11th September 2017

Theres nothing Junior about that developer

Its been a really long time since i wrote my last post and if you look back through some of my other posts (which apparently some of you do) you’ll see a trend whereby posts begin by apologising for the amount of time between posts. The truth is that I suck at making time to write things. What can I say, I’m a busy guy.

So what have I been doing in the past 8 months since I last wrote?

Kayaking

I become slightly addicted to kayaking. I got my KVA last year which allows me to kayak whenever I like without supervision. This year I’ve taken full advantage of it, getting up sometimes as early as 5am, being on the water at 6:30am. The water is really quiet at that time and very pretty. I’ve also kayaked through the ice when the canals were covered in sheet ice. Its more fun when the ice is thick enough to support your weight and you need to try to smash through it.

The highlight of the year was the week I did 150km and kayaked up to Edam and Hoorn. The weather for that week was amazing. I kayaked on my own up the Amstel to Nes on Amstel, mainly though casual exploration. Later that week, I ventured out with a few members from the club towards Edam (yes the place famous for cheese!) via the Markermeer.

#Amsterdam from the IJ. #boat #water #summer

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We camped on a small strip of grass on the edge of this campsite filled with static caravans (Apparently thats how the dutch do camping). The days were spent kayaking and the evenings spent relaxing over good food. It was a great trip. Hoorn was very pretty but much bigger than I expected. We opted to return inland via many lakes and locks and beautiful countryside. We found a place (read: someones garage) that sold ice-creams too!

I also competed in the Dutch Championships. Its a small national event on the Bosbaan in the south of Amsterdam where everyone is welcome. The dutch kayaking scene isn’t huge but its inspiring to see the variety of people there for all ages competing across disciplines. It was my first competition today, the 200m mens seniors. It wasn’t graceful or fast by any means but I finished (which was the overall aim) and got a time of around 56.2 seconds. I also did the 500m which was alot more stable (but no one saw it cos it was at 8am). I came last again, with a time of 2.25.1 minutes, but I didn’t expect to win but these give me the experience of competing and I will build on these times for next year. I’ve recently joined KVFrisia, where they only do racing, so I’m hoping they can teach me how to win.

The lighthouse on the Markermeer. #Netherlands #Summer #beach

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DigitalOcean Amsterdam Meetup

Late last year I took on the DigitalOcean Amsterdam meetup after a call for hosts were sent via emails. My flatmate at the time saw it and thought I’d be good at it. After all, I go to a lot of meetups anyways. Your Majesty (where I work) had recently moved to a new office with enough space to throw a medium sized event. How hard could it be?

I’ve discovered the hardest aspect of event organising is not the event itself. Moreover finding people who want to speak. I tend to keep an eye on other local meetups and conferences and try to steal their talent. This is an especially good way toto pilfer international speakers who are in town for only a few nights. The Codemotion conference has been a great source of speakers.

I am always amazed about how willing people are to give up their time to come and talk. I came into this expecting most people to charge vast sums of money for a talk but the opposite has been true. The majority of people I’ve contacted are super excited to come and speak, something I’m super grateful for.

Overall its been pretty successful. People keep coming back which is amazing. And people say nice things about the nights I’ve thrown. Papa Johns are pretty happy too – I’m educating Amsterdam in good tasting commercial pizza. We actually didn’t have an event in August as the speaker couldn’t make it. What was nice was the number of requests of news and updates regarding another event. We’ve also recently crossed 1,000 people in the group which is really exciting.

I’ve had some help from a few friends running the nights. Despite not understanding the technical content of the events, Shiron hangs about to check people in and give out name badges. Hugo is in charge of audio visual elements of the evening, making sure the night looks great on the livestream. I’m really grateful that they both help out, I can’t do it on my own.

SHA2017

The story of Sha2017 begins on a cold n wet night back in November 2016 when I attended the Inaugural Cybersecurity Amsterdam meetup. There were some interesting characters there but all were good people, unphased by my lack of security knowledge or career path. I met a guy who recommended I come to this event called Sha and that it had ‘a better internet connection than Africa’. He also said I could find him on IRC, but I’m not nerdy enough to have a presence on there. I looked it up and thats about as far as it got. Fast forward 6 months to my DigitalOcean June event when SHA came up as part of Melanie Riebacks talk. At this point the lineup had been published and it was quickly running out of tickets so I grabbed one.

The event itself was in Zeewolde, about 50km east of Amsterdam, in this huge scout campsite. I was lucky to meet 2 guys, also travelling alone, at the station who were also waiting for the shuttle. I ended up spending all 5 days with these guys and a few others, camping together and dropping in and out around the talks. The whole thing was one massive nerd festival with groups of people forming small villages based around interests or nationalities. I was super grateful for finding the Milliways village and sneakily stealing some of their food on the first night when non of the restaurants were open. Everyone was really friendly and approachable and there was some really cool stuff going on.

