Blank Slates

This New Year, I wish you more blank slates. May you have more blank white pages sitting in front you with your favorite pen nearby and at the ready. May you have blank screens in your code editor with your absolutely favorite color syntax highlighting. May your garage work table be empty save for a single large piece of reclaimed redwood and a saw. – The Builder’s High


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IMPORTANT – In the time it took you to read this email, you could have been out the door and on your way to the slopes or the beach. The good news is, it’s not too late. Slowly shut your computer off. Act like you head toward the restroom. Then make a break for the door. If you don’t look back, the obstacles will never stand a chance. See you out there.

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NDC London 2016

Once again in January I headed to the Excel centre in London to attend NDC. NDC (the conference formally known as Norweign Developers Conference) has been my conference of choice for the last few years, I feel it provides a great mix of technical and soft skills sessions, great networking and the best conference food going.

The conference organisers go to the fantastic effort of recording every presentation and making these freely available on Vimeo. So below is my list of attended sessions and the links to the recordings, I’ll try to update these as the videos come up. In my list below are a few sessions I missed in person but heard good things about or spotted on the talk rating board (yes, there is a board in the vendor hall showing the best rated talks).

Excel Centre

Excel in the morning light of the first day

Wednesday

Keynote: Javascript, The Cloud, and the Rise of the New Virtual Machine – Scott Hanselman  Video Outline
IoT and Cortana Analytics – a winning combination – Chris Hewitt Outline
Pragmatic development at Stack Overflow – Marco Cecconi Outline
A system is not a tree – Kevlin Henney Outline
How to deal with culture divide – Internal Advocacy with Distributed Teams – Laura Czajkowski Outline

Shall I Compare Thee to a Line of Code – Lauren Scott Outline
Analyzing GitHub commits with R – Barbara Fusinska Outline
Autonomy, Connection and Excellence: The Building Blocks of a Knowledge Work Culture – Michael “Doc” Norton Outline
Ship it! How to do what not to do – Ed Blackburn Outline
Introduction to IdentityServer – Brock Allen Video Outline
Learn. Reflect. Repeat – Melinda Seckington Outline
Acceptance Testing for Continuous Delivery- Dave Farley Outline

Thursday

Test Automation without a headache: Five key patterns – Gojko Adzic  Video Outline
50 Shades of AppSec – Troy Hunt Video Outline
Testing with No Harm – Enrico Campidoglio Video Outline
Don’t Make Me Feel Stupid – A. User – Liam Westley Outline
The Quest for the Next Evolution of Infrastructure Management – Paul Stack Outline
Cryptography in .NET – Stephen Haunts Outline
.NET Rocks Live (containers and microservices) Video Outline

Friday

What’s next? How we use feedback to decide what to build – David Simner Outline
5 Anti-Patterns in designing APIs – Ali Kheyrollahi Outline
Business Mapping: turning the lights on – Dan North Outline
No excuse user research – Lily Dart Outline
Beyond Features – Dan North Outline
IoT: Gold Rush or Wild West – Niall Cooling Outline
Making Hacking Child’s Play – Troy Hunt Video Outline
Everything i know about computers, I learned from the movies – Mark Rendl Video Outline

 

While looking for the videos for this post I saw that the session videos from ProgramUtvikling Security Day have also started making an appearance on their channel so I’ll be making my way through those also.

Snoopers Charter

Yesterday saw a second defeat for the snoopers charter this time as a late set of amendments to a counter-terrorism bill. There is more detail from the EFF here and the Open Rights Group here. Yesterday’s session served as a reminder that why due process and debate is needed; while we saw points from lords with little understand of what they were trying to legislate such as Lord King we also saw solid counter argument for balance from others such as Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho.

While watching the back and forth on twitter during the debate the John Perry Barlow Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace crossed my mind. While the language is a little dated it’s still very relevant to the issues being discussed.

