Speaking at NDC Sydney

It’s taken me a while to catch up with some posts on this blog, but back in August, I had the amazing opportunity to fly to Sydney in Australia to speak at NDC Sydney. I feel very fortunate to be offered this opportunity as I have never been to Australia before.

This is is also the longest I have ever flown before too. The trip took 2 flight to get there. First was a 9-hour flight to Abu Dhabi, and then 14 hours to Sydney. To make this even more challenging, I had a 10-hour layover in Abu Dhabi overnight. Instead of just hanging around doing nothing, I decided to pay to use the business class lounge. This meant I could get some decent food, have a shower and use the business centre there to get some work done. To help me adjust to the Australian time difference, I forced my self to stay awake and work. So I got a lot of coding for LadderPay done. I thought this would be very challenging to do, but actually, I got through it fine. Then on the 2nd flight, I had a few whiskeys and some sleeping tablets which meant I got a reasonable 6 hours sleep. This meant that by the time I got to Sydney at 7.30am, I was actually feeling ok. That first day was tough, but once I had a good night sleep at the hotel I was adjusted, so no horrific jetlag for me…

Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney
Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney

After I arrived on Sunday and checked into the hotel, I met up with my sister (Charlotte) who is living in Sydney. By a bizarre twist of fate and timing, she was due to fly back to London that evening. So we spent the afternoon together before she had to go to the airport. I met Charlotte and her boyfriend at my hotel (Hilton) and we went for a really nice lunch at the Sydney Opera House restaurant followed by hitting a few bars. The weather was really sunny so had a really nice afternoon. After that, I went back to the hotel to rest a bit and then met up with Troy Hunt and a few others for dinner and drinks.

The next few days were spare for me as the conference didn’t start until Wednesday so I did a bit of sightseeing as well as working. On Monday I took a ferry to Manly Beach and spent the day walking around there and working from various coffee shops. I was very productive and got loads done.

Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney
Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney

The conference started Wednesday and I was booked to do 2 talks. The first was my cryptography in .NET talk, and the 2nd was my social engineering talk. Both talks went really well and rated very highly. For my social engineering talk, one of the people in the audience (Sammy Connelly) made an awesome infographic version of her notes (see picture below). She came and saw me at the end to give me the original copy. She likes to do these pictures and give them to the speakers as gifts. This was such a nice gesture and I was delighted to receive it. I am looking for a suitable frame so I can put it on my office wall.

Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney
Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney

Once the conference had finished on Friday, we went to the official afterparty called PubConf. I was speaking at pub conf. All the talks were supposed to be funny and done in front of a drunken rabble of developers. You get 20 slides and 15 seconds per slide. The slides increment automatically so you have no control over them. This is probably the hardest talk I have ever written, but it was so much fun and the audience seemed to like it. I did a talk called, How to lead like an utter bastard, and it got a lot of laughs. This was quite a boozy night, but luckily I had no commitments the following day.

Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney
Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney

I wasn’t due to fly back until Monday evening, so I had pretty much 3 days to myself to explore the city. On Saturday I went to Sydney and the Harbour taking photos. I also had booked to do the Sydney Bridge Climb, which was an amazing experience. It was very windy up there but very safe as you are in a climbing harness and attached to the bridge. The whole thing took 3 hours including getting kitted out and doing some training.

Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney
Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney

On Sunday, I took the ferry to Taronga Zoo which was about a 15-minute boat ride away. I had a really good time here. The weather was nice and they had lots of animals. My favourites were the Giraffes as they overlooked the Sydney Opera House. I deliberately didn’t do too much this weekend and just took in the sights.

Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney
Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney

On Monday, I didn’t fly until 9pm, so I decided to do the Sydney Opera House tour. The tour was amazing as we got to see all the main music venues. We even got to see the Sydney Orchestra rehearsing for a performance, and the sound inside the main opera house was amazing. After this, I got lunch again at the Opera House restaurant and then went to the Sydney Modern Art Gallery for a good look around. What was really cool as this was free entry, which is nice as everything in Sydney is really expensive.

Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney
Stephen Haunts at NDC Sydney

Overall this was an amazing experience. As always, NDC put on a fantastic conference and I feel very privileged to have spoken at one of their events again. I will definitely be submitting again next year, as I would love to go again. The flight back was hard work though. 24 hours on a plane with a couple of hours in Abu Dhabi. I was shattered by the time I got back to London as I struggled to sleep on the flight, but it only took me a few days to readjust before I met my Wife and Kids on holiday in north Wales where I got to properly recover.

Life at a Startup : Building a Startup

I have been nice and busy since leaving Buying Butler and RightIndem. Along with my co-founder, we are setting up a new FinTech startup called Ladder Pay. LadderPay is an innovative payment platform that unifies Business to Business, Business to Consumer, and Consumer to Business payments into one product with an emphasis on security and compliance backed by blockchain technology. I can’t write too much about it just yet as we are still working through a lot of details, but I am very excited about it. We have 3 potential customers who will use the platform first, so we are getting things ready for that.

LadderPay : Unifying Payments
LadderPay: Unifying Payments

My main role at the moment has been developing the backend platform so I have been spending most of my time coding, which has been really nice to get back into full-time. The product is being developed in Microsofts .NET Core 2 platform and deployed onto Microsoft Azure. I will write more about this in the future, it’s a little too early to reveal too much at the moment.

Working from home on LadderPay
Working from home on LadderPay

I am mostly working from home on this at the moment, but we are looking for an office to work from. We have found a place we like, but are still sorting through the details. I always found working from home difficult, but since working on LadderPay, I have set up in my dining room and have a really nice setup which is nice on a sunny day as I can open the doors to the garden, so I am really enjoying this at the moment.

Whilst I am doing LadderPay during the day, I am also continuing on my Pluralsight courses in the evening. I have signed up for a new course that is all about the algorithms that are used to build up blockchain. A challenging but very interesting course. I can’t wait to share more details.

I will share more details soon…

Life at a Start-up : My Next Chapter Starts Today

Today I start the next chapter in the Life at a Startup. I have made the decision to leave Buying Butler and RightIndem to go solo. I have been contemplating this for a while, but I have now decided to make the jump. So what does this mean? What will I be doing? Well, lots of things. First I want to spend more time of making Pluralsight courses, speaking and training. I also have an idea for a small tech startup that I want to explore, so I will focusing a lot of time on that too as I am pretty excited by it.  I have been preparing for it for a while, and now is the time to become a free agent.

Last Day in Office
Last Day in Office

That doesn’t mean the life at a startup series is dead. It will just be a different startup that I talk about.  Well, a mix of startup and the trials and tribulations of working from home. I am not ready to reveal what the startup idea is yet, but over time I will do that once I have explored it more, so not too much detail in this post, other than I am taking a different path, and a path that means I am my own boss, working on the things I want to work on.

Part of me is sad to leave Buying Butler. I have helped hand pick a great team, and I am leaving them on very friendly terms. Nothing negative in the slightest. I have made many friends there and I will be in touch with many of them.

More soon to follow soon. I have a new desk at home to setup 🙂

I will follow up again next week with my experiences of remote working, maintaining focus and much more.

Life at a Start-up : Structuring teams for growth (NDC Oslo Talk Video)

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.

Pluralsight Play by Play Recordings at NDC Oslo

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.

Pluralsight Play by Play Recordings at NDC Oslo
Pluralsight Play by Play Recordings at NDC Oslo

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.

Pluralsight Play by Play Recordings at NDC Oslo
Pluralsight Play by Play Recordings at NDC Oslo

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.

Fun and Games at NDC Oslo

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.

Fun and Games at NDC Oslo
Fun and Games at NDC Oslo

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.

Fun and Games at NDC Oslo
Fun and Games at NDC Oslo

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.

Fun and Games at NDC Oslo
Fun and Games at NDC Oslo

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.

Fun and Games at NDC Oslo
Fun and Games at NDC Oslo

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.

Fun and Games at NDC Oslo
Fun and Games at NDC Oslo

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 🙂

Fun and Games at NDC Oslo
Fun and Games at NDC Oslo

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.

New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released

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.

New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released
New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released

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.

New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released
New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released

Here is the official description of 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.