Swansea Con 2019
First of all, I’d like to start by being totally transparent & honest, I have never been to a developer convention prior to Swansea Con 2019, partially due to other commitments, finance, etc. But after my experience with Swansea Con, I can safely say that I’ll be sure to attend as many as I can, within reason. An example being how I can’t exactly afford to fly abroad to attend some very large & enterprise scale conferences, although I would love to do that, I actually aspire to become a public speaker someday.
Anyway, you may be wondering what talks I decided to attend, was a talk presented by @callumbwhyte, in his talk he covered approaches & strategies on how we can secure our web based applications with the aid of AI. To be perfectly honest, I really enjoyed it & I did learn a couple of things, such as webauthn, prior to the presentation I had no idea about such technologies. I thought it sounded amazing, the only issue I have with such technologies for the time being is the lack of support for legacy systems, of course as technology evolves, this becomes less & less of an issue, realistically speaking.
I then went to a talk held by a small group of people; one of which being @kyndainverse, this talk was very interesting in my personal opinion. This talk was titled ‘Re-designing a service for vulnerable users in a digital age’, in this talk they really covered all possible aspects from requirements gathering through to UX/UI research. Honestly, I was impressed with the amount of work & attention to detail these people paid to understanding the specific needs & requirements of their application & business process. Specifically, since they were targeting individuals whom may lead very unfortunate & chaotic lifestyles, it was interesting to just get an insight as to how to cater to the needs of such individuals. The only possible flaw that I can see in their current design is that they require people to have an address, yet if you’re subject to a very hectic lifestyle, there’s an increased chance that such people will have to relocate on a regular basis. In all fairness, it’s impossible to make it bullet proof, however I do feel that there may be something that can be done to get around this issue, unfortunately, I’m not the genius that’s able to provide an elegant solution to such problems.
Next, I went to a talk hosted by @rammesses, which was titled “You’re the Tech Lead… you fix it!”, while what he covered was all incredibly relevant, I did find that the contents didn’t quite match up to what I was expecting based on the title & description. From my perspective, he primarily talked about managing the SDLC, I was really expecting him to cover how he’s dealt with chaotic scenarios in the past where all fingers were pointer at him. Whether that includes learning the required office politics, or whether that included a 110% technical talk that went into his strategies to handle debugging, etc. Although, in the content that he did cover, I still hold valuable, an example being how he handles people that cause breaking changes, whether this is in the pipeline or at the production level.
I then went to a talk titled ‘Improving System Resiliency via Chaos Engineering’, presented by @joe_mighty, a senior software engineer at Just Eat. The contents of this topic was very interesting, he actually covered an interesting array of topics, such as the issues with building our applications as microservices, which is kinda a niche topic in my opinion. He exposed myself & probably many others to the concepts associated with chaos engineering. If I were to try & summarise chaos engineering into a nutshell, I’d probably say something along the lines of “breaking the ecosystem to progress to a more reliable & stable ecosystem”. An example ebing how even if your system does go down, sure this is a problem, but provided that you’re able to recover very quickly, unless it’s a real time or time critical application, the likelihood is that not many people would notice. An example being Facebook, if their infrastructure for whatever magical reason went down, provided they could get it back up & running in ~20 seconds, would many people notice? Personally I’d assume that my WiFi connection was having a moment, I would never have assumed that it was actually Facebook’s tech that had failed.
I then attended a talk that I was really hoping to learn more about RDBMS, the talk was titled “The Good, the Bad and the Avoidable SQL Practices”, unfortunately, like the last one, it was not at all what I expected. I was actually very disappointed that I didn’t really learn anything that I could apply to my knowledge & understanding of RDBMS. In this talk, honestly, I found that the presenter, @michalinwales mostly talked about code styles. Yes, I agree that code styles are important, only in my very own personal opinion, I found a lot of what he said was heavily opinionated & very little was actually based on factual foundations. Don’t get me wrong, he clearly knows his stuff as he did skim over a couple of SQL topics that I have no experience or knowledge about, which in a way I’m glad he did skim over as I believe the majority of the crowd consisted of application developers & not DBA’s. The parts that I did find beneficial included query optimisation, but in my experiences, I think that you should already be applying such rules.
Finally, I went to a talk held by @rachelcdavies, this talk was titled ‘Sustaining Remote-First Teams’, which I really enjoyed, since it’s my life long dream to eventually work near enough 100% remote. Of course, I’ve always said this, but I just don’t like the idea of working 100% remote, since some scenarios are better handled with face to face communication, sure Skype is awesome, not to mention Slack or Teams, etc. But I do find that being able to just give a colleague a nudge to quickly talk about some complex business process or some complex state management, personally I find it’s just easier. But I’m glad that Rachel seemed to agree, in her presentation she stated that she has the option to go into the office if she so desires, which is perfect in my opinion. If I had the ability to work from home, say 75% of the time, then maybe go into the office a couple of day a month, I’d be in heaven.
Personally, I plan to attend many more conventions, I would very much like to learn more & have the opportunity to network & communicate with some of the best & brightest in the industry. It’s honestly, hand on heart a desire of mine to become among the best, I’ve accepted that I probably lack the intellectual capacity to be one of the brightest, but if I work hard enough, I fail to see why I couldn’t become one of the best.