DevDay 2015, Inspiration, and a quick look back…

So far this year, which is obviously nowhere near finished yet, I have had some amazing experiences. From .NET Fringe, Polyglot 2015, Progressive .NET Tutorials 2015, to Dev Day 2015 and more. I decided to add a little bit more of a personal note in this blog entry because of inspiration I just got from Michał Śliwoń (@mihcall) on his Dev Day 2015 Aftermath write up.

Just as Michał writes,

“Inspiration is like a spark. It can be one brilliant presentation at the conference, one sentence at some session, one hallway conversation with another attendee and I’m excited, coming back with a head full of new ideas. Every conference has this little spark”

and I completely agree. At .NET Fringe I got back into a few things on the .NET CLR stack, namely F# and a little toying around with Akka .NET and micro-services using those technologies. I also had a hand in organizing and the origins of the conference, which I wrote about. At Polyglot 2015 my desire increased to become more familiar with and comfortable with functional programming languages. At the Progressive .NET Tutorials I was again inspired to dive deeper into functional languages and take a look more closely at everything from Weave and other container and virtualization based systems.

Thrashing Code News

One things that this led me to, is to start putting together a list of people who are interested in these types of conferences. I’m talking about the really down to earth, nitty gritty, get into the weeds of the technology, and meet the people building and using that technology everyday conferences. This list, you can sign up for here and do read the article just below the sign up page, as this is NOT some spam list. I’ll be putting in real effort and time to put together good content when the list officially kicks off! I will blog about, and of course get that first email out about Thrashing Code News in the coming months.

Again at Dev Day I was also inspired by many people and got to meet many people. Which leads me to the number one thing that makes these conferences absolutely great. It’s all about the people who attend.

The People

I got to meet Rob Conery (@robconery / We hung out, had beers, talked shop, talked surfing, talked tech and training screencast, discussed future bad ass conferences (again, sign up to my list and I’ll keep you abreast of any mischievious conference Rob & I dive into) and tons more. It was seriously kick ass to meet Rob, especially after not getting a chance to at what must have been a gazillion conferences he and I have both been at before!

I finally met Christian Heilmann (@codepo8) who I also think we must have both been at a gazillion of the same conferences and somehow managed to not meet each other. Good conversation, talk of Seattle, other devlish code happy things – and hopefully a beer or two to be had with good Christian in the near future in Seattle or Portland (or thereabouts).

I had the fortune of running into Alena Dzenisenka (@lenadroid) again doing what she does, which is tell, teach, and show people a whole of awesome F# handiwork. For instance at Dev Day she was throwing down some machine learning math and helping to get people started. She’s also got some talks lined up near the Cascadian (that’s Seattle and Portland, but also San Francisco and Dallas!!) lands if you haven’t noticed, so come get inspired to sling some functional code!

On day one the keynote by Chad Fowler (@chadfowler) was excellent. I’d not realized he was a fellow who escaped the south like I had all while playing a bunch of music! I was able to catch Chad and chat a bit on day two of the conference. His presentation was great, and he’s motivated me to give his book Passionate Programmer a read.

Another individual who I’d been aiming to meet, Mathias Brandewinder (@brandewinder), was also at the conference. I even attended some of his workshop and learned a number of things about F# and machine learning. I’m definitely inspired to dig deeper into many of the machine learning realm and start figuring out more of the truly amazing things we can do with computers and machine learning algorithms – I honestly feel like we’ve only skimmed the surface for much of this technology. Mathias also has a book, that is truly worth buying titled “Machine Learning Projects for .NET Developers“. If you’re curious, yes, I have the book and am working through it steadily!  🙂

Gary Short (@garyshort) provided an amazing talk on digging into crop yields via the European Space Agency Data Science Project. I also enjoyed the multiple conversations that I was able to have with Gary from the talk of “really really really awesomely excited Americans” vs. “excited Americans” all the way to the talks on the matter of data science and crop yields themselves. Gary’s talk is linked below, so get a dose of the crop yields yourself, and any complaints be sure to send to his @robashton twitter account!  (But seriously, you should follow Rob Ashton too as he’s got a lot of good twitter nuggets).

