Reflections of JavaSI ’17


I travelled to beautiful Portorož, Slovenia last week to speak at the JavaSI ’17 conference. This was a most enjoyable experience and it was a special honour to be asked to deliver the keynote address on my very first visit there. It was also my first time to visit Slovenia, which was equally enjoyable and also every bit as inspiring as the main event.

The JavaSI conference (organised by OpenBlend and SIOUG) itself took place over 2 days with day 1 consisting mainly of talks and day 2 comprising of a number of technical workshops. The time keeping was excellent throughout and all of the sessions were very well attended, which was no surprise considering the high quality of the content and the presenters.

The Venue

The conference was held at the Hotel Slovenija in the beautiful resort of Portorož, which is situated on the western seaboard of Slovenia, on the Adriatic Sea. Slovenia is approximately the same size as Northern Ireland but has just 40km of coastline.

The Talks

My own talk was entitled, “Mobilising Your Enterprise: A strategy for modern app dev in the enterprise, with a mobile twist“, and provided some real-world insights into the strategies being used by enterprises when designing, developing and delivering modern applications, as well as an overview of some the mobility solutions built on and powered by the Red Hat Mobile Application Platform.

Some of my other highlights from the conference included:

  • “Using MicroProfile APIs to build cloud native applications”, by Heiko Braun (Red Hat).
  • “EnMasse: Open sourcing the messaging and IoT”, by Paolo Patierno and Ulf Lilleengen (Red Hat).
  • “One click to rule them all – Continuous Delivery for everyone in 45 minutes”, by Christian Klingbacher (Altran Concept Tech GmbH).
  • “A Quick and Dirty guide to Kubernetes”, by Mitja Bezenšek Outfit7 Ltd (creators of the Talking Tom & Friends games).
  • “What’s coming in JDK9”, by Tomaž Cerar (Red Hat).
  • HELP! A Beatles Tribute, who entertained the attendees during the social evening.

Beautiful Slovenia

I was also fortunate to be able to sample some of Slovenia’s cultural treats during the same trip, including the beautiful port of Piran (the western-most tip of Slovenia) and Lake Bled (below), including it’s famous Bled Cake (a.k.a. Kremsnita).

Overall, this conference was extremely well organised, very well attended and one that I would highly recommend.

Reflections of Red Hat Summit 2017

I returned from the annual Red Hat Summit last week, which was as exciting and inspiring as ever. This year the summit returned to Boston and was held at the highly impressive Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC), which is located in the Seaport District of Boston.

The summit took place over 3 days and we were treated to an astonishing array of sessions from Red Hat developers, staff, customers and partners, with each one being better than the next.

It was also an excellent opportunity to see a series of presentations from several members of the Red Hat Mobile team, including two from myself; a Lightning Talk at the main DevZone entitled, Application Health Monitoring from the Inside Out and a breakout session on Cloud Solutions for Enterprise Mobility.

There were numerous other highlights but some of my personal favourites were:

  1. A new partnership between Red Hat and Amazon Web Services;
  2. The launch of, a hosted developer environment for creating and deploying hybrid cloud services;
  3. The launch of the industry’s first Health Index for container images;
  4. The story of Easier AG (a Swiss medical company) and how Red Hat’s Innovation Labs helped to make their ideas a reality, which all started in our home office in Waterford.
  5. Attending a baseball game at Fenway Park to see the Boston Red Sox in action, live!

I’m already setting my sights on Summit 2018 and am very much looking forward to the year ahead preparing for it.

The True Value of a Modern Smartphone

While vacationing with my family recently, I stumbled into a conversation with my 11-year old daughter about smartphones and the ever growing number of other devices they are replacing as they digitally transform our lives.

For fun, we decided to compare the relative cost of the vacation with and without my smartphone at the time (a Samsung Galaxy S3, by the way) and by imagining if we’d taken the same vacation a mere 10 years earlier, how much extra would that vacation have cost without the same smartphone?

Smart Cost Savings

I was actually quite shocked at the outcome, both in terms of the number of other devices the modern smartphone now replaces (we managed to count 10) and at the potential cost savings it can yield, which we estimated at a whopping $3,450!

Smart Cost Analysis

The estimations below are really just for fun and are not based on very extensive research on my part (more of a gut feeling about a moment in time, plus some quick Googling). You can also assume a 3-week vacation near some theme parks in North America.

Telephony: $100

Assuming two 15 minute phone calls per week, from USA to Ireland, at mid-week peak rates, you could comfortably burn $100 here.

Camera: $1,000

Snapping around 1,000 old-school, non-digital photos (at 25 photos per 35mm roll of film) would require approximately 40 rolls of film (remember, no live preview). Then factoring in the cost of a decent SLR camera, plus plus the cost of developing those 40 rolls of film, you could comfortably spend well in excess of $1,000 here.

Of course digital cameras would indeed have been an option 10 years ago too but it’s unreasonable to suggest that a decent digital camera (with optical zoom, of sufficient portability and quality for a 3-week family vacation) could also have set you back $1,000.

Music Player: $300

The cost of an Apple iPod in 2005 was around $299.

