CodeMash 2016: Top Picks from Our Favorite Sessions

CodeMash 2016

CQL recently attended CodeMash, represented by several members of our development team. As always, the annual conference was filled with valuable information about the latest practices and trends in technology.

There were dozens of sessions across every possible technology topic, from the Internet of Things to mentoring, women in technology, and even how to hack your Christmas light display. 

Obviously, given the breadth and variety of information, it’s difficult to definitively point to our favorite sessions. However, this year’s CodeMash attendees from CQL collaborated to share some of presentations they loved the most. Here are just a few of the incredible sessions we attended at CodeMash 2016.

How do we solve for XX?

This session was a blast and got everyone up on their feet thinking about some of the barriers to getting women into the software industry. It was a great way to allow participants to network and exchange brilliant ideas.

One particularly great aspect was how many men showed up to learn how they can help get more women into their workplaces. Everyone was very open to hearing what the women had to share on the topics. Our woman developers left this talk feeling very supported by those in the industry and inspired to come back to Grand Rapids and do more to help diversify our development community.

Art and Code: Making Useless Things

This presentation focused not on work life, but how to stay sane outside of it by investing in random things that make you happy. Some key takeaways were these: Do what makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be grand, glorious, or perfectly optimized. Don’t obsess over polishing the idea, just make it. Create things to keep you happy when other things have you feeling down. Does making it make you giggle like a maniac? Good! Do it again! If it helps you brush up on your skills, try something new, and keep your mental space clear of baggage all at once, that’s a great thing to invest your time and energy in.

Jamison Dance, the speaker, created telegraph-roulette (Chatroulette but with Morse code) and also the world’s most advanced fart machine (seriously). If that makes you giggle, that’s kind of the point.

The Git Parable

Going into this session, some of our team members had only basic knowledge of Git in order to do daily software version tracking. However, after this session, they have a new perspective on how Git works and why it was created in such a way. We’re excited to use this new knowledge in the future and can now better understand when something out of the ordinary occurs in our version tracking software.

Securing Your Endpoints: A Practical Guide to API Authentication

This session, led by Seth Petry-Johnson, was very practical for those on our team who do a lot of work with APIs on our Demandware-based projects. The presenter shared a wide range of current ways to authenticate and authorize API connections. He shared technical details, and gave information on when each option would be the post appropriate solution. It was great to learn more about security in ways it applies to work we do every day.

Bad Ideas! An Introduction to Contrarian Design for Research and Concept Development

This session was about looking at the other side of a problem to help get yourself out of a creative slump, or to come up with ideas you might not have normally. By looking at the worst, weirdest, craziest ideas for your project, you can analyze them to pull out the great ideas hidden underneath. If you’re able to push yourself to look at ideas you’d otherwise never consider, you can get your creativity pumping to come up with new and original solutions.

Using EEG and Machine Learning to Perform Lie Detection

Jennifer Marsman’s presentation skillfully combined the science and technology of Microsoft’s Machine Learning software toolset running on the Azure platform. With a lighthearted look at the pseudo-science of lie detection, the presentation used the output of a low-cost piece of hardware, Emotive Epoc (an EEG ‘brain scanner’).

It was exciting to see an interesting combination of software and hardware come together in a demonstration so entertaining it could have been the underpinnings of a Hollywood movie or spy novel. Jennifer admitted that there are plenty of hurdles that must be overcome to create a viable (but scary) real-life application of this technique. The best part was learning how datasets can be analyzed in a fashion to produce predictable results using a technology stack that has obviously matured greatly in recent years.

We had a blast at the tenth annual CodeMash conference and, as always, can’t wait for the next event. What were some of your favorite sessions? Share them in the comments below and make sure to look for more insights from CodeMash in upcoming posts.