Another person I was super stoked to run into again is Tomas Petricek (who I hear might be in the Cascadian lands of the Seattle area in a month or so). I met Tomas at Progressive .NET Tutorials in London and enjoyed a number of good conversations, and his general awesome personality and hilarious demeanor! Not sure I mentioned, but he’s got some wicked F# chops too. He spoke about Understanding the World with Type Providers, which is something that you should watch as it’s an interesting way to wrap one’s mind around a lot of ideas.

I also, after many random conversations about a whole host of conversation in Functional Programming Slack (follow the link to sign up) chats, got to meet Krzysztof Cieślak (@k_cieslak). Krzysztof (and if you can’t pronounce his name just keep trying, you’ll get it right sometime around 2023) was great to meet and catch up with in person. Also great to hear tidbits about what he’s working on since he’s driving some really cool projects, including working on projects like Ionide Project for the Atom Editor.

There are so many people I enjoyed chatting with and getting to meet, which I really wish I had more time to hang out and chat or hack with everybody more. I met so many other individuals, that I already feel like a prick for not being able to write something about every single awesome person I’ve had a chance to speak with at Dev Day and the subsequent days after the conference. To those I didn’t, sorry about that, drinks and dinner are on me when you’re in Portland!

…on that note, get subscribed to Thrashing Code News so I can update you when the rumblings and dates of the next kick ass conferences, hackathons, hacking festivals, or other great materials, learnings, or such come up. In addition, get inspired to speak, or get involved in some way and help make the next conference you attend as kick ass as you’d want it to be! It’s easy, just fill out your name and email here.

…and to Michał and Rafał I’ll be following up with you guys on some of my next confrence efforts coming up in the Cascadian Pacific Northwest (i.e. Seattle/Portland area)! Cheers!

Bellingham Cloud Talk, Coming Right Up

Here’s the basic outline of what I intend to speak on at the upcoming presentation I have for the Bellingham, Washington .NET Users Group.  If you happen to be in the area you should swing by and give it a listen (or heckle, whatever you feel like doing).

On April 5th I have a talk lined up with the Bellingham .NET Users Group. So far here’s a quick one over of the talk:

What Cloud Computing REALLY is to us techies

  • Geographically dispersed data centers.
  • Node based – AKA grid computing configurations that are…
  • Highly Virtualized – thus distributed.
  • Primarily compute and storage functionality.
  • Auto-scalable based on demand.

What kind of offerings exist out in the wild?

  • Amazon Web Services
  • Rackspace
  • Orcs Web
  • GoGrid
  • Joyent
  • Heroku
  • EngineYard

…many others and then the arrival in the last year”ish” of…

  • Windows Azure
  • AppHarbor

Developing for the cloud, what are the fundamentals in the .NET world?

Well, let’s talk about who has been doing the work so far, pushing ahead this technology.

  • Linux is the OS of choice… free, *nix, most widely used on the Internet by a large margin, and extremely capable…
  • Java
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Javascript & jQuery, budding into Node.js via Google’s V8 Engine
  • The Heroku + EngineYard + Git + AWESOMESAUCE capabilities of pushing… LIVE to vastly scalable and distributable cloud provisions!

So where does that leave us .NETters?

AWS .NET SDK released a few years ago.
Windows Azure & SDK released about a year ago.

These two have however been lacking compared to Heroku and EngineYard for those that want something FAST,

something transformative, easy to use, without extra APIs or odd tightly coupled SDKs.


In Summary the .NET Platform has primarily:

AWS for the top IaaS and most widely available zones & capabilities at the absolutely lowest prices,

Windows Azure for the general build to PaaS Solution, and for the people lucky enough to be going the Git +

MVC + real Agile route, AppHarbor is the peeminent solution.

Demo Time…

Windows Azure Demo

AWS Demo

AppHarbor Demo

My Current Windows Development Machine Software Stack

I recently did a clean install of Windows 7 64-bit.  It had been a really long time since I listed the current tools, SDKs, and frameworks that I’ve been using.  Thus here’s my entourage of software that I use on a regular basis that is installed on my primary development machines.

