Everyone love to be agile! Companies, teams, and individuals nowadays all claim to be working in an agile fashion. We all have standups, sticky notes, tests, and the other stuff that agile is supposed to represent. Right? Well… maybe. What does agile really mean? What does an agile group and company look like? How can (and should) we modify our processes so that we can truly become productive? In this talk, Dan North provides insights into what “agile” really means (and can mean), and how we can (and should) harness it.
As a technical or creative professional, you’re likely talking to clients on a regular basis. The way in which you present and speak can make a big difference — often, the difference between getting work, and getting paid, and not. In this talk, designer Mike Monteiro tells us why it’s important to have good presentation skills, why we shouldn’t be embarrassed to learn how to sell, and what we can do to improve our presentations — so that they will sell our work effectively.
Many programmers get degrees in computer science, and then go on to work at high-tech companies. But the odds of you arriving at your first job (or any subsequent job) knowing everything that you need to do your work are pretty slim; you’re going to need to learn many different technologies in order to be a productive team member. Companies thus expect that you’ll need to learn, and allocate training budgets for developers. But even if you’re not taking a formal class, you’ll need to learn, on the job, many of the things that you’ll need. In this talk, Allison Lacker describes what she learned, and how she learned it, while working on a Django project at Eventbrite. What attitudes, habits, and interactions with her coworkers helped her to succeed? And what roadblocks did she hit along the way? All of us need to keep learning, and this talk describes one way that we can do this.
Many of us define ourselves as “full-stack Web developers.” And we often think that this a great definition, as well as something to be desired. But is this really a desirable description, either for ourselves, or for the people we want to hire? What does it mean when we say that everyone needs to be a generalist, and that specialists are less desirable? In this talk, Elea Chang describes the downside of having everyone aim to be a generalist — on individuals, and on the organizations in which they work.
Are you smart? If you’re a programmer, then you have probably been described as “smart” at times during your school or work career. But what does it mean to be smart? And how does this affect how you approach problems, and how you learn new things? In this talk, Allison Kaptur describes two different attitudes toward intelligence and learning: Are people born smart, or are they smart as the result of hard work? How you view yourself, how you view intelligence, and how you attack problems, are all affected by how you think about intelligence. This talk describes ways that developers can challenge themselves, help others, and work so that everyone can learn and grow as effectively as possible.
Programmers are often taught that they should modularize their code, breaking it into small pieces so that each piece can be managed, maintained, and reused. But what if you went in the other direction, using a single codebase for everything — in your workgroup, your division, and even your entire company? That’s how Google works; in a given week, their code contains more changes than the total number of lines in the Linux kernel. In this talk, Rachel Potvin describes why Google works this way, and how they manage so many engineers, changes, and applications in a single, huge repository. Even if you’ll never with so much code where you work, it’s definitely interesting to learn how Google manages its code, and the tradeoffs associated with this system.
Every organization wants to make its developers more effective. But what does “effective” mean, in the context of engineering? Are individuals different from organizations? What can (and should) we do in order to make our engineers more effective? Since it was founded, Twitter has had to scale quickly and effectively, and has seen a large number of effective and ineffective engineering practices. In this talk, Peter Seibel describes the techniques that he has observed and implemented while managing teams of engineers at Twitter, and suggests ways in which we can try to make ourselves (and our teams’) work more effective.
It used to be that companies could get away with a single system administrator. But those days are long gone; most companies of even a small size have several people working not as administrators, but rather as DevOps engineers, ensuring that the farms of specialized servers that a company uses run smoothly, quietly, and scalably without any hiccups. How do you put together a DevOps team? What skills (software, hardware, and interpersonal) should you look for? In this talk, Charity Majors describes what is involved in creating a DevOps team, how she has done this at a few different companies — and what she has learned from these experiences.
No matter where you work, things can sometimes go wrong. How do you communicate that things need to change? What sorts of management practices can lead to people expressing themselves clearly and helpfully, even when the topic is difficult or confrontational? How can feedback be constructive, even when potentially confrontational and ruffling the feathers of people in charge? How can you criticize someone without making them feel excluded or patronized? In this talk, Rebecca Miller-Webster describes the problems that people can experience in trying to provide (or solicit) feedback in their organizations, and the ways in which teams can encourage and improve the ways their feedback channels.
High-tech companies often say that they’re committed to diversity. And many engineers say that they would like to see more women and minorities in their companies. But why do we want such diversity? Moreover, what does the high-tech world look like to someone who is a minority himself? In this talk, Kevin Stewart reviews a number of these topics — from the importance of diversity, to the hurtful things people say when meaning to be helpful, to the ways in which minorities perceive themselves in the high-tech world. If you’re interested in increasing the number of minorities in high tech, then this talk can give you some insights into the why, as well as some ideas of how you can start to help make it a reality.