CodeMash 2015 Recap, Part 2: UX, Security, Crypto, and WiT

For the first day of conference talks, I had quite a bit on my plate.  I had two talks that I had to give, and I knew I had to make the best of the conference since my family was coming later that evening.  These are my experiences of CodeMash 2015, conference talks day 1.

The UX Toolbelt for Devs

Bright and early in the 8am session, I had a great turnout for my UX Toolbelt for Developers talk.  Every time I go to a conference and see a UX talk, it’s usually by a designer or a UX expert.  While I understand why they’re the ones who are giving these talks, I also was frustrated because they don’t capture the mindset of a developer necessarily.  It’s time to talk user experience to developers, wearing my developer hat.  Some of the things I cover include:

  • Personas – and how these help us understand and empathize with our end users.  I also referred to Eric Meyer’s talk on designing for crisis.
  • Gathering Requirements with Gherkin – and how it helps to be consistent with the English part.  I also mention various tools that work with gherkin – including tools for C#, Java, Ruby, and PHP.
  • Wireframing – and choosing the appropriate Ipsum generator for the project and client.

Shoutout to Jon Knapp for pointing out that Chrome has a plugin called NoCoffee to help test for vision problems.

You can find my slides for this talk on SlideShare.

HTTPS in 2015 with Eric Lawrence

When I was much younger (back in the late ’90s), I was going through my college courses and seeing just what I liked about computing.  Debugging was one of those things that I truly fell in love with, and using Ethereal (now known as Wireshark) to see traffic in my networking classes really opened up my eyes.  Many years later, I worked as a web developer on the Windows side of things, thinking that Ethereal was a bit much for what I needed.  As luck would have it, I stumbled upon Fiddler, which would become my favorite web development debugging tool for sniffing HTTP and HTTPS traffic.  Oh the things you can see with the inspectors in Fiddler!

In this session, Eric Lawrence covered the fundamentals of HTTPS (which conceptually hasn’t changed much, as I recognized a lot of the terms), ciphers, certificates, and many other concepts.  His talk included newer concepts too such as forward secrecy, HTTP Strict Transport Security, and Public Key Pinning.

This talk reminded me of the younger version of me and the adventures I had playing around with things I probably shouldn’t have.  It definitely has me curious about the crypto and security side of things again.

The moral of this talk is easily boiled down to this:


DevOps: What it is, What it Isn’t, and Why Coders Should Care with Dave Swersky

After the HTTPS talk, I retreated back to the speaker room, as I told Dave Swersky that I’d work with him on his talk before giving it.  Dave is a friend I met through the user groups here in Cleveland.  He’s getting into the conference speaking circuit, and I’m excited to see what else he has in store.

Dave’s talk on DevOps is a high overview of what DevOps is and why devs should care about it.  This topic is something I’m personally interested in, as it explains a lot about me and why I am the way I am and how I fit into this world.  Having both the admin side and the dev side built into me, I always felt weird and inexplicable, until someone threw the word “DevOps” at me.

I love Dave’s use of graphics and wording.  Dave is quite the storyteller, and this talk is a great mix of definitions and storytelling.  I highly recommend it!

What you don’t know about crypto can hurt you! with Adam Caudill

Eric Lawrence had recommended this talk during his talk, so I figured I’d check it out.  Adam Caudill is a security researcher, and it was interesting to hear his experiences in his talk.  Eric pointed this out in his talk, and Adam reaffirmed it – MD5 is broken.  This can’t be stressed enough.  Adam also showed us some code patterns that are implemented in trying to secure a password, including ridiculousness that involved layers of MD5, SHA1, and ROT13. (What?!? Why?!? *facepalm*)  He mentioned the various hashing functions out there – including SHA2 (256, 384, and 512 versions), SHA3, and BLAKE2b.  This talk had great advice on what not to do when implementing cryptography techniques in code.

Gone into Hiding…

I went into hiding at this point, as I wanted to preserve my voice for my History of Women in Tech talk.  This talk has an awful aura around it, where I’ve almost always either been on the downswing or upswing of laryngitis.  Thankfully, this time proved to be an exception.

As for hiding… I thought it’d be safe to hide in the speaker room.  What could possibly go wrong? 🙂  There were a lot of other speakers in there, preparing for their talks as well.  From seeing old friends to making new ones in there… *sigh* Needless to say, I didn’t do a good job of staying quiet.  Kalahari kept spiting me too – I really had to work to find hot tea. However, after I found a source of hot water (thanks to Jordan Kasper), I downed two cups of hot tea to keep my voice relaxed.

History of Women in Tech

This was my last session on day 1 of conference talks.  As my friend Jennifer pointed out, there were at least 26 men in my audience.  There were also a handful of women in my audience too!  I was scheduled against some powerful talks, so I was thankful that I had some attendees in my talk.

Before my talk even started, I ran some trivia slides, as there are more women in tech than I can fit in an hour long time slot.  You can find my trivia slides on SlideShare.

Of course, my talk included familiar super stars such as Ada Lovelace, the ladies of the ENIAC, and Grace Murray Hopper.  It also includes some other names such as Barbara Liskov, Fran Allen, and Mary Lou Jepsen.  The latest addition – Hedy Kiesler Markey – brought quite a reaction.  Who knew that the famous and gorgeous Hedy Lamarr was more than just a talented actress?!  You can find my History of Women in Tech slides on SlideShare.

Conclusion of CodeMash 2015, Conference Talks Day 1

Overall, I had a ton of fun on CodeMash 2015, Conference Talks Day 1.  I gave talks I really enjoy giving to audiences that were great.  I was able to catch a few talks that really struck chords with me personally.  I also had great conversations with all sorts of people, including one that will lead to a possibly controversial blog post after these CodeMash recap posts.  I’m very happy that I had the chance to speak at CodeMash and network with such a talented group of techies.

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