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DevPulseCon 2017

Back on April 20th I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at my first DevPulseCon, put on by CodeChix. I’ve worked with CodeChix before, back in 2013 I did an OpenStack tutorial in Palo Alto. Then in 2014 I went with them on the road to help with the PiDoorbell workshop at PyCon in Montreal. These experiences were all very fulfilling. CodeChix founder Rupa Dachere has a great vision for all the events she works on and always manages to bring a great team together to execute them.

This conference took place over two days, the first made up of talks and panels, where I was participating, and a training day on the second. I was invited to give a tech talk on “Using DC/OS for Continuous Delivery” and to join an afternoon panel on “Getting Your Next Job – Groundwork You Need To Do Before You Start Interviewing.”

DevPulseCon 2017 was held in the upstairs event space at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Rupa did the event introduction, explaining that the event was made up of female engineers from various companies around the bay area. I go to women in tech-targeted events infrequently enough that I find myself really enjoying the environment. Walking into a whole room of highly skilled women who I can geek out with about infrastructure and tooling is quite the departure from what I’m used to at tech events.

The first talk of the morning was by Mansi Narula, Senior Data Architect at eBay, who spoke about NoSQL Database Platforms. She gave a high level overview of Mongo, Cassandra, Couchbase and Hbase and the basic rules around how they are all used at eBay. It was interesting to learn that internally they have a database selection tool that helps developers select which database platform works best for whatever they’re working on based on criteria they present, like speed, reliability and purpose of the data store.

My talk was up next. I began with a basic introduction to DC/OS and what it brings to the Continuous Delivery equation by simplifying a lot of the underlying infrastructure. Jenkins has an Apache Mesos plugin, but in spite with my own background using Jenkins in past roles, preparing for this talk this was my first time really getting a close look at that particular plugin. The demo I did used a Python script to bring up a simple pipeline of changes being made to a repository, uploaded, tested, and deployed on a web server. I customized it some for the event, having it publish a “Hello world” type post specifically for DevPulseCon attendees. I concluded the talk by talking about some of the DC/OS 1.9 features I felt were particularly applicable to folks interested in running an infrastructure platform, including strides made with metrics and logging. I uploaded the slides here (PDF) and they include links to some other resources and the demo I showed.

Thanks to Nithya Ruff for the photos of my presentation (source)

The final tech talk was given by Gloria W., titled “IoT: Yes You Can!” where she broadly outlined the space of DYI internet of things and then dove into some details about how you might get started. She started by talking about the constant struggle of anyone developing in the IoT space around making sure devices are provided with power and some way to communicate. From there she spoke about some of the specific tooling available today, trending toward recommending open source solutions where ever possible. She talked about using Arduinos with sensors, and I was interested to learn about the MATRIX Voice, “an open-source VOICE RECOGNITION platform consisting of a 3.14-inches in diameter dev board, with a radial array of 7 MEMS microphones connected to a Xilinx Spartan6 FPGA & 64 Mbit SDRAM with 18 RGBW LED’s & 64 GPIO pins.” How cool! Kit-wise, she advised attendees to try to steer clear of proprietary development kits since they try to push you onto their platform, and instead select ones that lean toward using open source and open standards. The talk concluded with a raffle where she gave away some of the devices she had brought along.

The afternoon was spent with a series of panels:

  • Getting Your Next Job – Groundwork You Need To Do Before You Start Interviewing
  • Company culture that works for YOU (not just the men in your team) – AKA “work/life balance”
  • Promotions, Visibility, toxic environments and how to deal with them

I can’t share details about these sessions since they did a really novel thing with these: Asked everyone to put down their social media devices and not share what was shared in these panels outside the conference. It allowed panelists and audience members alike to be really honest about their experiences, solutions and advice without risking that they’d be quoted somewhere. Huge thanks to the event for providing a safe space for these kinds of discussions, it was helpful and I think we sometimes suffer from not having enough of this in our industry.

The day concluded with a small after party in the lobby sponsored by Facebook. I am often shy at social events like this, but being a speaker helps, people came up to me to chat about CI/CD and the work we’re doing on DC/OS. I also met an attendee who I chatted about OpenStack with for a while. It was also nice to connect with some of the folks who I already knew at the event, like Nithya who I frequently fail to connect with at events and at home – both homes! She spends time in Philadelphia with her new role and yet our trips back east seem to rarely overlap. I was also amused that when I went to get a beer from the bar and declined a glass they said “the men want glasses and women want the bottle, it’s usually the opposite!” Oh yes, I was in the right place at this event.