Back from Montreal on Sunday. So how was CUSEC? definitely an eye opener. A couple of general ideas I got out of it was 1) Dynamic languages is the way to go and 2) Find what you’re most passionate about and pursue it.
Caitlin Kelleher was one of the academic speakers and I really enjoyed the software she demonstrated. It was an open source project named Storytelling Alice. It’s a program that lets middle school kids write their own stories and have them animated. It also teaches them a little bit of programming at the same time without them even knowing it. I was excited to hear she was going to be speaking at the conference because I had read about her in The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, so in my eyes she was a celebrity.
Another speaker that really spoke to me was the Joey “The Accordion Guy” Devilla. He was a character. He spoke of being a Tech Evangelist. I have to admit I didn’t know what that was at first. But from what I could comprehend, it’s a person that acts like a middle man for software developers and upper management or clients. Someone who sits in the middle with people skills (not trying to imply software developers don’t have people skills). He had so many personal anecdotes that were full of adventure and comedy and all because he was following his instincts and pursued his dreams and passions. It made me seriously think about what I wanted to do.
Dan Ingalls’s demonstration of the Lively Kernel was very impressive. I sat in my seat with awe and just amazed by what can be produced on the web. There were so many creative ideas that went into the Lively Kernel and I seriously wanted to just go back to the hotel room and play with it for the rest of the night (unfortunately hotel bandwidth was insufficient to allow me to play…apparently homework is more important).
I also really enjoyed Leah Culver’s talk. She is a very inspirational speaker. I think that it was also nice to see a female in her mid-twenties giving a talk based on her successful career. She was a co-founder of Pownce and had been on the cover of two magazines. She is definitely a role model for me now. She said during her talk “What’s the worst that could happen?” and I definitely think that those are words to live by. I don’t take nearly as many risks as I should. I’m too afraid that they’ll be stupid. But what the point of being right all the time? There’s no adventure in that. She also had a good point in how to make money. “Use what you already have at your disposal”. She had a laser etching machine and contacts at several companies. So she got a free laptop by asking those companies if they wanted ad space on her laptop for only $50-100. I thought that was a great idea. So what do I have at my disposal? Me.
Giles Bowkett also had a very interesting talk. His main idea was to take stupid risks and combine all the things that you’re passionate about and make it work for you. He also had lots of crazy stories and interesting slides to go along with them. I think that he also had the most swearing in his presentation.
All of the speakers were generally very good and interesting. These are only a few that stood out to me.