CoderFaireAtlanta 2013 RECAP

Whew, what a weekend! I’ve just got home from this thing called “CoderFaire.”

What is a CoderFaire? Think of a bazaar for technology and ideas – people, dusty from their travels, that come together under one big tent to share in a common love for computers and the wonderful things we make them do. Though we come from different backgrounds, a common language is spoken – geek. Everyone is accepted, everyone contributes and learns and leaves a little richer in knowledge gained and friends made.

For some of us, this heaven on Earth. I cannot thank the organizers (Cal, Kathy, Jacques, Ben, Chris, and everyone else) for their vision and for making this event happen.

I am deeply grateful to FoxyCart for making my trip possible, and to Cal and everyone for the opportunity to speak to such a bright and eager crowd.

Here’s one small thing that sets CoderFaire apart from other conferences – sponsors are ONLY allowed to send their developers. No marketers, no BS. I spoke with the guys from GitHub (hey Kevin!), Mashery (hey Neil!), Twilio (hey Keith!), and Basho (hey Hector!), and am still inspired by their commitment to the development community, their willingness to pitch in and help, and their infectious good attitude. It’s one of a thousand things that made this weekend such an amazing experience.

In the course of two days I learned:

  • How intuition fuels the development process, the importance of slowing down, and the importance of pursuing a career you love. Thanks Ben, for the incredible keynote (and the ace beer selections).

  • How MailChimp handles MySQL problems, courtesy of Joe. It was incredible validation to learn that the problems I’ve run into as we’ve grown at FoxyCart are typical MySQL issues, and to get a peek inside a business that handles 6000 signups PER DAY. Wow.

  • That people are REALLY interested in web security and the OWASP list! Not only that, but Atlanta has a monthly OWASP meetup (thanks Shauvik!). I had an absolute ball giving my talk and am humbled that my audience enjoyed it as well.

At some point during the talk schedule I stepped for air. Panting for breath, I came to Cal and said, “ARGH, you’ve given me too many great talks to choose from! How can I possibly see them all!” This is a great problem to have at a conf. There were three rooms with simultaneous talks on a wide variety of topics, which was a great way to organize things given the mix of students, non-technicals and professionals – everyone sees what they want, everyone has a blast.

Then I went back in for round two:

  • How showcase moved from a single dedicated server to a redundant multi-AZ Amazon Web Services solution, courtesy of Alan. Having worked ops for FoxyCart for the past few years it’s nice to see others having the same pains (and joys!) of moving to a completely virtualized architecture. Plan for failure.

  • How to build near-realtime multiplayer games with Ruby / CoffeeScript / HTML5, thanks to jweissman on GitHub. I love game programming, and I love the web, so this was a tasty treat combining the best of both. Joseph’s got huge ideas for this and I found his talk both interesting and inspiring.

  • All about Riak CS, thanks to Hector. If you don’t know, Riak CS is a “host your own” S3-compatible clustered storage system built on top of Riak. Thanks to some awesome hacking, Hector’s made it possible to fire up a full featured local cluster in a matter of minutes. I haven’t even begun to digest what this means for my development process – I can have my own private S3 that works offline with existing tools! Amazing.

  • Huge and interesting things about community leadership and development from Keith, Jacques, and the rest. I’m amazed and excited about the healthy growth of the Atlanta and Nashville tech communities. Thanks these leaders, technical communities are alive and well outside of the “Big City / West Coast / Silicon Valley” venue. It’s a great time to be a developer.

  • The ins and outs of running an international design firm courtesy of Maarten, who wins my “furthest traveled” award – he flew out from Amsterdam for the conference!

I’m so fired up right now that my typing can’t keep up with my brain. Atlanta has an amazing tech community, and hanging out with this crowd has given me great hope for what we’re doing back home in little ol’ Augusta.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten details – a high concentration of awesomeness can do that to a person. Can’t wait for CoderFaire ATL 2014!

If you missed my talk I put the slides and an OWASP top 10 cheatsheet Up on Lanyrd. You might also enjoy my sysadmin blog over at