Geek Train from Seattle to Portland

April 12th-14th is the epic .NET Fringe Conference. For those coming from Seattle for the conference, there’s going to be a geek train, there however one major decision that needs to be made. What departure should we board to get to Portland. This is where I’ll need your help to decide. There will be a mini-hack, wifi, food, and likely we’ll actually get the entire car to ourselves with enough of a crew. So sign up, vote, vote often and frequently for your preferred departure time! I’ll see you on the train!

Along with the departure, the trip, events for the trip and more information will be posted on the .NET Fringe site soon, along with additional ideas here.

Conference Recap – The awe inspiring quality & number of conferences in Cascadia!

Rails 2013 Conf (April 29th-May 1st)

The Rails 2013 Conference kicked off for me, with a short bike ride through town to the conference center. The Portland conference center is one of the most connected conference centers I’ve seen; light rail, streetcar, bus, bicycle boulevards, trails & of course pedestrian access is all available. I personally have no idea if you can drive to it, but I hear there is parking & such for drivers.

Streetcars
Streetcars

Rails Conf however clearly places itself in the category of a conference of people that give a shit! This is evident in so many things among the community, from the inclusive nature creating one of the most diverse groups of developers to the fact they handed out 7 day transit passes upon picking up your Rails Conf Pass!

Bikes!
Bikes!

The keynote was by DHH (obviously right?). He laid out where the Rails stack is, some roadmap topics & drew out how much the community had grown. Overall, Rails is now in the state of maintain and grow the ideal. Considering its inclusive nature I hope to see it continue to grow and to increase options out there for people getting into software development.

Railsconf 2013
Railsconf 2013

I also met a number of people while at the conference. One person I ran into again was Travis, who lives out yonder in Jacksonville, Florida and works with Hashrocket. Travis & I, besides the pure metal, have Jacksonville as common stomping ground. Last year I’d met him while the Hash Rocket Crew were in town. We discussed Portland, where to go and how to get there, plus what Hashrocket has been up to in regards to use around Mongo, other databases and how Ruby on Rails was treating them. The conclusion, all good on the dev front!

One of these days though, the Hashrocket crew is just gonna have to move to Portland. Sorry Jacksonville, we’ll visit one day. 😉

For the later half of the conferene I actually dove out and headed down for some client discussions in the country of Southern California. Nathan Aschbacher headed up Basho attendance at the conference from this point on. Which reminds me, I’ve gotta get a sitrep with Nathan…

RICON East (May 13th & 14th)

RICON East
RICON East

Ok, so I didn’t actually attend RICON East (sad face), I had far too many things to handle over here in Portlandia – but I watched over 1/3rd of the talks via the 1080p live stream. The basic idea of the RICON Conferences, is a conference series focused on distributed systems. Riak is of course a distributed database, falling into that category, but RICON is by no means merely about Riak at all. At RICON the talks range from competing products to acedemic heavy hitting talks about how, where and why distributed systems are the future of computing. They may touch on things you may be familiar with such as;

  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  • Existing databases and how they may fit into the fabric of distributed systems (such as Postgresql)
  • How to scale distributed across AWS Cloud Services, Azure or other cloud providers
RICON East
RICON East

As the videos are posted online I’ll be providing some blog entries around the talks. It will however be extremely difficult to choose the first to review, just as RICON back in October of 2012, every single talk was far above the modicum of the median!

Two immediate two talks that stand out was Christopher Meiklejohn’s @cmeik talk, doing a bit o’ proofs and all, in realtime off the cuff and all. It was merely a 5 minute lightnight talk, but holy shit this guy can roll through and hand off intelligence via a talk so fast in blew my mind!

The other talk was Kyle’s, AKA @aphry, who went through network partitions with databases. Basically destroying any comfort you might have with your database being effective at getting reads in a partition event. Kyle knows his stuff, that is without doubt.

There are many others, so subscribe keep reading and I’ll be posting them in the coming weeks.

Node PDX 2013 (May 16th & 17th)

Horse_js and other characters, planning some JavaScript hacking!
Horse_js and other characters, planning some JavaScript hacking!

Holy moley we did it, again! Thanks to EVERYBODY out there in the community for helping us pull together another kick ass Node PDX event! That’s two years in a row now! My fellow cohort of Troy Howard @thoward37 and Luc Perkins @lucperkins had hustled like some crazed worker bees to get everything together and ready – as always a lot always comes together the last minute and we don’t get a wink of sleep until its all done and everybody has had a good time!

Node PDX Sticker Selection was WICKED COOL!
Node PDX Sticker Selection was WICKED COOL!

