O’Reilly screencasts coming

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a “digital content director” at O’Reilly. He said he was building up O’Reilly’s catalog of screencasts on technical subjects and wanted to know if I wanted to participate. The plan would be for me to come to California, where a camera crew would record me teaching students, in an informal setting, about new interesting technologies.

As they say in baseball, that’s right in my wheelhouse. While I do as much development and consulting as I can, my schedule fills with teaching engagements very quickly. I probably consider myself an instructor above everything else. Asking me to talk for a couple of days to make a 90 to 120 minute screencast is simple — getting me to stop talking would be much harder.

(That’s the thing about instructors: the job requires you to respond to every question with a conversation that lasts until the student is either satisfied or gives up. The job selects for that. After all, I’m not grading them; they’re grading me. Okay, that was a bit facetious, but only a bit.)

The upshot is that last week I traveled to California and recorded two screencasts. The first is tentatively entitled “How Groovy Helps,” and walks through a handful of Groovy-based applications to show how the language dramatically simplify application development. The other is called “Modern Enterprise Java Development” and discusses how creating web applications evolved from a servlets/JSPs/JavaBeans model to Spring Core + JPA + Ajax, with an overview of tools and technologies thrown in for good measure. They were all recorded as I talked to one student at the Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma, CA.

I’ll have a lot more to say about them as we get closer to their availability, which ought to be in a month or so. In the meantime, here are a few observations:

1. You know you’re in wine country when there’s a bottle of wine waiting for you in the hotel (a decent chardonnay as it turned out).

2. I enjoyed adding Google Maps functionality to my Groovy Baseball application. Now when I choose a date, I get a marker at each home stadium with an info window showing the scores. Once I clean up the look and feel, I’ll add that to my own web site.

3. My student didn’t have much of a programming background, so I inevitably slowed down. The screencasts are therefore geared more towards beginners than experts.

4. We recorded almost everything outside. That was quite an adjustment for me, since I consider air conditioning and high-speed Internet access minimum requirements for any trip, including vacations. My son was quite amused to hear I got a mild sunburn on my bald spot.

5. I had to drive to Boston in order to take Virgin America, but have an actual, real live plug in the seat was worth it.

6. The production values on these things are going to be sick. I saw a preview and was very, very impressed. I only hope the content measures up. 🙂

My only regret was not being able to meet up with Andres Almiray while I was out there, but he was south of San Francisco and I was about an hour north of there. Maybe next time.

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