Hangin' in Vegas

I hate Las Vegas.

I'm here for TheServerSide Java Symposium 2008, which has been held here in Vegas for the past (umm... three? four? five?) years, and every time I come here I'm reminded why I really don't like Vegas. It's loud, both in auditory volume and visual noise, it's boisterous bordering on raunchy, the locals are almost always soured by their near-constant exposure to tourists, the tourists are... well, they're American tourists and that says a lot right there, and there's no way to escape it. Ugh.

Fortunately for me, the hotels have conveniently painted a nice blue sky on the roof (in the Venetian, where the conference is held) so I don't have to go outside to see if it's sunny, they provided a nice winding river of bright neon blue water/Windex to have our leisurely cafe lunch next to, and no fake recreation of Venice would be complete without fake gondolas poled by fake gondoleers singing to tourists on the fake Windex river that's all of about two minutes in ride length before they have to do a U-turn and pole back the other way.

Wow, it's all so magical.

About the only thing that makes Vegas palatable is some of the shows you can catch here, like one of Cirque du Soleil's six (!) different presentations going on here. But, of course, you must be careful when you buy tickets, or the guy at the concierge desk will start finding tickets for you, only to discover later that he thought you said "Tah", meaning "Tom Jones", when you said, "Ka", the Cirque du Soleil show, because my California accent is too thick to be understood.

I hate Las Vegas.

The upshot is that when I'm here for this show, I get to hang out with some cool people, NFJS speaker alum and otherwise. Brian Sletten and I did a tag-team talk on SOAP and REST that was billed to be controversial but probably disappointed the crowd in that we didn't (a) throw any punches at one another, (b) didn't really proclaim a "victor" between the two, and (c) laid down some basic rules for when to look to a RESTful approach and when to take advantage of the existing SOAP-based infrastructure that is currently SOAP's greatest strength.

Note to those who didn't attend the session: you didn't hear me say it, so I'll repeat it: I hate WSDL almost as much as I hate Las Vegas. Ask me why sometime, or if I get enough of a critical mass of questions, I'll blog it. If you've seen me do talks on Web Services, though, you've probably heard the rant: WSDL creates tightly-coupled endpoints precisely where loose coupling is necessary, WSDL encourages schema definitions that are inflexible and unevolvable, and WSDL intrinsically assumes a synchronous client-server invocation model that doesn't really meet the scalability or feature needs of the modern enterprise. And that's just for starters.

I hate WSDL.

I still hate Vegas more, though.

Meanwhile, Glenn Vanderberg, NFJS speaker alum and current Chief Scientist over at Relevance, pulled me aside for a few minutes to show me how to build apps for the iPhone using the newly-released iPhone SDK (something I'd asked about once before and that's been exploring recently). We basked in the glory that is Objective-C (now there's a language that should have gotten more traction than it did, IMHO), and then in the glory that is the iPhone (OpenGL, OpenSA, which I didn't know but Glenn tells me is basically like an audio-equivalent library for OpenGL), and then we swapped some ideas about what people might do with the iPhone now that the SDK is available. I've always been pretty bullish on the mobile device market, and I still am, but the iPhone might be the turning point in that space. I'll reserve judgment for now, and just enjoy hacking on my own for the time being. :-)

Neal Ford did the Wednesday morning keynote, and I got the chance to present "Why the Next Five Years Will Be About Languages" after lunch today, which seemed to go over well, at least based on what the attendees who came up to me afterwards were saying. (Of course, that's always a biased assessment, since the ones who hate it are hardly likely to come up and tell me that, so I always take that statistic with a grain of salt.) They videoed it, so I imagine it'll be online before long.

Of course, TSS wouldn't be TSS without speaker panels saying really controversial things... but I wouldn't know about them this year, I wasn't on any. (Perhaps the conference organizers finally took everybody's advice...)

Tomorrow (well, actually, today as I write this, since I'm up way too late as usual) I'll be doing a talk on Scala, having dinner with a few friends, then off to McCarron airport and home. I don't think the Scala talk will be taped, but you can catch me doing much the same stuff (well, as much as it ever is the same stuff when I speak, since I mostly make everything up on the fly anyway) at the NFJS symposium near you, so you don't have to come to Vegas to hear about it in between ducking packs of drunk twenty-something guys chasing packs of drunk twenty-something girls all the while dodging the attentions of finger-snapping sidewalk vultures handing out glossy business cards saying "Girls Direct to You".

I so hate Vegas.

Update: Hah, that'll teach me to blog that before the conference is over--Eugene and Joe drafted me into the final panel session of the conference, on "Cross-Cutting Concerns, a Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Java", which none of us--including our emcees--had any idea was supposed to be included in such a discussion. Glenn Vanderberg and Patrick Linskey then sought to take a vote and change the topic of the panel to "Shearing off Ted's Ponytail". Fortunately a kind attendee asked a question and we moved on, ponytail intact.

Of course, given that this was Vegas, I probably could have gotten Carrot Top to do it and made some money on the deal.