Last Friday I was with Elissa, Boaz and Shay from Elasticsearch and with Henk and Thomas from Trifork at the Open Source conference where Trifork had a joint stand together with Elasticsearch. The Open Source conference is an annual event in the Benelux gathering industry leaders and speakers on the topics big data, cloud, mobile and social strategies. This year the event took place at Beurs Van Berlage in Amsterdam.
Last Thursday I attended the NLUUG DevOps conference in Bunnik, near Utrecht. The NLUUG is the Dutch UNIX user group. In this blog I will summarize the talks I attended, some fun things I learned and I will discuss my own talk about continuous integration at a large organization.
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The dates for GOTO Amsterdam 2014 have been set: June 19 and 20! Registration has already started and the first early bird discount ends at December 11. Register here to make sure your spot is reserved!
But in case you still need convincing that the GOTO conferences are the best in town, I invite you to attend one of our FREE GOTO Nights and see for yourself.
For October we have two very interesting nights planned.
The first one is a single session night, held upcoming Friday (Oct. 4) at the Trifork Amsterdam office and starting at 18.00. The speaker is Jez Humble, author of Continuous Delivery (read Martin Fowlers take on the book) and currently working at ThoughtWorks. His presentation will be about how to innovate inside large organisations, using Lean principles. A must for all of you IT managers that want to stimulate intrapreneurship within your organisation.
The second night will be held on a Monday evening (Oct. 14) starting at 18.00 at the Trifork Amsterdam office. This time the first session will be by Bas van Ooyen, who is a data scientist at Owlin, where he does real-time news analytics. His session will be specifically on Machine translation and the state of affairs in that respect. Next up for this GOTO Night is Michael T. Nygard, author of various books, including Release It!. During his session Five Years of DevOps: Where are we now? Michael will shed some light on the world of DevOps, "what's the old-but-good, and where we still need to advance".
No need to worry about your appetite, we will serve pizza's and beers.
Sign up now for these GOTO Nights to reserve your seat! Hope to see you there!
With GOTO Aarhus around the corner I would like to share with you my GOTO "experience".
I could tell you more about all the presentations I visited and how nice it was to listen to some great speakers, but I won't
Instead I would like to tell you more about the whole GOTO Amsterdam experience and the feeling I had after the conference.
GOTO Amsterdam seems only weeks ago, but we're already planning the one for next year: GOTO Amsterdam 2014! So get started by marking your calendar: June 18-20, 2014.
Kick-off Open Space
Although feedback about the sessions from last year was really good, there's always room for improvement. Therefore, we would like to invite you to join us for a kick-off session, where we brainstorm about next year's topics, tracks and sessions. Please join us and help us make the conference even better than last year's!
The kick-off Open Space event, will be held at the Trifork Office on Monday, September 16 at 19.00.
Please sign up here: Open Space for GOTO Amsterdam 2014
Two GOTO Nights in October!
Now that I have your attention, I would also like to inform you about the next two GOTO Nights that we have planned. As you know, we organise regular GOTO Nights to share knowledge and to promote our conferences. In October we have managed to get two really interesting speakers: Jez Humble and Michael T. Nygard, who will be joined by two other speakers. We also plan to do a short recap of the interesting stuff that attendees took away from Amsterdam 2013 to give you an impression of the GOTO Amsterdam conference.
|"Lean Enterprise" by Jez Humble
When: Friday, October 4th, 2013 at 18.00
Where: Trifork Amsterdam, Rijnsburgstraat 9-11, Amsterdam
|"Five Years of DevOps: Where are we now?" by Michael T. Nygard
When: Monday, October 14th, 2013 at 18.00
Where: Trifork Amsterdam, Rijnsburgstraat 9-11, Amsterdam
A few weeks a go I attended the GOTO conference in Amsterdam. One of the reasons I like to go to conferences is to meet people I haven't seen for a while, talk about technology and other stuff. The other reason to go to conferences is to get inspired. After the conference I like to write down what I got inspired by. But it is always hard to capture the impressions I got in a blog entry...
