What did I learn from the conferences this autumn.
I spoke at the 4 previous Astricons. More then 700 people that use Asterisk (an opensource telephone/media server) gather there. Normally I hang out with the developers at Astricon. Not that I would describe myself as a developer. I’m more the Swiss army knife at work. I solve problems quickly, i’m handy and know alot of things. But I’m not specialised. The fun part at Astricon is that I can socialise with people who are more specialised then me. I always learn a lot from them.
They like that keep finding subjects for my presentations and dangerous demos so easily. Maybe that is my talent: being creative with all kind of technologies.
I spoke about connecting 135 androids to the Asterisk PBX, but also about apps for the Digium phones or calling to a non-sip camera.
This year at Astricon it was very clear: we are in the era of API’s. If you don’t have an API, you don’t exist. It makes connecting and integrating things way much easier. But the API you are writing has to be very easy to use and well documented. Some examples in multiple programming languages are always appreciated by the developers who have to use your API.
Three weeks before Astricon I attended rejectjs, jsconf and cssconf in Berlin.
It was my first time that i went to a front-end developer conference. I do some front-end but to do it really good you have to specialise as well. I always felt discouraged because css and js needs so many hacks to make it work all browsers.
But hey, everybody is struggling with that. And I learned it doesn’t matter if it is not tot the pixel identically in every browser.
And that css-errors are normal. Sites that don’t show css-errors, are using browser specific css-sheets.
But even more interesting is comparing a telecom-conference and front-end developer conference.
The front-end developer conferences were really good organised: you had power-supplies underneath the chairs to charge your devices, I had the best conference food I can imagine, at the toilets you could find toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant for those who forget theirs at home or had to leave it at the airport. They also do their very best to be open to anyone, they even provided live speech to text transcription! It is great not only for people with hearing disabilities. When I was distracted for a moment or didn’t understand something, I could look at the transcript. There were for 40.000 euro free scholarships tickets, there was a strict code of conduct, there were men-, women- and all gender toilets! I never saw so many women and transgenders at a tech-conference. So, yes, a code of conduct does work!
The slides that the speakers showed us, were amazing. At a telecom conference it is not uncommon to see the default white impress slides. At the front-end the slides were spectacular and also a lot of cat pictures.
After these conferences I started using revealjs to make my slides. You can take a look at my Astricon15-slides at http://www.controlaltdieliet.be/astricon2015
But Astricon is great because people start speaking to you way much easier than at the front-end developer conference. I don’t know why? Maybe because there are more different nationalities who are all abroad? Maybe Americans are starting a conversation easier then Europeans? I don’t know, but I noticed the difference. I’m still in touch with people I met at my first Astricon and each year I connect to more and more people. At the front-end I met some other Belgians but I don’t keep in touch with them.
One more thing about speaking at a conference. Much more people should try it! You don’t have to be an total expert. For me is speaking at a conference is often the reason to build that project or to study to subject I will to talking about.
The speakers aren’t smarter than you, they just got more nerve to stand up on the stage. But don’t be afraid, I never had a bad experience as a speaker. People appreciate that you are willing to share your knowledge, your passion and your experiences. That is my last advice: also speak about your mistakes, so others don’t make the same.