OSCON 2018


OSCON 2018 is officially in the books, and I have to say this one was a stand out. A combination of career advancement (read: getting smarter), gaining experience, and having a number of contacts old and new at the conference made it a particularly great experience. I've gotten to the point where I'm better at choosing talks that are relevant to my field, and I have context to learn from them but don't know enough to get nothing from them. This is all a long way of saying that I have a lot of meaningful takeaways from this conf and can start applying to my work immediately, as well as a lot of great experiences reconnecting with old friends and solidifying my relationship with new ones!

TL;DR: Videos won't be available for 3-4 weeks, but when they are I highly recommend:

Here's a play-by-play rundown of the last 2 days:

Day 1 Keynotes

Live Coding: OSCON Edition

Suz Hinton

This talk was so inspiring! Once I started working I stopped playing with technology as much, and trying new things just for the fun of it. So what if I'm not building something useful? What if we just built things for fun, to learn? I used to do this often on the weekends during university, and feel I've lost that sense of adventure and curiosity since I started working. I have a dusty arduino at the house that I've been uninspired to build something with. This talk inspired me to just start playing with it, and not worry about if it was useful in the end.

Recognizing Cultural Bias in AI

Camille Eddy

I'm embarrassed to admit I've never considered that AI would inherit our human biases, or how that would impact marginalized groups. Eddy told the story of MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini, who wasn't recognized by the facial recognition AI she was developing until she wore a white mask, to demonstrate how our own biases and inequalities translate to the tools we develop. This talk reenergized me to continue working toward a more diverse tech industry, and to continue advocating for diversity and inclusion.

Open source and open standards in the age of cloud AI

Tim O'Reilly

O'Reilly reaffirmed and expanded on Eddy's talk, discussing how algorithms and AI impact who gets what and why. It was really about how open standards, open data, and community are the backbone of successful technology, and how new technical industries like AI and cloud computing will need to embrace and serve their communities rather than shut them out.

Introduction to Blockchains


This was my talk! I won the scheduling lottery being assigned the first timeslot on the first day. The room was packed with people, and everyone was engaged and excited to learn about cool math! I'll be totally honest: most of the time when I finish a talk I pick it apart and dwell on what I could have done better. While this talk definitely wasn't perfect, I'm genuinely really proud of my delivery. I can tell my public speaking style is improving and that practicing this talk early and often paid off. I felt very in control of the talk and the audience, and capable of answering any questions. All in all, a talk I'm excited to give again!

Mary Had a Little Lambda

Anjana Vakil

I think I knew too much going into this talk. I know I just wrote about how I'm getting better at choosing talks, and that's because this is the only talk I felt overqualified for. A review of lambda functions it turns out I didn't need.

TL;DR: NIST Container Security Standards

Elsie Philips and Paul Burt

A brief overview of the NIST container security standards, or how to keep your containers secure. I'll admit I didn't get much new information from this talk, but it was great to see a friend from university and some entertaining memes.

Building Your Own Cryptocurrency

John Feminella

This talk was amazing. Feminella talked about how "real" currency (dollars and euros) work, and what features of those currencies cryptocurrencies will need to have in order to succeed. I'd consider myself financially literate in a practical sense, but I never learned about fiat currency or thought about what gives money value. It's always been an "it just is" kind of thing for me. It was awesome to step back and think about money as having features, and what those features might look like for cryptos. I don't invest very much in cryptos, but it was also a very sobering reality check amongst a lot of hype. Highly recommend giving this a watch if you're interested in how money works or how viable cryptos are!

Day 2 Keynotes

Coding a Blockchain

Josh Butikofer

One of the tracks this year was 'Live Coding', and I was admittedly skeptical going in. I wasn't sure how interesting it would be to watch someone code, or how deep you could go writing code in 40 minutes. It turns out it's an awesome format (also Josh is super good at it!). Live coding was a perfect middle ground between reading code (which results in little absorption of the material) and trying to write code yourself (which requires a much bigger time investment and can be confusing and frustrating). Having a relative expert walk you through what they were writing, why, and then seeing it in code was super helpful for solidifying my understanding of blockchains. While this talk was a direct subset of topics I covered in my own talk, I found watching someone write it live valuable. Highly recommend this talk as well!

Istio: Weaving, Securing, and Observing Your Microservices

Daniel Berg

I first heard about Istio at DevOps Days PDX last year, and didn't understand it at all. While I've had it explained a few times since, this talk was a real 'Aha' moment for me. Berg clearly explains, with great visuals and simple language, what Istio is, what it can be used for, and gives us a tour of it's features. As a member of the devops community (if not a devops engineer) it will be so helpful to have a basic understanding of Istio going forward. Not the most riveting talk, but definitely one I got a lot out of.


Alex Borysov and Mykyta Protsenko

Possibly the most entertaining talk of OSCON 2018, this talk discussed the differences between REST and gRPC for API construction. I learned that gRPC is an actual library as opposed to an architectural pattern, and that it's ideal for performant, asynchronous APIs. A great deep-dive that I'd like to re-watch once it's out, as in-person I was pretty mentally exhausted by that point :)