• Jun 7- 8, 2019
  • ·
  • MotorCity Casino, 2901 Grand River Avenue, Detroit

Maureen McElaney: Keynote - Digital Discrimination: Cognitive Bias in Machine Learning

MCC 1/2, Saturday, 9:00 AM


With increasing regularity we see stories in the news about machine learning algorithms causing real-world harm. People's lives and livelihood are affected by the decisions made by machines. Learn about how bias can take root in machine learning algorithms and ways to overcome it. From the power of open source, to tools built to detect and remove bias in machine learning models, there is a vibrant ecosystem of contributors who are working to build a digital future that is inclusive and fair. Now you can become part of the solution.

About Maureen McElaney

Maureen McElaney is a Developer Advocate at IBM Center of Open Source Data and Ai Technologies and enjoys broadening IBM's understanding and involvement in open source communities. Prior to joining the team, she worked as a QA Engineer at and is passionate about building tools that increase developer productivity and joy. She is an experienced community builder and is passionate about increasing diversity (of all kinds) in tech.

Byron Woodfork: Keynote - Mid-Career Survival Tips for POC

MCC 1/2, Friday, 9:00 AM


Figuring out what it is you want to do or what sort of company you want to work for in the middle of your career is a tough task. Juggling that with the obstacles that we face as people of color in tech can make things seem pretty overwhelming. This talk is directed to aid those in the middle of their careers figure out a path forward through aligning their values with their company, finding mentorship and getting paid what they're worth.

About Byron Woodfork

Byron is a lead software engineer who's passionate about forming awesome teams, writing quality code, public speaking and mentoring. Byron has always held a strong passion for tinkering with technology and that led him down his chosen career path. As a team lead, Byron enjoys helping mentor developers of all levels, working towards improving code quality, team processes and company culture.

Charles Hall: Accountability for Accessibility (a12y 4 a11y)

MCC 3, Saturday, 10:00 AM


Accessibility is a shared concern, not a delegated task. We are each accountable. We may hold each other to account.

I believe we should no longer tolerate a lack of accessibility on the web. Every excuse is inexcusable. Every preventative action is toxic. Accessibility can come from collaboration; community; inclusion; mentoring; encouragement and accountability.

About Charles Hall

Charles is a Senior UX Architect at MRM//McCann in Detroit, helping humans help humans through technology.

Designing since 1988. Developing since 1993. Entrepreneur since 1996. Agencies since 2000. Accessibility since 2008. MRM//McCann since 2012. W3C since 2013. Mentoring since 2014. UX throughout.

Janani Subbiah: Android, iOS and Web Best Friends Forever: The BFF pattern

MCC 3, Friday, 11:00 AM


Developing an app supported on multiple frontends AND talking to many backend services? Introducing the BFF! The BFF aka Backend For Frontend(s) service acts as a single point of contact for multiple UIs, an orchestrator that sits in between backend IT systems and the frontends. It increases consistency and cuts down on code duplication across platforms. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The BFF pattern comes with some shortcomings! Learn what it’s like to build a BFF for a multi-UI-platform project, the use case for this pattern, its pros and cons, and decide if it’s time to befriend the BFF.

About Janani Subbiah

Janani Subbiah is an application developer at Detroit Labs with experience building backend services and Android apps. What started out as long hours of playing Dangerous Dave on the computer paved the way for her software engineering career. While not at work or hacking on the next thing on her ever-growing list of things to learn, she can be found enjoying a good book, blogging or planning her next vacation.

Sarah Withee: Building an Open Source Artificial Pancreas

MCC 1/2, Friday, 10:00 AM


Have you ever thought about what open source software or hardware could achieve? What if it could help improve people's lives by solving some of their health problems?

After the medical tech industry kept promising a system to help automatically manage insulin for type 1 diabetic people and never delivering, some people got together to find ways to do it with the tech they already had. Over the past few years, a "closed-loop" system has been developed to algorithmically regulate people's blood sugars. After reverse engineering bluetooth sensors and 915 MHz insulin pumps, the system became possible. As a diabetic, I also built this system and saw my sugar values stabilize much more than I could ever achieve doing it manually myself. Now I'm working on contributing back to the projects as well.

I want to talk about this system, from a technical side as well as a personal side. I'll talk about OpenAPS (the open artificial pancreas system) and how it works, what problems it solves, and its safety and security concerns. I also want to show how it's helped me, and what this means for my health now and in the future. I ultimately want to show how we, as software developers, can change people's lives through the code we write.

About Sarah Withee

Sarah Withee is a polyglot software engineer, public speaker, teacher and mentor, and hardware and robot tinkerer located in Pittsburgh, PA. She has a passion for technology, and has ever since she wrote her first computer programs in elementary school. She captivates audiences with both popular and powerful technical and anecdotal talks. She gives workshops to teach programming and hardware building to women in tech, as well as to students of all ages. She's mentored middle and high school robotics teams to world championships. She's even helped organize five conferences, been on a Google Year in Search video, and started the viral hashtag #SpeakerConfessions. She lives up to her username @geekygirlsarah.

