The world agrees that any good story must contain a time of planning. The eagerness that comes when the event gets closer by each passing day and all the difficulties that come when the event actually happens.
So, like any other epic story that becomes with a decision imposed by necessity and curiosity than actual eagerness in the beginning, I decided to step into a world that threatened to be bigger than myself. Or so we all think when we do something out of our comfort zones. But should you allow me to tell you, I believe comfort zones exist to tell us we need to change what we are doing – if your heart doesn’t race and you can not feel the vein pumping the blood through your brain,then you need to do something about it.
For me, it was venturing on a 4 hour long train trip, to a city that I had never heard of – if not for the conference.
And necessity claimed that I need to get myself ahead of the technologies, to stay tuned within the new trends of the programming world. Just like fashion goes for clothes designers and forces itself into the common world of mortals who dress to murder the entire fashion industry (or so they claim), any programmer must bear the possibility to stay behind and murder his/her code. If you hurt yourself into doing something the hard way when you have the intelligent way, then by all means, you deserve the pain!
I bet i’m confusing you already aren’t I? Trying to understand what the heck I am actually writing here? Good!
So my trip actually started the night before, when my colleagues and I (who were also going to Brighton to participate in the FFConf ) realised we had scheduled the train tickets and hotels to a day after the actual conference. So the panic installed successfully. Panic.tar.gz I will call it, and when it decompressed, it occupied my whole mind. Money, stress and what to do next? The main question my brain couldn’t let go.
But if you’ve heard about buddhism (and for this case you definitely should!) you know there is a proverb that states:
“If you have a problem that can be fixed, then there is no use in worrying. If you have a problem that cannot be fixed, then there is no use in worrying.” – Buddhist proverb
So Dave double checked the dates for the convention, with worry heavying his eyes. Releasing a huge quantity of air from his mouth, we soon realised we were, somehow, in trouble.
But everything that comes, must pass, worries are no exception to this rule! After a lot of discussion with everybody at the office, we did reach a conclusion on how to approach the problem. Not all solutions fix everything, and for some the problem was not 100% fixed, but it was something and we had to live with it.
This sums up the entire of the start of the trip. Trouble. Having two members concluding they had to miss the workshop of Angularjs 2 and so only being able to participate through the conference.
Regarding my counterparts, everything sorted out for the best. We managed to request the next day (since this was the year they did it twice).
The problem was, the idea of having the whole team together, participating in the conference, was soon abandoned since they would have to go the day before me, leaving me all alone for the conference. Let me put it in a dark portrait as I feel the need to create tempests in a glass of water, as such is the human soul when going through anything that is fresh to them – alone, to a city I have never heard nor visited before, having to scale my trains in one of the most busiest cities in the world. Perfect recipe for disaster, that’s what the alarms in my head were triggering.
But, do you know what responsibility brings? The no choice option. Once you compromise to anyone, you will have to carry out the task to the best of your abilities. And so I did.
Regardless of how loud the alarms might ring in your head, how dark it can portray the adventure (the darkest was ending up in France. Parce que le française peuvent jouir avec ma abilité de parler le français.) you have to finish what you started. It’s not a soldier complex, but rather a live one. Because no good story starts over a salad.
The next day was a trial of what was to come. My colleagues have left for Brighton the previous chaotic day, leaving me to endure the entire day thinking about how I would be able to understand the metro system in London. For the sceptic, put your phones in your pocket and take them out when you need them the most. Their tangled wires are as chaotic to me as the metro systems I have never experienced before.
Thankfully I was not alone at the office, and received lessons on “how to not get lost in the London metro, for dummies”. To all of you, thank you so much for the explanation, it paid off in the end!
Oh my, look at the light, the sun is sinking through the earth!
In a rush to get all my things, I rushed home for a quick preparation before leaving Manchester behind for the shortest period known to mankind.
Regardless of how long the time might feel for any of us (yes it is relative!) I reached home, gathered the clothes I wanted to take to Brighton (decided for a formal look, after all I am going as a representative as well). Once there was a pile of clothes altogether, it was just a matter of jumping in the shower and getting ready to just wait for my housemate to arrive, deliver the keys and run like the wind to the Piccadilly train station.
Easy huh? Well, don’t you know the world gets funny with you? You should have known better. Let’s start to accelerate the rhythm of our hearts…
My housemate texts me saying he might not arrive in time to catch me. Well… no problem… I believe I can endure leaving the keys in the mail for half an hour (brain thinking the house will be empty by the time he arrives). At the same time, I had planned not to take a bag as it was just one day and I did not want to have the extra weight during the conference.
