ffffuuuu conf recap

November 28, 2010

The majority of well stablished tech conferences here in Brazil are converging to be a big meeting of empty hands, with comercial and vendor speakers, entrepreneurship and rework based talks or agile method praising. Needless to say, tech subjects get very superficial and with little or no real world experience background.

This year was a fortunate one because new conferences started to happen, as NoSQL:br, QConSP and RubyconfBR. While there were the fair share of imaginary stuff as tests and agile speakers, they had a lot of technical goodness to spare. At these conferences we could find people with real world worries and experience. That’s way bigger than knowing new vendors or methodologies, I wanted to find people who had proven real world knowledge to share.

The last conference I took part this year was the coming up of a plan me and Renato Lucindo talked about.

We always talked about a conference to talk about things that don’t work as planned, real world experiences and the impact of the fallacy of a methodology in a large scale production environment. Every time one of us talked to friend about it, they god excited and asked to take part. The first plan for ffffuuuu conf was to take place at a room in Lucindo’s place as an informal BBQ with friends.

Last month it all took form and we got an endorsement from Caelum, a brazilian tech-head school and technology center. They let us use their auditorium and paid for mid-afternoon lunch and all day coffee. It got serious and we started an invitation list. The first round got more than 100 requests but we had only 50 places to fill. The website was up in less than a day with a list of speakers. After that we got overwhelmed by invitation requests.

The date was set to November 20, starting 9 am, with 6 speakers and 6 lightning talks. The conference website http://ffffuuuu.me/ have all slides and the videos will be uploaded as soon as they get edited.

I started with an experimental talk about Patterns of fail, which summed up a little bit of what I think it is our local issue. Followed Rodrigo Campos ‘Agile or Fragile’ talk, which was a real world report of sub optimal application of agile methodologies from an operations point of view. Along with ‘Itil for failers’ from Roberto Gaiser, it was a very candid view of system management and application development without the dream of ‘devops’. Things are not pretty.

Then we had a surprise presentation by Fabio Akita, who talked about association and superstition related to any methodology without the proper understanding of the expected results. Pause for lunch, we got back with Ivan Rocha’s ‘You shall not get excited’ talk, about new technologies applied to production environments. He got a case with Erlang and the walk changed to a class about distributed systems and Erlang internals. Fabio Trentini followed with ‘Hot not to use the right tool for the wrong reason’ , which went from awk and grep misuse to memcached patterns.

Closing the long talks, Renato Lucindo presented ‘Software Instability’, a very throughout talk about distributed systems, how not to test them, the fallacy of mocks and unit testing for systems which depends on remote procedure calls and are under heavy load.

The lightning talks started with Andrew de Andrade talking about management (Body Count as a metric for measuring managers), Pablo Borges with ‘The dynamics of ZOMG management’, Adolfo Sousa with ‘Como me desiludi com Agile’. Juliana Gaiba talked about ‘Ground Rules for User (un)Friendly’ and John D. Rowell closed with ‘How to CrAP’, an assessment about CAP and distributed databases.

So we covered real world cases for agile, development, tests, pair programming, UX, NoSQL, network, IT management, People management, Product Management, system architecture, system administration and Distributed systems in a single day. Everyone present took part in discussions and had the same feeling of discussing everything without believing in silver bullets. Better yet, we were talking with people who worked and made things work for at least 15 years down here in Brazil, people who worked for most of biggest ISPs and telecom hosts. This was not a group of evangelists or enthusiasts and the feeling at the end was that another conference was needed.

So, until 2012 where ffffuuuu conf might happen again. Thanks for everyone who made it possible.