May 24, 2014
I heard about Bacon(things developers love) a few years ago from friends who went (and lvoed it). I bought a ticket last year but had to go on holiday instead and missed it. I was determined to be there this year, and it was worth every minute and penny. It’s a twin track conference so decisions about what to see in each session had to be made, so where I hada clash I chose to go to the less code orinetated session (code can be read later).
After an incredible two days (this is probably the best tech orientated conference I’ve been to), I’m shattered and exicted, riled up and exhausted all at the same time. This is a very long train journey.
There’s a reason the Rands blog and books have such a following, and it’s because he’s such a clear thinker and such an insparational chap. The 3 year itch and the phrase “I could not see the means to learn anymore” came up in the pub again and again, they really resolnated with the crowd. Our LinkedIn profiles are full of jobs lasting 3 years, and it’s because after three years smart engineers get bored. The techniques for dealing with stable and volotile personalities will no doubt come in useful at some point in the future.
Key take away for me: retrospecitvely explaining my career choices to date.
I’m messed about with the Arduino platform for years, but ducked into Becky’s talk late only catching the end of it. I was surprised so many of the crowd hadn’t had a play with one, at less than £20 they are still the lowest barrier to entry to actual hardware and device programming.
Key take away for me: Hardware isn’t hard to get into.
The motiviational and positive effects of music on humans is well known (inaccurately) but not well understood. Finding new music to listen to is hard, and PJ gave some great pointers on where and how to find new stuff to listen to (and what you might like even though it’s seeeminly very different). I was chuffed that there were so many fans of the Buffy soundtrack in the roof too.
Key take away for me: Think about what you’re listening too, default habbits might not be helpful.
Github is idolised somewhat in the webworld, and for lots of good reasons. I loved how Coby equated remote working with the rural “eggs on trust” scheme. Github’s tools are an implementaiton detail of their culture.
Key take away for me: Remote working cannot be a second class experience. Go big, or go home.
Daan walked us through the maths of how prime number based public/private key encryption works, and how simple manipulation of the encoding keys and techniques leaves holes big enough for the likes of the NSA to a) decrype in realtime and b) (more scarily) retrospectively decrypt all your messages. Scary stuff. The maths involved is complex but the (reasonabley) simple examples were followable.
Key take away for me: We’re basically fucked.
A really personal talk about Adam’s difficult 2013 and coping with burning out. As an industry we’re terrible at looking after out physical and mental health. Standing up and talking about it was, I imagine, hugely difficult and I really appreciate that that Adam did it. Burning out is not problem that can be solved by pills or changing circumstance, it’s something you live with and develop coping strategies.
Key take away for me: A new found respect for somebody I respected already.
Speaking in public is tough, but with a few reasonably simple steps you can improve your talks vastly (especially your slide deck). Zack has spoken a huge amount around the world and he nailed this talk.
Key take away for me: your slides are probably crap, so are everybody elses. Sort them out; stand out from the crowd.
Another super personal talk and an amazing one. Seth is medically diagnosed with OCD and after explaining what this actually means (it’s not what I thought it was), when on to explain how to turn lemons into lemonade by using his hyper tuned tools to his advantage. Does a break in a pattern drive you insane? Maybe you’ll be really good at spotting the wonky line in a huge log file. I was touched by this explaination of how he self medicated at times. “I didn’t have an alcohol problem, I had a coping strategy problem”
Key take away for me: If you can identify your “flaws” you can turn these into superpowers.
Archive.org is an astounding project and Jason (I typed json here through force of habbit) is a brilliantly engaging speaker. When that startup you love puts the fabled “We’re so excited we’ve been aquired” page you your data is fucked. It’s safer for the aquiring company to delete it rather than inherit the risk and the lawsuits. Archive team do amazing work to mirror and store your content that these bastards will delete.
Key take away for me: “We’ve been aquired by Yahoo! Is like “I’ve found a lump”. You’re fucked, you’re dead, it’s 18 months max”.
Too many things! Printing on marshmallows! Burger Bear Burgers and Deskbeers beers! Surprise visit from Jonty and Russ! Red hot tube home and drunken late night brain whizzing.
A completely knockout talk. The collective noun for developers should be based on our emergent behavior. Can the collective noun for developers affect (positively or negativly) how we as developers behave. Data analysis of top 200 github repos to see what makes a project take off, or stagnate, or plateux.
Key take away for me: Humans are just animals and we’ve put a lot of effort into modelling them, maybe we should take some time to look at ourselves.
Techniques, four day rapid prototyping with clients, how to deliver a small but well formed product. The need to delete the prototype and build from scratch afterwards.
Key take away for me: A good prototype is very powerful but it’s easy to derail the prototyping process.
How taking a different (and brilliant) photo every day pushed Mr Flibble into being more creative and having more ideas. How creativity is a learned skill, not a god given binary talent. Techniques for growing your creativity. Catchy neumonics.
Key take away for me: Doing something every day will make you better at it. Stick to it.
I’d never put anythought into powerlifting; in fact I’d never realised that there is a difference between power lifting and olymic lifting. The story of findign a community and friends whilst getting really bloody strong (and wearing a unitard) was uplifting and awesome in so many ways. I might actually consider lifting.
Key take away for me: Finding somethign comepltely outside of development has renewed and reinvigorated Lauras development career.
Building from the ground up is easy but where there’s muck there’s brass. An “old code base” doesn’t have to mean 20+ years old these days. 6 years, 40+ developers and 120k lines of code (not including libraries) is not easy. There were some very practical and pragmatic techniques for dealing with new features bugs and refactoring as well as some great code snippets. use_this_function_because_rails_does_not_do_what_you_thought_it_did_for_function_x.
Key take away for me: Get on with it. Quit bitching about the old codebase and use good solid processes to mitigate the problems. Enjoy the frige benefits. Always leave it a little better than you found it.
I’ve been considering buying and automating a knitting machines for a while, but after hearing of the process Amy and a bunch of other engineers from Etsy went through I no longer have an interest in it. However, from hackday to Grumpy Cat knitting, via USB floppy simulation, python, ruby, hand made wool spools and finding the right sort of wools, this was a brilliant story of how Amy’s passion for something that never existed came into reality.
Key take away for me: Wool is rubbisha and old machines assumed amazing levels of complexity from your grandmother.
Every part of your webstack is potenctially completely fucked and will piss your data out into the internet at the drop of a hat. Tim walked us through some of the most high impact bugs in every level of the tech stack, Rails’ insane level of trust in YAML (3 times!), PHP’s “yeah whatever password is just fine” crypt function, through Apaches “please kill me request header” all the way down to Postgre’s “I run commands on the command line even without authenticating you” and finishing with the most recent snafu Heartbleed. Funny, informative and absolutely terrorfying.
Key take away for me: It’s all fucked, we’re all fucked, be ready to be fucked and be fast at handling it.
Bacon was excellent. One of the best, if not the best, tech conferences I’ve been to. I didn’t go to a dud talk. The food was exceptional. The team behind it are obviously super passionate and worked to make it such a great experience. I’ll be back next year.comments powered by Disqus