Thursday, October 1, 2015

Strata Sessions and Events


The choices of session at Stata Hadoop (NYC) this year were plentiful. I was not surprised by the number of talks around getting value out of data (analysis) but I was also happy with the number of talks that fall in my admin category or otherwise discuss how the services work. I would have preferred a few more categorized with security tag. The developer talks on the newly announced projects - RecordService and Kudu specifically - should have been in much bigger rooms. People had to be turned away.

Lack of food options for those with allergies

The Strata Hadoop conference sponsors provide food through the venue for lunch and expo socials. There was a distinct lack of allergen labels on food and limited choices. For a registration that asked about food allergies or preferences, there was not much choice for gluten free,kosher, or vegan. There were some vegetarian options.

The morning keynote area had some fruit (apples, oranges, bananas) with the supplied coffee. Other breaks that I saw did not have anything I could eat - lots of pastries in the morning and some rich and sugary treats in the afternoon. The evening Booth Crawl event was as expected with mostly beer and wine but the food was also not at all allergy friendly. Mostly I saw pasta, cheese plates, and Mexican style chips and dip. I did find a bag a chips to eat and I saw a hotdog stand (but didn't risk it). I also found a corner with some mixed drinks.

The first lunch had some options but not well marked, I had to find a supervisor and ask what I could eat and that was pretty limited. OSCON did a much better job in Portland by providing a separate serving area in addition to clear labeling of gluten free and vegan options (I'm still waiting for dairy free labeling to reach similar frequency). Lunch on the second day was a complete disappointment. It was soup and sandwiches and even the salad had croutons. No gluten free options at all. What is the point of asking people if they want GF at registration if the information is just ignored anyway?

Off site events

I did not make it to Data Dash.  It was a rain or shine event and it was raining but more importantly it was dark. I really am solar powered - early morning and late night events are most often slept through.  There was also the issue of timing. To make it to the event and back to the hotel for a shower, I would not have made it to the keynotes.  I am glad I attended that set of keynotes.

Data after Dark - High Line Hop was a combination of an off-site evening party and a pub crawl.  At other conferences I have attended these two events are separate with the pub crawl following the evening event. That means the pup crawls usually start well after my body gives up and send me "home" to sleep. Since it was a main event, each sponsors provided some combination of drinks, food,and swag. Also at each event was a wristband - collect enough to turn in at the main conference the next day for a hoodie. Initially I was told, get all 7 but later I saw a sign that said get 5 of the 7. I actually popped into all the venues. I am sure it would have been more fun if I was here with a crowd of people I already knew - or if I had any of that type of social skills at all. Still, after a nice walk to the area along the High Line, it was an opportunity to see the inside of some popular NYC hostpots:

The three bars at The Park are interconnected. I entered the Red Room first and found it to be kinda dark. . There are also several small changes in levels so that means step down in the dark.  Seems like a bad combo for bar.  Of these three, it was also the most crowded with everyone hanging right around the bar area at the entrance. After winding through Red Room, The Garden is open and light. This feels like a really nice place to hang out on nice evening. There was also some food provided but it was more pasta so not for me. Finally, there is a steep metal stairs up to The Penthouse which is back into a darker venue, though not as dark as the Red Room. There were some fancy looking deserts provided here.

After exiting The Park venues, I headed next door to Avenue. This venue has a couple of floors. I did not go upstairs but was told there was a second bar up there in addition to some seating. It was very loud and I scrammed fast.

Originally I was going to pop into the 4 that were together, then stop by the Cloudera sponsored venue and head out.  I'm glad I decided to keep exploring. I made a quick walk through Gaslight. I think this would be cool if I could eat pizza. I stayed a while at Catch NYC. This venue was sponsored by Bloomberg and was the "classy" venue. It was also the least populated while I was there. The had some food out but it all appeared to have dairy. We were upstairs and could watch the kitchen at work. I saw a few plates headed downstairs. I think it might be a place that could cater to my needs for a sit down meal.  The music here was also a bit loud but I sat and watched the world go by for a bit.

Finally, I headed to Tao. Very crowded, very loud, very bar scene.I wandered through and then tried to squeeze back out. Another group came in, saw the crowd,and turned around breaking a path back out for all of us.  I suggested they try Catch if they wanted a bit more room.

Overall, I logged many steps and my legs were very tired.