Jamie Wright: Building a Realtime Websocket API in Phoenix

MCC 3, Friday, 3:00 PM


Sometimes consumers of your APIs require near-realtime communication because regular RESTful HTTP apis can be a few milliseconds too slow. These performant and scalable APIs can be made over websocket TCP connections where events are pushed from client and server in near-realtime fashion.

This talk is a story of how I built such an API. We'll look at why this decision to create a websocket API was made and we will take a look at the data that supported this decision. We will take a deep dive into Phoenix websockets, channels, and transports to expose the underlying architecture. Finally, we look at how we tested the API, how we authenticated users over the channels, and how Phoenix helped this all happen with relative ease.

About Jamie Wright

Jamie Wright is a maker of internet things with a love/hate relationship for Redbull™, standing desks, and paintball guns. He has a love only relationship with teaching, learning, and building bots. Jamie runs Tatsu, a software bot that helps teams save time by performing standup meetings over Slack.

ahmed jalloh: Coding out the Clink

MCC 1/2, Friday, 3:00 PM


This talk is about the journey of a former incarcerated prisoner who went from Coding in the Clink to his transition on the outside, coding out the clink. What started as a program in 2009 at Marion Correctional Institute as the Agile Factory with a few old Pentium 3 machines peaked the interest of not just men inside, but also volunteers and community members beyond the scope and purpose for which the program was intended. This collaboration between prisoners and IT tech professionals led to our prison conference know as Coding in the Clink. With such programing like this who needs prisons, after part of your rehabilitation brings a skill set that’s very much in demand and could possibly make you a living! However the majority of prisons are still inadequate in programing and resources. And while the Agile Factory provided a valuable skill set that men could take to college or possibly use on the outside, nonetheless with exposure to software craftsmanship prisoners still face barriers to employment. This talk will present personal experience navigating this nontraditional route to a difficult modern industry.

About ahmed jalloh

Developer evangelist at Central Ohio Urban Syntax. Yoga enthusiast and advocator for minorities in Tech and community organizing.

Gary Fleming: Continuous Entropy

MCC4, Friday, 2:00 PM


Our software lives in an entropic state. The world changes around it: new bugs appear, new versions, new operating systems, new hardware. Our systems must change or face eventual demise.

We often adopt approaches to continuously deploy our systems, but what if we had tools that let us continuously upgrade them too; pushing the entropy back a little bit each day.

We'll talk about CI/CD, and some advanced practices we can use to keep our systems continually fresh, continually rejuvenated.

About Gary Fleming

As an agile coach focussing on technical practices and software crafting, Gary Fleming tries to help teams fill the gaps they have when it comes time to do the work. Sometimes that means helping development teams better their testing practices, increasing their communication, or learning how to do reliable, well-structured, well-tested, continuous delivery many times per day.

Mike Schutte: Dealing with /Regexion/

MCC 3, Saturday, 3:00 PM


We’ve all been there. You want to to parse a string with a bit o’ regex. You have to account for things like dashes and three-digit-numbers and words-that-start-with-capital-letters. So you cobble together some sketchy stack overflow results, toss em between those infamous forward slashes, and cross your fingers. Maybe 10% of the time you get what you want, the other 90% leaves you with an empty string or nil. Either way, your heart feels fragile, and you just need a hug.

This, my friends, is regexion. Like rejection, it hurts. Don't feel bad though, it happens to everyone. We love expressive syntax, so it’s hard to not see regex as inscrutable black magic. This talk provides context for why regex is worth the effort and dives into advanced techniques like capture groups and lookaheads. You will walk away with the tools and mindset to face regexion with courage and optimism.

About Mike Schutte

Detroit based. Bozeman, Seattle, and Denver roots. Finding my kicks via software development, running, music, film, books, sociology, team building, and relationships.

If a life story is a chandelier — made up of an ornate collection of hooks, loops, chains, and light — mine is anchored to the ceiling of the world by a love for learning.

Grishma Jena: Deciphering Data Science

MCC 1/2, Saturday, 3:00 PM


Data Science is changing the world - but what does it mean? Why use it? What questions can it answer? This talk introduces Data Science and explains the Data Science pipeline and algorithms using real-life examples. It is aimed at budding data scientists and anyone curious about interpreting data.

