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Ken Hudak
Ken Hudak

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Some GDG Windsor-Essex DevFest Takeaways

Yes, there is a Tech Scene in Windsor, Ontario. More on that below the fold.

On October 5th, 2019 over 250 attendees, speakers, and organizers came together for the 3rd Windsor Essex DevFest on the campus of the University of Windsor.

Windsor, with a population of 234 thousand, sits just south of Detroit. So it's fair to to assume that the city has has been indoctrinated into the auto culture of the region. But like most manufacturing hubs that grew up on the hum of assembly lines and a community rhythm that revolved around three shifts, there is now a noticeable transformation towards a growing tech sector and knowledge economy as well.

Ok, you get the gist, onto the sessions--

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The event got off to a great start with a keynote presentation from Amir Feizpour of aggregate intellect who spoke about recognizing that language is limited and imprecise and we should all be working to improve communication as a whole. How? Try to strive to put in some interpretive labor and streamline your message! This will reduce the burden on the listener to improve understanding (same theory applies to your code!).

On to the next session - Practical Machine Learning with Karthik Kuber. Karthik emphasized that 'learning to learn' while on the job is an essential part of becoming a better data scientist. And why is that? Because lots of assumptions in school projects do not actually work in real-world projects. (Personally, I'd paraphrase that to mean that the 'everything-is-fine-wonderful-Utopian-world-inside-of-DataCamp concept seems to fade into the distance once you get those first real-world data sets.)

Kuber recommends Data Analysts focus on these skill sets to address typical business problems:
▶ Working with various disparate data sources
▶ Working with large scale data
▶ Dealing with streaming and ever-increasing and changing data
▶ Working with incomplete and messy datasets
▶ Building models that can run in real-time and at scale

You know that saying “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room?" Well, I was in the RIGHT room for a talk by Arafat Khan who ported a version of Tensorflow on Ruby. Brilliant and passionate, Khan was engaging and excited by the how well the community adopted his project.

My takeaway from him was the following: "You have to have something visible to make a point."

The rest was all above my paygrade, so take 4 minutes and read up on his Medium Post if the slide below speaks your language.

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That brings us to lunch! Popped in line for a quick burger and hopped outside for some sunshine, which was still a welcomed sight for early October in Southern Ontario.

Now, I promised earlier we'd discuss Windsor's tech scene. And I didn't forget. This was a session I was really looking forward to. Hosted by Yvonne Pilon, the President and CEO of WEtech Alliance, her talk shed a lot of light on what the 3,500 workers who make up core tech talent in Windsor are up to.

WEtech engages with the technology and business sectors to illuminate tech efforts in the region and is a major hub for connecting the tech community to each other, the media, and academia. Be sure to check out Tech Connect as it is a one of kind resource for local jobs, initiatives, programs and events.

Lastly - Entrepreneurship! What if you wanted to take your coding and analysis skillset and go into business for yourself? Frank Abbruzzese, President of AlphaKOR Group, had some great tips for making that leap. Here we go:

▶ Get out of your comfort zone
▶ Get involved in the local community and events
▶ Plan effectively with goals, time, and outcomes in mind
▶ Manage your time and Eat the Frog First, i.e., do the thing you don't want to do, first thing!
▶ And, this is a big one, no one should ever have to come to you to ask for an update. Be proactive! Keep your employees and customers up to date on everything.

Well that about wraps it up. I'm only one person and couldn't attend the other 20 or so sessions, but head over to GDG Windsor DevFest to check out the posted slide decks and other info about the event.

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