Guess what? It is a 4 hour trip, where you stay still for the entire time. I like to keep my sanity, don’t you?
And, oh yeah, hear this! Because it is a very special day here in Manchester, there is some huge traffic jam so you cannot reach the station in time. Not satisfied? No problem, the world still got more to give. It’s christmas in ‘troubleland’. I called an uber and he called me back laughing, saying ‘you will not be able to reach the station in time!’
The world’s gift to you – now that you have to walk – let the rain begin!
So I’m in my suit, with an extra bag because I want to use the trip time to advance my Japanese studies and, since I am taking a bag, hygienic products are what I was lacking, here, have some rain to rejoice. But just remember, there is still wind to throw into the equation!
So you bring the best memories to your head, remember not everything is bad. Life goes as an ironic sinusoidal with its high and low points. So keep smiling, and embrace all the gifts. Because you know that any adventure, anything that takes you to create the worse tempests you have ever seen, they are small blessings of history that you will be able to carry out.
I know what you might be thinking by now. “Wow, he really does put too much thought into simple things.” Well allow me to tell you, history was written by one simple step. Decisions. You might ignore them in your day to day life, but perhaps tomorrow you will end up in Mars, colonizing it for the good of mankind (I had to laugh a bit in this part) or maybe surfing a tsunami with a yacht when you decided it was time to see how many colors the oceans could show you.
Or stay in the office and wonder what I was doing at this time. Plausible I would say. Regardless, what I want you to remember is, either a yes or a no, they will start something and, sometimes, you are powerless to do anything but to see the world spin around your decision. Fall, scream, enjoy, remember, it does not care. Will do its job without asking you anything.
So yeah where was I? Oh yeah, I’m the suit man walking with a colorful bag on his back, with an umbrella as the everything that separated me from the ocean that those clouds had stored and a temperature so cold it will make the song “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you” spin in your head.
But allow me to tell you. I loved every second. Sure I did not see it at first (nor feel it), but it was when I entered the train (running as my coach was A and it is a fun thing to have to cross the whole alphabet to reach your seat), heart racing, eyes as energetic as the nuclear reactions in the sun, and head spinning while whispering “you did it”. That is the proudest I believe a human can be. Not for the moment itself, but just because you are doing something outside of what you are used to. Suddenly you are ready to see the world, entirely. I mean you were scared to death just to go to the fishing city/village/town 4 hours aways from your current position (allow me to remind the reader, 4 hours is what it takes to reach my homeland, Portugal, by airplane, counting airport lost time obviously). But you proved yourself you can light fire (well…not literally) but you manage. And suddenly it’s like you remember you have a form, you did things before and you surpassed many other hardships.
Like I said, it is easy for anyone to forget what they was, did or wished. So step away from your house and go get lost. That is what the trip started to teach me. The most ridiculous of all? It should be something I should remember by myself.
But yeah, at this time in the story I have already studied Japanese, fell asleep, woke up realising I snored once and laughed about it and shazam! London Euston station’s name fills the hearts of the train passengers. I know what I just said, brave and all venture and search for the world, but hey! Humans are still humans so its is normal to share a bit of fear and excitement at the same time right?
And so that was exactly what I did. In the middle of the formed line, like a battalion ready for deployment, hearing the train doors to release the pressure and suddenly open to the busiest city, there was I, shaking in admiration.
What comes next? Ah right, run from the station, try to look for the underground. Realise you did not recognise the location at first, look again, because asking for help is going to hit your pride of survival, become happy when you finally find the underground. Buy the ticket to Victoria station, wait for the metro to arrive. Just in case, ask the lady next to you if you are in the right place? Feel ashamed the information was right in front of you and have your survival skills utterly ashamed regardless of your previous effort, enter the metro, compact yourself into a can of sardines, exit the metro, run to Victoria to catch the last hour trip to Brighton and be so happy you have fifteen minutes to breathe. Will let this blog breathe a bit as well.
Just so you have an idea how the day is going so far, from a work day in Manchester to Victoria train station, I went to buy a sandwich and the lady looked at me surprised, asking if I was feeling tired. I laughed the tiredness away and said I was okay (liar, could have brought a cushion and had the best train trip ever).
Brighton popped on the screen and here we go again.
