Wednesday, March 10, 2010

QCon 2010 (London): Day One

Roundup from day one of QCon London 2010.

  • Bad Code, Craftsmanship, … and Certification: 7/10
    Keynote speech, very entertaining, but not much new - basically, write better code, it's worth it in the long run. (And don’t bother getting certified.)
  • Project Voldemort at Gilt Groupe: 7/10
    Enjoyed this one - some great insights into using NoSQL from an ecommerce perspective (used for inventory / shopping cart if you're interested.)
  • Auntie on the Couch: 5/10
    Some interesting info on CouchDB use at the BBC, primarily around the ops side (restarts so quickly (<1s) that they can recycle processes on live production servers without triggering alerts). In summary, it works, at scale, and is easy to manage - go try it. (It powers users’ homepage preferences for one thing).
  • Facebook: Architecture and Design: 9.5/10
    Great presentation, mixture of jaw-dropping stats (8bn minutes spent every day on Facebook worldwide) and insight into how Facebook works. Key point seems to be hiring good engineers and empowering them. Key technologies (HipHop, Haystack etc.) were developed by very small teams (<5), and there are no dedicated product owners - mixture of top-down strategic goals and bottom-up innovation. Want to work there.
  • From Dev to Production: 6/10
    Good presentation, well presented, but no great insights; basically be nice to the ops team. One nice point though – try to build once and deploy the same binaries to each environment – do not run separate environment builds, but use external configuration only to differentiate between deployments.
  • Demystifying monads: 5/10
    This probably reflects worse on me than the presenter (who was, to be fair, standing in for his wife at the last minute), but I really don't get monads. Probably shouldn’t have tweeted about this during the presentation however. Turns out half the room, including the presenter, were watching the live tweet-stream. Crowd in this talk definitely at the Computer Science end of the scale.

Things I missed, but want to catch up on at some point: Behind Britain's Entertainment Infrastructure
Building Skype. Learnings from almost five years as a Skype Architect
Functional Languages 101: What's the Fuss?

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