Jan 23, 2010

CUSEC: Day 2 and 3

Day 2 of CUSEC started off much like the first, except there was a presentation in the morning instead of just hanging out. There were more interesting talks to be had, check them out:
  • First was Rob Tyrie from NexJ, which is a company that builds CRM software for the financial industry. It was a pretty good talk, he spoke about his startup experiences, mergers and acquisitions, etc. I like to hear stories about successful startups, so the talk was pretty good.
  • Greg Wilson, one of the editors of Beautiful Code and the other books in this series. He gave a presentation about empiricism in software development, or the lack thereof. Many programmers (myself included) make claims which tend to be based on popular opinion or anecdotal evidence rather than good data, which is not really a good way to make statements. I really liked this presentation because it showed me that even though I've done a fair bit of statistics in the economics program at Concordia, I haven't really applied that knowledge to determining whether or not my beliefs about software development are correct. In fact, I liked this thought so much that I think I'll write a few posts about how to apply some statistical techniques to analyzing software.
  • Dominic Duval from Red Hat gave a presentation on how to get started in Linux kernel hacking. Some of it was review for me, but other stuff was pretty interesting. Perhaps I will try to get my webcam working sometime.
  • At the end was Douglas Crockford, the guy who came up with JSON. His presentation was called "Quality", and the main point was that there is a lot of snake oil in the software industry, and no silver bullets. We come up with better ways of doing things but they still don't change the fact that we still have bugs, missed release dates, projects that go over budget, etc. The difference is that newer methodologies let us build software of greater complexity.
These were some good presentations. Unfortunately today I only saw the last presentation since I got to the conference late. The one I saw was given by Jacqui Maher from the NY Times who gave a talk about doing programming jobs for NGOs in the third world. It sounded like a really great experience and would definitely be a great way for us nerds to improve the world a bit. You can check out the stuff she did on github, and also CrisisCamp which is an organization that focuses on using technology to help people in crisis.

It was another good year for CUSEC, I certainly enjoyed the talks and hope that next year is just as good!

No comments: