Top 10 Things I Learned at ApacheCon North America 2015

As another ApacheCon is being wrapped up I wanted to get my thoughts down before they fade.

10. Austin TX is a great city for tech conferences


Where else would the mayor proclaim Apache Software Foundation Days?

Situated on the banks of the Colorado river, blessed with an abundance of tech companies, education, the arts (especially music), rich cultural scene, great food, hospitable natives, and a booming economy Austin is an ideal location to host a technology conference.  Kudos to the staff that planned and pulled off this event in flawless fashion.  Y’all did a fantastic job!

9. Apache Software Foundation doesn’t want mean people

Repeated over and over again.  Mean people offend the users, drive off potential project contributors, damage morale, and are not welcome in our communities.

Gina Likins’ keynote Tuesday morning was persuasive.  She taught us politeness is the syntax for effective human conversations and can be learned like programming language syntax.

There are certain words and phrases that trigger stress escalations, e.g. as a matter of fact, actually, and just.

And there is a scale tracking just how offensive a conversation has become:

Defcon Insult Scale for CONversations – DISCON

DISCON Level 1 – Green – Everything is Peachy

DISCON Level 2 – Blue – Non-personal Insults

DISCON Level 3 – Yellow – Added Curse Words

DISCON Level 4 – Orange – Personal Insults

DISCON Level 5 – Red – Threats

There was more, including scientific research into toxicity levels of open source mailing lists.

Check out the YouTube of her keynote here:

How to Thoroughly Insult and Offend People in Open Source

8. JOSE is to REST what WS-Security was to SOAP

You had to know a security topic was going to end up in my list.  🙂

At long last there is a message security facility for REST that’s comparable to ws-security.  Sergey Beryozkin told us all about it:

Practical JOSE with Apache CXF

7. Now that we geeks have inherited the earth, we have a responsibility to be a good ancestor

Brian Behlendorf’s keynote Monday morning told us why the ASF is still awesome and more, including future objectives (paraphrased below)…

What the ASF Must Do

Increase gender diversity.  We are in a state of crisis in terms of women and technology and it’s getting worse.  We need to figure out a way to make technology workplaces more welcoming to women and minorities.

What the ASF should do

The war over openness is never won.  Many companies today are executing business plans that are attempting to own (or control) layers of technology over the Internet.

There are others who are encroaching on our essential human rights, as they gather information about us and seek to control our experience with technology.

We should guard against these efforts and continue to create software that runs counter to others seeking that control.

We used to joke the geeks will inherit the earth, and now that we have, it’s up to us to be good ancestors.

What the ASF Could Do

The world needs more of us.  The world needs more membership driven, community focused, software development.

Check out his keynote: What’s Still Awesome About the ASF

6. ASF has laid a blueprint

If open source is taking over the world of software, Apache has supplied the blueprint for that takeover.

5. Big Data is here to stay

The list of Apache projects related to big data, giving talks included Slider, Flink, Kafka, Hadoop, Bigtop, Ignite, Spark, Curnch, and Solr.  These sessions were packed full of technologists scrambling to keep up with the breakneck pace of innovation.

As the corporations and government agencies continue in their attempts to gather and make sense of the piles of data, they need not lose sight of the big picture…

4. Sensible ethics needs to be part of the Big Data Movement

Yes, we can gather and analyze postings from our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts, along with all of the others. But is this the right thing to do?  Sure, it’s profitable and there are advantages to be gained, but are we creating a world in which we want our kids to live? At every step we must ask ourselves, and our governments, these questions.

3. ApacheCon & ASF remain independent of strong commercial interests

I have been attending technology conferences for about 25 years.  Some are paid commercials by their sponsors.

Definitely not so with ApacheCon.  Ross Gardler said it best in his opening keynote:

“They (sponsors) give us money, but they don’t expect anything in return.   We give them a thank you page and that is it.  No influence of the projects, or even the foundation.”

See more in his State of the Feather YouTube video.

2. TEALS is the best thing to happen inside American schools in a long time

Kevin Wang of Microsoft gave a highly inspirational talk:

Volunteer to Teach High School CS Without Quitting Your Day Job

In it, he describes a program, sponsored by Microsoft, that recruits and trains volunteers from the professional ranks to mentor high school teachers in computer science.  The costs are minimal for the schools, around $100 per student per course.  It introduces computer science curriculum to kids and increases their chances of continuing on to college later on.

The corporate promise is the ability to meet projected future needs with local talent.

The human promise is that more kids, including girls, minorities, and financially disadvantaged, be offered new opportunities in their lives, through the study of computer science in high school.

It’s a win-win scenario.

1.  I am trying to love Microsoft (really)


Those who know me well realize how difficult it is to say; after decades of anti-competitive practices and the promotion of closed technologies, they are starting to come around.

Jay Schmelzer’s keynote has (almost) convinced me that his company, behind the leadership of a new CEO has turned over a new leaf.  Microsoft is promoting open systems and open standards.  Hurray!!!

Hear more in his keynote: 20 Years of Valuable Lessons for the World

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