Software Development, Web Design, Training

JazzCon 2018 Recap

I’m at the NOLA airport, waiting for my flight home. I’ve spent the last 2 days hearing great music, having stellar conversation after conversation with some truly awesome people, and actually learning a few things too.  JazzCon 2018 was well worth the trip!

My flight into town on Wednesday didn’t arrive until after 2am, much later than originally planned! So I skipped the first couple sessions to do some double-checking of my presentations and made sure that everything was ready to go.  I had small but appreciative (I think) crowds for both talks, no demo fails, and of course walked away with several ideas on how I’ll retool them for next time.  I’ll take it all as a “win” especially after only 4 hours of sleep. :)

The JazzCon website didn’t look like there was a true “keynote” to start off the conference, but that was my mistake.  Apparently I missed a great talk on accessibility Thursday morning! Almost every talk I attended was excellent! Every presenter really knew their stuff, had excellent slides, demos, and well placed jokes.  I need to up my game.

Chris DeMars did a great talk on Block Element Modifiers in CSS.  I’d been introduced to this on a previous project by the CSS developer I worked with, but only got a 5 minute explanation and it hadn’t really “clicked” for me; Chris’ talk filled in all the gaps.  Will definitely try this on an upcoming project!  Chris also pointed the audience toward several other great CSS people and resources: Nicole Sullivan, CSSWizardry.com, the book “Atomic Design” by Brad Frost, among others. So many great take-aways from his talk!

Scott McAllister’s talk on Angular Components helped to fill in a few gaps for me on some Angular bits. I’ve done a few Angular projects over the years but a) that framework changes SO often and b) trying to find the 1 topic I need in the docs can be problematic. The code demos in Scott’s talk were perfectly sized real-world chunks of code to make it easier to tell the difference in Components and Modules an Angular — it’s downright sad how often I see terrible demos on that topic.  If you’re still confused on those, check out Scott’s talk some time.

David Neal’s talk on Electron.js got me really excited about starting to use Electron. Before his talk was finished I was already looking at the docs and thinking up several ideas for apps I’d like to build. (Fun fact: David is an avid illustrator, and drew much of the great comedic content in his presentation, giving it a very unique and fun look not seen in any of the other sessions.)

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Each speaker really delivered stellar presentations to put it mildly.

One session was problematic (for me). The presenter had copy/pasted something between 2 slides, not realized the error, and couldn’t understand why the room kept asking questions for clarification, so we lost what should have been a good take-away from the talk; on top of that, said presenter then ran over 20 minutes long. :( I didn’t see a way to submit feedback after the talks, or I would have passed the info on directly.  Please remember to watch the clock when talking as there are other sessions people want to attend!

Both days of the conference ended with keynote presentations, something I’ve not seen in ages (last one, I think, was at Game Developers Conference a loooooonnnnng time ago).

Day 1 closed with Jason Lengstorf’s talk “How I Cut My Working Hours in Half and Somehow Managed to Get More Done” — a topic I’ve often struggled with as my consulting business grew (to put it mildly).  Jason offered his own real-world experience being a full-blown workaholic, the fallout that happened as a result, and various tips he uses to keep his work and personal lives going well.  As most of us are addicted to checking our cellphones, social media apps, and so on 24/7, I’m certain there is something in the presentation that will strike a chord with all of you.  Definitely check this out the next time Jason is presenting. It’s THE wake-up call that many of us need. Seriously.

As if Day 1’s final keynote wasn’t moving enough, the entire conference wrapped up on Friday with what was the most moving talk I’ve ever seen at any tech conference — EVER.  David Neal closed out JazzCon 2018 with “Leadership for the Reluctant Leader” — a title that does not do this talk (or David himself) nearly enough justice.  I went into the session kind of assuming it’d be essentially a list of tips for techies that have been promoted to middle management.  Nothing could be further from the truth! David’s presentation was about truly making a difference in the lives of your team, your peers, your family, yourself, those around you, not just in technical but (mostly) in non-technical ways — ways that truly make an impact.  It was the “Stairway to Heaven” of presentations — there could not have been a better, more inspiring, more emotional and impactive way to wrap up a conference.  By luck, I ended up going to dinner with David and others later that night, and even being able to give him kudos in person, I don’t feel I did it justice. David, I feel confident saying you made a significant impact on everyone in that auditorium.  Well done, sir.

I recorded most of the presentations that I was able to attend; will transcribe some notes and post those later when time permits.  Currently I’m still stuck in the San Diego Airport, waiting for a flight that’s been delayed, four times — UGH.

Thanks, JazzCon! I’m already looking forward to next year; will definitely be submitting talks to speak again!

-nolan