Category Archives: Conferences

I’m presenting at Grace Hopper India!

Back in April, I wrote about the Grace Hopper conference and how I had hoped to be a guest speaker in Dr. Catherine Lang’s workshop about the Digital Divas program.

Well, plans have changed quite a bit since then and now, Catherine and I will be co-presenting (along with my colleague Alana George) at the Grace Hopper India conference in Bangalore instead!

We will present our paper Win-Win-Win: a partnership model that fosters links between Academia and industry while promoting computing to school students and then have a panel session where we field questions and brainstorm with the audience how we can encourage and support more women into IT.

This is my first time speaking at a conference so I’m pretty excited! I’m also happy that I’m heading back to Bangalore where I can catch up with my old ThoughtWorks University colleagues and friends.

Will you be attending Grace Hopper India this December? Let me know in the comments.

2011 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing – Scholarship Applications Now Open!

Every year, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology organises the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing. This year, this event will be held in Portland, Oregon with the theme “What If…?”.
The 2011 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

If flying to Portland sounds a tad too expensive, students and non-profit organisation employees can apply for a scholarship to cover the costs of attending. The deadline is fast approaching though – May 16th – so visit the website and get started!

I’m hoping to attend Grace Hopper this year. Dr Catherine Lang of Swinburne University of Technology will be co-presenting a session about the Digital Divas program in the K-12 Computing Teacher’s Workshop. In 2009, I worked in the program as an “Expert Diva” – in other words: a classroom facilitator. The facilitators worked with Year 8 girls in an IT classroom setting to show them how interesting and rewarding a career in ICT could be.

Given my past participation in the program, Catherine has invited me to speak at her session about my experiences as an Expert Diva. I’d certainly love to! Fingers crossed I can arrange some time to attend the event in November. I would be my first time at Grace Hopper.

Are you heading to Grace Hopper this year? Any tips for a first-timer?

webDU 2009

Disclaimer: I originally wrote this blog post while sitting at Sydney Airport waiting for my flight home. Had no internet connection then, so I just quickly drafted this up. A few details have come through since then. So this will be that draft post with a few comments dotted throughout. It’s only now that it’s a long weekend that I actually had time to post this! Jeez!

I’m on my home from webDU 2009, trying to train myself to say it properly (“web-dee-you”, not “web-doo”. The ‘DU’ stands for ‘Down Under’). It’s a web developers conference described as “a rock concert for geeks”. And yes, it was very geeky. In a good way! Because these days, geeky is the new sexy.

One of the geeky elements was the Twitter backchannel. There were a number of screens around the conference venue (Star City in Sydney, for those playing at home) that displayed tweets tagged with #webdu. One of the first was “Tweets tagged with #webdu displayed live on the big screen. Could be interesting”. And yes, there were quite a few smart-ass tweets – particularly those targeted at Microsoft. As a general rule though, it was very friendly and positive.

One of my tweets made it up on the screen:
My 'foam brick' tweet

It got a few laughs in the audience and within a minute, there was a response:

“Bricks are for throwing at presenters….honest 😉 #webdu”

(EDIT: I tried to track down the exact tweet but Twitter’s search function seems to ignore tweets that are older than a week!)

The script that the webDU organisers wrote to create this display was awesome and they plan to publish the code here.

This is a video of what one of the displays looked like (please forgive the poor mobile phone quality):

Geeky element number two: the trading card game. The design of these were very, very cool (and I say that as a geek). Kudos must go to Nectarine for designing them (and I think all of the graphic design elements at the conference, such as the website and the programme book). I just wanted to collect the cards and have a set but I couldn’t get them all, so entered the contest instead.

From the cards collected, you had to submit a hand of nine and the ten people with the highest points accrued in their hands would win prizes. Each card had a rule printed on it, there were also a number of public and secret rules to the game too. I placed ninth! Received an O’Reilly book on Adobe AIR! The overall winner was one of the presenters – Carly Gooch – and apparently the overall winner has always been female in previous conferences!

Speaking of females, I tweeted that they seemed to make up only 15% of all webDU attendees. Only four female presenters out of 20-odd. A little disappointing but everyone was all very chatty and sociable. The conference organising team seems to be mainly female too. Good on them!

