Saturday, April 23, 2016

Luminis DevCon 2016

Tuesday I was honored with the opportunity to visit a software conference called DevCon in Cinemec, Ede (Netherlands). Even though I was only able to attend the afternoon session, I am glad I made the trip.  

Lonely painter
Having never been I was impressed by the size of the venue. For a minute I stood frozen and had no idea where to turn or look. After I decorated my blouse with the name sticker I received at the wardrobe, I finally made my way up one of the main stairs and found an artist in the process of painting. At first I assumed that I'd picked the wrong entrance. However, after having a closer look, I noticed long strings of zeros and ones in the margin of the canvas. Now that piqued my interest.
Not far from that situation I observed a quite serious coffee machine. The person hiding behind it knew what he was doing: within not too long one of the best double espresso's I'd ever had was in my hands. He reassured me that I've come to the right place.

Please, please, please
Printing 'Hello World' in INTERCAL
With an elevated caffeine score, I found myself a good spot for the next keynote speaker: Mark Rendle. His talk was about the history of the relatively young programming discipline and was crammed with British buffoonery. Mark explained how he would't be surprised if Kenneth E. Iverson's kids were called A-boy and A-girl. After all he invented APL - A Programming Language. 'He'd probably already used up all of his creativity by the time he got to Harvard'.

Additionally I never knew about the mere existence of so-called 'joke programming languages'. They are quite brilliant and solely reading the documentation is entertaining.  For example INTERCAL (, for which the user somehow has to guess the right amount of times (determined by nebulous logic) to mention 'PLEASE' when instructing the compiler.

After the light-hearted keynote got me settled in, I was ready for a bit more substance. I chose to visit a session about Big Data by Richard Berendsen, amusingly called 'Help! They dumped a dataset on our doorstep'. I could have never imagined how much calculation is needed to prepare a dataset in order to even vaguely consider it prediction-material. Richard explained al these calculations step by step through Jupyter Notebook. I was impressed.

Soon after it was time for refreshments. Spread out before me was the full product line of Mars Incorporated, save for the pet food. When I thought nobody was looking I may have sort of stuffed my face just a tiny bit. Because I might've been a little hungry, just maybe.

Don't make the DBA cry

Anyway, I was more than ready for the final session about the evolution of software (architecture) by Xander Uiterlinden and Hans Gringhuis. The first part of the session dealt with complexity versus maintainability and how to control this as early in the lifespan of the software as possible. Then the audience's attention was turned to data, also an important part of software I heard... I love data and databases and I found it very inspiring to hear about the view that it is better to focus on events rather than simply mutating the one (up to date) copy we have of a relational database. Because data migration is just a recipe for making the DBA cry, when he or she finds out about the destruction caused in the wake of a migration script that was presumed to be tested so very thoroughly months ago.

After this it was time for a drink and an update of the traffic situation around Utrecht. Luckily there were no problems on my route.

I cannot wait till the sessions are uploaded so I can catch up with the talks I've missed.

Cinemec Ede, aerial view during the DevCon 2016