NOLA Vieux Carré Hack n’ Life n’ Lagniappe

I’ve been organizing conferences (with other awesome organizers of course, it’s never a singular person getting that work done!) for a long while now and they’re what they are. Then along came the pandemic and splat, in person conferences became extinct. I’m sure they’ll be back, but I’m not entirely sure they ought to come back. At least, they ought not come back in the same way they existed pre-pandemic time.

Mississippi River in New Orleans along the ole’ Crescent

There’s another type of get together that I’ve been thinking of that I’m really excited about. This experience, I was fortunate enough to experience a bunch of years ago in New Orleans with an awesome group of folks. To add a little context to this, I lived in New Orleans for a good while and grew up about 45 minutes from the city across the state line in Mississippi. With that, I feel like I’ve got a little bit of context for living the New Orleans lifestyle. I must add, it is distinctively and specifically a very unique lifestyle among these United States. Living a New Orleans life is like nothing else in these United States, not even remotely!

When I lived in the area I loved many aspects of this city and there were aspects that I was not happy with. The city has a few parts that make the famous south side of Chicago seem like a peaceful hippy village, but on the other side of the spectrum New Orleans has an intense passion and love among its people. The city is amazing, beautiful, and honestly a marvel of engineering (it’s below sea level). This city, always standing as a monument to passion, music, love, and more is prominent throughout the city. This passion and love of life itself is a positive among positives that in the end, vastly outweigh any of the negatives.

A Dose of That NOLA Life

It’s that famous street y’all!

This adventure I experienced a number of years ago went something like this. In 2010 I had a conference to attend where I was going to speak about various data analysis techniques, coding project ideas, and related technologies around web and data analytics. At the time I worked for a company called WebTrends with a solid bunch. The conference was all set and would be a great time, but it wasn’t the key experience of this trip.

Some friends with a business startup that also were attending the conference decided to rent a house down near Decatur Street. They rented this house and turned it into a coder’s house for a full week! It was a wildly entertaining, enjoyable, unique, and worthwhile experience to undertake. In addition we were wildly productive! Implementing a number of features, swarming on some ideas, and writing up a number of ideas for future implementation while thinking out the design in a great thorough way. It was spectacular!

But there was more, much more to this truly excellent trip. We had access to New Orleans after all which is well known for truly epic food – arguably some of the best options – to explore flavors, tastes, and truly expansive ideas in foodie explorations! The local creole food, the surrounding local southern food, and the combinations therein are unto themselves not comparable in any other part of the United States. Also no, New York, San Francisco, Portland, or anywhere doesn’t even come close in food comparisons and I’m not even going to engage in that silliness. New Orleans food is a culinary delight in it’s own world ranking! As can be see below…

In addition since I knew the city well there were streets to walk, places to explore such as Jax Brewery, the markets, the levies along the riverfront, a riverwalk that’s great, steamship paddle wheelers that traverse the Mississippi river for some amazing explorations, views, and food too!

Ok, ok, ok so that’s a lot of me telling you about the awesomeness of New Orleans. If you’re not into the idea of exploring or visiting the city I can’t really do much more to sell you on the trip. But the next aspect of this post I’ll detail an idea of forming a krewe to head south to the city of New Orleans, build awesome software, eat wonderful food, and generally live the relaxed life for a solid week or so. The idea is this krewe will be a parade of its own that’ll setup shop and live this for the escape, the celebration, and the experience of it all! If this sounds interesting to you, read on, here’s the details.

How This Would Work

For some, we’d join onboard the City of New Orleans, the Crescent, or the Sunset Limited into New Orleans. For others the option of choice may be to fly into the Louis Armstrong Airport or even take the train in from Chicago, Memphis, or other place onboard the City of New Orleans or out of Washington DC, Charlotte, Atlanta, Montgomery or elsewhere onboard the Crescent. Upon arriving we’d converge at the house or houses we’d choose for this adventure where we’d live for the week and get setup for the projects we’d do during the week. That night we’d gather for a grand dinner at our first excellent destination.

Day one dinner at Lil Dizzy’s Cafe & Coding Plans

The first day we’d all get breakfast at Lil Dizzy’s Cafe or somewhere thereabouts. There we’ll get fueled up with a most epic food win and then depart to gather to plot what we’ll create for the week. This is when we’d get a full plan and some goals together as a group. Decide if we want to break out further into groups (depending on our overall group size) and such. We’d find a good place (likely organized well before the trip) and gather there, post-wicked-awesome-amazing good breakfast, and get into all this. This one goal, would be the goal for day one!

