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Preparing a talk: writing your talk

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I've given a number of talks, and over the years I've made the journey from completely unprepared to mostly knowing what I'm doing. After a lot of trial and error, I've settled into a routine that works for me. This has been the advice I've given to a number of folks who are looking to start speaking, or improve their existing technique.I'll break it down into three posts:Pre-workWriting (this one)PresentingWritingEveryone's process differs for how they craft a talk. Some will think about it for months and then knock out the presentation in a couple of nights (or less). Some will set themselves a schedule. If you're a new speaker, I'd recommend setting yourself time on a regular basis to work on the talk, while you work out what kind of process works for you.ToolsHow are you going to present your talk? Unless you're going to draw everything on a whiteboard (not many people elect to do this), you're going to wind up using a bunch of different…

Preparing a talk: presenting

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I've given a number of talks, and over the years I've made the journey from completely unprepared to mostly knowing what I'm doing. After a lot of trial and error, I've settled into a routine that works for me. This has been the advice I've given to a number of folks who are looking to start speaking, or improve their existing technique.I'll break it down into three posts:Pre-workWritingPresenting (this one)PresentingThis is the fun part! You get to go enthuse about things that interest you -- and have people listen to you while you do it. It's a captive audience of people who are interested in what you have to say. Pretty cool.PracticingUnless you know your talk inside and out, and are experienced at extemporaneous speaking, you probably want to rehearse. The first few times through your talk, run through it by yourself. Some find it useful to record yourself and watch it afterwards, but I never could get past thoughts like "you should stand up straig…

Preparing a talk: before you start

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I've given a number of talks, and over the years I've made the journey from completely unprepared to mostly knowing what I'm doing. After a lot of trial and error, I've settled into a routine that works for me. This has been the advice I've given to a number of folks who are looking to start speaking, or improve their existing technique.I'll break it down into three posts:Pre-work (this one)WritingPresentingPre-workWhether you have a date for your next talk, or are thinking about proposing your very first, there are a variety of ways to do some research and give yourself the mental framework that you'll need to prepare yourself. This is what I do before I even start writing a talk for a specific conference or meetup.Listen to TalksWhile a meetup's theme or conference's selection committee may change, videos, slides, or descriptions from previous talks can give you a pretty good idea of what they are looking for from proposals. This can help you dial…

One Piece of Advice

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A couple of weeks ago, Jessica Rose posed this question to the tech crowd:What piece of advice do you wish you had been given when you entered the industry?— Jessica Rose (@jesslynnrose) August 7, 2017It's a great question. Previously, I had different answers depending what age range I was addressing -- one for middle school students, and another one entirely for college students. While the answers I've given have changed throughout my career, I think I can consolidate all the different versions into this one:Your interests outside of tech are valuable and make you a better engineer; don't give them up.— Julia Ferraioli (@juliaferraioli) August 7, 2017But why? Why is this the one thing I want to impart upon folks just coming into tech?Don't resent your workI see this a lot with interns or new graduates. They're so excited to get their first position that they throw everything into it. Many of us have heard tale of the genius whose code has stayed unchanged for as l…

The Last Seven Months

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Around Thanksgiving last year (2016), I started battling some new medical problems that meant taking leave from work. I'll write about that experience at some point, I imagine, because I have some thoughts about it. However, I wanted to break my writing hiatus by chronicling some of what I've done in the intervening time. I had to get creative to keep the boredom at bay.BooksThe library's digital collection has been invaluable, especially when I couldn't get out of bed. These are some of the books that I read -- most in the last five weeks:FictionI had a reading list a mile long prior to leave, but I misplaced it. So thanks to a lot of recommendations from a wide variety of folks, I had a good selection of books to choose from. It's interesting to me how my tastes have changed over the last decade, but I enjoyed each of these for different reasons.
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret AtwoodThe Heart Goes Last, Margaret AtwoodGathering Blue (audiobook), Lois LowryThe M…

Exploring the world on-the-go using Google Cloud Vision and Twilio

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Getting a computer to see and understand stuff is hard. Way hard. Like, hard for a long time. For a bit of context, slide 15 seems to be the definitive abbreviated history, dating all the way back to 1966. If you want to dig into the details, there's a free Udacity course on computer vision offered by Georgia Tech.However, you can add computer vision and intelligence capabilities to your applications without the deep understanding of machine learning by using Google Cloud Vision. The Vision API lets you send across an image, along with instructions of what you're looking to find, and will return what it "sees" in your image. You can look for labels, logos, landmarks, along with other things that don't start with the letter "l". If you're processing images that include people, you can look for faces or detect sentiment.My first project with the Vision API is quite simple: let people text an image, and receive a reply with up to three things that the …

Containers & Compute Engine: creating Minecraft Roulette with Kubernetes

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In the last few entries on creating a containerized Minecraft server, we created the container, launched the server, moved data to a volume, created regular backups of our world, took a look at customizing the server's properties, and updated changes to the container. Right now, our setup is pretty solid! So, let's get to that fun and impractical thing I mentioned that we'd be doing with Kubernetes.What we want to buildThis has been something that I've wanted to build for a while now, especially as I've become bored with my existing world(s). I thought that it would be awesome to create a way to join a random Minecraft world, with different players and different seeds. For obvious reasons, I've nicknamed this concept Minecraft Roulette.So, what does this entail?From the user's side of things, they should simply access their server the same way as always: through their client. However, with Minecraft Roulette, this will instead drop the user into a random wo…