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Coderbunker at Hong Kong Code Conf 2016

A Trip Report by Ricky Ng-Adam

The Event

Hong Kong Code Conf is known as the "highest code conference in the world in 2016" as this year it was located on the 88th floor of the International Commerce Center in the Credit Suisse office, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

The Organizer

Organized by Codeaholics, the event was sponsored by Credit Suisse for the space and money/resource sponsorship from GoGoVan, the company that currently employs Matthew Rudy Jacobs, the main organizer of the event.

The Presentation

I was given an opportunity to introduce Coderbunker concept of Collaborative Learning. The presentation covered the background of Coderbunker as an Hackerspace, how we teach people new skills by using peer to peer collaboration and also how we're learning to be good freelancers.

After the event, questions focused on freelancing:

How to become a freelancer? (quit your job and join the community!)

What type of contracts we take on? (no fixed contracts )

What are the arrangements with freelancers? (try to stick to a hourly rate)

How we manage the teams? (we provide technical leadership but we don't proxy the relationship with the freelancers)

How we hope to grow? (hopefully Coderbunker in every big city to build credibility and a deep network of resources).

The Talks

My favorite talk was "A Day at the Races: a Data Science Extravaganza", an attempt at scrapping horse race data and making automated bets to win money.This talk was given by Emmanuel Prochasson and Guy Freeman, both lovers of open data and founders of HK Data Hose (you can join their slack). Their main conclusion: do not gamble if you want to make money! But seriously, the process from scrapping the data to trying trying mechanism to place bets was quite interesting.

«After too many evenings fruitlessly fluttering away ten-dollar notes at the iconic Happy Valley Racecourse, we decided to use our Data Science skillz for the power of good: to make money betting on horse races.»

Another great talk by Carla Souza (a new hire at Facebook with 10 years experience in DevOps) "How to Raise your Inner DevOps Engineers" was also very interesting to me personally as DevOps is one of the areas I've been able to bring significant value to startups in Shanghai.

«"DevOps" is one of those buzzwords that, even though not everybody agrees on its definition, it is known of its importance in today's software industry. DevOps culture has a fast growing community, with daily new tools available to make every engineers' life better, faster, more efficient and more scalable. In this talk, I will speak about the DevOps culture, why it was born, why is it important and how flexible and dynamic it is. I will also talk about the crucial points of my life that directed me to get into this field and what you can do to help others and yourself to grow into a better engineer.»

Those are only two of the 12 talks shown during the day that covered the D programming language, payments gateway, Pebble programming, Javascript concepts, PostgreSQL and using minority programming languages to distinguish yourself on the job market.

After the talks

I was later approached on lunch time by developers working with companies suffering from a fixed contracts and we had a lengthy discussion about how iterative deliveries was both to the benefit of the customers and freelancers in a dynamic where the variables constraining quality are time, resources and features.

Someone also mentioned to me an organization in Melbourne that did similar things for 9 years (2000-2009) but ultimately failed due to the overhead of providing marketing. We are hoping to get around the problem by using co-learning, events and meetups to market ourselves organically but it's true that balancing that with the management overhead of any organization is going to be challenging.

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