Looking at that sinking (yes, by almost an inch per year!) Central Business District in New Orleans!

Day two rolling in… later rise, more good food, and coding time

Day two rolling in. We’d rise a bit later, get some piping hot coffee and maybe a kicker at Cafe Du Monde for the start of day two. Once collected we’d gather for some day hacking or maybe checking out the brewery blocks (it’s more than just breweries, just sayin’). Then we’d get in some evening coding, building, and creating then back into some food and entertainment of whatever sort for the evening. Possibly some jazz at Julius Kimbrough’s Prime Example, Little Gem Saloon, or the Spotted Cat. Either way, a good time and good evening however we want to slice and dice it up.

Day three, onward and forward and advance!

Day three and onward would continue along this theme. Dynamic organization with a loosely coupled and loosely designed scheduled workflow. Mostly to keep it flexible to live NOLA while we’re there. All the while we get to build something as a krewe (team, crew, cohort, however you’d call the group)!

This would continue for the rest of the week. I’ll have more ideas, more to this proposal, more to this trip coming in subsequent blog posts. This post has one purpose, to get the idea introduced to you dear reader and to start the conversation about getting this event put together. If you’d be interested in this idea, please reach out to me via Twitter @Adron, or you can message me via my Contact Form, or if you have some other means – txt me, sms me, slack me, or whatever – that’ll work too. Whatever the medium, let’s get a conversation started about traveling down to the Crescent City for an EPIC week of food, life, music, and hacking together a solution for whatever it is we create!

For more on this, follow me on Twitter, stay tuned here on the blog, and eventually we’ll get an organizing krewe together and start getting together more specifics, like dates and travel times, core ideas, and more.

Cheers!

References:

  • New Orleans skyline as featured image above is from Wikipedia Commons.
  • I did try to make sure there wasn’t rights issues with all those glorious food pictures, but will fix if anything is contested.

2x More 2019 Seattle Area Conferences

We’re halfway through the year now. In Seattle what’s going on in this later half? Here are a few of the conferences, camps, or code related events I’ve purchased tickets to over the last few months.

Seattle Code Camp – September 14th – I have attended a few, and even spoken at some of the code camps here in Seattle. Every time I’ve had a good time and enjoyed a number of very educational conversations. For an idea of the range of topics, also check out the schedule – it’s HUGE!

API City Conference – September 5th – API City is another non-profit community conference that I attended for the first time last year. Again, the sessions were good but the conversations, like with Seattle Code Camp, are what made this conference valuable.

Both of these conferences are extremely high value for the dollar. Arguably, I’d say these provide more value than some of the conferences that are in the $2000-3000 price range, which is mind boggling, but that’s what you get when the community comes together on something that people have a shared interest in!

Either one, or both, hope to see you there.

 

TRIP REPORT: O’Reilly Velocity & Software Architecture Conf 2019

This past week the O’Reilly Velocity and Software Architecture Conferences took place. I’ve attended both before, the 2nd time for Velocity in San Jose and the 2nd time for Software Architecture, however this time in San Jose and the last I attended was in London. The locations for these conferences dictate much about what is presented and how conversations, meeting and interacting, learning, and explorations take place during the conference, but more on those specifics in a moment.

The overarching theme from keynotes and many of the conversations I had met on a few key topics:

  1. When you’re building software, and you want to do it well you first and foremost must, absolutely must, invest in the people building your software.
  2. Focus on simplicity, remove complexity at every opportunity.
  3. Organizational structure can have direct impact in the complexity or simplicity of software, structure your organization efficiently and make every effort to keep it simple.

TLDR; Keep your people happy, focus on simplicity, minimize organizational noise from bureaucracy.

Topically Elaborating on Edge and Serverless

Ok, so a number of conversations came up around edge computing and serverless. Both interesting, but it also seems like there isn’t a strong play for the Enterprise is either space just yet. At this point however, a lot of enterprises are struggling with their Kubernetes, Cloud, and Hybrid solutions enough as it is that they haven’t even broached the edge compute and serverless realm. But that hasn’t stopped a lot of forward thinking individuals to start tackling how to cut out a useful spectrum of application with both edge and serverless.

Serverless Oh My!

