Category Archives: Events

jQuery UK 2015

I attended jQuery UK past week, sorry about the delay in writing about it :-)

The organisation was as smooth as it could be. They made sure we knew where, how and when to go to places and treated us really well, so it was a pleasure to be a speaker in this conference.

I must admit I was stupidly silly with regards to the conference at the very beginning. My programming bias elitism was yelling on my brain “oh I MIGHT NOT NEED jQUERY! Who needs it these days anyway!?”

But turns out that

  1. there’s lots of people who cannot afford to compromise on customer support, so they have to go the pragmatic way, and
  2. there’s a lot about newest web technologies we can share with them too!

So when they asked me to talk about Web Components I opted to frame it in the most pragmatic way too: how to use them without shooting yourself in the foot, so you can start working in a more modular way and taking in all those advantages.

I asked before starting and from an audience of… 300? 400 people? approximately 20 had heard about Web Components and about 10? had implemented them in a project. So I ran a quick introduction on what they were, why they were developed and how they looked like, before tackling them interoperating with the four main “frameworks”: jQuery, React, Ember and Angular.

A write up on the results of my research is upcoming, but in the meantime you can look at the slides if you’re so inclined. Be aware that something in Nightly was crashing with the slides at the time I presented, so if your browser crashes (including Nightly for Android)… you know why ;-)

The talks I watched:

Addy Osmani gave an excellent talk on the state of Chrome’s developer tools and then explained how their team identified performance issues on Wikipedia, and how to fix them (this was related to Paul Irish advising people to not to use jQuery’s hide() method). Also, Paul is sorry for tweeting that without the proper context.

Natasha Rooney explained what Service Workers were and what problems they were meant to solve, but I am afraid if you had not a bit of background it would be a little bit confusing as the topic is *complex*.

Andy Hume explained various techniques on how to deliver fast experiences specially on mobile.

Alex Sexton infused us with a bit of South-West American culture and told us about don’t mess with Texas, then tried to find an equivalent for the web (don’t mess for the web?) with regards to hacking/building websites that cannot be hacked.

Jenn Schiffer explained all about vart.institute* and how it came to be. Also provided multiple screenshots of Dave Methvin keynoting at various jQuery events, which was quite amusing. And invited us to feel more empathy for people in the industry, which is a good thing if you ask me. *you can read it as fart and feel silly and it would also be totally OK

Estelle Weyl gave a very interesting talk on how to use forms and take advantage of all the cool features that browsers are already providing us but some people opt to rewrite in clumsy ways that go against all accessibility and usability best practices.

Ben Foxall did one of his shows (at this point we should call those a performance rather than giving a talk) where he involved everyone on the audience and elevated our phones from mere “phones” to interactive objects or “things” that transcend the simplest notion of “phone”.

I’m sorry I couldn’t watch the rest of talks, but it was great to meet Alice Bartlett, Rosie Campbell, Anne-Gaelle Colom, Rich Harris, Philip Roberts, David Rousset, and of course, Bodil Stokke!

After the last talk finished, we moved to the larger ‘hall’ style space where there were some snacks and drinks and people could mingle and ask questions if they hadn’t had the chance yet, so that was way better for me than going to a crammed pub, as I could walk between groups and speak to different people and not YELL ALL THE TIME. There were also some stands and also RETRO GAMES but I started talking to people and forgot to check out the games. AAAAH! Funny moment: Mike MacCana getting super excited about how he could help them setup multiplayer in DOOM using IPX.

All in all a very interesting conference for people who build websites and are willing to improve their practices or tooling… or both! I definitely learnt a bunch of things, so highly recommend checking it out next year!

In Berlin next week – what are the cool meetups I should attend?

I’m going to be in Berlin next week for a meeting, and additionally I plan on attending some local event(s) too. So far I’ve found up.front which I had heard about before and is organised by Good People I Trust! So I signed up. I’m really happy that it coincides with the week I’m there!

Anything else I’m missing?

