velocity_conference_2014

Cat-Infused DevOps Talk & More @ Velocity Conference 2014

By Morgan Griggs (Hackbright Academy – summer 2013 class)

A couple of weeks ago, I attended O’Reilly Velocity Conference in Santa Clara. The conference focused on web and mobile performance, and the day was stuffed with both technical and motivational presentations.

This was the first conference I’ve attended so I was unsure as to what to expect going in. But I left feeling optimistic and with a long list of new topics to research further.

If nothing else, being around so many software engineers and being introduced to many new technologies reinvigorated my passion for programming. I work as a software engineer for an e-commerce company, and cannot wait to implement suggested optimization techniques on our site.

Some highlights of the day include Pamela Fox’s talk on lowering the barriers to programming, techniques for decreasing page load time delivered by Jonathon Klein of Etsy, and a cat-infused devops talk. Gowri Grewal, a fellow Hackbright alum, and I were able to meet up, compare notes, and even had caricatures drawn at the Equinox booth in the facility’s main room.

I would advise aspiring and new programmers to attend conferences, especially those that are local. You never know what you’ll be exposed to. I learned about HAL for the first time and how Comcast uses it in conjunction with JSON to deliver data to users. Exposure to new topics and better ways of implementing current technology can only improve your performance as a developer. Plus, it’s just cool as hell.

Attend, learn, and have fun!

By Gowri Grewal (Hackbright Academy – summer 2013 class)

The O’Reilly Velocity conference, focused on “building a faster, stronger web” was a great place to connect with and learn from experienced colleagues in web performance and operations.

Among all the great lessons in metrics and optimizations were a few key takeaways:

* Laura Thomson (pictured above) from Mozilla spoke about the rise of DevOps culture to address growing systems that encompass both order and chaos (she calls this Chaordic Systems). She summarized the movement in the statement, “Dev Ops is a code word that says ‘we have trust’.” Her analogy was that both developers and operations professionals need to make many tiny deposits of trust into the trust bank account. She underscored that they’re saving for the day when you have to take it all out, and empty the bank in order to solve a outage or serious performance issue.

Further, she extended the connection between DevOps, Performance and Trust by relating it to being a manager of engineers. Essentially, her message was that the more you trust your team, the less you’ll fall into the trap of micro-managing, which can put off employees and impair even the most talented developers. Building trust, she advised, requires frequent communication and lots of practice.

Overall, it was a great overview of why we need DevOps and some tips on how to make it happen.

* One of the most unexpected keynotes was from Rodney Mullen, a pro skateboarder, known as “the Godfather of Street Skating.” He took us through the trials and tribulations of the best skateboarders in the world, and made a surprisingly astute comparison to web operations: “The best skaters are the best fallers.” What he meant is that they only got good by falling a lot, but then getting up and trying harder. In web development, we’re building massive, complex systems that are expected to have nearly 100% uptime. Failures inevitably happen, but the best learn to recover from them and learn from them quickly. His main message was that as skateboarders or technology professionals, our success will be determined by our capacity to deal and cope with the big failures that occur along our path.

* Former Hackbright mentor Pamela Fox used her keynote to elicit a call to action from the Velocity attendees to participate in the K-12 coding literacy movement. She showed us how the number of CS jobs for new college grads is growing at a much faster pace that CS enrollment in colleges, and by 2020 she claims that there will be 1,000,000 more jobs than students to fill those jobs.

Pamela educated the audience on ways that they can easily contribute to initiatives such as Code.Org, Khan Academy and DonorsChoose.Org. Some options she suggested ranged from donating old computer equipment to schools, to spending time helping schools and students with things like setting up development environments and teaching at after-school programs. One of the ways we can each contribute to getting more students into CS careers is through community involvement in organizations such as these.