The {codemotion} experience

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While I put this blog together I can feel the exhilarating feeling that I got when I ‘won’ a free ticket to the 2-day {Codemotion} Amsterdam 2017. Codemotion is a European tech conference held across several countries and attending it for the first time is a unique experience in itself.

This blog is about my experience at Codemotion as a first time attendee. So, here we go.

What is codemotion all about?

In my experience Codemotion provides you with a platform where you can share and be a part of others’ innovative ideas and experiences – be it industry related or about your own personal pet project – to like minded people who are eager to learn new and upcoming developments in the field of software technology.

As aptly put on the Codemotion’s About Us page – “Codemotion is the ecosystem devoted to innovation, focused on developers and coding. Pioneering spirits, we scout the future to deliver a first class experience to our people. Get involved in Codemotion, join Codemotion People. Discover Codemotionworld. Let’s code the future.”

I attended the conference as an attendee but it appeared to me that whether you are an attendee or a speaker you can always go back home with a new experience. In my case, I did!

Is it only for Dev?

While the name suggests ‘code’ conference I wouldn’t say it is entirely for the coders. IMHO, Opsers (Operations engineers / specialists), DevOps engineers, web designers, testers can also find such conferences interesting especially when a wide range of topics that are presented. Topics in this conference ranged from Dev to DevOps and from browser security to hacking. If you are one who likes doing cool stuff like playing around with raspberry pies then there is something in there for you as well.

The talks that interested me

Being a DevOps engineer I intended to attend most of the DevOps topics but my inclination towards security, testing and automation drew my attention towards a few other topics as well.

Day-1

Day-1 started with an introductory keynote by Hendrik Blokhuis, CTO Cisco Systems on “The power of Connections” followed by “The Most Important Thing” by Mike Lee. While these inspirational talks are an integral part of codemotion, I was too excited to see some cool technical stuff.

As I was eagerly waiting for the next technical talk, it could have not started better than with “Security testing in CICD using OWASP ZAP” by Simon Bennetts. OWASP stands for ‘Open Web Application Security Project’ and ZAP or the ‘Zed Attack Proxy’ is the world’s most popular free security tool that helps in finding web application vulnerabilities. It is OWASP’s flagship project. It is an interesting tool for developers, for security professionals and for automated security tests that can also be triggered using its Jenkins plugin. More on this in my upcoming blog.

I was impressed by the engaging talk by Ben Gidley and Tim Charman who presented in a very casual way, how browsers can be made more secure. In their talk – “Now you can trust your browser”, they explained how software security such as white-box cryptography & obfuscation can protect you from MITM attacks by applying these techniques to JS code running in a browser. Didn’t I say Codemotion is for Opsers as well?

While I was extremely keen on knowing more about Docker and containers or docker-ized containers, per say, I found the talk “Docker Inside/Out: the ‘real’ real-world of stacking containers in production” by Daniël van Gils interesting. But IMHO, I found the talk a bit superficial for people who already know what Docker does and can do. While I was more interested in diving into a few use-cases and a few know-how’s of stacking containers in the real world, the presenter could not give elaborate information since it was all proprietary information that he could not reveal. Well, well in that case I was a bit disheartened but nevertheless this was just the beginning of more and more interesting talks and I was waiting for something that could open the Pandora’s box for me.

The one thing that I was already disliking by this time was that codemotion had not organized enough headsets for the attendees and I almost missed the first half of the previous presentation due to the same. Multiple talks on DevOps planned in the same time slot were also giving me a feeling of missing out on few of the nice talks. But with just limited time in hand in the two days of conference I was literally running from one ‘container’ (the places where talks were held) to another.

Half of the day was well spent, time for some speculation and to get some food and prepare for the next series of presentations, but not without socializing with other techies in the dining area.

