Last week I attended UpFrontConf in Manchester and well, it was awesome.
I am lucky(!) enough to live far far away from Manchester these days, so had to travel up the day before. This meant I could attend the also awesome Before UpFront meetup event at LEAF, featuring the delightful Ashley Baxter who I saw speak at New Adventures back in Jan, and Elliot Jay Stocks, who I’d not heard of before but I’m glad I have now - if only for the introduction to the Korg Volca.
The conference itself was super, as always. I feel like a veteran now, having been for the last 3 years. My highlights this year were, in no particular order:
- Rachel Morgan-Trimmer talking about accessibility in a way that actually made me care about accessibility (sorry…). I have actually taken some of this back to work and started making some changes already.
- Michelle Barker, whose talk on paper was not exciting, because I use CSS grids every day and know everything. Turns out I don’t, and halfway through I admitted that perhaps I am not an expert and got out my notebook. Interestingly, I mentioned this to a few people at the after-party and they said the same thing!
- Cennydd Bowles talking about ethics, a popular topic at the moment and one I have heard a few perspectives on now. Not sure exactly where my opinions lie on a lot of this yet, but it’s making me think about things, which is a start right?
- Phil Hawksworth from Netlify, who basically talked about my life. At work we are breaking a mega-monolith into a bazillion microservices (though we are rolling our own everything, so not actually using Netlify for any of it) and it’s hard, yet definitely the way forward for our product. Incidentally, I do use Netlify for all my home projects, because DevOps sucks, and it’s AMAZING. If you’ve not tried it already you really should, you won’t regret it!
- Michael Flarup talking about making mobile games, including AR games. I am not a gamer and mostly don’t care about games even a tiny bit (because I am TERRIBLE at all games), but his talk was really good and I enjoyed every minute of it. I even installed Conduct This and had a go in the hotel that evening (I was bad, I blame the drinks)
And then there was the small matter of the lightning talks. I was clearly full of pep and enthusiasm at the end of last year, because I applied to take part in the UpFront Speaker Bursary. The conference offers the opportunity to speak on a stage, with a mic and everything, to new speakers from under-represented groups, and this year I was lucky to make the cut! We got a full day of speaker training to prepare us, then a 5 min slot in front of a whole room of people to talk about whatever we wanted. My talk was on the agile concept of “The Prime Directive”, I’ve done a super quick write up of it here somewhere…
I had a thoroughly excellent time, and met loads of awesome people both at the conference itself and at the after party. I enjoy going to conferences and meetups because it makes me feel part of something. Lincoln is a small place with not much techy culture happening (working on it…) so I often end up chatting to randoms on reddit and similar places, which is not always very good for me. I have talked and written before about Imposter Syndrome, something I think everyone experiences from time to time, and I’ve found connecting with real people who do what I do makes a huge difference. I may not be a real front-end developer, and I may not be as invested in some front-end things as others, but I can hold my own in most conversations about tech and can sometimes even add something interesting.