Talks & Conversation Snippets from Strangeloop 2016

A sampling of talks

In no particular order, here are some of the talks that I liked. It’s not a complete list!

Caching at Netflix: this was pretty cool! They moved a large chunk of their cache into SSDs and saved 70% on cost. Some good stuff about their overall caching architecture, too.

Rebuilding Monitoring at Scale: Jennie Lees from Riot Games gave a talk on monitoring, and the evolution of their monitoring system. How do you wrangle all your services and convince them to keep & use metrics? How do you collect your metrics and make them useful? Good high-level overview of a metrics architecture, including how to migrate gradually.

Systems Programming as Swiss Army Knife: Julia Evans gave a very excited talk about, basically, a few command-line tools for debugging: strace, perf, ngrep, netcat, tcpdump, etc. Here’s the zine version.

Reasoning about performance (in the context of search): Dan Luu gave a super-fast-paced talk on guestimating performance, using a toy version of search at Bing as an example. Hint: bloom filters.

Good conversations, aka “the hallway track”

What’s up with monorepos? Twitter uses a monorepo, and as a dev at Twitter I like it just fine. Dan Luu has a pretty cool blog post about it. The Google build system talk briefly discussed monorepos. Lots of people make scared faces when I mention the monorepo! I think that mostly you need your tools to support you, and then it’s great.

What’s gonna happen with web assembly? Idk it’s gonna be weirrrd. Lots of good spitballing about what-ifs re: the near future of the web ecosystem. Are we gonna see super duper weird languages and frameworks crop up around web assembly? Gee I hope so!

Metrics! What are they even? Performance! What is it even? And what about logs?

Elm! Lots of people were suuuuper excited about Elm. Also about the first-ever Elm Conf, which happened on the pre-conference day. Most people I talked to about Elm liked it but were like “hahaha nope it’s not ready for production yet,” which is totally fair. I still haven’t given Elm a try — I probably should!

Books! What books are you reading lately? My two favorite new-to-me authors from this year are Nnedi Okorafor and Octavia Butler.

Lots of people I talked to were like “maaaan X is super cool and I know nothing about it, which is why I’m going to this talk, but I don’t understand it at all.” This is great! I love going to talks that are way over my head. It’s definitely more difficult, and really draining, but it can be a great way to learn what sort of stuff other people find interesting / difficult about a topic.

Culture! Lots of people were excited to talk about inclusion in tech / diversity stuff / mentoring / teaching / blameless post-mortem culture / etc. Leigh Honeywell gave a great closing keynote on security culture.

Scala! I met a bunch of other people who share my feelings about Scala, which is to say: ehhh, it’s pretty good, but I’m more interested in it as a tool to get a job done — now let me tell you about what I’m using it for

I also met some people who genuinely really like Scala and think it’s great and that was interesting too!

A bajillion Clojure and Haskell enthusiasts who, unlike the Scala folks, are in love with programming languages for their own sake.

I also ended up at a table full of polyglots / language enthusiasts / ehh insert your preferred descriptor here and we talked about Hebrew and Japanese and Esperanto and German and Latin and etc.

ZINES OMG DO YOU LOVE ZINES? TELL ME ABOUT ZINES. I was lucky enough to end up in an ad-hoc zine discussion group and it was the loveliest thing. Anyway, do you have some zines that you like? Share them with me!

(If you can’t tell yet, I like hearing people talk about what they’re excited about, even if I don’t find it exciting, and I want to learn why they find it exciting.)

TLDR; would recommend.

I quite enjoyed my first Strangeloop. Hopefully I’ll get to go back in 2017!