Last decade Porto have grown in terms of software technical hub of Portugal. We notice increase in private investment attract more private investment and a very prolific economic spiral give birth to a new set of opportunities in software development industry.
We have a very uncommon set of characteristics that make us, the Portuguese software engineers very competitive. We are what some would call more bounce to the ounce. We have high specialized professionals and they are at a very competitive price. In my view this is basically the magic sauce behind all of this.
Portuguese software engineers put bluntly are, in the global economy, cheap. But cheap is a relative term it is a relation between productivity and cost. The cheap comes from the fact that the we have a very good productivity level compared for the same European peers for the fraction of the cost. But this doesn't come for free. This is the end result of a multi level effort. Effort from our political authorities that ease external investment and from our universities and the Portuguese people to attain for excellence in hard skills.
Today I attended Commit Porto 2019 and this again reflected the entrepreneurial spirit of the young community of Porto FEUP Alumni. This was a free event organized as a prime one. The effort and care to detail was something to pray for given the resources this guys had. Its true that they have the help of a very valuable set of sponsors but don't fool yourselves these kind of events are the result of hard work from very good unpaid people that give their time and effort for the big cause. Aside from the fact that they were careful enough to give away free stickers,
which is the real reason by which we attend at this kind of events, they organized a thoughtful set of talks and the catering was also something to praise for. I attended conferences like QCon and I must confess they are at another level. But they are also another level of expensive. In the set of free conferences this was the best I attended for. And I must note that I'm on this world from 11 years now.
The conference started with a very interesting talk from Roland Kuhn the co-founder of Actyx. He gave a very interesting approach to the internet of things and they way a log in a swarm of peer-to-peer of devices is the best way they found to solve the reliability constraints.
Kuhn was followed by a talk of José Silva in which he explains how solve the hurdles of mixing reactive systems and consistency requirements. It was interesting to see also how the premises of a Directed Acyclic Graph is a useful premise.
Erik Muttersbach presented a nice use case of event sourcing, or more generally Domain Driven Design as a way of solving their shipment tracking at FreightHub.
This first three talks were pretty data driven. Since there is no such thing as three without four Commit 2019 followed with Filipa Moura which presented us with their Machine Learning work at Twitter. Her main point revolved around the difficulties of migrations. This was a very straightforward talk and filled with very interesting technical approach as a means to minimize the production impact. Concepts like A/B Testing and the need to devise good metrics were some of the key-points I can recall.
If Filipa's talk was something very straightforward the next one given by Fernando Silva was kind of strange (sorry for the joke). It was about AI/Machine Learning/Deep Learning. I'm familiar with Neural Networks and the more layer dense Deep Neural Network but I'm very skeptical of using Neural Networks as a way to explain (whatever this means) other Neural Networks. But this is actually good news because now I've got something to get deep into, and the reason why was because the explanation was kind of a convoluted one (sorry no pun intended).
Then my favourite talk. Jean-Baptiste Kempf the VideoLan president gave an absolutely astonishing view over the principles that guide VideoLan open-source community and the difficulties they face due the lack of financial investment. Paradoxically this is one of the most, if not the most, video-player in the world. The experiences and lessons learned by him and his team are valuable and honestly eye opener. The world is governed by politics and management layers upon management layers as the sole way to deal with organizational complexity. We can learn something, for sure, with this guy.
If Jean-Baptiste seemed to be filled on cocaine Ricardo Mendes was the exact opposite, I must confess the Thriving through the hype cycle sounds cool but I kind of asleep and cannot add much here. I believe that for the front end guys this was a nice talk. I cannot say I got lost on thoughts during the talk.
Always split your Aces and 8s: how to serve better front-end builds to all browsers was the next talk. Rodrigo Solís seemed a really cool guy, unfortunately I was outside for the coffee and I got lost on thoughts with some old friends. You must ask other guys because I completely miss this.
Carlos Mota was next. He talked about all the lovely features you may encounter in Kotlin Language. From a strong community to a full of perks modern language you got lots of strong opinions from a passionate language advocate.
Andrew Hill the CEO of Textile presented my second favourite talk. He talk about the possible disruptive nature of IPFS and presented the demo application called Tag Game that he used to explain the core concepts of the distributed P2P file-system. It was an interesting talk and also he was honest enough to acknowledged how hard is to develop a business model around this concepts. But in the end I kind of agree that the current state of internet is not properly what early engineers hoped and as such different alternatives for a different future are more than welcome.
Last but not least Miguel Viana ended this year Commit 2019 with a talk around some fundamental concepts of Social Engineering. This talk was a journey to some books I read some years ago Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking and The Art of Deception the second book is a much more popular however I like the first the most. Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking is a much detailed approach and more rich in terms of in-depth psycho analysis. From Kevin Mitnick the book that I like the most is called The Art of Invisibility: The World's Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data. This last one I think it is a really awesome book because it explains a very broad set of ways that big companies use to target you and your private data. The best part is that it also explains how you can protect yourself. But regarding the talk, was very nice the guy seem cool and the demo was funny.
Overall I really enjoyed the day all along. It was a good opportunity learn some experiences to meet again with friends and next year I'll be back again.
A very thank you to all the guys involved in the project for all the dedication and sympathy, and obviously the perks!