GPS / Satellite Navigation: $400

It’s possible that in 2005, the only way to obtain a GPS system for use in North America was to rent one from the car rental company. Today, this costs around $10 per day, so let’s assume it would have cost around/under $20 in 2005.

Games Console: $300

The retail price for a Nintendo DS in 2005 was $149.99 but you also need to add in the cost of a selection of games, which cost around $50 each. Let’s be reasonable and suggest 3 games (one for each week of the vacation).

Laptop Computer: $1,000

I’m not entirely sure how practical/easy it would have been to access the Internet (at the same frequency) while on vacation in 2005 (i.e. how many outlets offered WiFi at all, never mind free WiFi). Internet Café’s would have been an option too, but would not have offered the levels of flexibility I’d had needed to catch up on emails and update/author some important business documents, so let’s assume the price of a small laptop here.

Mobile Hotspot / MiFi: $200

Again, not quite sure if these were freely available (or feasible) in 2005, but let’s nominally assume they were and price them at double what they cost today, plus $100 for Internet access itself

Alarm Clock: $50

I guess you could request a wake up call in your hotel but if you were not staying in a hotel and needed an alarm clock, you’d either have needed a watch with one on it, or had to purchase an alarm clock.

Compass: $50

Entirely optional of course, but if you’re the outdoor type and fancy a little roaming in some of the national parks, you might like to have a decent compass with you.

Torch: $50

Again, if you’re the outdoor type, or just like to have some basic/emergency tools with you on vacation, you might have brought (or purchased) a portable torch or Maglite Flashlight.

Disneyland Paris: 10 Tips for travelling with younger children

During a recent holiday in France we took our 5 year old daughter to Disneyland Paris. Since then a number of people have inquired about what would be the right age to take a young child there, so here are some of my tips for anyone considering doing the same.

1. How does Disneyland Paris compare to the US parks?

I have now been to both Disneyland in Los Angeles (twice) and Disneyland Paris and am happy to report that the parks in Paris are every bit as good as the American equivalents. The Paris parks have all the usual favourites including Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Honey I Shrunk The Audience, Disneyland Railroad and so on.

2. Is Disneyland suitable for a 5 year old?

Most definitely Yes. I was sceptical at first, thinking that there would be nothing there but roller coasters and scary rides but there are plenty of attractions and shows to keep a 5 year old entertained. The Playhouse Disney Live on Stage show and It’s a Small World are a must see!

3. How young is too young?

This really depends on the individual but my personal opinion would be that there is little point in taking your child to Disneyland if they’re not really going to remember the experience. So, for me, any younger than 4-5 years of age is probably too young.

4. There are two parks in Disneyland Paris. Should I see both?

Yes. Both parks (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios) have plenty attractions for younger children but the latter has some based around some of the TV shows your kids probably watch (e.g. Playhouse Disney, Lilo & Stitch, Cars).

5. How long should we stay?

I would say that 2-3 days is probably enough time to get to see (and enjoy) the attractions suitable for younger children. If you have never been before, you should expect to write off a lot of your first day getting to know how the park works and where all the suitable attractions are located, what hours they operate etc. You will also need some time to ensure you get to meet as many of the Disney characters as possible (a must for younger children). If you only go for 2 days, you’ll exhaust yourself trying to pack too much into your second day (like we did).

6. Where should we stay?

For short stays, I would recommend that you stay as close to the park as possible. This won’t be cheap but will be worth it as you’ll be able to exit the park during in the afternoon (if it’s very hot) and re-enter (reenergised) again later in the evening when it is quieter. Because the nighttime parades are quite late in high season (10:30pm) this may also give your child a chance to take a quick afternoon nap.

7. Is it very expensive?

Not really. The tickets are quite pricey in my opinion (a two-day ticket to get you into both parks will cost you €112 per adult and €95 for a child) but are actually good value for money when you take stock of your time there. All the attractions inside the parks are free so all you have to pay for is food and gifts.

8. Meet & Greet with the Disney Characters

The Disney characters do Meet & Greet sessions at various locations inside the parks, at various times throughout the day (e.g. from 4pm-6pm). The first thing you should do is buy your child an Autograph book (from any one of the shops inside the park). The various Disney characters will be more than happy to sign this for your child and they will love looking at the book afterwards. However, don’t rush to these areas at the beginning of the sessions, but instead head along around 30 minutes before the end of the session when everyone else has gone. This way you should get hassle-free access to all the characters and you’ll also get some really great pictures of them (with just you in the picture rather than dozens of other children and parents).

9. What about Food?

Food can be expensive but only if you want it to be. We got a meal including a burger, fries, drink, dessert and gift for €8 but you could pay €30 per person for an all-you-can-eat Tex-Mex buffet meal (including a full can-can/dancing show set in an authentic saloon bar), or €20 per person for a buffet meal set in a restaurant based on the Pixar Ratatouille movie.

10. What about Gifts?

To be honest, I didn’t really find the gift stores that expensive. For example, the autograph books I spoke about earlier was just €5, a Mickey Mouse pen was €2, a decent-sized Mickey Mouse snow globe was €5 and many of the soft toys are quite reasonable too (€20 for a pretty decent sized toy of any Disney character you care to think of). If you do see something you like though, buy it in the first shop you see as none of the other shops will be any cheaper.

