Irony Strikes At Tech Conference

Dennis Faas's picture

Java's long-standing record of avoiding virus problems came to an ironic and messy end at a recent conference dedicated to the computer programming technology. Around 70 people at the JavaOne trade show in San Francisco were victims of a particularly nasty virus which caused their back-end systems to spew out unwanted material uncontrollably.

However, it was stomachs rather than servers which felt the effects of the 'norovirus', a human rather than computer complaint. Symptoms disappear quickly, but are highly contagious. And given how many handshakes take place at such an event, the results were perhaps inevitable.

That said, it seems tech experts really are better (or just luckier) when it comes to avoiding viruses: just three of the victims were delegates, with the rest being staff working at the conference.

In a bizarre meeting of the real and virtual worlds, organisers emailed delegates with a virus warning and asked those who felt ill to stay away from the rest of the four-day event. (Source:

Numerous people also fell ill with colds or even flu at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And similar problems hit the Game Developers Conference and Web 2.0 Conference earlier this year. (Source:

Of course, that might not be specifically related to technology: it could just be the natural results of hundreds or even thousands of people, many of whom have flown, meeting and greeting in a confined space.

It seems the safest way to attend this year's JavaOne was through its presence in the 'virtual world' of Second Life. But despite the variety of seminars, workshops and presentations on offer, it was the unfortunate virus outbreak that overshadowed much of the media coverage of the event.

The worst thing is that the virus is largely spread by people not washing their hands properly after using the bathroom, which really doesn't help dispel stereotypes about tech experts.

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