TRIP REPORT: 5 Items for Your Presentation Checklist and My Trip Log for DevOps Days YVR

A Few Trip Details

logoRecently I spoke (video below, plus others) at DevOps Days YVR. YVR is the airport code for Vancouver BC, thus the use of YVR in the DevOps Day name and Twitter handle (@DevOpsDaysYvr). I always love to travel to Vancouver BC for a whole multitude of reasons. The city is beautiful, clean, and has everything from shopping to foodie options all over the place. It’s a truly modern, and by US standards, futuristic city with a number of very effective transport options beyond the myopic use of cars that America is overly dependent on. If you like biking, this is the preeminent city to bike in of all cities in North America. Nothing even comes close. Not Portland, definitely not San Francisco, and don’t even get me started on the trash fire that is Los Angeles and it’s heroin like addiction to sitting in car traffic. If hanging out in the city is a bit much, one can always get out to mountains or just take a stroll into one of the many parks available to get away from it. Overall, Vancouver is an amazing place and any excuse I have for crossing the border and getting a great dose of Canadian Camaraderie and jolliness I’ll take in a heartbeat!

Of course, all the wonderfulness is great, but getting into the nitty gritty of the tech scene is also fun. Vancouver has a great tech scene, albeit small by Seattle’s tech scene, but that’s a disingenuous comparison anyway. It’d be like comparing Seattle aeronautics scene with any other city except where maybe Airbus is located, it’d just be nuts. But compared to most other cities, Vancouver has a pretty solid standing among the coding community.

Photo Mar 29, 11 29 19 PM
Pacific Central Station in Vancouver

I took the train up, as I always do, because of a number of reasons. I can roll my bike on and then upon arrival the staff just hands it back to me and off I go. Considering my origination point and departure point are both bike friendly for my needs, this is my default. In the end, it actually ends up faster than driving and needing to pack or rack the bike, I couldn’t even fly and enjoy these amenities, and the intercity Bolt Buses are just yucky anyway. It’s like flying except you’re stuck on the ground in an often times smaller seat than an airplane. I’m not sure why I’d ever want to torture myself like that. The other huge benefit is it’s extremely easy to get a lot done on the train and one also can’t beat the views en route!

A Small Rant

Once I arrived I checked into my hotel. I realized this trip I must have checked into the singularly clueless hotel in the whole city that has strange myopic, draconian, and stupifying bicycle options. The Hyatt Regency, which I’m clearly not going to be staying at again, wanted to “valet” my bike with a tag, mark it and put it into some basement garage “room”. I wouldn’t easily have access to it and would have to wait for them to retrieve it if I needed it for any reason. Anyway, this was an extremely odd scenario, and would be a lot more work on their part, that just struck me as blatantly behind the times – especially for Vancouver. People and businesses in this city should, and do, know better than to have such nonsense in place. I guess the Hyatt Regency places itself above and removed from the people in some way. Oh well, lesson learned, I’ll stay at one of the other zillion super awesome hotels (or with friends instead).

TLDR; Avoid the Hyatt Regency for future stays, they have strange policies around independence of movement and storage of personal items.

DevOps Days YVR

Alright, on to the conference. The conference was great, my only issue was my own fault, in that I had managed to not be able to attend the first day. I should have gotten there earlier and also planned to stay a little longer. Next time I’m going to make a more official scheduled brunch, dinner, drinks, and maybe a meetup or two. On day two of the event, I was up to speak first thing in the day, a 9:15 am slot! This was the first time I’d ever had a speaking slot this early in the day. At this point, my preparations complete, my checklist checked twice, and I was ready to present. In doing so, I decided a list was in order which I’ve put together below.

The Presentation Checklist

  1. Laptop(s) – These days I tend to bring two laptops when I’m presenting. One is my main workstation running Linux and the other is an older Macbook Pro that I have. The reasoning is simple, depending on the projector and connection options, the Macbook Pro is easily – with its HDMI connection – the most standard setup for presenting. It works more often than any other machine I’ve ever had and is far more consistent in getting resolutions correct for presentations and for projectors. It is in essence the ultimate backup. However I use the Linux machine if I can, it’s more than capable, but some projectors aren’t up to it.
  2. Connectors – I bring the regular assortment of connections to ensure I get feed out from the XPS 15 running Linux or the MacOS to HDMI and VGA. This basically covers every modern projector and everything I’ve ever seen built for the last decade or so. That equates to 2 dongles, one of the Mac (Thunderbolt to VGA) and one for the XPS 15 (USB-C/USB to VGA).
  3. Slide Deck – I aim to have several formats of the presentation deck available outside of some online format like Google Slides. Such as PDF that I can flip through or a local presentation app that I can use. This way regardless of the connection I’ll be able to have the slide deck ready to go.
  4. Presentation Page – This is a page that I setup for slides, video, and whatever other collateral is put together from my efforts and also from the conference organizers’ perspective. For the particular DevOps Days YVR talk I setup a page “Go for Venomous Database Reliability“.

5. Be Present – Be sure to be rested up the day of presenting and for a day of interactions. But don’t just come in like a military insertion assault and then leave. That sucks for attendees, stay for the day. Talk to people. Learn about what they’re working on. Chat about solutions both directions. Be part of the community.

With the checklist done, here’s my talk from the event. “Architecture Guidance for Venomous Database Reliability Engineering” a kind of library checklist for development and database reliability in Go.

After the conference I spent the day catching up with some friends. Included in that was the chance to hang out with Alexandra with Advanced Tech Podcast. We got some food near the office and plotted out a podcast too. Which you can give a listen to at “Adron Hall – Coder, Engineer, Architect“. We tackled a very wide range of topics, tech related, and even toward the end we got into discussions around livability, urban planning, city council meetings, and the whole life of an advocate in the urban realm in America.

It was a great weekend of talking tech, enjoying the beauty and good grub and company in Vancouver BC. Over the next week or three I intend to post videos from the conference with some succinct write ups on the various talks – available via the DevOpsDays Vancouver 2019 Playlist. For now though, time for a little disconnect and the train ride home, enjoy the scenery, cheers! \m/