Devspace16 Conf (Day 1)

Welp, I made it to DevSpace, securing my goal of going to a conference this year.

DevSpace is a conference in its second year in my hometown of Huntsville Alabama.  To be honest, the talks didn’t draw me in as strong as PyTennessee or StrangeLoop did last year, but I wanted to give it a chance and learn new things.

I went to a meetup earlier this week, and the conference organizer, Chris Gardner (@freestylecoder) talked about the conference.  He said something that stuck with me, in that this conference is all about learning new things.  They specifically organized it so that if you had a specific interest, it’d be present at the conference, but wouldn’t overwhelm us.  For instance, you can like web programming, but with 11 talk slots, you won’t be able to go to 11 web talks.  I liked that.  I liked the encouragement of stepping out of your comfort zone, and that renewed my interest and enthusiasm for the conference.

So between today and tomorrow, I’m going to try to step out of my comfort zone, and push my boundaries.  I’ll go to talks that I normally wouldn’t go to, or even if I don’t have interest in, because I’m here to learn something new.

I also want to keep a record of what I’ve seen, so I’m going to do a short write up on each of the talks.

Keynote: Stronger than Fear: Open Sourcing Mental Illness (by Ed “@Funkatron” Finkler)

This  was the second time I’ve heard the talk (first time was at PyTN in 2015) and Ed is such a great speaker about this.  He finds a good way to connect with his audience, and he speaks with passion about a very tough subject – Mental Illness in the Developer Community.  I urge everyone to see his talk if you get a chance.  As he puts it, 1 in 5 of the US population deals with mental illness, so if its not you, chances are you work with someone who deals with mental illness, and they probably suffer in silence.

Its nice to hear this talked about in the open, and Ed definitely gets people thinking and discussing how we can handle mental health issues similarly to how we deal with physical health issues.

Talk : A Brief History of Cryptography (by Kevin Jones – @vcsjones)

So I know very little about cryptography.  I’ve done basic schoolwork for security classes, and I’m familiar with some concepts, but I don’t dabble in it too much.  This started out a bit slow, but as we got into the  last 40 years of cryptography, it piqued my interest.  We learned how a one time pad worked, and why it was flawed, and how different algorithms (DES, Diffie-Hellman, etc) tried to solve different issues with it.  I was a volunteer in a live Diffie-Hellman demonstration, which i appreciated in the demo.

As we went on, it was interesting to see some concerns about security in the 70s and 80s, and how they relate today.  We also touched a bit on whats coming next, and how quantum cryptography can change the game field.


Talk : The Good and Bad of Software Metrics (by Jason Pugh)

Metrics is one of those things I wish I did better at.  There is such a wealth of knowledge that can be gained by software metrics.  I took a class in my undergrad, but I don’t think I appreciated it until much later in my career.

This talk introduced some simple metrics and how they are calculated, but there wasn’t enough new material that really interested me.  I’ve studied complexity, cohesion and coupling before, and I’m more interested in the personal challenges in using metrics (and how to better introduce them to teams).

I think the best part of this talk was understanding how Colsa implements Metrics and understanding how they use it in their day to day design flow.


Talk: Data Science with Python and Friends (by Douglas Starnes)

So this has been my favorite of the day so far (still a few talks to go, though).  Data science is fascinating to me; maybe my next job will use it.  I like the idea of data transformations and looking for interesting patterns in massive gobs of info.  While this talk mostly glossed over some of the heavy data science stuff, it was a good insight into how the Python ecosystem plays nicely in data science.  We talked Jupyter (a favorite of mine for presentations), Pandas, Matplotlib and Seaborn.  Seaborn intrigued me because it was the only piece I hadn’t seen before, and it seems like a nice visualization tool.


Talk: Heavy Server-side “Lift”ing for Rapid Development of Performant, Dynamic Web Applications (by Britany Meadows @letbritcode)

Britany is an intern at ADTRAN, and I wanted to support my colleagues, so I decided to stop by, even though I don’t touch Scala or Web apps all too often.  I’m glad that I did, because even though there wasn’t too much on the Lift framework (it still under development), Britany was a great presenter (her first talk too).  She talked about server side and client side rendering, and talked a bit about the challenges about VDOM diffing.


Talk: A Whirlwind Tour of Django (by Brad Montgomery – @bkmontgomery)

I really really liked Brad’s slides and presentation style.  I think his slides were the best of the day.  It was also Django, which I have not done anything with, and it interested me.  Brad did such a good job, that I felt like I could start a Django App after his one hour talk.  We covered MVT, App, Plugins, and Admin consoles, and built up a simple blogging engine from scratch.  I’m looking forward to his talk tomorrow on Markov Chains.



So that was it for me on the day.  Tune in tomorrow for day number two of DevspaceConf16



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