A review of DunDDD

Published on 19 November 2011

The DDD series of conferences in the UK is growing!  Firstly, with a new conference in Sunderland called DDDNorth.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend that one this year, however, I was able to attend the other new conference; namely DunDDD.


Brought to you by the people who organised the NoSQL Autumn Conference in Dundee last year and Scottish Developers, this event was a three track event, with five sessions spread over the course of the day.  The first track was dedicated to “NoSQL”, the second was “The Web” and the third was a general track.

At the start of the day, Colin MacKay asked if I would manage to help out as a room monitor which I agreed to, which resulted in me spending most of the day in the General Track, however, the majority of the sessions that I wanted to see were in this track, so that worked out quite well.

Session 1

Data Mining The Social Web – Gary Short (@garyshort)

First up, I decided to attend Gary Short’s session.  I have had the opportunity to see this talk on a number of occasions, at a few different conferences, but due to clashes with other sessions that I also wanted to see, I have never been able to attend.  I thought it was about time that I fixed that, and I am happy to say that I was not disappointed.

Gary presented a very clear picture of how analysing information from Social Media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, can provide some very useful and pertinent information for marketing purposes within your business.

For instance, you can use data analysis techniques to find out information like:

  • _“When Do My Customers Talk About Me?” _
  • _“How Fast Do They Start To Talk About Me?” _
  • _“What’s My Share of The Buzz?” _
  • _“When Is The Busiest Hour"?” _
  • _“What Words Do They Use?” _
  • _“Who Are The Influencers” _
  • _“Most ReTweets” _
  • “What is The Lexical Diversity?”

With this information at hand, companies can then decide on a social marketing campaign to make decisions about when is the best time to make a tweet about your product and also which words to use.  Unfortunately, Gary ran a little short of time and was not able to show the sample code that he uses to produce the analyses.  I am hoping that Gary will make this information available, and if he does, I will link back to it from here.


Recommended Books:


  • “A professional speaker would have learnt how to spell Analysis” – Craig Murphy to Gary Short
  • “How many people here are programmers? Excel VBA doesn’t count Craig!” – Gary Short to Craig Murphy

Session 2

The Philosophy of Unix – Craig Nicol (@craignicol)

There was a slight change of title for this presentation before it kicked off.  It was changed to:

“The Philosophy of Code”

This was actually a very well put together presentation!  Using a number of quotes from various people throughout history (you can see a full list of quotes below) Craig was able to establish some “rules” that can be applied to your day to day development work.

The one thing that I would say is, this presentation could do with some “polish”.  After speaking afterwards, this was the first time that Craig had done this talk, and with some additional practice I think this could turn into a fantastic session that is a must see!


Recommended Books:


  • “UNIX is simple, it just needs a genius to understand it’s Simplicity” – Dennis Ritchie
  • “Simple things should be simple and complex thins should be possible” – Alan Kay
  • “The cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components are those that aren’t there” – Gordon Bell
  • “Any fool can write code that a computer can understand.  Good programmers write code that humans can understand” – Martin Fowler
  • “Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live” – Rick Osborne
  • “debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place.  Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.” – Brian Kernighan
  • “What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.” – Aristotle
  • “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” – Bill Gates
  • “..I’m a strong believer in being minimalistic.  Unless you actually are going to solve the general problem, don’t try and put in place a framework for solving a specific one, because you don’t know what that framework should look like” – Anders Hejlberg
  • “Premature optimization is the root of all evil in programming.” – C. A. R. Hoare
  • “Working ten hour days allows you to fall behind twice as fast as you could working five hour days.” – Isaac Asimov
  • “Code becomes software and people become users only when they interact” – Mark Rendle
  • “On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], “Pray, Mr Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. – "Charles Babbage
  • “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty.  I think only of how to solve the problem,  But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” – R Buckminister Fuller
  • “The best performance improvement is the transition from the nonworking state to the working state.” – J. Osterhout
  • “While I don’t claim to be a great programmer, I try to imitate one.  An important trait of the great ones is constructive laziness.  They know that you get an A not for effort but for results, and that it’s almost always easier to start from a good partial solution than from nothing at all.” – Eric S. Raymond
  • “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.” – Einstein
  • “Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen” – Edward V. Berard
  • “People will realize that software is not a product; you use it to build a product.” – Linus Torvalds
  • “There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more efficient.” – C.A.R. Hoare
  • “A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history, with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.” – Mitch Ratcliffe

Session 3

“The Happy Developer” – Is It a Myth? – Andy Gibson (@ARGibson)