Node PDX, it’s pretty self descriptive. It’s a one Node.js conference that also includes topics on hardware, javascript on the client side and a host of other topics. It’s also Portland specific. We have Portland Local Roasted Coffee (thanks Ristretto for the pour over & Coava for the custom roast!), Portland Beer (thanks brew capital of the world!), Portland Food (thanks Nicolas’!), Portland DJs (thanks Monika Mhz!), Portland Bands and tons of Portland wierdness all over the place. It’s always a good time! We get the notion at Node PDX, with all the Portlandia spread all over it’s one of the reasons that 8-12 people move to and get hired in Portland after this conference every year (it might become a larger range, as there are a few people planning to make the move in the coming months!).

A wide angle view of Holocene where Node PDX magic happened!
A wide angle view of Holocene where Node PDX magic happened!

The talks this year increased in number, but maintained a solid range of topics. We had a node.js disco talk, client side JavaScript, sensors and node.js, and even heard about people’s personal stories of how they got into programming JavaScript. Excellent talks, and as with RICON, I’ll be posting a blog entry and adding a few penny thoughts of my own to each talk.

Polyglot Conference 2013 (May 24th Workshops, 25th Conference)

Tea & Chris kick off Polyglot Conference 2013!
Tea & Chris kick off Polyglot Conference 2013!
A smiling crowd!
A smiling crowd!

Polyglot Conference was held in Vancouver again this year, with clear intent to expand to Portland and Seattle in the coming year or two. I’m super stoked about this and will definitely be looking to help out – if you’re interested in helping let me know and I’ll get you in contact with the entire crew that’s been handling things so far!

Polyglot Conference itself is a yearly conference held as an open spaces event. The way open space conferences work is described well on Wikipedia were it is referred to as Open Spaces Technology.

The crowds amass to order the chaos of tracks.
The crowds amass to order the chaos of tracks.

The biggest problem with this conference, is that it’s technically only one day. I hope that we can extend it to two days for next year – and hopefully even have the Seattle and Portland branches go with an extended two day itenerary.

A counting system...
A counting system…

This year the break out sessions that that I attended included “Dev Tools”, “How to Be a Better Programmer”, “Go (Language) Noises”, other great sessions and I threw down a session of my own on “Distributed Systems”. Overall, great time and great sessions! I had a blast and am looking forward to next year.

By the way, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this at the beginning of this blog entry, but this is only THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER IN CASCADIA! I’ll have more coverage of these events and others coming up, the roadmap includes OS Bridge (where I’m also speaking) and Portland’s notorious OSCON.

Until the next conference, keep hacking on that next bad ass piece of software, cheers!

Node PDX – Introducing Zach Bobb, Paul Jungwirth, Forrest Norvell and Charlie Key

…and the fifth iteration of Node PDX Introductions!

Zach Bobb is presenting…

Building a Computer In Your Browser

Zach the TriMet Ticket Man!
Zach the TriMet Ticket Man!

Zach is a mobile engineer with GlobeSherpa working hard to bring you the app that will let you buy TriMet tickets on your phone.

Want to learn how computers work under the hood while learning Web technologies? Come learn about the Von Neumann 51, a series of tutorials that will take you through building a computer from the ground up in JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3.

The talk will start by laying out some of the motivation behind the project and then demonstrate some of the components people will build through the tutorials: logic gates, adder circuits, displays, etc. The end of the talk will demo a prototype of the vN51.

Some of the technologies in this talk are:  D3 | A JavaScript library for dynamic data-driven SVG graphics HTML5 Canvas | Pixel manipulation for display output

Paul Jungwirth is presenting…

Handling Errors with Cluster and Domains

Paul
Paul

Paul will jump into,

Node’s callback pattern makes error handling difficult: throwing an exception kills the entire node process, terminating all current requests, and every callback initiates a new stack, so stacktraces are terse and don’t indicate how you got where you died. You can solve these problems using some newer features of Node called clusters and domains. This talk with explore using these tools for better error handling.

Forrest Norvell is presenting…

Do as I say, not as I do: Node in the real world

Forrest
Forrest

Forrest is a software engineer who has spent the better part of the last two years working with Node full-time, first working on bringing Singly’s Locker Project up to web scale, and then exploring the wilds of monitoring the performance of Node applications for New Relic. He has learned an unreasonable amount about JavaScript, V8, libuv, and making it all work well in the real world.

