Paul Jones did the keynote this year, and while the content wasn’t particularly new, I will say that it was curated and presented in a way that was exciting, inspiring and thought provoking.

He did a fantastic job.

The general theme of the talk was for technologists to understand the power they have, and to teach other people how to treat them. I’ve done this for many years and I try to pass on my wisdom to as many people as I can. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to listen. So many technologists work untenable hours, say yes when they know they should say no, don’t demand to be part of the planning of work. Basically, see themselves as just employees who should accept the arbitrary whims of “management” as if they hold superior power in the relationship.

It’s an equal partnership and you should expect to be treated with that respect. You are trading your highly desirable skills for money. Pure and simple. Project managers, vice presidents and directors can’t create the foundation of the company (meaning the software being sold), just as technologists can’t go out and perform the tasks of marketing the product, selling the product, establishing business partnerships, and accounting. Neither can survive without the other.

If you are constantly allowing someone else to dictate how much work you can, or cannot, perform in chunk of time without giving your input, then you have some choices.

  1. Keep doing it and hope that it changes – which it won’t. That’s called insanity.
  2. Teach everyone in your organization how to treat you.
  3. Leave.

And if you are fearful of losing your job, then approach the situation from a position of strength. If you find that others are not receptive to you changing the relationship, go find other people who are willing. One of Paul’s points was a quote from a book/movie that I can’t remember was “you need a job, but not this job.”

As technologists, we can always find work. Every day, the world is more and more reliant upon the software that we create.

Session Reviews

I sat through several sessions before I gave my presentation on mobile web app development.

First up, was a talk on Salt. I’ve had plenty of experience since I’ve now built two products on it, and I wanted to see a lively discussion and hopefully share some experiences. Unfortunately, I spent more time working on my own presentation than listening because I still wasn’t happy with it, but what I heard was good. He covered the basics of how to configure minions from the master and handled managed files.

Next up was a talk on JavaScript testing. A very well done presentation on many easy things developers can do to ease automated testing of dynamic JavaScript code – a notoriously hard thing to do. Kudos to Jordan.

After lunch, I sat in on a talk about establishing trust in your work relationships. It was a somewhat interesting topic, but nothing of any real substance was discussed. A lot of common sense topics about how to be a professional and treat everyone you work with with respect.

Then I did my presentation, and for as dubious as I was about how it was all going to flow, I was surprised how it ended up fitting together. I was also concerned with the fact that I was covering four different frameworks. While I hit my time perfectly, I didn’t feel satisfied that I gave the code part of the presentation enough focus, and I was right, as one commenter noted in his feedback.

I want to give the presentation in a couple more venues and I’ll do some moderate reconfiguring to show more code and talk about building an app with more focus for the next time.

Last up, I attended a really cool talk about gadgeteering. A wooden puppet was manipulated via the laptop with a microprocessor attached to the back and all the limbs. It was a lot of fun.

The People

As always, I saw a lot of old friends, and made a couple new ones. I’m always amazed to learn the ideas and projects that people are working on. It’s very humbling because just when I think I’m doing something cool, someone tells me about something that makes me jealous.

And though I didn’t get to talk to him, Cal Evans pulled off another fantastic event. Everything went smoothly, he adroitly handled some last minute speaker changes, and made sure everyone was happy and had everything they needed. Thank you, Cal, for stepping up in such a big way to make Nashville that much better for its technology community.

Can’t wait ’til next year.


Many thanks for Jacques Woodcock and Kathy Evans, for they are the eyes, ears, and arms for Cal and made the weekend successful.