Category Archives: Community

4 Discovered Axioms of #DevRel

The idea of DevRel, or Developer Relations and the position of Developer Advocates in the industry has become more defined in the last decade than it traditionally has been. In getting to this point there are several key points that have come up that are practical axioms in industry. Some people don’t agree with all of these, and I’d infer that they’re probably just wrong, but the vast majority in industry and specifically working in DevRel itself have these axioms that they’d often stand by. If not march up on the hill to fight for!

  1. Developer Advocates and Developer Relations should NOT exist under any marketing hierarchy. Microsoft killed off this organizational structure, Google never let it happen, and AWS also insured this isn’t how this operated. If anything it’s either it’s own branch feeding directly into the executive team under the CTO, or it is a breakout of the engineering group usually under a VP of engineering or related structural organization. Having Developer Advocates under marketing tends to bring out bad habits (forced talks at trade shows that are just the company spiel) or topics that just don’t align to anything (like talks on X feature that nobody uses implemented in a way that is broken). The end product of having Developer Advocates and Developer Relations work and report up to a marketing leadership hierarchy devalues their work, what they can and indeed do provide that is valuable, and can diminish the credibility that advocates have to fight for so diligently in the first place. For further ideas around this axiom, Francine Hardaway also wrote a great post on just this issue, asking where DevRel should exist.
  2. DevRel & Developer Advocates need to be self-disciplined, build, show, and be technically inclined as much as any software engineer, coder, hacker, or related individual is expected to be. I’m not talking about “make nonsense deadlines and work to death” like some development teams get stuck with, but we advocates do need to build solutions that parallel or innovate on the designs that are in place, in production, and giving us value today. Developer Relations at its core is there to bring value and show value in what X solution can do but needs to provide example and take what exists in industry and build on it.
  3. Developer Advocates serve a two way street of communication, one to developers and users and one back to the internal engineers, product, and leadership working on building products and services. Advocates collect, or as I sometimes call it, perform reconnoiter or reconnaissance, and bring that data back to the various teams within company to determine actions to take. I personally love this part of the job, since I like to make sure that the development teams have the information they need to build products and services that are really needed, valuable, and will get the most bang for the buck. I’ve also never met a developer that doesn’t want to know the direction their developing in is the right direction. This kind of direct data is an invaluable information base for the development teams.
  4. Developer Advocates do not always work directly with customers, but we do indeed and should be communicating with them on a regular basis. Helping to organize discussions, conversations, and future directions of research for product and services usage is very important. We can act as that individual or team for companies that often don’t have enough time to put somebody on a research project, where as we can do that, and provide general information deducting what is or isn’t’ the right path to travel. As developer advocates we have the freedom to often take the path of risky research. We provide an extremely valuable service to the companies we work for, the customers we communicate with, and the industry as a whole by doing this research and making it available (i.e. blog it!)

Got anymore axioms you see in industry around DevRel work? I’d be happy to put together a larger list, this is just the beginning so far as I begin the first steps of a journey into understanding future directions and detailed specifics about how advocacy can increase its value for company, customer, and personal efforts.

Twitter for Developers, Cutting the Bullshit, Quelling the Trash Tire Fire

It’s been over a decade that Twitter has been an active part of the developer community. It’s grown in popularity from day one, and now holds the uneasy crown as the place for hot takes, trash from politicians, and the general tire fire that is the news. In many ways, that’s what they’ve aimed for. But then there’s us developers, people who make software, who make Twitter, who build all of this technology internet stuff right? We’re here using Twitter still, even amid the backstabbing and Twitter UI’s API’s being yanked from under us. They’ve of course in the past also banned UI’s and somehow here we are still using the service. However, I digress, Twitter’s wrongs against developers are numerous after we effectively built the service. In spite of all this we developers are a large contingent of people on Twitter. It’s still an amazingly useful medium for software developers, and especially new software developers, to get involved with. It’s a very effective tool to strengthen our careers and continue conversations within the developer communities themselves. One just has to avoid the cruft, and that’s what I intent to tackle some of in this article.