How to organise a WebGL event

I got asked this:

Going to organize a series of open, and free, events covering WebGL / Web API […]

We ended up opting for an educational workshop format. Knowing you have experience with WebGL, I’d like to ask you if you woudl support us in setting up the materials […]

In the interest of helping more people that might be wanting to start a WebGL group in their town, I’m posting the answer I gave them:

I think you’re putting too much faith on me

I first learnt maths and then OpenGL and then WebGL. I can’t possibly give you a step by step tutorial that mimics my learning process.

If you have no prior experience with WebGL, I suggest you either look for a (somewhat) local speaker and try to get them to give an introductory talk. Probably people that attend the event will be interested in WebGL already or will get interested after the talk.

Then just get someone from the audience excited about WebGL and have them give the next talk

If you can’t find any speaker, then you’ll need to become one, and for that you’ll need to document yourself. I can’t write a curriculum for you, as it will take way more time than I currently have. WebGL implies many things, from understanding JavaScript to understanding 3D geometry and maths, to how to set the whole system up and running on a browser.

Or can start by learning to use a library such as three.js and once you become acquainted with its fundamentals, start digging into “pure WebGL” if you want, for example writing your own custom shaders.

Or another thing you could do is get together a bunch of people interested in WebGL and try to follow along the tutorials on WebGL or the examples on three.js. So people can discuss aloud what they understand and what they don’t, and help and learn from each other.

I hope this helps you find your way around this incredibly vast subject! Good luck and have fun!

Now you know how to do this. Go and organise events! EASY!

It’s actually not easy.

Notes on FOSDEM 2015

FOSDEM finished a few hours ago and I’m almost literally fusing with the couch from where I’m writing this, bad body posture and all. It’s the best I can do.

I presented the latest project I’ve been working on, node-firefox, at the Mozilla track today. I was screencasting my talk but there were mechanical difficulties (namely the VGA plug disconnected), and Quicktime went bananas with the resolution change, so you’ll have to wait until the recordings for 2015 are published to watch the talk. By the way, kudos to Ioana Chiorean for her well researched introductory notes for each speaker. She never ceases to amaze me :-)

It was really challenging to give this talk because there was people getting in and out of the room all the time, other people speaking out loud, and others playing games on a tablet (with sound effects!) and it was all so distracting that at some point I said something like “sorry, I’m really distracted”. I don’t know if that’s a “speaker faux pas“, but it was the truth! Ahhh! At least neither my live demos or Nightly crashed, so there’s that ;-)

I will write a post on node-firefox soon–probably for the Mozilla Hacks blog.

I spent most of Saturday finishing code + the talk so I only had the chance to watch a few talks by other Mozilla colleagues, and they were really interesting. Probably my favourite was Marco Zehe’s plea for rethinking the way we approach accessibility: it should not be an afterthought or a “nice to have” feature, it should be built-in from day zero. And it’s not only about blindness, it’s about motor impairment, cognitive impairment, color blindness… It’s not only about being able to “tab” between elements, but also about being able to understand their meaning. So many things we take for granted! We need to build for the people, but I feel we need to change our front-end culture of chasing the shiniest and nicest framework in order to get there.

I also wasn’t really thrilled about getting into the event itself. I found on Saturday that it didn’t have a code of conduct, or rather, it had a “social conduct policy” that verged on the antisocial:

The FOSDEM organisers were surprised to hear that harassment is a common problem at open source conferences around the world…

For an event this size, I expected them to have a code. I didn’t even bother to check! Even more, Mozilla is supposed to not to sponsor or attend events without a Code of Conduct. This was really disappointing. A year ago, I decided to never attend another conference without them. And there I was in Brussels and with a talk on my hands. What do I do? Do I just give up or just go ahead and do it?

I decided to do it anyway.

I sometimes go to places I don’t really feel like going to, so that someone else won’t feel like they’re the only one “not man”. It helps normalising the fact that women do exist in this field. It also puts a strain on me, but I want to think/hope that it will be less straining over time, as more and more diverse attendees join me.

