Ask Engineering: What Tech Talk Interested or Inspired You?
May 11, 2016 | Philip Aston
In the development team, we’re always sharing cool links and videos with each other. I’ve been introduced to a lot of interesting subjects and ideas in my time at Push. So I knew when I asked the question “What tech talk interested or inspired you?” that I’d get a wide range of engrossing and sometimes amusing answers.
Here are some of those answers:
Martin recommends: David McCandless “The Beauty of Data Visualization”
At Push, our focus is on moving data around, or streaming it as efficiently as possible from source to consumer. This talk discusses data as a shapeable resource and ways to combine and visualize that data to gain the most meaning from it.
Martin says: “There are people who can look at a table of numbers in black and white and the meaning therein will leap out of them. I am not one of them. I need visualization to see the truth within, and David does an excellent job of that.”
Tom recommends: Don Norman “The 3 ways good design makes you happy”
Tom says: “Don Norman has a way of explaining how many things we might take for granted make a human interface much more usable. The famous example being doors. A door is badly designed if it needs to explain to you if you need to push or pull. If a door has a a handle, your intuition is to pull. If a door has a flat panel, your intuition is to push. That’s all that’s needed.
“The doors example isn’t in the talk, but really it’s any talk by him that I like, because he’s got such a listenable way of speaking.”
Daniel recommends: Dustin Campbell and Mads Torgerson “The Future of C#“
We strive to keep informed of all the new features in the languages we provide clients for. Though there’s always a difficult balance to be struck between maintaining support for older versions of the languages and embracing the opportunities of new and cutting edge features.
Daniel says: “This video gave me a good direction about the future of C# and a good recap of the current state. Also, they are really funny in presenting it!”
Freddie recommends: Vijay Kumar “Robots that fly … and cooperate”
Freddie says: “It’s the typical TED format, it looks kind of interesting, and then something happens that blows your mind. You then proceed to watch TED videos in bed until you pass out.”
Quintin recommends: Matthew Carter “My Life in Typefaces”
I found this a fascinating overview of an aspect of daily life that’s easy to take for granted.
Quintin says: “I’ve always liked Verdana and have used it as my font of preference for large screen use when I used to write software for live events). In fact friends of mine have often commented that I must be ‘running’ a screen if they see user-generated content in Verdana.
“This guy has the attention to detail. And clearly a love for what he’s doing.”
He also came back to me later with another suggestion, which he found only this morning: Mitch Resnick “Let’s Teach Kids to Code”
Quintin says: “I was interested in the message that once kids learn to code then they can use code to learn. It’s about demystifying technology. Parents want to allow their children to be digital natives if they wish to go that way. It’s great that schools are using tools like Scratch to help.
“I like the thought that my kids can have some insight in to what underlies the things they tap on when playing on the iPad, for example.”
Cristina recommends: “Print Your Own Makeup with Mink” from Disrupt NY 2014
Cristina says: “It seems like a really good idea to have such a printer. It’s quite practical, and I’m quite surprised no one thought of this sooner.”
I recommend the videos on “Precious Plastic”. Here’s the promo:
One of the things I love about current technology is how it’s bringing the tools of creation and manufacture down to the personal scale – like with the makeup printer video above, enabling people to create things for their specific needs rather than being constrained by what’s available on the mass market.
Even while trying to minimise my waste, I go through a lot of plastic. A project like this helps demystify plastic for me a little and makes me more aware of just how much plastic is in our lives.
Dimeji recommends: Hunter Loftis “We Will All Be Game Programmers”
Matt also liked this one, mainly for the failure of the physics engine at around 27m45s.
Dimeji says: “A lot of ideas in game development can be applied to general software engineering. A lot of the paradigms and rules can be applied as well.”
Alex recommends: Brendan Gregg “Linux Performance Tools”
In this impatient world sometimes what a piece of software can do is less important than how swiftly it can do it. Performance is key to our experience of apps and software.
Alex says: “Analyzing performance issues can sometimes be overwhelming, this talk one of many that Brendan Gregg has done promotes methodologies first and tools second when trying to solve performance problems.”
Those were the video recommendations from around the office. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.