Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Magento Imagine - the family reunion

More and more people write about their experience at #MagentoImagine this year. I think I'm better with code than with words, but I'll give it a shot to detail my experiences.

Alright. I'll start with the flight.

Getting there was hell. But not worse than I expected. That's what you get when you are 1.90m tall (6'3") and 95 kg (210 lb). Bucharest to London was OK. I was lucky to get the last available exit row seat. Yes, kissing flight attendants a$$ works. But I was not so lucky from London to Las Vegas. Almost 11 hours in a seat in which I don't fit. I saw 2 bad movies and a good one and read a slightly interesting book. 1.6 eternities later, the trip ended with meeting Jisse Reitsma in the LAS airport and not recognizing him at first. Reminder that almost nobody looks like their twitter picture. Lesson learned: Wear Magento branded clothes during the flight to a Magento event. It helps.

Even if I know that the credit card system is "different" in the US from EU, I did not expect to have to pay cash at the hotel (not Wynn.). No problem. Just a 200$ withdraw with about 2% interest and a call from my bank back home asking me why am I in Vegas and what the hell I'm doing there. But it was over quickly.

Now to the fun part. I was off to Preimagine for which I didn't sign up. But luckily the Magento employees are nice people and I could get in. Here, the usual, a lot of hand shakes and hugs, a lot of "How you've been? Same old same old, how about you?", some well deserved alcohol after a long trip. Just like a family reunion where you see who got married, who's got kids, who switched jobs, but better because nobody asks you to "lend" them money. When this was over, we moved across the street at Strip Burger where we kind of scared the staff because we took over more than half of it.

Then the first day of Imagine came. It all started with a Masters breakfast. Good food, good conversation, OK coffee. Again, a lot of handshakes and hugs. Then I went to the dev room, Margaux 1 where I've learned how to pass the Marketplace Extension Quality Program. Good way to start the dev track. A few sessions later I ended up in the UI-components presentation by James Zetlen A great technical guy and a great sales guy. He was the second person that day to jokingly (or not) tell me to leave a presentation room. But we're good friends now. We sorted it out at the party after some drinks like real adults.

Oh. And I got to go on MageTalk live With my good friends Sander and Anna. Thanks Phil and Kalen for having me.

Immediately after the Sponsors marketplace opened, the swag hunt started. Got a few good stuffed toys (for my kid of course). Something like SuperLLama, ZiggyTheHydra an echidna, cards against taxes and a few others.

Moving on to the important part. THE PARTY. Again, good food, good drinks, awesome conversation. Before Imagine I set some milestones for myself regarding the conference and I reached all of them.

Among all people I would like to mention that I met some new Magento employees. And from them, 2 really made a mark on me. I got to meet Kevin "SocialKev" Cassidy and Danielle "UX" Mundle. They really live up to their twitter handles.

Going to the second day. Among other technical tracks there were....Yey...Keynotes. I was amazed an disappointed at the same time. I was amazed by Jessica Herrin. She was simply awesome. A nice speech combining motivational words, business approaches, good jokes. Please Magento bring her back next year. As a keynote or as MC along side Jamie.

I was disappointed by the Serena Interview. Don't get me wrong, not by Serena, but by the interview. Maybe it's because I had really high expectations. I got used to Magic Johnson's magic last year and maybe I was expecting a few "war" stories from Serena also. Please don't do interviews with the Keynote speakers anymore. Just give the a mike and 45+ minutes. Also let the audience ask 3-4 questions at the end (even if they are staged questions).

Next...the legendary party. As usual, fancy location, good food and awesome conversation. I've played the "Have you met...." game. I've been on both sides of it. I introduced people I know to other people I know but they didn't knew each other. And I was also introduced to people I don't know. Great way to socialize. Everything ended as best as it could. With Max jumping in the pool holding his well deserved award.

Everything has to end, so we got to day 3. Last and most depressing day of the conference. But it all ended in a nice way with the DevExchange. a great way to talk to other devs and not only on dev topics. I got to hear from my good friend Miguel Balparda (that, by the way, was the 4th person at Imagine to tell me to leave the presentation room) how it is to work remotely, a thing that I was kind of against until now. I still am, but I understand now the need and the benefits.

Regrettably, it was all over. I had to go to the airport. When I got in the cab, one of the last things I expected to happen, happened. The conversation with the driver went like this after the formal greetings "Driver: Where are you from? Me: Romania. Driver: Oh. Buna! Ce faci? (that's Romanian for 'Hey! How are you?')". It was a good conversation opener. He was a guy from Macedonia that spent a lot of time in Romania during the 80's. We had a nice conversation until we reached the airport.

One other lesson I learned was "Buy TSA approved luggage.".

Coming back to the real world, I was left with a puzzling problem. On day one there was a talk about diversity in tech. From what I talked with the people I conclude this was a bit controversial. Most of the people had the idea that it is good to encourage diversity, but not overdoing it just so you can push an hidden agenda. My opinion on this might be a bit biased because in Romania we don't really have a problem with gender discrimination when hiring people, but I still had to ask the HR department if they have stories about discrimination. This is the answer I got back: "Are you fucking kidding me? We cannot afford to discriminate. We need a lot of developers. If your dog can bark the words 'node.js' or 'java' we would hire it.".

Kidding aside, this was a good conference, filled with fun moments and knowledge sharing. I hope I can make it to a future one.

Summing all up...well, just extract the first letters of each paragraph in this post.

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