Kent Beck

Working as a coach for new(ish) programmers at facebook, and doing so remotely, it of course made sense for this talk to happen via a Google Hangout. It was surprisingly successful, and this was another topic close to my heart as a new(ish) programmer myself. What did I learn? Coaching will rarely teach you technical skills, it will instead teach you how to use your time effectively, avoiding “misplaced efficiency” and how to build up confidence. I’ll be putting in an order of one miniature Kent to sit on my desk.

Greg Brockman – Building better software through Mathematics 

Cor. Just look at that title. Greg made my maths degree hit me in the face like nothing in pure mathematics actually can because it doens’t exist. Suddenly I remembered the definition of the determinant and pined for a library to lock myself in over night with nothing but a book on group theory and my own tears (and a history fresher complaining they have too much work). It was good to hear the two disciplines of maths and software engineering compared. The overall outcome was that computers can do brute force well and humans can do conceptual thinking well, leading to the soundbite “design software down but build software up”. #maths4lyfe.

Sketches

#monkigras sketching. And a log with a moustache. pic.twitter.com/6dZssY77Pq

— Ed Moffatt (@EPJMoffatt) January 31, 2014

Phil Gilbert – IBM Design a year on (I’m not sure what the actual title was) The last talk nicely leads onto design overlord Phil Gilbert’s talk, updating us on IBM Design Thinking since his appearance at last year’s conference. Things are going well it seems, a shiny design lab in Austin, executives attending design camp and they even have their own card game (the “I know Steve Mills – lose a turn” card being my favourite).  If it weren’t for my complete lack of creativity and design knowledge I would consider a move over into the design team – they are having a hard time in Hursley but hearing the awesome progress being made in America gives me hope.

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IBM making products into a game internally, design w/ constraints -very cool ! @philgilbertsr at #monkigras pic.twitter.com/pHOOWIBUiw

— Narinder Singh (@singhns) January 31, 2014

Leisa Reichelt – Some Ass-kicking on How to make organisations care about User Experience

While I’m loitering around the design theme I shall give a nod to Leisa who delivered an excellent talk on UX. She needs to come to Hursley and kick some ass here too. She revealed that members of the user researches are embedded into the teams at GDS, and all members of the team are expected to observe some user research (I think it was around once a month but I can’t actually remember). GDS are taking UX seriously and it shows. I took part in some GUI play/user research a few weeks ago and the difference between how that session was led compared to the clips we were shown by Leisa of their research sessions were quite different.

A word about cheese

I had to do it – O Toma O Morte were there again and I was force-fed cheese off a sword again and I loved every minute of it. I also experienced some of the most middle-class FOMO in the form of having to put my tub of edamame beans in my bag because I couldn’t eat them at the same time as carrying my drink and eating chocolate truffles. My point being the evening entertainment was as glorious as ever. As was the doorman’s outfit (Will.I.Am meets coachman?).

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