Friday, May 30, 2008

As You Follow Your Dreams

Butterfly Wings
A discarded shoe and its mate lie forlorn and forgotten.
The empty, neatly made bed belies the traditional chaos of your room.
You’ve left some clothes brightly brimming with yesterday’s styles
And photos with yesterday’s smiles still pegged to the wall.
Your room is expectant, holding its breath for tomorrow’s guests.
Who are these transient shadows who filter the light but fill no spaces?
Who are these empty voices whose laughter emits a wordless breath?
These visions echo your flesh and blood but hide your essence in dust-filled memories.
Oh, do not stay away too long as you follow your dreams.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

First Waves of the Season

I welcome the swirlThe first wave-catching outing of the season is always dicey. Trepidation infects you; your arms are a bit out of shape, your lungs haven’t been recently tested, your fins might not fit perfectly, and your body board goes its own happy way. The waves look bigger now than in late summer when you’re used to reading the swell.

An early big set puts you off guard. One after another, the rollers dash against you. When you come up for air, you can’t see. Your hair is over your eyes, your board is pulling against the current, and your legs are kicking madly to propel you outside. There is no rest.

Here comes a large roller—do I swim towards it and avoid its heartless crashing over my head? Or, do I stand my ground and take it like a woman? I swim towards it. I always do that. No question about that one. There’s something smug about swimming hard towards the swell and just in time catching the pre-break arc, curving up, catching air, and feeling the forceful waters drawing everything just inches shore side of you to the washing machine.

This weekend was cooking: air temperatures in the 80’s and water temperatures in the mid to high sixties. Add a bit of a swell. Outstanding for May. I am not a year-round body boarder. But I thoroughly enjoyed my outing. Catch a wave. Take a left. Woosh down and yell. When it takes you ten minutes to get back outside, it’s a pounding day. Get another ride and swim upstream for ten minutes.

Two days later, I can’t lift my arms.

Friday, May 09, 2008

JavaOne and Me and Architecture

Java and MeIt’s May in San Francisco and that usually means one thing: it’s time for JavaOne. JavaOne is a chance for me to connect with people I’ve been working with but have only an email relationship with. How fun to shake a hand and share a moment! There’s the inside view (the talks, the booths, the lunches held in the deep caverns of Moscone Center) and the outside view (the City, the hang outs, the street). So, here’s the outside view.

Last year at JavaOne I walked past the future home of the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Each day I saw changes as the cranes and other heavy equipment constructed the beginnings of this most interesting building.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum under construction (May 2007)
This year at JavaOne, while still not yet complete, I witnessed progress and marveled at the transformation of this cube seemingly balanced on one of its corners.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum under construction (May 2008)
The area around Moscone Center and Yerba Buena Gardens has cityscapes that play with shapes and architecture that melds old and new.

Our hotel, the Union Square Hotel, is a stone’s throw from the Powell-Market cable car start—the turntable. The hotel just finished a major renovation; indeed, they finished laying carpet in the lobby the day we arrived. Right next door is a great greasy spoon breakfast place: Tad’s Steaks.

Tad's Steaks
And what about JavaOne (the inside view)? Each year that I attend I’m in the middle of a project that pulls me into different parts of the technology. In previous years it was Sun’s web application platform (JSF) and Ajax. With Ajax came JavaScript.

This year, I was focused on scripting languages in general, JavaScript in particular, and social networking. There were two talks that were stand outs for me.

First, Chris Schalk from Google and Paul Lindner from hi5 gave an engaging talk on the OpenSocial container. (OpenSocial is a set of APIs for building social applications on the web. A social application built with OpenSocial should run in any OpenSocial-compliant container. Social networks currently supporting OpenSocial include Orkut, MySpace, hi5, LinkedIn, and others.) Both Chris and Paul were excellent speakers and provided lots of architectural-level information.

The second talk I thoroughly enjoyed was given by Todd Fast of Sun Microsystems. Todd is in the Social Networking area at Sun and has been looking at the changing dynamics in application building. He proposed that a new paradigm for building applications fits into the social networking culture—how people want to easily construct “disposable” or “situational” applications. These applications fill a need for the right here, right now. Tomorrow brings a new situational application that replaces it. Engineering as we know it is changing, but engineers will still have a role to fill—and that will be enabling the masses of application builders lurking out in the social networking space.