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GeeCON - the blog

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Feedback summarized

It took a while but we finally have the pleasure to share with you a few numbers describing GeeCON 2013. A big thank you everyone who has filled in our satisfaction surveys. Most of the respondents were Software Engineers, who made up the biggest group among attendees this year. Most came from Poland (Kraków, Wrocław,Warszawa, Poznań and Łódź), but Germany, the Czech Republic, Serbia, UK, France and USA had also sent numerous representatives.

Looks that the overwhelming majority of participants (98%) are satisfied and express the will to come back next year! We take it as a big compliment -- thank you.

Still, we need to acknowledge some technical problems which we need to solved by 2014. The list includes unstable WiFi and the technical difficulties which arose while connecting the products of an acclaimed american manufacturer to the cinema beamers. Sorry for that. Since we are staying in Cracow for one more year, we will have plenty of time to improve things.

In this edition we decided to add discussion panels, relatively new formula for us, to our schedule. We enjoyed them a lot,  although some of you have pointed out that we should assign more time for questions from the audience.

We also decided to resign from GeeCON University and extend regular GeeCON to 3 days instead. Most of you seem pleased with this new format, so we will definitely follow this path next year too.

Now, the dry statistics: a summary of grades given to GeeCON in different categories (5 is the highest).

2012 2013
No. of responses 111 107
Venue 4.2 4.39
Food 4 3.6
Quality of talks 3.8 3.9
Atmosphere 4.3 4.4
Parties 3.9 3.8
Organization 4.4 4.28
Open Spaces 4.2 4.38
Overall score 4.2 4.2

Not bad! But there still is space left for improvement. It seems that we have managed to increase the quality of talks up a bit. Some of you are probably waiting to see who got the crown of the best speaker this year. Ladies and gentlemen, it is you who have decided. Here comes the list of top 10 (in fact 11) GeeCON 2013 speakers:
  1. Patrick Copeland 
  2. Jessica Kerr
  3. Joel Spolsky
  4. Sandro Mancuso
  5. Ken Sipe
  6. Sven Peters
  7. Oliver Gierke
  8. Sam Newman
  9. Wojtek Seliga
  10. Paweł Brodziński 
  11. Szczepan Faber
Some of them you have gotten to know quite well ;-) They will always be welcomed at GeeCON with arms wide open, but we will keep looking for new interesting people to introduce to you next time.

Last but not least, several people had prepared their reviews of GeeCON, this list include:
Thanks for this and see you next year ;-)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mission Accomplished!

On behalf of the GeeCON Team, I would like to thank everyone who has been involved and participated in this year’s GeeCON anniversary edition.

GeeCON is 5 years old!

It has been a pleasure to host such great speakers and work with such nice sponsors. Without your devotion we would not be able to organize an event like this!

We hope that GeeCON participants are also satisfied and have tons of new friends and ideas after the conference. Welcome to the GeeCON family :)

Please be sure to check our website next week. You can expect presentation slides, photos and a collection of fresh blog posts.

If you have anything interesting to share with us, do not hesitate to email us. Help us improve GeeCON! We would like to ask you to complete a survey that will be sent to your email box soon.

As announced before the closing keynote, our plan is to stay in Krakow for the 2014 edition... But maybe there is more to come then just the Kraków event... With all the new energy that you have given us, we are considering to do something else super special. Stay tuned!

Hope you all had fun and enjoyed your stay in Krakow. Join us next time!

There is no GeeCON without you, guys!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

OpenJDK Test Fest alias Adopt JDK

If it's worth writing, it's worth testing. Otherwise, why did you write it in the first place?

Now, OpenJDK is something that many rely on. So... it's even more worth testing. Thus this very event, where you, dearest reader, can test Java.

Big thank you to Steve Poole and Richard Warburton for this as well as their participation!

I'm sold, where do I register?

Polish Java User Group invites you to event site on their meetup. Technical setup required will be added there soon.

Worth knowing if you're coming!
There is a technical setup that should be done PRIOR to event. All outlined here, takes around half an hour!

API list - what will we test?