For this conference I could have written about Linda Rising and her keynote talking about incentives. Why should you use them, or why not. Than I would have talked about managers that still think you are doing nothing as a programmer when you are not working on your computer. I probably would have told about the effect of giving rewards to people. That it is usually counter productive when people get rewards. People can think they need to be given a reward because they need to do something that is not fun to do. I probably also would have told you the story about a company that paid new hires 3000 dollar to leave after their initial 2 week training program.
If you do want to know what I will write about, read on.
Time is ticking, only 2 weeks left for early bird rate
Get your tickets NOW before April 12th and don't miss out on what we expect to be one of the biggest and best GOTO Amsterdam conferences to date.
Date in the diary; GOTO NIGHT on Thursday April 4th and Tuesday May 14th
Westminster Abbey - View from the Queen Elizabeth II conference center
...and now back home
On my desk lies a stack of notepads from the QCon sponsors. I pick up one of them and turn few pages trying to decipher my own handwriting. As I read my notes I reflect back on the conference. QCon had a great line up and awesome keynote speakers: Turing award winner Barbara Liskov, Ward Cunningham, inventor of the Wiki, and of course Damian Conway who gave two highly entertaining keynotes. My colleague Sven Johann and I were at QCon for three days. We attended a few talks together but also went our own way from time to time. Below I discuss the talks I attended that Sven didn't cover in his QCon blog from last week.
Ideas not art: drawing out solutions - Heather Willems
The first talk I cover has nothing to do with software technology but with communication. Heather Willems shows us the value of communicating ideas visually. She started the talk with an entertaining discussion of the benefits of drawing in knowledge work. Diagrams and visuals help us to retain information and helps group discussion. The short of it: it's OK to doodle. In fact it is encouraged!
The second part of the talk was a mini-workshop where we learned how to create our own icons and draw faces expressing basic emotions. These icons can form the building blocks of bigger diagrams. Earlier in the day Heather made a graphic recording of Barbara Liskov's keynote. In real-time: Heather was drawing on-the-spot based on what Barbara was talking about!
Graphic recording of Barbara Liskov's keynote 'The power of abstraction'
You are not a software developer! - Russel Miles
Thought provoking talk by Russel Miles about simplicity in problem solving. His main message: in the last decade we learned to deliver software quite well and now face a different problem: overproduction. Problems can often be solved much easier or without writing software at all. Russel argues that software developers find requirements boring, yet they have the drive to code, hence they sometimes create complex, over-engineered solutions.
He also warns of oversimplifying: a solution so simple that the value we seek is lost. His concluding remark relates to a key tenet of Agile development: delivering valuable software frequently. He proposes to instead focus on 'delivering valuable change frequently'. Work on the change you want to accomplish rather than cranking out new features. These ideas are related to the concepts of impact mapping, which he used to structure the presentation itself, he revealed in the end
The inevitability of failure - Dave Cliff
In this talk professor Dave Cliff of the Large Scale Complex IT systems group at University of Bristol warns us about the evergrowing complexity in large scale software systems. Especially automated traders in financial markets. Dave mentions recent stock market crashes as failures. These failures did not make big waves in the news, but could have had catastrophic effects if the market did not recover properly. He discusses an interesting concept, normalization of deviance.
Everytime a safety margin is crossed without problems it is likely that the safety margin will be ignored in the future. He argues that we were quite lucky with the temporary market crashes. Because of 'normalization of defiance' it's only a matter of time before a serious failure occurs. Unfortunately I missed an overview of ways to prevent these kind of problems. If they can be prevented at all. A principle from cybernetics, Ashby's law of requisite variety, says that a system can only be controlled if the controller has enough variety in it's actions to compensate any behaviour of the system to be controlled. In a financial market, with many interacting traders, human or not, this isn't the case.
Performance testing Java applications - Martin Thompson
Informative talk about performance testing Java applications. Starts with fundamental definitions and covers tools and approaches on how to do all sorts of performance testing. Martin proposes to use a red-green-debug-profile-refactor cycle in order to really know what is happening with your code and how it performs. Another takeway is the difference between performance testing and optimization. Yes, defer optimization until you need it. But this is not a reason not to know the boundaries of your system. When load testing, use a framework that spends little time on parsing requests and responses. All good points and I'll have to read his slides again later for all the links to the tools he suggests for performance testing.
