Scoville Units Unite

21 Nov

Quick write up of #DunDDD

DunDDD took place on Saturday in Dundee. The turnout was reasonable, maybe 70-80. The variety of sessions on offer wasn’t as good as DDD Scotland but being so close made up for it. No Grok talks at lunch but instead some pizza supplied by NCR. There was the usual swag throughout t-shirts, back massagers, bottle openers, lollies and sweeties but no books/licences as prizes. I think DDD Scotland normally has about 250 people though so you got a lot more interaction with speakers and more chance of face time to ask further questions between sessions if you needed it.

I previously attended DDD Scotland in 2009 and 2010, but didn’t this year for some reason I don’t remember. I think it and the 2008 one clashed with a craft fairs or something.

Session 1 – Data Mining the Social Web

@GaryShort

An old version of the slideshow exists here (he uses the Build conference in his current one and this has his old contact info at previous job on it)

Interesting talk about how you can data mine info from social networks. He used twitter as his example as the code for that is comparatively simple to implement (didn’t get to showing code and can’t see online). There are existing tools which do some of the things he was mentioning but he was custom building a lot more.

Some ways this could be useful are launching a product and seeing what the reaction is, if there is suddenly a lot of talk of your new product either it’s so amazing and life changing that everyone is keen to market for you. Or something you did in the launch has went wrong and it is broken/buggy. With the tools you could also (to some extent) track where people are when they mention you, so launch a new product and it is going down a storm in English speaking areas but your German translation is terrible etc. Some tools I already knew about can tell what way to structure your tweets (where to position links) and at what times people retweet or respond to them etc – essential to know when to maximise response for campaigns etc.

Session 2 – Philosophy of Unix Code

Craig Nicol

Mind Map of Philosophy of Code

The list of quotes is on Gary Park on DunDDD

Session wasn’t as advertised. Basically a slideshow of quotes, most of which I was already familiar with but when pulled together show a coherent philosophy for writing code. It essentially boiled down to write good code that is needed, when it is needed that is well tested and documented.

Session 3 – The Happy Developer – Is it a myth?

Andy Gibson

Explored ideas about what makes your job or work environment enjoyable or not. Lots of crowd interaction etc. Too long to fit in an hour and would have liked to have seen a longer version. Session was amusing for the peanut gallery in the back. One manager who came along made a series of contradictory statements in an attempt to nitpick almost every slide. For example complaining he paid for people to spend 30 man years on a terrible unfinished product that no one wanted then 5 minutes later that developers asking for specifications and testers were just whining.

Someone suggested that an essential to do your job is a comfy chair, nonsense he proclaims, I lie in bed and code and someone I know sits on a sofa in a coffee shop so doesn’t need a desk. Missing the point that the general was a comfortable place to be whilst spending 8 hours at a PC and that for that developer the specific was a chair, but for the guy at the back it was a bed etc.

The main case study/anecdote at the start of the presentation was Craig Murphy who was told to do a task and it would take 2-3 weeks. He looked at the task and said no – 2-3 months. With the feature creep that this project managed then allowed, 2 years later the project was still not finished. (paraphrasing, can’t remember exact details).

Apologies to Barry Carr for mistakenly saying it was him. I was wrong on the interwebs.

Session 4 – The real time web is shocking!

Presented by Phil Leggetter, a developer evangelist at Pusher a company making technology for the real time web.

It had interesting code examples showing how you can update your website using real time information. Not sure how useful this is right now but it’s good to know this is possible using html5 magic. The shopping example on his site was really interesting and might have potential. Really looks to be at a prototype stage right now though, especially with it relying on html5 which we probably can’t move anything to be using yet. The demo used Websockets which he said there are .Net CLR/Silverlight libraries available for so it might be interesting to play around with them at some point.

Session 5 – Jedi Mind Control 101, the art of ethical persuasion

@RobLally

This was probably the most useful of the sessions. Guide to how to persuade people to your point of view. I found it amusing and informative throughout. Some of the notes I took down (unfortunately the slideshow isn’t available online):

It’s hard to change people’s mind, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are wrong, hard to change mind of experiences people

When making an argument present new information early.

When making an argument present weaknesses in your argument early

Establish your expertise, or lack of, early

Ask for higher value items first when there are multiple acceptable widgets you want

Don’t diminish your efforts, when someone asks for a favour never say

    All part of the job

    No problem

    It was nothing

    It was easy

But instead make it clear you did a favour for them without rubbing their nose in it you owe me now buddy is also a terrible response.

Although all his content was based on reading about psychology and various studies/papers his personal belief was that teams really gel when people stop keeping track of favours.

During this session I made a comment and was amused to get a round of applause. There were loads of references to Star Wars throughout. One of the slides showed Yoda and Rob said something along the lines of Is this guy credible? He is a rag wearing troll who lives in a swamp and rambles incoherently? Anyone disagree with this? and I pointed out that the header should say Credible Yoda is not instead of Yoda is not credible.

So having got applause from a room full of nerds for making an obvious joke about Star Wars, a film aimed at 8 year old boys, I declare myself king of nerd comedy.

Some other write-ups

Craig Nicol on DunDDD

Chris Hillman on DunDDD

Gary Park on DunDDD

Craig Murphy has also published some pictures from the event where I appear about 5 times.

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