In early April I was lucky enough to go to Bristol in the UK for the annual ACCU conference. This has been an aspirational conference for me, one I attended before speaking at and am always delighted to attend. This year I was invited to keynote, and it turned out to be the closing keynote, which meant I was not done with all my talks until the conference was over! Nevertheless I enjoyed the week tremendously.
I flew to England overnight Saturday night. People often ask me how, given the fatigue issues I have left over from the whole surviving incurable cancer thing, I am able to travel. One reason is that when I travel, I only travel on travel days. I don’t try to work at the airport, on the plane, etc. I read a book or listen to music or just relax. On overnight flights, I sleep. I also schedule a few days to adjust to the time zone without having to think hard or meet important deadlines, like finishing my talk. On this trip, I spent two days visiting Cardiff, which is actually where I was born, with my sister who is planning to move there. It was marvelous fun watching a family explore and discover their new home town, and going to places I have seen on TV or in pictures.
Tuesday I did a private corporate talk about #include<C++> and diversity issues. It was very well received and I might offer it to other companies as a result. I always buy a train pass when I go to the UK and it got a good workout on this occasion. Back in Bristol I was able to relax and know I was ready for the conference.
After a lovely opening address by Russel, we had an illuminating keynote from Angela Sasse. Security can’t be left until the end or handled by a separate group who fight the developers. Afterwards I took some time to meet up with more friends and spend some time at the #include table. After lunch, a very good talk from Jonathan Boccara on reading unfamiliar code. I loved the map analogy and the way he showed using a call stack to increase your mapped area. Then a workshop from Gail Ollis on Helping Developers to Help Each Other which really brought home to me once again how important tactile artifacts – things you can pick up, put down, wave around, put next to each other and so on – can be to encourage open and complete communication. The recording stops when the hands on part starts – just one of those things you can only get by attending in person. The talks wrapped up with Lightning Talks and I did one – my first time doing so at ACCU. I was not able to stay up for the evening reception beyond a quick “hey! Great to see you!” to a handful of people. There were plenty of talks I couldn’t get to – recordings for me to watch later!
Day 2 started with a Herb Sutter keynote. I’ve read the paper but was really happy to hear it as a talk, and to hear the motivations behind enabling more people to use the whole language. Then I needed some down time before my talk right after lunch. I gave an updated version of “Nothing” and as always at ACCU got some great questions that will go into the next version of the talk – or some other one. Then I kept to tradition by doing the Pub Quiz, entertaining as always for the don’t-write-this-at-work code and marveling at how some folks know a lot of dark corners! Another round of lightning talks and an early night, meaning I couldn’t attend the Bristol Girl Geeks dinner as I had planned.
The Day 3 keynote was low on code and high on insight as Paul Grenyer talked about growing a community while dealing with the ups and downs of life in general. Then to a fascinating talk by Dom Davis about communicating, with significant meta content that I really enjoyed. I spent the lunch break at the #include table, and then dove into a variety of little talks – 15 and 20 minute ones. I was starting to tire and didn’t pay as much attention as I should have, but let me recommend Alex Chan’s reminder that the tech we build can hurt people when it’s being used as designed. I took a break to be ready for the Conference Dinner where I was able to catch up with old friends and meet a few new ones.
Finally Day 4. I started with Kevlin Henney and a talk with a similar title to my “Nothing” but very different content. Another break, another lunch at the #include table, and then some down time before my closing keynote. I updated the beginning of this talk since the C++ on Sea keynote, and I think this improves it. More great questions after and I think more material to work in there somehow. Then the close of the conference, a certain amount of hanging around not wanting it to end, and up to my room for another early night and to get ready to go.
Sunday all I did was take the train to the airport, fly home (sleeping a little on the plane) and drive home. A lot to process, as always after ACCU. And when I got home, a lot to catch up on, which is why this has taken a few weeks to write up!