About Grishma Jena

Grishma is a Cognitive Software Engineer with the Data Science for Marketing team at IBM Watson in San Francisco. She earned her Masters in Computer Science at University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests are in Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. She was recently a mentor for AI4ALL's AI Project Fellowship Spring 2018 where she guided a group of high school students to use AI for prioritizing 911 EMS calls. In her free time, she writes, cooks and likes conducting workshops and delivering talks. She likes explaining things in an easy-to-understand format, drawing analogies from real-life (eg. using Uncle Scrooge to explain Greedy Algorithms

Jana Beck: Developers, go the f*ck to sleep

MCC 1/2, Saturday, 4:00 PM


Sleep deprivation is a little discussed public health epidemic of global proportions, and developers are far from exempt from it. In this talk, we'll take a look at recent sleep research: what sleep's for, what it's composed of, and how much—and when—we need it. We'll dive deep into the factors that make healthy sleep difficult for devs including exposure to short wavelength-heavy LED displays after sunset and the myth of the "MIT cycle."

This talk is a personal one: I'm a recovering insomniac and a former adherent to the "I'll sleep when I'm dead" school of sleep hygiene (or lack thereof). But I've turned a corner, and I'm now crusading—personally and publicly—for better sleep, so we'll spend the second half of the talk on practical tips for improving your sleep, from getting to know your Circadian rhythm and setting a consistent schedule to hacking your thermal environment for faster sleep onset and better quality sleep.

About Jana Beck

Jana took the long road to web development with a significant delay as a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics doing a lot of scientific computing in Python. Today she works as a front end engineer supporting data scientists at Stitch Fix. When she's not coding or sleeping, there's a high probability that Jana is sweating in a dance studio or a gym.

Fen Slattery: Digital Accessibility Beyond Legal Compliance

MCC4, Friday, 4:00 PM


Roughly ten percent of people have a disability that directly impacts their use of digital technologies, and lawsuits against inaccessible websites are becoming more and more common. The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 require us to build accessible technology for people with disabilities, but that shouldn't be our primary driver for being inclusive of all users. How can we move beyond seeing accessibility as a legal requirement, and into championing inclusion for people with disabilities? In this talk, I'll discuss additional motivations for building accessible technology and how to help build empathy for the cause of accessibility within your organization.

About Fen Slattery

Fen Slattery is a web developer who specializes in front end and accessibility. They are the Accessibility Lead at Clique Studios Chicago, where they build beautiful things and work towards a more inclusive digital world. They have spoken across the US to audiences of all skill levels, been featured on many panels about inclusion in the tech industry, and have spread their passion for accessibility as a podcast guest

They come to the world of programming from a psychology and physics background at the Illinois Institute of Technology. In their spare time, Fen can be found writing zines, running roleplaying games, and taking their cat for walks.

Mercedes Bernard: Empowering Early-Career Developers

MCC 1/2, Friday, 11:00 AM


How can teams invest in and grow their less experienced developers into team-leading senior devs? I believe the first step is empowering them. On my team, we’ve created a process for each team member to lead and own one of our core features. Our early-career developers are learning client management and team leadership skills that they wouldn’t usually get to practice until they stepped into a senior role. In this talk, I’ll share what we’ve learned and a framework for you to create a process tailored to your team so you can provide your early-career developers the opportunities they need to become successful, senior team members.

About Mercedes Bernard

Mercedes Bernard is a senior software engineer with Tandem in Chicago, Illinois. She has worked with clients in a wide range of industries including (but not limited to!) healthcare, performing arts, beverage distribution, hospitality, luxury consumer goods, and government. In her projects, she values technical know-how, non-technical language, and empathy so her clients and team members feel empowered, comfortable, and heard. Outside of work, she tries to unplug and enjoys fiber arts, particularly dyeing wool, spinning yarn, and crocheting. She's also started a mentorship community in Chicago for those starting their dev careers called Dev Together.

Megan Boczar: Gender Microaggressions in the Workplace

MCC4, Friday, 10:00 AM


Let’s face it. If you’re a woman, you’ve probably had some pretty crappy stuff said to you at work. But did the guy who said it know how crappy it actually was? Microaggressions are small, often seemingly-harmless comments that can make folks in any kind of minority feel out of place or talked down to.

This session is for folks of all genders, races, sexual orientations, and ages who want to be a little more conscious about the way they treat one another. You’ll leave with plenty of examples of how to recognize microaggressions and how to deal, whether you’re the recipient, the supplier, or the passer-by.

About Megan Boczar

Megan has been a software developer for just over a year. She graduated with a degree from the University of Michigan in anthropology with minors in museum studies and Polish language, literature, and culture. Since graduation, her passion for data took her around the outskirts of development for several years, before she finally jumped into a bootcamp at Grand Circus in Detroit. She now serves as a co-founder and Executive Director for Tech-Inclusive, a non-profit organization to provide safe learning opportunities and networking events for minorities in tech and their allies. She works as a Software Engineer at Torrance Learning in Chelsea, Michigan.

Matthew LaForest: Get Progressive with it

MCC4, Friday, 3:00 PM


Responsive web design! Mobile first! Hybrid apps! We are continuously bombarded with new ideas about the best way to develop a new application. For a small team, effectively delivering across many platforms can be a problem, but delivering a hybrid app frequently falls into an uncanny valley trap.

Enter Progressive Web Apps, your website now is truly installable as an application on a mobile device. Progressive web apps leverage newer Web APIs to allow you to interact on a deeper level with your client including offline support, notifications, and more. Learn the techniques for building a Progressive Web App, the new design considerations you should take into account when doing so, and how it lets you iterate quickly on new ideas.

About Matthew LaForest

Always avoiding the fads to explore the systems that felt "right" to him. Matt has developed a passion for developing maintainable quality software that delivers what his customers really need (even if they don't know what that is). He jumped on the React bandwagon pretty early, and is passionate about helping that community develop better practices to help them develop quality maintainable software.

In his spare time, which with two toddlers is basically non-existent, Matt like to explore what is next, after JS and/or React, and doing projects around his house, like attempting to finish a basement despite no knowledge of construction or carpentry.

Veronica Hanus: "Git hook[ed]” on images & up your documentation game

MCC4, Saturday, 1:00 PM


Can you remember the difference between two hex color values? Me neither! Entering visual representations of recently-changed elements into version control makes review of past changes easier & speeds acclimation to a new web project, especially for visual learners. Surprisingly, methods for including images in your version control aren’t standardized and are rarely used outside of large companies, and the rest of us are left checking out every major commit and viewing changes locally! Join me for a review of methods currently in use and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each. The audience will learn from a survey of tools used by both designers and web developers, what methods are most appropriate for individual projects, & how these methods differ from those used at some of the largest companies (Google, eBay, etc.). Finding a method to track changes in your visual elements will save our future contributors (and future selves!) the pain of having to distinguish #2dc651 (lime green) from #34a34e (darker(!) lime green) and ultimately make our commit histories cleaner and our repos easier to navigate in ways that many of us have never imagined!

About Veronica Hanus

Before Veronica was a programmer, she was a researcher (she helped pick the Mars Curiosity Rover’s landing site!) with an eye for process improvement. As she’s taught herself web development, she’s brought her research approach from her time at NASA-JPL & MIT into whatever she was learning. She loves exploring the web and teaching, and recently co-taught a PyCon tutorial on using web-scraping and modeling to predict Oscar winners. When she isn’t learning how the web can be better for developers, she enjoys blogging, nerding out about documentation, and snuggling as many cats as possible.

Laura Mosher: Harry the Hedgehog Learns You A Communication

MCC 1/2, Friday, 1:00 PM


We know how to communicate — we do it on a daily basis, so why spend time perfecting something you feel you already know how to do? Well, what you say and how you say it impacts how you are understood and how others perceive you. In written communication, a single missing comma can wildly change the meaning of what you said. In this talk, we’ll walk through 5 tips that improve how you communicate. Using real world examples, we’ll show how common these pitfalls are and how to overcome them. You’ll leave armed with the ability to positively impact your relationships through how you communicate.

About Laura Mosher

Laura is a software engineer with a passion for clean code and oxford commas. She’s passionate about creating a better world through code, kindness, and understanding. When she isn’t coding, she enjoys rescuing hedgehogs, making things, and playing games.

Arthur Doler: How to Work with People: A Guide to Playing Nicely with Others

MCC4, Saturday, 3:00 PM


Humans. No matter what we might wish, we have to work with them to get stuff done. Unfortunately, when we join a team it doesn’t come with a manual. Figuring out how to get things done and get everyone pulling in the same direction can be a nightmare.

But it doesn’t have to be! In this example-driven talk you’ll learn what a personality type is, you’ll learn some methods for communicating better with others, and you’ll dip a toe into the psychology of team dynamics - all without having to read a huge textbook or a bunch of manager-focused books trying to sell you something. You’ll come away with tools you can use to be a better teammate and to create a stronger team, regardless of your role. Let’s get started actually working together!

About Arthur Doler

Arthur (or Art, take your pick) has been a software engineer for 14 years and has worked on things as exciting as analysis software for casinos and things as boring as banking websites. He is an advocate for talking openly about mental health and psychology in the technical world, and he spends a lot of time thinking about how we program and why we program, and about the tools, structures, cultures, and mental processes that help and hinder us from our ultimate goal of writing amazing things. His hair is brown and his thorax is a shiny blue color.

Stephanie Vaughn: “I’m Just An Engineer” - What Are the Ethical Responsibilities of Developers?

MCC 1/2, Friday, 2:00 PM


Computer scientists at Harvard built Artificial Intelligence (AI) which could identify gang crimes. This development in the practice of predictive policing has immense potential to "ignite an ethical firestorm" as stated by Science Magazine. Yet, when asked about potential misuses, the researcher responded, "I'm just an engineer."

Do developers have an ethical responsibility when it comes to developing tech that ultimately becomes a tool of state violence? Should they have a say in how the tech they build should be used once it’s delivered to the client?

