"Sort2013 Part I: A Review"

Posted on Fri 18 October 2013 in conference

SORT is a software/technology conference that is held by engineers working for the LDSChurch, FamilySearch and Utah Based Higher Education organizations. It is an annual conference that is free to attend and is held at the University of Utah institute building.

While this may not be exactly like the other conferences you have attended, QCon and the like, it is still a great experience, and one should never pass up the oppurtunity to learn something new.

For this article I am going to focus on some of the items that I found to be beneficial to me as a software developer (whether in practical use or just introducing new paradigms). I will also share some of the items about SORT that I hope can be changed in the future to make the conference even better.

The Good

When attending a conference, what is it you like to see?

For me, this question is answered by OPTIONS. I attend conferences in hopes of increasing my knowledge in all areas of technology. The one belief that I have as an engineer is that a good engineer is one who knows and understands the different paradigms and not about the languages. As such, conferences tend to have a number of classes that can introduction me to some new paradigms I haven't come across, or to help solidify my understand of another.

I am also a fan of conferences where the focus isn't just about a specific language or tool, but rather about a mindset or possibly a process used that is new to me. As an example I can learn about Python 3.3 latest features myself, what I want to see is how to best use it to help increase uptime in my applications.

One other area of the conference that I enjoy, is the social networking. There are a lot of good engineers who work at these conferences, however it is often difficult to meet other engineers, just given the total number in the org. Attending sessions can help to show other engineers working in the same area, or at least with the same interests.

As much as I love SORT there are a few things that I find troublesome about the way that sort is implimented. These are minor issues, and ones that I am sure will be corrected over time.

The Bad

One issue with attending any session or tutorial at any conference is the possibility that a simple Javascript Testing course will turn into just a straight plug for Jasmine or Mocha. While I love these technologies, I am always annoyed when I attend a session that doesn't explicitly call out that they will show you only Jasmine features, rather than just good Javascript testing practices.

This is a situation that can be easily remedied by just vetting the session descriptions to make sure that if they are specifically going to be about a techonology or implementation, are labeled as such.

I just find that when I attend a session, expecting great information on web security, and instead hear a plug about some 3rd party vendor and exactly how to secure using their tool rather than the appropriate practices, I feel a little jaded.

Lectures

Below is a list of sessions that I attended that I felt were things I wanted to share my thoughts and learnings from. They are not necessarily the only ones I attended or the best ones but rather had pertinant information I wanted to share.

Conclusion

If you are in the Salt Lake County or Utah County areas, and want to attend a free conference this is a fantastic one to choose. It will run again next year in October, so be sure to check out the Registration Site.