Monday, August 30, 2010

NFJS 2010 in Raleigh

I attended the No Fluff Just Stuff tour in Raleigh this past weekend with a bunch of others from Railinc. After the event on Sunday I tweeted that I wasn’t all that impressed with this year’s sessions. Matthew McCullough responded asking for some details on my concerns. Instead of being terse in a tweet, I thought I’d be fair with a more lengthy response.

First off, I really wasn’t planning on going this year. I took a look at the sessions and didn’t see enough relevant content that interested me. In 2007 and 2008 I went with a group from Railinc and had a pretty good time while learning about some new things that were going on in the industry. (We didn’t go in 2009 for economic reasons.) This year, however, I felt that there wasn’t enough new content on the schedule that interested me. (I have seen/read/heard enough about REST, Grails, JRuby, Scala, etc.).

What changed my mind about going was the interest expressed by some other developers at Railinc. Since I coordinated the 2007 and 2008 trips, I thought I’d get this one coordinated, and since there was a good amount of interest, I figured I’d give it a shot as well. So, to be fair, I wasn’t going in expecting much anyway.

Here were the key issues for me:
  1. Some of the sessions did not go in the direction that I expected. To be fair, though, I was warned ahead of time to review the slides before making a decision on a session. The problem here is that some presenters relied more on demos and less on slides, so in some cases it was hard to judge by just the slide deck.
  2. Like I said above, I wasn’t planning on going in the first place because of the dearth of sessions that seemed interesting to me. I ended up going to some sessions because it was the least non-relevant session at that time. There were actually two sessions that I bailed on in the middle because I wasn’t getting any value from them.
  3. Finally, and this is completely subjective, some of the speakers just didn't do it for me. While you could tell that most (if not all) of the speakers were passionate about what they were talking about, some were just annoying about it. For instance, some of the attendees I spoke to felt that the git snobbery was a bit overkill. Some of it was just speaker style - some click with me some don't.
Some things I heard from the other Railinc attendees were
  • Too much duplication across speakers
  • Not enough detail along tracks
  • Some of the session were too introductory - could have gotten same information from a bit of googling.
Granted, some of my concerns are subjective and specific to my own oddities. But I do remember that I had enjoyed the '07 and '08 events much more.

I did, however, enjoy Matthew's first session on Hadoop. I knew very little about the technology going in and Matthew helped crystallize some things for me. I also got some good information from Neal Ford's talks on Agile engineering practices and testing the entire stack.

I really like the No Fluff Just Stuff concept in general. I think it is an important event in the technology industry. The speakers are knowledgeable and passionate which is great to see. My mind is still open about going next year, but it will be a harder sell.

No comments: