January 29th, 2014


This posting was created by Al Tobey, Open Source Mechanic at DataStax.


When I joined Datastax, one of the first things they made me do was fly to the United Kingdom for Cassandra Summit EU. Made me do it. Ow ow stop twisting already! London was #2 on the list of cities I wanted to visit someday and now I have and it was awesome. #1 on my list is Tokyo and every last square inch of the rest of Japan.

In preparation for the trip I’ve been working on a few things: I’ve been a lightweight otaku for many years, watching anime in Japanese with English subtitles, along with a lot of other Japanese culture. Learning the language is something I’ve put off for decades — ultimately for silly reasons. Now I have motivation: I’m going to Japan at the end of January!

I bought a few books and read a ton of how-to guides about learning Japanese. The TL;DR of my research is that freely available online language resources are great, but time-consuming. The advice about immersion is totally true; every day I’ve been watching stuff on crunchyroll.com, translating tweets of Japanese techies, and practicing my speech speech. I can utter a few phrases without sounding like a complete bumpkin and am finally able to compose simple sentences on my own. It’s both a lot more difficult and even more fun than I’d imagined. I intend to study 日本語 for the foreseeable future.

I will be speaking at the conference, giving my “Cassandra and Go” talk. I’ve made enough headway in Japanese that I am introducing myself in Japanese and translating all of my slides (fortunately they mostly consist of code and gophers). I am ramping up my investment in the Japanese language and working on the talk every day up until the conference. I have a few extra days to spend in Japan after the conference, which I will use to visit Akihabara and other icons in Tokyo. If all goes according to plan, I want to take the Shinkansen to Kyoto for a day or two before heading home.

In addition to speaking, I will be bringing Cassandra-on-a-stick USB drives. These debuted at Cassandra Summit EU 2013. As far as I know, they were a success. I can’t tell if it’s because 4GB USB drives are handy, or because the technology worked. The drive came with Cassandra documentation, instructional videos, and a VMware image that boots straight into running Cassandra, displaying the IP:port on the Linux console for users to copy. The biggest issues I know of are that VMware Player isn’t available for OSX and using VirtualBox with the image I created, while possible, is tedious. I also ran into users whose laptops had VTX disabled via corporate security policy, so they were excluded.

That was version 0.1. For Japan, I’m working on v0.2, or really a 1.0 that eschews the VM image for an omnibus-style bundle with Cassandra and OpenJDK for all major platforms on the drive ready to run with no installation and no VM. The concept seems to work on the platforms I’ve tested and work is coming along on a small GUI that makes it easy to start/stop the database and adjust memory usage. The code is on Github; I will tweet, etc. when it is ready for more eyes.