Back in the Big Apple

I made sure my NYC trip this month had a bit of extra time for exploring. I wanted to look for some "small space" bedroom furniture ideas for a specific project. I really need to get motivated to look for some new clothes and I need to find a new backpack that I like. It is Fall, so still warm enough to wander outside and window shop, look for free concerts, and generally people watch.

Day 1 ended with mixed feelings. I did get a doughnut at BabyCakes - now just known as Erin McKenna's Bakery. As I remember, everything is too sweet but that did not stop me! I walked it off though strolling along Spring Street across town. I didn't find the type of shops I was looking for but it was a nice, if hot, walk.

I also got checked into the conference. Glancing around I saw more business casual than Tshirts. Even more than a RH Summit event. Not sure what I am getting myself into here - I must be getting too used to "geek casual".

The 7 subway line is being expanded. The stop near the convention center is brand new. At first glance it is very different from other NYC subways. It has an open, covered, entrance way that is clearly marked. It is modern and deep with multiple escalators. It reminds me more of DC stations. Not to be disappointed, at the bottom of the long escalator, there is still a final level change to the platform - and that transition is all stairs, even if there are many more stairways, each of which are more even and open than the old NYC stations.

At the moment there is only one entrance at street level and 8 escalators - 2 up, 2 down in each of 2 "tunnels" beyond the fare turnstiles. All of this is at one end of the platform. The construction areas at street level show another entrance being built a block away that I am guessing is at the other end of the platform. That new entrance will give slightly better access to the convention center as well by being both a bit closer and with one less major road to cross.  I do not know if there will be any direct access to the convention center. It would be but I am not sure how possible it is.

The Whole Foods  was busy all week, as usual. The one on 23rd street, near the hotel I stay at, has no seating. In the evenings, the crowds and chaos is disturbing. With a conference instead of a class, I was able to experience the mid-week, mid-morning quiet and also the 10pm ease of checkout. The lack of seating is what sent me to Columbus Circle for my late afternoon meal. Since I opted for hydrating fluids with my salad, I ate out in the modern main eating area. Maybe sometime I'll eat back in the pub. They did have a cider on tap.

I had started to learn of several places to eat in NYC, even with the Gluten Free diet  Then I had to give up dairy. My online searches for suggestions come up pretty slim to begin with and then it turns out most of those posts are over 5 years old and half the restaurants are now closed. There are several bakery type locations but I really do not need the calories. And there are some vegan options but dairy free does not have to be vegan. You would think I could find a kosher deli that can make a good sandwich with either no bread or with GF bread. The search will continue, meanwhile I keep falling back to the safety of labeled items at the Whole Foods.

One place on the list and still in existence is Friedman's with several locations. I had a B.L.A.T. at Chelsea Market one evening. It was a very good sandwich though over priced. I know this is NYC but still, the markup fro GF free bread substitution is one of the higher ones I have seen.  The market is a nice place too.


Strata Keynotes

I am attending my first #StrataHadoop Conference in NYC.

The Wed morning keynotes were well done. Lots of speakers, many sponsors, but each was short and about Data in general (not just a sales pitch). The keynotes were all streamed and are available for viewing.

Here are a few of the highlights that caught my interest:

First up was Mike Olson from Cloudera. It was the expected "Recent accomplishments, Big announcements, Exciting Future" talk. Not surprising is the growth of Spark and Kafka. I was also already aware of the new RecordService announcement. I still have to look up a few of the other mentioned partnerships like CounterTack Sentinel and work with healthcare ERM security. Also new projects such as Ibis and Kudu. 
He ended by pointing out that Hadoop is now 10 years old.

The second keynote was my favorite. AnnMarie Thomas (School of Engineering and Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, University of St. Thomas) talked about creative ways to encourage and teach STEM. While not specifically pointed out, it had a very clear message about the benefits of diversity in teams - any team.  Her students work with playdough to sculpt circuitry, experience circus training to learn higher math of physics, gain new perspectives by sharing knowledge with preschool children, and compare digital and human observations with cooking.  All really cool projects. This presentation gave me some ideas to add to my search for non-programming STEM projects for youth that I wrote about a few months ago.

Next up there was an amusing talk by Joseph Sirosh (Microsoft) discussing the How Old Robot. This was followed by Ron Kasabian (Intel) and Michael Draugelis (Penn Medicine) talking about the Trusted Analytic Platform and Penn Signals.  I think I dozed off a bit during the Tim Howes (ClearStory Data) talk.

