In-Depth

The Experts of the Roundtable

The 2006 Java Technology Roundtable comprised a colorful cast of industry thought leaders. Get to know the panel, wikipedia style.

When the Java Technology Roundtable is held during the weeks of the annual JavaOne conferences in San Francisco, the event's only moderator to date, Simon Phipps, chief open source officer at Sun Microsystems, typically kicks off the discussion by going around the table and asking the participants to introduce themselves and identify their organization affiliations. In the spirit of keeping up with current trends and technologies, Phipps invited the panelists of the 2006 Java Technology Roundtable to provide brief bios along with their introductions as they might appear in a Wikipedia entry on a Web page. The exercise provided plenty of color and a few laughs at self-deprecating humor. It also provided some insight into the backgrounds, both inside and outside of the industry, of these thought leaders. Get to know the 2006 Java Technology Roundtable panel.

Simon Phipps: Welcome. Nice to see you all. This [roundtable] started out as a Java, [or] a J2EE, dissection session just after J2EE got going, and this year it's really a broader perspective of the Java platform that we're going to take. To get started, I would be really pleased for us all to introduce ourselves so that people can get familiar with the voices, and what I'd really like us to do—some of you already have one of these but I know you all don't have one—if there was going to be a Wikipedia entry about you, I wonder what would be the synopsis of your Wikipedia entry. If you understand the rules of Wikipedia, it's very important that it's a neutral point of view, no self promotion, warts and all description. Now to make this easy, the one person at the table that I know does have a Wikipedia entry is Tim Bray. So, Tim, what does your Wikipedia entry say about you?

Tim Bray: I'm old. I work for Sun, and I am a long-time Web geek, a heavy Web geek. Unless I manage to cure cancer or bring peace to the Middle East, my gravestone will talk about XML.

Phipps: Right. And that's because?

Bray: Well, I was there.

Phipps: Okay. That's what matters. Sam, what does your Wikipedia entry say about you?

Sam Pullara: It probably discusses how I was at WebLogic since basically right after the founders, and I've gone progressively even further down the Java path, even since then, as a member of the JSR teams and as a member of the open source community. So hopefully it would say something about the contributions I've made there.

Phipps: Excellent. Thank you. Mike, what's in your Wikipedia entry?

Mike Milinkovich: Poor golfer, better hockey coach, moose hunter… The programming language that I spent the most time with was Smalltalk, and I spent a lot of time in that world. [I] sort of bounced back and forth between large company and small ever since I started my career, from Nortel to a startup, to IBM to a startup, to Oracle to a startup, not for profit with Eclipse—and that was the ultimate startup. I was the first guy there and not even so much as a bank account when I started, so it was a fresh piece of paper.

Phipps: Excellent. Mr. Gingell, what's in your Wikipedia entry?

Rob Gingell: Well, I don't hunt moose. I do fly airplanes. I really wish I was doing that now instead of answering these questions. Let's see. I am the chief technology officer and vice president of product development at a startup called Cassatt Corporation. I suspect I'm here because prior to that I spent 20 years at Sun where I was chief engineer and head of the JCP. If I have an epitaph, I hope it says "arbiter of good systems takes.

Phipps: Sounds cool. Ari, what's in your Wikipedia entry?

Ari Zilka: Probably something about building extremely scalable e-commerce systems for Walmart.com based on Tomcat. Founding Terracotta and being religious, definitely to a fault, about not exposing to developers an API to solve what belongs in infrastructure. And that hopefully some day it says he was the first guy to successfully deliver customer-usable cluster JVMs.

Phipps: Larry, what's in your Wikipedia entry?

Larry Cable: What's in my Wikipedia entry? Loud, opinionated, Scottish, wearer of bright shirts, driver of fast cars… All four companies I have worked for have disappeared off the face of the map. Hopefully, my current one, BEA, won't. Probably a suitable epitaph would be many, many of my programming errors have appeared in industry standard technologies such as Linux, versions of Unix, XWindows, specs of the Java platform, some of which I'm quite proud of—JSP—some of which less so—BeanContext. I think that would probably be a fitting epitaph.

Phipps: That sounds like several pages.

Cable: I'm working on it.

Phipps: Bob, what's in your Wikipedia entry?

Bob Blainey: Well, ideally I don't think there would be one, from the point of view that I've spent most of my life sort of as a plumber in a lot of software systems. So my background is 16 years or so of doing mapping of software onto microarchitectures. I have been working hard with hardware folk, operating system folk, compilers, so my passion is around program analysis, systems analysis, automated optimization, and I've spent a long time parallelizing systems, optimizing systems, doing large-scale program analysis, and obviously doing dynamic compilation and analysis inside of Java-based systems.

Phipps: Okay. Frank.

Frank Cohen: I'm Frank Cohen. Let's see, I'm author of Java Testing and Design (Prentice Hall); maintainer of Testmaker, which is an open source test tool for testing Web services; and I'm the director of solutions engineering at RainingData, which makes TigerLogic. If you remember the tech data model, as I do from college, TigerLogic is the latest instantiation of it. [I have] 30 years of software development experience, going back to being one of Atari's first game designers, [and] three startups, none of them successful, and [am] a parent to two children.

Phipps: Right. Excellent. So, Ted, what's on your Wikipedia page?

Ted Farrell: Well, currently, the architect for middleware for Oracle. Oracle's the biggest company I've worked for by a magnitude of 55,000 people, so a series of startup companies over the last 20 years, everything from financial systems to document-management workflow, to most recently tools and then into middleware. I want to be a professional golfer and can't, so it's software—that's really the essence of it all.

Phipps: I'm in a very similar place, except I want to be a photographer.

Farrell: I see. I bet you take better pictures than I swing golf clubs.

Phipps: Dave! What's on your Wikipedia page?

David Chappell: Well, you said no shameless self promotion, right?

Phipps: Yes, sorry.

Chappell: Well, let's see, I guess it would be one of the fortunate people that's associated with Sonic Software since its inception and also with Sonic's parent corporation, which is Progress Software. But my passion over the past several years has been in traveling around the world and educating the engineers on software technologies, getting to meet them individually and learn about their experiences, and adopt those technologies and then share that with others that I meet as I go along. Most recently that's been with this whole little trend that we have called SOA, which over the past couple of years I've been conducting a series of architect forums in that area. I've probably met with 3,000 people around the world the past couple of years in doing that.

Phipps: So, Jon, what's on your Wikipedia page?

Jon Bostrom: Well, I am the director of emerging technologies for Java for Nokia, and I have a long and checkered past in distributed computing and have worked with people like Rob and a number of people from the beginning of the Java community and caused a great deal of stir along the way. I was the original technology director for the Jini technology, which was one of those things that caused a lot of stir and was way ahead of its time, and may eventually come around again. Who knows?

Gingell: [Gesturing toward Phipps] What's on yours?

Phipps: What's on mine? Well, on my Wikipedia page it would probably talk about bad photography. It would probably talk about traveling way too much. It would mention that I have a family that believes that I still exist, who I have to show ID to every time I visit them. It would talk about life at IBM, introducing the Java platform back in 1995 and tangling with XML in 1997. It would talk about video conferencing. It would talk about joining Sun, and I joined Sun in 2000 to see Java open sourced. And who can say? By the time I retire maybe it will have happened.

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