Tales from the jar side: The Devnexus conference, Twitter banter, and Random musings on old music
I got into an argument with my wife while on an elevator. As it turned out, I was wrong on so many levels.
Welcome, fellow jarheads, to Tales from the jar side, the Kousen IT newsletter, for the week of April 10 - April 17, 2022. This week I taught the second week of my Spring and Spring Boot in 3 Weeks course and my Basic Android Development course on the O’Reilly Learning Platform (for the Asia/Pacific time zones), and gave a talk at the Devnexus conference in Atlanta, GA.
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I don’t go to many large conferences. I am a regular speaker on the No Fluff, Just Stuff conference tour, but those meetings are over the weekend and limited to only about 150 attendees. We re-started those events in April this year, though they are hybrid, meaning you can attend virtually if you want. The NFJS tour also has a few “destination” events, like UberConf in the Denver area, with attendance of several hundred.
The only conferences I’ve been to regularly that attract thousands of attendees are JavaOne (which became Oracle Code One and is now returning as JavaOne again, this time in Las Vegas), and Devnexus. Devnexus was started by Pratik Patel, a former NFJS speaker and one of the leaders of the Atlanta Java Users Group (AJUG). He’s been a friend for many years, and I’ve been attending and giving talks at his conference for almost as long.
The 2020 version of Devnexus, coincidentally, was also the in-person conference I attended before the pandemic. Maybe that’s not a coincidence, though, since the conference is normally held in February, as it was that year, a few weeks before everything shut down.
The conference had about 1200 attendees, which is about half what they normally get but still pretty large. I didn’t do a workshop this time, so I only needed to be there for the two conference days, Wednesday and Thursday. As it turned out, though, my talk was scheduled at a popular time, as this tweet Thursday morning by my friend Mark Heckler illustrates:
Mark⚡️Heckler, 馬克 哈格樂, مارك هاكلار 🇺🇸🇺🇦 @mkheckhttps://t.co/9IcaX32mAH ☝️ Official schedule link here ☝️ Let's do this! Room 302 at 1:20pm. Hope to see you there! #devnexus #java @JavaAtMicrosoft https://t.co/fr6sdVWBob
He fired back:
Ken Kousen @kenkousenBut ... 1:30pm is when I'm giving my "Help Your Boss Help You" talk in Room 405! https://t.co/Z7eHCEOC7n Come learn how to manipulate -- um, manage -- your manager to get what you want in your job and your career. Plus I'm giving out a coupon code everyone can use https://t.co/MZlmZwJD0x
Naturally I couldn’t leave that alone:
Mark⚡️Heckler, 馬克 哈格樂, مارك هاكلار 🇺🇸🇺🇦 @mkheckPerhaps the best way to help your boss help you...is to come to my session? 😁😇 Tough time slot! 😅 https://t.co/YjjvLH4i3Q
He then said:
Ken Kousen @kenkousenI admit your book is awesome and I recommend it every chance I get, but even you still have to deal with a manager. I can help with that. Besides, my book has been endorsed by no less than @venkat_s, who said, and I quote, "Please don't drag me into this" #DevNexus2022 https://t.co/hGEExcXfoI
And I replied:
Mark⚡️Heckler, 馬克 哈格樂, مارك هاكلار 🇺🇸🇺🇦 @mkheckYour "Kotlin Cookbook" is the definitive work on how to cook wild Kotlins, but I have an amazing boss already! (Maybe bc I go to my sessions?) 😂 I recommend your excellent book every chance I get too. Can't top that quote by @venkat_s, that's huge. 😏 https://t.co/x2S7dNpzMw
He couldn’t let it go.
Ken Kousen @kenkousenFor the record, I believe the preferred term is "free range Kotlins," and yes, they can be delicate at times... ... just like your relationship with your manager, which sometimes only seems like it requires pistols at dawn. (Like that segue? I'll bet your talk doesn't go there) https://t.co/9jJ8PXbS8k
Of course, neither could I:
Mark⚡️Heckler, 馬克 哈格樂, مارك هاكلار 🇺🇸🇺🇦 @mkheckI can safely say there have never been pistols at dawn in our team! Laser tag sounds fun though. 😁 Full disclosure: no animals will be harmed in MY session. But I will live code and deploy a STABLE of microservices... 😉 https://t.co/ZQNY6mwaGv
Ken Kousen @kenkousenSure, your microservices may be domesticated, but are they happy? Are they fulfilled? Are they getting everything they want from their jobs and their careers? I don't know about them, but if you come to my talk, maybe you will. (And maybe not, but I show you things to try) https://t.co/gfE06B0t0u
And that’s when I came back with:
Mark⚡️Heckler, 馬克 哈格樂, مارك هاكلار 🇺🇸🇺🇦 @mkheckYou make some great points, but I've found that the absolute best, without reservation, way to make your boss happy is to get to production. 💪😎 We'll be doing that in my session. 😘 https://t.co/cWyLNGW9dq https://t.co/JaDej7HsPu
I expect we could have continued for a while, but I sensed this was starting to get too serious, so I wrapped it up:
Ken Kousen @kenkousenOf course everybody is happy when things are going well. But what do you do when they're not? Everybody loves being in a wonderful team, but how often does that happen, and how long does it last? My talk helps you build the relationship you can rely on all the time. https://t.co/Mzz4ULyBay
I did, however, take the time to add a slide to my presentation:
For the record, here we are together afterwards:
The presentation went quite well, though unfortunately went a few minutes long. Jeanne Boyarsky was nice enough to live blog it and post her impressions:
Incidentally, if you ever buy one of my books and don’t get around to reading it, please don’t worry about it. The publisher is happy to get the sale, I’m happy that you didn’t find any bugs or get offended by any opinions, and the book looks nice on your bookshelf or even propping up a table leg. It’s all good.
