I’m a huge fan of the graphical interchange format. It is a great way to express things that sometimes there are no real words for, but can only be described by an animated, looping image. I’m the kind of person that pronounces it with a hard G since the acronym starts with graphical and that is how you pronounce acronyms.
I try to use GIFs as much as I can, in one on one conversations and group chats. I even like referencing them in verbal conversations. I really appreciate how most messaging platforms have built in support for sending and displaying GIFs. It makes all of my Slack channels so much more interesting.
Earlier this week, April 21st, I went to my first tech conference, WebDevCon. I heard about it from my Free Code Camp group and being free plus in my hometown I decided to go. To be honest, at first I wasn’t going to go, but Cassidy told me I should and I agreed with her. So I went and it was super fun! Having never gone to a tech conference I didn’t really know what to expect except for what I have read and seen online.
It was held at one of the Amazon buildings in South Lake Union here in Seattle, which was nice since this allowed me to walk to it. This conference is something that Amazon has been hosting internally since 2009 and this year was the first time they have opened it up to the public. It is a mostly front end focused conference and admittedly as I learn more I enjoy back end development more, but I still found the topics to be interesting and overall it was a great time.
I saw a few of the folks in my Free Code Camp group and also saw another friend of mine that works as a Java developer. The talks ranged from the performance of loading web fonts, to using observables to handle async issues, and keeping things as simple as possible in your workflow. That talk was the keynote given by Paul Duncan. He had some great points on keeping work simple and free of waste. He brought up a lot of kaizen practices and even called out the Toyota Production System as the prime example of creating waste free work. Cassidy loved hearing about this since that is her line of work at Virginia Mason now and they have a deep relationship with Toyota to create waste free work in the medical field.
My favorite talk was one given by Rachel White. Her talk was about her process making a robotic cat feeder titled Internet of Cats. The name had me, but I also saw it was built using NodeJS and Johnny-Five, so I had to check it out. Her talk was also about how scary it is to try something new and to put it out for all the world to see. She decided to make her project open source and she brought up some of the anxiety that can come from putting your thoughts and ideas out into the world for others to see and possibly judge very harshly. She gave some examples of things other developers she knows have gone through that has made them wary of working on open source software, but she also showed the awesomeness of others who have helped her on her project. It was a great talk on not only NodeBots, but also on the open source community itself and how it owes it to itself and its members to be a kind, respectful place. I really liked it.
Overall, the conference was a lot of fun. I got some stickers, a water bottle, and my brain filled with ideas on how the internet works.
This definitely makes me want to keep going to more conferences and web development type group talk/presentation things.
Firstly, let me say that the idea of writing about using pen and paper more on my internet blog-o-page and how silly that may be is not lost on me. To continue with the silliness, here is a picture of a dragon:
I drew that dragon in a notebook of mine on my commute to work the other day. I take public transportation to work since Cassidy and I don’t own a car. Recently I started using the newly opened section of light rail to cut some time off my trip. It has been very helpful, but since the whole train ride is underground I’ve noticed I don’t have cell phone service. Side note, this is not the case in Tokyo where I bought this notebook and cell service is everywhere, including underground on the subway. C’mon America.
Since I don’t have cell service it is difficult to check email or make reminders/notes for myself on my phone. All of my apps sync with something online which is awesome, but it’s only awesome if you have cell service. This got me thinking about other ways I would make these kind of notes before I had my phone.
So, I’ve taken some little notebooks of mine and started keeping them in my backpack. I have one for work and one for personal. Now, when I need to make notes in a meeting or have an idea for a joke that is likely only funny to me I jot it down in the corresponding notebook. I also take the time to sketch or draw something silly when I have free time, like when I’m commuting. Except for today since I am writing this blog post on my way to work.
It is a very liberating concept to step away from my phone and technology to do something simply. I don’t need cell service to draw a dragon or a robot crab clown monster thing that will haunt your dreams. And it’s a lot simpler to make reminders to email someone about setting up a meeting.
I’ve been the biggest proponent of technology and it replacing all of the “antiquated” things that don’t keep up for a long time now. As I think about it more I don’t think of the future as a paperless one, but a hybrid of old and new being used side by side because if it is the best tool for the job kinda doesn’t matter if the results work for you. Maybe then we can stop trying to make our technology emulate the things we are trying to replace. If we don’t replace them technology can be something of its own and unique. That sounds like a way cooler future to me.