DevOps Day at AWS Loft

I recently went to the DevOps day at the AWS Pop-up Loft in San Francisco. The briefest rundown is that while I didn’t really meet or speak to anyone, I would still do the event again. I learned a lot, and I felt supported as far as the instructors were concerned. The presenters were also well-versed and had the right level of expertise to be able to answer questions and keep time. It could have gone better, but it was still pretty good.

The Location: 4 Stars

The Loft is a NICE place. It was well decorated with good space, internet, and air circulation. They have chargers everywhere so someone like myself who travels with two phones and a laptop was able to charge up without taking space from someone else. The Facilities were well attended and drinks were kept full. The worst is when a place runs out of coffee or coke or water. That said, they know they have a nice space. They had everyone line up outside like it was the nerdiest club. I’m sure it’s because that the first-floor registration area was tight, but that’s small solace when it’s your typical San Francisco cold, damp, Spring morning. Also, the neighborhood is rough. Gentrified, sure,  thanks to Twitter HQ across the street. Before and after hours, you can definitely see remnants of the old neighborhood floating through. Then again, Market Street will always be this way, no matter how many tech companies move in.

The Presentations: 3 Stars

There were two presentations in the morning. One was the history of Amazon and DevOps, a story that can basically be answered with two Wikipedia pages but still managed to go over an hour. I don’t know. I’ll be honest, I spaced during the middle. It was a lot of information which would be fine if you didn’t know already.

The second presentation was an overview of what CI/CD is, their AWS Offerings, and how they fit in the CI/CD pipeline. I felt that was fairly useful (the history of CI/CD withstanding) and would have liked it if they had spent more time there than what a Pizza Team was. They also went over products saying specifically they weren’t going to go over them. I feel like I would have gotten more from that then the history of Amazon.

I had an extra hurdle of being short and in the middle of the group, meaning I couldn’t see very well. I looked over their slides which can be found on SlideShare after the fact and I feel as if I didn’t miss much.

The Labs: 4 Stars

I liked these labs. If you have a non-zero amount of how AWS works, or can both read instructions and extrapolate from them without going off the reservation, then you can get a lot out of them. If you think you’re more clever than the exercise, you will spend a lot of time arguing with a screen only to find out you don’t know where you unzipped things. Also, it does require some knowledge of the languages in use, specifically JSON. If you don’t know how to debug your own work, or someone else’s for that matters, there will be a lot of headaches.

The Crowd: 2 Stars

I had forgotten how much I hate the San Francisco Tech Scene. Lineup aside, I overhead an in-depth discussion about the titles on their name tags (it’s a fill-in field, so it’s not as if it was something that was picked for them) and someone use the phrase ‘bare metal’ about three dozen times. Dev Ops engineers were highly condescending to ‘mere developers’. Older men were condescending to everyone. I would say there were well over a hundred people there with maybe a dozen females? It looked cliche. Attendees were hyper-competitive by nature, which made the atmosphere of self-paced labs unnecessarily aggressive. I think I didn’t list this as one star only because it wasn’t even the worst event I’ve gone to.

Overall Event: 3.25 out of 5 Stars

That sounds about right. I would go again. And in planning, it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t over-booked like many events I’ve gone to. All of the material was take-home, so my colleagues who couldn’t make it could pick it up on their own time. And sometimes you have to be reminded of what life is like in and outside of the bubble.

Other Notes:

  • Their free lunch was a very flat pizza and salad. It was reminiscent of working for the government again.
  • I really wish these events would give some non-intrusive method of communication for these events between the attendees like a Slack or IRC channel. This way we can talk to someone outside of stalking their nametag when talking isn’t ideal (like during a presentation or when you’re feeling particularly non-verbal).
  • Someone next to me had a large amount of perfume on and re-applied whenever she went to the bathroom. I have horrible allergies. So I couldn’t breath, had a horrible headache, and constantly felt nauseated. That might have made the whole situation unbearable for me.

This sounds like complaining about free content, but I really did enjoy it.

There’s one more of these things I’m registered to go to, so we’ll see if it gets better or worse.

Changes I’ll make:

  • Sit closer to the front. The tables are too high anyway, so I can’t type comfortably. They have sofas which I hope alleviates the comfort and height issues I have.
  • Bring an allergy mask. I lost mine on a flight back from Chicago back in January. Between the traveling and now this event, I definitely need it.
  • Try to be more social? I have no idea how to do that. I considered trying to connect with people before the event then I realized this wasn’t a Meetup, and I don’t have channels to do that. I guess I’ll figure it out.




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