I spent last Sunday and the following Monday at Open Source Expo Karlsruhe - co-located with web-tech and php-conference organized by the Software-and-Support Verlag. Together with Simon Willnauer I ran the Lucene/Mahout booth at the expo.
So far the conference is still very small (about 400 visitors) compared to free software community events. However the focus was set to be more on professional users, accordingly several projects showed that free software can be used successfully for various business use cases. Visitors were invited to ask Sun about their free software strategy. Questions concerning OpenJDK or MySQL were not uncommon. Large distributors like SuSE or Mandriva were present as well. But also smaller companies e.g. providing support for Apache OfBIZ were present.
The Apache Lucene project was invited as exhibitor as well. Together with PRC and ConCom we organized for an Apache banner. Lucid Imagination sponsored several Lucene T-Shirts to be distributed at the conference. At the very last minute information (abstract, links to projects and mailing lists and current users) was put together on flyers.
We arrived on Saturday, late evening. Together with a friend of mine we went for some indian food at a really good restaurant close to the hotel. Big thanks to her, for being our tourist guide - hope to see you back in Waldheim in December ;)
Sunday was pretty quiet - only few guests arrived at the weekend. I was invited by David Zuelke to give a brief introduction to Mahout during his MapReduce Hadoop tutorial workshop. Thanks, David. Though lunch was served already, people did stay to hear my presentation on large scale machine learning with Mahout. I got contacted by one of the students of Katarina Morik who was pretty interested in the project. Back at her research group people are working on Rapid Miner - a tool for easy machine learning. It comes with a graphical user interface that makes it simple to explore various algorithm configurations and data workflow setups. It would be interesting to see how this tool helps people to understand machine learning. Would also be very interesting to learn what form of contribution might be interesting and appropriate for research groups to contribute to Mahout. Maybe not code-wise but more in terms of discussions and background knowledge.
Sunday was a bit more busy, with more people attending the conferences. Simon got a slot to present Lucene at the Open Stage track and show off the new features of Lucene 2.9. Those using Lucene already could be tricked into telling their Lucene success-story at the beginning of the talk. At the booth we had a wide variety of people: From students trying to find a crawling and indexing system for their information retrieval course homework up to professionals with various questions on the Apache Lucene project. The experience of people at the conference varied widely. That proved to be a pretty good reality-check. Being part of the Lucene and the ASF community one might be tempted to think that not knowing about Lucene is almost impossible. Well, it seems to be less impossible than at least I expected.
One last success: As the picture shows, Yacy now is powered by Lucene as well - at least in terms of T-Shirt ;)