At elevenish. Such a delightful view after one hour texting Payam whether or not I would arrive in time and receiving excited messages about the infamous burgers of Brighton, the sea of darkness (and cold I must say, at least for the wind of it), but a huge problem was appearing. My cellphone battery was dying and I needed to charge it urgently. Why my worries, you might ask?
Dear reader, I do not know how to put this in any other way, but in case the point was missing until now, I am in a new city! All the contact I had with it was through google maps. Well, now with Brighton train station as well (a gorgeous one I must say).
For the delight of the reader and to help you feel my memories as it were your own, allow me to describe Payam’s indications of where the hotel was:
“Go straight into the sea, turn left, straight into the hotel.”
Well then, there is no way to miss it! And you know what? He was right! Just forgot to mention that it takes around 10 to 15 minutes to actually reach the sea, and another envious 7 to 10 minutes in the cold to reach the hotel.
But hey, safe and sound, I reach it!
If you have not given up the reading until now, the excitement I felt was pretty much similar in strength as the willpower you are using to go through this. But fear not! Tomorrow is the FFConf and today is soon to rejoice in memories.
I checked into the hotel easily, no big deal so far. But guess what. I know everybody at the office knows me for my complicated mind (not always in the good sense) and I swear I thought it was one of those moments when I reached the third floor to reach room 301 (yes! That is correct! It was the room assigned to me.). The instructions were actually clear enough. 300 – 316 to the right and 317 until 9000 (can not remember the actual number, sorry) to the left.
Well guess what, dear reader?! The right corridor was composed of rooms starting from the 306 to the 316. How marvellous! I cannot even find my room.
And what do you do when you cannot find stuff? You call the almighty program god Payam, which takes its time on the phone to remind you how mortal your mind is. Well, jokes on you Payam Senpai, this time I was right!
Please allow me a few minutes to absorb this as it’s kinda unique.
Okay I am happy now. We can proceed.
So yeah the rest of the night was smooth. I must say if you never saw Payam bargain you are missing out (honestly) and I was introduced to the ultimate burger after rejecting pizzas (sorry!). And I must say, it was worth the 4 hours by itself! Of course the beer after that was also worth it and the company was good too (I must inform the reader who is questioning where Dave might be in the middle of this. Dave have gone to bed around 10 PM. Hehe sleep is for the weak! So I never actually had an opportunity to socialise with him).
After a while and with huge exhaustion, we finally head back to the hotel, enjoyed one last conversation and each went to our own rooms for rest.
At this time I am quite happy that I can charge my phone and get ready to take many photos tomorrow and find the place easily. I was finally able to relieve the stress and enjoy the salty wind!
Sorry I am giggling right now. Mostly because you still did not learn your lesson until now.
I grabbed the charger and realised I had changed the UK plug to an EU plug last minute before leaving home! I changed my planned plug because I found a slimmer one and could not see it was … well never mind, you get the idea anyway. I should be punished and believe me I was.
Next logical thing to do to make sure you wake up on time the next day, to have breakfast, walk to the rendezvous and do all of this without running? (talking about waking up around 8 AM). Well this trick will save lives one day, so you can thank me later!
Turn your mobile into airplane mode, it will shut all your connections down and focus on main OS, and pray.
What’s that? You are asking what’s next? Was this not enough?!
Right okay, I will tell you what I was hiding this whole time. I did not need that alarm. I will tell you why. Because you are enjoying my misery, but that is okay, I am fine with it. Rejoice to know you did not have to wake up with the sound of the fire alarm, I tried to understand what was happening and if it was YOUR alarm and finally realise, “Of course! I must evacuate!”.
I am quite fast at dressing up, but that day was the fastest of my life. Out of the bed, suit up, put everything in the bag and flash out the door in less than 5 min. I was amazing, let me tell you. Amazingly sleepy and crampy.
And all to what? To reach the stairs with all the others, and listen to the management say it was a false alarm.
Now ain’t that brilliant? Good morning sunshine Brighton way.
That’s fine, no big deal. Let’s make sure I got everything and get out. Still got the breakfast and 20 to 30 minutes walk until the place. Oh look at that 4% battery, oh my oh my.
Breakfast was as simple as black coffee and a croissant with butter. Run, you fool, run to the conference that you are still not sure where exactly it is.
But fear not! The hotel receptionist had just the thing to help me out.
Have you ever wanted to play “Treasure Hunt”? No? How about, “Spot the Tourist”?
Well that is one anybody wants to play. And let me tell you, with a huge wallpaper map in front of you, I do believe I was no Wally.
