Progressive F# Tutorials in London

Yesterday I went for a crazy trip to London. At least most people would call that, because for me it was perfect. It had all I like – flying planes, meeting great people and learning new stuff. I woke up at 3 to catch 6 AM flight to London. Then take a train to center, took part in Prog F# Tutorials and then went back to airport to get on 8 PM flight. I was back home around midnight.

Prog F# Tutorials are two day F# conference organized by Skills Matter. In agenda you could find almost all the rock-stars of F# world – Don Syme, Phillip Trelford, Richard Minerich, Rachel Reese, Robert Pickering, Jon Harrop and Simon Cousins.  Unfortunately, I could only attend first day due to medical procedure planned for today, but one day is always better then none.

First talk by Jon Harrop was about adopting F# by large insurance company. He talked about what are best ways to convince people to start using F#, what worked, and what didn’t. I would like this session to be more technical, but there were still few interesting points he mentioned. After that, public split into two rooms. In main one, Rich was live coding (with help of audience) to solve Bank OCR Kata. It was entertaining, and quite interesting to see how someone puts his F# knowledge to solve problems. The other group were solving F# Koans with Rachel Reese. After lunch went to Rachel’s workshop “From Zero to Data Science”. Based on tutorials, you can find on, we were “learning by solving” some extra tasks Rachel prepared for us. For beginner like me, some of them were really challenging. Another difficulty proved to be’s capacity. Around 100 people trying stuff out there killed the server and it started throwing 503s. Anyway, this was my favorite session of the whole day. In second room Robert Pickering was doing his Undertone session. And to wrap up, Phillip did quick talk about using F# in finance. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Don Syme’s talk planned for the morning. He got stuck in Germany and didn’t get on time. Bummer, cause I anticipated this one the most.

The whole thing took place in the crypt below old church (this was Halloween! :)). This is so great place to host conference, so different than standard grey rooms. The only problem was, that it was not really wheelchair accessible. But Theo and his Skills Matter crew helped me get there. From logistics point of view everything went pretty great. There were constantly resupplied snacks and coffee, tasty lunch and beer for the end. Wifi worked with some issues, but it hold pretty well, considering over 100 people doing queries against

To sum up – this was a good day. I am okay to travel halfway through Europe to get to events like that. I only wish I could also be there on second day, but maybe next year. I am really happy, that I met in person and talked to some F# pros, whom before that day I only followed on twitter. And Skills matter crew are awesome, and I definitely will look to attend their events in future.

BTW, if you are based in London are into F#, check out this meetup group.

Polish dev community is in great shape.

I mentioned some time ago, that fall will be eventful. But I didn’t know about all the events. Everyday I learn about something new, and most of it looks really impressive.

During last two weeks I attended two really well organized events. First one on 12th October. This day I planned to be at leetspeak (BTW – videos are already uploaded) in Sweden, but due some health issues I had to stay home. But there were more than one backup options. There was Warsjawa (name is nice play on polish name of Warsaw – Warszawa and Java) – full day of workshop on various JVM related topics. Not for everyone, but agenda looked solid – lot’s of interesting topics. Oskar was there on some Scala workshop. I hope, he’ll do some writeup ;)

After all I chose dotNetConfPL, which was virtual conference – as name suggests – focused on .net stack. Virtual means, that session were presented on Google Hangouts (live!), and you could comment/ask questions/interact with speakers on Twitter and JabbR channel. It didn’t have this nice part of interacting with live people between and after the sessions, but there were some upsides. You could do your dishes and cook dinner while learning some unit testing stuff (ncrunch is awesome) or JavaScript magic.  All speakers were Polish (or at least they spoke Polish), but they did their talks from various parts of the world. Level of presentation was very high. Generally I was impressed, how professionally it all looked and how smoothly all worked out. Huge respect to Michał, Paweł and Jakub who organized whole event. To see how it all worked behind the scenes and see recorded sessions look at Jakub’s blog.

