Every November I always come to Brighton, and look forward to it for most of the year. Most people like Brighton in the Summer. Maybe for Pride. Or maybe for the Brighton Fringe festival.
There’s also the Brighton marathon, Brighton Triathlon, London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and, my second favourite Brighton regular, the London to Brighton Mini run that I wish I could attend every year.
But the one event that always keeps me coming back to Brighton is FFConf. Now in it’s 11th year, the modern web conference always pleases with a mix of reassurance that I’m still up to date with modern technology and plenty of shock and awe at the things some people are capable of building with a bit of knowledge (and perhaps a 3D printer!).
Hosted and curated by Remy and Julie of Left Logic the event showcases a variety of themes and topics throughout the day. I especially enjoyed 4 talks from the 2019 edition, which I’ll write about purely for brevity, not to do any of the other speakers a disservice.
Engaging with Empathy
Sharon was excellent, and talk me a lot about empathy and how to handle certain situations. I’m also very much looking forward to completing her course on Communicating with Empathy.
My main takeaway from Sharon’s talk was that you need to create a safe space, because people need to be able to ask for what they need. I’m definitely an advocate for this (and no doubt also been a blocker to in in the past).
How to become a developer in 2020 with no time and no money
Amina’s talk delved into the problems with a lack of diversity in the tech industry, including some frustrating facts around diversity in some of the biggest tech companies. However there was also a measured assessment of ways that new developers can approach getting into the industry. It was an excellent overview of possible ways into a career in tech (used some of them myself back when I was a young developer with little time and little money). Let’s just say that Bootcamps are not necessarily the answer, but asking for help is certainly going to result in a lot of valuable help.
The biggest thing that I decided in Amina’s talk was that I am going to really start mentoring. It’s been on my radar for a while, and I’ve made offers to mentor people but it often comes to nothing. So having been a silent(ish) supporter of Codebar Kent, 2020 will be the year I pull my finger out and go mentor as much as I can. Oh, and I must also get better at asking for help myself.
Taking the Web Off the Screen
Adventures in reinventing interfaces
This talk was just the perfect way to round off the day. Apart from introducing me to the web USB and bluetooth APIs, and mimicking the Gameboy camera in Chrome then printing to a USB thermal printer. Suz showed how you can write a new protocol, based on the ESC/P printer control language.
The talk then transitioned into an emotional and serious warning about how the introduction of the internet of things might be a terrible thing. For example the Amazon Sidewalk project is a terrible infringement of everyone’s privacy.
Again I was filled with inspiration to follow their example and built my own internet connected devices, to avoid the huge invasion of privacy or security vulnerablilities that seem to come hand in hand with letting corporations into our homes.
All in all I yet again had a wonderful day at FFConf, and as well as learning loads as usual I came away more inspired than ever. Of course I promised myself I’ll do all the things, but with a family and the usual day to day things getting in the way, I’m already doubting I’ll get anything actually built.
But then again, there’s always the possibility that if I go crazy and build something cool, I might just be able to get on the FFConf stage one day, so let the planning begin!
To finish, I’d like to thank Alice Bartlett (@alicebartlett), Harry Roberts (@csswizardy), Laura Kalbag (@laurakalbag), and Anna Migas (@szynszyliszys) for fantastic talks as well. It’s been a long time since I laughed as hard at a talk as I did to Alice Bartlett’s Getting more from Git! The other talks were awesome too and you should definitely watch all the video when they come out at 2019.ffconf.org.
To date, I’ve only missed 2 FFConf events ever (I think!), and I hope to never miss another one.