I just got back from speaking about Accessibility at AnDevCon Boston, and I had a great time! AnDevCon has a really special place in my heart, because it was the first technical conference I attended to kick start my Android career. It was also during that conference that the public speaking seed was planted in my mind. Check out this tweet from my first AnDevCon:
So inspired by the number of times this week I have heard "Came to my first AnDevCon a few years ago, now I am speaking at it." #AnDevCon
— Kelly Shuster (@KellyShuster) November 15, 2013
…. and after a lot of hard work and help from some fantastic mentors, I finally made it to the podium at AnDevCon. Wow! 😀
The conference started off on Wednesday with code tutorial sessions. These are anywhere from 4 to 8 hours each, so you can really dive into the nitty gritty details. For the morning session I did a cool wearable prototype workshop, and my afternoon session was a notifications tutorial.
— Kelly Shuster (@KellyShuster) July 29, 2015
The notifications session ended up being my most favorite one of the conference. The instructor was really REALLY well prepared, didn’t go too fast, and his live-coding skills were top notch. We were invited to follow along with him in our own brand new projects, but he also provided a repo with all the sample code. Even better, his repo was divided into several branches at logical break points in the content. That way if you got stuck or behind in one part, you could just checkout the next branch and keep going. Brilliant!! I learned a lot of valuable tidbits, including that if a user blocks notifications from your app, it will also block your toasts. Yikes!
The next day kicked off with a keynote by Aparna Chennapragada from Google. I was really excited to hear her speak, since she was my favorite keynote speaker at Google I/O this year. Her talk was great, and I even got to ask a question. I was wondering if the latest improvements for context aware and deep-linking your app with Google Now also allowed a way to look for accessible apps. Answer: Not yet, but she likes the idea. 🙂 My awesome co-worker John snapped this shot as I chatted with Aparna.
After the keynote it was straight off to the Exhibit Hall where Mark, and I were holding office hours on organizing meetups. He leads GDG Denver, and I lead Women Who Code Denver. We enjoyed talking with everyone, and there were lots of great questions about member engagement and how to run effective hack days and code tutorials.
— AnDevCon (@AnDevCon) July 30, 2015
Friday was also jam-packed with great tech sessions. I really enjoyed Junfeng Yang’s talk on Creating Fluid Apps. He demo-ed this really neat tool called Nimble Droid. Check it out here. It shows an awesome profile of your app start-up time, what methods are dragging you down, and how your app compares with the average. According to Nimble Droid, my app “Should I Buy It?” is 0.35 seconds faster than recommended average. Nice! The tool is currently in Beta and free to use for now.
My session was at the very end of Friday. I make a paper checklist of all the things I needed to set up on stage, so I wouldn’t forget anything. My accessibility demo has a lot of components, and I forgot one part of the setup during Droidcon Berlin. This list ended up being an awesome idea, and I’m super grateful to my husband, the list expert, for suggesting it to me.
With my checklist I got everything setup right and was able to give my talk with zero technical difficulties. Yay! While I was talking about a neat Moverio demo I saw during Google I/O this year, Mark snapped this cool shot:
— 5280 Mark (@5280mark) July 31, 2015
During my Berlin talk the audience had a fair amount of designers and developers who were brand new to accessibility. During this talk at AnDevCon, everyone was a developer and about half the people had already dabbled in some accessibility coding. As soon as I jumped into the coding section of the talk, I got tons of really great questions. I made sure to jot them down in my notebook after my talk. That way I can incorporate these tidbits in future accessibility related presentations.
— Philip Corriveau (@philcorriveau6) July 31, 2015
I was so happy that people were engaged and excited about accessibility, even with my talk being the last session of the conference. Yay!
This was also my first time in Boston, and I had a little bit of time in the evenings to explore the city. My first night in the city I took a drop in ballet class at the Boston Ballet. After reading Dave Tries Ballet’s review of the Adult Elementary class, I was both excited and scared. It did seem a little advanced for me, but it was the closest to my level that I could attend. The class ended up going much better than I expected! It was very difficult, but I was able to do every part of the class (albeit not always well 😉 ). The class had live piano accompaniment, too, which was amazing. The entire class just flows so nicely with live music. My instructor was fantastic, and he recommended a book to me which I will soon be purchasing: Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Gant.
On my third night in Boston I went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park!! Seeing a game at Fenway park has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, and I was in complete awe the entire time I was there. Seriously, I was such a dork about it. It was just so cool to experience America’s national past time at a park that was built so long ago.
We also got lucky with some unbelievable seats. I’d never had such awesome seats for a baseball game! I also thought it was pretty cool they had Blue Moon at Fenway. I always drink Blue Moon at Rockies games, made right in Coors Field at the Sandlot Brewery. Blue Moon was originally brewed as a special beer just for the celebration of the opening of Coors Field in Denver, and used to only be available in the park. There’s not much better than baseball and Blue Moon with good friends!
I had a lot of fun speaking at AnDevCon and visiting Boston. Thanks for having me!!