Agile2018

So this was my 3rd Agile Alliance conference and my 2nd in a row as a volunteer and every year is quite a bit different.

The location of the conference hotel worked out really well. It was a quick walk to get to the Gaslamp district as well Embarcadero Park. Last year at the Orlando there just wasn’t anything close to the resort.

In terms of attendees, it was great to see familiar faces from this and other conferences. Of course there were opportunities to make new acquaintances as well. In all the total attendance didn’t deviate much from last year and was around the 2500 mark.

There were some different tracks compared to prior years. It is simply impossible to attend all of them but the one that stands out the most is Audacious Salon. These type of talks go very deep and can be theoretical. It definitely isn’t for everyone but those that stuck around seemed to enjoy it.

I will be giving a formal Conference Debrief presentation at the Calgary Agile Methods User Group (CAMUG) next month which I am really looking forward to.

Next year it’s in Washington, DC. I hope to be there!

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ICGSE 2018

I was pretty excited when my submission for this conference was accepted. I’ve been trying for the last few years without success. One of the reasons I’ve been trying to get accepted is due to the ‘global’ aspect of this conference. This was a large focus in my Master’s thesis and I felt this would be a good way to leverage some of the research I’ve already done.

Since ICGSE was collocated with the ICSE suite of conferences, a proper conference facility was needed. The Congress Center Gothia Towers provided an excellent venue.

I gave my presentation (Effective Distributed Pair Programming) on May 28th which was less than week after I had given my presentation at XP 2018. My presentation was followed by talks from Google and Samsung. At the end of the entire time slot, each presenter was required to take a corner of the room to answer any questions. There was some excellent discussion and I did receive some requests for my presentation slides.

XP 2018

If you’re a fan of Port, this year’s venue for the XP conference in Porto, Portugal was definitely a treat.

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto was an excellent compliment to the conference. As we get older and busier in our daily lives it’s easy to forget where we came from. Watching students go from class to class and take breaks in between was an excellent reminder of that.

Even though I didn’t get an opportunity to meet him, it was great to hear Kent Beck speak in person. Aside from his keynote, he also took part in a panel discussion around Mission Critical Agile. This definitely piqued my interest as I’m currently working on a Defence project.

It seems like the Agile Alliance organization has taken over the XP conference which was a surprise to me. That was not the case when I attended XP 2016. The merging of the two will likely make each other stronger.

I gave my presentation (Multiple Roles: Scrum Master as a Team Member) at the end of the day on May 22nd. Overall, I think it was well received. There were excellent questions and some of them turned into a discussion. Hopefully, I’ll have another opportunity to attend (and present at) an XP conference.

Volunteering at Conferences

Volunteering at conferences can be a rewarding experience. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and learn a lot of new stuff.

Here are some things you should be aware of:

  • Look at conference program ahead of time and make sure you’re not scheduled to work during a Keynote or session you’re really interested in.  If so, ask to swap with someone.
  • Don’t get too consumed with trying to attend all the sessions you want.  Some of the best sessions I’ve seen were the ones where I had no expectation.
  • Help others out.  If they want to swap, volunteer to do so.

Pros:

  • You will increase your chances of getting selected in the future
  • It’s a great way to offset the cost especially if your employer isn’t paying for it
  • You’ll make instant connections
  • Likely to be inspired to contribute to the community in other ways
  • A sense of accomplishment

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to attend certain sessions (e.g. Celebrity Keynote Speaker)
  • There are times where it can be exhausting
  • There’s likely to be chaos in the beginning

 

FTC 2017

This was my first Future Technologies Conference so I didn’t know what to expect.

Being a smaller conference in Vancouver I expected the attendees to mostly consist of Canadians and Americans. However, that was not the case. There was a lot of representation from across the globe (over 50 countries were represented).

In terms of attendee types, there were definitely more academics than practitioners.

My presentation, “Pair Programming: Collocated vs. Distributed” lasted about 20 minutes. I was only allotted 14 minutes but there were a few no shows so I was able to go a bit longer. The presentation ended with excellent questions and insight.

I really enjoyed learning about some of the ground breaking research that is currently going on. I don’t know how they come up with this stuff.

PMI SAC PDC 2017

Having attended previous PMI-SAC PDC conferences, I must say this one was quite different.

The Winsport venue had a much different ambience compared to the BMO Centre, and I mean that in a good way.

Also, the attendance had noticeably diminished from previous years which is expected considering the downturn in Calgary’s economy.

The keynotes that I was able to attend were fantastic, especially the one on Brain Science. The point on visualization made complete sense to me. I heard Hayley Wickenheiser’s keynote was also inspiring but unfortunately I was unable to attend.

My first presentation, “Scaling Agile @ FCC” went well. Everything worked as expected. The audience seemed to enjoy all 3 short video clips. However, the presentation almost lasted the entire hour which didn’t leave a whole lot of time for questions and I wasn’t able to stick around because I had to head off to my next presentation which was in a different room. Thankfully my co-presenter was able to entertain one-on-one questions after I departed.

The second presentation, “Agile Product Rescue” also went well. The only hiccup I had was with the audio went it came time to show my YouTube clip. The audience could hear the audio but it was very faint. I didn’t have any questions during Q&A but a few individuals approached me afterwards.

It was great to see a lot of familiar faces. Hope to be in attendance next year!

 

Agile2017

It’s been 4 years since my last Agile Alliance conference so while I kinda knew what to expect I was very curious as to what had changed. The format seemed fairly similar to what I recall.  There were 4 keynotes, various stalwarts sessions, lightning talks, etc. So I can’t say a whole lot has changed, and that’s not a bad thing.

This time around the experience was completely different mostly because I was a volunteer. I really enjoyed volunteering. It’s a great way to meet people and network. With that said, it can be difficult to attend the sessions you’re yearning for. While the volunteer duties can be plentiful at times, it is a lot of fun. You’re never alone and the people you’re surrounded with are awesome.

I was careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past. At the 2013 conference I tried to take in too much and was overloaded by the end of the week. This time around I made sure to take breaks and make time to socialize.

Orlando was a fantastic venue. Most people were able to take in Universal or Disney or both. With that said, the conference hotel was spectacular just in case you didn’t have time to escape the event.

Next year it’s in San Diego. I hope to be there!