The second half of the first day started for me with an insightful DevOps case study by Michiel Rook in his talk – “The road to continuous deployment: a case study”. In his talk Michiel spoke about how he strangled a legacy application with a modern service architecture and created a CI-CD pipeline. I liked the approach taken by Michiel’s team in this implementation and the fact that they could foresee and implement a mature DevOps model was something that I appreciated. I was keen on knowing more on the automated testing area as this is one of my current areas of interest, but the clock was ticking and it was time for another interesting talk on security.

“JWT, WTF?“ by Phil Nash, provided an insight into securely authenticating users on client-side applications using these fancy little tokens, as Phil says. While Phil’s talk was informative, the fact that he also demonstrated how to generate the tokens and play around with them kept me imbibed throughout the talk.

End of day1 with such new insights and loads of information to register and process. What could be the best way to end such sessions with some beer! Let’s head on to Day-2.

Day-2

There could be nothing better than starting your day with the lovely smile of speaker such as Terri Burns, from Twitter, who gave an insightful keynote on “Bad people, bad computers”. The talk was not technical, quite apt as it was not intended to be. It was about the prejudices that we, as techies, teach a computer and its impacts on humans.

While Mark Heckler talked about “Clouds & Containers: Hit the High Points and Give it to Me Straight, What’s the Difference & Why Should I Care?”, I was of the opinion that I missed on the “differences and why should I care”- part in the talk and I think, IMHO, that the presenter could have been more specific on the topic without detailing more on and about the containers. However, the talk was rated ‘beginner’ and as one of my colleagues later told me (and I sort of agree with him) – Maybe I did not have enough coffee to begin my day with!

So, it was time for some strong coffee followed by “Relevant search results (with Elasticsearch)” by Jettro Coenradie. With my small exposure to ELK stack, it was interesting to see how to return relevant search results to the user in this ‘beginner’ rated talk by the presenter in his very relaxed and composed way. This is another interesting topic for me to write a separate blog on.

Since, in my limited IT exposure, I had not heard much about Cisco in the open source community, I found the talk on “Microservices and containers networking: Contiv, an industry leading open source solution from Cisco” by Luca Relandini, as worth attending. Before this talk I was not aware of how to maintain networking abstraction for micro services. The key take-away for me from this talk is to play around with service discovery and service routing while working with Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, Mesos, Nomad and the likes.

Now came the time to attend one of the most inspiring talks for me in the entire 2-days of conference. This is about how you can personally grow as a software engineer. The best of the professionals are the ones who chase wild dreams, choose seemingly impossible missions and no matter how they chalk out a way to accomplish those dream projects. Too much philosophy? Well, well, “Creating Art with a Raspberry Pi” was one such talk by Stephanie Nemeth who demonstrated how she came up with a pet project to experiment with LEDs, hardware and Raspberry Pi to make cool, useless (that’s right) stuff. I was presented by a similar opportunity by TMNS Hackathon (#tmnshackathon) wherein all of us ‘geeks’ participated in making some cool stuff on our own. There is a separate blog on this in the TMNS blog section as well, which is worth reading.

The last motivational talk for me was from Aisha Sie on “From Doctor to Coder: A Whole New World?” who spoke about her adventurous journey from being a doctor to a coder, the similarities between the technical and the medical worlds and about her learning process. The talk was ‘inspirational’ and well did it serve its purpose on me. Good job Aisha!

My overall experience

While you may expect a lot of good, knowledgeable and renowned presenters you should also be prepared to see some upcoming passionate engineers who are excited to share their ideas. You may not necessarily learn, but who said codemotion is all about learning. It is also about having fun, getting motivated, seeing some cool projects and returning home with lot of new ideas and enthusiasm. You can always make use of the opportunity to provide feedback on how you found a talk (good, average or bad).

Well, when the talks got too much, there was always an option to speak to and socialize with likeminded people. In my case I had a very engaging conversation on software engineering and environmental impact, followed by a few drinks and returning home with an open mind. See you at the next Codemotion!

Disclaimer: Views in this blog are personal do not necessarily reflect those of TMNS, a Devoteam company.

2017-06-13T12:54:39+00:00 13 June, 2017|

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