On next Saturday I went to Meet.js summit which took place in Gdansk – my home area. I follow Meet.js meetings for some time, but they did never fit my schedule until now. Usually meet.js consist of 2-3 talks somehow connected with JavaScript. But summit was full day conference, with food, coffee and afterparty. I won’t talk about presentations, because JS is not really my thing. I enjoyed some of them, I didn’t understand other. But whole conference was again super professional from the organisation point of view. My teammate who writes lots of  JS said, that talks were solid and well prepared.  Venue (Amber Expo – conference center next to Gdansk Football Arena) is awesome. Really nice, spacey rooms for conference and great area to mingle between sessions. I also met few friends from University and spent Saturday surrounded by passionate devs. Love it!

If you count in DevDay which took place about month ago, this shows that Polish developer’s community is in great shape. This makes me very happy.

Especially, that’s not the end. This weekend Łódż will be packed with great events. Starting on Friday with .NET user group meeting and then Mobilization conf on Saturday (free as free beer, and there are still tickets available). Then on 16th November Makerland is organizing meetup for hardware geeks. If you like to play around with Raspberry Pi, Arduino or Mindstorm, this will be interesting for you. And of course there’s Øredev in Malmo and Build Stuff in Vilnius, which both will be invaded by quite big polish crews.

So, don’t stay at home – find an event that fits you and get some knowledge!

DevDay is my favourite day.

Last weekend I attended very special event for my heart. DevDay is first developers conference I attended last year, which practically changed me into Conference Junkie. After last DevDay I felt in love with community vibe in conferences. Since then I went for many of them, counting in 33rd Degree, Leetspeak or NDC. But DevDay is special. For me, it’s the ultimate conference.

It’s awesome, because it focuses on people. You won’t find company’s advertising here. Only small logo of ABB, who sponsors whole event. It gathers great speakers and fantastic crowd of curious devs. After (and before ;) ) parties were epic. And it all basically for free. It was better organized than many paid conferences. And you can feel awesome energy coming from Michał, Rafał and their debugging crew.

In therms of talks and speakers, conference was top notch. There were two tracks, which always gives me anxiety if I choose right. The full lineup is here.

John Skeet talked about traps in basic data types in C#. It was interesting set of information, that may be useful for beginning developers. Guys who spent some time on frontlines probably new about many of them. The most interesting part for me was about how screwed up our date system is :). Then I went for Darek Dziuk’s session about how Spotify implements their agile practices. Although title suggested it’s gonna be talk about scaling, Darek told mostly about team level. This disappointed me a little, but we talked later and he explained why he took this approach. Next up I went to Code Junkie’s (one of tretton37 ninjas)  presentation about internals of Nancy. One of my favorite talks this day. I didn’t understand it all, but that’s great – means I have still a lot to learn. Then I went for Hadi Hariri’s talk. I was slightly disappointed, cause I expected something different from the talk title. But Hadi always keep his talk on the funny side, so it wasn’t boring at least. I missed next session, had great meeting with friend instead. And then the worst (in my opinion) talk came. At last moment I decided to go to Dino Esposito’s talk, and it was really bad. It was more like sale’s pitch than tech talk. Bummer, cause I heard that Stack Exchange’s Marco Cecconi’s talk was one of the best. And then beautiful gem for the wrap-up. Fantastic, full of humour story how Rob Ashton went full hippy with bunch of great life advices.

I also heard that Pat Kua’s, Paul’s and Itamar’s sessions were very good. If you’re startup person, you should also look at Ben’s experiences – seen this talk during NDC and it’s full of valuable knowledge.

One of many things I learn during this year, conferences are not really about the talks. Yeah, they’re important, cause it’s pure knowledge. But much more important is meeting new people, expanding your network and meeting even more people. They can inspire you, teach you new things, mentor you. Some of them will become your friends. This is experience, you won’t get by watching talks over the Internet. So if you go to conference, fire up your twitter, follow people and go to frickin’ parties. It’s not only about booze ;)

So if you missed, you just screwed up badly. And if you’ve been there, we’re gonna see each other next year, aye?

Fall will be eventfull

Fall is usually period packed with great conferences. Summer is slowly coming to an end and it’s time to plan, which of them are you going to attend. I put my small list of events worth considering, which are “in the area” during next few months.