This list I’ve put together is of things that I personally have learned, often by stumbling through and discovering myself. These activities on Twitter do have a net positive effect on your career and ability to communicate with the world and local developer communities. First I’ll cover positive use cases of Twitter that are immensely useful as a software developer. These are even compounded if you’re an advocate of open source, cool technologies and libraries, and other miscellaneous things.

1. Twitter as a Communication Tool

First and foremost, Twitter has been and does – mostly – continue to be a communication tool. I make use of Twitter to connect with people for conference organizing, code projects, open source work, to have geek lunch, nerd brunch, and many other things that come up. It can and ought to be one of your primary communication mediums in that it connects many of the key active people within our overall communities. More so than email and other mediums by a large percent. If you intend to have a long term net effect and grow your presence and activities (conferences, meetups, coding groups, etc) you want to foster Twitter has become the de facto medium to be active on.

2. Twitter as a Collector of People

Twitter, even though it does seem to attract some of the most villainous scum (literally, not a figure of speech or hyperbole) and have some pretty horrifying problems (people calling in SWAT’s on people (extremely illegal), death threats, harassment) the net benefit within the community to bring people together has far outclassed pretty much any other system out there. Hacker News doesn’t, Facebook doesn’t, Google+ is cancelled, and about every other social media platform has failed to bring together the develop community in an effective and useful way.

3. Twitter for Answers

Even though I don’t often go to Twitter to find answers, sometimes I do. Often it is a last resort. After all, Twitter is most efficient at providing a place for links, quick blurbs, bumbling and babbling threads from people, and of course cat pictures and hot takes.

The combination powers of Twitter with other services however exponentially increases the ability of Twitter to help with answers. For example, write up a solidly written question on Stackoverflow or one of the branched out services and then post the question on Twitter, maybe inquiring for some retweets and boom, doubling, tripling, and greater multiplier of people looking at the question that can provide a prospective answer!

4. Twitter, Firestarter

One of the things I’ve also found Twitter good for is an outlet for pushing and often straightening out bad behavior in the community. Ever done something racist? Ever known someone to pull some misogynistic action? Yeah, unfortunately I know of these things happening too, and Twitter forces apologies and better behavior among people. But it also is a place people can wreck themselves and be just as destructive as they can learn to better themselves, especially those humans of us that have poor behavior and disrespectful tendencies.

But just as much as individual behaviors among us, Twitter has been used to straighten out some pretty trash behaviors from corporations. Sure, they’re not really people, but the conflagrations of this notion – true or not – make for pressure to be applied to corporations through other means besides the products and services they sell us individual humans, which to often are things we have to buy regardless, and this medium provides us an avenue to induce better behaviors in spite of purchases.

There of course is the positive and negative of this forced societal behavior and in many ways, improving corporate behavior throughout the world, but it’s here. Pressure of the people, often organized and started through Twitter, including against Twitter itself sometimes, is heavily rooted in activity right there on ole’ Twitter itself.

GSD Tactical Twitter

Alright, now to the meat of things. Twitter is great at all these things but how does one make the best use of it without it turning into an outright tire fire trash dump of distraction and stress? Well, it’s moderately easy, but one has to be careful.

1. Find Good and Entertaining People

My personal advice when starting on Twitter is to skip the companies. Don’t follow any of them. Same goes for organizations or any group account of sorts. The key to find good content, good common ground, and useful links, news, and related communities is to follow individuals that are involved in those things you want to be involved in already. The following are some specific examples, and for me, great people to follow.

2. Lift Up Others, Tweet to Others, Get Involved

When on Twitter, one can just lurk. It’s a completely valid thing to do. However lurking isn’t super high value. You just won’t get that much out of it. Instead, get involved. Find a link with something interesting, write up a tweet and post it. See something interesting someone else just tweeted, respond! See something that isn’t right, maybe tweet why it isn’t.

