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The virtual Java User Group (vJUG): Keeping up to date on the Java side

We all know Java is not “just” a language. Like all other major languages there is an eco-system consisting of utilities, frameworks and best practices surrounding the core language.

This eco-system is in a state of constant and rapid change (sometimes it even feels like chaos – given the speed of change) and this is a Good Thing. When a language and eco-system stops evolving – it tends to die.

For me the problem has always been: “How do I keep up”. One thing is putting in the effort to learn new “stuff”. Quite another is deciding and finding the new developments in the field.

Here The virtual Java User Group (vJUG) is a great source. A part from being run by some Good People, they also invite some Good People to give interesting Presentations. In vJUG that means a streamed event – with IRC interaction.

An when I say interesting .. I mean it. Here’s a short list of events just the past two months:

  • Value In Releationshows – How Graphs Make Databases Fun Again
  • So Why Would I Use a Distributed Database Like Cassandra?
  • State of the Art Data Access With Spring Data
  • DEVOXX UK Coverage (several streams)
  • Gradle: Hot Or Not
  • Java Byte Code In Practice

… and many more. Most presentations are about one hour of length and you can participate “From the comfort of Your Own Home”… so… what’s not to like here…

Membership is completely free. Sign-up on http://virtualjug.com/#join.

See you online.

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Makers schedule, Managers schedule (on meetings)

Sten Vesterli has an excellent post today regarding meetings (stop having them or keep them short).

I like to write software – not talk about it – so I couldn’t agree more. But there is a level of meetings that we truly need.

Such as:

  • Meetings with Business regarding the changes they require
  • Coordination between development teams
  • Short (*very short*) status meetings to keep a Project Manager in the loop

Things like that. Some of this can, and should be, delegated to as few people as possible. Which is why Sten’s post should be taken to heart.

Paul Graham had a fantastic post in 2009 (linked here) regarding the different views on meetings between “Makers” and “Managers”. Managers in this context are people who spend their time managing work done by “Makers”. In IT-perspective this could be Project Managers, Team and Department Managers, a.s.o. The Makers are … well developers, analysts, testers, a.s.o.

Having been on both sides of this particular fence this post strikes a nerve. The basic premise is this:

  • Managers spend most of their time with meetings and correspondence
  • Makers spend most of their time creating stuff or thinking about how to create stuff

This means that for a Manager one more meeting – provided there is still time to have a Lunch – is not a problem. That’s what the day is filled with anyway.

For a Maker however a meeting during the day can blast that day to bits. Makers need to get in and stay in “The Zone”. “The Zone” is where you’re most productive – everything is clear all paths laid bare – now all we need to do is write the Code. Some studies (I can’t find them right now, sorry) have shown that getting back into “The Zone” can take as much as 1 hour, sometimes more.

So when a meeting is placed in the middle of a day, and that day happens to be a day where you need to tackle a difficult algorithm (or whatever) – then the day can be lost completely. There’s not enough time before the meeting, nor after to get in the zone and solve the thing.

So I couldn’t agree more. We need as few meetings as possible. And the one we do schedule should be as short as possible and placed during the early hours of the day – leaving the Makers enough time to get and remain productive.