In this episode we talk about mechanical keyboards. A lot. We love mechanical keyboards!

But before we get into the depths of how they work and why we like them so much, we introduce two new sections to our podcast: "Personal News" and "Community News". The first one should be self-explanatory and in the community news section we specifically want to talk about recent developments and news in the Android, Flutter and CFML communities - the places were we mostly hang out.

When we eventually launch into the topic, we start off by talking about different keyboard technologies: rubber domes and membranes, butterflies and scissors and the mighty mechanical switches. If you always wanted to know what the difference between blue, red or brown switches is, you will learn that - and some other things - today. We even recorded their sound for you! 

A big draw of mechanical keyboards is the huge range of options how you can customise them. Mechanical keyboards come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from full size keyboard down to what's called a "40% keyboard". And did we mention that you can swap the key caps and make a keyboard truly yours? Yes, you can do that. And Lara has some experience with that to share! Also, it turns out that Lara learned how to property 10-finger-type at school. WOAW! 

Join us for fun and entertaining 84 mins talking about the joy of owning one or multiple mechanical keyboards!

Some of the links we mentioned in the episode:

 

 

In this episode we talk about CVs in tech with our friend Raquel Moss. She's is a software engineer from New Zealand, currently living in Krakow in Poland. She works for ConvertKit, mostly on web applications with Ruby and Javascript and is a very avid knitter.

The hiring process in the tech industry regularly gets pushed into the spotlight for inappropriate processes, inconsistent interview standards, whiteboard interviews or recruiters who only look for keywords in a CV without looking at the person behind the application. It's probably fair to say that these complaints are quite often being raised rightfully.

As part of her job, Raquel has seen quite a few CVs (she reckons about 1000 or so) and we obviously have been at either or even both sides of the table at some stage in our careers. So, we all have opinions and spent a bit of time discussing tech CVs the other day. We're pleased to share the outcome with you as Episode 13 of this podcast.

We cover a wide range of topics:

  • Local/Regional variations of CVs
  • Who reads them and are they really *that* important?
  • Are tech CVs different than ...well... "other" CVs?
  • What needs to go into a CV and what not. And how long does it need to be?
  • Should people have a cover letter or is that a relic of the 1980s?
  • How to manage and evolve a CV (Spoiler: treat it as code)
  • Are there services to help with writing a good CV?

Last, but not least: Raquel's newest side-project launches this week. It's an email series on teaching developers better and more structured debugging. You should totally sign up for it!

 

 

In this fourth and final episode of our mini-series on public speaking we're covering the final few meters on your road to a successful first conference talk: creating your slide deck and delivering the talk itself.

We start with talking about the slides and how to create the content of your talk. There are a few fundamental rules such as avoiding walls of text and just reading everything that's on your slides. But outside these extreme situations, the content and structure of your slides depends a lot on your personal style and the content and type of the talk.

It also seems that slide decks have changed over time. 10-15 years ago you'd generally have seen more text-heavy slides at conferences because the audio and video recording of talks was less common so that slide decks were the only reference people could have a look at after the event.

We also talk about some of the common theme slides in a slide deck: Title, Agenda, About me and a closing slide. Which of them do you need? Which of them do we like or dislike in talks and most importantly: what should you put on them?

The second part of this episode is about actually doing the talk. Practice a lot, try to warm-up on the day and have fun. Well, there's more - but you need to listen to the episode to hear that.

Finally, here are all the links to the previous episodes of this mini-series in correct listening order:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Submitting and the selection process
  3. Writing your abstract

In the third part of our mini-series on public speaking we're talking about coming up with an idea, a title and actually writing an abstract for your talk. The common problem first-time speakers and submitters face is: "Where do I even start?". 

It turns out that you don't necessarily start with a title. Often ideas are born out of some experience. You might have struggled with some tech, you might have learned a new framework or want to share something else you're passionate about. From an idea, sometimes you will progress to a working title. But don't worry: most likely it will change over the time you're spending on writing the abstract. Regardless, we have some general thoughts on titles like: try to avoid political slogans, swear words and titles that diminish other technology.

The abstract itself should ideally consist of some paragraphs of plain text. Miquel's approach is a 3 paragraph formula: 

  1. Introduce a problem or the idea
  2. Content of the talk
  3. Key takeaways

We all agree that this is commonly a very good approach to structure your abstract. Obviously it still needs to adhere to the conference's requirements. A side-benefit is that going through a structured process like this is that you have a very good starting point for writing your talk, should it be accepted.

