CodeMash 2018 Review

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codemash, conference, review

After missing CodeMash last year for my wife’s cancer surgery, I was able to make my triumphant return to CodeMash this year.

I had a great time, meeting new people, talking to old friends, and getting to spend some time with coworkers (old AND new). The food was fantastic - not sure if anything had changed, specifically, but much better than my last visit. My co-workers and I played the Artemis simulator with another group of folks, and that was a complete blast. Somehow, though, I ended up as the captain, which I wasn’t quite ready for. I did get to say, “Make it so”, so that made me feel better.

With all that, let’s get into the detail on the pre-compilers/sessions I enjoyed!


Day One - Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Getting Real without Getting Fired – Saying Things in a Way People Can Hear

Presented by Allison Pollard & Marcus King

Allison and Marcus did a great job collaborating on this session. I walked in a little blind to be honest, as I had chosen the session based solely on the title alone. What I learned, however, is that a lot of people have the issue of “being able to tell it like it is, but nicely”. The one thing thats stuck with me, for some reason, is the discussion on “trust”. I generally lack any trust in an individual that I’ve only just met. Should I change my way of thinking, and give people the benefit of the doubt? I’m still thinking about this one, so thanks Allison and Marcus!

Leading in a Complex World

Presented by Doc Norton & Diane Zajac

Doc and Diane presented a fantastic session from start to finish. They placed us in groups and had us work together, which I always worry about, but it worked out wonderfully. Every step of the process they walked us through, led perfectly to the next and taught us leadership concepts the entire way. Honestly, if I could, I would attend this again. Great job!


Day Two - Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Webapp Pentesting for Developers and QA Persons

Presented by Brian King

This year, I decided to mix it up and check out some security related sessions. This pre-compiler was a great choice. Brian walked us through many details of pentesting/hacking, and then assisted us in learning (at a high level) some pentesting applications (Burp Suite and ZAP Proxy). This was a session I walked away from with enough “nuggets” of knowledge to go back to work and see what I can break :)

No afternoon session for me :(

Apparently, today was the day everybody decided to attend the pre-compiler. I was ~5 minutes late finishing lunch, and every single room was packed. Some were standing room only, and for a 4 hour session with a laptop, that just doesn’t work.

I went back to my hotel room and napped.


Day Three - Thursday, January 11, 2018

AWS Security Essentials

Presented by Aaron Bedra

At our company, we’re exploring migrating our servers (100%, everything) to AWS. I likely won’t be too involved in that transition, but I still like to have some cursory information, especially as it relates to security. I learned quite a bit from Aaron in this session, and as we look to migrate, will be keeping the details in mind. Check it out if you’re new to AWS!

Getting Started with Deep Learning

Presented by Seth Juarez

Okay, so, in the “picked a session I probably shouldn’t have” category… Now, I should say, this has NOTHING to do with Seth - he’s a fantastic speaker. The biggest problem here is the amount of depth (deep learning?), and mathematics this session went into, that I, honestly, was not prepared for. I haven’t looked at the type of equations Seth was presenting for YEARS, and I just couldn’t keep up. Needless to say, this one fell flat with me, but was entirely my fault. However, if you’re up on your mathematics, and are looking to learn more about deep learning, this session IS FOR YOU.

Automated Security Testing with the OWTF

Presented by Jerod Brennen

In a “learn something way out of left field” for me, which includes the finer details of application security/pentesting, I left this session with fantastic information about the OWASP OWTF tool and how to start utilizing it to break, I mean secure, my applications!

Becoming a Servant Leader, Leading from the Trenches

Presented by Sarah Dutkiewicz

2018 is my year, for a variety of reasons, but specifically related to increasing my leadership. When I saw the title (and presenter, of course!), I knew I had to sit in. Sarah gives fantastic presentations, and I knew this would be no exception. I’ve followed Sarah for a while, so I knew she had strong leadership skills that aligned with my style, making this a no-miss presentation. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Check this session out if you can!

Machine Learning for Gamers: Dungeon Forecasts & Dragon Regressions

Presented by Guy Royse of Nexosis

I try to never miss Guy speak, and this year is no exception. He’s great about weaving geekery into his presentations, even when it has to do with machine learning! I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t (yet) understand machine learning, but I still had a great time.

You Will F**k up & that’s Ok (How to be a Male Ally in Tech)

Presented by Ronda Bergman

The current status of the software development industry is getting worse, at least to me, but I never know what to do or how to do it. Ronda gives fantastic advice on a variety of topics on how to be a Male Ally, and letting us guys know that we’re going to screw it up - but as long as we’re sincere about our dedication to making tech a better place for everyone, not just men.


Day Four - Friday, January 12, 2018

Public Speaking without Barfing on Your Shoes

Presented by David Neal

I am entirely petrified of public speaking, yet I so desperately want to. David gives great advice in this session, that honestly, has me already thinking about session ideas. If you have aspirations of public speaking, but are still on the fence, stalk David to his next presentation of this session.

Chrome Developer Tools: Raiding the Armory

Presented by Greg Malcom

Greg did such an awesome job in this presentation. Not only did he teach, but he did so in a humorous fashion, which I completely appreciate. If you’re curious about being more productive in the Chrome Developer Tools, check this session out if you get a chance, I bet you’ll walk away learning something.

Advanced Patterns for Automated UI Testing

Presented by Seth Petry-Johnson

Seth is my boss, and was going to be discussing practices and processes we use daily, so I kind of had to go, right? Well, the good news is, Seth never disappoints in his presentations. Granted, I didn’t learn anything in this session, but it was nice to see a positive response to the topic from other attendees.


Conclusion

I’ve already said how much of a great time I had this year, overall, but I’d like to outline the top 3 sessions that really hit home with me this year (in order):

  1. Ronda Bergman - You will F**k up & that’s Ok (How to be a Male Ally in Tech)
  2. David Neal - Public Speaking without Barfing on Your Shoes
  3. Sarah Dutkiewicz - Becoming a Servant Leader, Leading from the Trenches

Naturally, I respectfully thank every single speaker for their contributions to CodeMash 2018, but I have to give these three speakers a special shout-out for literally changing the way I think.

Thanks to everyone who made CodeMash 2018 a fantastic time! The leadership committee, volunteers, speakers, and naturally, the sponsors!

See you next year!

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