When: 20th September
Where: Krakow, Poland

Devday is one day event, 2 tracks, 12 speakers. It’s free, courtesy of ABB. Registration is open till 8pm today, so that’s last chance to fill registration form. Get creative, because attendees will be selected based on those answers. Lineup is already very impressive, although not everything has been reveled yet. Last year was a blast, and I can’t wait to go there this year too.

When: 12th October
Where: Stockholm, Sweden

Leetspeak is also one day event, single track, 6 speakers. Thanks to tretton37 and other sponsors, it’s very cheap (200SEK). Tickets are on sale for two days, and most of them are already gone. Be quick, if you want to get there! I really enjoyed my weekend in Malmo last year, and I am anticipating similar this year in Stockholm.

When: 4-8 November
Where: Malmo, Sweden

Oredev is Scandinavian classic, one of the biggest and most popular conferences in Europe. It takes place in Malmo in early November. It’s quite pricey, but for the money you get three days packed with multiple tracks with awesome speakers. I’ve never been there and unfortunately won’t be there this year, but I heard mostly good stuff about this conference. If you have opportunity, it’s definitely good event to attend. Tickets are still available.

Build Stuff
When: 9-11 December
Where: Vilnius, Lithuania
Speaker list and registration:

Build Stuff is Greg Young’s conference in Vilnius. It started last year as small, single track one day event. This year, it exploded into full blown 3-day Oredev-league conference, still staying within reasonable price range. It looks promising, is not very expensive, and only few hours drive from Poland. You really need a good reason not to go there.

When you choose event, and attend it remember to act accordingly. They’re great social events, from which you can get much more than just knowledge. My friends wrote a spot-on post about it. Just read second part of it.

I’m not Java Master, but for 3 days I pretended.

I like to see myself as “.net developer”. Recently however, because of this specific project requirements, about half of my coding time is in Java. After my very enthusiastic reports from DevDay and Leetspeak, “Java guys” from my team proposed that we go to some jvm-centric conf. “Why not”, I said, and in the second week of March we attended 33rd Degree – a “Conference for Java Masters”.

Conference was 2 and half day event packed with 5 tracks of speakers. I won’t write about everything in details, just outline few things I liked, and few that could be better. Overally, this was great event, but there were some issues:

Too many tracks. This is just me, but I hate to have too much choice. Especially, when other sessions were not recorded. If I chose badly and then heard from my friends, that talk they chose was amazing, I was angry. And won’t chance to see it again. And it happened couple of times, because quality of talks varied from super-awesome-mindblowing to meh. I think it’s better to aim for quality then quantity. There were also some logistic hiccups like badly organized lunch area, no way to turn off the lights in conference rooms, air conditioning not working or extra payment for parking. They weren’t very bad, just little things that could be fixed and whole experience would be much smoother.

Now to the good stuff. By mentioning things I liked at the end, I hope to leave positive impression Because this was very good conference and I was left with positive impression myself. First of all there were some awesome talks and awesome speakers. I added to my favourite list names like Venkat Subramaniam, Ted Neward and Reza Rahman. There were also people I knew about already, like Tim Berglund, Hadi Hariri or Dan North. As you can see, these are huge names in the industry, which tells a lot about level of the conference. I also liked, that there were talks about other jvm languages, like Scala or Clojure.

The whole conference area was very spacious. There were chillout areas, where you could play guitar hero or just sit down and get some rest. There was plenty of snacks and drinks and lunch was very good. People were very friendly, and it was very likely to sit on the couch with some of the speakers and just chat. What I like most about conferences, are networking possibilites, and at 33rd Degree they were very good.

On the personal note, I realy liked strong presence of Tri-City area developers. I met some friends, I hadn’t seen since graduation. Some of them landed really good jobs, which is always nice to hear.

I found it to be really good conference and if you consider yourself Java developer, this is must-attend event. I don’t know how 33rd Degree compares to other Java conferences in Poland (like geecon or Confitura), but my best mate started blogging recently and he’s going to some of them, so follow him :).

For less-biased opinions and photos look here ;).

Why do you code?

There are days, when I hate my job. Lately, quite a lot of them. These are the days when I know I do something pointless. I’m writing functionality, that some manager dreamed of, but nobody will use. Or I’m debugging some 10 years old code, and nothing works and nothing makes sense. You probably know what I’m talking about.

