Spending time before Java One in San Francisco

I finally made it to San Francisco. My company sent me and ten colleagues to the Java One conference this year. This is supposed to be the biggest Java related conference in the world. We will see about that. It starts next Tuesday. In the meantime, I have some extra days I can spent in San Francisco. The plan is to travel to Fresno today and meet a friend which I have not seen for a couple of years.

Even before the Java One starts are there a lot of conferences about agile software development, Java based technologies or vendor specific stuff. Some of them are even for free. There is the CommunityOne West that starts next Monday. It is a side conference, also hosted by Sun. The Community One West goes from 1st to 3rd of June, also in Moscone Center. Since it is starting one day before the real JavaOne conference, it will be a great opportunity for me to get my head filled up with Java stuff even earlier. This is the CommunityOne program for Monday. There are a lot of sessions about Open Solaris and Cloud Computing. Since I will unfortunately only be coming back from Fresno on Monday, I will miss the morning and lunch sessions of the Community One West. However, there are some “pearls” I found during the afternoon like “Dynamic Data in a Web 2.0 World”, “Three Techniques for Database Scalability with Hibernate” or “What Do You Need to Know About Creating and Running a Scalable Web Site but Were Afraid to Ask?” Looking forward to go there.

Anyway, I want to quit this post with some practical tips for you guys entering the US. One of my colleagues was really hit hard this time from the US border control. I am not sure that is the correct name but they are the guys who will check your filled in papers from the plane and ask all these questions. Obviously they had found something in his profile or he just looked similar to someone they were looking for. He was asked to not proceed to the Exit but to another office called “Secondary”. In there, they asked a lot of detailed questions and this time even with a quite obvious background. Something like “Do you have family or friends in Saudi Arabia, Iran or somewhere else in the middle east?” I guess he was tempted to answer that our former System Owner migrated from Iran to Sweden some 20 years ago :)

Then the staff was really going into detail with questions about Java One, like what type of conference it is. How many years he had worked in our company. What his position is in the company. What exactly he was doing etc. Finally, he cleared secondary. Now everyone, even the Exit people, are in an area between the border security and the customs. This is where you pick up your luggage. I headed directly to the bathroom to get my hands washed. It is really smart, in times where US has the most Swine Influenza cases, to have everyone press their four finger and thumb of both hands on a fingerprint scanner!

Waiting for the luggage, some guys with beagle dogs went around, checking bags. These dogs are really great. They found a lot of food in peoples bags. It was fun to watch - snap, dog caught ya. After a couple of minutes, we got the bags and moved out. Guess what, my colleague was picked on again and he had to go someplace else. They asked him, if he wanted to change something in his customs declaration paper. Obviously that was not the case and they started searching his belongings. Of course they did not find anything.

Other stuff. Take it easy when leaving the plane. Border control usually starts off with only a few counters, so it looks like you have to wait forever. They will then open more and more counters. The passengers who were among the first, waited longest. It is better to come late I'd say. Make sure you have both sides on all forms filled in. Be prepared to answer detailed questions about the purpose of your trip and details about the place you are staying. Do not travel to the US if you do not speak English please. I had a Spanish lady in my queue, filling in a German I-94 form, who could not talk Any! English. It was a disaster. She did not even know what to fill in in which fields, not to talk about the questions they asked her. I know it is ignorant but thats the way it is, you have to be at least OK in English.

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