Peers Seattle
April 26-28th

SESSIONS

Smart Tech, Good Business

How Complexity Theory Can Save Your Job

Rob Conery

Founder, Big Machine

You’ve been asked to add a feature to the app you’re working on. What do you say when your boss or client asks: “how hard would it be to add feature X”? If you’re like me, you might say “I’ll take a look” or “this could be interesting - I’ll let you know”. I hate saying “no" to clients and I love delivering value, so I would put on my cowboy hat and see if I could figure out how to implement feature X. Sometimes this approach worked. Other times… not so much. In fact it cost me my job.

In that situation it turned out that the problem I was trying to solve is known as NP-Hard, a classification in Complexity Theory, and if I would have known that at the time I would have been able to explain to my client that what they were trying to do wouldn’t work the way they wanted. I would have saved my job, avoided the needless waste of investor money, and the company might still be around. In this talk we’ll venture into Complexity Theory, understanding what simple, hard, and impossible problems look like all in an effort to save you time, money and possibly your job. If you fancy stories about failure, this might be for you.

Content-First Websites: From Theory to Reality

Carrie Hane

Owner, Content Strategist, Tanzen Consulting

What does "content first" really mean? How can we go beyond the words and incorporate back-end content strategy into our development? How does it change the web design and development process? How does it make websites better? 

 Planning appropriate structure, technology, and processes to support content reuse leads to adaptable and reusable content that is future-friendly and device agnostic. Wherever you are in your governance cycle, there is a way to get started.  During this session, we’ll walk through a process to put content first in a collaborative environment and find the best way to deliver valuable websites, no matter where you’re starting.

“It won’t be a straight line.”

Garrett Dimon

Marketing, Wildbit

Some days are going to suck. Really bad. In some cases, weeks, months, or even years can be incredibly rough. Other times will be great. Business, like life, will have its ups and downs. The key isn’t to chase the ups and dodge the downs. It’s to embrace the journey knowing that it will never be a straight line. After several years dealing with medical issues that ultimately led to an elective below-knee amputation, Garrett is bouncing back.

While the experience ultimately led him to sell his small SaaS business and slow down to embrace the new trajectory life had handed him, he’s gained some fresh perspective to share about making the the most of the chaos at the intersection of living life and building a business.

Beyond Fit: Why culture affects the bottom line

Natalie Nagele

Co-Founder, CEO, Wildbit

How do you measure the value of culture?

A great culture isn’t just for huge companies, and it definitely isn’t about ping pong tables. With the right culture, you can make it easier to hire and retain people, making your company more profitable. And you’ll all enjoy your work more by virtue of being surrounded by team members that genuinely care about their work and each other. It doesn’t evolve over night, but with some care and cultivation, you can build a team that can weather the storms of building and growing a business.

When developer must become designer; how to be a one-person UX team

Angelica Banks

UX designer, First Data

As a developer with limited resources, experience, and time, how can you embrace your inner UX designer? What is UX and why should you care? Is there really ad difference between UX and UI? Which design tools should you use?

In this session I’ll provide you a UX checklist to take you from developer to designer/developer.

Creating a Living Style Guide Workshop

Adriana De La Cuadra

UX Designer, Bitovi

Building a solid UI that is easy to maintain and scale are keys for any web startup. However is easy to cut on the corners just to get an MVP out of the door. An alternative is to invest up-front into building a UI system. With a UI System in place many MVPs can be created and then scaled into full fledged applications, without sacrificing quality. 

The Style Guide Driven Development approach provides the workflow to do this while improving the communication among developers, designers, and stakeholders. In this workshop you will learn how you can incorporate this approach into your development workflow and will get hands-on creating a Living Style Guide for a demo app using the open source tool documentcss.

A Crash Course in Tech Management

VM Brasseur

, Independent

'Programmer' and 'Manager' are two different titles for a reason: they're two different jobs and skill sets. If you have managerial aspirations (or have had them foisted upon you), come to this session to learn some of the tricks of the managerial trade.