Forrest has spent the last year plumbing the depths of Node for New Relic, as he brings support for Node to New Relic. It’s a process that has required ingenuity, guile, and the willingness to break a lot of otherwise very sensible rules. He will take you on a tour of some of the more powerful but dangerous tools in the JavaScript toolbox: monkey patching, working with Node’s internals, and mixing synchronous and asynchronous code without setting your hair on fire.
Charlie Key is presenting…

Building a Multiplayer World for Pillow Pets

Charlie
Charlie

Charlie is Co-founder of Modulus, a premier Node.js hosting solution. He has spent the last six-years working in the software, where he has created over a dozen production websites and applications for many global brands.

He is also a core contributor on Pulse game engine and one of members of the team who developed Pillow Pets World.

The talk will dive into the design goals, architecture and end result of creating this massive virtual world. Come see how Pulse (a HTML5 game engine) and Node.js were combined to create a fast, expandable, mobile ready world. Targeting a game at 10,000,000 people? Then come and find out how Pillow Pets World was built. Pillow Pets World is a virtual world built for millions of kids. Scalability and performance were aspects that were included from the start.

The technologies included in this talk are:

Pulse | HTML5 Game Engine Node.js | Scalable small servers Socket.io | Real-time communication using Web sockets Redis | Small in memory storage used for pub/sub communication between servers

Are you signed up?  BUY YOUR TICKET FOR NODE PDX HERE

Want to learn more? http://nodepdx.org/

Want to know the dates? http://nodepdx.org/

Want to know who else is speaking? Stay tuned here or go check out http://nodepdx.org/!

Node PDX – Introducing Adam Ulvi, Aron Racho, Christopher Meiklejohn, Max Ogden and Brock Whitten!

…and the fourth iteration begins!

Adam Ulvi is presenting…

Put a Sensor On It!

Adam Ulvi
Adam Ulvi

Adam is a Portland native (straight out of the Simpsons) with a penchant for software and systems integration. 8-bit gamer, seasoned professional, perpertual noob. Specialization is for insects.

Learn how easy it is to create your own monitoring system! Hobbyist components and a rich ‘maker’ community puts advanced system designs well within the reach of your average software wonk. Stop planning and start building!

Our case study is ‘GroMon’, a solution for monitoring a tiny indoor lettuce garden. Our wireless sensor keeps track of temperature and humidity, if the plants get too hot or too cold then we are notified via text message.

We will discuss the design goals and architecture, as well as component selection, prototyping and debugging steps. With a little bit of programming skill and patience, anyone can build this network. Learn how to easily extend this solution for your own use.

Our stack is Node.js running on a Raspberry Pi. We connect over Bluetooth to an Arduino hosting a single sensor. All components can be purchased off-the-shelf, no soldering is required and the total cost is around $80. Code and bill of materials is available on GitHub, let’s hack!

Aron Racho is presenting…

Jive Purposeful Places SDK – A NodeJS Bromance

Aron
Aron

Aron Racho is a Senior Software Developer at Jive Software. Aron’s background has primarily been in Java, about 10 years in. He is a relatively recent convert to Javascript, and server-side Javascript in particular. Though relatively new to NodeJS, he has been smitten by its fluency, flexibility, and superb design. One might even say a Bromance has been started.

Ok, get ready, this description for this sessions is HUGE!

Jive Software’s latest cloud release enables 3rd party developers to easily push data marshalled from external systems of record such as Salesforce into Jive. Our aim is to publish a developer framework and API which makes it drop-dead simple — and fun — to get up-and-going from scratch, or easily integrate into an existing framework. We chose NodeJS precisely for those reasons:

  • High developer adoption
  • High velocity development — javascript! no compilation required
  • Best-in-class IDE support (IntelliJ for example)
  • Native support for REST and HTTP
  • Excellent package management system (NPM == maven the Good Parts)
  • Tons of great libraries
  • Amazing documentation, well organized, very easy to get started instantly

Our framework is built on Express, and is designed to be programmed by “convention: fill in the blanks with logic specific to your application, and as long as you’ve satisfied the contract, the framework automatically:

  • Wires up routes required for configuring your integration
  • Notifies your listeners for integration life cycle events (integration created; destroyed; updated, etc.)
  • Executes recurrent tasks you’ve scheduled
  • Handles persistence of required objects. We have support for 3 types of persistence out of the box — in-memory, file, and MondoDB.

The framework is designed for developers who want to as quickly as possible start integrating a 3rd party service with Jive, with minimum setup.

For those interested in integrating Jive into an existing NodeJS Express app, we are going to make the underlying API available to developers, allowing them finer grained control over the setup of their integration. This API will be the same one underlying the mechanics of the aforementioned framework.

For my presentation, I will be describe how we used NodeJS as the basis for this framework and API. Please note at the time of this proposal, we’ve created the framework, and are now in the process of refining the API so that it can be used independently of the framework.

