As well as being the head of development for Buying Butler and RightIndem, part of my role is speaking at technology conferences around the world. I speak about many subjects around technology, but I do this as a representative of the company, which helps us spread the word about what we are doing.
In June I went to Oslo in Norway for the NDC conference where I spoke about restructuring teams using techniques that were first described by Spotify. We have tried to adopt something similar in our company, but as with everything Spotify’s technique is not one size fits all. The main message from my talk is that you have to adapt the model to fit your own companies structure and requirements.
In the talk, I discuss how Spotify have done it, and also how we have tried to implement it. The key difference is that Spotify is a B2C (Business to Consumer) company and we are a B2B (Business to Business) company.
I am thinking of writing a more in-depth article on this, but for now, I will leave you with my talk from the conference. It is the first time I have done the talk, and it seemed to go down very well with people. I had lots of people come and see me afterward to ask me about it in more detail.
Whilst I was at NDC Oslo this year I was fortunate enough to record some more Play by Play courses with my good friend Lars Klint for Pluralsight. This time I recorded 2 courses with Lars, whereas in London in January, I recorded 1 course. The first was on Social Engineering, and in this course, I was the subject matter expert, whilst Lars Facilitated the course, and the 2nd course was about creating engaging digital realities with the Hololens where Lars was the subject matter expert and I was the facilitator.
As in January, this was a really fun process and the camera crew was good fun to work with. The room was in the basement of the Oslo Spektrum arena, so they needed a lot of lights to illuminate the scene, which made the room quite warm, but the recordings went smoothly.
I am not sure when the courses will be out. I expect it will be over the next couple of months, but I am looking forward to seeing the results after the magic of editing. I would love to do some more, in the future. We will have to see what happens.
Over the past week, I have been very lucky to be speaking at NDC Oslo again. I have the privilege to speak and many fantastic conferences, but NDC Oslo is by far one of my favorites, and this year did not disappoint. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the conference, and as well as learning, this conference was all about celebration with speakers, attendees, and partners partying together.
I had a busy schedule for NDC Oslo this year. I had my main talk, a fun talk at the party, and recording 2 live Pluralsight Play by Play courses.
The Monday and Tuesday were the pre-conference workshops. I wasn’t involved in these, so I flew into Oslo on Tuesday ready for the start of the conference on Wednesday. I attended many great talks, including one from my Pluralsight colleague Scott Allen who was talking about building resilient applications in Azure.
On Wednesday evening there was the speaker dinner which was a cruise on the Norwegian Fjords with a shrimp, salad and pasta dinner. The weather was absolutely perfect for the cruise and we were out from 7.45pm until gone 11 pm, where it was still pretty much daylight. The beer was flowing and so was the conversation. I made lots of new friends on the cruise alone, and I hope to bump into them at other conferences around the world.
I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful Norway is, as these 2 photos above and below show. The picture of the sunset below was taken at nearly 11 pm where it was still very light outside. Luckily the weather for the cruise was really nice and at that time of night on the water, we were still warm. When I went last year it got quite cold by the end of the night.
The next day, after a lie in, I headed back to the conference to watch some sessions. A particular favorite of mine was by Scott Helme, who was talking about emerging HTTP standards and HTTPS adoption. I met Scott on Tuesday when I met up with Troy Hunt, so I had already been out for a few beers and pizza with Scott.
On Thursday afternoon, I was scheduled to record 2 Pluralsight Play by Play courses with my good friend Lars Klint. First up was a course where I was the subject matter expert, which was on Social Engineering. The 2nd course was where Lars was the expert, and this was on Holo Lens and engaging realities. The recordings went quite smoothly, although it was very hot in the room with all the lights. As ever it was really good fun, and I hope to record some more in the future.
