I’ve used the lightning talks at the last two ACCU conferences as a means of subjecting a captive audience to my dreadful array of programming / IT / geek one liners. (My previous two ACCU stand-up routines are published on this blog as “The Daily Stand-Up” and “Stand-Up and Deliver”.) This year was no different, but I wasn’t sure if I had enough “decent” new or unused material to survive the whole 5 minutes; unluckily for the audience I had...
Hence, here are the 34 one-liners I delivered under the title “Wit Limits”  at this year’s ACCU conference:
“I thought it was odd when the doctor prescribed ‘programming’ to help me cope with my migraine; then I realised he said ‘codeine’.”
“These news reports of drone strikes are quite disturbing, but what I don’t understand is why we allowed delivery bots to form unions in the first place.”
“When we have chips at the seaside and I run out of ketchup I like to go round dipping them in other people’s. I call it crowd saucing.”
“The marketing department said we needed to be more disruptive, so I dropped the production database and deleted all the source code.”
“Our product doesn’t have a road map, it has a star map. Each release depends on whatever new shiny thing the developers become infatuated with next.”
“We’ve recently started using CRC cards. We now add a 32-bit checksum to each user story to stop the product owner messing with it mid-sprint.”
“Our Scrum Master is forever asking what we did yesterday, what we’re doing today, and what our impediments are. He’s a big fan of continuous interrogation.”
“I’ve always been envious of the autonomy granted to James Bond, but I guess that’s what you get when you’re M-powered.”
“Teams that refuse to do planning poker have really gone up in my estimation.”
“I’ve always felt it’s important to allow slack time in a schedule. I mean, how else are you going to keep up with all the instant messages?”
“The problem with people who are Prince certified is that they want to manage projects like it’s 1999.”
“Someone recently told me there is a new build system written entirely in F#, but I reckon it’s just Fake news.”
“I know he invented object-orientation, but was the Hexagonal Architecture also invented by Alan Key?”
“Guido seemed somewhat subdued when I asked him about how the Python enhancement process was going, so I gave him a PEP talk.”
“I once worked at an online china shop. The CEO said we needed to move fast and break things, so I hired a bull.”
“The problem with Amazon’s Dynamo DB is that it stops working when they stop peddling it.”
“Companies that securely store my important data in offsite data centres really get my back up.”
“Vampires never use database replication as they can’t see their data in the mirror.”
“The other day a sysadmin asked me what I was using to provision hardware; he said that he was using Terraform. I replied, ‘Application Form’.”
“Whenever I provision some new hardware I like to do it in batches of a hundred. My motto is ‘infra-penny, infra-pound’.”
“Calvin Klein once offered me a modelling contract but I had to turn it down when I discovered they still used Rational Rose.”
“The other day I felt really uncomfortable after we had a massive disagreement about whether to use dashes or slashes to prefix our console app switches. I hate command line arguments.”
“I like to think of myself as a pragmatist. When the code doesn’t compile due to warnings, I just pragma them out.“
“I reckon Vim should be classified as a Class A drug on the grounds that it’s impossible to quit.”
“I’m pretty disappointed that my ZX81 based mule racing game keeps falling over. I guess I shouldn’t have called it 1K Donkey.”
“Surely to create safe self-driving cars we first have to solve the Halting Problem?”
“Never use someone that can’t write regular expressions to perform jobs interviews – they tend to be a bad judge of character.”
“When Robocop eats breakfast in the morning does he use his cereal port?”
“If you hit the Levis REST API twice, on endpoints they haven’t implemented, you’ll get a pair of 501’s.”
“The last time my wife and I tried to plait my daughter’s hair concurrently it ended in dreadlock.”
“Someone has been sending me tiny photos of my bank’s login page. I think I’m being subjected to a micro-fiching attack.”
“The last time I hired a rowing boat I could turn left and turn right, but not move forwards or backwards. I reckon it must have had exclusive oars.”
“I’ve always felt it’s important that my kids are well grounded so when they go to bed at night I attach a wire from their ear to the radiator.”
 I also used this title for an “agile” focused routine at Agile in the City: Birmingham the month before. However the less said about this performance the better...
I went to my first ACCU Conference last week. It was great.