In this talk, I will examine how efforts to move tech forward are built on statistical biases, and why those who build these things should care. I will also discuss what a code of ethics could look like when approached by developers.

About Stephanie Vaughn

After being adopted by Chicago for 14 years, Stephanie hit 'RESET' and returned to her hometown of Detroit in 2015 to reboot her writing ambitions into a tech career. This bold move has since yielded a foray into Computer Science education and working on staff with nationally recognized STEM education programs like SMASH and tech diversity organizations like Black Girls Code. With over a decade of experience in media-focused Communications, the Grand Circus (Javascript, '16) and Integrate Detroit (Software Development, ‘18) alumna is always looking to share her passion for the T in “STEM” with developers & non-developers alike.

Brandy Foster: I'm Still Black and You're Still Racist (aka Why your pro-diversity culture is hiding toxic racist parasites)

MCC 1/2, Saturday, 10:00 AM


Today every organization is pro-diversity. They exclaim it on their websites and list all the great things they do in their job descriptions. Which is good. Like, way better than it was. But, not many organizations are doing the hard work at increasing inclusion amongst their team members. Hard conversations are not being had. Changes are only superficial. It’s still uncomfortable for me in my black skin to exist in these majority white spaces because white folks are still uncomfortable with my black skin. In this talk we’re going to address these truths head on. I’ll share my own and other black developers experiences and we will walk through ways you can develop the empathy, patience and courage needed to be okay working beside a black person tomorrow.

About Brandy Foster

Brandy Foster is the mother of 2 awesome boys, an android developer, diversity and inclusion coach, active and impassioned educator/mentor for youth in tech (aka - she be doing the most).

Ben Lippi: Math For Fun and Profit – From Someone Who Hated Math Class

MCC 3, Saturday, 2:00 PM


If you're anything like me, you used to hate math class. Too many equations to memorize, too few real-world applications. But don't worry, it can get a lot more fun when you have a real problem to solve...and you can offload the tedious parts onto the computer. Come learn how to use Python to turn math problems into fun puzzles to solve. We'll use the world of Dungeons & Dragons to model some problems and help you learn the best way to slay a dragon with math.

About Ben Lippi

Benjamin Lippi is a High Voltage Battery Validation Engineer for Ford Motor Company, which is a fancy way of saying he spends his days writing code to make the process of testing car batteries more efficient. Benjamin discovered a love of Python in 2016 and has never looked back. He enjoys contributing to the community via conferences and online forums. He's also an advocate for his fellow introverts, taking every opportunity to share his own experiences (and using his extrovert girlfriend as an energy shield when need be).

Peter Ritchie: Naming Things

MCC4, Friday, 11:00 AM


There are 2 hard problems in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-1 errors. This session is about naming things. In software, we need to name classes, methods, properties, libraries, and solutions. We also have to give names to variables, parameters, namespaces, interfaces, services, resources, etc. And most of the time, they can't conflict. Sometimes it's easy but sometimes it can be hard. We'll do a quick review of some of the easy guidelines that avoid some (somewhat easy) decisions then look into the things that require names that involve a deeper understanding of context. What the contexts are, their granularity, and how that can alleviate naming issues will be covered. How the types of contexts and their motivation and good compartmentalization makes for easier naming will be detailed. We'll dig into some details of English grammar that should relegate naming is hard as a code smell—something that hints at deeper problems in the structure of the code. And finally, time permitting, some techniques and ideas to relegate *naming is hard* to problems of the past will be outlined.

Naming is hard, even with existing guidelines. Let's dig deeper to find out why and how to make it easier.

About Peter Ritchie

Peter Ritchie is a Software Architect with Quicken Loans.

Peter has been working in the software industry since 1990. He has worked in a variety of platforms and languages including DOS, OS/2, TOS, Windows, C, C++, C#, HTML, JavaScript, etc. Peter has been involved in a variety of project complexities from games to multi-node distributed systems.

Jocelyn Harper: Open Source: Diversifying the Initiative

MCC4, Saturday, 10:00 AM


The industry as a whole talks about diversity and inclusiveness, but what are the applicable steps to take as a whole? How can we apply these measures to the open source community and successfully push ourselves forward? In this talk, I will talk about why diversity and inclusion matters, how to vet organizations that claim to uplift and promote the under marginalized, and active steps that you can take as an individual to participate and support your marginalized peers.

About Jocelyn Harper

Jocelyn had a large passion for technology since the age of 9 where she taught herself HTML and CSS to build websites and design layouts in Paint Shop Pro. Many years and Java coding boot camp later, she is a Senior Associate Software Engineer at Capital One where she is enjoying working as a full-stack engineer and is also the host of Git Cute Podcast, a technology podcast that is aimed at providing technology and career advice without the humdrum and heaviness of technical jargon. Outside of work, Jocelyn devotes a portion of her time to traveling around the country giving technical presentations and talks about diversity and inclusion within the tech sector. With the rest of her time, you can find her decompressing with video games and spending too much time on Twitter.

