were you washing your hair or doing your nails? Perhaps you were stuck at the other end of the country, (or some other country!)

    So , for all you people who find it difficult to make it every month, we’re pleased to announce the Java Meetup in the Virtual Irish Pub at 7.30pm on Tuesday 25th July. We’ll be talking about ‘What technologies should I be learning in the next 12 months?‘. See the drama unfold – Will the server take the strain? Will there be more than one person there?

    Stephen has already blogged about it , so that makes two. Thanks also to John for the original idea, Jakub for all the hard work in the getting the (real) Dublin Java Meetup to this stage, and Donal for the ‘try out everything before the day’ advice!
    Seeing as we’re spreading our wings, we may even invite the .Net, PHP and Ruby guys (after all , enough of them turn up at the Java events !)
    the quiet man

    Update: The Virtual Pub is now live (here).

    What you missed at the Dublin Java Meetup

    15 people turned up to talk about Java yesterday evening in the Forum Bar Dublin. Actually we talked about the World Cup (Ireland didn’t make it , but we had the choice of 6 other teams, including Jakub who was very selfish and had two!), Ruby (which is going to eat Java’s lunch in some areas), PHP, Naked Objects (write in Java, deploy in .Net), JavaKicks (a Digg like service, targetted at Java), .Net, Enterprise and Financial software, Spring , EJB 3.0, Apache, Blogging , Web 2.0 , Ajax , Service Orientated Architecture, Government Tenders, the Dublin Contract market and a little bit about Java.

    Can’t make it along in person? We’re going to do a 2nd Java meetup, but in a ‘virtual pub’ for people who find it hard to get to Dublin. We’ll still carry on with the existing (face to face) meetups. As an extra, at 7.30pm the last Tuesday of the month we’ll have an open chat session (We’ll setup chat software on this or another website).

    So, for 7.30pm on Tuesday 25th July I’ll be online. We’ll start with ‘What technologies should I be learning in the next 12 months?’ and let things develop from there.

    University of Ulster Graduates

    Scary, but it’s been 12 years since I graduated from the University of Ulster, Coleraine (the bit of Northern Ireland right at the very top, close to Scotland). The story of those years is for another day , as is how a European Business Studies (with French!) graduate is now deeply involved in technology.

    University of Ulster Logo

    If you did study at the University of Ulster (in Magee, Coleraine, Jordanstown or Belfast), then the UU have a networking site to help you keep in touch with people from the time that you complained about having a lecture at 9.15am

    Fancy a job at Google Dublin?

    As posted on the Irish Linux User Group mailing list:Google Logo

    Data Center Linux Systems Administrator – EU Headquarters
    This is a permanent, full time position based in Dublin
    Google is the premier provider of Internet search and has the most advanced
    search technology in the world.

    We are looking for exceptional System Administrators, at all levels of
    to support our growing server infrastructure.

    The ideal candidate will
    – work effectively alone, as part of a team or as the technical lead in a
    small group of technicians.
    – be goal-oriented
    – be able to handle interrupts while fluidly switching between several
    – take a “work smarter, not harder” approach.
    – enjoy looking for opportunities to come up with solutions to difficult
    – Configure systems and network devices
    – Monitor system stability and performance
    – Help develop tools to monitor and maintain systems
    – Ensure 24×7 operation
    – Proactively scale systems to meet anticipated demand
    – Write comprehensive documentation
    – Assist in the training of other systems administrators

    – BS or MS in Computer Science or equivalent experience
    – Multiple years of Linux or UNIX system administration experience
    – Working knowledge of TCP/IP networking
    – Knowledge of webservers, firewalls/security, DNS, MTAs etc.
    – Programming/scripting ability: Python, Bash, Perl, C
    – Excellent verbal and written skills with outstanding customer service

    For further information please visit http://www.google.com/jobs or email your CV
    jobs@google.com. In the subject box you must include the job title: Data
    Center Linux Systems Administrator – EU Headquarters.

    Buying an 02 3G data card? Don’t say you haven’t been warned

    Let’s get one thing straight: The people from O2 have been excellent, and they’ve gone well beyond the call of duty in trying to get my data card working with my laptop. Trouble is , after 5 months (delay partly my fault), I’ve still haven’t any mobile data access.Now onto the juicy bit, here is why you should *never*, under any circumstances, consider buying a 3G data card direct from them.

    • If you buy direct (telephone / internet) 02 technical support is completely phone based. Laptops are a lot more complicated PDA’s, blackberry’s or 3G phones. This severly limits the help they can give you. If I get asked one more time ‘are you sure the card fits in the slot’ I’m going to …
    • – 02 have a better alternative : The 02 Experience stores (not the smaller O2 shops , but the bigger ones that can sell you 3G solutions) can let you see the card working before they buy. Trouble is they are a different company (it would be like asking a Vodafone shop to fix your O2 card). Still the guys at the 02 Grafton street store spent 90 mins to diagnose (one of the ) problems.
    • 02 Don’t actually sell you the cards, but use Totterdells (of Bray). Unlike the O2 people , Totterdells have a different attitude, including a ‘get stuffed’ quote on the first phone call. Things didn’t get better after that.
    • Because you’ve bought the card from Totterdells and the service from O2, who gives you money back when things go wrong?
    • If I can’t get one of the cards working, nor my friends (one of whom sets these cards up on a daily basis for one of the major Irish banks), what chance does Joe Blogs?

    So the current situation is either (a) 02 come up with a way of seeing and fixing my laptop directly or (b) they give me my money back as their ‘mobile data solution’ has never worked. I’m not keen on either , as I just want to be able to blog from the Train.

    Watch this space.

    Update Monday 3rd July: No Callback from O2 about the promised refund. I’m disappointed as this is only the 2nd time the tech side of 02 have let me down.