StackWorld 2016 Reflection

“Hmm. The email said that I should wear black blazer and black pants when I volunteer. It’s like I am going to an interview anyway.” I joked with my sister – but then, I was going to volunteer at the StackWorld Hiring Mixer, so it is pretty much like going to an interview. In fact, I ended up attending the Mixer as an hiree (is that a word?) myself during my break, totally under-prepared as I had thought I would be volunteering the whole time. There was only 4 companies, so it was easy and quick for me to just stop by during break and get an idea of what each companies are looking for.

That’s another unexpected thing – the size. I had been to DevWeek’s (same organization) Hiring Mixer earlier this year, which was very large yet extremely over-crowded. This time, the event was hosted at a small local pub, Cafe Royale. Four was pretty much the maximum number of booth tables that the place can hold.

Although with a place like this, the attendee have one major benefit – drinks. As the event went on, it morphed more into a networking event. I was assigned upstairs at the overlook, and I got to watched one of my friend attending the event worked his networking magic at the bar, chatting with different people at the table throughout the event. I wonder if that is the expected result – I did wondered with my sister why they pick a pub where hiree runs the risk of getting drunk, but if networking is the goal…

Second day is the fun day for me – talks, talks, talks! During the mixer, someone told me the talks from the first day were more of ops than dev in its contents, which I found to be quit true for second day, too. While I am interested in DevOps, I started as someone who was studying the development side, so that’s where my skill sets and knowledge primarily lies. Some of the talks were difficult for me to catch on as a result. But the talks did give me a good idea of what DevOps are about from the industry’s standpoint and which direction to look for in my studies. Some of the more memorable ones includes keynote from Josh Bernstein of EMC, Open Source Has Changed How You Run Infrastruture. His was quite funny and used some very good diagram and comparisons to talk about DevOps and the importance of Opensource.

Bernstein-Hierarchy of NeedsBernstein-Another DevOps Visualized

Dan Jones from VictorOps did DevOps 101, which also did a good description about what is involved in DevOps. At one point, he put up a quote by Ernest Mueller, author of Agile Admin, which I thought was pretty good:

DevOps is the practice of operations and development engineers participating together in the entire service lifecycle, from design through the development process to production support. DevOps means breaking down the traditional silos that have existed between Ops and Devs.

My favorite is Performant Security from Sabin Thomas of Codiscope . His talk about various tools that they used to develop Jack (cloud-based developer tool that checks github repo for security issues), and the process moving from Alpha stage to Beta stage and finally to Live is very insightful. It gave me a good idea of what to pay attention for when I am studying those tools – some of which includes Mongo and Docker, both of  which I am learning right now. I had to leave a bit early, while he is still talking about Google Cloud Platform, but I still found that I took a good amount of information from the talk.

I also did the booth challenge, where attendee gets a gift if they scan the QR code on 11 exhibition booth and 1 session. I decided to take it up a notch and talk to all 11 booth, asking all of them about what they do, and in some cases, if they are hiring recent grads. It was a very nervous, but also insightful experience. Some fun things I found:

  • Out of the 11 companies I talked to, at least 3 traveled from outside CA State! They are: Raygun from Seattle (crash-reporting software), VictorOps (real-time alert and monitor) from Boulder, and Codiscope (software security services) from Boston. While they have an office in San Carlos, QTS (data center service) is primarily based in Chicago.
  • I went to the Codiscope booth before their open talk, so I didn’t realize that their Jack service is completely Live now instead of Beta – I had talked to them during Devweek back when they are in Beta stage.
  • Citrix (application and data delivery on network and cloud) is very enthusiastic about getting people into their iPad raffle drawing and swags (an iPhone cloud-shaped stand and webcamera cover). In addition, they also set up 3 monitors to display their NetScaler service live. Very neat!

Citrix NetScaler

  • Iron.io (cloud-based job processing system) printed out newpaper-like case studies of their customers, which includes Bleacher Report, Hotel Tonight, and Untappd. They also did a drawing for a drone. Didn’t win that either, but it looks pretty cool – it has a mount for GoPro!
  • AppDynamics (real-time application performance monitoring) had people there at the hiring mixer, who was also there in the exhibition hall. Someone is busy!
  • Cobalt.io (crowd-source security professionals) wasn’t in the exhibition hall or had a QR code to scan, but their card display caught my attention as I walked by, and I ended up listening to the booth people discussing their services to another attendee:

CobaltIo

jQuerySF 2015, Day One Reflection

A two day conference solely dedicated to a jQuery? I know jQuery is an extremely popular library, but I never expected a whole conference dedicated to it! I am still new to JS, especially since I have been taking more back-end language courses lately, but I really would like to brush up on my front-end skills.