Insanely Better Presentations - Damian Conway
Great talk on how to give presentations. Damian shows examples of bad slides and refactors them during his talk. He discusses fear of public speaking, how to properly prepare a talk, a lot of great tips! I won't do the talk justice by describing it in text. Many of Conway's ideas have to be seen live to make sense. Nevertheless there is a method to the madness:
- Dump everything you know on the subject
- Decide on 5 main points and create storyline that flows between them
- Toss out everything that does not fit the storyline
- Simplicity - show less content, on more slides
- Use highlighting for code walkthroughs
- Use animations to show code refactorings
- Get rid of distractions
- The most important part of a presentation is person-to-person communication!
- Practice in front of an audience at least 3 times. Even if it is just your cat.
Visualization with HTML 5 - Dio Synodinos
In this tour of technologies for visualizing data, Dio showed everything from CSS3 to SVG, processing and D3js. For each of these he gave a good overview of their pros and cons and made specific animations and demos for all of them. He also mentioned pure CSS3 iOS icons. Lot's of eye candy and from reading the #QconLondon Twitter stream it seems a few people liked to try out all these frameworks and technologies.
Thankfully, there were plenty of coffee breaks at the conference. During breaks I often bumped into Sejal and Daphne, as well as other Triforkers from both our Zurich & Aarhaus offices. Besides attending talks we went to a nice conference party and went out to dinner a few times. Between talks Sven and I meetup and had a chat about what we saw, whilst we grabbed some delicious cookies here and there. Unfortunately the chocolate chip ones were gone most of the time!
AS HULK WANT MORE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! #QConLondon
— Hulk User Stories (@HulkUserStories) March 6, 2013
At one point I took the elevator to the top floor. On my right is a large table covered with techy books. Conference goers try to walk by, but look over and can't help but gravitate to this mountain of tech information. Of course I couldn't resist either so I browsed a bit and finally bought 'Team Geek - A software developer's guide to working well with others'. Later on I visit the web development open space. I listen in on a few conversations and end up chatting with James and Kathy, the camera operators, while they are packing their stuff. They have been filming all the talks for the last three days and we talk a bit about the conference until the place closes down.
All in all QCon London 2013 was a great conference!
After an exciting few days at the QCon conference in London last week, I am slowly recovering from all the new input I got, and decided to do this by writing a little summary of "all things agile" from the Thursday as well as the highlights the other two days too.
Cherry Picking Wednesday
After the keynote, we warmed up with a couple of beers, before we left the conference center to join the conference party at the truly cool Central Hall Westminster.
On Thursday I only visited the presentations in the agile track. Most speakers reported that one thing makes it really difficult to be agile these days: project teams do perfectly implement "Scrum by the book". Sounds good, but... Having a look at the agile manifesto we see that agile teams should value individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Doing Scrum (or any other agile method) by the book unfortunately leads to situations, where teams value the written down process in the book over interactions with the team mates ("you have to do it like this, because otherwise it's not Scrum, I read it in the book/heard it in some talk"). Ward Cunningham said during a chat: "Kent Beck and me wrote the extreme programming book, but we're not doing it like described in the book. It's just a point to get started. You have to understand what makes you tomorrow better than today. That should influence and drive your process".
The first talk from the agile track was from Glen Ford, explicitly talking about People over Process. He shared his experience from being a tech lead at a start-up. He recognized that his team's doing Scrum as a ritual act, without asking why they're doing certain things. They discovered that a process isn't a rule of law, but rather a set of concepts. Instead of following rules, they formed a team vision and a why for everything they do. If you don't find a why, don't do it. In their specific context, they couldn't find a why for estimations, so they skipped it. Finding a why also encourages communication and the more communication they had, the less process they needed. The best and most open communication is among team members, which know each others strengths, weaknesses and quirks. So they decided to do not break teams apart, but rather to form long-running teams, which eventually got hyper-productive.