Coraline Ada Ehmke: Programming Empathy: Emotions as State Machines

MCC 1/2, Saturday, 11:00 AM


Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. As developers, empathy for our users, our coworkers, and members of our community is an undervalued skill, since expressing emotions is often perceived as a weakness. But responding to the emotions of others is critical to working successfully on a team. This talk will frame emotions as neurological programs, with distinct triggers and multiple terminal states. The goal is to help us understand that when we act as fully realized human beings, and treat others the same way, the quality of our software will improve.

About Coraline Ada Ehmke

Coraline Ada Ehmke is an open source advocate and developer with over 20 years of experience. She was recognized for her work on diversity in open source with a Ruby Hero award in 2016. Coraline is the creator of the Contributor Covenant, the most popular open source code of conduct in the world with over 40,000 adoptions. She is a founding panelist on the Greater than Code podcast. In her free time Coraline pursues her interests in artificial intelligence and writes and records music in her home studio. Find her on Twitter at @CoralineAda or on the web at

Andrew Burke: Punk Rock Software: Fast Websites and Cheeseburgers

MCC 3, Saturday, 11:00 AM


As rock music became self-important and bloated in the 1960s and 1970s, the punk scene provided a refreshingly different approach: instead of album-length concept pieces, they favoured fast impactful songs that lasted less than 2 minutes.

Similarly, modern websites are often like a prog rock triple-album: bogged down with megabytes of large images, fancy visual effects, and of course advertising and trackers, reflecting some bloated corporate checklist made by a committee. Sometimes what's really needed instead is something quick, fast, and efficient - Punk Rock Software.

This talk takes lesson from music history - and my experience replacing a bloated "Burger Week" promotional website with a fast-loading mobile friendly single-page-app - to share an inspiring message that bigger isn't necessarily better, and focusing on the core of what's really needed can dramatically improve your software.

About Andrew Burke

Andrew Burke has over two decades of professional software development and technology experience, but he also has a graduate degree in literature and a life-long fascination with history. This gives him insights into the growing intersection of technology and culture. He has spoken and keynoted at conferences and events across North America for over a decade. He currently lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Chris Nelson: Rewriting a Bus Detective: a real time app case study

MCC 3, Friday, 1:00 PM


Bus Detective is a mobile application to track the location of your bus based on "real time" updates from the Cincinnati Metro system. After a few years in production, it was starting to show its age and become difficult to support. Recently, we decided to rewrite Bus Detective using Elixir and Web Components. In this presentation, we'll share what we learned along the way. We'll talk about the problems that led us to want to rewrite Bus Detective, and how the rewrite solved these problems. We'll look at how leveraging the Elixir (and Erlang) ecosystem let us simplify our architecture and see substantial performance gains. We'll share how rewriting our front end code using Web Components let us shed large amounts of code and complexity while reducing external dependencies. We'll also discuss some UI challenges and solutions you might want to think about while building real time apps.

About Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson is the Co-Founder of Gaslight, an agile software development firm in Cincinnati. He heads up DevBuilders, the company’s apprenticeship program, mentors young developers and sets technology direction. What does he love most about his job? Sharing what he’s learned from nearly 20 years developing software across a wide range of industries. Chris has given workshops across the country and spent time teaching at Dev Bootcamp in Chicago. He’s spoken at RailsConf, RubyConf, JavaOne, HTML5 Developer Conference, No Fluff Just Stuff, CodeMash and many others.

Toria Gibbs: Search Engines: How They Work and Why You Need Them

MCC4, Friday, 1:00 PM


Do you ever wonder what is happening when you click the “Search” button on a website? The search bar is the most important feature of many applications and yet most people don’t know how it really works!

Databases provide rudimentary search tools, but a truly effective search function will use a custom search engine. In this talk, we will learn about why search engines are important and how they work “under the hood” by utilizing simple data structures to provide fast and meaningful results.

You should leave this talk knowing when to build a custom search engine and what open source tools are available to help you do so!

About Toria Gibbs

Toria Gibbs is a Senior Software Engineer on the Search Platform team at Shopify. She is interested in back-end development, distributed systems, information retrieval (including databases and search systems), cloud platforms, and container orchestration. Toria holds a computer science degree from the University of Waterloo. In her spare time, Toria bakes cookies and plays the bassoon in a wind orchestra.

Tori Brenneison: Teaching Skills for Technical Experts

MCC 3, Saturday, 1:00 PM


Bad news: tech folks are not always the most compelling teachers. (It's not our fault; we're used to teaching computers how to do things, not people!) Good news: teaching people is a learnable skill. Best news: this talk is a quick primer on educational philosophy, curriculum development, and content delivery for technical experts. We'll cover learning styles, effective communication, and audience management (aka how to “read the room”), along with an introduction to some free, web-based teaching resources. Participants will leave ready to share their expertise with the world via more effective conference talks, workshops, and one-on-one mentoring.

