Last Saturday Mr Stephen Chin came to Sevilla on his crazy European tour to show us Lego and Robots. This was our largest turnout yet for a Java User Group event in Sevilla, which surprised me as it was on a weekend, and the weekend before the spectacle that is Semana Santa in Sevilla.
Last night the Sevilla MUG had our March Madness event. This was our largest event yet, with 36 people signed up. Although the aim of March Madness is to have a MongoDB Engineer at all the user groups this month, that's not such a big deal for us as I live here, so this was also the first event where I wasn't the main attraction - [Javier] (https://twitter.com/JvrBaena) gave a really great talk about the lessons learnt at SocialBro after using MongoDB in production for the last couple of years.
The slides for my introduction to Replica Sets and Sharding:
And the slides for the main attraction:
The event went really well, everyone seemed engaged, and our first talk in Spanish seemed to encourage more questions than normal. We were also in a new venue, and although I love the central location of our previous venue and the friendliness of the owners, the menu of the new location seemed to be a massive win.
Wow. My 4th QCon London. That’s not bad. And every time, it’s a different experience (if you must, see my blogs for 2013, 2012, and even 2007 (part 1 & part 2 - how cute was I? "agile seems like a jolly good idea; automated testing appears to be important")).
I can’t even tell you what I did on the first day, I was mostly panicking about my presentation - I was inspired after my trip to New York last month to change my talk at the last (responsible?) minute and do a live coding session, something much more technical than my recent talks. I’ll leave the details for a separate blog post though, when the video comes out.
The thing that stands out for me from Wednesday though was Damian Conway programming Conway's Game of Life in Klingon. Yeah. Just find the video and watch it, the man is a genius.
The Thursday keynote was inspiring too from a totally different point of view - Tim Lister of Peopleware fame shared stories from his career, and I came away from that really happy I work as a technologist, but with an increased desire to learn off other amazing people.
Not Only Java track - I’m on the programme committee for QCon, and this year we wanted to cover leading edge technologies (as always) but we didn’t want to slice things into strict technology silos (interruption: argh! the person in front of me nearly destroyed my laptop by suddenly moving their chair back! Why do people bother in economy on a morning flight?). So I wanted the Java track to be more representative of what today’s Java programmers care about - for the programmers of course, but also because I know there are architects and team leads at QCon who might not realise how things have moved on with the language, and how much polyglot programming we do these days.
Martin kicked it off with a great history lesson on the progress (or occasionally, lack of it) in Java. He begged us to study and understand Set Theory, to use async design, to think of the users of our APIs, and, most of all, to design nice, clean code.
Next up, Eva took us through the fundamentals of Garbage Collection - this might not seem like a cutting edge subject these days, but it’s one of the most misunderstood subjects for Java programmers. Eva gave us a really great, understandable view of the different types of garbage collectors, how they work, and their pros and cons. She left us with a call to arms to not simply let other people try and solve this problem, but to get stuck in and contribute ourselves, via the OpenJDK.
After lunch was my nerve-wracking live coding session, putting together a full stack end-to-end web app using AngularJS, HTML5, Java and MongoDB. It only went wrong twice, and people seemed to like it. I’ll post the video in another blog post as soon as it's publicly available. Code is available on github.
Finally, Simon Ritter gave us a view of the Java 8 features most likely to impact the way Java developers think about software design - lambdas and streams. I thought this was a really great introduction to the concepts if you haven’t seen them before, and with concrete examples that showed how we should be using them. If you're not already looking at lambdas and streams, you should be - even if you're not going to be using Java 8 yet, it's worth getting a heads up on how it's going to impact our programming style.
I’m very pleased with the way the Java track turned out on the day - every speaker was first class, a wide range of topics was covered, and I, for one, learnt something in every presentation.
To finish off the day, Emma Langman gave an awesome keynote about how people are the messy bit of your system, and how they’re never rational and you shouldn’t expect them to be. I also highly recommend this talk, especially if you’re a techy and you’ve found yourself in some sort of management or team lead position.
Sadly I couldn't stay for day three of the conference, I had to fly off to the Joy of Coding to re-give the live coding presentation there. Because, if you’re going to do something terrifying and doomed to failure, you might as well do it twice.
QCon is an expensive conference, especially compared to the developer-friendly prices of something like DevoxxUK, but for getting a big picture of where the industry is, of things you might be missing, for learning hard core technical skills and understanding the important of the fluffy-people-stuff, and finally for meeting a wide range of people from developers to CTOs, I think you'd be hard pushed to find something better in London. IMHO (and remember, I did disclose I'm on the programme committee).
And although it's really hard work putting together the programme for a track like this, and although both times I've said I'm Never Doing It Again, when it goes this well it makes you want to do it all over again. After a break. A looong break.
I’ve been running into BSkyB a bunch this week - firstly I was invited to kick off their innovation tech talks series last Monday, then I kept meeting Sky people (that makes it sound like they’re aliens) at QCon.
I’m on a plane (there’s a surprise) on my way back from The Joy of Coding. It’s the title that attracted me to this conference, and it was a great little one day event with awesome people like Dan North, Erik Meijer and Dick Wall presenting. What I liked about the themes is they were broadly technology agnostic, pulling back to a level which made me remember why I’m a developer. It inspired me to do more research and more thinking, and less panicking and trying to write code. That might seem odd, as someone who goes to as many conferences as I do should get loads more research and thinking time than most developers living under the whip, but I seem to spend so much time bouncing from thing to thing I don’t get space to just sit and think, or to read things in any depth.
I've heard great things about this conference, so I was pretty exited to go
Now I know people talk about impostor syndrome whenever they mention the woeful lack of diversity at tech conferences. Interestingly, I felt like an impostor at FOSDEM - not because I'm a woman (there were quite a few techy women around at FOSDEM, more than I expected) but because I'm not an open source person.
Last night was the inaugural meeting of the Sevilla MongoDN User Group. An event organised with just over 48 hours notice, in a city where I don't speak the language and where even my best-connected contacts aren't sure they're fully plugged in to the tech scene.
December disappeared in a rush of vacation and a fleeting tour of Australia. It's hard to believe that it's the eve of Christmas Eve already, it's almost impossible to feel Christmassy when you're getting sunburnt on a boat and seeing people in swim-suits wearing santa hats. A mid-winter festival (complete with trees and fake snow) just feels very odd in summer.
Yesterday I had the privilege of presenting the very first session for vJUG, a new virtual Java User Group that allows us to span geographies when sharing talks and stories. I'm really interested in the vJUG idea, especially now I'm not in London - if we can find good ways to share knowledge without having to travel, that will help us reach people who don't normally go to conferences or don't have a local user group to go to. Not to mention cutting travel costs and saving the environment.
In previous years, JAX London would have been an easy, local conference to go to. This time it took me most of Sunday to get there, and not because of the Super Storm. Still, that gave me the day to finish off the tutorial I was running there on Monday morning. Not that I would be so unprofessional as to leave preparing things until the last minute, oh no....