Also, speaking of Jeanne, here is a picture of both of us, along with Scott Selikoff and Barry Burd:
At the closing ceremonies, they gave out an award for the most popular presentation (to Venkat Subramaniam, duh), and then gave out the new-this-year Devnexus Rock Star award.
To my surprise, I won that one. I thanked Pratik afterwards, and he admitted that they couldn’t give every speaker award to Venkat, so I got chosen.
My sense of humor got the better of me, resulting in this tweet thread (10 tweets long, so too much to add to this already too long newsletter — click on the first one to see the whole thing):
A good time was had by all, or at least most, since I’ve heard (on Twitter) from at least three people I met that they’ve since tested positive for COVID. I managed to get my second booster on the Friday before I left, so hopefully I’ll be fine.
I have YouTube Music as part of my Google Business subscription, which is not a great music service but at least it’s already paid for. When I give it a song, it rolls from it into many related ones, which is a mixed blessing. The good part is that it shows me the actual lyrics. I’ve discovered I’ve been getting the words wrong for most songs since roughly the mid 70s. Again, a mixed blessing.
I do have some random thoughts:
I’m sure Brandy is a fine girl, and what a good wife she would be, but she really needs to get over that sailor and move on.
If you listen to the words to Don’t Pull Your Love Out (of me baby) by Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds, there are so many red flags it’s no wonder she left.
I still like ELO, but apparently out of all their lyrics I got maybe one word out of every three correct.
Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) is still incredibly catchy, but the lyrics make her sound like she has some “issues.” Of course, it’s not clear the singer ever actually spoke to her, so we may be getting a skewed picture. If you are at all interested in that song, you must watch this fantastic review by Todd in the Shadows:
TL;DR: the lead singer, Tony Burrows, wound up a part of five (!) different one-hit wonders for five different bands. Amazing.
In case you’re wondering, those five hits were: Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse, United We Stand by the Brotherhood of Man, My Baby Loves Lovin by White Plains, Gimme Dat Ding by The Pipkins, and Beach Baby by The First Class. Wikipedia includes Let’s Go to San Francisco by the Flower Pot Men, but I think that’s a bit of a reach because it only made the Top 20 rather than the Top 10. Still, as Todd says, an amazing career in the corners of the bubblegum pop music world.
Frequent readers of this newsletter know I’m working on a book on the Mockito testing framework. We now have a title:
Mockito Made Clear: Java Unit Testing with Mocks, Stubs, and Spies
It’s out for the beta review right now, but at the conference I got a lot of feedback from my (now former) friend Venkat Subramaniam (kidding, mostly), who called into question practically everything I’d done.
Though, to be fair, he liked the book and the first big example. Still, ouch. Clearly I have a big rewriting job ahead of me. More about that in future newsletters.
It’s Not Just A Phase
To be serious for a moment, this article in The Atlantic, entitled Why the Past Ten Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid, by Jonathan Haidt, is a clear explanation of how social media magnified the divisions between people and weakened the institutions we used to rely on for mediation.
Usually when an article provides an “unbiased” look, it’s an unfair disaster that tries to balance wildly unequal things (think every New York Times editorial from the last five years). This one, however, uses data to not only describe the extreme sides of our political world (along with a decent measure of their actual numbers), but shows how the overt emphasis on engagement magnifies their influence.
I don’t know if I agree with his prescriptions on how to fix this, assuming anything can be done at all, but I really liked his explanations. The article is quite long, but worth the time and effort.
Food For Thought
Or is it that chicken salad is still egg salad? One of those, anyway.
The Devnexus conference in Atlanta, GA
Week 2 of Spring in 3 Weeks, on the O’Reilly Learning Platform
Basic Android Development, on the O’Reilly Learning Platform