Over the weekend, some of the Aztek team made the drive down from Cleveland to Pittsburgh for the annual Pittsburgh TechFest. TechFest is a one day event highlighting software and web development in the western Pennsylvania region.
The varied sessions covered coding, agile methodology, project management, and a wide-range of development stacks. Check out the notes below from our favorite sessions.

Pittsburgh TechFest 2014

Robots that Love Ruby – Josh Gretz

  • An intro talk to highlight the possibilities of hardware/robots responding to software/Ruby commands
  • This session reinforced the idea that messing around with Sphero, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi are not only fun but also are a great way to think critically and programmatically about things like order of events.
  • The above technology is on the lower end of the cost scale (all are less than $100) and are worth at least a look for anyone into programming/development.

Testing Agility - An Agile Look at the Role of the Modern Test Engineer – Jared Bill

  • An agile look at the role of the modern test engineer
  • Testing and development teams should not only be on the same page but should try their hardest to work together
  • Testing teams should consider pairing with developers and vice versa so that the two teams can get more of a feel of what each other does

Potential Pitfalls of User Stories – Danielle Verba

  • Perspectives on what is wrong with the widely used user story format
  • Common misconceptions regarding user stories
  • Pitfalls of user stories; Definition, Form, Organization, Personas, Scope & Action

The Internet of Things is Here, But Don’t Be Scared - Hans Scharler

  • ioBridge founder Hans Scharler discussed what the IOT means to developers
  • Hans started by creating a toaster that tweets https://twitter.com/mytoaster
  • IOT means multiple devices for each individual are hooked up to the internet, making it larger than social
  • Even simple sensors have the ability to rely valuable data to the internet
  • IOT creates a huge opportunity for analytics and development companies

Creative Tinkering – Josh Sager

  • This was an inspiring session on spending time to hone your craft outside of your work environment
  • The presenter had us spend the first 5 minutes of the talk introducing ourselves to someone we didn't know, and discussing some cool things we are working on
  • Spend time outside of work messing around with side projects, and reap the benefits
  • In a short period of time the presenter was able to spend his free time to learn new things, expand his knowledge base and skill set to create a job for himself doing a lot of what he was just working on for fun

Agile People - Jay Anderson

  • A talk about where individuals fit into an agile environment.
  • The DDI leadership discussed the transition of their company from waterfall to agile.
  • The things we hire for are often not the things that make someone successful in an agile environment.
  • Agile relies on people feeling responsible for the outcome
  • Placement and development of employees is key

Unretrofittable: Start Your Project Off Right – Chris Winters

  • Everyone loves a new fresh project, don’t undervalue this opportunity
  • Choose data structures that will aid further development
  • Have you asked, “What will help your users love what you do?”

Pittsburgh Tech Fest Overall

TechFest is a truly affordable (only $10 admission!) event with 50 plus presenters. The varied sessions alone make this a deal. Hosting the TechFest, at La Roche College campus, north of the city also makes for good facilities and easy parking.
Did you attend PGH TechFest? We'd be interested to know what you thought.