Joy Johnson (AudioCommon) talked about Music Science followed by a related discussion of data in creative decisions by David Boyle (BBC Worldwide). These were interesting just not in my primary focus. I just do not have enough brain cells for all nifty research out there.

I enjoyed the talk by Jim McHugh (Cisco) on Data from the edge. Can I drive the race car next time? I did not realize that with all the wearables and small device sensors, that the Tour de France still mostly tracked progress with a guy on the back of a moterbike and chalkboard.  Next year there will be GPS devices on all the bikes and in the support vehicles. From the support vehicles, the data gets uploaded "real time" to a helicopter and from there down to a central van analytic truck. Teams, and more importantly, press (and there by fans) can get more acurate real time data of the race progress. 

DJ Patil (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) talked about efforts to open data in a machine readable format. He pointed out that machine readable format does not mean PDF. He also asked that any training efforts make use of these open data sets. He continued to discuss some specific projects available and wrapped up with a plea to integrate data ethics into all programs and all training - not just as an add on or after thought or separate requirement - as a normal part of every step of every use of any data sets.

Katherine Milkman (Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania) discusses improving decisions. I liked the examples of temptation bundling and the choice architecture, specifically the keyboard stairs in Stockholm. There was also a reference to the book Nudge. 

The final presentation was by Jeff Jonas (IBM) He was the founder of another company acquired by IBM and has a background in fraud detection analytics.  He discussed how context is important. His evil puzzle experiment is as fascinating as the space time boxes for asteroid hunting. 


Being the speaker

I am the speaker all the time. I teach. I present material most weeks. I'm paid know my stuff. People pay to learn stuff. While I mostly teach materials written by a large team of other people, I have also often been on those teams. With so many years of experience both writing and presenting material, why have I not been a speaker at conferences more frequently?

For me, a large part is figuring out a topic. Much of what I teach is multi-day classes. Most conference presentations are about 40 minutes with maybe another 10 for questions. What topics do I love to talk about can be narrowed down to a short presentation? What do people really want to hear? What is new or not talked about enough?

So I finally come up with some ideas. Am I describing it correctly to get chosen? How do I convince the committee? Do any of them know me or is the choice from the description only? Have I specified the correct "level" for the conference notes?

And then a talk is accepted. Now I have to actually finish the presentation materials. Bullets are bad. Pictures are good. Once again, have I specified the correct level or otherwise described my presentation correctly? Will anyone attend? What if I get asked a question I cannot answer? Why does the pre-conference attendee list include [leader in field X] as planning to attend my intro talk!?!  Why am I doing this? For free?

I think I need to go listen to Major's “Be an inspiration, not an impostor” talk. He wrote both about his talk at Texas Linux Fest and a followup FAQ.

My first conference talk was at a local information security conference. It was a smallish event and a small crowd attended my session but it went well. I felt that I had covered what I intended and at the level I had expected. I was even asked to submit a topic for the following year.

This year I presented at LinuxCon and was surprised at the response. They moved rooms as the interest shown in the talk increased. I ended up with 95 people attending my "SELinux, Its about the Labels" talk. That is a lot. The keynotes hold about 900 people. The Linux Security Summit at the end of the week was in a smaller room with about 100 people. Intimidating. It went well though - at least I think it did. I had a few people come up and ask questions at the end of the talk and a few others recognize me and mention the talk later in the week. No one flamed me in person or on social media. That is a win.

I am giving the same talk again next month and I learned a few things and will be tweaking the presentation but only a small amount.


Linux Security Summit

Continuing my notes and link references from August....

Before leaving Seattle, I stayed for part of the Linux Security Summit.

Paul Moore gave a great review of the summit.

I have to agree that Konstantin's keynote was exceptional. Check out the Presentation, referenced video, and released policies.

The CC3 talk was fine but just not anything I am remotely working with at the moment.

Stephen Smalley's SELinux on Android talk was informative for me. It gave me some ideas and links to look at before my next talk.

Rethinking Audit went too deep in the kernel source for me but I followed the discussion - or at least most of it.

The afternoon included a nap but I did return for the discussion on the Core Infrastructure Initiative. There is a lot of work to do here but the concept has some promise.

On Friday morning I popped into the Samsung talk before checking out and heading to the airport. I was a bit disappointed as it seems to me they are reinventing the wheel to have a security framework on their platform. I did note a couple of capabilities they are trying to get into the kernel so I do see the relevance of speaking at the summit. It did not seem deep enough - or "source code" enough to interest the kernel developers, and was too much overview to interest my ops side.