Talks at technical conferences can give a very detailed insight into new innovations, they be a great source of inspiration and motivation. Sometimes they even make you giggle.
At QCon London I got large doses of all of the above, thanks to Rich Hickey, Dan North (DWZ Trading), Colin Humpreys (Carrenza), Ade Oshineye (Google) and Patrick Debois (father of DevOps, working with Atlassian). Here is a summary of my experiences.
My favourite talk was definitely Cloud… is so much more than a tool by Patrick Debois. Not only was it an interesting experience report on the realities of using Cloudy technology to build a highly scalable video broadcasting service, it was also the best use of LolCats I have ever seen… ever… (slides)
Dan North was a cheeky a rascal as ever, actually making the audience think! At a conference! Oh, the humanity! In his first talk (slides), Dan reminded us all that we have brains and we need to make sure that we are allowed to use them. There are a lot of decisions that happen around use every day, are we sure we are making those decisions well, if at al?
In his second talk (slides), based loosely on the Star wars trilogy in 6 parts, he gave a great insight into managing distributed teams within DWR (and tips on how to get your dog into the USA for 10 weeks).
A surprising thought provoking talk by Colin Humphrey from Carrenza. Silly me thought it would just be an overview of the fantastic build pipeline they build for their customers. In actuality, it was something worthy of a lean startup conference, giving insight into the business drivers of using a build pipeline along with IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Lots of really useful ideas in his slides, cant wait for the video to come out.
I had the pleasure of listening to Ade Oshineye sharing his experiences when developing Google Buzz and Google plus and it was stuff we can all learn from. Understanding how someone is going to use your code is very important when developing a public API, you cant just expect them to know everything you know. By making the API’s easy to understand (without looking up lots of other APIs that yours depends on) and providing great documentation and tooling, you can deliver something that really gives a great developer experience (DevUX).
Joe Armstrong gave some great insights into why Erlang is so scalable because it is so fault tolerant. He was also the first speaker I heard to say F*$k at the conference, which seems a common trait with Erlangers - but then they are used to very high tolerance!
Philip Wadler is very passionate about lambda calculus and gave an intensely engaging talk on the mathematical principles behind functional programming languages like Scala and Clojure. Philip surprised everyone when he relieved his dual identity and transformed into lambda man live on stage!
I was lucky enough to have a chat with Joe during his book signing a the O’Reilly stand. A great guy and I’ll be reading his work when I get a chance
I had great fun organising the Atlassian after party, it seemed like everyone from QCon turned up!
There was a great spread of food, although we did tease people a little by it coming out in stages! There was also a great selection of beers, not just bottled larger. There was even some wine at the request of Trisha Gee.
Talks from Twitter and Facebook drew in a huge crowd, so much so that the room for the Twitter talk had people sitting on the flour and the Facebook talk was moved to the largest room (and was still full). Unfortunately whist some of the content in these talks was of interest, there was not enough detail for me to really enjoy them.
Using a bunch of smartphones, feedback about the conferece was gathered really effectively. When leaving the room, several people holding smartphones were capturing feedback, allowing people to vote good, bad or indifferent.
This feedback also gave the organisers ideas about which talks were more popular and allowed them to switch rooms around accordingly. This was a great idea and due to this fast feedback, sessions could be moved very quickly. It was still down to the staff on the floor to make sure people got to the right room though!
Another great time at QCon London and it left me with lots of new people to catch up with in the community as well as much to think about.
QCon London is organized by Trifork A/S - a software development company situated in Aarhus, Denmark and InfoQ - Tracking change and innovation in the enterprise software development community. The QCon London party was sponsored by Atlassian, creators of JIRA, Confluence, Greenhopper and other tools for software developers.
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