NDC London 2016 Review

Posted by ryansouthgate on 19 Jan 2016

I was at NDC London 2016 last week (13th - 15th Jan), kindly paid for by my employer. I’ve never been to a “paid” conference before, in fact I’ve only ever been to one conference and that was last year (Future Decoded).

After being to 2 conferences in 3 months, I’ve decided - this has got to change!

The morning of the 13th I was up at 5am to get the train down to London Euston and then tube to London Excel Centre. Myself and 2 colleagues from work arrived at 8:30 (half an hour early) just to ensure we did not miss the Scott Hanselman keynote.

The keynote was fantastic and got everyone buzzing for the talks to follow.

There were 7 sessions each day - each covering a range of topics from Deployment, TDD, JS, C#, Generics, Hacking, cloud services and many many more…

To write about each one I attended would be excessive and instead you’d get bored and find yourself searching youtube.com for funny cat videos you haven’t already seen.

There were lots of talks for the “techies” among us - also talks for people more interested in “soft-skills” and management focussed talks.

I went all out techie!

Some stand-out talks

A couple of my favourite talks were from Scott Hanselman, I went to 3/3. The keynote sold the rest of his talks for me. Scott is great on stage, he knows his stuff - and is also able to deliver it in a friendly and funny way. Whilst obviously content is important, the way it is delivered is important too. Scott was an expert in both.

Scott’s talks were about JavaScript, VMs and the cloud, Azure and “What an Open Source Microsoft looks like”. And it’s kind of penguin-y…

All very entertaining and lots to takeaway - Scott is a massive fan of Azure and really gets good use out of it. His blog DasBlog runs on Azure - He reminded us that he is allowed to be critical and honest about it - he’s not getting any free Azure credits from MS, he pays for it using his own money! Scott even demoed ASP.Net vNext running on a Raspberry Pi - very very cool.

Getting out of your way

The next “Stand-out” talk was from Rob Eisenberg. Rob was there to talk about Aurelia - (another) JavaScript framework….. A very exciting JavaScript framework. Aurelia was born out of Rob’s decision to leave the Angular 2 team - when decisions were made which he didn’t agree with. Instead of hanging back and coasting along with something Rob couldn’t get behind - he formed his own team and set off to create a JavaScript framework his way. Rob went through building a sample app from scratch and gave a quick run-through of some features. I’ve used Angular a lot recently and am a fan - I’m also looking forward to using Aurelia - the main takeaways from this talk were performance (repaint performance came out quicker than React, Angular 1+2 and Ember), and second was JavaScript. All the JavaScript code written in the demo was “just JavaScript” not “framework specific” JavaScript which you write in Angular and React (you know - angular directives/services and React.createClass). Rob’s mantra for the Aurelia Framework was it “tries to get out of your way as much as it can - the framework should enable you, not hinder you”.

All the securities!!

My other favourite talks were by Troy Hunt. I follow Troy on twitter and he is the creator of the very useful and well put together Have I Been pwned?. Troy’s talks - “50 Shades of App Security” and “Making Hacking Child’s play” were both great, full of laughs and really had the crowd thinking about Security, How it’s represented in the media and what steps we (as developers) can take to defend. Troy’s talks were the highest rated of the weekend

Troy - highest rated of the weekend

Also - I was lucky enough to join him on stage in his “Making Hacking Child’s Play” talk. I’m not saying that influenced the ratings, all I am saying is that I wasn’t on stage in his first talk…. ;)

Troy wanted to demo using a certain, easily downloadable piece of free software which is used to perform DoS attacks - only 3 people of the 200+ strong admitted to having seen or used this software before. I was sitting very near the front and Troy pointed at me and asked if I’d help him demo how easy this software on stage. Of course I agreed and jumped up to have a go.

I was asked to choose a site I “dislike” - to launch (a very short-lived) DoS attack on. This piece of software enabled the following process:

  • Enter url of site
  • choose number of threads for attack
  • click “go”

The process was very simple and drove home the “Making Hacking Child’s Play” title - it’s very easy for teenagers to get access to software like this and launch attacks.

Come to think of it; I’m now wondering why I was chosen to demonstrate how easy this software was to use - it certainly wasn’t ‘cos of my youthful looks :|

There were a number of other talks which were equally as interesting but were more technical and I wouldn’t be able to do them justice - in what is meant to be a summary of the conference.

All in all - a fantastic conference, the “open bar” and live band on the Thursday evening were great - and left many feeling a little “fuzzy” on Friday. The constant supply of hot food, soft drinks and free swag in the expo area were welcomed too.

If you’re thinking of going to NDC (London, Oslo or Sydney) then ask your boss. My company paid for my pass (they were £1200+ early-bird). I’d highly recommend NDC, it was a great conference, put on by great people, with great Speakers - I haven’t got a bad word to say about it!

Now I’m going to have to be extra nice to my boss for the rest of the year - to try and get a ticket for London 2017 - don’t think I’ve got a chance with Sydney 2016.

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