This session led on very nicely from Craig’s session and attempted to answer the eternal question... “What makes a happy developer?”  It is reasonably simply to answer the opposite question, “What makes a developer unhappy?”, in fact, Andy asked this question to the members of the audience, and this is what we came up with:

  • Have to work on Sundays
  • When you ship crap
  • Bad specifications
  • No specifications
  • No change controls
  • When Managers don’t respect your schedule

However, what makes us happy?  This lead into a reasonably heated discussion into whether it is our environment, our co-workers, our equipment, our responsibilities, or a combination of all these things that make us happy in our job.  This was the third time that Andy has given this presentation, and you can see how the talk is maturing, and I am sure that there will be some take away points from this conference that will make it into his next presentation. During the talk, Andy also asked another question, “What does a developer in 2011 need?”, this is what the room came up with:

  • Peace
  • At least two large monitors
  • A desk with drawers
  • No phones (distraction)
  • Comfortable chair
  • Donuts
  • Program Specification
  • Good Development Tools
  • Testers
  • Creative Outlet
  • Problem solving tools (whiteboards, post it notes, etc.)

For me, a couple of take away points were:

  • Record your estimates.  Even if you don’t have a formal process, record them for your own records.  That way, when you have to estimate something else, you can look at this estimate, compare it against how long it actually took, and that way you will make a better estimate.
  • What it boils down to is... Respect.  Respect is earned in both directions. Much the same as trust.

Lunch and Grok Talks

Hmmm... Pizza!! This was kindly donated by NCR (one of the sponsors of DunDDD).  Although the agenda mentioned that there would be some Grok Talks, I ended up in a conversation with @CAMURPHY, @ARGibson, @leggetter and @craignicol, so I couldn’t actually tell you if there were any Grok Talks.  It was a very interesting conversation though!

Session 4

Open Discussion on Software Requirements – Craig Murphy and Craig Nicol (@CAMURPHY and @craignicol)

What Makes Good Requirements?  This was the question that the two Craig’s (they reminded me of the two Ronnie’s) were trying to answer in this open discussion.  The reason for this discussion was that Craig Murphy is actually going to be doing a talk at the Aberdeen Developers .Net User Group in December, and this session was to act as Market Research to find out what sort of problems other people have run into when trying to establish requirements for a project.

This was a very lively session, with lots of good discussion.  There were not a lot of people in attendance, but I think that helped the flow of the conversation, and the end result was a lot of food for thought!  I am now very interested to hear Craig’s session in December.

During the presentation Craig Nicol was creating an XMind Document of all the points, which you can find on his blog, so if you are interested, you can go and grab it.

Session 5

Jedi Mind Control 101 – Rob Lally (@roblally)

I had never had the opportunity to see Rob do a presentation before today, but I have to say that I was very impressed.  He is a great speaker, and the subject matter did drive home a few important points about when you are interacting with colleagues, managers etc.

Although the title seems a bit cryptic, this session is well worth attending, and I would thoroughly recommend attending if it comes up at another conference.

For me, some of the take away points were as follows:

  • In terms of trying to interact with your colleagues and managers, bottom line is, “Nothing works if you’re a ^*”£%$”.  This seems fairly obvious, but it is also something that is easy forgotten in the middle of a discussion/argument.
  • Within your team, you need to get into a cycle of positive feedback, and not negative feedback.
  • Teams gel when they lose track of favours” – better when everyone (either across a single team, or across teams within a company) is just willing to help each other out.
  • “Do Not Diminish Your Efforts”.  Don’t say things like:
    • All part of the job
    • No problem
    • It was nothing
    • It was easy
    • It was nothing
    • It was easy
  • Instead, make it clear that you have helped the person and here are the reasons why, but also don't rub it in their face. Be concrete about what effort was expended, and verbalise that a favour was done.

P.S. Sorry for messing up the timing queues at the end of your session Rob, don’t know what happened there.  All I can say was it had been a long day!

Book Recommendations:


  • “Yoda Is Not Credible” should have said “Credible Yoda is not” – Audience member when talking about one of Rob’s slides.  This audience member was later identified as Alan Graham (@Alan_A_Graham)

Other Bloggers

If you are interested to hear what other people had to say about the event you can take a look at the following links (I will try to update this section as I become aware of other posts).



As always, Craig Murphy was wielding his camera.  If you are interested in seeing his pictures, you can see them here.

Upcoming Events

Andy Gibson of Scottish Developers announced that a provisional date for DDD Scotland 2012 would be the 5th May 2012, however, this is still to be confirmed.  At the minute, there is still debate about whether it is going to be held in Glasgow or Edinburgh.  For more information on this, be sure to follow the Scottish Developer Blog, or follow @scottishdevs or @dddscot

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