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First, there are the keynote speeches, featuring loud stadium-style rock music at 8:00 a.m. to warm up the crowd to the likes of John Gage, JavaOne master-of-hype and Java cult leader extraordinaire, and Dr. Alan Baratz, president of Sun's Java Software Division, who perfectly exemplifies the nerd-to-cool transition that's so trendy in the '90s.
When you first hear John Gage speak, it's impressive. He commands the respect and attention of a huge high-tech industry crowd like no one else I've seen -- with the possible exception of Steve Jobs. But I've attended JavaOne for three years now, and Gage is starting to sound like a one-trick pony, using and reusing the same old cheap public-speaking techniques. They go something like this:
Listening to Gage speak is like listening to a loud bass speaker: What he says sounds bone-shakingly exciting at first, but it soon wears on you like a dull, rhythmic thudding sound reverberating in your brain.
Next up is Baratz, who is not nearly as charismatic as Gage. Baratz illustrates the fact that Java programming is now being taught in universities and high schools by inviting his teenage daughter onto the stage to play the part of "the press." His daughter ascends the stage wearing a tight twin-sweater set, a short-short skirt, platform sandals, and shampoo-commercial bouncy hair. Watch thousands of men in one room drool. She looks at her notes and asks her father when Sun will come up with Linux support. The drool turns into laughter and applause.
Once you get through the keynote speeches, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the plethora of JavaOne-related activities, depending on what kind of JavaOne attendee you are. There are two essential types: those who are serious about absorbing as much new technical and product information as possible in order to continue their quest for the holy grail of Java applications, and those who treat JavaOne as a corporate paid vacation. The first type of attendee devotedly marks off his preferred technical track sessions and birds-of-a-feather meetings in his schedule, while the second immediately scouts out the free services afforded by this college-campus-like atmosphere of continually running movies in beanbag-chair theaters, free popcorn and Pepsi and Starbucks coffee, a "Hackers Lounge" full of folks reading their e-mail, and lots of late-night parties within a four-block radius of Moscone Center.