Decoded Day One - From Glitches to Great Talks

Dan O’Neill 2016-05-05 4 min read

The DECODED Open Source Conference is a two-day, four-track conference with a focus on Azure, IoT, and Machine Learning.

Picture of the stage at Decoded Conference Dublin

First off - the venue. Decoded was held in the O’Reilly building in UCD. This was a strange decision given that there were 4 tracks but only 3 separate rooms in this building. This forced one of the tracks over to another building. I did not bother to go over there even though one or two of the sessions looked really interesting like “How we built an inaccessible accessibility tool (and how you can do better!)” by Sara Spalding. UCD is an awkward enough place to get to for me anyway, from the the north side of the city.

Organisationally Microsoft events are normally very well choreographed, this started badly from the beginning. Technical issues delayed almost every session that I was at until after lunch. Also, apparently there was a free lunch - Looks like I was the only idiot that walked to the Centra on campus. I must have missed that memo.

The Keynote from Tracy Terwin was very good, even if it started 20 mins late.

I was most interested in the Azure track so I went to “Intro to Azure Web Apps” presented by Lilian Kasem, and that was an excellent presentation. Again technical issues plagued the start of this talk but Lilian carried on anyway. Then the slides caught up and Lilian carried on. The talk was enlightening for me and a really great primer for creating Azure web apps. I learned a lot.

Then came one of the worst presentations I’ve ever been at. The presenter is possibly a great dev, but presenting was not his forte. I don’t know, maybe its the first time he ever presented. The session was over in 25 mins. It was really just two videos and a couple of slides that he read. I learned a bit, but I could have done that from a blog post. For the record, I am an awful presenter - I rarely, if ever, get up in front of others. So I applaud anyone who can or tries, especially in their maybe second or third language. But still, I wasn’t feeling great about this conference after that.

So an hour and half lunch, and maybe that early break is why I missed the free lunch memo. I really thought about leaving at this point. It was a beautiful day out though so some time by the pond was not the end of the world.

Then after lunch I had a dilemma - I didn’t have a particular session I wanted to see so I went to David Makogon’s session called “JSON: Document Modelling 101”. This was probably where I was at my most out of my depth but David Makogon made it really compelling and easy to follow. I learned a lot from this talk. I was glad I stayed.

Then back to the azure track for me - and two talks on Azure Encryption. These were presented by Anthony Turner and Stefan Gordon and were really great. The first session was a nice refresher for me on encryption. The interaction between the two presenters was great and they really held my attention for both sessions. The second session actually clashed with another session I was going to go to - “Rise of the Machines - A primer to machine learning” by Beat Schwegler but these guys were so good in session one I stuck around to see what I could learn in the second. And learn I did, all about Azure encryption methods and the Azure Key Vault too.

The last session of the day for me was Build a node application in 10 mins by Ali Hajimirza. It was an interesting session and pretty useful. It was maybe a bit too compressed and he covered a lot of stuff. Most of it I’ve done before though until the Azure setup part so it was useful to see that. He gets extra points for having a really beautiful presentation too. He got a little stuck, towards the end but recovered nicely to show some nice features from the Azure backend.

There were some free beers scheduled for 5:30 but since the last talk finished before 5, I didn’t stick around.

All in all, I’m glad I stuck around for the whole day. Looking forward to tomorrow.