Christopher Meiklejohn is presenting…

An Introduction to Functional Reactive Programming

Chris Meiklejohn
Chris Meiklejohn

Christopher Meiklejohn is a Software Engineer with Basho Technologies, Inc. where he focuses on building rich web applications for Riak using Erlang and JavaScript. Before joining Basho, he worked at Swipely, a loyalty program startup based in Providence where he maintained critical infrastructure components written in Ruby. Christopher currently serves as one of the maintainers of Rubygems.org.

Chris also knows a thing or three about this show… called The Wire… he could probably speak entirely in quotes solely from The Wire and still make complete sense. So throw a quote out, I bet he’ll catch it.

There is no doubt that todays web applications continue to grow in adoption, replacing their desktop counterparts in all areas of computation. Essential to their growth is their ability to provide near-native performance and rich user experiences. As these applications grow in essential complexity, they also grow in accidental complexity due to the imperative callback processing style found in most web applications. The asynchronous nature of most of these applications also further compounds the issues due to guarantees around message ordering, and a level of indirection required in callbacks handling events.

Functional reactive programming is one approach for mitigating accidental complexity, using a declarative and composable data-flow model. During this talk, we’ll look at the history of functional reactive programming, some JavaScript implementations of FRP, and finally some ClojureScript implementations of FRP and examples on how to get started with using functional reactive programming.

Max Ogden is presenting…

Minecraft.js

Max Ogden - Penciled and colored!
Max Ogden – Penciled and colored!

Max used to live here in Portland, and at some point defected to work on noble causes with Code for America. Since then he’s been an Oaktown Coder (Oakland, the other city near San Francisco).

In January of 2013 he started the Voxel.js Project. Since he and contributors have generatored nearly 100 node modules related to 3D game development and distribution. Examples including voxel rendering and first person controls and physics. On the main voxel-engine the project has received over 50 pull requests from 20 contributors. All of this since January. Max is going to dive into this effort and what inspiration people have taken to dive into game development with JavaScript.

Brock Whitten is presenting…

Mighty Messaging Patterns

Brock Whitten
Brock Whitten

Best know for having co-created PhoneGap, Brock went on to work at Joyent where he created the Public API for the beloved (and now sunset) No.de Platform. He’s now working on the Harp Platform where he’s worked with a team to have created a dead simple publishing platform that uses Dropbox as its deployment mechanism. Much has been learned, he’s read to share.

He describes his course as, “Messaging is the lifeblood of distributed systems yet it is often treated as an afterthought when applications are architected. Few get passed the point of tacking on a message queue to fire and forget tasks with no visibility into what is happening on the system. I’m here to tell you we can do better. That Messaging can do more for us than just put tasks in the background. By combining basic messaging paradigms we can build powerful distributed systems with full awareness of what is happening around the network. And we can do it all in pure JavaScript.

In this talk, I will start with a crash course on the basic messaging patterns push/pull, pub/sub, and request/reply and then show a real example of how we have combined these patterns to build a custom message broker that we have used to build a fully distributed and modular architecture for the Harp Platform. I will share details about what we have learned and common pitfalls to avoid when building a messaging system for your needs.

Basic outline for the talk:

  • how messaging can be useful
  • crash course on the basic message patterns
  • how to get started with zeromq/axon
  • common pitfalls when in production
  • proven trade secrets we have learned

By the end of the talk, my hope is that everyone will have a new appreciation for what can be achieved with massaging and will know where to begin when attempting to integrate messaging into their next project. I feel this aspect of building modern web applications is often overlooked and viable techniques need to be shared and discussed.

Are you signed up?  BUY YOUR TICKET FOR NODE PDX HERE

Want to learn more? http://nodepdx.org/

Want to know the dates? http://nodepdx.org/

Want to know who else is speaking? Stay tuned here or go check out http://nodepdx.org/!

Have a last minute request, idea, comment or a speaking proposal? http://nodepdx.org/

Write the Docs, Proper Portland Brew, Hack n’ Bike and Polyglot Conference 2013

Blog Entry Index:

I just wrapped up a long weekend of staycation. Monday kicked off Write the Docs this week and today, Tuesday, I’m getting back into the saddle.

Write the Docs

The Write the Docs Conference this week, a two day affair, has kicked off an expanding community around document creation. This conference is about what documentation is, how we create documentation as technical writers, writers, coders and others in the field.

Not only is it about those things it is about how people interact and why documentation is needed in projects. This is one of the things I find interesting, as it seems obvious, but is entirely not obvious because of the battle between good documentation, bad documentation or a complete lack of documentation. The later being the worse situation.