Thanks to Steve (thanks!) we have a list of API prepared for you. These are rather 'easy' targets in the sense that they are:
a) delivered
b) cross platform and
c) should be amenable to unit test style testing

List itself:
  1. JEP 105: DocTree API   
  2. JEP 172: DocLint
  3. JEP 106: Add Javadoc to javax.tools  
  4. JEP 136: Enhanced Verification Errors  
  5. JEP 130: SHA-224 Message Digests
  6. JEP 135: Base64 Encoding & Decoding
  7. JEP 150: Date & Time API  

Your pick matters!

Still, the list is not set in stone! There's a number of us coming, and it's quite fine to add something you wish to see tested.

Complete list of milestones for Java8 is a fine place to choose what you wish to see added.

How do I get my tests accepted into OpenJDK?

Easy. Just write well. Fast, robust, accurate and testing what should be tested - these are acceptance criteria. 

Also - no changing API! No additional JARs.

Finally, you'll have to sign Oracle Contributor Agreement, sharing copyrights. 

See you there!

Friday, 3 May 2013


You often hear people saying that the magic at conferences happens mostly in the corridors, during the breaks. We do not think this particularly true of GeeCON (check our program to see why!), but we do understand the importance of less formal human interaction. This year we are doing our best to give you as many opportunities as possible to talk to other GeeCON attendees and exchange knowledge and opinions. Why? Well, because GeeCON is THE community conference!

So what do we have in store? In more or less chronological order:

PolishJUG meeting
The first JVM related event of this week is, of course, a Polish JUG meeting! Hosted at Oracle, with many of our speakers attending and Baruch Sadogursky presenting this evening, it's bound to be a great opening for our week of Java!

GeeCON Train

Powered by SoftwareMill, this is a unique opportunity for people traveling to Kraków from Warsaw.

Begin your GeeCON experience already on a train, by joining a bunch of other excited programmers. Meet great people, get inspired and simply have lots of fun already on your way to GeeCON. More information can be found here.

Discussion panels

On Monday there is “Freaks of the Freaks: Talking About Minorities in IT”. Come to the panel to see two presentations on the subject and talk. Should diversity be fostered? What do you think?

On Tuesday we are hosting “Using the Network to build compelling application”. We will talk applications, business models, revenues share, and deployment models. While we are at it, do not remember about the Open API Hackathon to which you can register before June 3.

Google I/O Extended

You might have noticed that the Google I/O conference takes place on the same time, May 15-17. This is unfortunate, but there is good news too. We have joined the Google I/O Extended movement. Google Developers Group Kraków (tightly connected to GeeCON via it’s lead and our co-organiser - Konrad) is inviting you to an open live-streaming from the conference at Google for Entrepreneurs Kraków (at the Main Square!).


On Friday, our keynote speaker, Joel Spolsky will visit hive53, Kraków StartUp Community. Join us!

Open Spaces

Once again, the day after the conference you will have the change to attend the Open Spaces / Unconference event. This is a meeting that is not pre-planned. Any participant may propose a subject using a designated white board. If there are more people willing to discuss or learn the subject, they create their own session. The rules are simple and few: whoever shows up is the right group, whatever happens is the only thing that could have, when it’s over, it’s over.

OpenJDK Test Fest

Known also as “Adopt JDK” movement, test fest is about writing test cases for the newest Java API. In a nutshell, it’s about testing the language itself! Come, and you will have a chance to:
  • Get to know what’s coming
  • Understand what the JDK does and how
  • Root out any bugs before they start hurting
  • Meet great people like Steve Poole or Richard Warburton
  • Gain experience in test writing
  • Make your code a part of Java 8
  • Have fun!
  • Learn the way Java folks test things.
All on Saturday morning or Friday evening... In a place that is yet to be determined :) Details will follow!

Enterprise applications in cloud age lab session

If you are interested in building modular, robust, and durable enterprise applications fit for the cloud age. You should join Bert Ertman and Paul Bakker during their lab, hands-on session on Saturday. Take a look here for details.

GeeCON + Scala Camp #3

Any GeeCON speaker fluent in Scala is invited to also present at this event. There will be 20-30 minute presentations and a discussion. This event is open for all interested - we want to shake Kraków Scala scene! This event starts at 6pm on Saturday and continues into the night. The location will be announced soon.


