Recap of my enjoy at THAT Convention 2023

Again in January I had the excitement and privilege of attending THAT Convention Austin as a workshop presenter, and I believed it could be cool to proportion my evaluate.

The stage at THAT conf with the logo on the screen and the whole stage covered with fake plants, trees, and stumps.

The Convention

Something I spotted concerning the THAT group once I first realized about it was once the emphasis on group. They in reality set themselves aside by means of making all of the enjoy extraordinarily family-friendly and inviting. I may just inform that lots of the attendees were coming again for years. And I will be able to see why.

There’s various transparent verbal exchange prior to the development, which makes it in reality great to set expectancies and ensure everybody has what they want. The check-in procedure was once particularly warm and inviting, and I spotted two issues that stood out specifically. That they had color-coded badge lanyards to signify other folks’ convenience ranges for greetings (hug, handshake, wave). Additionally they had more than a few bits of aptitude you have to upload in your badge to signify teams you have been part of (speaker, 5k, native, veteran). I believed either one of those concerns added a pleasant contact to assist other people attach on a deeper degree, and in some way they’re at ease. We’re all nerds, but it surely makes it more uncomplicated to search out somebody this is native, loves to run, and is presenting.

Lots of people sitting around tables in the conference hall, chatting and eating a meal together.

The group focal point endured during the convention, with devoted areas and actions to inspire connection past the traditional convention subjects. That they had areas for other folks to paintings on puzzles in combination in addition to some extracurricular actions at the calendar like a recreation night time within the night time, 5k runs each morning, or glad hours. Of the entire meetings I’ve been to thus far, this one indubitably supplied essentially the most encouragement to connect to others.

It was once all rather well arranged and introduced, however one small grievance I’ve as one thing to support upon was once sticking to the time table. I feel this convention is meant to have a little bit extra of a at ease vibe, however one of the most keynotes began overdue and ran longer than scheduled. Consequently, one of the most different shows needed to shift a little. This isn’t an enormous deal, but it surely did throw off the best way I had deliberate my day and brought about me to fail to notice some attention-grabbing “open areas” or have the ones run quick, which was once disappointing.

The Content material

The convention was once structured a little another way than maximum that I’ve been to. There was once a keynote and a remaining communicate on a daily basis, however always in between was once stuffed with smaller breakout classes. The content material was once now not completely fascinated about tech. A few of this was once more than likely by means of design to make it extra approachable for a broader target market. I really like that they take this method of creating issues extra out there to other other folks, however I in my view want content material to be a scoped to precise subjects.

One thing that in reality stood out was once the “open areas”. They arrange large forums with grids the place other folks may just e-book a selected desk and time slot to speak about no matter they sought after. It didn’t should be tech comparable. One particular person requested to learn to play chess.

A sign board that says, "THAT open spaces", next to a large grid of time slots and table numbers for people to reserve an open space.

I needed to leave out a few the talks I used to be having a look ahead to because of assembly conflicts, however the “open areas” greater than made up for it as a result of I used to be in a position to e-book two open areas. Within the first one, I sat with a number of different folks to speak about edge, edge compute, CDNs, and firewalls. A few of them had a large number of enjoy to proportion, some had nice questions, and others have been listening to about it for the primary time. We began by means of describing latency problems on a elementary web site, presented the brink by the use of CDNs, then added edge compute and it’s professionals/cons, and ended with what I imagine nowadays’s large problem, integrating databases with edge applied sciences.

Several people gathered around tables in the conference hall, chatting about various open space topics.
Hello, that’s me within the again operating an open area on edge stuff.

The second one open area I hosted was once extra like a workshop. I sought after to turn other people learn how to arrange their very own servers. We walked via putting in a VPS on Linode, then hooked up it to a website identify via their DNS suppliers. After all, we additionally wanted one thing to host there, so we adopted the similar steps I’ve written about to deploy a mission with Coolify.

I additionally attended a few attention-grabbing open areas, and I am hoping to look different meetings be offering this kind of factor. It gave me more room to speak about the issues I’m all in favour of and concentrate to others proportion their pursuits all through the time between talks or when there isn’t a chat I’m all in favour of. The open areas structure could also be a lot more intimate and extra of a dialog than a presentation the place just one aspect stocks.

As I discussed above, I ignored some talks I used to be very all in favour of, however of the ones I attended, one who stood out was once “Development the tech for the arena’s biggest eating place corporate” by means of Erik Andersen. Erik works for Yum! Manufacturers and his communicate was once about their structure and infrastructure. It was once in reality cool to look how massive endeavor corporations construct instrument, however the phase that in reality stood out to me was once that they use Akamai’s Internet Utility Firewall (WAF) to offer protection to their websites.

It was once validating to look others supply certain, unsolicited comments, and it gave me some excellent perception into how consumers architect issues. I additionally had an opportunity to talk with Erik in additional element after the controversy, and I requested about a few of our different merchandise, however the WAF was once the one one he was once conscious about. However even with out my biased reason why for being , Erik’s communicate was once nice. It’s now not incessantly you spot how issues paintings for one of the most international’s biggest manufacturers, and he did an ideal task presenting it. He even entertained the group’s ideas for more than a few Taco Bell + KFC taste mixtures.

