Sunday, July 12, 2015

Codestock 2015: A Different View

A Typical Balmy Day In Downtown Knoxville

A brief review (mostly for my benefit) of Codestock 2015 in Knoxville, TN. It was a two day event covering all the latest things in the world of software development. A great deal of the focus of the conference was on emerging trends on the Web, and Javascript in particular. For someone who works in the embedded realm, this was a good time to see what's out there since the scope of my focus tends to not see that part of the world. Additionally, there were many courses that we on my personal radar as I continue to grow myself professionally. It's been increasingly clear that my people (or soft) skills are very strong and where I desire to grow in.
The keynote speaker was Scott Hanselman. Being a Microsoft guy, he used Azure as a springboard to discussing the concepts of how software development has grown into what it has and where it's going. Essentially, the virtual machine is continued outgrowth of the services that a standard operating system provides. The evolution of it has allowed developers to utilize more and more sophisticated services bundled into more scalable solutions. The idea being that as we continue to expand the services and bundle them into a virtualized entity in the cloud, the more powerful solutions we as developers can provide. In some ways this is intuitively obvious but also necessary to step back and contemplate where we are going and from where we have been. Scott was also amazingly entertaining and set the right tone of humor for all of us "geeks" utilizing memes, science fiction references and amusing stories from the "trenches" that would clearly resonate with the crowd. This was very much a great kick off to the conference.
3D Printing: Machines Building Machines? 

I first attended a few tech heavy talks that were clearly hitting the sweet spot for most of those in attendance. Angular, Node.js, "Design For The Non-Artistic" were some that I attended but it became continually clear to me that the ins and outs of new technology though very interesting was also not hitting my own sweet spot. I used to question myself in terms of why this is, but as I attended other talks, it was clear to me that my actual sweet spot was somewhere else - working with people. Interacting and using technology to be part of the bigger picture. Neither viewpoint is less important, just different.
The clearest experience that drove me to this conclusion was a fun talk by Jennifer Marsman. Her talk was focused mostly on the Emotiv EPOC+ EEG. Basically, it was a device that read your brain waves. This in of itself brought a lot of interest as this touches on some potentially exciting and scary things simultaneously. Her study was on using the EPOC+ and the software tools to create a rudimentary lie detector (with her test subject being her husband - interesting...). Being from Microsoft, she also leveraged the Azure Machine Learning tools to create a logic model to see if she actually could use the EPOC+ as a lie detector. In the most basic terms, the answer was yes. That was both cool, scary and a springboard for additional study. What happened later was quite interesting in that after the conference, I did a little Uber driving which I use as a little side job and to continue to keep my entrepreneurial juices flowing. Ironically, my first fare was Jennifer Marsman. Since I was driving her to the airport we were able to talk more about the conference which reinforced my drive to focus on people. It sparked ideas of possibly teaching a class at Codestock next year; looking into being more of a technical lead; focusing on more of my entrepreneur interests; or even possibly become a technical evangelist. Obviously I don't know where this will take me, but it does give me hope of the direction that God is taking me in life.
Additionally, there were four other talks that I found highly beneficial. Some of their content overlapped, but they all were quite stimulating for me as they engaged me in thought processes that I've been working through for quite a while. I have quite a few notes from each of these talks that intend on keeping handy going forward. A few action items for me from these talks: continue to work on active learning; try to find places to practice public speaking; blog more (hey, I can check that off the list!); find a career mentor (I'm open to suggestions!); intentionally reflect on things; focus on what I'm passionate about; consider the Pomodore Technique; read Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends And Influence People; recognize there's power in pressure; and be excellent in all you do.
Like I stated above, this post was mostly for my own benefit. Putting it down accomplishes the reinforcing that my mind needs and also putting it out there means that it's public and something for me to follow up with. I know that these are mostly processes and not ends in of themselves. I am thankful that God is still not done working on me and that He continues to teach me new and bigger things. So on wards to Monday and a another step in the journey!
Did I Just Use A Selfie Stick? Scary!


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