Serverless, like so many other names, is kind of a garbage name at first. It effectively tells us nothing useful. It’s a word that requires more words just to give it meaning. It’s kind of like if I said “I like food!” What does this even mean? So, everybody eats food and most people like it, so what does “I like food!” actually mean? Same with serverless, because the first thing it doesn’t mean is a system that has no servers. What it generally means is something about your applications and you not doing anything with servers. It’s the mythic NoOps by simply removing the computers somehow.

Serverless, or simply code that executes via compute, and you get a result, has actually been around for some time. There were a number of startups that were well ahead of AWS Lambda and the other respective implementations that Azure and GCP have. These startups had been attempting to usher in what it took AWS’s massiveness and clout to actually get people to pay attention to. Serverless however has gone far beyond merely Lambda at AWS and now we’ve got to contend not only with the option in the existing cloud providers but where, how, and when can we get it into our data centers! The TLDR is that enterprise wants serverless and they’re interested in throwing it onto Kubernetes or whatever they’ve got. But often the infrastructure and systems to really make use of this simply isn’t there.

Most of the conversations I had evolved around the who, what, where, when, and how do we make use of these options for what we do? This is where most companies, at least enterprise and large companies, currently seem to be in the market. Then there are the companies that have already made the leap and are doing all sorts of stuff with Lambda and related serverless offerings. The gulf, that middle ground, doesn’t seem to have been broached by many others. Everybody, anecdotally of course, seems to be either trying to figure out how to start or already made the leap!

Edge Compute

This kept coming up, regardless of how or what people defined it as, it came up as something a number of people were very interested in. This notion, loosely based around using edge devices; smart phones, IoT devices, your car, or your washer for example, it could be almost anything. These devices do compute on the edge and thus the term. However it’s interesting because it isn’t like, for example, cloud computing that has core features like compute, storage, and related elements. Edge computing can run the gamut of any device doing any kind of work and the related capabilities of that device. It kind of leaves the space wide open. However, there were a few focal points that kept coming up.

The most common topic that came up around edge computing was doing tasks at point of presence. Such as having a phone do facial recognition, computing path finding (i.e. traffic directions), and related compute on the device versus round tripping it back to the cloud. It almost seems like after all these years of pushing things to the server we’re really starting in earnest to bring smart processes and tasks back to the devices we have in hand – no pun intended. It’s an interesting space, interesting paradigms, and I’m still not ready to call a specific thing within the world of edge compute and say, “that’s the next billion dollar idea”. Largely because, there are a lot of billion dollar ideas out there these days.

Speaking of edge compute and serverless, my fellow DataStaxian also had a few of these conversations on said topics. Patrick wrote up a post on a few observations over on the DataStax blog “Velocity Conference Shows What’s Gaining Velocity in Data Management“.

Geographic Location

As I mentioned, this set of conferences is in San Jose, the home of Silicon Valley, but the southern segment of the area. It’s a walk-able area with a number of places to break out from the conference and really dig into the hallway tracks (i.e. impromptu conversations!) that come up. For those willing to jump on the light rail, or scooter around, San Jose opens up even more to the local area providing a wide variety of coffee, food, and other operations to share conversations over.

All in all, the geographic location for the event is solid, being in the center of the city where it is. However one issue did arise, the Marriott lost power as an electrical fire in the control room of the multi-story hotel blew out the power. At last I checked upon leaving, it still didn’t have power! With the temperature at 105f going on multiple days at this point, the hotel because extremely hot inside, and being a kind of sealed airspace the air calculators also weren’t refreshing the air. That left a number of guests in less than stellar condition to attend, let alone attain value, from the conference events. Myself I ended up checking out in short order, getting sick the last day of the conference anyway, and being unable to provide the presentation that I had paired up with Lena (@lenadroid) for! I’ve been thinking, that maybe she and I can provide an online version of it for those that had wanted to hear us present on “Flexible Cloud Architectures: Decision Making Best Practices“.

Next year’s Velocity looks like it’ll be in Santa Clara, which doesn’t really excite me as it’s kind of a nebula of sprawling suburbia of boredom. This is were location becomes fundamental to what will or what can be the potential of secondary and tertiary conversations at a conference like this. Don’t get me wrong, the hallway track is excellent, but having options to step out and walk across the street from the event to converse further adds a tremendous value.

Santa Clara simply doesn’t do that unfortunately.

The fortunate thing between now and then, albeit the conference is moving to Santa Clara, they’re having subsequent conferences in the Velocity series in Berlin, and Software Architecture Conf series in the amazing cities of New York and Berlin. Those locations are worth traveling to for far more than a conference, increasing my interest in attending both of those future events. I’m looking forward to these!

