YOW! Conference ’18

Did you know that YOW! Conferences started as an offshoot from the Danish JAOO (Java and Object Orientation) conference? That’s actually where it got its unorthodox name from. For the last 10 years, YOW! has seen over 35+ local and international speakers participate in the 2 day conference across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. With the aim to showcase current and future direction in software and delivery, the conference is structured around three concurrent tracks to maximise topics.

This year, we sponsored all three cities (Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne), fuelling thirsty developers with coffee ordered via SMS.

 

YOW! Sydney & Brisbane

YOW! Sydney was the first up with 500 attendees in attendance at The Hilton Hotel. We had a lot of fun walking around the exhibition booth and checking out the impressive ways other sponsors engaged with attendees – everything from RC cars, building Lego, competition Wheel of Fortune to free donuts. We ran a Bose Headphone competition which encouraged developers to write some code and send a message via our Messaging API.

For our Melbourne based DevRel team, stepping off the plane in Brisbane was quite the shock, as the heat and humidity was intense. With over 400 attendees, it was great to meet so many new people. With so many enthusiastic developers, we completely ran out of our dev t-shirts on the first day!

Not only did we run out of t-shirts, but we also served up 350 coffee orders across the two days to caffeine deprived attendees. To order a coffee, attendees had to SMS in their name and coffee order which showed up on a web UI for the baristas to view. Once the order was made, attendees received an SMS back letting them know it was time to pick up their coffee.

As Brisbane and Sydney shared similar programs, the team were lucky enough to catch some of the talks we had missed in Sydney. The stand out, was Katie Bell’s “Is the 370 the worst bus in Sydney?”, with Katie using data to assess the relative performance of all buses in Sydney. She had fetched log and aggregated real-time data over several weeks for analysis. It was fascinating to see the process involved in making the data usable, in addition to the unexpected findings. Results actually showed the 370 bus wasn’t the worst and Katie’s follow-up analysis showed it actually improved. Katie’s code is all open source, and you can find it here: https://bus-shaming.com/

Another favourite talk from Brisbane’s conference was Barry O’Reilly‘s “Why Great Leaders Must Unlearn to Succeed in Today’s Exponential World”.  Barry has taught on the topic of innovation to business leaders around the world and published a book on “unlearning”. His talk inspired attendees to think about how we get in our own way and how to prevent that. You can see Barry’s slides here.

 

YOW! Melbourne

With over 1000 attendees, YOW! Melbourne was the biggest of all three cities. The conference kicked off on Thursday morning and by early 8am the main hall had started filling up with hundreds of attendees. YOW! branded t-shirts – a staple of every tech conference – along with swag bags were neatly stacked up at each of the entrances with attendees picking one up for themselves as they marched in. Within minutes, there was a massive queue in front of the coffee cart as the excited attendees waited for their early shot of caffeine to kickstart their day. While attendees patiently waited for the coffee order – all 1,050 coffee orders over the two days – we enjoyed speaking to them and explaining how the coffee app works behind the scenes.

The two days were jam-packed with technical brain food for the attendees. One of our developers at MessageMedia, Jonatan, shared his thoughts.

“I really enjoyed YOW! Melbourne. There was a great turn out, lots of sponsors and really interesting speakers. The sessions I enjoyed the most were “Events and Commands” from Chris Richardson and “Serverless in Practice” from Peter Sbarski.

In the first talk, Chris went into a lot of detail on how to properly implement a microservice architecture based on events and how to guarantee at least once delivery for eventual consistency. He showed some of the patterns he implemented in the past with success and gave us a few ideas on how to adapt it for our own infrastructure.

In the second talk, Peter explained how they got to a 100% serverless architecture, what are some of the benefits and drawbacks of not having servers at all. He detailed some of the issues they faced at their Cloud Guru learning platform and what is the ‘serverless way’ to solve them. Finally, he shared some customer’s experiences on how AWS Lambda requires you to think about problems in a different way as there is no state and you cannot have long running tasks.

I believe the YOW! conference is bringing great speakers every year and it is also a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues and see what other companies are doing in the space. Definitely a must for next year!”

Peter, one of our DevOps engineers, also shared some of his insights.

“I was lucky enough to attend YOW! 2018 this December, my first YOW! Conference ever. I was highly impressed and inspired by the experience! After my last Big Conference sojourn to the AWS re:Invent 2017 Circus, YOW! was very refreshing.

The size, duration, logistics but most of all the selection of speakers and topics was just perfect. The four keynotes were most eclectic ranging over the Florentine Camerata and what they can teach us about Agile Teams for the future by Jessica Kerr, the future of High Speed Transportation by Anita Sengupta, the “3X” of Software Development by Kent Beck and finally Brendan Gregg’s in depth performance analysis of the largest distributed system in the world – Netflix. Fun fact: 40% of evening network traffic in the United States is Netflix packets.

The ultimate highlight for me was the live coding of Sam Aaron the creator of Sonic Pi. Sonic Pi is a programmable synthesiser that resembles a very basic IDE with syntax highlighting, function documentation et al. Sam uses it to perform live and projects the code onto a screen as he writes and modifies it in real time to create live music. He has also used it to teach coding in Primary Schools and as such his design philosophy was to make the language and interface approachable for 10 year olds. For example, although he’s implemented music notes it’s also possible to set pitch using integers such that knowing western music notation is not a barrier to entry. I’m lucky that my 10 year old daughter has an interest in coding! Can see some Daddy Daughter time coding tunes over the holidays!”

 

All in all, YOW! was amazing. There were lots interesting people there and it was great to network with like-minded individuals. It’s worth acknowledging the amount of hard-work and effort that was poured into this event by the organisers. We’re looking forward to it next year.


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