About Tori Brenneison

Tori Brenneison is a software developer/art historian whose purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others. When not writing integration code in a language no one has ever heard of, speaking at conferences, or teaching web development to teenagers, she can usually be found hiking, petting dogs, or admiring her collection of midcentury glassware. Best to approach her in the wild with a sacrificial cup of coffee, and be forewarned: she's a hugger.

Fabricio Nogueira Buzeto: The Error Of Our Ways - Continuous change by accepting failure

MCC4, Saturday, 4:00 PM


It’s expected that an experienced team would avoid common issues through the use of all the known tools available. One of the most reliable among those is the development process. For the past four years, I’ve chosen a different path that involves letting such process emerge instead of enforcing it from the start. Let me tell you how I went from a solo CTO, to building a team of experienced and novices that managed to shape our process. Not to its final form. But into a resilient strategy that is constantly changing. Showing how we purposely did not use any of the major, well-known frameworks, and through frequent self-evaluation are continuously evolving our way of work. Not in search to be perfect, but to adapt to the changes of the business, the users and the team itself. I’ll share the path, mistakes and lessons from this period along with the tools we used to help steer the team and keep learning through the process.

This is the story of a small fintech company that started out to build a technology that connects elderly people and banks. Over the course of these four years, the product team had to face many challenges. Ranging from the business model adaptations, embracing pivots, partner changes, and development speed. On the client side, building a UX to help seniors, team changes, security threats and connecting to the different parts of the company.

About Fabricio Nogueira Buzeto

I'm a mix of developer, researcher and entrepreneur.
Currently my main focus is running the technology that boosts bxblue.

I've been developing software since 2002, as CTO of the Intacto Software House, I've lead a wide range of projects in traditional and innovating fields attending clients both in the public and private sector.

During my entrepreneurial life I've took part on many successful and failing endeavours. My highlights includes leading the tech teams at Intacto for 10 years and startups such as Qualcanal, invested by 500 Startups Batch 5, and bxblue invested by Y Combinator S17.

My research side was mainly focused on the subject of ubiquitous computing and ubiquitous games. This lead me to be one of the founding members of the UnBiquitous research group at University of Brasilia where I was awarded my PhD tittle.

Today bxblue allows me to blend this three sides of myself, developer, researcher and entrepreneur in a unique experience that has proven to be both challenging and energizing.

Sara Cashman: The Web and the World: The Next Billion Users and the Digital Gender Divide

MCC 3, Saturday, 4:00 PM


By the end of 2019, about half of the global population will be online. However in many parts of the world, internet access is strikingly disparate by gender, preventing women from accessing modern technology. In a world where we access our money, education, and crucial information about daily life from the internet, promoting equal access to the web is key to promoting gender equality on all levels.

In this session, we’ll dive into where the next billion users are and what their lives are like, how these users are getting online, and how internet access is a gender equality issue. On the way, we’ll talk about how to design and develop for global users, since these next billion users will soon be key for any global company’s future strategy.

About Sara Cashman

I bring together endless curiosity and passion for all the amazing things technology can do to build clean, performant front-end experiences. I'm currently on the front end team for a niche e-commerce company, where accuracy and cross-browser functionality are key. I also believe in the power of community and lifting up other people into where they want their tech careers to go. A previous Chapter Leader for Girl Develop It, I co-founded Inclusive Tech Lab to focus on bringing the abundance of tech talent in the Boston area and those who want to learn those skills together. When I'm not stuck in an internet rabbit hole, I love volunteering at the Museum of Fine Arts, getting outside on a hike or to the beach, and reading.

Marla Brizel Zeschin: Things I Wish I Knew Before Going Remote

MCC 1/2, Friday, 4:00 PM


Remote work is just like working in an office - minus the soul-crushing commute. How hard could it be?

Spoiler: it's actually pretty hard.

When I went remote, I was so excited to not pack a lunch that I didn't consider the implications of a quasi-reliable Internet connection or the psychological impact of spending so much time at home.

As it turns out, going remote isn't just trading a highway commute for a hallway one. It requires new skills and a mindset shift. In this talk, you'll learn how to assess your needs as a remote worker and gain a set of tools to help you succeed for the long term.

About Marla Brizel Zeschin

Marla is a self-described extroverted introvert based out of her cozy home office in Denver, CO. She currently works at Test Double, a remote, distributed agency dedicated to improving the way the world writes software. Marla has brought technology to bear on a variety of topics, including CI infrastructure, election administration, casino games, and more. When she's not at work, she can be found helping to organize Denver Startup Week or skiing in the Colorado backcountry.

