On the weekend of 27-29th of June I had the pleasure of attending LXJS 2014, my first LXJS.
The conference was held in Estufa Fria, which I think translates to something like "The Cold Greenhouse". It's beautiful:
The conference hall is inside Estufa Fria; you can see it on the left of the first photo.
Talks & Training
I won't summarise every talk, just my favourites. You can view the full schedule here: http://2014.lxjs.org/schedule/
Soledad Penadés' talk "Audio for the masses" was a touching and inspiring journey through her experience making digital music since she was a child, revealing what drives her in her current work at Mozilla making audio accessible to everybody using web technologies.
Charlie Robbins of Nodejitsu spoke about a static analysis study of NPM that he has been working on as a research project. Some of the "science" was over my head, but it was well-presented with easy-to-understand and informative graphs.
Tancredi Trugenberger delivered a dynamic and passionate talk about learning, in the context of his work at Team Kano. It was nice to hear him share some personal experiences of learning about computers and coding with his father when he was a child.
Angie Maguire shared some tips about connection and communication, including
making encouraging us to stand up and do the "power pose" together. I spoke to her at Node Road and she said her highlight was seeing one particular guy with his arms in the air, enthusiastically sniffing in the power he felt from the exercise.
TJ Fontaine delivered what is by now probably a well-rehearsed overview of the recent progress and future direction of Node.js. We learned (among other things) that he used to have a mullet.
After a delicious and over-indulged lunch and some langour in the sun I cajoled my brain into Max Bruning and TJ Fontaine's DTrace workshop. Doing nothing to dispel the grumpy unix beard stereotype (albeit sans beard in his case), Max briskly whisked us through an unapologetically technical and difficult workshop whilst charming us youngsters with accusations of not knowing what an integer was. TJ played the faithful, comic-relief sidekick role beautifully.
The following day I enjoyed Feross Aboukhadijeh's talk on WebRTC entitled "Peer-to-peer web". I was taken from ignorance to "got it" in 20 minutes. Good job, Feross. My favourite quote from the talk is captured by Mike Brevoort:
Mike Brevoort's closing talk inspired us to educate and share our knowledge. If I can be forgiven for paraphrasing from memory, I think this captures it: "Here we, the priveleged and educated, stand at the front of the line. Instead of pushing our way ahead, turn around and pull someone up". Cue the tears.
After lunch I attended a LevelDB workshop with Dominic Tarr and Julian Gruber. The pace was brisk enough to cover a lot of ground but without losing us. I'd done a bit of LevelDB before but it was good to learn some best practices from the experts.
Overall I thought the talks were good, but I'd have liked one or two more technical ones. But I'm a back-end Node.js developer, so that doesn't suit everyone. For front-end developers there was probably ample technical talks.
Food & Nightlife
The best thing about travelling for me is discovering the local food (and wine). I haven't had a lot of Portuguese food before, but I liked it. The highlights of Friday's LXJS lunch were Portuguese Duck Rice and Pastel de nata, a delicious custard-filled pastry.
For dinner Friday night I went to A Gina Restaurant, where I enjoyed rice and beans, salt cod fritters and a mixed grill. The place was packed (with LXJS attendees mostly), chaotic and charming, with a homely feel. Then we went to Rua Nova do Carvalho (or "pink street" as it seemed to be dubbed), a nightlife strip jammed full of late-night revellers.
For the farewell party we went into Alfama, the oldest district of Lisbon, full of charming, cobbled streets that wind their way seemingly arbitrarily up the hill towards the castle. We congregated in a square outside a church, with food and drink stalls and the smoke of barbecuing sardines filling the air. It was a great atmosphere and felt like an authentic local experience.
I had a speaking engagement the next day, so I didn't stay too late. By all accounts it was a big night though!
Joyent Node Road
Sunday 28/6 saw the first European stop on Joyent's Node Road tour. The speakers included TJ Fontaine (Node.js project lead, obviously), Ben Acker from Walmart, Rudi De Sousa from British Gas and myself. Rudi and I were there as a British Gas / YLD double-act, with Rudi talking about the business side of Node.js at British Gas and me giving a technical overview of the project I'm working on in my current YLD engagement there. YLD's own Nuno Job performed emcee duties.
It was great to be sharing the stage with such community luminaries, so thanks very much to @mle_tanaka and Joyent for having me and for organising the event.
It was great to chat to fellow Node-ers before and after the event. As always, the Node.js community is warm, welcoming and keen to share their experience and help others.
I had a great time at LXJS and in Lisbon generally. You may read that and think "yeah but it shouldn't be about having a good time, it should be about the talks". Well here's the thing about LXJS: the core experience is more than just the talks, it's the people; the community. Organising a big event isn't easy, and being able to do so in such a way that people leave inspired, uplifted and well-networked is a real achievement.
One of the things I enjoyed most about LXJS was the opportunity to meet the people behind the tools, modules and services that we as Node.js developers use everyday, such as Nodejitsu, Sauce Labs and Gitter.
Thanks very much to the tireless efforts of the LXJS organisers and volunteers, in particular David Dias and Pedro Teixeira.
Looking forward to 2015 :)