JCrete 2018 was amazing

I know it’s a bit after the fact, but I wanted to share my experience at JCrete this year and to recommend that you join the lottery when it opens in December.

I will not be able to do JCrete justice in this simple post, because, for me, the event was overwhelming. The people present there were incredibly knowledgeable and I felt humbled many times during the sessions. Initially, it was hard to “just go talk to them”. Later, I got out of my comfort zone and chatted with a couple of them (Robert Scholte, Cliff Click, Heinz Kabutz, Ivan Krylov and Chris Newland, to name a few). It turns out they’re approachable and very inspiring. I’m grateful for the opportunity to interact with them and others.

In the five days of the unconference, during there was plenty of fruitful interaction between the attendees. The outside-sessions activities were also great, but I want to keep this post short, so I’ll mention one session highlight per day. If you’re not familiar with the concept of “unconference”, I have a friend that was also there that explains it in detail.

Monday’s highlight — Challenges of AOT

I didn’t know anything about AOT compilation, so I went. During the session I realized that the Java ecosystem is vast and the technology behind it is sophisticated, to say the least. This session made it clear that some smart computer scientists are working on the JVM and the Java language.

I wanted to learn more about this theme and Ivan Krylov recommended this video about JIT.

Tuesday’s highlight — Java mentors

Some time ago I realized the value of having mentors. In this session, we discovered that the mentor has expectations from the mentee: learn, show interest, develop soft skills and act on the previous points. But the mentee also has expectations: code reviews, get in contact with new tools and processes. Another discovery is that finding a mentor is not that hard: just reach out to them and show them your dedication.

Wednesday’s highlight — GDPR

There were three people in the room that had implemented GDPR. The session was focused on the technical implications of applying the law. Basically, it turned out to be a crash course on the subject. The basics are:

  • GDPR applies to you if you handle personal data of individuals (e.g. customers, employees) that are EU citizens.
  • categories like sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity are also considered personal data.
  • the scope of the GDPR responsibility is as broad as possible: you’re even responsible for 3rd parties that process your data.
  • everything needs to be accounted for: clear documentation of data storage, data handling procedures, on-demand/automatic data deletion procedures.
  • opt-ins need to be clear and explicit.
  • everything needs to be audited every year.
  • you need to have a point of contact for your in one of the EU member states.

Thursday’s highlight — Communication for introverts

I was surprised at the number of people that joined this session. And, judging by the number of people engaged in the conversation, it seems this is a hot topic. We shared useful tips&tricks of how to deal with unexpected work situations. These are just a few:

  • if you get angry, go out and do something physical to consume the anger.
  • start labeling people as green (they have a significant positive impact on your life), yellow (so and so) and red (they hurt you in any way). Get rid of the reds (e.g. switch jobs, end friendships). Be strict about it.
  • it’s the manager’s responsibility to solve many of the issues that appear in the workplace. You don’t need to take it upon yourself to fix them.

Some of the ideas from that session are also in this talk.

Friday’s highlight — Contributing to maven

On the Hackday I went to the session lead by Robert Scholte. He introduced us to contributing to open source by fixing maven defects. It turns out it’s not that hard as it might seem:

  • start small: pick a plugin that you’re interested in, but don’t go for the big ones (e.g. compiler, surefire).
  • open the project page and locate the “Issue Management” page and then open up the Jira board for that plugin.
  • pick a simple bug. That’s it.
  • bonus: Robert added a label recently for easy bugs (i.e. up-for-grabs).

JCrete 2018 was marvelous and I hope to go there again in the following years. But I’ll have to join the lottery in December, just like the rest of the mortals :)

One last thing: I’m new at writing posts. If you have any suggestions to make this post more clear, please write a comment.