Starting Tech Talks From Ground Zero

I’m at DevSpace 2018 right now, and just participated in a Open Space about Lunch and Learns.  As I have previously written, I am the curator for Tech Talks at my workplace.  Instead of talking about how our tech talks work today though, I want to give my ideas on how to start up a tech talk or lunch and learn culture from absolutely nothing.


Remember, you don’t have to have something fully launched day one for it to be valuable.  Be Agile.  Create your MVP for Tech Talks, and iterate on what works; throw away what doesn’t. Continue reading

Building a Development Community In Your Workplace

So for DevSpace in October, I was happy to present my first soft skills talk: Building a Development Community in your Workplace.

I got a lot of good feedback on it, and some people were asking for some more background information on it.  It’s tough to condense a 1 hour talk into a blog post and not bore the heck out of you, so I’ll make you a deal.  I’ll distill it into my core talking points, and if you’re interested in a specific part of it, let me know and I’ll write a more in-depth blog post.


It all started back at PyTennessee 2015.  This was my first conference, and I was floored at what this sort of environment offered.  I got to talk with great people, learn awesome stuff, and just generally have a good time.  But as soon as Monday rolled around the next week, I didn’t feel that great.  I chalked it up to being tired from a conference, and having to go back to work after a great weekend.

A few months later, I had the privilege to go to StrangeLoop in St. Louis.  This was a much bigger affair, and we had talks from senior engineers from Twitter, Microsoft, and Mastercard there.  I loved being there, but another strange thing happened.  Even before the conference ended, I was feeling that same “down” feeling that reminded me of PyTennessee.  I wasn’t quite sure what it was.  It stuck with me longer too.

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Launching Tech Talks in your Workplace

It’s no secret that I’ve really loved conferences as of late.  Ever since I went to PyTennessee in 2015, I’ve really felt a renewed encouragement to further my own knowledge. I read software books for a long time, but was starting to peter out on them because I felt like a lot of what I was reading was broadly applicable, but I needed to take deeper dives on certain topics.

I started reading through HackerNews, and started finding blogs I enjoyed, but it still wasn’t enough.  But once I went to a conference, I realized just how much more I could learn.  I saw great presentations, great content, and got to talk to a lot of smart people.

That all happened in February.  That started getting some gears spinning for me.  I wanted to get the conference mindset at ADTRAN, where I work.  I wanted for us to create a culture where we could share all the great thing we knew.  So by July of that same year, I had created Tech Talks.   Continue reading

DevspaceConf16 Day 2

Talk: The Joy of Desktop Apps with Electron (by David Neal – @ReverentGeek)

So this was the talk I was waiting for, but I just didn’t know it yet.  I knew about Electron (a cross-platform desktop application builder using web technologies) through the use of Atom, but I didn’t understand the intricacies.  But as David spoke (and he was a great speaker, with hand-drawn images peppering his slides, adding charm), I found myself not listening at times, and instead wondering what I could do with Electron.  To me, this is a successful talk, where it gets my brain spinning for new ideas and I want to go work with it.  In December, we have a week long hackathon at work, so I’m definitely interested in doing more.

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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.

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First Conference Proposal

So a few days ago, I officially submitted my first conference talk!  Bdd to the Bone: Test-Driving Web Applications with Behave and Selenium.  It’s no secret that testing is close to my heart as far as software enginnering goes, so I wanted to give a talk representing some of my interests.  I want to talk about some of the things that went through my head on this.
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