by Paul Tofan

How deep(tech) can you go?

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You already know that conferences are a big business. They provide a spending avenue for those recommended 3% of your revenue that you should invest in personal development.
In a world where you need to have the answers yesterday because everything is happening at once, attention is a scarce resource that can become a competitive advantage.

Was Codiax the right thing to pay attention on 21 November 2019 ?

From the way the conference was promoted it seemed that everyone was following the same sales material about how to speak to venture capitalists.
For the workshops day there was a big bold claim about the proposed content "Technical workshops for software developers, engineers & decision-makers to become tomorrow’s builders". Triggered by such an appealing call for attention, a tingle tugged in the back of my mind or maybe ego, and counting myself as a decision maker I jumped on the bandwagon.

Next I will share my takeaways for the workshop and whether that initial claim was supported by evidence. To get an idea from what perspective this is written, most of my professional time is invested as a delivery lead role in IT projects, generally on a lookout for solutions or new ways of thinking about problems. I recommend Alex's article to get a developer's perspective on sessions that went in parallel plus some impressions from the 2nd day dedicated to conference presentations.

Talk data to me

This session felt like a good start for such a workshop day and after the first double espresso I eagerly stepped into the room. A bit surprisingly, the room setup was using a typical conference seating and this made me rather anxiously look for confirmation that I'm in the right place. My expectation for the day was to attend a set of hands-on workshop where I would pull up my laptop and try to keep up with the technical part, or at least get some pointers towards what I should catch up later.

The positive part of this session was the speaker, Victor Lupaescu. He was quite good and managed to convey the importance and some tips of data visualization. Below a sample of the principle that using pre-attentive focus triggers easier cognitive processing and what that can mean in a real life example.

Most of the presented information was regarding correct visual representation of data (using different type of charts). This felt a bit flat at the moment, but might be useful now when the end of year reports and next year budgets are in work.

"Talk data to me" was rather engaging and the actual use of a live polling system ( stirred the competitive nature of the audience, granting a rather good dynamic to the presentation flow. As far as I could tell this session's presentation is not (yet) available but you can get a pretty good idea from the presentation done at a similar event .

Leveraging Machine Learning for a personalized and safe gambling experience

This title sounds like something you better be sharp about, both due to the tech ring to it and the vibe gambling brings into the context. I had high expectations about it, so I took another double espresso and went to sit in front, where the action is.

This was a presentation with 2 speakers that debuted more like a marketing/recruiting event, with a bit too much focus on the company itself. In general, multi-speaker presentations can be a great way to keep attention, provided the coordination and energy levels are in synch, otherwise you pay more attention to the off-notes then the content. What I appreciated, was that they shared 2 real business scenarios, one regarding calculating all weather odds for horse races and the other regarding efforts for prevention of irresponsible gambling.

Most of the presentation jumped between the business problem and deep technical details like that of the deployment pipeline.

It could have benefited from a stronger emphasis on the intermediate level or how the technology assets address the business problem. Generally, I could not register the points that they tried to convey and was left with confirmation that when it comes to gambling, the house always wins.

Deeptech in Operating Room: a case study on voice assistants

This was the only session I attended during that day that was more in touch with the advertised hands-on nature of the event.
Full disclosure: I might have a slight positive bias towards it because we are also working on a AI driven conversational assistant.

The introduction did a fair job of presenting the context and environment together with how tech was involved to solve a problem.

The presenters had a good sense of the event all together and of the choice the audience made to be there instead of the session run in parallel. They also made some good callbacks to some of the interesting things presented in sessions before them.

Due to insufficient prayers to the demo gods, some hick-ups occurred during the actual live run. This was not a showstopper and was easy to get over since the presenters were able to convey a very good energy and passion for their craft. A big plus was the live coding which was really missed up to that point.

They also introduced, with live changes, the as a tool for event-driven application made. All in all the session was well worth the third and last espresso of the day.

In general, while the topic is quite popular, it seems that this time deep tech was rather shy(or has some complexes) about being presented in a workshop setup.
It did not feel that deep and I'm not more of a builder after, but hey, there's always next year..

If you like stats, my own for this event are:

  • Interesting: 2/5
  • Usefulness or applicability from: 2/5
  • Fun factor: 3/5
  • Schmooz factor: 2/5