/Dev/Summer Conference - Cambridge 2015

I’m just back from the attending and speaking at /Dev/Summer which was back in Cambridge this year with lots of great and interesting talks. I really enjoyed being part of this fantastic event and even more so for being able to give a talk about Open Source.

The conference was hosted at the Moreland College, which is part of Cambridge university, and I have to admit that the overall venue was very well organized. The whole building was "state of the art" from the coffee machines to the projectors in each room! This is Cambridge after all.

The event started on time and the registration was very straightforward. There were over 110 attendees registered to attend so this conference was a good size. I felt that the smaller number created an interesting dynamic and made it easier for everyone to mingle and have a chat. After tasting the excellent coffee and pastries, everyone was ready for the first session.

Taming the Bug Mountain

I decided to start with “Taming the Bug Mountain” by Ceri Shaw which was all about effective ways for managing and fixing bugs in a fast-paced, customer-driven company. This is a common issue for many teams and she made lot of valid points about things that work and things that don’t work. Yes, different development teams have different practices and each company uses its own, internal process for managing backlog items and incorporating newly raised bugs into the main development stream. However, overall, the ideas discussed in this talk made sense. I enjoyed the talk and in the end there were plenty of good questions from the audience which Ceri answered with confidence

Security is hard - I need a cheat sheet

A quick break for some water and leg stretching and off to the next talk with Garry Bodsworth. The talk was titled "Security is hard - I need a cheat sheet" and Garry kicked things off in a fairly laid back manner. He soon had the audience’s attention and he kept the momentum using real-life stories about some of the recent and not so recent high profile security breaches that have taken place. Garry’s has an excellent understanding on the subject and he did a great job in highlighting some of the more important security issues that can compromise the integrity of an application. For me, the "takeaway" from the talk was that “security is a process and not a product” and that each developer should write code with security in mind, because security isn't an afterthought. With so many moving parts in every application, it’s important to ensure that each building block is built with security as part of the foundation. Unfortunately, 45 minutes isn't enough to cover such a vast and interesting subject but Garry did a great job by “scratching the surface”. There were a few funny moments and definitely some interesting points to take away.

Lunch, mob programming and talk prep

With Garry’s talk done it was time for quick lunch and some refreshments before moving on to the pair/mob programming session which was organized for the all attendees. There were 4 different streams with pair programming workshops, each targeting a different language. Surprisingly, there was no .NET! The second best option was Java with a bit of JavaScript but in the end I decided to prepare for my talk which was only up due soon.

With my prep out of the way, I got some free time to chat with the people at the booths and discuss about the different products. You would be surprised about the things you learn and the software that's out there to help with our day-to-day jobs. I had an interesting conversation with RedGate reps about the value of Open Source licenses etc.

Keep your site fit as it gains weight

For the last session before mine, I attended the "Keep your site fit as it gains weight" by Guillermo Tejerina Rodriguez which was about web application performance and how to improve speed and efficiency by using certain practices etc. This was an interesting talk and although some of the point where already known to me, I did take away some useful tips and tricks that I can apply to future projects.

Lightning talks

Next up were the lightning talks and I was first up to talk about "Getting involved with OSS - an exciting journey". My talk was followed by a talk on online language parsing tools, browser security and the "worse talk ever" (in quotes because this was the talk title and not a bad talk in literal terms). Lightning talks are one of my favorite parts in conferences because they're great for learning about something new in a very short period of time. Since most speakers have 5 and 10 minutes to present a subject, it presents a greater challenge to make the talk interesting while trying to cram as much information as possible without sounding like a rapper.

Saying goodbye

The day went by quite fast and in the end everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. I, personally, thought that everything was very well put together, so cudos to the organizers. The speakers were all great and every session was better than the other making it quite hard to choose which one to attend. It's a pity that the talks were not recorded but maybe that's a great incentive to attend next year.
I would like to thank the organizers again for giving me the chance to be part of this event and speak about something that I'm so passionate about - open source.

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