17 August 2014

ROSE 1995

What I remember from the first computer-related conference I attended.

I have rather vague memories about this conference, from almost 20 years ago. But, I managed to find its program in some dark corner of the Internet. From it, I learned several things. The name stands for Romanian Open Systems Event. It was in the beginning of November, so I must have missed school to attend. It was in 1995, so I was just starting Year 10 of school.

I also remember several things that aren't in the program. Two of these memories are most vivid.

First, that's when I learned of Java. There was a presentation by some marketing guy from Sun. (According to the program, it was Darryl Parker.) I had never seen such a good presentation before. He really did convince me that Java is the future of the Internet. Even now I remember that one main selling point of Java is ‘Write Once, Run Everywhere’. And (I'm almost sure) I remember it from that presentation. I learned in the meantime that people are prone to mistake presentation quality for content quality.

Second, at some point Linus Torvalds was working on his laptop. Nobody dared to interrupt, but my father nudged me, and I did. The only thing I knew about him at the time was that he was supposed to be the celebrity guest of the conference. I remember he was extremely nice. When I asked what is he doing he said he's preparing his presentation, which is in one of the next sessions. ‘What do you use?’ ‘Powerpoint. People sometimes think I'm anti-Microsoft, but I'm not. Powerpoint is really good.’ And that's why I learned to use Powerpoint. I don't recall the rest. But I do recall that he patiently waited until I finished quizzing him, despite having an unfinished presentation to make later on. I never met him since.

Sometimes people describe Linus as nasty. I find it very hard to agree, and I think it's because of that meeting. Another result of that meeting was that 5 years later I decided to try Linux. I'm glad I did — it fits my style. (Powerpoint doesn't.)

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