Julien Fitzpatrick: Trans Eye for the Cis Ally: Ensuring an Inclusive Community

MCC 1/2, Saturday, 1:00 PM


Trans and non-binary people are becoming increasingly visible in the workplace, as well as in community spaces such as meetups and conferences. Most managers and event organizers want to be inclusive and welcoming but frequently, in spite of their best intentions, often come up short. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an actual non-binary trans person just tell you what you should be doing and why? VOILA! Allow me to swoop in and fix your interview process, your community event, even your office space! Can you believe? Shamazing!

About Julien Fitzpatrick

Julien Fitzpatrick herds Rubies and wrangles JavaScripts in scenic Portland, OR. In their spare time, they enjoy hanging out with their dog JPEG, exploring the beautiful outdoors of the PNW, and lifting heavy things only to put them down again.

Cecy Correa: {Vulnerability: True} Surviving Code Reviews and Brutal Interviews

MCC 1/2, Saturday, 2:00 PM


Let's talk about vulnerability in tech. Two aspects of our careers in which we're the most vulnerable are code reviews and tech interviews.

We’ve all been there: getting ripped apart in a pull request or having a really bad tech interview. Those are times we can feel at our most vulnerable, especially if the experience is particularly negative. These events cause us to doubt our abilities, make us question our career choices, and in some cases, lead some to leave the industry altogether due to burnout. How do we protect ourselves through these vulnerable events?

In this talk, I will give actionable feedback on how to improve our collective code review and tech interview experience.

We'll learn how to write bullet-proof pull requests to minimize unproductive feedback, and how to talk to your manager or teammates about improving the code review process.

We'll also cover how to prepare yourself both technically and mentally for technical interviews, and how to deal with the fallback of a negative tech interview in ways that are productive and healing for you.

About Cecy Correa

Cecy Correa is a developer who has dedicated her career to teaching and mentoring women and minorities about how to start a career in tech. She is the co-chapter leader of Girl Develop It Austin and organizes the Austin on Rails meetup. For her day job, Cecy is passionate about good API design as a programmer at ContextIO. In her spare time, Cecy is an avid film fan and sometimes puts her film degree to good use.

Denise Yu: Why are distributed systems so hard?

MCC4, Saturday, 2:00 PM


Distributed systems are known for being notoriously difficult to wrangle. But why? This talk will cover a brief history of distributed databases, clear up some common myths about the CAP theorem, dig into why network partitions are inevitable, and close out by highlighting how a few popular consensus algorithms mitigate the risks of operating in a distributed fashion. We'll also take a look at how to design systems for greater adaptability by human factors, which can help reduce the impact of programmatic uncertainty. Almost all slides will contain original illustration featuring mischievous cats masquerading as sysadmins. By the end of this talk you will have a better understanding about the design trade-offs involved in architecting for distributed systems, and hopefully be inspired to start doodling tech concepts!

About Denise Yu

Denise is a Senior Software Engineer at Pivotal Cloud Foundry. She likes to draw technical concepts using cats and rabbits instead of real sysadmins. She will write a longer bio a little later on.

Jennifer Tu: You Can’t Bubblebath The Burnout Away

MCC4, Saturday, 11:00 AM


When external expectations build into burnout, it can feel like the only two choices are soulcrushing grind or fleeing from the pain. But what do you do when you return from your coffee break, your lunchtime meditation break, or your relaxing vacation -- and the dread and toil begin to destroy you again?

Sometimes taking a break or stepping back is enough to reset to a sustainable state. And sometimes it’s not.

Let’s talk about how to tell the difference, and what your options are when you can no longer bubblebath the burnout away.

About Jennifer Tu

Hi! I'm Jennifer (she/her) and I'm an executive and career coach who also writes code because why *not* make your job your favorite parts of working in tech?
I'm a co-founder of Cohere, a small consultancy that helps engineering teams work better together through coaching and trainings. Come say hi! We can talk about hiring processes or petting dogs or what coaching is like or my inexplicable adherence to double spaces and Oxford commas and run-on sentences.

Maurice Hayward: You're Doing UX Unconsciously 😴, Now Let's Make It Conscious ⏰ and Intentional 💪

MCC 3, Friday, 4:00 PM


UX (User Experience) is a vast field that touches all aspects of product development from research, design, and implementation. Understanding UX and why it’s important can be very daunting. However, it may be the case that you are already doing UX without realizing it!

In this presentation, you’ll find out about my experiences learning UX, see how I increased UX awareness in my team and how my team went from doing unconscious UX to doing it intentionally and with purpose!

You will walk away with a clear understanding on how to apply UX principles to your projects. Along with that, you will have new methods for introducing UX to your team.

About Maurice Hayward

Maurice, a Hampton Roads Virginia native, interests lie in the intersection between software development and mathematics. He interned at NASA Langley, working on statistical modeling and machine learning projects. Maurice is currently employed as a UI developer at Ferguson Enterprise, where he is working on applying UX principles to internal tooling!