One of my Christmas presents this year was the Lego kit of the DeLorean from Back to the Future (obviously because 2015 is when Marty McFly arrives in Back to the Future II). Last year when I built the Millennium Falcon I really regretted not getting a timelaspe of the build process. This year with a little preparation I did and it came out rather well.

The kit was great fun to build the manual that comes with it has a number of nice little facts, such as the time drive on the model is set for 28/01/1958 the date the LEGO brick was patented.

 

 

Happy New Year.

Its been a nice restful Christmas and I’ve had some time to go through and sort out lots of my photos from the last year. Since I started taking a lot more photographs I’ve been categorising them by year then into sub-folders of when and what we were doing, so for 2014 that was about twenty folders. This barely scratches the surface of the photos I take because most are actually taken with my phone. It goes everywhere with me, so from quick little things that make me laugh, to views when I wish I had a full camera, there’s probably a shot on my phone. All of those images are automatically backed up to Google Plus’ Photo service, which is great as my photographs are on all my devices and it does a nice job of auto correcting some of the limitations of a camera phone. However one thing that is seriously lacking is the ability to get those photographs back out directly from the photo service.

Google offers a TakeOut facility to let you retrieve any of the data Google holds on you. Go to google.com/settings/takeout from there you can de-select everything and pick only photos and press next to create a series of archives. I have two problems with the TakeOut download first it creates a directory for each day of uploads, so potentially that 365 subdirectories for the year. Secondly every uploaded file can be auto-edited potentially several times and each edit is included in the download. Ideally what I wanted was a single directory with just the photographs I’ve taken, PowerShell makes this kind of operation incredibly simple. A quick script later and we are down from 4 Gb to 2.5 Gb and all in one directory.  I’ve uploaded the script to do this to a Gist here.

 

Waverley Abbey

Waverley Abbey in the setting sun

NDC London

A couple of weeks back I got the opportunity to attend NDC London organised by the team between the Norwegian Developers Conference. They’ve branded this event to “new DevelopersConference() London” as Norwegian Developers Conference obviously limits their reach a little bit (to steal a joke from @markrendle‘s stand-up) . I went out to NDC Oslo last year to attend their dedicated security track and was really impressed by the quality of the event and the speakers they lined up so once the registration opened for their London event this year I knew I wanted to attend as much as I could.

Like any conference there are the fantastic talks and the ones where you wonder if you’ve walked into the wrong room. Probably my favourite talk from this years event was Coding Culture by Sven Peters, talking about what makes great engineering team and how to inject enthusiasm and passion into development. His slides and a recording of this talk are here, if you can only watch one this is it.

A few of the other highlights for me were:

  • Jon Skeet demonstrating the scary amount he knows about the Hebrew calendar and confirming date and time is still a pain in the neck. link
  • “Code is like humour, if you have to explain it it’s bad”. A crowd driven refactoring session with Cory House. link
  • “SAML is the Windows XP of online identity”. Dominick Baier talking about OpenID Connect. link
  • Reviewing a year of security howlers and CSI Cyber with Niall Merrigan. link
  • Learning how to count potatoes with drones and how machine learning can optimize farming with Gary Short. link
  • If you are doing exactly what your IDE tells you which of you is writing the code? Along with other pause for thought moments with Kevlin Henney. link
  • “Does your home audio set-up really need an external IP address? Who is adjusting their speakers on the bus?” Looking at the “Fragile Internet of Things” with Erlend Oftedal and Einar Otto Stangvik. link

Videos of all the talks are already available to attendees here and will apparently be made public some time early in the new year.

 

Salisbury Cathedral

Went down to Somerset for a short break last weekend, on the way back we stopped in at Salisbury as we seem to be rapidly working our way round the cathedrals of England (this was the second of the weekend).

Caught a nice bit of setting winter sun through the branches of this tree in the cloisters, I wasn’t thrilled with the shot when I took it but have managed to clean it up quite a bit with Lightroom to the point I think its one of my favourite recent photographs.

 

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The sun in the cloister