The Best of Confs

Why I'll be fighting for a ticket to CascadiaJS 2014

Overview

I had quite the luck in getting a ticket to CascadiaJS 2013. I started my journey to the conference with Hacker Train. I ended the trip by realizing I would have to depart my conference family.

At the start of the conference, the Code of Conduct was noted, linked, and summarized. I've been having discussions around CofCs for near this full year. If you have a CofC, it isn't enought to just have it on a website somewhere. Making sure attendees know you have one sets the bar, and lets speaker/attendees alike to know what to expect. I love that CascadiaJS was proactive. I love that they made it clear. "Don't be a jerk." Set a standard. People will follow suit.

For me, CascadiaJS 2013 encompassed an overarching theme of balance. Balance as a programmer in interests, balance for choices in the community through talk selection and evening activities. The curation of talks was so perfect. Interests that could build in complexity and created a clear path of information. A little bit to satisfy each section of your curious mind. Events that weren't all centered around alcohol. While having it available is fine, I accept that not everyone will want to partake. Keeping events to cover different interests is a sign of health.

The first day was followed by an evening of Hacker Olympics. I'm a newer programmer. There are fewer things more frustrating and intimidating than competing in a time-boxed competition centered around code. I coped with my fear by roping in a few willing victims/friends to participate even though we
were all a little mind-fried from a full day of talks. We would be rewarded by a night of laughs, hustling, and a sweet 2nd place medal accompanying our prizes of SNES retrobit players.

The closing talk by Jenn Turner confirmed my feeling that I had experienced something far what people think of tech conferences.

Talks were had

A few of my favorite talks, while not doing justice to the
content:

Chris Dickinson Chris, from what I could wrap my head around, created about the most accessible talk on abstract syntax trees a mad scientist could muster. He walked the crowd through a number of projects that had resulted from his interest in ASTs and how we've been able to use them at Urban Airship(I'm a colleague). His visualizations of this capped off a really awesome start to the first day.

Soledad Penad├ęs Sole was ridiculously charming in talking about audio tags, from Web Components, and the potential applications through interactive audio visualizations. She made me question why I had never attempted to hack JavaScript to take advantage of my creative yearnings more.

Matthew Bergman Matthew blessed us with the gift of an intro to Cryptography. By reviewing some of the basics, he was able to provide an ingress to getting started with combating privacy concerns without playing coy: it isn't just JavaScript that we'd have to work on.

CJ Silvario and Raquel Valez Hardware unite! Both CJ and Raquel gave amazing talks on hardware and got down to the nitty gritty list of items you'd need to get started. I was so thankful to get to talk to CJ in-person and I can't wait to use both talks as intros to further NodeBots workshops here in Portland.

Tom Dale Though I was disappointed his gold lamee shorts didn't make an appearance during his talk, I was very impressed by his 'Don't break the Web' talk. Referring to Google, Apple, Facebook and Skype as the telcoms of today, he proposed that we respect urls and making JavaScript respect them will make things much easier for our future.

Jenn Turner Embedded in a community that we can all sometimes get wrapped up in, it was a wonderful balance/reminder to end the conference with Jenn's kind words. We're all wonderful, capable programmers
and often deal with challenges we can feel isolated in. Jenn was able to remind me that with awareness and kindness we can do more to help each other's experiences be better. How can you be better? A closing like no other.

Inspired.

CascadiaJS exceeded every hope I have for a conference.

I left CascadiaJS both exhausted from happiness and energized to grow Portland's community. How will I contribute to my home and the tech community I hold dear? Wait and see friends. Wait and see.