As none of you may know, I had the privilege of attending the CascadiaFest 2016 conference this year, the gathering of people working in software from the Cascade region in the North America as well as people from all over the world. The Cascades is basically that whole area in the Northwest corner of the map extending from British Columbia, Canada down to California that will be under water after "The Big One" shakes things up a bit.
This is my favorite conference of all the evers. If I were to sum it up in one word (don't worry I'll be writing a lot more than that here...you're not getting off that easy) I would say "includoproductivoawesomereducationality". I learn a ton every time I go (I've been an attendee for two years in a row, 2015 and 2016), I meet at least 5 new friends (this year 6!), and no matter who you are, you know you'll be included and welcome with arms wide open.
The Top 3...
Everyday there were approximately 12 speakers for 3 days straight. Almost every speaker had something I could take away from their talk to apply to either myself personally or my professional world* (software developer on a desktop application). My bosses here told me I have to pick 3 talks that were my favourite. If I could, I'd pick you all, Cascadia speakers.
1. Electric Eye
The first talk that came to mind was done by Mariko Kosaka (@kosamari). She has created knitting designs of the QuickSort algorithms and network outages, done product developement and in general tends to make a habit of trying to figure out how to do seemingly quite difficult things. How does a computer SEE, for example?? Mariko emphasizes from the start that more often than not, things that look insanely complicated, and not something a mere mortal like myself can understand, are actually not as "magical" as it appears. Here's Mariko's talk in its entirety where she explains how she went about implementing augmented reality, for your viewing pleasure: http://2016.cascadiafest.org/speakers/mariko-kosaka/
2. The Fable
The next talk that popped in my head was the talk done by Dale Bustad (@divmain). He introduced me to Server Push, a new feature included in the HTTP/2 spec. and is supported in all major browsers. If used, it has the potential to reduce load times drastically for devices prone to high-latency. What REALLY made Dale's talk standout though was the creativity. To make sure everyone was on the same page (you're damn right that pun was intended...keep reading...), Dale covered the history of HTTP/1 in the form of a children's novel! I truly hope he crowd funds and publishes it so I can get it for my nieces and nephew. I think my favourite character was S. Cecil, the encryption mage. Check out his talk here: http://2016.cascadiafest.org/speakers/dale-bustad/
...I left the writing of this blog overnight because I couldn't decide which talk I wanted to include as my third and final favourite talk. I couldn't decide between a talk by Jenn Turner and a talk by Pawel Szymczykowski. One has an important message for software about stigmas in software development and the other has ROBOTS...so you can see my problem. Growing up listening almost exclusively to punk in High school solves this: A. I do what I want! and B. It's important to stand by what you think is right, so obviously I'll break the three talks rule and mention both :P
3 A. Self Appointed Leader
Jenn Turner @jennwrites calls out the tech industry on a lack of interdisciplinary cooperation in open source. If you're not a developer it can be insanely hard to navigate the open source realm. In my brief tech career I have found the industry less than accommodating of non tech people, but that realm could benefit immensely from other professions. A writer can likely write better docs (Docs? What are docs? Oh you mean my 5 line README.md?). A marketer can probably find users better. A project can benefit from these other skilled people, but we need to make our project accessible. Jenn talks about how to do that: http://2016.cascadiafest.org/speakers/jenn-turner/
3 B. Robot Sausage Fingers
When I stop being so lazy I want to get into using the Johnny Five library and start doing stuff like Pawel @makeni did for his presentation. This was just super cool to see live (though it didn't QUITE work in the demo). Using some techniques that Mariko spoke about, along with a few others, Pawel built and programmed a robot to start and play a game on his phone. I love robotics. I want a roboto. I want to BE a robot (but obviously an autonomous robot that is funny and fun, just like Johnny Five). This talk made me think this dream may become a reality. See Pawel's full talk here: http://2016.cascadiafest.org/speakers/pawel-szymczykowski/
Well, that's just a fraction of the amazing talks that happened during those amazing three days at amazing CascadiaFest 2016. I'd like to personally thank the organizers, volunteers, resort, and everyone who attended for making it an amazing experience. Until next year!
Don't forget to enjoy Komodo 10.1! I updated the Publishing tool so it's more badass, and Nathan and I both helped push out the Tutorial tool so it's easier to learn how to use Komodo and teach others how to use Komodo. Heck, you can write a tutorial to teach others how to program if you want.
*I tried my hardest everyday to be THE least professional employee ActiveState has to offer. I like to think I'm the best there is at it.