To start the New Year off with great and positive vibes, today we reflect on the DevReach 2018 event that a few Xoomies from our Bulgaria office, Dimana Grigorova, Dragomir Draganov, Hristo Marinov, and Viktoriya Mancheva have attended and enjoyed last November.
Below you can read a guest post by Viktoriya Mancheva, one of our talented front-end and UX developers in Sofia, talking about her impressions of DevReach 2018.
“What does it take for a Xoomie to get really excited?
Well… a popular and well organised IT conference with a tiny sprinkle of audience capturing speakers will do… Oh, and if you happen to do it in sunny Sofia, Bulgaria, even better!
This kind of happiness fell upon a few Xoomies from our Sofia office who attended the DevReach 2018 conference which happened in November.
How and why AI came about?
The Opening keynote was done by the amazing Richard Campbell who offered both inspirational and philosophical questions around AI (Artificial Intelligence). Should we embrace the future with AI? Should we be afraid?
Mr Campbell walked us through history and the evolution of AI, Moore’s law effect on computing density, its relation to AI revolution and technology in general.
In a charming manner, he lifted the curtain on how the ‘Scruffies’ division of scientists in the ’80s proposed the more human and natural behaviour approach to AI. This led to the introduction of Neuralnet (AI) modelling where the model consists of three layers – Input, Hidden and Output.
Mr Campbell told us the story from the beginning of today’s AI modelling which was set by Geoffrey Everest Hinton. Mr Hindon is a cognitive psychologist and computer scientist, who altered the original Neuralnet (AI) model by applying mathematical calculations to do backpropagations within the hidden layer in a mathematically efficient way.
With the advancement of technology and the speed of calculations in the 2010s, the neural net model was applied and used for image recognition software with an astounding success rate.
What presentations did we see?
Why we need UX in development
Dean Shuster from TrueMatter talked about UX and how it integrates within the development process. With charming ease Mr Shuster reminded us of the great truth about our jobs in the IT – we ALL are here to make ‘exceptional products’ and the simplest way to achieve this is by observing the people that are going to actually use the products we build.
The important emphasis here is the fact that we observe those people and avoid interacting with them. Only by observing how a user interacts with a tool one can really extract the essential and true value of this tool.
UX is what should come at the same time as development. Developers should be working alongside the UX team from the beginning of the project until its end and in between. Both developers and UX, share the same goal and are two sides of the same coin – technical team members (Devs, QAs) are looking after the functional aspects of the project and the UX are looking after the emotional aspect or what the users want.
So, is UX essential to your projects? Absolutely! Especially when you aim for exceptional products.
Why should you be careful when using Open Source third party code
Another rather interesting and mind-boggling presentation was done by Jeff Strauss on Open Source licenses. It was a talk about the main software licenses out there and what pitfalls to watch for going ahead and downloading a third party library from the web. Reading the small print is never easy but it could save us a lot of stress and hassle in the long run. Have a long-term strategy – track what licenses your software goes with.
How to manage the risk in your projects
Milena Pajic, a well-known conference speaker and a Kanban evangelist, gave a very interesting presentation on Managing Project risk. Milena demonstrated some useful techniques on how to identify, measure and tackle risks in a project.
Why is Accessibility a MUST for our digital products
Another very good and useful presentation was done by Laura Carvojal from Financial Times. Laura walked the audience in the shoes of the disabled users. Those who are visually impaired, deaf or otherwise unable to use conventional technology. There were some very powerful examples of how a user can be deprived of using a product due to lack of consideration for accessibility.
Laura introduced us to the Digital Accessibility Centre, a specialised centre for testing digital products by disabled people. The value from such testing can prove particularly good due to the real users’ needs and their feedback.
The area of accessibility has long been underestimated but times are fast changing with new legislation seeking to improve the experience for all web users including those who are impaired. By law accessibility standards are becoming a must and all of us who are aiming to be at the top of our web and our digital game must include them with an equal share in our projects.
There was a good number of presentations dedicated to AI, VR and AR. Are they all good and useful? Can we rely on them for everything? Would they help us or would they make us lazy and relying too much on technology?
All questions worth pondering … over a glass of mulled wine shared with your fellow Xoomies.”