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The Seventh Jini Community Meeting III
by B. Scott Andersen
March 24, 2004
This is the third of a set of blogs from the Seventh Jini Community Meeting held in Cambridge, Massachusetts March 23-25, 2004.


The Seventh Jini Community Meeting III

This is the third of a set of blogs from the Seventh Jini Community Meeting held in Cambridge, Massachusetts March 23-25, 2004.

caveat: I should remind everybody that these are my observations and thoughts and not necessarily of those of my employer, any other member of the Jini community, or indeed anyone else on the planet. I'm a member of the Jini development team so these next few blogs will be "a little closer to home" than the essays I've done for Artima previously. Well, consider yourself warned!

The First Day Wrap-up

I posted some notes from yesterday's Community Meeting last night as I was leaving the Charles Hotel here in Cambridge. The good folks in the Business Services office let me grab one of their loose CAT5 cables and hook up without asking me to reach for my wallet (thanks, guys!). Here are some additional observations from that first day.

The Charles Hotel in Cambridge provided a lovely venue for this event. The space allocated to us was located in an isolated part of the hotel, which was ideal. Two meeting rooms, one large, one a bit smaller, were equipped with comfortable chairs and excellent AV facilities. Everybody could see, could hear, and sat comfortably while they did it. [Sad as it sounds, I've been to several seminars where this could not be said.]

Upon arrival early Tuesday morning I was met by Joan MacEachern and Susan Snyder (who worked with Jim Hurley and Jennifer Kotzen to organize the event) who gave me the standard kit of goodies one gets at such a meeting: agenda, survey, etc.

I'd not had a chance to look at the preliminary agenda published on before arriving. The agenda was beefy! The larger room held the entire group and was used for the keynote by Ken Arnold and would also be used for about half of the "breakout" sessions. The other breakout sessions were held in the smaller, adjacent room. The first set of breakout sessions presented my first headache: which session should I go to?

Jini Service Container Specification, Implementation and Usage with Mark Brouwer and Igor Fisl was certainly going to be interesting. I'd actually followed some of what they had been doing and would have loved to have see their talk. But, the other breakout session in the next room was Jini and .NET by the Alexander Krapf of Codemesh also sounded very interesting! Which one should I attend?!

I then had a thought that was both good and horrible: what if this was going to happen for the entire conference? I started scanning down the list and it was clear this problem wasn't going to get better. The very next two breakout sessions (same time, different rooms, you've got to choose!) were Experiences and Successes in Moving Jini Lookup Services to Embedded Devices by Cameron Roe of Psinaptic, and Driving Jini Adoption - A Developer's Perspective by Dan Creswell of Lone Crusader Ltd. (and the Blitz project). Drat! Both sounded good!

I did choose, as did everybody else. At lunch, after having navigated another dilemma between Jini Inside: The Canadian Virtual Observatory with Patrick Dowler of the National Research Council of Canada and Jini and Web Services: Judy Project Overview by Dale Asberry, I talked with a number of other attendees about the problem and discovered I wasn't the only one struggling with these choices.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining! This is a great problem to have! The meeting was going to last about two-and-a-half days and there was no way I was going to be able to see it all. Too many good speakers and interesting topics; too few slots to put them in.

I was thankful that some of the biggest draws were to be presented "unopposed". Jini Technology at Orbitz by Steve Hoffman, Chhaya Dave, and Warren Nisley (discussed in one of yesterday's blogs) was one such example. It would have almost been unfair to any speaker to pit them against this presentation. Most of the Jini community has yet to come down from all the good press we got at the recent developer's conference here in Boston where the keynote speaker from Orbitz put Jini's role in their success front-and-center.

After the last presentation, several of us (OK, more like 25 of us) trundled off to John Harvard's for dinner and a cold drink. So, as you can see, I was faced with yet another set of choices: Drink beer, Eat with 25 of my closest Jini friends, or Edit and Grammar Check my Blog done in isolation and loneliness. Hey, I'm a nerd... but not that much of a nerd! As I said, I stopped by the Business Center, uploaded my typing, and headed for the exit. And so it goes for day one.