My Workshop

I’ve combined emotions about my workshop. There in reality weren’t a large number of other people there (now not at any, in reality) and that’s adequate, but it surely’s arduous to not really feel like I will have introduced it higher. And because of some miscommunication, I had ready 8 hours value of content material for a four-hour time slot. Consequently, a large number of the content material was once rushed, and a few we didn’t get to.

On a good word, this was once my first actual workshop, so I will be able to’t be expecting it to be very best, and I realized a large number of nice techniques to support it. I additionally went round to everybody that attended in the future to test in with their enjoy, and everybody had very certain issues to mention. The one criticism was once about it being rushed and that I will have to permit extra time for other folks to mess around on their very own.

The opposite excellent information was once that regardless of the low attendance, I had various different excellent alternatives to interact with builders and proportion wisdom.

The THAT other folks are beginning a podcast and requested me to take part. We most commonly talked concerning the content material of my workshop, however we additionally touched on any other issues. And as soon as once more, I wish to say that the “open areas” have been superior. Chatting about edge compute and operating a micro workshop on putting in a server was once superior. I am hoping extra meetings supply that type of interplay.

Me sitting with Clark in some camping chairs on the conference stage. We're recording an episode of the podcast and we're surrounded by fake trees, plants, logs, and rocks.

The Venue

The convention was once hosted at a Kalahari hotel. When you’ve by no means been to at least one, they’re beautiful spectacular. This one had a complete water park, arcade, a number of bars and eating places, and the convention heart all within the hotel. It’s more than likely the nicest resort I’ve stayed at for a convention. And the truth that THAT Conf coated two nights for audio system was once superior.

Sadly it additionally was once about thirty mins (two hours by means of public transit) north of Austin, in Spherical Rock, and there wasn’t in reality a lot round. Austin is without doubt one of the coolest towns within the nation, so it could were cool to include it a little bit extra.

Meetings are a great spot to switch concepts and meet other folks from other puts. If I had one advice, it could be not to best get native other folks into the convention, however to additionally take the convention out into the local people. It more than likely doesn’t make sense for each convention, however for the puts which might be additionally primary vacationer locations, it would make for an much more memorable enjoy for attendees.

Some Bizarre Issues Came about

There have been a few issues that came about all through the development which might be more than likely now not noteworthy sufficient for their very own sections, however I wish to come with them anyway as it’s more or less random/humorous.

At first, I confirmed up on the resort at the day of my workshop, however as it was once a half-day workshop, I used to be in a position to snatch lunch first. Lunch was once pizza, and I had underestimated the scale. Consequently, I had some leftovers which might function my dinner on the finish of the day.

Or no less than, that was once the plan, till I were given again to my room and located the whole lot because it was once once I left it, aside from a lacking pizza field. I used to be so unhappy and puzzled. Perhaps, it was once the home tasks people that got here in and simply threw it away, however why? It was once the day I checked in, someday within the afternoon, so there was once no want to even verify the room. And why would they throw out a pizza field that isn’t any place on the subject of the trash bin that obviously nonetheless has pizza in it!?!?

I introduced my issues to the entrance table, they usually comped me a brand new pizza, so all of it labored out, however I’m nonetheless baffled as to what came about. A query I can most likely by no means know the solution to.

Then at the 3rd morning of the convention, I participated within the 6 AM 5k run. It was once nice, however with such an early get started, I made up our minds to put on a sweater all the way down to the assembly spot, then depart it there till I returned. Any other runner left a drawstring backpack with my sweater (underneath a large giraffe statue).

We returned thirty mins later and located our issues lacking. There have been some workers cleansing up within reach once we left, so we assumed it was once them, but if we checked the lost-and-found, not anything was once grew to become in.

The entrance table additionally mentioned it would were a safety workforce. Through which case, it could were positioned elsewhere. They checked there and didn’t to find it. For 3 days, I went again to test in on the entrance table, but it surely by no means grew to become up.

Once more, this was once now not a big factor, however in order that bizarre that inside a thirty minute timespan at 6 AM, our issues have been taken, nearly surely by means of workers, and they didn’t get grew to become in to the lost-and-found.


My largest takeaway from the convention was once an enormous sense of gratitude for the chance to provide. I may just inform that THAT Conf is not only some other convention, however a tight-knit group, and being invited in to proportion was once really a privilege. I’d inspire folks to take a look at their meetings, particularly when you have a extensive vary of tech/nerdy/hacker pursuits or if you wish to be a part of a group.

Lots of people sitting around tables in a well-lit barn eating a meal and chatting.

Additionally, my recommendation for any convention is to wait as lots of the extracurricular actions as you’ll be able to. Essentially the most treasured a part of this convention was once the time spent on the finish of the times with large teams of other folks round a fireplace pit sharing wisdom, jokes, recommendation, and unique reports. It’s nearly at all times essentially the most rewarding and treasured time I spend at a convention, and also you by no means know the place the ones conversations and connections might lead.

Several people sitting outside at night in a courtyard. There is a fire pit and some string lights. It's very cozy.

Take a look at their flickr web page for extra footage.

Thanks such a lot for studying. When you appreciated this text, and wish to toughen me, the most productive techniques to take action are to proportion it, join my publication, and practice me on Twitter.

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