Øredev - recommended presentations

22 November 2012

Peter Hilton

by Peter Hilton

While I was at Øredev earlier this month I took the opportunity to talk to the other speakers and catch some good presentations. For everyone who wasn’t there, Øredev have published the slides and video from the presentations at Øredev Conference on Vimeo. Here are some recommendations.

Note that some of the presentations take several slides to get going, and the track hosts’ introductions don’t really add much, so the impatient should skip the first five minutes of each video.

Best keynote: The rebellion imperative, by Reginald Braithwaite (@raganwald), is one of several keynotes at the conference, which all had a ‘rebellion’ theme. Among the mixed interpretations, I especially enjoyed this talk about rebellion in software product marketing. This is a good keynote topic for encouraging software developers to broaden their interests. @Raganwald is an entertaining speaker whose experience and worldliness enriches what he’s talking about. Also, he’s very entertaining, so it’s a shame that the audience remained so silent throughout his jokes. The Marketing Warfare book he mentions could be one of the useful marketing books for software developers.

Best new methodology: Programmer Anarchy, by Fred George (@fgeorge52), trumped all sorts of other presentations by going beyond both rebellion and agile software development in general, to describe a whole new level for software developers to aspire to. This talk is inspiration for agile hipsters who think they’re done because they did one successful Scrum project, and didn’t realise that there’s more. Most people couldn’t get away with the audacity of the story, or even the cheesy over-use of sparkly slide animations, but Fred

Best technical content: HTTP Caching 101, by Sebastien Lambla (@serialseb), is the best technical talk I went to at Øredev, partly because it’s a relevant topic for me and partly because it had a great mix of technical detail, humour, useful things to do, ponies and unicorns. Unfortunately, I arrived late so I missed the warm up exercise at the start.

Best case study: How being customer-centric improves IT success, by Elizabeth Harrin (@pm4girls), is a project management case study that made a break from the tech talks. This presentation was also a refreshing break from agile software development talks with bogus theories and little actual experience: instead this presentation is a clear and articulate story that makes a difficult thing (actually talking to your customers and software users) sound easy, and challenges complex methods that ultimately focus on the wrong thing. When I talked to Elizabeth, I was impressed by the humility of her no-nonsense approach to project management, which also comes across in her blog, A Girl’s Guide to Project Management.

Best conceptual model: Reinventing software quality, by Gojko Adzic (@gojkoadzic), is a thought-provoking general development presentation, and probably included the one with the best jokes. However, all of the humorous asides were really building up to a transliteration of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for software development that provides a more expressive structure for thinking about software quality than the usual approaches.

Most practical: API Usability: Think of the humans! by Catherine Powell (@cmpowell), was the most directly useful technical talk (i.e. that includes code on slides) I went to, despite being the least sexy topic. I went to this talk because after talking to Catherine about a variety of topics, I realised that she has plenty to say about a lot of interesting experience, and is articulate enough to say it well. This is the kind of presentation that never seems difficult and never seems to introduce you to anything new, and yet includes a surprising number of ‘aha’ moments and ideas about how to write code differently. Of course, if you’re paying attention, there’s a deeper point that probably is new.

Best vision: It’s Not You, It’s Them: Why Programming Languages Are Hard To Teach, by Zed Shaw (@zedshaw), is an entertaining talk by a great speaker about an unexpected topic that you didn’t know you cared about: programming education.

Best product: A deep look into the Event Store, by Greg Young (@gregyoung), is a classic tech conference presentation: a deep dive on the technical implementation of a software product that’s part of a cool new architecture that I’m interested in but not using yet: event sourcing, in this case. During the talk I was captivated by the details and Greg’s compelling style, but ultimately disappointed to learn that Event Store runs on .NET. However, when I talked to Greg later it turns out that his preferred runtime is Mono on Linux, so I shouldn’t discount it just yet. For now, though, a simpler event store such as Journal.IO suits my needs.

Best book: Business Patterns for Software Developers, by Allan Kelly (@allankellynet), presented the key ideas from his book of the same name. This is an intriguing business presentation, if you’re thinking about how to be successful in the software business, and I’m looking forward to reading the book.

Best code: jQuery Combinators, by Reginald Braithwaite (@raganwald), is a code-walkthrough presentation about a functional coding style in JavaScript. The presentation was automatically cool, because it was an implementation of Conway’s Life, but sometimes hard to follow because Raganwald cheated by scrolling through finished code instead of typing it, which was often too fast. However, he has now published annotated source code, which makes it much easier to understand.

Best ending: Test-Driven Android, by Cheesy (@chzy a.k.a. Jeff Morgan), is a presentation on a topic that is not at all relevant to me. I had to attend anyway, though, after I sat next to Cheesy while he was preparing the last slide: an Abba photo, Dancing Queen audio and (a very few members of the) audience dancing.

Øredev has done well to make so many presentations freely-available on-line, and there are some excellent talks available. This is great when you keep missing half a presentation because you kept getting into excellent conversations when you were actually there.