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!

Coder’s Vacation : #RICON2012 Photos So Far…

All of these images can be viewed here: http://adronhall.smugmug.com/Software/Meetups-N-Conferences/RICON-2012

San Franciscans heading to work, to RICON and wherever they want to.
San Franciscans heading to work, to RICON and wherever they want to.
RICON 2012 SWAG.
RICON 2012 SWAG.
Main Room Filling Up...
Main Room Filling Up…
...and filling up some more.
…and filling up some more.
Basho Crew taking care of conf biz...
Basho Crew taking care of conf biz…
...handling the room.
…handling the room.

The Basho team including Tom Santero @tsantero, Shanley Kane @shanley, and others rocked putting things together and getting everything to us attendees and making sure we headed off like herded cats in appropriate paths to the sessions. Great job! You guys rocked it!

Mark kicking things off...
Mark kicking things off…

All of this hard work setup for a great conference experience with content and more (see my previous blog entry for more). But I digress, on to more pictures. To the right Mark Phillips @pharkmillups kicking off the conference. Below is Don Rippert @djrippert giving an intro, where he pointed out a very important notion, “…this big movement isn’t about cloud or nosql, the movement is about distributed systems…”.

Dan Rippert Basho CEO
Dan Rippert @djrippert Basho CEO
Talking ACID. Absolutely great talk by Joseph Hellerstein, Professor, UC Berkeley
Talking ACID. Absolutely great talk by Joseph Hellerstein @joe_hellerstein, Professor, UC Berkeley
Portland Representing, Selena Marie Handling the Postgresql Preso
Portland Representing, Selena Marie @selenamarie Handling the Postgresql Preso
Amber handling the logistics, thanks for finding my hoodie when it disappeared!
Amber @amberishikawa, thx for finding my hoodie when it disappeared!
Portland Basho Office Representing, Eric Redmond, database guy @coderoshi
Portland Basho Office Representing, Eric Redmond, database guy @coderoshi
George Reese @georegereese & James Urquhart @jamesurquhart
George Reese @georegereese & James Urquhart @jamesurquhart

George & James, when not at baseball games or thrashing some guitar do some distributed computing system things over at Enstratus. Both of these guys write some seriously solid material, so hit the google and do a search on these guys, then read their books & articles. Cheers guys, good to catch up!

Coder’s Vacation : #RICON2012 Shreds the House!

Here I am on day #3 of my Coder’s Vacation and RICON is happening today. This is a new conference put together by the fine folks at Basho, maker of Riak (which note, is a link to the project on Github because Basho is awesome like that, they roll all open source like). However, it’s a little different and way more honest than most conferences put on by a company. Sure, there’s talk about Basho and Riak and such, but overall the conference is about distributed systems. The byline of the conference, “A Distributed Systems Conference for Developers” is not a lie. It’s hard core about systems, data and getting things built by and for people who have ideas and know about how to put these things together. To summarize RICON in one phrase, it is “BAD ASS!” Hit up the #ricon2012 twitter stream for more on this.

Conference Kick Off:

Don Rippert of Basho (CEO) took the stage and brought up one of those points, that many in the industry take for granted, but it is rarely spoke. He pointed out, and I’m paraphrasing here, that the cloud, cloud computing, nosql and all these other things really amount to one giant shift i computing. That giant shift is a move to a better way combining things together through distributed systems. Simply put focusing on nosql or cloud or whatever word that marketing and the media latches onto is just a distraction. The real focus comes down to distributed systems. Sometimes, the smartest thing to state is the obvious thing, because nobody else is pointing it out. That simple thing brings about a greater realization of what is important versus what is just noise.

That leaves me with the question though, are we as an industry starting to get it? I think that’s a good question.

Joseph Hellerstein, Professor, UC Berkeley

…with a little about him from the RICON site:

Joseph M. Hellerstein is a Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work focuses on data-centric systems and the way they drive computing. He is an ACM Fellow, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and the recipient of two ACM-SIGMOD “Test of Time” awards for his research. In 2010, Fortune Magazine included him in their list of 50 smartest people in technology, and MIT’s Technology Review magazine included his Bloom language for cloud computing on their TR10 list of the 10 technologies “most likely to change our world”. A past research lab director for Intel, Hellerstein maintains an active role in the high tech industry, currently serving on the technical advisory boards of a number of computing and Internet companies including EMC, SurveyMonkey, Platfora and Captricity.

I also really enjoyed his talk. He took a correlation between distributed systems, data and the British Empire. Correlating things, especially complex and advanced things to something like the British Empire just adds an entertaining twist to it all. Again, a description from the RICON 2012 Site:

Conventional distributed systems wisdom dictates that perfect consistency is too expensive to guarantee in general, and consistency mechanisms—if you use them at all—should be reserved for infrequent, small-scale, mission-critical tasks. Like most design maxims, these ideas are not so easy to translate into practice; all kinds of unavoidable tactical questions pop up, e.g.:

– Exactly where in my multifaceted system is loose consistency “good enough” to meet application needs?

– How do I know that my “mission-critical” software isn’t tainted by my “best effort” components?

– How do I ensure that my design maxims are maintained as software and developer teams evolve?

Until recently, answers to these questions have been more a matter of folklore than mathematics. (One way to tell the difference: a good answer is enforceable by a compiler.)

In this talk, I will describe the CALM Theorem that links Consistency And Logical Monotonicity, and discuss how it can inform distributed software development. I’ll also give a taste of Bloom, a “disorderly” distributed programming language whose compiler can automatically answer questions like the ones above. Along the way, I’ll try to shed light on side questions like “Should Paxos exist?” and “Causality: What is it good for?”

More updates, and the code for my #PhatData Project are coming up. So subscribe, stay tuned, keep reading it’ll be up soon. Cheers!