After we finished the recordings we headed to the NDC Party. In one of the rooms was a series of talks called spectacular failures. This was hosted by Lars, and I was also one of the speakers. These were fun 10-minute talks about failure. I did a talk about biting off more than you can chew when it comes to skills and opportunities. The talk got lots of laughs so I class that as a success 🙂
After the spectacular failures talks, there was a band called LoveShack. They were a metal band that does 80’s covers. They were really good. The crowd was going crazy and the music was loud. I don’t go to many gigs these days, but this was definitely up there for really good concerts. On Friday I attended more sessions throughout the day, and in the afternoon was my talk Scaling Agile using the Spotify Model. Agile talks can always be a little controversial, but the audience was engaged, I had some good questions throughout the talk and at the end, so I was very happy with the result. The talk also scored well in the ratings.
After the conference officially ended, there was an after conference called PubConf held in a local bar. This event has lots of short talks by other speakers from the conference. The talks are comedy talks and the speaker gets 10 minutes and 20 slides to tell their story, Ignite-style. To make it even more challenging, the slides move to the next slide after 15 seconds. The talks were great. My favorite was “How to code like an arse hole” by Damian Brady. The beer was flowing and so was the conversation. It was a great night. I am so glad I stayed the extra night and had a flight late afternoon on Saturday so I could get rid of the hangover.
It was an amazing week at NDC Oslo and I feel very privileged to have spoken there again for the 2nd year. I hope I can get in again next year.
I am pleased to announce that my latest Pluralsight Course called, Improving Brownfield .NET Apps with Code Analysis and Metrics has been released. This course is all about trying to improve the quality of your code by using the code metrics and static code analysis tools that come with Visual Studio, including Visual Studio 2017.
The course is nice and short and to the point, which makes it very easy to watch and digest the information in a short space of time. I explain how all of these tools work in detail and follow up with live coding demos. If you have to work with large legacy code bases then these tools are very good at helping you understand the state of the code to make refactoring easier, and the code analysis tools make it easier to ensure your code confirms to Microsoft best practice.
The course is split into 5 modules. The first module is the trailer and information about the course. Next, we have a module that talks about what quality is and the impact of poor quality code to businesses and their users. Then I walk you through the standard code metrics that are available and how to use them. Next, I show you how to configure and use the code analysis tools in Visual Studio, with a demo, before wrapping up the course.
For many people maintaining brownfield software is a large part of their job. When you maintain this older code, having the ability to analyze code quality and setup automated code quality checks can be invaluable. In this course, Improving Brownfield .NET Apps with Code Analysis and Metrics, you’ll look at the tools built into Visual Studio to help you improve brownfield application quality with code metrics and static code analysis. First, you’ll explore what quality means to software and its users, along with different types of testing that can be utilized. Next, you’ll discover the tools built into Visual Studio, such as the built-in code metrics that you can generate from your own code. Finally, you’ll learn how to setup and interpret the inbuilt static code analysis tools. By the end of this course, you’ll have the necessary skills to efficiently use code metrics and static code analysis.
I do a lot of traveling for my work both on the train and by air. Whenever I used to travel, I always used to get quite bad headaches once I got to my destination. I was discussing this with a colleague once and he recommended the Bose QC35 noise canceling headphones. The idea is that when you are wearing them, they listen to the sound around you and generates a canceling sound wave that is played in the headphones. This means noise around you like a train engine or the engines of an aircraft are significantly reduced.
On his recommendation, I purchased a pair last year and I now use them daily as my main headphones. Since wearing them for travel, I no longer get headaches as my travel is now much quieter. Also, for a set of headphones the sound quality when listening to music is also pretty good. They are not the best quality sounding compared to other high-end headphones, but they sound pretty decent, and the noise canceling also means that you do not need to play music as loud when out and about.
The build quality of these headphones is exceptional. They are light in weight and very sturdy. I think I will get many years of use out of them. The headphones are also Bluetooth which means I pair them with my iPhone, IPad, and laptop, so I never need a cable. Saying that though, they do come with a standard audio cable in case you want to use them with a device that doesn’t support Bluetooth.
