Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Past Blogs

Job Skills I Wish They Taught in School.


Here are some things that I kinda wish schools taught to their students:

  1. How to reserve a room in Outlook: Add room as a resource. If you don't get an accept from the room, you don't have it reserved.
  2. How to troubleshoot: Proving functionality of small the components which make up the entire system.
  3. How to evaluate a study: Has it been peer reviewed? Has it been published in a respectable journal?
  4. Statistical analysis: What makes an appropriate sample size, and how to actually calculate the odds.

JSConf US 2015 Notes.


I was invited to JSConf US last May to assist with the "JS IRL" Nodebots event. (Workshop assisting is a great way to get to a conference: I built a little Nodebot, got the keep the hardware kit, helped others learn about JavaScript-based hardware, and I didn't even have to write a speech!) I also got to see some of the talks, and I wanted to share my notes from a few of my favorite talks:

Beyond Responsive: Building a mobile web you're f*ing proud of - Kate Hudson

Making Relational Cool Again (or: JavaScript on ACID) - Tim Griesser

This talk was super useful for me. Someday, I intend to refactor my blog's backend from PHP to Node, but I sure as heck don't want to change the database that holds all the content.

(math == art && art == code) - John Brown

I always love John's talks; I find them super inspiring. Confession: I never finish my "homework".

Knitting for JavaScripters - Mariko Kosaka

Mariko's image processing parts were the most interesting to me; it's related to screen printing on glass that I took last year.

Cold War - Simon Swain

When Simon finished his talk, he walked right by our table and everyone just watched him with jaws agape. It was absolutely mind-blowing. There doesn't seem to be a video of Cold War from JSConf, but there are videos of other versions from both TXJS and EngineersSG.

Steve Kinney: Building a musical instrument with the Web Audio API

Maintaining a Local Dev Meetup - Jacob Roufa

If you wish to learn ES6/2015 from scratch, you must first invent the universe - Ashley Williams

30 Minutes or Less: The Magic of Automated Accessibility Testing - Marcy Sutton

You can watch all of talks - there were so many that I either missed or didn't have time to write useful notes for. I hope to get to all the videos someday!

How Long Does it Take to Prepare a Talk?


I never write a talk before it's been accepted somewhere. While I do keep notes on articles or demos that might come in handy, it just doesn't make sense to invest all the time in writing the slides before I know it's going to be useful.

Talk preparation usually takes all the time that I can give it. This means the majority of my bus rides, lunches, evenings and even some whole days from the weekends. Preparation involves researching the topic; creating and browser-testing demos; writing blogs; sourcing, creating and re-sizing images; writing, practicing and updating the slides. It can be a significant burden; especially for a new talk and when I've only got a month or two of notice for the conf.

I can make a pretty good estimate about how long it took me to prepare my most recent talk. This talk was completely new, and there were 7 different demos that survived the final cut. Since I've done a few talks in the past, I didn't have to spend any time researching a slide framework or figuring out how to use it.

It was seven and a half weeks from when I got the acceptance notice for this talk to the day of the conference. On about 40% of those days, I already had something else planned - such teaching my first GDI Seattle class. I also have a full time job. Finally, I spent 4 days traveling and attending the conference. With the remaining days, I worked on my talk as much as possible. I absolutely would have used more time to work on my talk, if I'd had it. All in all, I spent around 160 hours preparing my talk.

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