Today’s sessions were a mixed bunch. I started off with a rather droning session in the morning, coupled with a strong accent from the presenter (I think he’s from Russia or some Eastern European country) and the late night last night made me drowse off half the session on object-oriented databases in Java ME. I feel rather guilty on this because this is a rather useful utility that is open sourced under GPL.
The session that got me awake and interested was the one on JavaFX Script, previously known as F3 (Form Follows Function), the much talked about new technology from Sun. It really isn’t Java the programming language per se, it’s a totally different new programming language, as Chris Oliver, its inventor explained, but one running on the Java platform. Although it’s called a JavaFX Script, it’s not really a scripting language either. Confused? I think most people would be, considering that it just came out a couple of days ago and it’s inventor claims that it’s already a misnomer.
Anyway, the ultimate aim for JavaFX Script was to be compiled into bytecodes and not as it is today interpreted by a JavaFX interpreter. It is also supposed to be ultimately deployed on the browser through the Java Platform (today it’ll be the Java Plugin) althought right now it’ll run only on the desktop or through Java Web Start (there’s a cool calculator at Chris Oliver’s blog that uses this). The concepts are pretty interesting — it’s took the idea of a component based GUI toolkit (like Swing), peppered it heavily with influences from SVG and delivered it as a full programming language that is statically typed to allow a developer to create very compelling UIs.
So what does it have that others don’t already have? Frankly speaking I have no idea. If anything I thought Actionscript already does something like this in Flash and I’d imagine Silverlight would have too though I’m unfamiliar with either. From the session and the Q&A subsequently what I gathered is that there probably isn’t anything else other than making the developer more efficient and effective.
Another interesting session that I attended was on data mining. In fact I just got to know that there was a JSR-73 that was for data mining in Java. I went for it as I was mighty curious on data mining (after the several report related issues in office recently) and I was quite surprised at the complexity and sophistication in this domain. In fact many of the things which I have never thought was related to data mining, was related to data mining. For example one of the things I took for granted was ‘cross selling’, which is to say, if you buy beer, it could be a good idea to try to sell you chips as well (e.g. in put them together in a supermarket) as it has a very high chance of success. There is in fact a data mining method called Market Basket Analysis which provides algorithms to do this. Very cool.
I also attended a session on BD-J, that is, writing Java applications on the Blue-Ray disc. This is mostly revolving around writing the startup menus and other add-ons like games and such for DVD releases, though I can imagine other things can be done on it in the future once it’s properly released. I thought it was pretty cool as well though it’s way out of my domain (mostly it’s for studios and production houses — one of the speakers who was sharing experiences was from Disney).
After soaking up tech stuff for most of the day, I went for the After Dark Bash and it was quite a circus sideshow. The first thing that greeted me when I went in was a mini-concert by a group of ‘vertically-challenged’ entertainers. That is to say, they were a bunch of dwarf singers decked out like KISS (the heavy metal group) belting out heavy metal songs. There were various kinds of food and drinks (two drinks coupons per person) like burger, hotdogs, popcorn, beer, wine, soft drinks and the like and the whole hall was turned into a massive entertainment center with pinball machines, XBoxes, mini-inverse bungees and even a section for people to try out Segways.
But the main attraction was probably the Battlebots arena where there was an exhibition tournment where robots battle it out in very rough conditions trying to smash each other up to scrap metal. Very cool and I suppose very American as well. During an intermission, there was even a totally wierd ‘performance’ by Grindergirl, who came into the ring with a grinder and proceeded to create sparks by running the grinder over her metal-covered body very seductively. There was a collective groan when she moved the grinder over her crotch and created sparks that shot out seemingly from her nether regions.
Have to see to believe.