I’d heard about ACCU from Russel Winder several months ago. He recommended I check out the conference (for which hes on the programme board) since I’m a fan and user of the C and C++ languages.
I arrived in Bristol on Tuesday excited for what the week held.
This post contains a section about the talks and a section about my experience at the bottom.
Be aware that some of the photos might not look as good on here as they should, I think Medium has compressed them a bit. All my photos should be online shortly.
We started the conference proper with a fantastically explosive keynote delivered by Russ Miles who jumped on stage to deliver a programming parody of Highway to Hell accompanied by his own guitar playing. His keynote was all about modern development and how most of a programmer’s tools currently just shout information at the programmer, rather than actually helping.
Wednesday’s talks continued with several other good talks and a number of great lightning talks too. Finalising with the welcome reception where delegates gathered in the hotel for drinks, food and conversation.
It was here that I really got the chance to socialise with a good few people, including Anna-Jayne and Beth, who I’d been excited about meeting since I found out they were going to be there!
Thursday’s stand out talks included Documentation for Developers workshop by Peter Hilton. I really enjoyed the workshoppy style that Peter used to deliver the talk. He got the audience working in groups, talking to each other and essentially complaining about documentation. He finished with suggesting a method of writing docs called Readme Driven Development as well as other suggestions.
The other talk on Thursday which I really loved was “The C++ Type System is your Friend”. Hubert Matthews was a great speaker with clear experience in explaining a complex topic in an easier to understand fashion. I can’t say I understood everything, but I certainly liked listening to Hubert speak.
Thursday evening I headed out for dinner with Anna-Jayne and Beth before heading back to my accommodation to write up a last minute talk for Friday.
My talk was covering Intel Software Guard Extensions — Russel announced that there was an open slot on Friday for a 15 minute topic and I took the chance to speak then.
Friday began with a curious but thought provoking talk from Fran Buontempo called AI: Actual Intelligence. I’m not entirely sure what the take away from the talk was intended to be, but nonetheless it was interesting!
Friday morning was full of 15 minute talks. A format I think is wonderful. I really loved that amongst the 90 min talks throughout the rest of the week, there was time for these quick fire shorter talks too that were still serious technical talks (unlike the 5min lightning talks).
At Friday lunch time I took part in a bit of an unplanned workshop on sketch noting with Michel Grootjans. It was essentially an hour of trying to make our notes prettier! It was a lot of fun.
Friday was the conference dinner — a rock themed night of fun and frivolities.
This was by far the high point of the conference for me. It offered a great evening of meeting people and having a lot of fun. I loved how everyone loosened up and spoke to anyone else there.
I met a whole bunch of people, and got on super well with a few people who I would like to consider friends now.
ACCU made it easy to get to know people too by forcing everyone who isn't a speaker to move tables between each meal course. Its a great idea!
Saturday’s talks started with a really fun talk from Arjan van Leeuwen about string handling in C++1x. Covering the differences between char arrays and std::strings and how best to use them. As well as tantalising us with a C++17 feature called std::string_view (immutable views of a string).
Later I watched a talk from Anthony Williams and another from Odin, both of which went wildly over my head, but all the same I gained a few things from both of them.
Finishing off the conference was a brilliant keynote from renowned speaker and member of the ISO C++ standards committee Herb Sutter.
Herb introduced a new feature of C++ that he may be proposing to the standards committee. He described a feature allowing one to create meta-classes.
Essentially, one could describe a template of a class with certain interfaces, data and operators. Then, one could implement an instance of that class defining all the functionality of the class. Its essentially a way to more cleanly describe something akin to inheritance with virtual functions.
I highly suggest you try to catch the talk, since it was so interesting that even an hour or so after the talk there was still quite a crowd of people gathered around Herb asking him questions.
The Conference Environment
As a first time ACCU attendee — this wouldn't be a useful blog post without a few words about the environment at the conference.
As most of my readers know, I’m a young transwomen, so a safe and welcome environment is something that I very much appreciate and makes a huge difference to my experience of an event.
Its something thats super hard to achieve in a world like software development where the workforce are predominantly male.