We close with a few additional tips on where and how you could get additional help and support with your first response to a Call For Papers.

In the the next (and last) episode of this mini-series you will learn about writing the talk and holding your presentation!

Here are all the links to the previous episodes of this mini-series in correct listening order:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Submitting and the selection process

Music by Chillhop: https://chillhop.com/listen

This is the second part of our mini-series on public speaking and we're talking about the selection process. All three of us have been on both sides of the table. We've submitted talks to a lot of conferences ourselves, but we also have been part of the selection processes of tech conferences.

When it comes to being a speaker, we're covering the typical steps of a submission process. What is a call for papers (or proposals)? How do you deal with submission systems? What can and should you expect from an event and what are potential red flags? But we also want to raise awareness about what happens behind the scenes. It's important to understand the challenges around selecting talks and building an agenda from an organiser's or content committee's point of view. How do they operate and what are the typical ways a group of people tackles a pool of a few hundred talk submissions.

In the next (and probably last) episode of our mini-series we're going to look into the actual process of ideation around a talk and give you some tips for writing an abstract that hopefully gets accepted at the conference of your desire.

If you want to go back to the first episode of this mini-series, this is the link: Getting Started

 

Welcome back to Code Cafeteria. We decided to take a few weeks off, but are now back with a new episode. This week we're launching into a mini-series on public speaking and how to get into public speaking. This first of a couple of planned episodes around the topic is about how we got started, what appeals to us about preparing and delivering technical talks and some fundamental ideas that might help you to get out there yourself: 

  • Your first talk doesn't have to be a 60 minutes slot at a global event - start with a local meetup.
  • Your first time in front of people doesn't even have to be a talk. You could just co-run a meetup night and make some organisational announcements.   
  • Ideas for talks sometimes come to you in mysterious ways, embrace even random ideas.
  • If English is not your first language, that's totally not a problem. The tech community is full of people with a non-English background.

For more ideas, listen to the episode...

Next time, we'll look into in more detail into deciding on a topic, coming up with an abstract for your idea and then submitting it to conference.

April 27, 2020

Episode 8 - Dead Tech

We're back from our Bunny Day break (to stay in Animal Crossing New Horizons lingo) and talked about (perceived) dead technologies.

We recorded this episode already about a week ago and it was due to me (Kai) stressing around giving a virtual conference talk and then getting on with life in general that it just is being published now, sorry for that, peeps!

Why did we decide to talk about what people perceived as dead tech? The topic got kind of triggered by the recent demand in COBOL developers due to a wide range of changes in countries' social security or tax systems all over the world. It turns out that many of these environments run on mainframe systems that were originally built in the 1960s-1980s.

After a brief look at the language we talk about the variety of risk environments organisations operate in. Consumer products get iterated over much more rapidly than bank or government systems dealing with fundamental societal infrastructure and that's part of the reason why we still find a lot of COBOL-based mainframe applications in these kind of organisations.

But there are many other technologies that are perceived dead. One of them is ColdFusion - a commercial web application back end platform (nowadays owned by Adobe), which is a very unusual business model for web app back end technology in 2020. Kai has, among other technologies, been using CFML (the language behind ColdFusion) since the late 1990s and Miguel talks about his personal recent experiences (the good AND the bad) with CFML. He was using Lucee though, an LGPL-based and open-source CFML spec implementation. CFML is certainly a niche language and has still a place for product development in certain environments.

From there we move on to talk about a bunch of other things: Prolog, Visual Basic and also about Java. Will Java ever be perceived dead? In Android-circles it certainly already is and nearly everyone has moved on to using Kotlin. But part of the problem there is that Android's supported Java version is Java 8, which actually lacks of lot of useful and expected features these days. 

What defines a technology as dead and can it ever truly die? Certainly technologies come and go with the Gartner-quadrant-what-ever-hype cycle, but eventually a technology will probably become used less and less and end up in a long tail. There's also the question of available producers and consumers of libraries and the overall developer ecosystem. The question then is - what's economically and technologically better: stay with a chosen platform or at some point rebuild from scratch? Or maybe a middle ground is the way to go?

