DevFest Florida’s important but unrecognized achievement

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In writing yesterday’s article about DevFest Florida 2017, I noticed something unusual while going over the speaker list: 13 out of 31 of the conference’s speakers are women. You’d expect this to be a notable thing in 1917 (remember, the 19th Amendment wasn’t ratified until 1920), but it’s sad that in 2017, a tech conference with 42% women speakers is still an unusual thing.

Also noteworthy: out of those 13, 8 are women of color. That’s also unusual.

Some people will brush off this observation as unimportant. Those people are not just part of the problem; they are the problem. 

I could write a long essay about how representation matters, but I’ve got work to do and a DevFest presentation to polish (mine’s at 3:00 p.m., and it’s on Android development for people who’ve been avoiding it). So I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom from Nigerian author and MacArthur Genius Grant awardee Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and her TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story:

You should go watch her whole TED talk, but this should give you her thesis:

I’m a storyteller. And I would like to tell you a few personal stories about what I like to call “the danger of the single story.” I grew up on a university campus in eastern Nigeria. My mother says that I started reading at the age of two, although I think four is probably close to the truth. So I was an early reader, and what I read were British and American children’s books.

I was also an early writer, and when I began to write, at about the age of seven, stories in pencil with crayon illustrations that my poor mother was obligated to read, I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading: All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples, bout the weather, how lovely it was that the sun had come out.

Now, this despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria. I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to.

My characters also drank a lot of ginger beer, because the characters in the British books I read drank ginger beer. Never mind that I had no idea what ginger beer was.

And for many years afterwards, I would have a desperate desire to taste ginger beer. But that is another story.

What this demonstrates, I think, is how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children. Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify. Now, things changed when I discovered African books. There weren’t many of them available, and they weren’t quite as easy to find as the foreign books.

But because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye, I went through a mental shift in my perception of literature. I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature. I started to write about things I recognized.

Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature. So what the discovery of African writers did for me was this: It saved me from having a single story of what books are.

Kudos to DevFest Florida for this accomplishment! I look forward to being there — and speaking as well! — this Saturday.

Current Events Tampa Bay Uncategorized

DevFest Florida will be a treasure trove of talks for Android developers!

I’m looking forward to spending this Saturday at DevFest Florida, the Sunshine State’s biggest technology conference on all things Google.

It’s put together by three Florida-based Google developer groups — Orlando’s, Melbourne’s, and Tampa Bay’s — and considering the ticket price (early birds got their tickets for $100 or even less; last-minute buyers could get in for $150), you get some serious conference bang for the buck. I’ve been to conferences that charged ten times as much, but didn’t offer as enticing a venue or a speaker/subject line-up.

To begin with, how many conferences have you been to in a building that looks like this?

There’s also an impressive line-up of speakers from Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Shopify, Viacom Berlin, and more.

Better still, that line-up is 42% women, a percentage so high that it’s sadly the exception rather than the rule, even in 2017. I commend the DevFest Florida organizers for doing this (and you should too)!

I’m coming to DevFest Florida not just with an Android presentation, but a hankering to see a lot of Android presentations. If Android development’s your thing too, there’s a lot for you at this conference. Check out the schedule below, where I’ve highlighted the presentations that would be interesting to an Android developer…


Click the schedule to see it at full size.

There are not one, but two keynotes that are applicable to all developers, and then I’m planning on catching, and then lunch:

  • Kotlin: Uncovered by Victoria Gonda, because any Android coding I’m doing from here on will be in Kotlin, and
  • Espresso: A Screenshot is Worth 1,000 Words by Sam Edwards, because I’m curious about Espresso’s UI testing.

Early afternoon

Click the schedule to see it at full size.

I will be giving my presentation at 3:00 p.m., and its full title is Native Android development for people who’ve been avoiding it (cough) Web developers (cough), and it’s aimed at the web developer who’s been avoiding native development because they heard that it was nothing but pain, heartbreak, and frustration. That may have been the case a couple of years ago, but it’s a whole lot better now.

Also worth checking out for Android developers:

  • The new Android ViewModel in Action by Danny Preussler, where he takes a closer look at the official Android ViewModel,
  • RxJava in Baby Steps by Annyce Davis, where she covers reactive programming in Android with RxJava, and
  • If you don’t need an intro to Android native development, skip my talk and go to Make your app instant! by Yuliya Kaleda, which is happening at the same time. I need to learn about Android Instant Apps and am going to have to get my hands on the video of that talk, and maybe pick her brain at the speaker dinner.

Late afternoon

Click the schedule to see it at full size.

After the mid-afternoon break, which will have blondies, brownies, red velvet cupcakes and smoothies to re-energize us, there’ll be more. I’ll be supporting my fellow Sourcetoad coworker Connor Tumbleson and catching his Attacking an Android Application presentation at 5:00 p.m. This portion of the day is Android-rich with Connor’s talk, as well as these others:

  • Get a Room with Mark Murphy, who literally wrote the book on Android development — he’ll be talking about Google’s ORM engine/persistence library, Room. Anyone attending this session needs to greet him with “Oh hi, Mark!”
  • Video Processing on Android by Namrata Bandekar, where she covers the benefits of two leading media processing libraries, and how you can leverage them to enhance Android’s native MediaCodec API to accomplish these tasks.
  • Build a Faster UI with Constraint Layout by Scott Thisse, who’ll show you how to harness the power of the new default Activity layout, ConstraintLayout.
  • Developing iOS and Android apps with Flutter by Mike Traverso. He’ll talk about using Flutter and Dart to use a single codebase to write apps for Android and iOS.

DevFest Florida is a mind-blowing treasure trove of talks for the Android developer — and I haven’t even covered what’s in there for web devs! I’m so looking forward to this one, and I hope to see you there!

Current Events Tampa Bay Uncategorized

What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech/entrepreneur scene (Week of Monday, November 6, 2017)

Tampa Bay Tech Events - Week of Monday, November 6

Every week, I compile a list of events for developers, technologists, nerds, and tech entrepreneurs in and around the Tampa Bay area. We’ve got a lot of events going on this week, and here they are!

Do you have an tech or entrepreneurial event in or around the Tampa Bay area that you’d like to see listed here? Drop me a line about it at!

Monday, November 6

Tampa Bay SQL Business Intelligence and Analytics Meetup — Monday @ Microsoft


Tuesday, November 7


Network and Learn: Local company CEO to speak on success from A to Z — Station 2 Innovation - Tuesday, 5:30 pm


Wednesday, November 8

Thursday, November 9

Friday, November 10

Saturday, November 11

DevFest Florida: Disney's Contemporary Resort, Orlando, Saturday, November 11, 2017 - Organized by GDG Space Coast, GDG Central Florida, and GDG Sun Coast - SPonsored by SOurcetoad.


Sunday, November 12