WDCNZ Web Dev conference, Wellington: Part 2

9 October 2014, by

A round up of some more of the talks from WDCNZ

Coder Decoder

Katie Miller (@CodeMiller) explained some of the mysteries of functional programming using pictures of cartoon snails. I won’t be able to define them here any better than wikipedia will do for you, but below are the ideas she demonstrated. Haskell was the language of choice, not because it’s particularly better than any other functional language, but because it’s just so canon.

  • Referential Transparency
  • Higher Order Functions
  • Currying
  • Closure
  • Functors
  • Monads

Yes, Prime Minister

A bit like something out of Flight of the Conchords, The PM John Key casually popped in over lunch (totally unscheduled) and gave a talk about tech needing to be at the centre of the government, and how he played golf with Obama once.John Key

The Panel: A Technical Education

A panel of speakers debated the state of computer science education, why kids aren’t interested in programming, and why students aren’t being prepared for a career in web dev. I don’t think very much of interest came out of it, other than Tanya Grey’s (@Tanya) experience that if high school students actually get the chance to try out some coding, they will always be interested in finding out more (every single time, apparently).

Sara Chipps claimed that because there is no degree course in web development, we all must be self-taught, which I think is only partially true because while self-education is a big part of working in tech (see the first talk in the previous post), it’s also true of every other career (except maybe academia and law) that you didn’t learn your trade at uni directly, your first employer taught you.

Tanya also pointed out that high schools are full of teachers without a computer science background doing their best to teach a syllabus that is starting to include more and more IT, and your local teachers would probably appreciate some help from pro coders like you in the way of backup such as being available on email to help them answer some of the more difficult questions from students. So, particularly if you have a child in school, why not get in touch and offer your services?

AngularJS Powered By SilverStripe

AngularJS is a front end framework which looks quite similar to Knockout to my eye, and can make it much quicker and easier to build web pages that change dynamically based on your data. James Pluck (@PapaBear) likes it. SilverStripe is an open source CMS and web framework in PHP that reduces the amount of boring boilerplate you have to write. That’s it really.

Building Your Passion With Hardware

Sara Chipps (@SaraJChipps) rounded things off by talking about how she started a programmable jewellery company as a means to try to get young girls interested in programming. Her reasoning was that she didn’t get into programming because someone told her it was cool, but because she needed to to solve a problem she had (when she was 12 she was maintaining some sort of BBS chat room website that she used to find friends). So she’s giving young women a problem that they need to code to solve.

This is an example of how it’s achievable to get stuck into hardware and make something interesting, and also of how it’s possible with a little time, money and effort to kick off a business in some new field that you don’t know much about.

Things that might be of further interest

  • Spark – like a tiny arduino, I think
  • www.instructables.com – a load of DIY hardware (and other) recipes to follow

One more part still to come…

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Categories: Technical


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