But alas, I arrived my destination and, to my delight, waited for thirty more minutes.
The time has come! The doors that allowed the entry in the Duke of Yorks Picture House opened in pairs and the huge flock of people rushed inside. Within it, and with me in the middle of all of them, a woman started saying something. Fortunately for me, she actually repeated around a hundred times allowing me to finally get what she was saying which can roughly translate into: “Surnames that start from A to F to the left and the rest to the right!”.
Thank you Miss.Information I was in dire need for you to repeat it a hundred times. Not because of any accent fault or anything, but because of the lack of civism it takes when the people keep talking and one organizer actually needs to give information. Thank you world, once again, to make my life an exciting one. Excuse me, what’s that?
The conference part…
Yeah yeah I am getting into the Conference part, jesus, calm down…
But first, about those cakes that were in the entrance and just free for you to eat! Oh my, oh my! They were del…. Sorry? Ah fine, fine I will talk about it! Damn not even cakes? With chocolate and Egg forms and… You are a tough reader…
So yeah, after a full belly and a coffee in my hand, I went straight for the inside and looked for a corner. Don’t judge me, I was forced to isolation in my early school days for talking too much, I have learnt to love my corners! Now, leaving your judgment aside (corners are cool!), I sat down and waited for the room to be filled so we could start with the first part of the conference.
Rachel Andrew – Next level CSS
So, the conference started a little after the presentations. There was a huge screen behind that supported the speakers work and was entirely to catch up with what they were saying or some examples they had. Also, the right hand corner of the screen was always showing the tweets people from the conference would tweet. Things like remarkable quotes and tricks would end up there. I could not tweet or take pictures because, well, my phone is turned off right now as I do not know if I will be able to request an Uber when I get to Manchester again. Anywho, back to the speaker.
So the first speaker was Rachel Andrew. So Rachel came to us talking about the Css, its importance in the looks and feel of the website and why a website should always look good and feel good. Most of us already know its importance so I will not bother you with too much information on this and just jump to the two features she focused on the most.
So between all the talk about css, we gather information regarding flexboxes.
For those who do not know flexbox (and trust me I had just heard it through my front end colleagues at work. Yes I was a back end spy in a front end conference, felt like a ninja!) flexbox allows us to display content in a similar way tables did before, but, as the name says, in a more flexible and logical way! So imagine having to produce infine results of images, and they are all in different sizes! So flexbox will come up to you as a magician to a kid, turning your page display and css monster, which is what you get if you try to parse all the images and make them responsive, into layers and adjustable if, for example, you wanted four in a row and you are left with two at the end, flexbox will adjust it all for you so it looks perfect.
It was as amazing as a sword trick and I could see flames through her eyes as she passionately showed us her hot air balloon images getting sorted into different ways with flexbox. (So I can noq personally create a war between front and back ends, I used bootstrap for this matter *runs intensively in portuguese* ). But to be honest flexbox is a much better and an amazing tool to use! So it was already a win for my front style skills!
The second trick she showed us was how to fix a box into a place and allow it to scroll within the page at the same time. Now I know you want to punch me in the face and say you can achieve it with fixed positioning, but I am talking of having it unscrollable in the middle of the page, scroll and keep its position and then use it to scroll along side you bar once it hits the top of an element!
Ada Edwards – Progressive web
If you think only professional speakers or people with more experience are able to stand up and talk to the audience, allow me to introduce Ada. Now, do not take me wrong, but she did say a lot of “hums, ahh, and andddd”. But do not let this fool you. Although we could feel her nerves, her ideas and material were to the point. So let me help you and say, it is okay to be nervous, but it is not okay if you just stand there looking at us. But Ada did not do that of course.
Ada talked passionately about how the web should group force into one huge idea were OS and versions and apps and all those huge and infinite variables out there would not stand in your way. With the previous speaker we learned new tools to style our web pages but we also learnt that those tools are not yet available in all browsers. And my fellow tech friends will know what this means. This means war! With yourself, at late nights, trying to find a solution for it.
So Ada is claiming truce between all those different applications and sorts, in order to make our lives easier and the clients experience top notch. Ada, you did receive a lot of applauses and we are all aiming for that goal!
Léonie Watson – Technologic: accessibility remix
It took me a while to understand that this speaker was blind. And you will understand why I start stating this.
Léonie came to us speaking about accessibility and why it is importance. So we all are fortunate to appreciate our pages and deliver an amazing work of art, and we can easily neglect that the work we do might not exactly be “the best”. Look at it this way. Let’s move to the world of books. When you only have letters in a page, you have to use your imagination to deliver the best picture the words can provide to you.