Adobe were the platinum sponsors so there was a huge Adobe focus and a general Adobe theme throughout the conference. The Catalyst designer was previewed at the keynote and it looked awesome. The public release of that is expected soon so keep an eye on http://labs.adobe.com/.
(EDIT: It’s out now! And it’s awesome! Go get it here: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashcatalyst/)

Also demoed were Flash Builder, Flex and AIR. ColdFusion code was used during the demonstration, so I tweeted this:

My CF Tweet

And was overwhelmed by the response I received:

ColdFusion related Twitter responses

There is a lot of ColdFusion love out there! Terry Ryan from Adobe tracked me down and encouraged me to download a free student copy and start learning. I’m on it, Terry! It’ll happen, I promise!

Terry was one of the presenters I watched. There were five rooms at the conference, so unfortunately there were a few clashes and I had to miss out on a few presenters I really wanted to see. Hopefully the webDU organisers will upload some podcasts from the recordings they made, or at least the presentation files.

Other presenters I saw included Mark Stanton from Gruden talking about Javascript security, Andrew Muller (Adobe evangelist and all-round-nice-guy) on developing AIR applications, plus quite a few Googlers. Was great to see Adam and Anth again.

The second day’s keynote was divided up into three parts with reps from “The Makers” of the world wide web: Alan Noble from Google, Neil Wilkinson from Yahoo! and Michael Kordahi from Microsoft. I have to admit I was a little surprised that it was the Microsoft presentation was the one I enjoyed most. Michael called himself the “token Microsoft guy” and knew full well that there was a lot of dislike for his company’s products in the room, but could take that, turn it around and make us laugh about it. He has strong developer roots, so it could be arguably said that he was able to relate to most of the audience better than Alan or Wilf could.

All three presentations were fantastic, of course (especially Wilf’s explanation of how Yahoo! was becoming more open) but Michael’s gave me perhaps the most to think about. I asked him about how Microsoft’s tactile systems like Surface and Sphere were accessible to people with disabilities and he said to chase him up on that, because he didn’t have an answer then. Oh, I intend to, Michael! Hehe.
(EDIT: I have followed up on it and intend to blog my discoveries soon!)

WebDU was such fun! The people I met were lovely too and now I have a massive to-research list, which is exciting. Thanks to the organisers for the ticket! I’ll be back next year!

I’m going to webdu!

I came home and logged in to my Twitter account to find no less than four random people suddenly following me. I originally thought they were spammers but on closer inspection I found out that they were all @webdu followers, plus @webdu itself.

“Huh!” thought I, “Must have found me by searching for #webdu and getting my haiku”

I should back up a bit here, hehe.

I first heard about webDU’s Twitter competition when I read a friend’s entry in his feed. WebDU is an annual web technology conference in the Asia-Pacific region. This year it’s in Sydney.

It looked very cool, so I thought I would enter the Twitter competition myself to get a conference pass. Here is my tweet:

A Haiku:

My skills are strong, but
The economy is not
Grad job, I must find 🙂

Where else could I network better than at webdu?

I only posted it yesterday! So I didn’t think that all of those new followers could have come from me winning a pass but that’s just what had happened! I’m so excited! I never win at those “25 words or less” style competitions. Clearly, the “140 characters or less” competitions go better for me!

I have to admit that I didn’t imagine my career focus to be in web technology – at least not to begin with. But it’s been a personal interest of mine for years – especially after becoming an Anita Borg finalist and visiting the Google offices in Sydney. So webDU should be fantastic!

Speaking of Google, some of their staff will be presenting there. I can’t wait to meet up with them again! I caught up with some other Googlers and Anita Borg finalists last night at Melbourne University’s Google Coffee Club too. Great fun! And to cap off these Google-ful few days, Google Australia was awarded the #1 spot in BRW’s Great Places To Work list. I’d believe it for sure!

Wow, tonight has been crazy. But I’m excited! I can’t wait for webDU! Anyone else going? I’ll see you there!

Golden Key Asia-Pacific Conference 2009

I came home yesterday from the Golden Key Asia-Pacific conference in Canberra to find Melbourne broken. Train lines were down – apparently it had reached 47 degrees! And now this morning, there is news of bushfires that have possibly killed more people than Ash Wednesday fires…I saw some bushfires from the plane as I was flying home. It was a fairly awesome yet scary sight…what a tragedy…

At any rate, I’m supposed to be blogging about the conference.

The Asia-Pacific region of Golden Key includes Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia – and all three were represented at the conference! It was held at The Australian National University from Thursday to Saturday and it was great, even with Canberra’s hot weather (although I suspect that Melbourne suffered more).