I’m glad to say that ACCU did a great job of creating a safe and welcoming space. Despite being predominantly male as expected, everyone I encountered was not only friendly and helpful, but ever so willing to go out of their way to make me feel welcome and comfortable. Everyone I met simply accepted me for me and didnt treat me any other way than friendly.
I would suggest that offering diversity tickets to ACCU would help make me feel even better there, since I’d feel better with a more diverse set of delegates.
I was especially comforted by Russel mentioning the code of conduct, without fail, every day of the conference. As well as one of the lightning talks being, delivered by a man, taking the form of a spoke word-ish piece praising the welcoming nature of ACCU and calling for the maintenance of the welcoming nature to all people in the community, not just people like himself.
I’d like to especially mention Julie and the Archer-Yates team for checking up on my happiness throughout the conference, they really helped me feel safe there.
I think there still could be work to do about making the conference a good place for younger adults — I was rather overwhelmed by the fact that everyone seemed older than me and clearly had a better idea of how to conduct themselves in the conference setting. However, I think the only real way of solving this problem would be to make the conference easier to access to younger people (i,e cheaper tickets for students, its still super expensive) which wouldn't always be possible. Additionally, the inclusion of some simpler, easier to understand talks would have been great. Lots of the talks were very complicated and easily got to a level that was way over my head.
ACCU was a fantastic experience for me. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in improving their C and C++ programming skills as well as general programming skills. I’ll certainly be heading back next year if I can, and am happily a registered ACCU member now!
As I pointed out in my blog post that collates Season One of my In The ToolboxC Vu column I never intended to write more than a couple of introductory articles before handing it over for others to share their experiences. Yet now, three years later, I’m still plugging away at it and Season Three is already in the making with a couple of episodes already under my belt.
Just as before I also strongly advise you to become a member of the ACCU so you can get this, plus loads of much better content, which may or may not be published online by their respective authors. As I write this post it’s still only a measly £45 per year and is one of the last remaining printed journals about programming.
Anyway, here are links and summaries for episodes 7 through 12.
We have so many ideas for our products but only so many hours in the day to develop them. Sometimes all it needs is a simple text file in the repo, whilst bigger projects seem to demand an enterprise-grade solution like JIRA.
As programmers we need a safe environment in which to write and test our code, free from the distractions going on around us. When running the tests it should not be at the mercy of other developers running tests at the same time as us; first and foremost we start in isolation, if we can.
It’s a simple question: how do you find a piece of text? And yet there is a dizzying array of choices available that depend heavily on what’s accessible at the time and where and how that elusive text is stored.
In the move to go digital the humble whiteboard has been pushed aside, which is disappointing as it’s still probably the best design tool available. It also has many other uses than drawing pictures of boxes, drums and cylinders.
I'm pleased to announce that I'll be delivering the opening keynote at the awesome ACCU 2015 developer conference in Bristol this April. The talk is called "Becoming a Better Programmer" (it's no coincidence that this is the same title as my new book and my magazine column).
I'm really looking forward to it. I think it'll be great fun and, hopefully, really useful.
The session synopsis is:
You've come this conference to improve your skills. You're here to learn: to learn new technologies, to learn new techniques, and to fuel your passion by meeting like-minded people.
Becoming a better programmer means more than just learning new technologies. It means more than practising techniques and idioms. It's about more than passion and attitude. It's the combination of all these things. That's what this session will look at.
Pete Goodliffe, author of the new book Becoming a Better Programmer, unpacks important mindsets and techniques that will help you improve as a programmer. You'll discover specific tools that will help you review your current skillset, and you'll learn techniques to help you “become a better programmer”.
My latest Becoming a Better Programmer column is published in the March issue of C Vu magazine (27.1). It's called Coders Causing Conflict and investigates how "conflict" can be a driving force for good in software development. It's quite an interesting topic, and one worth thinking about.
I realise that I failed to announce my previous few C Vu columns here. So, as a recap:
In January (C Vu 26.6) I published Advice for the Young at Heart, considering how to give career advice to new programmers.
In November 2014 (C Vu 26.5) I published Playing by the Rules which looks at developing "tribal rules" for your development team to help it work most effectively.
C Vu is a magazine produced by the ACCU - an excellent organisation for programmers. It has a great community, great publications, and an awesome conference. Check it out.