Of couse we have not forgotten about the average beer craving coder. There will be an urban game / beer path on Thursday night. We will invite you to a beer and pizza in places like Budda or CK Browar. Stay tuned!

See you very soon!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Lots of fun at GeeCON 4 Kids!

You might have noticed... This year we have opened the conference earlier! On March 23, one of the first days of spring, sunny (though frosty), we met in the very heart of Kraków – at Google for Entrepreneurs in the Main Square – for a special GeeCON 4 Kids workshop.

The idea came from last year’s Devoxx, where Konrad and Marcin attended the JUG leaders BOF and Stephan pitched the idea, asking who’d pick it up and do an event in their country. It didn’t take long for our team to get excited and shout “We will!”, and so GeeCON 4 Kids came to be. In fact many of our friends from Hackerspace have previously organised Arduino workshops, so we had the know-how, team and passion to support the idea.

The GeeCON Kids and Team

This flavor of GeeCON is aimed to show kids that coding is fun! Programming is becoming more open and easier. Robots are cheaper than ever before, and pretty advanced sub-assemblies too. Piece of cake, even a child could do it... So why not let them?

We gathered 28 kids, age 10-14 (with more than half of them being girls!) - and almost as many mentors! – to take them on a guided but hand-on tour of two faces of the same story: software and hardware. Some of the kids arrived from as far as Rabka Zdrój, and some mentors from as far as Poznań! :-)

During the day each child has a chance to experience three themes we prepared: Mindstorms, Arduino and 3D Printing (... and the awesome lunch Google had prepared for us).

One of the least aggressive battle-robots

The Lego Mindstorms series are kits that, apart from normal Lego and Lego Technic elements, contain a programmable brick with 4 simple sensors (sound, colors, ultrasound and touch) and three stepper motors. You can also buy additional, more advanced sensors. You can build any machine you like, and program it using either a well-organized graphical interface, or a full-fledged programming language (e.g. C-like NXC or Java-like LeJOS). This time we decided to stick to graphical, command box programming whose effects greatly exceed what you would normally expect from it. We had all sorts line followers, catapults, and battle-robots, built by quickly emerging specialized teams of programmers and constructors. The only drawback was that it was difficult to find all the pieces thrown around the room after we stopped paying attention for mere 15 seconds.

A full pedestrian lighting system incl. lights and sounds for the blind - powered by Arduino.

Arduino is a very affordable single-board Atmel 8-bit AVR microcontroller with some additional, standardized components. And it's even more affordable if you decide to build it yourself, it is open hardware! There is the Arduino integrated development environment (IDE), designed with also non-programmers in mind. Arduino apps are usualy written written in C++, which is also the language the Kids used during that day.

A typical “Hello World” task on an Arduino is to blinks an LED, but the kids didn’t stop there! With the help of our experienced mentors from Hacker Space Kraków, as well as volunteer electronic fans, helped the kids to design and realise their ideas - all using potentiometers, temperature, light and even distance sensors!

Self-made, self-replicating 3D printer. Spot the GeeCON logo!

Krzysiek with his friends from Olkusz and HackerSpace Kraków presented a 3D Printer he built based on open hardware/open software ideas from RepRap / University of Bath. The 3D printer is a self-replicating machine: you can see in the photo that some parts (ratchets even!) are clearly printed in 3D at the some/similar machine. We all had to agree that the printed is a rather hypnotizing machine – you can spend all day watching it successively lay coats of “paint”.  

The material, by the way, might be plastic as well as chocolate!  And you can print anything from the GeeCON logo, to a device prototype, to a house. By the way - the printer uses the Arduino board. If you want to check out more pictures from the event, check out our GeeCON 4 Kids gallery on G+.

The event was incredibly fun, and it was long ago when we had last seen such enthusiasm. We hope we can accommodate even more future-programmers next year, and that the word spreads among the kids and not mostly from kids to parents.

Special thanks to Hacker Space Kraków, GDG Kraków and Google for Entrepreneurs for helping with the event, and of course to all the children and their parents.

