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StirTrek 2016 was awesome and you should feel bad that you didn't go

There's hardly a better use for an empty movie theater complex during the day than packing a couple thousand developers and designers in for some serious learning. Sure, this is the only place in the Universe where the line for the men's room is out into the hallways (and the Ladies' room is clear), but it's well worth it. This was our third year attending Stir Trek, and this one of those core "must-attend" conferences each year for our team.


The wide variety of tracks is one of our favorite aspects. Our team members make an effort to attend talks that push them out of their comfort zone and become little more "T-shaped". Here are a few highlights from our favorite sessions:

Our Favorite Sessions

Voice of the Enterprise

William Klos

This talk was an excellent surprise for me as I attended it without really knowing what it was about. It turned out to be all about how to use the Amazon Echo (Alexa) API to enable some super cool, custom voice commands for almost anything you can think of, including DEV OPS. So now our team can't wait to get an Echo and use voice UI to deploy sites to production like we're the captain of our very own Starship Enterprise.

Sweating Commas, Pixels, and People

Kyle Dreger

TL:DR: Designers should write.

Hallelujah Amen. Designers should write. Kyle's measured and polished talk gave him instant credibility with me as a guy who deeply understands the important of language and words in design. So much of design is words and this talk really underscored the importance of writing being a huge job requirement (he says at least 1/3) for any good designer, and we agree.

Kyle gave practical tips for using real content in your designs and how to avoid "Lorem Ipsum". But if you have to use Lorem ipsum, Kyle shared a great Samuel L Jackson themed Ipsum generator, which may not be entirely safe for client work...

Design Feedback for Everyone

Eric Browning

Non-designers may struggle with giving good, constructive design feedback, but still find themselves being asked to give it.

In this session, Eric gave some common sense approaches to gleaning and giving useful, constructive design feedback, no matter your background.

One suggestion was to try and understand what the design UI/UX problem is (and what was the designer's approach to solving it) before providing your feedback. A shared understanding that the goal is not to tear down the design/designer, but to make the solution better, will instantly improve the outcome of anyone's design feedback.

Exploring Microsoft SQL Server Query Execution Plans

Drew Furgiuele

Drew Furgiuele's talk on breaking down SQL query resource management was excellent. It's not something I deal with daily in my line of work, but I can tell it will come in handy at some point when trying to figure out a slow query or stored procedure run. Also a big takeaway from this talk - SQL Server 2016 is going to be awesome. You can watch and break down query executions live, which is sort of appears to be a "nice-to-have", but could be quite useful.

Git Gone Wild: How to Recover from Common Git Mistakes

Magnus Stahre

In his talk on recovering from common Git mistakes (which ended up being just as much of a "Cool Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Git"), Magnus Stahre showed us some really cool tips on managing code through Git. I learned quite a few things I didn't know. I won't bore you with the details, but the bottom line is that if you work with Git and get a chance to have a bonafide Git wizard show you some things, do it.

Can't wait 'till next year

Overall, Stir Trek remains one of the best conferences for the buck. We'd recommend to anyone interested in programming or the Web. It's a jam-packed day of learning, a movie, and some great swag for 75 bucks. If you're planning on going next year, just make sure to have a quick trigger finger on that "Buy Tickets" button.

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