Software Development, Web Design, Training

Sep-28-2015

NCDevCon 2015 Recap

Another NCDevCon is in the books, this was definitely one of the more memorable ones! Sunday late morning, the power went off in the entire building (and we soon learned it was out for a large portion of Raleigh) right in the middle of a the sessions! We (the speakers) gave our remaining talks in the dark, using glow-sticks for some ambient lighting, thankfully provided by Virtual Solutions Group. Coincidentally they brought glow-sticks as part of their booth swag -- talk about great timing! Adding to the craziness, with one hour left on the schedule, a fire alarm went off, causing us all to evacuate the building. We were eventually able to reenter for the conference closing remarks and raffle prizes. Dan Wilson and the rest of the NCDevCon staff handled everything with great composure and professionalism; I can only imagine how aggravating this was to all the event planners -- they all seriously deserve a huge thank you and our utmost appreciation for handling the surprises as well as they did.

Overall I think the conference was still a big success. I always get a big boost of motivation and come home excited to work on new things after a great conference -- this was no exception. While I normally try to attend as many sessions as possible, this time I ended up skipping several and spent more time talking to people in the foyer instead; that can be just as informative as the sessions, if not moreso.

I think both of my talks went well. My HTML5 201 talk had a pretty packed room, though I forgot to take a photo. Such is life. :) My second talk -- Crash Course in Ionic and AngularJS was scheduled for late Sunday afternoon, when the power was still out. As the electricity had been down for several hours by this point, some of the attendees had gone home, and there is no recording of this preso -- yet. I'm currently trading emails with the powers that be about trying to get a recording done soon-ish. I'll post more info when it's available.

My "Angular and Ionic" talk is meant to be a primer for people that have never seen either tool before. I've gotten good feedback on this talk from the correct audience. While I received positive feedback at NCDevCon, I think it would have benefited from being scheduled earlier in the weekend (I gave this talk near the end of Sunday). With so many Angular sessions, maybe my "intro" session should have been early on Saturday. I'll take a big chunk of the blame for this -- when NCDevCon approached me about speaking, they asked if I had a preference on time of day. Coming from the west coast, and not being much of a morning person, I asked to give my talks in the afternoons, not knowing what other sessions were being scheduled. Fortunately all (most?) of the sessions got recorded, so anyone that wants to, can go back and catch the more advanced Angular videos soon (I think they're planning to post the videos in a week or so).

Now, on with the rest of my "usual" conference recap --

Saturday started with a session from Adobe, celebrating that ColdFusion has been around for 20 year now, and giving us some information about the upcoming release of version 12. Honestly I didn't feel there was much new info in this talk -- maybe it's still just too soon for there to be much publicly announce able about CF12? It was a lot of high level points like "we'll have more secure-by-default settings in the installer", etc. We saw a couple screenshots of some Admin features, but no code samples or demos were shown. CF Summit is coming up, I suspect we'll get a much better, more in depth look at ColdFusion 12 there.

Denard Springle's talk on "ColdFusion: Code Security Best Practices" was very informative, and included handouts of the code samples, so we didn't have to frantically copy anything off the slides. I picked up a few new bits of info and made notes to double-check a couple legacy apps I maintain for clients, to ensure we're using all the best practices for security on their servers. Denard's company were also the visionaries that brought glow-sticks to the conference -- apparently they can predict the future. :)

Jan Kleinert's talk "Web Analytics, Who Cares? I Do, And So Should You!" was a tad higher level than I had hoped (but that's my fault, not hers), yet I still learned quite a bit. Jan has a very conversational style of speaking, using the slides only as guides for the next topic she's discussing, rather than reading word-for-word as many presenters will do. She's an excellent presenter, and I'd encourage folks to watch the recording of this talk and learn more about the "other side" of what goes into large scale web apps, what stats matter to Marketing and Sales, and the different tools in place that can benefit both Marketing and Development in such areas.

Melissa Eggleston's "What We Know About Website Users" was the last session on Saturday and was easily one of the highlights of the conference for me! Melissa is clearly passionate about UX, and explains good and bad practices in ways that are not only easy to understand but evoke passion from the audience members as well. When she answers questions, it's done with facts from studies that have been done to back up those points, not just gut feelings or vague opinions. I learned so much from this talk; though I sat engaged thru the whole thing, I will probably go back and watch the recording again at least once.

Sunday began with Carlos Santana's talk on "Let's be Social With Ionic". His talk was great -- very engaging, many well constructed code samples and jokes to keep everyone engaged. Carlos built a simple chat app using Ionic and NodeJS for the back-end. His demos were very easy to follow, and involved the audience regularly -- at one point, taking a group selfie of the audience and posting it into the chat app. It's guys like Carlos that make me think I need to up my game when it comes to presenting. :)

I happened to be sitting in John Foushee's talk "The Polymer Revolution" when the electricity went out in the building. Being the pro that John is, he quickly switched gears and turned the session into a Q&A. Obviously we weren't able to see many of the slides or code samples, but John's talk was still very informative -- being able to switch gears in mid-power outage and still keep us engaged (for well over the scheduled hour, as we were asked to stay in that conference room while the staff looked into the electrical issue) just shows John's professionalism. I'll definitely be looking for his slide deck to catch whatever info I missed.

The last sessions of the day (as well as my interview with DZone) were canceled due to the fire alarm. NCDevCon is working with the speakers to get our slides and such made available so the attendees can see what they missed. You can find slides and code samples from both of my talks over on the Presentations page. If anyone has questions about either of my sessions, feel free to send me a message.

Thanks again, NCDevCon. See you next year.
-Nolan