Last but not least, we would like to thank our mentors and everyone who volunteered to spend the weekend with us teaching the joy of programming (in alphabetical order):

Adam, Artur, Asia, Dawid, Grzesiek, Jakub, Justyna, Justyna, Konrad, Krzysztof, Magda, Marcin, Marcin, Maria, Michał, Mirek, Oleksandr, Paulina, Piotr, Piotr, Szymon, Terry, Wiktor, Wojciech, Wojtek, Łukasz and another Łukasz! Thank you!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Looking Back Before the 5th Edition: How GeeCON Came to Be

Have you ever wondered what it is like to organize a community conference? How is it possible that a few people with an idea can actually make an international, 500+ participants event happen? In this post, let's investigate.

Here is what members of the original GeeCON team remember from the 1st edition. And we are approaching the 5th this year!

The Very Beginning
The original idea came from Radek and was pursued by the Polish JUG, with a lot of help from the Czech Republic. The original group consisted of  Radek, Adrian, Mirek, and Grzegorz who sent a very well-received email to the shared Polish JUG's mailing list. Among the first who reacted were Adam D. of Poznań JUG (with the hidden agenda of bringing GeeCON to Poznań), Andrzej, Jakub D., Marcin, Kasia, Jakub N. and Tomas (see the mugshots at our 2009's About Page). The first premises were to host a conference: in English, in Poland (or Poland and the Czech Republic) but a travelling one, about Java and Java-related stuff (Flex, Groovy, best practices) but without the "Java" word in its name. By the way, people, this is a GEEKS CONFERENCE, take a hint while pronouncing the name ;)

Ah... the Money
2009 was not a particularly good year for world economy, so securing funds for a big conference was quite a challenge. At that time Mirek was involved in the Sun Campus Ambassador Program. He helped convince Sun to become the main (Platinum) sponsor for the newly-born event. Among other significant sponsors that the team worked very hard to obtain were SpringSource, Adobe, and Google. And we cannot forget Compendium – they paid for the beer! Accounting help was provided by the GIK (Grupa Informatyczno-Kulturalna) association.

Other Name Proposals
For an awkward trip down the memory lane, here are some of the original name proposals: JET, JavaCE, J^2, JUGO, JUG-Con, JUGConf, CzePoCon/PoCzeCon (Czech/Polish Conference), Java Joint Operation, Gecko. The eruption logo you know is in fact a gecko paw.

How Did We End Up in Kraków and Poznań?
Both Kraków and Poznań have active Java communities and are quite attractive to visitors from abroad. Most of the current GeeCON team live in either one of them, so we can personally supervise everything.

3.. 2. 1.. And We're on! The 1st Edition
The first edition turned out to be a success, one bigger than any one of us had imagined. Some opinions and reviews are gathered here. Check for yourselves. Apparently, Misko Hevery and Bruno Bossola "completely rocked the house".

There were bumps in the road, of course. At 1 am the night before the conference somebody realized that a keynote speaker had not been contacted in a few weeks and there was absolutely no guarantee he was coming (he came). Also, the goodie bags had not been packed in advance, and in the morning it turned out that a million other things needed doing.

Another fond memory?  "There was a bit of a stirrup when one of the speakers' license plate went missing."

Here is a list of speakers who were brave enough to come and speak at this very new event.

We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all of you, from sponsors to speakers, and of course all participants, for making GeeCON’s first edition possible!

Advice for Wannabe Conference Organizers
I talked to the team about the advice they can give to people thinking about organizing a conference, and about any mistakes made that seem avoidable from today's perspective. The responses ranged from "Just do it" / "Make it your way and trust yourself", to "Visit other conferences often to see what works, and to verify the speakers' capabilities", to "Don't do it".

Sometimes preparing a JUG presentation or getting involved in an Open Source project may be a more fruitful an experience. It is not an unusual situation when a member of the conference team is physically unable (out of being needed somewhere else, or just being extremely tired) to participate in the most promising session.

We go to other conferences a lot!

The Future?
We want GeeCON to become a world-recognized brand. We would like it to become the place with premiere lectures on the hottest topics.

We will probably cut down on the number of parallel tracks, because quite a few participants complained that the choice gets too tricky.

But mind you, we are far from being wiped out of ideas. Among new developments this year you will find GeeCON 4 Kids and full-fledged discussion panels, facilitating networking and the exchange of knowledge and ideas. Unconference/Open Spaces is coming back too.