“Wow, are you ever a great programmer! You’re such a great programmer that we’re going to make you a manager!”

A promotion! Calloo! Callay! Except…

The truth of the matter is that being a good programmer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a good manager. You’re about to have a lot of new responsibilities thrown at you. Are you ready?

Thankfully for you managing is a skill which you can master just as you did programming. This session will introduce you to many of the skills and resources you’ll need to become a successful tech manager (and keep your team from wanting to string you up).

How Math and Star Trek Explain the Value of Team Diversity

Fredric Mitchell

V.P. of Engineering, Better Weekdays

The greatest asset of open source software is the ability to fork and improve. When it comes to tech culture, are we accepting all pull requests? Can we be better? 

If so, how? To the science! 

This session explores the mathematical algorithms and scientific studies describing the advantage of diverse teams.

We’ll dive into existing research and real-world situations that solved complex problems.

We’ll also explore a mathematician’s theory that “diversity trumps ability.”

We’ll also explore how Star Trek played a pivotal role in being the allegory for this concept.

Debugging our Feelings: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Developers

Jamie Strachan

Lead Architect for Digital Operations, CBC

As developers, we're used to solving problems. We can learn all the frameworks, tools, and techniques we need to tackle any technical challenge. But when the problems we face aren't in our code but are in our head, what tools do we have then?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is based on the idea that our thoughts determine our emotions so we can change how we feel by changing how we think. While CBT is generally used to treat mental disorders like depression, it can also be effective in dealing with more common challenges like procrastination, impostor syndrome, and handling criticism.

Drawing on basic programming concepts, this talk will teach you the foundations of CBT and practical techniques you can use to help correct the distorted negative thoughts that can prevent us from doing our best work.

Dealing with Technical Debt – Lessons from the Field

Ram Nadella

Principal Engineer, Paddle8

Whether you’re a one person shop or a large engineering organization, technical debt is something we all deal with – you know, the thing that always falls to the bottom of the TODO list. It’s more difficult for smaller teams and solo developers to even get to the point of acknowledging technical debt, let alone coming up with a strategy to deal with it and then finding the time to act on it. 

This is the story of how a small team in New York building an auction platform dealt with it (and continue to deal with it) with some takeaways that could help you and your peers.

Server Admin for Web Developers

Viraj Khatavkar

Technology Director , Tantragyan Technologies

2 years ago, one of my client's WordPress website was hacked. This also led to compromise other sites on the same server. I had followed every damn step to set up my server as mentioned in few notable blogs. Unfortunately, I had to take control of my own servers. As a developer, it was very frustrating. Servers are messy stuff. Managing them is pretty tough. I’ve been there, learned some lessons the hard way, and found success. 

In this session, you will have an hands-on practice on security, provisioning, monitoring, queues, load balancing, deployment workflows for major PHP frameworks and many other topics related to server stuff. Let's learn to control our servers rather than servers controlling us!

Reality-Based Hiring

Genghis Philip

Scrum Master, WAND

Unless you’ve got HR training, hiring is probably kind of a black box for you. It's the most important part of growing a team, and a hell of a financial investment, but a lot of companies end up hiring people who are good at interviewing, not good at their jobs. Chances are, you don't need someone who's only good at talking about their resume. 

This talk details a system for establishing what you’re hiring for, evaluating candidates, confirming with stakeholders, and ultimately making an offer. You can never be absolutely certain a hire will work out, but reality-based hiring makes sure you can be clear about what you need and how a candidate fits your requirements while wasting as little time as possible.

Technology's Role in 21st Century Humanitarian Leadership

Sabrina Hersi Issa

CEO, Be Bold Media

Technologists have a role and moral responsibility to build solutions for a better world. With cases from the Flint Water Crisis, protecting voter rights and designing hackathons to support refugee services, this talk will explore that role and how to work in partnership with vulnerable communities to co-create strong communities, resilient networks and a better world.