Twitter Talk @VelocityConf

From @DataStaxDevs a thread! Click through for all ~17 parts.

Some Build Engineer Work – Click through for the whole construction thread.

Some of the Keynote Threads

Alena Hall – @lenadroid

Jessica Kerr – @jessitron

…and there were a bunch of others too, solid, check out the hash tag of #velocityconf to read up on more.

The Lagniappe

After the conference I finally managed to pick up a pocket Constitution.

If you’re ever in search of good coffee in San Jose, one place I found that’s tops is Academic Coffee, both the coffee and service are great. Good jovial crew and lots of cyclists in and out.

Making progress on the CaSMa, tweeted a bit on the topic while en route to the conference. If you’d like to get involved, please do let me know!

Other arbitrary statistics:

  • Stickers collected: 11 unique, ~7 of each. Total: 77 stickers.
  • T-shirt Swag: 2.
  • Conversations @ DataStax Booth: 11
  • Hallway Track Conversations: 7
  • Coffee Consumed: 9 over 3 days.
  • Twitter Filters Discussed: 123.
  • Fuel burned to compensate for electrical fire damage for the time of the conference: Approximately 5k gallons of fuel for the Marriott Hotel and no idea how much more fuel was or is still being burned to power the hotel.
  • Times the power still went off even with the diesel engine power trailer attached: 4.

Lots of Events & Topical Tech Discussions

This week we just had Ryan Zhang present at the Seattle Scalability Meetup. I did a little short presentation just showing some tools that I’ve been using as of late; DataGrip, and related schema migrations and Docker containers as I work through the schema migrations. It was a solid meetup and excellent conversation after meetup, big thanks to everybody who came out to the meetup and joined us for a round of drinks, amazing cheese curds and hummus at Collin’s afterwards! It was a great meetup and looking forward to getting together again on May 28th with Guinevere (@guincodes) presenting “The PR That Wouldn’t Merge“!

In other upcoming events that I’ll be at either presenting or attending. The events I’m attending let’s get talk, I’m always interested in meeting new people and learning about you’re working on, what you’re learning, and where and what efforts are of interest to you. For the events I’m presenting at the same applies, plus I’ll be standing among all the persons and presenting whatever tidbit of knowledge I’ve come to present. Hopefully it’ll be useful and informative for you and we can continue the conversation after the presentation and we all gain more insight, ideas, and ways to move forward more productively with our respective efforts. Here’s a list of the next big meetups and conferences I’m either speaking at or attending, and hope to see and meet many of you dear \m/ readers there!

Zhi Yang Presenting “Hierarchical Topic Modeling in Cancer Patients’ Mutational Profiles”

UPDATED: Video Added from the Conference!

zhi-yang.png

Introducing Zhi Yang > @zhiiiyang < presenting “Hierarchical Topic Modeling in Cancer Research”.

Topic models have been widely applied to extract topics from various range of documents or collections of texts, i.e., online customers reviews, medical records, scientific
journals, legal documents, books and etc. Its application facilitates the process for us to quickly understand the most featured and commonly shared information embedded texts without actually reading through the entire collection. In addition, topic models also allow us to access the contribution of each topic and its representations across different documents. Human genomes have been exposed to an assortment of mutational processes by contributing to unique patterns of somatic mutations. What would happen if we apply the same concept to the somatic mutations obtained from the cancer patients and look for “topics” of mutations? What would these “topics” tell us about the most important information for our health, genetic, risk factors for cancer and
something more that slip under the radar?

Shiraishi et al’s have proposed a topic model targeted for somatic mutations to capture the characteristics and burdens contributed by mutational processes. By closely examining the burdens, we’d like to compare them across different categories, say, for example, time, cancer subtype, ethnicity, smoking history, etc. Then, we’d like to develop the statistical machinery to infer the difference between the mutational profiles across different categories and associate the variations with the know exposures. This tool is potentially useful for identifying novel and existing mutational processes and correlating them with risk factors in which later can be used to monitor any treatment effects in personalized medicine and targeted therapy.

Read the publication here at biorxiv and come check out Zhi Yang’s talk at ML4ALL happening April 28th-30th in amazing Portland, Oregon! Get your tickets to attend here. For the schedule, our excellent sponsors docs for the conference, check out the ML4ALL Conference Site!