I visited Birmingham for the very first time last week, to give a talk at Hackference. Apparently the organiser always swears that it will always be the last hackference, and it has been "the last one" for the last four editions. Teehehe!
I spoke about Servo. They didn't record the talks but I did an screencast, so here's it:
If you watched this talk at ColdFrontConf, this one has more clarifications added to it, so complicated aspects should be easier to follow now (specially the explanations about layout calculations, optimisations, parallelisation and work stealing algorithms).
People enjoyed the talk!
And Martin got so intrigued about Servo, he even sent a PR!
I didn't get to see much of the city, to be honest, but two things caught my attention:
a) it was quite empty even during 'rush hours' b) people were quite calm and chill
That's perhaps why Jessica Rose is always saying that Birmingham is The Absolute Best place. I will have to find out some other time!
A very funny thing / activity / experiment happened in the slot before my talk. It was a reenactment of the BBC's Just A Minute show, which I have never watched in my life. Essentially you have 4 participants and each one has a little device to "stop the show" when the active participant messes up. The active participant has to speak for a minute on a given topic, but they cannot hesitate or repeat words, so it starts getting challenging! This was organised and conducted by Andrew Faraday, who also helped run the Web Audio London meetup a while ago and is always an interesting nice person to talk to.
So this, this was hilarious beyond anything I expected. I guess because I didn't expect any funny thing in particular, and also because I didn't have any preconception of any of the participants being a "funny person" per se, so the whole comedy came from the situation and their reactions. It had some memorable moments, such as Terence Eden's "unexploded item in bagging area" (in relation to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 exploding fiasco, plus the very annoying voice that anyone who's ever used a self-service checkout till in the UK will recognise 😏).
After so much laughing, I was super relaxed when the time for my talk came! Every conference should have Andrew doing this. It was excellent!
Other interesting talks and things:
- Felienne Hermans' on machine learning and bridge playing AIs built with DSLs built with F# - I basically don't know much about any of these subjects, so I figured this could be an interesting challenge. You can watch this recording of this talk from another conference, if intrigued.
- Martin Splitt's aka geekonaut talk on WebGL - if you have the chance to watch it, it will be quite informative for people who want to get started in WebGL and learn about what it can do for you
- I'm certainly not a Web Audio beginner, but I tend to watch those talks anyway as I am always curious to see how other people present on Web Audio. Hugh Rawlinson's presentation on Web Audio had a few interesting nuggets like Audiocrawl, which showcases the most interesting things in Web Audio. He also worked on meyda, which is a library to do feature detection using Web Audio.
- Jonathan Kingsley gave one of the most depressing and hilarious talks I've seen in a long time. IoT is such a disaster, and the Dyn DDoS attack via IoT devices, just a couple hours after this talk, was so on point, it almost seemed deliberate.
- Finally Remy declared his love for the web and encouraged everyone to get better and be better to others - and also stressed that you don't need to use all the latest fashions in order to be a web developer. It's good when renowned speakers like Remy admit to not to like frameworks, despite also seeing their strengths. A bit of balance never hurt anyone!
The conference had a very low key tone, let's say that it was a bit "organise as you go", but due to the small scale of the conference that wasn't much of a problem. As I mentioned before, everything was pretty chill and everyone was very approachable and willing to help you sort things out. It's not like a had a terrible problem, anyway: my biggest problem was that my badge had been temporarily lost, but no one told me off for not wearing a badge while inside the venue, and I eventually got it, heheh. So yeah, nice and friendly people, both attendees and organisers.
I also liked that everything was super close to the train station. So there was no need for additional transportation, and we could use the many food places in the station to have lunch, which was super convenient.
Oh and Jessica as MC was the best, I really enjoyed the introductions she prepared for each speaker, and the way she led the time between talks, and she was really funny, unless presenters that think they are funny (but aren't).
If you have the chance, attend the next Hackference! It might the last one! 😝