Plus, there are lunch and coffee, those are always good incentive!

I had volunteer work that day, so I have to miss the morning. I don’t regret it though – turns out the Americorp people are leaving this week! I am so glad I didn’t missed my last chance to say goodbye. I really enjoyed working with the group this time! They are always so positive and cheerful!

At 12, I leave for the conference after a lot of hugs. I was just in time for the lunch time food truck. I grabbed a bite, settled down, and waited patiently for the next set of speakers.

In jQuerySF, the panels are divided by topics. First up at 2:30 is:

Why Empathize? The speakers are Amanda Glossom, John Resig, and Kelly King.

I like how Amanda began with an explanation of what empathy is: “Empathy is imagining what is like for them in their shoes”. It’s not imagining what is like for us be in their shoes, but what it is like for that individual to be in their shoes. Her ending of “End user isn’t the only one who deserve our empathy. We are people too. ” was also particularly memorable. Very often we get obsess with the end customer, we end up losing those people that are needed to make the whole thing work.

As a JS newbie, the name John Resig sounded familiar. Upon reading his bio, I realized why – he is the author of Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja, a book I have been eying at Barnes & Nobles. His panel did not disappoint. It drawn from his experience during the early days of jQuery. Having read various code language debates, I found it refreshing that John disagreed with the idea that certain code languages are better, and that things that aren’t code can be what differentiate between the different coding language. One of the things he pointed out is level of difficulty to get help from a language community, especially among people just starting to learn the language. His focus of how important community is in the development of a language made his panel particularly useful for those involved in building a language.

The last empathy panel is Kelly King, whom talked about A/B testing. One of the most memorable part for me was when she posted the top liked comment on Netflix, “The new Netflix interface is completely crap.” It sent the room into laughter. The irony though, Kelly revealed, was that A/B testing shows that the new interface actually created better result. As one of my science teacher once told me, science is not always common sense. With A/B testing, they can avoid situations where the decisions are determined based on HiPPO – High Paid Person (Nice name!).

The Importance of Accessibility: The next group of panel consisted of Karo Caran, Jon Kuperman, and Victor Tsaran.

In discussing about accessibility, Karo mentioned not only those who are born with low vision, but also elder and, most interestingly, the invisible audience who wouldn’t acknowledge that they have low vision. She presented 4 pictures of how a person with visual disability might view a laptop screen. The video about how she navigated a website was eye-opening. In the video, she mentioned that she can only see the colors of an app and must magnify for detail. She also mentioned several times how the stripes of color from the navigation bar makes it easier for her. Those seemed like such a small detail when designing a website, but for some people it really makes a difference in their experience of the site.

I like Jon Kuperman’s definition of what accessibility design is, especially the part about how it should create a way that everyone “can contribute to the Web”. His misunderstanding about text-reader was hilarious to read about but also kind of sad. It really does brought to the point of how little most people understand about accessibility. I was fortunate enough that one of my professor did taught us basic accessibility design. However, some of the tools and design considerations that Jon mentioned was never made aware to me before.

So far, all the panels has been inspiring and informational, but Victor Tsaran’s was most educational because I have never even heard of Aria. Turned out ARIA stands for Advanced Rich Internet Applications. It is created to deal with Ajax issues in term of accessibility. It was a short 20-minute, so Victor only got to brush the basic surface of what Aria do, but it is definitely something I hope to look up later.

The last is the keynote – and was it some keynote!

JavaScript State of the Union: The keynote was by Steve Newcomb.

There are times when video and reading can not make up for being in person. This is one of those moment. The combination of his charismatic speech and the presentation of the demo was just amazing. Steve Newcomb has sought to bring the JS language to the three-dimensional, to make browser language compatible with native. I never imagine that something like what the demo showed can be build by JS and jQuery. Listening to him made me wanted to code more projects right after the panel. He was a powerful speaker. His presentation is inspiring and made one look forward to the future of Javascript.

End of Day One

There was so much just on the first day, despite the fact that I have to miss the morning panel. I will try to post a second post later this week, but there are so many notes to process…

For those who missed, there is a video of the conferences at jquerysf.com!