Category: Commentary

Speaking at SDD Conference in London

The summer has so far been very busy for me with speaking at many great conferences.  On the 15th May, I headed down to London to talk at the SDD Conference hosted at the Barbican Centre. It is the first time that I have spoken at SDD, so it is great to get to experience a new conference setup.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

We were staying at a hotel called the Hoxton in Shoreditch, which I have to say is the most hipster place I have ever seen in my life, and this is a good thing.  The hotel had loads and loads of character and it was good that all the speakers were staying there so I got me meet up with lots of old friends and make many new ones.

I was doing 2 talks at this conference. First was my talk on what product manufacturing can teach us about software development. Essentially it is a talk about Lean Software development and it seemed to go down well. My second talk was more of a fun talk about Rollercoasters. 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.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

 

Whilst I was there I also got to see some other talks in between having to work from the speaker’s lounge. Two of my favorite talks were actually by Jeremy Clarke. The first was on Async and Await, and the 2nd was a soft skill talk about being introverted and how to interact with people as a developer.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

Overall I was very impressed with this conference. It was well organized and well run. I will certainly be applying to speak there again next year. I feel very fortunate with the events that I get to speak at as they are a great way to meet new people and interacting with the audience after a talk is always so much fun.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

What was really cool, was that some new speakers that I met were also speaking the following week at Techorama in Antwerp, which I was also speaking at, so a lot of the speakers tend to go to similar events, so some conversations were picked up the following week. How cool is that…

Speaking at Code Europe in Krakow Poland

Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to Krakow in Poland to present at the Code Europe conference. The conference organizers first got in touch with me a few months ago to ask me to speak, and I was invited to present my cryptography talk,.NET Data Security – Hope is Not a Strategy. This has been a popular talk of mine over the last 18months, so I was delighted to travel to Poland to deliver the speech.

Code Europe Conference in Poland
Code Europe Conference in Poland

The conference itself was hosted at the Krakow ICE Congress Centre, which was a fantastic venue. The building is less than 3 years old, and it looks very modern and new. I am a big fan of architecture, and this building didn’t disappoint. Before being invited to Code Europe, I had not heard of this conference, but I must say it was very well organized and as speakers we were all well looked after. Our hotel was next to the arena, so it was very convenient to get to the event. This particular event was a 1-day show, with 2 following days in Warsaw later in May.  Even though it was 1 day, I decided to stay out an extra day so that I could see a bit of the city.

Code Europe Conference in Poland
Code Europe Conference in Poland

My talk was at 11.30am and seemed to be well received and I had a full room, which I estimated to be around 150 people. Once I had finished my talk and had a walk around the conference, I did a bit of sightseeing with my good friend Filip Ekberg from Sweden. Krakow is a beautiful city and I spent a fair bit of time walking around the old town. The weather wasn’t the best as it was raining a lot, but I made do and still got a lot of sightseeing done.

Code Europe Conference in Poland
Code Europe Conference in Poland

Overall Code Europe was a great experience and I hope I get the opportunity to speak at this event again. The conference was well organized, everyone was very friendly and helpful and Krakow is a really nice city to look around.

Hacking Humans : A Talk About Social Engineering

Back in January I did a talk at NDC London about Social Engineering. This was a new talk and I very much enjoyed doing it to an almost full room. The conference organisers have now published all the videos from the conference. You can see this talk in the video below.

Here is the official talk description:

Social engineering is one of the biggest threats to our organisations as attackers use manipulation techniques to coerce people into revealing secrets about our companies to allow attackers to gain access to critical systems.
In this talk we will look at some of the techniques used in social engineering and look at how to guard yourself against them. We will cover subjects like pre-texting, elicitation and body language as techniques for manipulating people.

Tim Ferris Tricks for Combatting Procrastination

I am not going to write a big article around this, but procrastination is something that effects us all, especially when you have a big project to complete. This happens to me all the time and I constantly have to train myself to get past it.

The tips in this video are very useful, I highly recommend watching it. Over to you Tim….

Speaking at NDC {London} 2017

Last week I had the pleasure if attending NDC {London} again as a speaker. The NDC conferences are such an amazing experience and they are run by the awesome people at programutvikling. This is my 2nd time speaking at NDC {London} and like last year where I spoke about Cryptography, I was keeping the security theme going by talking at Social Engineering and Human Hacking.  I was fortunate enough to spend the entire in London for this conference, which included the 2 workshop days before  the main conference.

The reason I wanted to attend the workshop days is because I would like to plan a workshop, so I wanted to sit in part of one to see how they are run. Troy Hunt was kind enough to let me sit in his Hack Yourself First Workshop. I learnt a lot here, not only about security, but the mechanics of running a workshop, including the introduction, pacing, slides, and style etc. This was very useful and I am now ready to plan a workshop of my own.

