Jeremy's Thoughts - Velocity 2011
Cycling, Fedora, MIT SDM and Miscellany

Jeremy Katz
Date: 2011-06-19 21:33
Subject: Velocity 2011
Security: Public

I spent last week out in California for the O’Reilly Velocity Conference.  It was in Santa Clara, which I hadn’t been to and frankly, I would be perfectly happy to not return.  Parts of California are nice, Santa Clara is an office building wasteland.  No good food options, nothing really going on, etc.  But I was there for a conference and not for other stuff, so it sufficed.

The conference was actually very good.  It has been a few years since I’ve been to a conference between grad school, my daughter being born, and being at a startup where conferences weren’t the priority.  But it was good to get back to it.  Had a lot of good hallway conversations with people about things that are relevant to us and saw a lot of good presentations.  And Velocity is especially relevant to me at this point as it was all about various web performance and operations stuff.  Where, unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of cool stuff going on.

I mostly kept to the more operations-y tracks just because they map better to what I’m currently working on.  I’ve come away with a bunch of things to look into and posted a whole bunch of choice quotes over on Twitter, but a few takeaways boiled down for here would include

  • If you’re using a public cloud provider, plan for things to fail.  Build your systems expecting it and you’ll have less pain.
  • HubSpot is doing an awesome job with post-mortems.  DanM actually posted a great blog post over on our dev blog about things we’ve learned from doing a lot of them.
  • Everyone complains and focuses on javascript performance but that’s misguided.  The bottleneck is the DOM.  Interestingly, none of the browser guys talked about that apparently
  • DevOps has mostly been about putting developers into ops (hi!) but also needs to be about putting ops into dev
  • Web performance has been very successful in tying itself to business metrics.  Weirdly, operations has overall been less successful at that
  • There’s a lot of work going on to help with debugging and working on webapps for mobile platforms.  Very cool.

None of those are particularly earth shattering revelations, but still good to see/hear.

Also, on Tuesday night I did a talk for the Ignite track.  So 5 minutes, 20 slides, auto-advancing.  My topic was “Just Too Late” and was largely around some things I’ve discovered transitioning into a role where I’m doing more ops stuff and the fact that I feel like I get to things too late.  But then turning it around and showing that’s not really so.  Stay tuned for a longer blog post on the topic.  But the talk went really well.  It was fun, a lot of positive feedback and was good for me to get back to it.  Looking forward to submitting some (full-length) proposals for talks for some conferences later this year.

I also had a few thoughts on the way conferences have changed since I last went to one

  • Twitter really is a pretty big game changer.  Lots of conversation on twitter during the conference about which sessions were good, useful tidbits from sessions, etc.  I actually felt that the experience was pretty strongly enhanced by it
  • Conference wireless still sucks.  But you can get decent data now for devices and avoid the use of the conference wireless entirely.  This made it easier to stay on twitter during the conference
  • An iPad (or other tablet) is a pretty perfect device for looking at stuff during a conference.  It sits on your lap so you can just check it sporadically, the battery lasts all day, you can get data from a cellular provider, and it’s reasonably fast.

Anyway, good time was had.  Thanks to all the people that I met and chatted up.  And hopefully it won’t be as long before I make it to another conference :-)

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