Always a good idea, regardless of the trash that is often on Twitter to still stay courteous, kind, and friendly. Remember, not everyone is from the mold you’ve come from, or seen things the way you have, so tread lightly and friendly and things mostly work out real well. Overall, people are attuned to helping those that help themselves and helping those that we run in social circles with.

All in all, get involved, tweet at, with, and all around your fellow Twitterers. Your return will improve and in the process you’ll add more value for others too.

3. Follow & Prune the Firehose of Tweets

Alright, I’ve written to follow and lift up others. That’s groovy, but also you gotta bring the hammer down sometimes. When that firehose of tweets just gets a little overwhelming check out what tweets are helpful, rate them to yourself, and unfollow some people if it’s not the direction or the tweets you’re getting value from.

Even though it’s difficult when just starting to use Twitter, the ratio will be more followed than followers for you. But as time goes forward and you get past 50 followers, 100, 500, 1000 you’ll need to make sure to keep the list of people you’ve followed just equal to or less than how many people follow you. It’ll help keep your feed manageable and also help you to keep interactions beneficial for you, followers, and followed.

4. The Down-Low on Conferences

If you’re looking to attend a conference, Twitter via hashtags is a great way to get information on conferences. Dig in, dig deep. Talk to people about the conference in particular. If necessary get into direct messages and invoke the whisper net if need be. Sometimes conferences can be exponentially useful and sometimes they end up bothersome cash burning wastes of time. Figure out what you want from a prospective conference and dig in via Twitter, you’ll prevent wasting time and burning cash, and exponentially increase the positives you can get out of a conference.

5. Filter the Trash Fire

Ok, let’s get super serious. One way Twitter has become a trash fire for many or most people these days is because of the political trash dumped in. Much of Twitter for the general public is bot armies from Russia, crazies like the nutty Wohl kid, and other junk nut accounts. One way to notch this down to a minimal trash fire is to throw some filters (i.e. mute certain words) on your Twitter account. For example here’s my list:

filters-muted-words

Now as you’ve read that, remember that my goal has been to focus the stream on tech content with a little heavy metal, a few cats, and other entertainment here and there. For example I’m fine with sports events like baseball and football but really don’t want to get distracted by it in on my Twitter stream. On game day those events just overwhelm the tweets and things that are useful get drowned out.

Now a lot of the other stuff in the list is the horrifying reality of the United States today, reflected on Twitter, and part of something that I don’t want distracting me either. Overall this has made Twitter dramatically more useful for me again.

Top 10 West Coast Confs for 2019

I’ve been putting together a list of conferences that I want to aim to attend this coming year. I made it, then thought, “somebody else could use this list probably” so here it is. If you think of any other specific conferences I ought to add and attend please leave a comment. Enjoy!

March 7-10 is SCALE Southern California Linux Expo in Pasadena, California

March 25-28 is O’Reilly Strata in San Francisco, California

April 26-28 is LinuxFest Northwest in Bellingham, Washington

June 3-5 is Monitorama in Portland, Oregon

June 10-13 is O’Reilly Velocity in San Jose, California

June 10-13 is O’Reilly Software Architecture Conference SACON in San Jose, California

July 15-18 is O’Reilly OSCON in Portland, Oregon

August 21-23 is the Open Source Summit in San Diego, California

September 9-12 is the O’Reilly Artificial Intelligence in San Jose, California

November 18-21 KubeCon 2019 in San Diego, California

Without Dates – Conferences that are really great that don’t currently have a date just yet.

Polyglot Conf in Vancouver BC

Seattle Code Camp

Microsoft Build

GDG DevFest

What others should I add that are awesome Seattle or immediate surrounding area conferences?

 

DataStax Developer Days

Over the last week I had the privilege and adventure of coming out to Chicago and Dallas to teach about operations and security capabilities of DataStax Enterprise. More about that later in this post, first I’ll elaborate on and answer the following:

  • What is DataStax Developer Day? Why would you want to attend?
  • Where are the current DataStax Developer Day events that have been held, and were future events are going to be held?
  • Possibilities for future events near a city you live in.

What is DataStax Developer Day?