Basic Software & System OS

Administration Utilities

Themes & Such

In addition to these packages of software another as important, if not more important to my day-to-day software development includes these software services and cloud hosting services.

SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS

Software I will be adding to the stack within the next few days, weeks, and months.

#altnetseattle in Closing

So again, the #altnetseattle Conference easily was one of the most useful events of the year for me.  The amount of ideas, thoughts, and conversations that happen in just those two days often outweigh all the presentations I see at other conferences throughout the year.  The reason is simple, they are directed, to the point, and done with the ideal of open spaces.  This makes each session exhaustive on a particular topics.  Throw together some of the smartest people in the field and you have a bang up awesome energy and conversation.

I got to talk about cloud computer, a little bit, and REST Architecture as sessions I kicked off myself.  Those were a blast.  I also got to meet a ton of other super talented like minded developers and engineers that are out there kicking the tires of .NET (and other languages/tech stacks like Ruby on Rails).

Overall the conference rocked and I will definitely be coming back!  With that, I am headed home to Portland.

#altnetseattle – Kanban

  • The two main concepts of Kanban is to keep the queues minimum and to maintain visibility.
  • Management/leadership needs to make sure the Kanban Queue doesn?t get starved.  This is key and also very challenging, being the queue needs to be minimal but also can?t get too small during the course of work.  This is to maintain maximum velocity.
  • Phases of the Kanban need to be kept flowing too, bottlenecks need removed ASAP when brought up.
  • Victory Wall ? I dig that idea.  Somewhere to look to see the success of the team.
  • The POs work in Rally or other tools for some client management, but it causes issues with the lack of “visibility” ? a key fundamental ideal & part of Kanban.
  • One of the big issues is fitting things into a sprint, when Kanban is used with Scrum, but longer sprints are wasteful.
  • Kanban work sizes are of a set size.

At this point I got a bit side tracked by the actual conversation and missed out on note taking.  Overall, people doing Kanban and Lean Style Software Development I would say are some of the happiest coders around.  The clean focus, good velocity, sizing, and other approaches that are inferred by Kanban help developers be the rock stars and succeed.

This is definitely a topic I will be commenting on a lot more in the near future.

#altnetseattle – Collaboration, Why is it so hard!

The session convened and we began a discussion about why collaboration is so hard.

  • To work together in software better us engineers have to overcome traditional software approaches (silos of work) and the human element of tending to go off in a corner to work through an issue.
  • It was agreed upon that software engineers are jack asses of jack assery.
  • Breaking down the stoic & silent types by presenting a continuous enthusiasm until the stoic and silent types break down and open up to the group.  Knowing it is ok to ask the dumb question or work through basic things once in a while.
  • Non-work interactions are pivotal to work related collaboration.
  • Collaboration is mostly autonomous of process (i.e. Agile or Waterfall)
  • Latency time should be minimal in the feedback loop for software development.
  • Collaboration is enhanced by Agile Ideals, and things like Scrum or Lean Process.
  • Agile is not a process, Lean and Scrum are process.  Agile is an ideal.
  • Lean, Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, Six Sigma, CMMI, oh dear. . .

Great session.  Off to the next session and more brain crunching. . . weeeeeeee!

#altnetseattle – MEF, What is it?

I dived into the MEF session with Glenn Block, Sourabh Mathur, Brian Henderson, and others.  Glenn covered the basic architectural ideas of MEF and then dived into a few examples.

  • Is a framework around decoupling components.
  • Built around the idea of discoverable type systems.
  • Traditional extensibility mechanisms have a host and the respective extensions, commonly linking these two aspects with a form of registration.
  • MEF removes the need for the registration part of the architecture and uses a contract.
  • At some point with MEF you get down to parts, which removes even the complexity of a host or extensions, but a truly evolvable architecture based on natural growth of parts.
  • Also referred to as the framework that removes the “new” keyword.
  • The idea is that parts pull together other parts that they need.  Between each part is a contract.
  • Each part has imports or exports for the parts it needs or the things it offers.

If one checks out the MEF Codeplex Site you will find a host of additional information.  The framework download also has some decent examples that help one get kick started.