Monday, December 5, 2011

My highlights of YOW! 2011 Melbourne

I attended the YOW! 2011 Conference in Melbourne on 1-2 December 2011.

The talks

There were many great talks, and some not-so-great. For me, two talks in particular stood out as special. If I only got to listen to these two and nothing else, it would've been worth it.

Product Engineering :- Mike Lee

I first saw Mike Lee's talk on InfoQ several months ago and was really inspired by the passion of that guy, and was so happy to discover he was making an appearance at YOW.

Mike Lee

He didn't impart any novel technical knowledge to us, nor did he tell us about the latest agile technique. In fact, everything he said in YOW was common-sense in hindsight, and virtually identical to the talks on InfoQ. And yet, it was pure pleasure to watch this man share his vision of what constituted a good product. I just did not get bored listening to this same talk for the 3rd time! Maybe it was his costume.

Two things that stood out from the talk:
  • The hook :- the thing that makes a product special
  • Appsterdam :- New IT hub for freedom loving developers

Temporally Quaquaversal Virtual Nanomachine Programming In Multiple Topologically Connected Quantum-Relativistic Parallel Timespaces...Made Easy! :- Damian Conway

Speaking of the hook, the title of this talk did the job. Ever since I watched Fred Simon's JavaPosse lightning talk on Positronic Variables a few months ago, I was curious about the Damian Conway's original work. As luck would have it, Damian came to tell us all about positronic variables.

Damian's Perl (and Rod logic) code was not very familiar to me, but his tongue-in-cheek introduction to quantum physics and the multi-verse was pure entertainment. Personally, I was not convinced that an Einstein-Rosenberg bridge could be harnessed as described for running computer programs due to excessive energy requirements. A computer program using positronic variables would probably be unstable and generate incoherent results due to the unpredictable superposition of multiple variations of positronic values from an indeterminate number of future multi-verses.

Other notable talks

Jim Webber gave his usual talk on RESTful systems. I'd listened to his similarly themed talks before, but it was still entertaining to watch Jim Webber's performance. The one lesson that stuck in my mind was: Use an ATOM feed to publish events so that different clients could independently maintain / reconstruct their own internal states.

Another interesting talk was Dan Ingalls telling us about Lively Kernel. Dan built a simple online load monitoring service simply using drag-on-drop from the Lively Kernel interface... cool.

The games

As usual, there were lots of fun and games between talks. Sensis developed a online (mobile) quiz game, CodeJuicer, that morphed into to be a fun hacking game instead. Too bad I did not have a laptop with me to hack on it all day, though I did manage to hack it to zero-time from home at the end of Day 1. Thoughtworks put up a quiz game and a movie title matching game, plus frozen nitrogen ice cream... all very popular. Atlassian let us shoot Nerf guns... hard to beat that.

The food

First day's food was not too good, but got better on the second day. The Beef Stroganoff was delicious.

The best parts were the free (real) coffee paid for by Aconex, and the desserts, especially the mango mousse.

Looking forward to YOW! 2012.