(As you read this post, we suggest listening to this small jazz piece – the head of “Fly Me To The Moon”, played by our very own Ken Rimple.)
One of the greatest joys of working at Chariot – Philadelphia’s premier custom application development firm – is being surrounded by coworkers curious and eager to share their knowledge. There’s no better example of this than Chariot Day, where we gather in person (and as our team expands beyond the Philly region, virtually as well) to internally present on pretty much anything we’re interested in. It can be work we’re doing for Chariot, frameworks and libraries we find interesting or useful, or side projects and hobbies.
In previous years, we’ve listened to Charioteers talk about rolling your own home security camera setup, building mechanical keyboards, machine learning, blockchain, serverless computing, wood working, bread baking, beer brewing, meditation, and much more. This year, I felt the theme of Chariot Day was “finding the signal in the noise”.
The morning of November 5th, I grabbed a coffee and a Federal Donut (okay maybe more than one) from the large breakfast spread we had, and sat down for a day of geeking out. It started off with a dive into PostGIS, GeoDjango, and GeoJSON. We learned how to ingest public map data, run searches, and visualize them (via OpenLayers) on a web app… in this case invasive plant species. We got into a mini-debate about camel case vs underscore in JSON, and at one point someone said “Just tell the linter to shut up and move on with life”. There’s a massive amount of public map data to help you find the signal in the noise, maybe even in your own backyard.
The next talk was about architecting your applications and networking on AWS in order to mitigate vulnerabilities like Log4Shell. There was SO much useful information packed into this talk and zero noise, someone exclaimed to the speaker – “I wish I could carry you in my pocket”. It’s your lucky day, because you can watch a version of this talk delivered at the Philly JUG earlier this year.
We shifted gears to a talk about gender inclusive software development and sifting through the noise to find out what works for different segments of the population. Truly understanding your target user base, in this case women, is critical in building a product that meets their needs. The talk revolved around the development of Journal My Health and you can check out a version of the talk here.
Did you know we have a number of musicians at Chariot? One of them led us through their journey of learning the guitar, software development, and making the earth-shattering observation that one profession tends to pay more than the other 🙂 We learned about musicians that got into tech to move the craft forward (like Thomas Dolby and Jonny Greenwood) and got to hear some live jazz music! Another speaker went into an insanely deep dive on the history and many styles of techno music, DJs, and geographic variations. For years, techno has been my go-to for deep focus, but I didn’t realize how complex and varied it is. The speaker left us with this gem he found on the Internet.
With my mind back in deep focus mode from the techno music (and some beer), I was ready to listen to one of our consultants describe how easy it is to build reverse proxies in Go using the standard reverseproxy (and other tools like GoReplay and Envoy). They did this to help them automate tests that need to call out to upstream microservices that are not under their control. Ultimately this helped them release software faster and rely less on manual testing.
Finally, we ended the day on a talk about international espionage, the CIA, the KGB, and a long list of rules in finding undercover agents. My takeaways were 1) there is always interesting stuff going on around us if we’re willing to look closer and find the signal, and 2) data, decision trees, and good ol’ common sense can still go a long way!
A few of us went out to a local pub for more food and drinks afterwards, amidst the periodic screams of rabid soccer fans. Meeting face to face is time I deeply cherish, since it’s not as frequent these days. So I’m also looking forward to seeing my colleagues in person again at our annual holiday party. This year it’s “Taiwanese night market” themed, with karaoke too! If I participate in karaoke, I’ll mostly be producing noise 🙂 Singing is not required at Chariot, but great engineers always seek to “find the signal in the noise”. If this sounds like a place you’d like to work at, we’d love to talk to you!