Stir Trek 2018
New venue, great talks, and a hammer.
Stir Trek is one of my favorite days of the year. I don’t go to many conferences, mostly because of cost and laziness to travel. Stir Trek, unlike most conferences, is close to home and not expensive. Throw in great talks and a movie at the end of the day, and it’s easily the best deal around.
Plus AWH sponsors it now.
A Change of Venue
Last year, Stir Trek tried something different and it didn’t exactly work. Previously, the conference was held at the Rave Cinema at Polaris, just north of Columbus. A movie theater is a great place to hold a multi-track conference. Big screens, good sound systems, and stadium seating are a solid match for talks, especially ones involving code. But Stir Trek has been growing. And the theater started to be a bit challenging. Hallways and restrooms were always packed and theaters can’t exactly add more seats. But the benefit of staying in the theater at the end of the day to see the movie was very nice.
So they tried something new: The Schottenstein Center. It’s an arena. It didn’t fully work, but I have to give the organizers a lot of kudos for trying. Screens were set up on the arena floor, and large sections of the seats were separated out with big, thick curtains. Despite some good sound equipment and empty sections between the “theaters”, sound bleed from other sessions was a problem. Not to mention the bad seats. And then there was the movie. Since the arena was not going to show a movie (on its opening weekend, too), there were busses to take everyone to a nearby theater. Again, it was a valiant effort, but just didn’t quite work.
Enter Easton. Easton Town Centre is a big mall in Columbus with a 30-screen theater in the middle. Stir Trek used just about every theater and it was great. They didn’t have 30 talks happening at once, but rather had 8. Each talk was streamed live to multiple theaters, so you didn’t need to be in the same one as the presenter. This worked amazingly well and meant that talks could seat more people and spread everyone out a bit more. Plus most of the theaters at Easton now have big, cushy recliners.
I do feel bad that Marvel sort of jumped the organizers by moving the release date of Avengers: Infinity War up a week. Stir Trek’s thing is to show a new movie on opening weekend. Ah well. The movie was great, even if I had to avoid some parts of Reddit for a week.
Where’s the App?
I didn’t release a new app this year. I didn’t update the app that’s in the App and Play Stores, either. Mostly, I was too busy and forgot, but I did really want to use the opportunity to learn the latest version of Ionic and Angular.
What I did do was quickly update the old app to read from this years data (by changing the one API call it makes), and pushed the app to a subdomain as a website. It’s still online at stirtrek.moscardino.net. It does work, and you can use the save to home screen feature of iOS and Android to make it into an “app”, but it’s not a fancy PWA or anything. I may end up taking the PWA route for next year, though.
At some point I’m going to write a post about Netlify and how I used to to get that updated and deployed in less than an hour.
I’m not going to go into a lot of details for each talk, but I do want to touch on some things I liked and disliked about each, as well as some interesting things I learned.
Naming: The Art of Clarity - Michael Dowden
This was a fun talk on the never-ending problem of how to name things. I got some good tips out of it, but nothing life-changing.
Programming Robots: Making Friends with Cozmo - Lars Klint
This was easily my favorite talk of the day. Lars was funny and engaging, and Cozmo is super cool (if still a toy). I have to give him props for best utilizing the venue. Cozmo is, well, little, and everyone watching is either far away or in another room. So since he had his computer screen being displayed on the big screens, he used a webcam to show off the table where Cozmo was. I also loved the demos and demo code he showed as it gave a great sense of what can be done with that API.
Accessibility Cookbook: 10 Easy Recipes - Martine Dowden
This was also a very good session and provided a lot of really useful information. It was also very concise though it used the full hour. There was very little time spent talking about the speaker, instead she dove straight in and spent the entire time giving useful info, helpful tricks, and insightful demos. It was rapid-fire and wonderful. For me, not a lot of the info was new, but the examples and tools could prove useful down the road.
From Zero to Serverless - Chad Green
This was also a good talk, though like many talks I’ve seen, spent a bit too much time on the basics before diving into the good stuff.
QA is slowing my project down! Let’s talk Risk Based Testing - Anna Heiermann
I had to run out of this one early as the AWH booth was being torn down and I had to move some of my stuff to my car, but I don’t feel like I missed a whole lot. Risk Based Testing seems like it is exactly what it sounds like. It may be right for the project I’m working on, but I don’t feel like I got a lot out of this one.
BFF, Angular & .NET Core - Wasim Hanna
This session had a lot of promise, but ended up being about how this developer got an Angular app to live within a .NET Core project. I’m still not sure why, exactly, as Angular was handling the front-end and .NET Core acting as a REST API. I would split those two out into separate projects.
Avengers: Infinity War
Ok, not really a session, but part of the event. No spoilers, but I liked the movie and I’m curious to see where Marvel goes from here. I was impressed with how clear the action scenes were (as it’s easy to get lost in crazy CGI battles), and how the writers chose to focus on Thanos rather than the Avengers. My main problem was how it changed how I perceived the ending of a previous movie (I don’t want to say which one, to avoid spoiling either movie for anyone.)
I won a hammer. It’s really cool. My dog does not like it.