Senior Analyst Programmer Caroline shares her views on QCon London in this two-part blog series.

Here’s part two of eDev@QCon London 2017.

In part one, I covered talks on Microservices and Javascript. In today’s blog, let’s look at some of the highlights and talks on the Internet of Things and working culture.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer an abstract notion but is truly here, and brings with it its own unique set of challenges, especially around security.

Best talk on this topic: Security War Stories: The Battle for the Internet of Things

This keynote talk was an excellent presentation discussing the many ways devices that are described as “connected”, i.e. linked to a server or servers via the cloud or simply wifi accessible, can be (and are being) hacked. I suggest watching the video of the presentation  available here if you want to scare yourself.

I for one will not be buying an iKettle any time soon…

Working Culture

The concept of what is meant by a “good” working environment and culture for software development companies and teams remains a valuable topic for discussion, with a few talks devoted to different aspects of the debate.

In general, the emphasis this year was on inclusivity and diversity; two things which are often lacking in today’s tech industry (as evidenced by the Uber sexism scandal that hit the headlines just a couple of days before the conference).

Best talk on this topic: Shaving My Head Made Me a Better Programmer

Yes, that really was the title of this talk. An excellent presentation which proved incredibly popular (standing room only), where Alex Qin gave us an overview of her experiences of being a female software developer in what is still a male dominated industry.

Finding that she was not being taken seriously she tried everything, including following the advice of a (male) colleague who suggested becoming an expert “badass programmer”. The result of her efforts? At the end of giving a conference presentation in the US, the first question from the audience was “how can I pick up women in bars?”. Oh dear.

Cue the shaving of the head – yes, she really did shave her head, and all of a sudden everything changed. Did she literally become a better programmer by shaving her head? Of course not, but the perception of her changed so that others (mainly male developers) started seeing her as a better programmer.

In addition to these anecdotes Alex also gave some pointers for how organisations can be more inclusive in their hiring practices and general environment.

To anyone who is interested in diversity and inclusivity, I suggest watching Alex’s presentation here.

In conclusion

Overall I think it was another good year for QCon and I came away from the conference enthusiastic to try some new things (Elm, anyone?) and with some new knowledge of what’s currently trending in the tech sphere. Roll on QCon 2018!

PS: I am not shaving my head.