Stephen Haunts at NDC {London} 2017
Stephen Haunts at NDC {London} 2017

During the first 2 days in London I got to spend a little downtime walking around London with Lars Klint. This was quite relaxing as we caught a train to Tower Gateway and then walked from the Tower of London down the Southbank, through Trafalgar Square and around other parts of London. We easily did 18km that day. My feet were killing me, but was great fun. It was the first time Lars had been to these areas, and for me, I hadn’t walked around those parts of London since I was a kid.

Recording a Pluralsight Play by Play course at NDC {London}

During my recent speaking trip to the NDC London conference, I was also invited to record a Play by Play course for Pluralsight. A Play by Play course is a short film course that is in a conversational style. This involves having one person who is the subject matter expert for the course, and a 2nd person who is the facilitator for the course. It is this persons job to introduce the course and help draw information out of the subject matter expert by asking questions. This conversational style should make it easier for the learner to get a good gist of the subject in a short space of time. These types of courses are not meant to be super in-depth, but an introduction to a subject, or focusing on one area of a larger subject.

My partner in crime for this course was Lars Klint, who is another Pluralsight author. Lars has done a few of these courses before, so I knew I was in good hands. The course we was recording was about enterprise data security using Azure KeyVault. Essentially the course was about encryption key management using hardware security modules, or abstracted hardware security modules like Azure KeyVault.

We started the planning for  this course in December where we put together the proposal  that split the course down into modules. Each of these modules then had a content plan so we knew what the overall narrative would be from start to finish. Once this was approved I then split this out in to a slide deck where we have bullet points for each modules. I had this on my screen whilst we were recording. This acted as a prompt for me and Lars. Whilst this prompt would have been recorded on my laptop, none of this will be seen as it will be edited out.

Stephen Haunts recording a Pluralsight : Play by Play Course
Stephen Haunts recording a Pluralsight : Play by Play Course

When I first walked into the room on the day of recording, I will admit that it felt a little intimidating seeing all the lights, 3 large cameras and 3 camera operators, but luckily Lars and Troy Hunt were recording a course first, so they were happy for me to sit in and watch. I am glad I did this as it meant I could see what was involved, including how best to recover if you make a mistake. The technique here is to remember what you last said, pause and carry on with the same intonation in your voice to help make it a clean edit point for the editor. Every now and again we would speak out editor notes to the camera, but of course this will all be edited out of the final course.

Life at a Start-up : Exploring the Microsoft HoloLens

Over the last week we have been working on something quite exciting. At BuyingButler and RightIndem we pride ourselves on being a very technology focused company, and we love looking to see where we can use the latest technology to solve real problems. We have been doing just that with Microsoft new HoloLens Mixed Reality headset.

On Thursday 12th Jan 2017 we had a good friend and fellow Pluralsight author Lars Klint fly over to the UK for the NDC London conference. Before the conference he came up to Nottingham  for a couple of days to work with us around some use cases for the Hololens for RightIndem. I can’t discuss what those use cases are at the moment openly, but they are quite exciting and complement one of our project modules nicely.

If you would like Lars to run a workshop for your company, you can see the details on his workshops page. I highly recommend him for the Hololens workshop or his Winning at Life workshop.

First though, what is the HoloLens. Below is the brief description taken from the HoloLens website.

Microsoft HoloLens is the first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you.

When wearing the headset, you still have an unrestricted view of your surroundings, but you also see holograms that are placed in the room that you can only see with the HoloLens attached. These holograms are aware of their surroundings and can be placed on walls and tables. This is achieved by the HoloLens doing spatial mapping of the environment around it. You can then interact with these holograms directly whilst walking around your environment.

The HoloLens is a Windows 10 device which is untethered, which means you do not need a cable running between the headset and a powerful computer like you do with a Virtual Reality headset like the Oculus Rift.

Lars Klint Demonstrating the HoloLens
Lars Klint Demonstrating the HoloLens

With Lars visiting our offices we had 2 goals to achieve over 2 days. On the first day Lars facilitated a brain storming session with myself and the rest of the companies management team. We already had some ideas of where the HoloLens could be applied, but the purpose of this session was to work through different ideas and walk away with a rough plan for a series of minimum viable products we could build. This session went very well, and everyone involved had the opportunity to try the HoloLens for a good amount of time. This was important as people need to understand what the experience feels like in order to understand the constraints posed. Off the back of the session we have an idea for 2 technical spikes we want to try and a prototype product to build with it. The cool thing is, we already have a company we are talking too about partnering with us to deliver a HoloLens solution.

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