andycary.com

A Reflection on Github Universe 2016 and Operation Code


A little bit about me: My name is Andy Cary. I am a United States Army Veteran who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom II as a Network Switching Systems Operator and Maintainer. Following service, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Information Science from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed one year of the Master in Software Engineering program at The University of Texas at Austin. I am learning Javascript and Python while also training in Information Technical Service Management (ITSM) certifications.

I learned about Operation Code in the summer of 2016 as I was researching programming resources online. The Founder and Executive Director, David Molina, started the online community that addresses the nation's technical talent shortage by training veterans valuable skills.

I found the Slack group to be a vibrant forum where people across the country were sharing programming tips, professional resources, and making connections.

I recently moved to San Francisco, California from Austin, Texas in order to expand my technical training and find a new job. While I found many opportunities posted in the Bay area, I didn't find it easy to get a response from hiring managers. While I had worked the previous four years as the Chief Technology Officer of a budding startup, I didn't have much to show for it as far as programming goes, as I spent the majority of my time as a manager. With the goal of establishing my development skills, I put all my free time into SoloLearn, Code School, and Lynda.com courses while experimenting with my own little programs on my Mac Air.

One day, David Molina posted on Slack about claiming tickets to the upcoming Github Universe conference. As a San Francisco local, I saw billboards for the event over the summer but didn't have plans to attend. I was delightfully surprised when he said scholarship tickets were available and my plans were made.

I arrived on Wednesday morning after the opening keynote had started. The CEO and Co-Founder of Github, Chris Wanstrath, was delivering an impassioned speech. He paced back and forth on the stage flipping through slides with real excitement. I immediately took my phone out and began making notes in Evernote.

He talked about two new features being launched, Projects and Code Review, and discussed how they are improvements that will greatly enhance how teams are already working.

Like many others in the packed house at Pier 70, I laughed when he showed the "activate-power-mode" feature built into their Atom text editor, which animates the blinking cursor as if each key press were a huge event (as it is).

Chris talked about how the open source community is using Github to collaborate on millions of projects each year. Their recent State of the Octoverse 2016 provides details of how enormous the impact has been. Highlights included posting the software that powered Apollo 11 onto Github among the 38 million repositories hosted. Data visualization tools such as Chart.js and D3 have been developed. He also provided statistics showing that Microsoft has become the largest open-source contributor, with Facebook being the next.

I also heard about the launch of Code.gov, which is the portal to the massive open-source efforts undertaken by the Federal Government. The White House, under President Obama's administration, has dedicated their efforts towards improving the efficiency of software development within the government by open-sourcing 20% of all new code and promoting code reuse (a figure that is expected to rise).

Bret Taylor spoke in a fireside chat about his company Quip, his latest after his time at Google. FriendFeed, and Facebook. When asked what his favorite programming language is, he responded "Python".

During the afternoon I attended a talk about Github Workflows. The speakers covered the process from branching to pull requests to merging. They also spoke in-depth about the new Projects feature, which allows teams to visually organize their development tasks, as well as Code Review, a vital part of social coding.

During the Thursday morning keynote, David Molina from Operation Code spoke about filling the nation's technical talent shortage by training its veterans how to code. He talked about the challenges he faced after leaving service in regards to using education benefits at coding schools and sought out to make a change.

Meeting other veterans who are also developing their skills has been helpful in accelerating the learning process. I also spoke with a Cisco Engineer during breakfast who is learning web technologies such as Node.js, which reminded me that everyone here is learning together to build the future.