This year’s theme was “Focused on the Future” and unlike the Young ICT conference back in May, there were usually break out rooms where we had to choose which speaker to see. What a hard choice! This conference had some very impressive guests – Ross Garnaut, Anh Do, Ian Thorpe, Major-General Michael Jeffrey – luckily the sessions with these guests were for everyone.

Anh Do is an amazing speaker -I had never realised before that he had such a great story to tell. Ian Thorpe was interesting to hear from, given that we had raised funds for his foundation throughout the year – in fact Swinburne raised more money than any other chapter in the Asia-Pacific region! Ross Garnaut was very topical and personally very interesting while Major-General Jeffrey had some great points to make on community and volunteerism.

A number of other panels were held with topics ranging from how to run a chapter (kudos to the Monash chapter for two great presentations) to entrepreneurialism to women in the workplace. There were also a number of social and community service events – it was great to visit the Australian War Memorial again for the first time since 1994.

I met plenty of other chapter members and a few extra guests. Swinburne was quite well represented with myself and two other Executive committee members, but also two other general members and an extra guest. Six Swinburne representatives! I’m quite proud, heh.

This conference was a lot of fun with plenty of opportunities to learn and network. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Asia-Pacific conference and now I’m seriously considering attending the International Conference in Florida in July! Hopefully we can get a great Swinburne representation there too!

2008 International Young ICT Professionals Conference

I’ve just arrived back home from a few days in Adelaide, where I attended the Australian Computer Society’s Young ICT professionals conference at the Convention Centre. It was my first conference and I didn’t know any of the other guests but it was a fantastic experience and I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference in Sydney.

The theme of the conference was “Building a Successful Career – Learn, Develop, Lead” and I really appreciated how it was directed mainly at current university students and recent graduate. The speakers all spoke on the topic at some level – particularly leadership.

The conference started on Thursday with speeches from the ‘big guns’ – keynote speaker Jonar Nader and various directors from the conference’s main sponsor organisations: Microsoft, Google and the Defence Materiel Organisation.

Jonar is the author of “How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People” and is extremely likeable despite being an apparent expert on behaving like the exact opposite. His talk emphasised the importance of making sure that you deliver exactly what your customers want and need, not what you think they need or whatever is popular at the time. It’s something I’ve already experienced on a few projects and I keep reminding myself to think about. I haven’t actually read Jonar’s books yet but they’re on my shopping list now.

Alan Noble, the Engineering director of Google Australia spoke about “The World According to Google”. I think most of the conference attendees were most interested in hearing what Alan had to say – such is the Google juggernaut. Alan didn’t really talk too much about leadership but he did talk about innovation and what Google was interested in working on in the future – some tips on perhaps where the university students could direct their energies.

Norbert Haehnel, the DPE Director at Microsoft, was another enjoyable and likeable speaker. Like Alan Noble, he spoke more about the technologies that Micrsosoft was developing and what Microsoft was expecting in the next ten years, as opposed to speaking about leadership. Still, it gave me a list of links and technologies to research! The video he showed us about ubiquitous and totally integrated communications technology was pretty exciting. Of the other technologies he spoke about, Silverlight and Surface in particular have piqued my interest.

Both Google and Microsoft seem very focused on the web and communications – not surprising really. The web is still expanding and constantly revealing new ways to interact or disseminate information – it’s only a pity that Australia’s Internet infrastructure is still lacking. It really needs to improve if we want to fully utilise what companies like Google and Microsoft have to offer – and then build on it.

Anyway, back to the conference. There were obviously quite a few speakers talking about graduate job opportunities or the recruitment process – one breakout session had two streams: one targeted at current students applying for that first job, the other focused on how to develop and grow a career for recent graduates already working.

The conference also included a gala dinner with many speakers and awards for ACS members. It was a great networking opportunity and I made some new friends in the Victorian (and Western Australian!) Young ICT committee. I think I’ll be looking at joining the committee myself in the future.

Overall, I really recommend the conference to ICT students, speaking as one myself. I think recent graduates can gain much from this conference too. The only part I regret is not spending more time in Adelaide and taking a better look around – especially since I hadn’t visited the city since I was in primary school!

It was revealed that the next conference will be in Sydney in 2009. No word yet on what the theme will be but I’m already sure I’ll make the trip next year.