Hyper-performing without the hype by Dan North was seen as the highlight of the day. Indeed, it was the expected hour of entertainment paired with agile expertise. Dan explained the things he saw in the past, which made teams performing extremely well. I won't mention all, but only those I learned as well in the past: developers should also be absolute domain experts., e.g. you can only be a great team developing trading software, if every developer of the team knows the trading business well. Developers have to participate in trading classes and you should seed your team with domain experts the developers can practice with. In times of Lean Software Development everyone is seeking for value, but we should nevertheless prioritize risk higher than value. Even if a solution promises high value, the question remains how much uncertainty we have to face for that solution. He then moved on to a classic: planning is everything, plans are nothing. Plan as far as you need and adjust along the way. He also strongly recommended to try out technical things regularly, even if you'll never use them in production: languages, programming concepts, etc (I personally get stomach ache when writing for-loops in Java filtering or mapping list content since I learned functional programming...). Finally he recommends to release often, if possible daily, even if you think the software is not ready. It sounds weird to show the customer something which isn't ready yet, but if you give the customer the chance to use the software, you'll get feedback from real use, which is extremely helpful (think about opportunity costs).
Besides the presentations, we also had the opportunity to chat two hours with Ward Cunningham about Technical Debt (beyond the current hype and all the misunderstandings around that) and Agile Software Development (also beyond the hype around Scrum and all the misunderstandings around that). All agilistas completed the day with a fire-site chat with Dan North and Ward Cunningham organized by the Agile London user group.
Big Data and Architectures of the small & beautiful on Friday
The opening keynote from Damian Conway was one of the highlights of this conference. He talked about how to do interesting and fun technical presentations. He gave a great example, because the 45 minutes with him were super-entertaining and we all got very valuable take-a-ways for preparing presentations.
Cool talks about MongoDB, Hadoop and Riak followed the keynote. Since Hadoop and Big Data are a big hype, the speaker Jamie Engesser from HortonWorks pointed out, that we should really, really do Big Data for a reason and not because it's cool Matt Asay from 10gen gave a nice talk about the past, present and future of NoSQL. He pointed out, that there is a set of exclusive use cases for document-oriented, column-oriented, key/value-oriented and relational datastores. But: there are many overlaps, where either one of them could be a good solution. He questioned polyglot persistence, because he's not sure if an organisation can really deal with several different databases in operation. Andy Gross from Basho gave an honest talk about the problems Riak faced the last 5 years and how they solved them.
For me, the absolute highlight of the day was the presentation about the Triposo travel guide architecture. The presenters, former Googlers and ThoughtWorkers are avid travelers and wanted to know, if they can do better then the common travel guides like Lonely Planet & Co. So they started what they learned at Google: crawl the web, aggregate, match, and rank. They send their crawlers to fetch gigabytes of travel related content from all kinds of sources like Wikitravel, Wikipedia, Facebook, Open Street Maps, Flickr and some more.
Once they have all the data, it's time to parse. From each source they extract information about the places like villages, cities and countries, and the points of interest (restaurants, museums, shops, trees, etc). They're looking for patterns to create one bucket of information for a particular place from all the various sources they crawled. After this phase they end up with exactly one record for each place or point of interest that has all the information from any of the sources they've used. Now it is time to rank and these ideas were pretty cool. Among other things, they extract meta data from Flickr pictures like where and when the pictures were made. That brings them interesting information about possible events, e.g. there are many pictures around 52°38'N 4°45'E, but only from April to September and only Fridays between 10.00–12.30 a.m. There must be something interesting! That's the cheese market in Alkmaar. So, if your on a trip in Amsterdam, your Triposo travel app proposes you a day trip to Alkmaar on Friday (with my Lonely Planet book I usually see that only when it is already too late). I don't know if their app will revolutionize the way we travel, but it is an interesting idea how to use the huge amount of publicly available data (=Open Data).
Since not only the idea is nice how to use Open Data, but also the available languages and services they use (Python, Google Spreadsheets, Amazon S3, Amazon Mechanical Turk, automated deployment into the App Store with a browser remote control, etc) we invited them to give a presentation at one of our GOTO nights.
QCon London was absolutely worth it this year and hopefully I’ll be back for more inspiration next year. I was really impressed by the quality of the conference - tracks, speakers, keynotes, chocolate cakes and the selection of international beers. QCon London is one of the best technical conferences I've participated in and I recommend it for anyone interested in enterprise software development (It's almost as good as GOTO Amsterdam ;-)).