Before I begin, I must get this off my chest just for the sake of receiving a small level of sympathy….
Monday morning I was in Pakistan (GMT +5) sitting impatiently waiting for my flight only to discover a part of the aeroplane was dodgy resulting in a 10-hour delay. After sitting around 10 hours in a posh Islamabad hotel and attempting to snooze 8 hours in a PIA plane (bear in mind I demanded a first class seat for the heartache they had caused me. That didn’t work, the best I got was three seats to myself), I arrived back to the frozen lands of the UK at 3am Tuesday morning. As much as the Pakistani half of me loves snow, I honestly was not at all pleased driving home in it. And set off that same afternoon arriving in London that evening to get comfortable for the start of the Software Developers Conference NDC London 2018.
Now, as you can imagine, I was jet lagged at some next level. But as soon as the conference started, my excitement level soared and I felt totally switched on. Over the three days I attended 20 talks in total, each talk was relevant in some way shape or form to my role as a developer. I would love to cover each talk in this blog, but I don’t want to bore any of you, so I will cover the talks I found most interesting.
Go & Micro-services
I was quite eager to attend this talk on micro-services and was curious to hear experiences of other companies as we are actively thinking of ways to break our monolith.
The talk was presented by a Senior Engineer from Monzo. The talk focused on the company’s last two and half years building backend systems consisting of 400 micro services using go, docker and kubernetes. One really cool addition to their app was a feature, which enables the user to ‘freeze’ their account card if it’s lost, and to ‘defrost’ if found.
The question asked by the presenter was why have banks not already added this feature to their apps? It is just a bit flag to the database. Simple. And would make life a lot easier for users who lose their cards.
Serverless in production, an experience report
Yan and Domas discussed how AWS Lambda has changed the way they deploy and run software, but this new serverless paradigm has created new challenges to old problems – how do you test a cloud-hosted function locally? How do they monitor them? How do they log. And how do they start migrating from existing architectures. The explanations for each of these posed questions were discussed in detail over an hour, therefore I will add the link to the talk once it has been published online.
Code Is Not Neutral: the Ethics of Programming
Clarissa Peterson a User Experience Strategist gave a super interesting talk which really got my developer mind thinking. Every code we write, are we thinking; will this be harmful to anyone? Can it be used to cause damage or will it make decisions based on what we may perceive as unethical thinking? During part of the talk, Clarrisa gave a thought-provoking example of a self-driven car, which loses brake function and is fast approaching a pedestrian crossing on which children are crossing. Now the programme has to make a decision, swerve and hit the nearby bollards and kill the 5 passengers in the car who are all doctors, or continue driving and knock down the children. Can the programme we input make an ethical decision based on the current circumstances? Impossible I would say. Any option chosen would lead to unwanted deaths, and the responsible person would be the programmer who wrote that logic. In reality, a person in this sort of situation could save himself or herself and continue with life and learn to overcome the guilt or trauma caused. Would a programmer be able to live with the death of doctors or children knowing that they themselves wrote the logic behind the final choice made?
Talk: Solving Diabetes with an Open Source Artificial Pancreas
By far this had to be the most inspiring talk I attended. Scott Hanselman works in Open Source on ASP.NET and the Azure Cloud for Microsoft out of his home office in Portland, Oregon. Scott was diagnosed with diabetes type 1 over 20 years ago and developed an app (like you do) to aid in managing his condition. During this talk he touched on how diabetic patients do not have access to their own blood glucose readings to manage their own care, inspiring him to create and combine numerous hardware and software to create an artificial pancreas! Check out this following link discussing how LoopKit and OpenAPS works:
I truly found his talk inspiring as his ideology could impact millions of diabetic patients around the world helping them manage their condition. I was thinking of dropping my own ideas to Scott by sending him some tweets or tracking down his discussion forums. Has he thought of adding the ability to the software to detect physical activity of diabetic patients? I mentioned this moments before I took a selfie with him. His reply was we need additional developers to come on board and give us ideas and help develop them further.
After suffering severe jet lag, the three days were refreshing. Each talk consisted of super interesting information, which is too much to write about, and I am afraid I would not do the presenters justice by giving summaries of their talks. So I am hoping you, who is reading this gets to look into the event further and reads up on what each presentation consisted of in detail and what can be taken away from the information they presented.
Here is my Selfie with Scott Hanselman. Thanks tombola, for sending me.