If the writer is good, it comes easily and you don’t need a great effort to understand it. Eyes and imagination will pair up and deliver the world that is within each word, right in front of you. That is how good a writing can be, and that is how good our work of art should be, according to Léonie. And she is right, of course. If we are fortunate enough to appreciate the world wide web in its full colors, we must, at least, make sure we provide good and prepared web pages to support those who rely on words to only reach information.
Andrew Martin – All things continuous
Andrew came closer to what I am actually used to. Automation and swiftness!
He did not code nr anything, but he did show the whole room, ways to improve your work speed. Deep in the browser tools there are ways to boost your productivity, selecting components, adding others, changing styles, deploying warnings and much more.
Now I was already using these tools, but not in the depth he was actually showing them. It was so fast they appeared out of nowhere and disappeared right after. But, it did bring a new light to the power of a browser and why it should be respected.
We reached lunch break and at the time I had had enough coffee to make me more worried about my phone than I should ever be. But still, if for some reason I missed the train, there was no way to request a new ticket (except the old way which is to just ask within any station but I refuse to use primal ways! Choked in terror for a second…). I still had the cable that could connect USB to my phone and charge it directly, so I gather my courage and went to the organizers requesting permission to charge my phone through their laptops while at lunch. I tried my best not to look like I was about to hack the whole conference, but it seems I do not express myself the best when I need help, so I believe I created more doubts where there should be none. Fortunately the photographer lent me his power bank! And so ends the terror of the guy without battery and starts the story of the photographer without power in the power bank. But hey! We are focusing on the conference so let’s proceed.
Mariko Kosaka – Power of emoji
This was a very interesting speaker for me, because she delivered not only the history of the emoji itself (which started in Japan) she was Japanese. My colleagues might be laughing right now as they do know my despair of getting in touch with such culture but also my admiration for it.
But regardless of the culture, the idea and information behind it. it was very interesting as well!
We got to know secret apple releases in Japan prior to the rest of the world, all because of emoji. The impact such have in the Japanese market (to a point where no emoji means no sales) and the importance of the character encoding.
And I got the opportunity to practise my kanji recognition in between so it was a win all the way!
Umar Mansa – Optimise your web development workflow
Umar was a really funny man! And, it showed us how participating in the last conference paid off!
Apparently prior to friday, the night before, a new node.js feature had been released where we could run the terminal in the browser (yes, without having to actually dettach it as a complete different feature) and coordinate our node.js server with our development.
It was mainly focused on node.js tools and its power as well as the deployment of services and its importance.
Ashley Williams – A brief history and mishistory of modularity
Ashley works for the npm team and came to shatter our worlds. Trust me, if you do not want to ruin all your work, run, right now, run!
Well don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Ashley is a psychology graduate that turned into a programmer (they all do in the end, what else is there to love, really?) and with great love for physics.
Between all of this, she showed us how come modularity can be harmful sometimes.
Yeah, I know how you are feeling. (Pff it can never be harmful, modularity it’s the best.).
Well not according to Ashley and I must say, she broke my world in such a way I must support her.
So she explained how modularity adds such a level of complexity to the code that, if you use it for the most simple things, it can bottleneck your productivity and compilation speed.
We do work with a lot of complex and abstract thinking and modularity does help with it. Ashley does not take it from its throne, she just says it sometimes reaches a level that it becomes ridiculous because it’s adding problems and not solving them.
Go ahead and make a modular “echo”.
Mathieu Henri – Art.js
We reached the last speaker of the conference. Allow me to say it was genius to watch. The introduction said it would blow our minds and I must tell you, they did not lie!
Mathieu talked about the importance to deposit love in what you do and how it takes it to a step further from where you were.
I swear I am trying to describe what it was or how I felt, but literally wanting to code right there is the closest answer I can give to you.
And just like that the entire day passed through our eyes and hearts. Knowledge deposited within each of us and I am sure made us more aware of what there is and what to do next time we program. But I was expecting something about angularjs 2 to be honest and became a bit sad to understand that such was provided only through the workshop.
I know I am a back end developer but full stack developers are always important.
We can quickly be needed anywhere on any project to solve any kind of problem, so we might as well be better aware of what is out there and what the best practises are than to just recreate the wheel.
Don’t you agree?
It was a pleasure to share my memories with you.
See you on another page in the future.