Many things to consider and we hope you enjoy us talking about some of these considerations.

 

 

 

 

 

There's a new Nintendo Switch game that is keeping our minds busy in these difficult times. A game that couldn’t have come at a better time. Of course we are still talking about Animal Crossing

Today’s episode 7A is the second episode about this game. This time we tried doing something different though: We invited a whole lot of our friends that also play the game to an online meeting room and we had a bit of chat about their experiences with the game and cover some extra topics like the bunny day event, sharing an island or using Animal Crossing Amiibos and Amiibo cards.

So, we got together with:

Jen (2010-4877-8227)
Diane
Helen (8425 2934 5599)
and Nick (3984-7759-3378)

Switch friend codes in round brackets.  

After a bit of general chat, we start off with the bunny day event. Some people don't mind getting inundated by eggs instead of fish and wood, but others like Miguel and Helen are really annoyed by it. If at least the DIY recipes were any good...

Jen talks about playing on the same island with her husband. Turns out that the first player on the island becomes responsible for everything the Nooks want to get done while the other players can happily do their own thing... :)

Diane and Nick introduce us to the concepts and the use of Animal Crossing Amiibo cards and Diane elaborates on her struggle to invite her favourite cat Rosie to the island. 

It was lots of fun for us getting together with our friends and we hope you enjoy this episode, too!

 

 

Also: if you were wondering what the Animal Crossing clown sheep character looks like...

clownsheep.jpg 

 

 

The pandemic is - not to anyone's surprise - still not over. As more countries go into lockdowns, at least there's now a game for the Nintendo Switch that seems to have captured everyone's hearts. It offers the perfect storm of Kawaii cuteness and escapism into an alternative reality in which you live with lovely animals on an island building civilisation from scratch. Which - hmm - sounds a bit awkward.

We're obviously talking about Animal Crossing New Horizons. Depending on one's count and if one included spin-off titles like Pocket Camp on Android and iOS in the count, it's the 5th or 8th instance of the successful Nintendo game franchise. And it seems to have taken off unlike any other game in our bubble and group of friends. On most afternoons or nights pretty much every single one of our Nintendo Switch friends who are online play Animal Crossing these days.

All three of us got the game on launch day. Actually we all pre-purchased and downloaded it before launch day and the game just unlocked in the middle of the night. When we did this recording, we were just about 1 week into the game and already see different strategies and interests. While Miguel went wild on creating custom designs, Lara turned out to be a collector and fish/bug hoarder while Kai is trying to make big bucks...eh bells, with fruit selling. 

We talk about our experiences with the game, how more and more of our close friends got sucked into the game and what you can do to get more out of the game.

And if you're wondering about our reference to the fruit and resource stealing by a friend of us, this incident was obviously documented on Twitter...

In case you want to play with us, below are our Nintendo Switch friend codes:

Miguel: 2754-0743-7310
Lara: 8359-7630-6308
Kai: 3852-3319-8305

 

External sources being mentioned:

Using ACNH for parties and virtual catchup

Miguel made an ACNH pattern with his and Lara's dog Lily

Animal Crossing Patterns community

Animal Crossing etiquette guide

After last week's episode about how things change in the tech industry in these pandemic times, we thought it'd be interesting to get some other people's views on remote work and business continuity planning. Let's face it: Lara, Miguel and I have very clear views on why we prefer remote work and at the same time have less experience from working in *really large* organisations. Also - our respective business setups are rather small, family-sized operations and we don't face challenges that come with being responsible for employees.

This is episode 6B, the second interview we did in the wake of episode 6. We wanted to get some outside view points on how different types of organisations deal with changes in the tech industry. In this episode Kai talks to Nick, who's been working in various IT management roles in large public and private sector organisations in New Zealand and the UK for the last 20+ years.

During the discussion with Nick it becomes obvious quite quickly how different large organisation (have to) look at remote work. It can be much harder to send 1000 people home instead of dealing with the situation of a 5 person dev team. That starts with the simple things as hardware VPN authentication tokens, access to laptops and ends with networking infrastructure. Also - as a public sector organisation, state secrets might actually be at risk.

However, regardless of all the struggles, does Nick think that overall we're properly setup to deal with the pandemic or other emergencies from an ICT point of view in New Zealand? You'll have to listen to find out!

Have fun and wash your hands!!! 

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