Waldo - Starting Day 2

After a few introductory remarks by Jim Hurley, the second full day of the Community Meeting began in earnest with a talk by Jim Waldo entitled Challenges in Building an Infrastructure for Medical Sensing Networks. For those of you who didn't get the memo, Jim Waldo, one of the inventors of Jini Technology, transferred out of the Jini group in Sun and returned to Sun Labs where I assume he hopes to use some of this cool technology we've created to solve interesting problems. This talk discusses one of those problems.

At first,there was a small problem with X11 not wanting to understand the shape of the world that prevented his slides from successfully appearing on the big screen in the front of the room. No matter, that just freed Jim to begin talking off-the-cuff (which is more informative and more entertaining than almost anyone's carefully prepared remarks). Finally, after a bit of fiddling by yours truly, the AV problem was solved and Jim was off and running.

Jim's description of the problem to be solved was sobering--and not just from a technical point-of-view. It has become increasingly clear that the medical infrastructure in this country cannot keep up with the demands that will be put upon it by the aging and retiring baby-boomer generation. This is no small shortfall, either. He kept using terms like "order of magnitude" and "factor of 40" to describe the kinds of shortfalls likely to be in store for all of us (at least in my age group). So, what's the answer?

One observation is that a great deal of energy is spent on monitoring a given patient, even when the analysis after the monitoring is "you're fine." Another observation is that some folks go into denial just about the time they have a major health event such as a heart attack. Some people who aren't having a heart attack think they are having one; others who actually are having a heart attack aren't so sure. Being sure helps both patients.

What more could be done here? Well, besides avoiding unnecessary trips to the hospital for those patients who are fine there are other options for those who have had the heart attack such as calling an ambulance (GPS linkage), triggering medication, notification, etc. Instrumenting patients, though, is only half the problem. How do you get all that data from the patient to someplace that can make use of it?

Well, Jini addresses some of this... but not all of it. There are some very hard problems here including privacy, scalability, reliability, storage management, data channel throughput considerations, analysis tools, etc. This is a big, wide-open problem. Just the kind of problem Jim likes to think about.

I can't possibly do justice to what Jim discussed here. So, I encourage you to follow his progress. I'm sure it will be interesting.

Wall Street

It is difficult to imagine an arena more competitive and environment more harsh for a product than Wall Street. I danced around the fact in my last blog that Jini has now been used in production systems that have money associated with it. In this blog, I'd like to tell you about an initiative undertaken by INVESCO.

Van Simmons of INVESCO talked to the entire group with his presentation Wall Street, Grid Computing and Jini - Large scale deployment of computational resources in a hosted environment. That's a mouthful for sure, but the talk was interesting.

Using the standard compute-server model typically deployed with a JavaSpaces(TM) service, INVESCO was able to automate the evaluation and risk assessment for their portfolio. They also had a number of important, and funny, observations along the way.

If you have an opportunity to do so, try to locate the slides and even the audio program recorded from this session to get the full effect. Like I said in yesterday's blog, you know a technology is mature once people begin putting money through it. This couldn't be more true here. This is Jini on Wall Street!

Just One More Day

I'm typing this in Dan Cresswell's (Blitz project/Lone Crusader, Ltd.) talk on A Blueprint for Constructing Resilient Stateful Jini Services. Again, like so many of the other presentations, we were treated to more smart people tackling hard problems.

Now, all that's left today is the Jini Licensing discussion and that long train ride home. Thursday, the last day, is only scheduled to be a half day but still promised to be busy. I'll try to report one last time at the conclusion of these festivities.

-- Scott


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About the Blogger

B. Scott Andersen has 20+ years of experience in software development splitting his time between individual contributor and management. He is now a Principal Software Engineer with Verocel, Inc., a company specializing in helping safety-critical system developers attain certification for their products. The opinions expressed here are his own and he takes full responsibility for them... unless, of course, they are worth money, at which point they belong to his employer.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2004 B. Scott Andersen. All rights reserved.

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