The main talks were generally a very high standard. Some were genuinely terrifying (the NSA talks especially), others I watched open mouthed. There was only one or two that I didn’t understand (like hacking the linux kernel – sorry, thats too technical). It was nice to be surrounded by people who were concerned with security and privacy as much as I am. A place were it was common to run all your traffic through a VPN, where people used encrypted emails and understood the repercussions of the synonymous ‘I’m not doing anything wrong so I’ve got nothing to hide’ argument. I actually asked Phil Zimmermann his thoughts on the nothing to hide argument – standing up in front of 500+ people plus someone you have great respect for is a exhilarating (Read: heart beating like a steam train) experience.

I camped in a cardboard box which was ~95% waterproof (water came in one of the seems on the last day) and I really enjoyed soldering the LED’s and buzzer onto my badge. There was also a silent tent which was filled with lazy boy bean bags and hammocks, tesla coils with flame-throwers show, super powerful lights at night. Oh and a 1gb internet connection. It was a great 5 days.

I went in search of the internet

Back in July I went to go and see the new Am4 Datacenter in the Amsterdam Science park – possibly the tallest datacenter in Europe. This might not be everyones cup of tea but I’m slowly getting into the infrastructure part of the internets. My interest started after reading a book called Tubes: Behind the scenes of the internet (a cracking book by the way). I wanted to see for myself how the internet worked and what the inside of a datacenter looked. There aren’t many opportunities for web developers to tour data centres so I snapped up this chance. The event itself was meant to be in dutch but thankfully the introductory speakers had other ideas. After the short introductory speeches everyone headed outside for beers, entreé’s and slightly awkward conversation. I managed to flirt may way into a tour 15 minutes earlier and made sure it would be in english (I’ve already said that I’m a terrible expat).

The tour guide showed us the security features and lack of walls/fence (the dutch government wouldn’t let them – so its got a moat), the vast empty data floors which would be filled by multiple server towers (the building wasn’t operational at the time) and we got to see the roof, which had marvellous views of the surrounding area.

The part of the tour that was really fascinating was the power plants. Apparently they have around 17  generators in case of a power cut, each generating 3.2 megawatts (so theres multiple redundancies). If they loose power they have 10 minutes of battery power (at full capacity) to give them time to start the generators and theres enough diesel in the basement to last them 24 hours. They have contracts with diesel producers to get more fuel within 8 hours. A great example of this was when you had hurricane Sandy and Equinix ran off their generators for a week and was the only place in the area with power. Once a year they cut off the power to the datacenter to make sure all of their systems are working. Sounds a little risky.

Casa 60 years!

Hotel Casa (an ex-client of YM) has a small highlight in my year but not really for the event itself. They were hosting a party celebrating their 60th year, complete with live band and unlimited alcohol (very dangerous). On the way out I might have grabbed one of their huge balloons and tied it around my wrists (this is what you do with balloons) and walked calmly out, much to the amusement of the staff.

What you don’t see in either of these videos is 10 minutes later when I’m cycling home and the balloon gets caught on some construction fencing, popping the balloon, dragging me off my bike. My poor bike got the worst of it though, putting a large dent in the back parcel shelf.

The passing stag do found it highly entertaining.

 

MidSummer

My final highlight for the year so far is the Your Majesty Midsummer Celebration. Being a Swedish company, Your Majesty celebrates the summer solstice with dinner and much drinking. Its usually a good laugh.

This year we hosted the event in the gardens of Tolhuistuin on the other side of the IJ. The weather was sunny for most of the day until the time came to go to the venue. Long story short, it poured and poured (think tropical monsoon) with thunder and lightening and I got completely drenched. Thankfully I’d left my suit at the venue so could change into it there. Midway through the transformation, I thought it would be entertaining if i ditched the shirt and threw on a bow tie. The moment was captured below.

Midsummer Chippendale impression

“Theres nothing junior about that developer” – Kristofer 2017

Needless to say, this went down well with the team on the YM Whatsapp group. My favourite comment, and the title of this post, was “Theres nothing junior about that developer”. Thanks Kristofer. I was standing next to Georgios (head honcho for YM Amsterdam) when he got the message (with a shirt on). He looked closely at the photo before asking if the photo was real. It was a genuinely nice compliment.

 

So yeah, its been a pretty good year so far. I’ll try to write another post sometime around the new year.

Until then, Thanks for reading.

 

David