The way we’ve organized this developer day event at DataStax, is focused around the DataStax Enterprise built on Apache Cassandra product, however I have to add the very important note that this isn’t merely just a product pitch type of thing, you can and will learn about distributed databases and systems in a general sense too. We talk about a number of the core principles behind distributed systems such as the pivotally important consistent hash ring, datacenter and racks, gossip, replication, snitches, and more. We feel it’s important that there’s enough theory that comes along with the configuration and features covered to understand who, what, where, why, and how behind the configuration and features too.

The starting point of the day’s course material is based on the idea that one has not worked with or played with a Apache Cassandra or DataStax Enterprise. However we have a number of courses throughout the day that delve into more specific details and advanced topics. There are three specific tracks:

  1. Cassandra Track – this track consists of three workshops: Core Cassandra, Cassandra Data Modeling, and Cassandra Application Development. [more details]
  2. DSE Track – this track consists of three workshops: DataStax Enterprise Search, DataStax Enterprise Analytics, and DataStax Enterprise Graph. [more details]
  3. Bonus Content – This track has two workshops: DataStax Enterprise Overview and DataStax Enterprise Operations and Security.  [more details]

Why would you want to attend?

  • One huge rad awesome reason is that the developer day events are FREE. But really, nothing is ever free right? You’d want to take a day away from the office to join us, so there’s that.
  • You also might want to even stay a little later after the event as we always have a solidly enjoyable happy hour so we can all extend conversations into the evening and talk shop. After all, working with distributed databases, managing data, and all that jazz is honestly pretty enjoyable when you’ve got awesome systems like this to work with, so an extended conversation into the evening is more than worth it!
  • You’ll get a firm basis of knowledge and skillset around the use, management, and more than a few ideas about how Apache Cassandra and DataStax Enterprise can extend your system’s systemic capabilities.
  • You’ll get a chance to go beyond merely the distributed database system of Apache Cassandra itself and delve into graph, what it is and how it works, analytics, and search too. All workshops take a look at the architecture, uses, and what these capabilities will provide your systems.
  • You’ll also have one on one time with DataStax engineers, and other technical members of the team to ask questions, talk about architecture and solutions that you may be working on, or generally discuss any number of graph, analytics, search, or distributed systems related questions.

Where are the current DataStax Developer Day events that have been held, and were future events are going to be held? So far we’ve held events in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, and Dallas. We’ve got two more events scheduled with one in London, England and one in Paris, France.

Future events? With a number of events completed and a few on the calendar, we’re interested in hearing about future possible locations for events. Where are you located and where might an event of this sort be useful for the community? I can think of a number of cities, but organizing them into order to know where to get something scheduled next is difficult, which is why the team is looking for input. So ping me via @Adron, email, or just send me a quick message from here.

ML4ALL LiveStream, Talks & More

If you’re attending, or if you’re at the office or at home, you can check out the talks as they go live on the ML4ALL Youtube Channel! Right now during the conference we also have the live feed on the channel, so if you’re feeling a little FOMO this might help a little. Enjoy!

Here are a few gems that are live already!

Manuel Muro “Barriers To Accelerating The Training Of Artificial Neural Networks”

-> Introduction of Manuel

Jon Oropeza “ML Spends A Year In Burgundy”

-> Introduction of Jon

Igor Dziuba “Teach Machine To Teach: Personal Tutor For Language Learners”

-> Introduction to Igor

Truly Excellent People and Coding Inspiration…

.NET Fringe took place this last week. It’s been a rather long time since my last actual conference that I actually got to really attend, meet people, and talk to people about all the different projects, aspirations, goals, and ideas about what’s next for the future. This conference was perfect to jump into, first and foremost, I knew it was an effort in being inclusive of the existing community and newcomers. We’d reached out to many brave souls to come and attend this conference about pushing technology into the future.

I met some truly excellent people. Smart, focused, intent, and a whole lot of great conversations followed meeting these people. Here’s a few people you’ll want to keep an eye on based on the technology they’re working on. I got to sit down and talk to every one of these coders and they’re in top form, smart, inventive, witty and full of great humor to boot!

Maria Naggaga @Twitter

I met Maria and one of the first things I saw was her crafty and most excellent art sketches around lifestyles, heroes, and more. I love art like this, and was really impressed with what Maria had done with her’s.

Maria giving us the info.

Maria giving us the info.

I was able to hang out with Maria a bit more and had some good conversation time talking about evangelism, tech fun and nonsense all around. I also was able to attend her talk on “Legacy… What?” which was excellent. The question she posed in the description states a common question posed, “When students think about .Net they think: legacy , enterprise , retired, and what is that?” which I too find to be a valid thought. Is .NET purely legacy these days? For many getting into the field it generally isn’ the landscape of greenfield applications and is far more commonly associated with legacy applications. Hearing her vantage point on this as an evangelist was eye opening. I gained more ideas, thoughts, and was pushed to really get that question answered for students in a different way…  which I’ll add to sometime in the future in another blog entry.

Kathleen Dollard @Twitter && @Github

I spoke to Kathleen while we took a break across the street from the conference at Grendal’s Coffee Shop. We talked a lot about education and what is effective training, diving heavily into what works around video, samples, and related things. You see, we’re both authors at Pluralsight too and spend a lot of time thinking about these things. It was great to be able to sit down and really discuss these topics face to face.

We also dived into a discussion about city livability and how Portland’s transit system works, what is and isn’t working in the city and what it’s like to live here. I was, of course, more than happy to provide as much information as I could.

We also discussed her interest in taking legacy shops (i.e. pre-C# even, maybe Delphi or whatever might exist) and helping them modernize their shop. I found this interesting, as it could be a lot of fun figuring out large gaps in technology like that and helping a company to step forward into the future.

Kathleen gave two presentations at the conference – excellent presentations. One was the “Your Code, Your Brain” presentation, talking about exactly the topic of legacy shops moving forward without disruption.

If you’re interested in Kathleen’s courses, give a look here.

Amy Palamountain @Twitter && @Github

Amy had a wicked great slides and samples that were probably the most flawless I’ve seen in a while. Matter of fact, a short while after the conference Amy put together a blog entry about those great slides and samples “Super Smooth Technical Demoes“.

An intent and listening audience.

An intent and listening audience.

An intent and listening audience.Amy’s talked at the conference was titled “Space, Time, and State“. It almost sounds like we could just turn that into an acronym. The talk was great, touched on the aspects of reactiveness and the battle of state that we developers fight every day while building solutions.

We also got to talk a little after the presentation, the horror of times zones, and a slew of good conversation.

Tomasz Janczuk @Twitter && @Github

AAAAAaggghhhhhh! I missed half of Tomasz’s talk! It always happens at every conference right! You get to talking to people, excited about this topic or that topic and BOOM, you’ve missed half of a talk that you fully intended to attend. But hey, the good part is I still got to see half the talk!

If you’re not familiar with Tomasz’ work and you do anything with Node.js you should pay close attention. Tomasz has been largely responsible for the great work behind Edge.js and influencing the effort to get Node.js running (and running damn well might I add) on Windows. For more on Edge.js check out Act I and Act II and the Github repository.

The Big Hit for Me, Distributed Systems

First some context. About 4 years ago I left the .NET Community almost entirely. Even though I was still doing a little work with C# I primarily switched stacks to other things to push forward with Riak, distributed systems usage, devops deployment of client apps, and a whole host of other things. At the time I basically had gotten real burned out on where the .NET Community had ended up worldwide, while some pushed onward with the technologies I loved to work with, I was tired of waiting and dived into some esoteric stuff and learned strange programming techniques in JavaScript, Ruby, Erlang and dived deeper into distributed technologies for use in application construction.

However some in the community didn’t stop moving the ball forward, and at this conference I got a great view into some of that progress! I’m stoked to see this technology and where it is now, because there is a LOT of potential for a number of things. Here’s the two talks and two more great people I got to see speak. One I knew already (great to see you again and hang out Aaron!) and one I had the privilege & honor to meet (it was most excellent hanging out and seeing your presentation Lena).

