NLJUG Masters of Java 2006
Wednesday 29 November 2006 @ 2:33 pm
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Thursday November 23rd, 6:30 am. Eric Ettes and I are on our way to Rotterdam to compete in the “Masters of Java 2006” contest (MOJ) organized by the “Dutch Java User Group” (NLJUG). Because of the bad weather, and the thousands of MOJ spectators crowding the Dutch freeways ;-) , we arrive a few minutes after 10am. We missed the coffee and test round.

A short description of the environment we just entered: the contest is held at a games shop in the center of Rotterdam. One of the sponsors’ description: “MOJ, held at the GameSyndicate in Rotterdam. A place with an excellent hackery feel to it - and bad lighting”. The room is filled with computers, in some corners PS2’s, Xbox360’s or GameCubes can be found. A big screen displays the remaining time for the current assignment, along with a list of the competing teams. Also visible is which team is currently compiling or running unit-tests (accompanied with the green/red lights for succeeded and failed tests).

About ten minutes after acquiring a computer, the first round begins. An automated gong marks the start of the round, the assignment pops up on our screen. For convenience a paper version of the assignment is handed out to all teams. The first assignment is not too much of a hassle, same goes or assignment two. At least we’re not going home with zero points. After each assignment a graph is shown to display the points each team scored (total score including the last assignment). The faster you finish the more points you score. The difference between the teams is not big, however there are a few teams not finishing the first assignments in the available time (30 minutes per assignment). Not really noticeable in the score graph, maybe to ease the pain. A short chat with one of the contest organizers points out the assignments go from (relatively) easy to difficult. This is repeated after the lunch, so the first assignment after the lunch (six assignments for the entire day) will start relatively easy again.

We misjudge the third assignment, but we’re determined to make up for the loss after the lunch. We’re lucky because the forth assignment seems to use familiar techniques, we soon have an idea of what the solution must be. In our enthusiasm we miss a hint in the assignment. After fifteen minutes this appears to be crucial as some of the teams already submitted their solution. We didn’t even run a unit-test yet… we don’t finish the assignment in time, zero points :-( . I’ll leave the remaining two assignments out of the review, we didn’t score that well (read: zero points ;-) ).

This doesn’t really matter, we went for fun and fun we had. The atmosphere was good and the assignments were fun and challenging. After each assignment the solution was reviewed and the background was explained. Leading to “ah, of course!” reactions. To get an impression, the assignments of the 2004 and 2005 contests are available on Together with the contest software (same URL) these assignments can be tried on your own computer.

Overall it was a pleasant, inspiring and most of all fun experience in an appropriate setting. Next year Eric and I will be present again, then for a higher end ranking. Maybe we’ll see you there.

External links: - MOJ homepage - The setting this all took place in (link: Foto albums). - The competition software is available here, also available are the assignment of 2004 & 2005.

— By Mark van den Bergh   Comments (0)   PermaLink


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