I work part time developing the documentation for a cryptocurrency project and was asked to attend the Developers Week 2019 conference and expo held in Oakland, CA the week of Feb 19th. Road Trip!

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Initially I was a little surprised that the team wanted me to go to this. After all I am not a “Developer” in the same way as out core programmers and developers are. While I do develop the documentation and maintain a few web sites, I wouldn’t go so far as classifying my self in this group. None the less, here I am in Oakland at one of the largest conferences in the space.

I was accompanied by our marketing guy, Adam, who had an hour speaking spot the first day of the conference. Adam is by far more knowledgeable in the cryptocurrency world than I, and a good public speaker. I was glad to hear I was not the only team member heading to the conference. While Adam is more well versed in the crypto space, he is in no way a developer and had some reservations speaking at such a technical event.

The rest of the team was unable to join us for the week, either for concerns of USA policies and unstable government interfering, or a tight work schedule. While they would have enjoyed the travel I do think this was a good decision. While there was a decent amount of interest in the blockchain world, there is still apprehension towards the decentralized ledger blockchain projects out there.

Through multiple conversations on the expo hall floor I heard something along the lines of:

“Why not just use a database for that” Unknown Developer

While true that most of the functions of a blockchain can also be distributed via a database, there are tons of reasons that the blockchain makes more sense. I won’t go into the details here, but having an un-alterable ledger has some… attractive features depending on the users and use case.

The Conference

Fortunately for us the conference was well put together and professional. This has not been the case at a few of the recent events the team has attended. The venue was well laid out, and the content presented on was great. I was supried and relieved to find that most of the technology I have not heard of, or not in enough detail to know much about it. The conference left me with more questions and research to do, and this is a good thing.

One thing I will say is that the majority of presenters and developers seemed to be regurgitating systems that were proprietary to leverage the usability and increase time to production, at a cost. While I am a fan of industry providing easier ways to accomplish things, I don’t think it should come at the detriment of the programmer not knowing what the system is up to completely. This has in the past lead to catastrophes where unknown consequences or upstream bugs can render production systems inoperable. I still require full understanding, to allowable limits to jump into a system without question. (Looking at you Docker)

The City

Oakland is a very… interesting town. There are all walks of life co-existing mostly in equilibrium, and the fair weather seems to fall right in line. I visited to the same part of town about 10 years ago for work and I was surprised at the amount of improvements and construction that the town was undergoing. Its funny when you end up in the same place multiple times so far from home in what seems to be random happenstance.

Oakland Photo

Unfortunately we were late at getting this trip booked and had to settle for accommodations outside of the conference. One thing I will take away from this, the rating system varies wildly from city to city. A three star in one town may be nice, while a complete dump in another. I was stuck with the later.

There are outliers and exceptions to the rule but from my experience. The town is charged like a powder keg though, and at the slightest drop of injustice the people will take to the street and protest that injustice. While I was in town I witnessed the local teachers union marching for a fair wage. The striking thing to me was the example of correct civil disobedience that citizens were showing to the future generation.