Month: February 2018 (page 1 of 6)

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Weekly Meetup Wrap – February 25, 2018

Does 2018 seem to be accelerating for anyone else? I went to FIVE tech events last week. 😲

The first one was GraphDB Sydney – a rare Monday meetup. After a long hiatus, the group reformed late last year and, though it’s still small, it seems to be well supported by Neo4j and Ansarada.

Josh Yu from Neo4j gave an excellent overview of APOC – which stands for “Awesome Procedures On Cypher.” Cypher is Neo4j’s graph query language, and APOC is a library of more than 300 custom procedures that add cool functionality. Josh ran through a live demo that used clustering to aid in financial fraud detection. I learned a heap from this talk – including that yes, the founder of Neo4j was a big fan of The Matrix. 🙂

On Tuesday evening I headed over to BlueChilli for the SheStarts Mentor Mixer. This is a program to support startups with women founders, and this is my second year as an advisor (along with some amazing peers). I met with two of the founders to hear about their projects and offer them advice. Interestingly, both women I spoke to asked me whether I thought they should do a coding course. (They were both non-coders.) My advice is that something basic like NodeGirls would be a good idea to give them confidence in working with developers – demystifying the black magic of coding, as it were – as well as empathy and understanding for the skills those folks will bring to the team. I also really enjoyed catching up with some of the alumni from the first SheStarts cohort, like Jessica Christiansen-Franks from Neighbourlytics.

Wednesday I headed over to Web Analytics Wednesday for what proved to be a very popular session!

A panel of four experts spoke about all things content engagement: Dominic Laforgia, Head of Data & Insights at Fairfax; Mackenzie Stratford, Digital Analyst and Product Manager at News Life Media; Leon Bombotas, Chief Data Officer & Founder of; and Nathan Scully, Senior Analytics Manager at Oneflare. Meetup organiser Simon Rumble from Snowflake Analytics fielded questions from the audience on whether dashboards are important, what metrics are useful for different types of businesses, all the different platforms publishers have to support, and how they plan to handle future technologies like “zero UI” interfaces. (Spoiler – nobody really has a plan for that last one.) Great discussion!

Thursday saw me heading to Melbourne for the first time this year. I love hearing what’s happening in the Victorian tech community! Thursday night I went along to the Melbourne Haskell Users Group to learn about “serverless Haskell” from Alexey Kotlyarov (speaker at Lambda Jam 2017!) and David Overton from Seek.

The project came out of a Seek Hackathon last year, and it involves wrapping your Haskell code in an executable with Node.js and deploying it to AWS Lambda. They’re already using it in production! Pull requests are welcome. 🙂

Not going to lie though… The best part of MHUG was going out to dinner with a dozen other folks afterwards for a Malaysian feast!

Friday night I had an unofficial DevRel meetup with some of the awesome folks in the Melbourne community. It was a floating bar, and there were a lot of beers, french fries, laughs, and late night burgers. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job?) ⛵🍻❤

Saturday was the main event of the week for me: MeasureCamp Melbourne! This “unconference” style event brought together lots of folks from the data engineering, analytics, product, and UX worlds for a full day of talks and discussions.

After the morning welcome and kickoff, attendees were invited to propose sessions and tack them up on a large schedule for the day. With 5 rooms and 8 slots, there was room for up to 40 different sessions! I decided on the spur of the moment to give a talk on giving “Better Tech Talks – How to do public speaking without sucking.” 🙂

For the first session, I went to see Scott Sunderland, founder of Tribalism, try to convince us that humans are better than computers. Scott argued that there are things humans are really good at – like filtering out unnecessary information, making intuitive leaps – that computers just can’t do. He also made the analysts in the room happy by predicting that their jobs are the least likely to be automated away in the near future!

The second talk I went to was from Val Lyashov at Envato talking about how they do analytics. I was impressed that Val presented with just a whiteboard – no slides! He gave a good overview of how they tie their various systems together and answered a lot of questions from the audience. (Oh, and they’re hiring!)

My last talk before lunch was my new friend Mike Robins from Snowflake Analytics. Mike was speaking about a very important topic: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These regulations come into effect on May 25, 2018 for any online business that collects personal data on users in the European Union. It outlines some very specific things you need to do, and the worry is that very few Australian businesses are prepared for it! (My takeaway was: Damn, I’m really happy I’m not in charge of an online business anymore!)

I spent the first session after lunch frantically preparing for my own talk! Soon it was time to head to the room…

I essentially went through all the points from my recent LinkedIn article on public speaking. I ended up with about 20 attendees, and they seemed to really enjoy and get a lot out of it! Hopefully some of them will be inspired to volunteer to give talks at their local meetups and events in the future. 🙂

The session after mine was a tag team presentation from Priscilla Cheung and Moe Kiss from THE ICONIC. I loved this one! They talked about the importance of good UX when presenting your data, and they walked through 10 tips for making it look better.

I also loved when Moe got opinionated about pie charts. 😂

In the last block of sessions, I went to see Sarah Crooke from Data Runs Deep talk about how she uses R to combine data from web and mobile analytics. I’ve seen a few talks on R lately, but most of have been from super experienced data engineers. It was nice to see someone who’s learned it recently and who could give advice to those of us less experienced with the language!

The last talk I saw was actually a repeat for me – it was Johann de Boer  giving his talk on predictive targeted marketing using machine learning. I saw it at Web Analytics Wednesday back in January, but I felt honour bound to support someone from the Sydney community (especially since he’d caught the train to Melbourne the previous night!).

Many thanks and congratulations to the MeasureCamp organiser for putting on a fantastic event! 👏

Other Stuff

I’m heading off to Perth, Bangalore, and Singapore over the next two weeks, so my meetup adventures are going to be on hold for a bit!

  • It’s all happening at YOW! right now. We’ve got SEVEN upcoming YOW! Nights happening across Australia in the coming weeks. Hope to see you at one of them!
  • QUICK. There is a Humble Bundle of functional programming books, but it finishes up early Tuesday morning! I just bought it…
  • Don’t forget that we have two upcoming YOW! events in Sydney with open Calls for Presentations! YOW! Data will be held on May 14-15 and is looking for speakers on data-driven technologies and applications. YOW! Lambda Jam is coming up on May 21-23 and is all about functional programming. Special note: This year we’ve added on an extra day for LJ that will be a full-day workshop aimed at providing an “on-ramp” to FP. (If you can’t make it to Tony’s 3-day course, you should definitely sign up for the LJ one!)

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I forgive you the rain, Melbourne. 😍 #cubano

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