Build Stuff Lithuania 2018

Debbie O'Brien
Dec 1, 2018 · 8 min read

What an amazing conference Build Stuff Lithuania, 78 speakers, 1,300+ attendees, 35+ countries and 215 hours of content. Wow.

Starting off with arriving at the airport and seeing Build Stuff signs and posters everywhere was just so cool. I had the pleasure of catching up with Heather Downing first thing in the morning and she kindly looked after me showing me where everything was. The main room was just out of this world. I sat there thinking next goal — I want to be on that stage, but slow down, I still had to give my first ever tech talk later that day. I was already full of excitement what with having a speakers pass and then seeing my name on the program, like come on that is just cool right!

The conference kicked off with words of wisdom by the amazing organiser Neringa Young “It’s not magic. It’s just code.”

That was followed by keynote speaker Denise Jacobs on how to banish your inner critic. This was such an inspiring talk on how to not listen to that other little voice in your head. The one that is always telling you your not good enough. It is interesting to see that in a room full of developers we all have fears and doubts about ourselves so it was great fun writing them down, crumpling them up in a ball and throwing them across the room. Imposter syndrome is such a big issue. Denise helped us to get rid of that inner critic — swipe left.

The day was filled with so many great talks that it was so difficult to choose sometimes. With 5 talks on at a time it really was hard. But I feel I made some great choices and attended some really good talks learning lots and making some great contacts. I am going to highlight just some of the amazing talks I attended.

The grandad of code Peter Milne took us through his architectural decisions at Adform sharing with us what technologies they were using in order to move from anarchy to usability and sustainability. And he reminded us that engineers are more creative than writers, musicians and artists.

It was a pleasure to be up next after Peter, from one architect to the next and to have him in the audience listening to me was such an honour. I gave my first tech talk ever — How we made frontend development faster and easier by building our own framework. My talk lasted about 40 minutes and I have to say I enjoyed every minute of it. I had a great reaction from the crowd and had them laughing along at my minion gifs in my presentation. It was such a great feeling just being able to share my experience of why and how we built what we did and even better to have people come up afterwards and ask questions as they wanted to know more. It was amazing and I just wanted to do it again. Even better was to see people sending tweets about my talk and it appearing on the big screen in the main room. Now how cool is that.

The first day ended with beer and networking and I got to meet some great people like Matthew Renze, Jeff Strauss and Jonathan Mills and we had some great conversations on JavaScript and conferences. Then followed by the speakers dinner where I got to mingle with all the speakers including those I knew from BuildStuff Mallorca that helped and encouraged me to attend this one as a speaker, thanks Denise Jacobs and Dennis Traub.

Day 2 again a full on, nonstop day of amazing talks. Loved Jonathan Mills talk on Progressive Web Apps which got me thinking of how I should really be starting to use these in some of my projects. PWA although not new in JavaScript seems to becoming more and more popular nowadays and Jonathan showed us how easy it was to implement it.

Next up was the brilliant Randy Shoup, a veteran of Silicon Valley, with his great talk on Microservices. Loved that he used my name in his talk to give an example on transactions, that was just cool. Really nicely explained and so interesting to hear that big companies like ebay have had the same coding problems that most of us are having to deal with it. I guess that just proves these legacy code bases can be fixed.

Another favourite of mine Jeff Strauss who gave a great talk on the JavaScript event loop and how setTimeout makes its way to the call stack eventually. Callbacks, Promises and Async /Await are on the tips of every JavaScript developer and it was fun to see the .NET developers try to get their heads round the fact that JavaScript is single threaded but that there are ways around it, kinda.

Domain Driven Design was another great topic of discussion and the importance of how us programmers need to make sure things are thought of correctly so as users don’t suffer from frustrating experiences. It was great to see Alexey Zimarev give the example of Ireland not having postcodes in the past which made it difficult for us to fill out forms online as the programmer had decided that the postcode was obligatory. Postcodes were only introduced into Ireland a few years ago. He reminded us that it is very important to ask questions like “why is this field mandatory?” or “What will happen if it is empty?”

After a great talk on chaos engineering from the great Russ Miles it was off to the BuildStuff party to cause a bit of chaos of our own. Magicians, live music, dancing, food and drinks and hundreds of developers it really was just great fun.

Day 3 kicked off with Sam Newman whose talk I found extremely interesting as it was very similar to a project we were working on, Microservices, Java, .NET and JavaScript and how they all link together. He also shared some great resources with us such as Vault for managing secrets and Synk for finding and fixing vulnerabilities in your dependencies.

Heather Downing gave a very inspirational talk on how to stand out as a developer. How to not be afraid of being different and how to know that you are good enough so that you can easily advance in your career.

Bill Dinger went on to talk about the top 10 vulnerabilities, security in .NET, Cross-Site Scripting attacks and JSON attacks. He went over the importance of protecting against using a component with known vulnerabilities and keeping your packages up to date. A very important talk especially after last weeks news of the popular node package that was compromised and code added to steal cryptocurrency information so yes extremely relevant talk and some things that we all should be putting into practice.

The day finished with a very inspiring talk by Jeff Strauss on how not to hit a brick wall as a developer and that if someone is better than you at something, chances are they have failed at it more than you have. He spoke about the importance of mentorship and how we all should have a mentor, various mentors and also mentor others. Having that person that can say ‘Hey you Can do it’ is extremely important. He reminded us that we need to grow to love the transitions that move us toward our goal and how we shouldn’t be afraid of what is laid out in front of us. Sometimes we are not afraid of failure but more afraid of success.

It really was such an amazing conference. Not just were the talks amazing but the whole set up, the organization, the city and above all the people. It really is a conference worth going to for so many reasons and one I definitely will be returning to, maybe next time it will be me on that big stage. 😊

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