Then on my way in, there was a group of Spaniards discussing out loud how German women are or not attractive. I’m highlighting “Spaniards” here because I am a native Spanish speaker, and I can be pretty sure there was no “misunderstanding” or cultural barrier here. I perfectly understood what they said. And when I hear that, I start wondering if they’re going to be discussing the rest of women they see at the event, the type of thoughts that are going through their minds, and that makes me uncomfortable.

Walking down the halls, I got those looks I hadn’t got in a few years—more specifically, since I stopped attending heavily sexist demoscene parties: “Oh, a woman!”. My colleagues that attended FOSDEM before had assured me it was a great event and it was all OK, but they are all men and their perception surely doesn’t include getting treated as an anomaly of sorts.

Thankfully, many attendees have called for a proper code of conduct. FOSDEM has replied, in a convoluted way, what many interpret as “we will have a code of conduct”:

Code of Conduct, message received. Booklet statement not evolved for 3 years, our way of handling issues has and will continue to improve. #

Some other attendees had made a fool of themselves declaring that CoC are not needed and “women are actually not interested in technology and engineering”. Pau, your behaviour is a good reason why women won’t apply to speak at FOSDEM. Have you stopped and considered that perhaps, maybe perhaps, women have less opportunities to change plans on a month’s notice and that’s why they can’t attend? Gah…

This “incident” aside, I had difficulty enjoying the event because of its busyness. The fact that it was all free and open for anyone to attend meant there was A LOT of people around, and while there were limits on the number of people inside a room for security reasons, there was no limit on the number of people circulating or just being on the halls. It was noisy and hot and damp, and as we say in Spanish “it smells like humanity” :-P . So if you have issues with crowded places, perhaps FOSDEM is not a place you want to be in.

I certainly won’t go back until they sort out their Code of Conduct and inclusiveness issues.

CascadiaJS 2015

I can’t attend this year, as I have to be somewhere in Europe at that time, but the two Cascadia events (2013 and 2014) I’ve attended have been some of the best conferences I’ve ever been to, both from the point of view of speaker and listener. Everybody is extremely supportive, respectful and welcoming, the organisers care an awful lot about you, I always come back with new friends and ideas, and learn a ton of stuff.

Their CFP is open until the 15th of March; please submit a talk! Or just attend and enjoy it! Trust me–you will!

I feel CascadiaJS 2013 was the first “proper talk” I gave. It took me a bunch of attempts until I got it sort-of-right! I also had lots of help from more experienced speakers, but specially Angelina Fabbro, who patiently sat down through my initial talk drafts, despite the terrible jetlag they were experiencing, and helped me edit and reshape the talk until it had the right flow. Then, the audience at Cascadia was wonderful, they were super forgiving of all the mistakes I was committing, and just laughed and engaged with me in a way that made it essentially impossible to give a bad talk.

A group of us were going to get lunch at La Taqueria in Vancouver, and Raquel Velez, who I admired, was there. I was fairly new to conferences and Mozilla in general, and I only knew Angelina from that group. I shyly introduced myself to Raquel, and she was approachable and open and made me feel super at ease. And then we sat down at a little park nearby to eat the tacos, and had this beautiful picture taken:

One of my fondest memories of the conference!

Sadly Raquel wasn’t at Cascadia 2014 but the rest of us did meet for dinner again last year, and with more new friends we found at the conference (hiii Florida!). It was great to discuss how things had changed, or not, and just generally be merry.

Another great memory of 2014 was CJ Silverio’s talk. I generally don’t get really moved in the same way that North American audiences get. Maybe I’m this boring grumpy ice-hearted European person, but listening to CJ made me, for the first time ever, want to stand up and clap like there was no tomorrow. I was part of that thing they call “standing ovation”. I felt like it wasn’t only me-there was more people like me. We were not alone! This is what Cascadia is great at.

Not the first time I link this video, and probably not the last one either:

My offer to you, potential speaker

I know I will miss being there this year, but being the troublemaker that I am, I want to sort of be there somehow. So if you’re unsure about proposing a talk, or propose the talk and get accepted and then are panicking because it’s actually your first talk and you don’t even know where to start, get in touch with me and I’ll help you. Go do it! :-)