CascadiaFest 2015: A Debrief
We arrived the day before the conference and enjoyed dinner on the pier. By evening time, attendees of the conference started to pour into the resort.
The first thing I noticed was the CascadiaFest Code of Conduct. I appreciated the TL;DR, and the use of verbose language in the long version left very few cracks for issues to fall through. They mention homophobia, transphobia, and body shaming (to name a few). Being an ally (and member of a few) of these groups, I was proud of my Cascadian friends really taking the time to ensure hateful activity and speech wouldn’t be tolerated.
The environment during the conference was very social and inviting. I sat with a new group of people every day, and made great connections because of it. Also, the stereotype of what a “developer” is did not apply here. There were people from all walks of life, and it gave me a fresh pride in the industry I call home.
Another concern I had for this experience was the embarrassment sometimes associated with being a junior developer. Sometimes there is hesitation for junior developers to participate in technical conversations for fear of getting information wrong or being corrected. On the contrary, all discussions at CascadiaFest 2015 were open, and participants were passionate about welcoming juniors into discussion and to the industry in general.
There was no hesitation to show vulnerability, from men and women alike; I heard stories from new friends about their struggles entering the field and how they felt in times of distress. Hearing these people, whom while speaking I felt eons away from in terms of skill, talk about feeling behind and having etiolated confidence was amazing. Spoiler alert: everyone feels dumb sometimes. To quote my favorite cartoon, Adventure Time:
At CascadiaFest 2015, there were a total of 10 (out of 34 total) female-identifying speakers, all with amazing things to say. That is a major number, when you consider that only 18% of individuals with a STEM-related degree are women. Overall, this conference was well-balanced in gender.
To close my assessment, I want to express immense gratitude to all the organizers of CascadiaFest, particularly Carter Rabasa and Katie Kurkoski who showed me personal hospitality during the week’s festivities.
Some key takeaways from my favorite talks over the three days:
1. Martin Gontovnikas – “Death to Cookies, Long Live JSON Web Tokens”
Martin’s talk was on cookies and how, in the new and improved browser experience, they are not the most optimized option. He covered stateful vs stateless servers and what they mean to storing cookies vs using JSON web tokens. JSON Web Tokens use a base-64 URL encoded token that translates to a three tier JSON element (first tier, the header, has algorithm, second tier has payload, and third tier has secret hash).
3. Clarissa Peterson – “Responsive Color”
In CSS4, there will be light level media queries which will work with the light level of the mobile device serving your site so you can change your colors accordingly. Testing for all sorts lighting conditions is not very common but is a useful thing to do, not only for different brightnesses but also to make sure those with color deficiencies are able to comfortably use your website. You can also change the color for printing (by setting media equal to print in a link rel), which is a great tool to have to make sure if someone prints your website it still looks just as good as it did on a computer screen.
Are there any inclusive meetups or conference that you’d recommend attending? List them in the comments section below!