Those frustrating periods make me think – why the heck I’m still doing this? Why not just throw it all away, move to mountains and start breeding sheeps or goats?  Or maybe I should change my job? Will that change anything? Probably not…

But then comes the day like last Friday. Days, when I write some clean, elegant code, which provides functionality, that solves somebody’s problem. At the end of the day, as software developer, we’re paid to solve problems. “Craftsmanship” of this solution is important for me. But I’m much more happier, when someone says, that I made something useful for him. That I made a difference. On days like that, I realize why I code.

So, why do You code?

Weekend with Viking Ninjas

So two weeks passed and I attended another conference! This time it was Leetspeak by tretton37. It took place on 20th October in Malmö, Sweden.

When I was coming back from DevDay, Martin Mazur mentioned during our chat that they’re organizing this thing. It will have great speakers and will be super cheap (200SEK, in Sweden it is like 4 beers). And is already sold out. I knew I had to be there so this wouldn’t stop me, would it? Quick e-mail exchange with Peter, booking low-cost plane tickets, convincing my manager that paying for hotel in Malmö is awesome investment in my skills and I was all set up. Sweden here I come!

Because I’m on the wheelchair, usually when I travel somewhere, I have do to research. But I’m so used to the fact, that Scandinavia is wheels friendly, that I decided to be a little spontaneous this time. On Sturup airport I realized, that only bus option to Malmö operates those high buses/coaches, and they won’t be able to get me to the city (yeah Flygbussarna, you’re not cool). But it didn’t took a long time and some friendly Swedish couple asked me, If I need a ride. Well, that was unexpected. I heard so much about people here being closed, and this was just a first event to contradict that. The rest of the evening  I spent roaming around Malmö center. It’s a very nice city, you should visit it!

The conference itself took place in venue called St. Gertrud. It’s like small conference center with auditorium for ~200 people and very nice area for networking between sessions. First talk was Hadi Harriri‘s “Developers: The prima donnas of the 21st century”. He warned, that he won’t treat us nicely, and he delivered up to promise. As developers we are not good in communication. We often try to work on wrong things based on personal ambitions and put businesss at risk. He was jokingly harsh for most of his talk. At the end, he gave us some pat on the back, saying that people don’t appreciate the value of our work, and we are central to business in the 21st century. This was good talk, to start the day with overally good mood. Next up was Gary Short, who talked about math stuff in programming, like big O notation and algorithms. Most of the stuff I remembered from University, but I would rather learn the way Gary shown it, than my teachers used to. And romanian folk dancers videos were cool ;). Martin Mazur and Mark Rendle gave same talks as in Kraków, so nothing new for me here. Rob Ashton gave talk about Node JS. It was targeted at more experienced Node devs, so for me it was kind of hard to consume. But at the end, he showed a way to test mvc projects and this was interesting. Look for project Zombify at github. Jon McCoy presented his suit of tools for .net application disassembly and modification. There was cracking live demo, fun stuff. In the last session Enrico Campidoglio showed, how to control history with git. He went through most common use cases of git, visualising them with Phil Haack’s tool. Enrico kept this informative, yet funny.

Somewhere in the middle of the day, there was surprise waiting for us. At the end of his talk, Martin said, that they have gift for us. That they want to give us something useful and awesome. Something to hack on. In the lobby there was a pile of boxes wrapped in gray paper with “1337” printed on. Inside there was Raspberry Pi board. One for every attendee. You could feel the Christmas atmosphere in the room. Imagine bunch of super happy geeks unwrapping little boxes with big smiles on their faces. It looked like that. Awesome conference gift, tretton37!

If I were to compare DevDay and Leetspeak in many ways they were pretty similar. Both being small community conferences, that you don’t have pay a lot of money for. Full of passionate people, who want to invest they time in learning. Talks in Malmö were more technical and I liked venue more. Although talks in Kraków focused more on soft side of being programmer, I needed that to get inspired and loved it too. I also prefer booze prices in Poland ;)

We had some fun in the evening. I talked with many Tretton37 ninjas, and they’re great people. All that stuff I heard about Swedes being closed and introvertic – it’s total bullshit. They’re very friendly and have awesome community. I hope to see them next year. Or even earlier.