The Bloody War of Documentation!

At this conference it has been identified that the ideal documentation scenario is that building it starts before any software is even built. I do and don’t agree with this, because I know we must avoid BDUF (Big Design Up Front). But we must take this idea, of documentation first, in the appropriate context of how we’re speaking about documentation at the conference. Just as tests & behaviors identified up front, before the creation of the actual implementation is vital to solid, reliable, consistent, testable & high quality production software, good documentation is absolutely necessary.

There are some situations, the exceptions, such as with agencies that create software, in which the software is throwaway. I’m not and don’t think much of the conference is about those types of systems. What we’ve been speaking about at the conference is the systems, or ecosystems, in which software is built, maintained and used for many years. We’re talking about the APIs that are built and then used by dozens, hundreds or thousands of people. Think of Facebook, Github and Twitter. All of these have APIs that thousands upon thousands use everyday. They’re successful in large part, extremely so, because of stellar documentation. In the case of Facebook, there’s some love and hate to go around because they’ve gone between good documentation and bad documentation. However whenever it has been reliable, developers move forward with these APIs and have built billion dollar empires that employ hundreds of people and benefit thousands of people beyond that.

As developers that have been speaking at the conference, and developers in the audience, and this developer too all tend to agree, build that README file before you build a single other thing within the project. Keep that README updated, keep it marked up and easy to read, and make sure people know what your intent is as best you can. Simply put, document!

You might also have snarkily asked, does Write the Docs have docs,why yes, it does:

http://docs.writethedocs.org/ <- Give em’ a read, they’re solid docs.

Portland Proper Brew

Today while using my iPhone, catching up on news & events over the time I had my staycation I took a photo. On that photo I used Stitch to put together some arrows. Kind of a Portland Proper Brew (PPB) with documentation. (see what I did there!) It exemplifies a great way to start the day.

Everyday I bike (or ride the train or bus) in to downtown Porltand anywhere from 5-9 kilometers and swing into Barista on 3rd. Barista is one of the finest coffee shops, in Portland & the world. If you don’t believe me, drag your butt up here and check it out. Absolutely stellar baristas, the best coffee (Coava, Ritual, Sightglass, Stumptown & others), and pretty sweet digs to get going in the morning.

I’ll have more information on a new project I’ve kicked off. Right now it’s called Bike n’ Hack, which will be a scavenger style code hacking & bicycle riding urban awesome game. If you’re interested in hearing more about this, the project, the game & how everything will work be sure to contact me via twitter @adron or jump into the bike n’ hack github organization and the team will be adding more information about who, what, where, when and why this project is going to be a blast!

Polyglot Conference & the Zombie Apocalypse

I’ll be teaching a tutorial, “Introduction to Distributed Databases” at Polyglot Conference in Vancouver in May!  So it has begun & I’m here for you! Come and check out how to get a Riak deployment running in your survival bunker’s data center. Zombies or just your pointy hair boss scenarios of apocalypse we’ll discuss how consistent hashing, hinted handoff and gossipping can help your systems survive infestations! Here’s a basic outline of what I’ll cover…

Introducing Riak, a database designed to survive the Zombie Plague. Riak Architecture & 5 Minute History of Riak & Zombies.

Architecture deep dive:

  • Consistent Hashing, managing to track changes when your kill zone is littered with Zombies.
  • Intelligent Replication, managing your data against each of your bunkers.
  • Data Re-distribution, sometimes they overtake a bunker, how your data is re-distributed.
  • Short Erlang Introduction, a language fit for managing post-civil society.
  • Getting Erlang

Installing Riak on…

  • Ubuntu, RHEL & the Linux Variety.
  • OS-X, the only user centered computers to survive the apocolypse.
  • From source, maintained and modernized for humanities survival.
  • Upgrading Riak, when a bunker is retaken from the zomibes, it’s time to update your Riak.
  • Setting up

Devrel – A developer’s machine w/ Riak – how to manage without zombie bunkers.

  • 5 nodes, a basic cluster
  • Operating Riak
  • Starting, stopping, and restarting
  • Scaling up & out
  • Managing uptime & data integrity
  • Accessing & writing data

Polyglot client libraries

  • JavaScript/Node.js & Erlang for the zombie curing mad scientists.
  • C#/.NET & Java for the zombie creating corporations.
  • Others, for those trying to just survive the zombie apocolypse.

If you haven’t registered for the Polyglot Conference yet, get registered ASAP as it could sell out!

Some of the other tutorials that are happening, that I wish I could clone myself for…

That’s it for updates right now, more code & news later. Cheers!