Aaron Stonnard @Twitter && @Github

Aaron I’d met back when Troy & I put together the first Node PDX. Aaron had swung into Portland to present on “Building Node.js Applications on Windows Azure“. At .NET Fringe however Aaron was diving into a topic that was super exciting to me. The first line of the description from the topic really says it all “Distributed computing in .NET isn’t something you often hear about, but it’s becoming an increasingly important area for growing .NET businesses around the globe. And frankly it’s an area where .NET has lagged behind other runtimes and platforms for years – but this is changing!“. Yup, that’s my exact pain point, it’s awesome to know Aaron & Petabridge are kicking ass in this space now.

Aaron’s presentation was solid, as to be expected. We also had some good conversations after and before the presentation about the state of distributed compute and systems within the Microsoft and Windows ecosystem. To check out more about Akka .NET that Aaron & Andrew Skotzko …  follow @AkkaDotNet, @aaronontheweb, @petabridge, and @askotzko.

Akka .NET

Alena Dzenisenka @Twitter && @Github

...

…Lena traveled all the way from Kiev in the Ukraine to provide the .NET Fringe crowd with some serious F# distributed and parallel compute knowledge in “Embracing the Cloud“!  (Slides here)

Here’s a short dive into F# here if you’re unfamiliar, which you can install on OS-X, Windows or whatever. So don’t use the “well, I don’t use windows” excuse to not give it a try! Here’s info about MBrace that  Lena also used in her demo. Also dive into brisk from elastacloud…

In addition to the excellent talk that Lena gave I also got to hang out with her, Phil Haack, Ryan Riley, and others over food at Biwa on the last day of the conference. After speaking with Lena about the Ukraine, computing, coding and other topics around hacking and the OSS Community she really inspired me to take a dive into these tools for some of the work that I’m working on now and what I’ll be doing in the near future.

All The Things

Now of course, there were a ton of other people I got to meet, people I got to catch up with I haven’t seen in ages and others I didn’t get to write about. It was a really great conference with great content. I’m looking forward to round 2 and spending more time with everybody in the future!

The whole bunch of us at the end of the conference!

The whole bunch of us at the end of the conference!

Cheers everybody!   \m/

An Aside of Blog Entries on .NET Fringe

Here are some additional blog entries that others wrote about the event. In addition to these blog entries I’ll be updating this entry with any additional entries that I see pop up – so if you post one let me know, and I’ll also update these talks above that I’ve discussed with videos when they’re posted live.

RSVP for the Geek Train to .NET Fringe

Cascadian Flag

Cascadian Flag

The .NET Fringe Conference guests coming from northern Cascadia (north of Portland) will have the excellent benefit of taking the Geek Train to the conference. It’s also only $10 friggin’ bucks!

RSVP link here | RSVP link here | RSVP link here | RSVP link here | RSVP link here

Departure

We’ll depart Saturday, April 11th at 2pm, with an ETA into Portland at 5:50pm.

Itinerary

  • 1:40pm Arrive at train station in Seattle to join group for boarding. **
  • 2:00pm Departing Seattle King Street Station (i.e. you better be on the train)
  • 2:10pm We’ll be seated and get setup for…
  • 2:15pm We’ll break into teams of ~4 or so people (or however many of us there are we’ll break out to a reasonable size groups).
  • 2:17pm I’ll announce hacking goals and ideas for the teams and we’ll launch into coding. More information will be announced soon, but suffice it to say we’ll be planning a hack around geo and logistics based solutions! The solutions hacking begins!
  • – – – much hacking and enjoying of the trip occurs here! 🙂 – – –
  • 5:00pm We announce who’s completed what and we’ll demo and discuss the app awesomeness of what we’ve managed to come up with.
  • 5:50pm or before we arrive in Portland and the fringe fun shall begin.

I’ll have more information posted here along with some other ideas about what the hackfest will include, so stay tuned and also be sure to follow @dotnetfringe, and check out all the speakers to start figuring out your plans!