To use the noise canceling you must charge up the headphones and I have found that the battery lasts a whole week with moderate use every day, and they charge pretty quickly. If you use the included cable, they act more like a traditional set of headphones, which means they do not require battery power. This has been useful on the one occasion where the battery ran out and I didn’t have a means of charging them, so I just switched to the cable.
The Bose QC35’s also come in a very handy and tough carry case which means I can keep them protected when I put them in my laptop bag. I never leave the house without them now. They have become an essential part of my daily life. They are not the cheapest headphone on the market, so they are most likely outside the impulse purchase bracket, but I have to say, the price is definitely worth it, especially when traveling to reduce the headaches I used to get.
In today’s busy lifestyle with the many distractions, I constantly find it hard to focus and concentrate on a task so like most developers I reach for my headphones and try to drown out the world around me with music. But sometimes I find music can itself become distracting and what I want is something else to drown out the world to let me focus.
Recently I discovered a fantastic app on the Mac called Noizio. Noizio is an app that has many different sound effects like thunderstorms, campfires, wind, water etc. that you can enable and mix together to create your own background noise effects.
The sounds that are mixed together are then played in your headphones and they create just enough distraction to block out the real world but is not distracting that you can’t concentrate. I love the fact you an create your own mixes in this application. I was recently on holiday in Lanzarote with my family, and I really miss being there, so I have created a nice mix in Noizio that has the sound of waves lapping at the shore with a little breeze and the crackle of a campfire on the beach. I have been using this recently and it has helped me get in the zone with work several times.
I also have another favorite mix that is the sound of rain, wind and a thunderstorm. There is just something about a thunderstorm that I find really relaxing which helps with my flow when trying to concentrate on tasks.
I use this app on my Mac laptop and it is available from the Mac App store as well as the 3r party app store called SetApp. Noizio is also available on IOS from the IOS App store. I don’t think there is an android version, but I am sure there is something similar for Android users on their platform.
If you are wanting a way to easily focus without being distracted then I highly recommend trying this app out, it has made a big difference to my productivity.
In the week of the 22nd May 2017, I had the good fortune to speak again at the Techorama Tech conference in Belgium. This year the conference moved from its original venue in Mechelen to the city of Antwerp. I spoke at Techorama last year and really enjoyed the experience. For the venue, they hire out a huge cinema, which means you are presenting on stage with huge cinema screens behind you. This is perfect as a venue because a cinema is perfectly equipped for audio and visual projection.
Once I arrived at Brussels airport, I had to get the train to Antwerp. This journey took about an hour and once I reached Antwerp, I was greeted by the most amazing train station that was architecturally fascinating, as you can see in the photo above. All the speakers this year were staying at the Lindner hotel just behind Antwerp Central station. The hotel was about a 15-minute drive from the conference venue, so the organizers arranged transportation to take us all to and from the venue.
The stage setup, as you can see in the photo above, is excellent. Easily the best stage I have ever presented from. This year I was presenting my Rollercoasters fun talk. This talk is about software design patterns and abstractions, but instead of just reeling through design patterns and boring the audience, I picked another industry to talk about which is Steel Rollercoaster design. In this talk, I break a rollercoaster down into a series of abstractions and design patterns. Ultimately the talk is about the importance of abstractions, patterns and shared terminology in a team. It is a good fun talk and is ideal for the last day of a conference where everyone’s brains have turned to mush from all the great technical content.
The talk seemed to go down well and I got quite a few laughs from the audience at all the right places. What was really cool was the talk I show a couple of First Person Perspective rollercoaster videos and they looked AMAZING on the large cinema screen. So much so, as they were playing I said to the audience that I need to come and sit in the front row to watch it. So I sat there with the audience whilst I narrated what was going on. It was all really good fun.
I had an amazing time here again at Techorama. It is a very well organized and run conference and having spoken here last year, it was as consistently good as last year. I hope I am lucky enough to get to speak here again, as I will definitely be applying again.