In summary, I suspect visiting Disneyland with a younger child is a different type of experience than with older children, but every bit as enjoyable (if not more). You will tend not to go on as many of attractions per se (and will thus avoid a lot of wasted time queueing) but rather spend your time perusing around the parks meeting the various Disney characters, taking in the various shows and enjoying the wonderful parades. I heartily recommend it!

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Today, Wednesday, 15th April 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough Soccer Disaster where 96 people lost their lives at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, England.

I can still remember watching the tragedy unfold on the day it happened and proudly join in remembering the victims and their families today, as do Liverpool fans everywhere.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

World’s Longest Domain Name

On a recent visit to Wales, Joe Cashin took a great photograph of a Volvo Car Sales showroom in the town with the longest name in Britain


Whilst I had heard of this town before, I did not realise that it holds the record for the longest Internet domain name in the world, which is:

Upon visiting this site I learned that the longest domain name supported by the Internet (excluding the suffix) is 63 characters and amazingly the above domain name has exactly this many letters. However, if you look closely you will see that the domain name above actually contains and additional 5 letters (uchaf). This is because the domain represents the upper/older part of the village and “uchaf” is the Welsh for “higher” or “upper”.

It’s just a shame that they didn’t put a little more effort into the website.

Greetings from Nepal

A friend of mine is currently sampling life in Nepal. Here is his first report …

Well I am back after 29 days sleeping in a tent and not washing. It was an amazing experience commencing with a near plane crash and peaking (if you pardon the pun) with fabulous views of Kangchenjunga and the Himalayan range around it.

Flew from Kahmandhu to Taplejung which is an airstrip on a ridge (or to be more exact a cow pasture that doubles as an airstrip). The day was cloudy and it turned out that this was the first flight into the airstrip for 4 months owing to cloud. The pilots here don’t bother using electronic equipment to guide them instead relying on sight – all very good except they couldn’t find the airstrip. After circling 6 or 7 times the mists cleared right in front of us and there was the airstrip, or more accurately, there was the cliffs underneath the airstrip. There was a roar from one of the pilots and a sharp dive upwards and to the right and we cleared by a few feet. Undeterred they did another circle and brought the plane down perfectly. Then they turned to their passengers laughing and waving. I found out afterwards that a helicopter was not so lucky the previous week 3 miles away from the strip. It crashed into a mountain side killing all 23 people on board.

As mentioned the weather started cloudy, warm but cloudy. The days walking initially were about 7 hours decreasing to 5 hours when we hit the 3000 metre mark, and it got steeper. The poor weather initially did not matter as we were walking through thick forest and jungle. One nasty side effect was the presence of many leeches. These are harmless though disgusting and nearly impossible to get off once they have sunk their fangs into you (burning them with a cigarette or using veet is the best way). They drop off once they have their fill of blood. I got done on the foot at night-time. It was my own fault for walking around in sandals. One woman was not as fortunate and got bitten on the arse.

The forests eventually cleared and we ended up in pastureland and villages. The area is very remote here so at every village, children would come down to practice their English and get their home work done. Less interested in practising English and more interested in collecting taxes were the Maoists. There was negotiations with our head Sherpa, money was given over and we were on our way. In fairness, the Maoists have done a really good job in replacing dangerous trails higher up.

We made our way eventually up to South Base camp at 4700m.The views hear are stunning or at least they would be except that they were clouded by a heavy mist. The Sherpa told us to wait 20 minutes as he was convinced that the mists would clear. And indeed they did and the views were stunning. We stayed approx 2 hours there taking photos and getting cold in case there were no further views. In fact apart form a heavy snow shower the weather remained sunny from then on to the rest of the trip.

We climbed a steep pass to another valley and stayed the night in a really pretty Tibetan village called Ghunsa. Got to try a Tibetan drink called Tsomba which was fermented Millet and Barley served in a wooden pot. You just add hot water and drink through a wooden straw. When finished, just add more water and repeat the process. A publicans nightmare!
We eventually made our way to the North Base camp at 5200 passing through the village of Kambachen en route. In 1930 the British Mountaineer Frank Smythe must have drunk too much Tsomba night before as he described the residents of Kambachen as “interbred cretins and imbeciles of stunted dwarf like appearance and possessing but limited intelligence”. Kambachen is now twinned with Ardee!

Base camp was stunning, surrounded by 7000 and 8000 metre peaks all around. It is also consisted of many memorials to various people who died on Kangchenjunga over the years, The most recent being 2004.The temperature at night ranged from a balmy -8C to a distinctly chilly -12C.

Stayed there for 2 days and then it was time to descend. Its not good to stay in altitude too long. I had no problems but a Sherpa and a Porter got sick and had to descend rapidly.
We went down the trail the same way as we ascended. It took about 4 days to go back. We flew back to Kathmandhu on the weekend.

I am currently in a resort town called Pokhara resting. I have lost about 6 kilos in weight so will head off again in a few days.

All the best, Dermot