Next day I headed home. Big thanks to Peter for organizing me transport to the airport! Plane was late, some Poles got arrested at the airport, but I didn’t care. I still had big smile after the conference, and head full of ideas how to use my Pi.

Sweden was fun!


Last week I was at the DevDay 2012 conference in Kraków. Not the first conf in my life, but this was different. This one left some disturbing, yet inspiring thoughts in my mind. I suck. I’m a phony. And I need to do something about it. Like right now.

The conference itself had freakin’ awesome speaker lineup. Just look it up yourself. I got excited when I saw Scott Hanselman‘s tweet, saying something like “See you in Poland”. I knew I had to be there, and I would do everything to get there. Then I saw whole agenda, and realized that all speakers are very interesting people. And best of all – it was free. Totaly free, like free beer free. Even better, company which sponsored whole event didn’t want to stick it in your face. Just a little logo here, banner there, some leaflets. Very classy.

Scott’s talk was all about productivity, and how to get what’s important from information flood, we get everyday. Most of what he presented I have read before on his blog, so there was nothing groundbreaking for me. But having this all in one presentation, and seeing Scott live was really great experience.

There were other talks, that were much more technical. Rob Ashton spoke about how JavaScript sucks, and how you can deal with it. He showed some tricks and tools, that make JS development a little bit less painful. Sebastien Lambla gave a talk about HTTP caching. He had very energetic attitude, but I didn’t get much from his presentation. This lacked some visual aids or better examples. There was also talk by Mark Rendle in which he showed some less known coding tricks and techniques that he used in his Simple.Data and Simple.Web frameworks. This one showed, that for complicated tasks, there will always be complicated code. If you don’t see it, it must be somewhere under the hood. I’ll probably never use some of the tricks that Mark showed, but they were fun to watch. On the other hand I didn’t enjoy Antek Piechnik‘s presentations. It was full of slogans, without any specifics, and sounded more like advertising of his company than informative talk. And the end of the day Greg Young talked about how to quickly jump into new project and identify most important problems as a consultant. I don’t remember much of this, because I was really tired at this point. Seven 1-hour talks is a little bit too much, especially if you didn’t sleep much last night.

There was one not-so-technical talk during a day, that I found most awesome and inspiring. It was Martin Mazur‘s “Why you should talk to strangers”. There was technical part, that showed what kind of inspiration we as .net developers can have from other languages. Martin went through interesting concepts from languages like Ruby, Erlang or Haskell, and how they can be applied in C#. In the other part he focused what .net community can gain from looking at other communities. He compared how stiff in so many areas are guys coding in C# and Java compared to Ruby Developers. There is some notion, that our conferences must be dead serious and our frameworks must be named super professional, and there are no good reasons for that. There is nothing wrong in bringing marching band to conference. And “God won’t kill kittens if we name library silly” (that was one of my favorite quotes).

I also had a chance to fly back with Martin on one plane form KRK to WAW, so we could chat a little about agile practices and how to become better developer. I found this part of the conference most inspiring. I realized that I’m only few years younger than Martin, and If I want to grow as a developer, I need to change some things in my life. In couple of years ahead I would like to be more like Martin Mazur, and less like my coworkers who are his age.

Generally, the networking part of the conference was awesome. I met some great people like Michał and Rafał, who organized conference. I had chance to talk to speakers personally, which was great experience. I even had my “13yo-girl-at-Justin-Bieber’s-concert” moment, when Scott signed my t-shirt ;). Talks were good, but you can watch them on the Internet. To engage in interesting discussion with people, you have to be there. And have courage to talk to strangers. That’s why I’m planning to attend more conferences. Actually, while writing this words, I’m waiting for my plane to Malmö, to attend Leatspeak. More to come!

* This blog post is one of the outputs of the DevDay. I hope, this is beginning of my regular blogging. I wanted to do it for a long time, but didn’t know how to start. During conference Scott Hanselman told story that comedian Paul Raiser told in some podcast. Paul met the actor Peter Falk and asked him if there was a secret to writing a movie script. Peter Falk said “get some paper, put it in a typewriter, type FADE IN…and keep typing.”