For my job, I tend to travel a lot to conferences. When I am away I like to get as much work done as I can, but sometimes it isn’t really appropriate to get my laptop out, for example on a smaller airplane, train or in a restaurant; but in those times I like to get some work done like answering emails or drafting blog posts. To make these times more efficient, I have developed my little wiring rig that uses my phone, a copy of the Ulysses Writing App and the excellent Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard which allows me to be productive, yet more discreet or in smaller spaces when traveling.
The keyboard itself is very thin, even when folded which means it takes up hardly any space when packed in my laptop bag. It’s not the best typing experience as it takes a little getting used too, but it is indeed very workable. You can pair the keyboard with Windows, Android and Apple IOS devices which gives you a lot of flexibility. I pair it with an iPhone and an iPad. I don’t usually take the Apple Keyboard with me for the iPad when I travel as it makes the device quite thick in my bag, so I think this is a better solution for occasional typing; this setup has helped me remain productive when using a laptop isn’t easy to do.
The last few weeks have been quite busy with a lot of traveling, which I am going to cover over 2 posts. First of all, a few weeks ago, I went to Lisbon to the Web Summit conference. I wasn’t speaking at this conference but was there as an attendee to show off another project I have been working on called LadderPay. The purpose of the trip was to talk to investors and validate what we are working on. For those reasons, the trip was a success.
I went to Web Summit last year too with the company I was working with at the time, so this wasn’t a new experience for me. The conference is huge with 60,000 attendees. It is split over 4 large halls and a huge arena. As well as being a place for startups to show off what they are doing, it is also a conference with lots of talks. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of a lot of the content at Web Summit. The speakers only have 20 minutes to talk which makes it hard for them to go into any depth. This isn’t the speaker’s fault, it is just the format of the conference. Because of this, none of the talks really going into any depth, it is more just high-level concepts. This is probably fine for most people, but I prefer more detail. This is why I like conferences such as NDC, Techorama, and Code Europe where the talks are more detailed and advanced.
Anyway, it was a good trip, and it was nice to get a little sun as the weather back in the UK is much colder and miserable. Not sure if I would attend web summit again, we will have to see what happens in 2018.
In this video, I talk about a trip I made to Bradford to speak at the DDD North community event. I also discuss the subject of speakers being paid for talking and why I am happy to talk at community events like DDD North at my own cost.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…