Deconstruct Conference 2019

Last week some teammates and I made the journey to Seattle for Deconstruct. Like 2017 and 2018 before it, Deconstruct 2019 did not disappoint.

The speakers and their content kept with the established brand of diversity filling an empty vessel. The organizers deserve an extra thanks for fostering a collective voice that is richer than the speaking circuit status quo.

I made an effort to take notes for recollection and reflection. They’re offered below, mostly unedited.

2 Factor, 4 Humans


Security is a tradeoff! Usability for the user is often traded away for strong defenses against the attacker. When considering two-factor authentication for yourself, or making recommendations to a friend, consider the tradeoffs. Are you protecting them when they’re walking with a sack of money, or with a pack of gummy bears. 💰

Multiplayer Game Networking: The Brute Force Approach


Throw yourself at hard problems, over a long period of time. You’re not failing. You’re learning!

Jepsen 11. Once more unto the breach


Be skeptical of all the jargon around emerging (and existent) databases. Jepsen’s methods of testing find flaws in the guarantees all the time. Picking a technology is signing a contract with Ursula the sea witch.

Identifying Mushrooms Like a Prolog


Get a hobby outside of programming, like foraging mushrooms, and learn as much as I can about it.

The Wet Codebase


Abstractions are not free. Duplication is cheaper than the wrong abstraction. Double down on Sandi Metz ideas of the last few years.

A Personal Computer for Children of All Cultures



Contemplative on the boundaries that language and culture maintain, and the attempts to remove them. It feels like a mutually impossible and aspirational goal. Wondering what the second order effects would be. What the impossible translations would be. What impassible differences in mental models would emerge.

Clock Skew and You


Clock skew is a real problem, especially in distributed systems. Pick a timekeeper as the authority.

Voice Driven Development


Impressed by Emily’s demos. Remember non keyboard/mouse users when building things.

Setting Up To Fail


Things are going to fail. Design and develop assuming they will.

The Tortoise and the Hare Write Software

  1. Induce friction. Double down on it
  2. Revisit your designs in a big way
  3. Go home!
  4. Talk in terms of “calculating risk” rather than “technical debt” (@jessitron tweet)


Intentional friction is a tool worth employing. Software isn’t a cureall for hardware, organization, or personnel defects.



It’s a miracle that anything that persists state works.



Read the works of those who have come before us. Many of the problems we face in building software are not new, and they might find some relief if we took the time to gather prior understanding and rumination.

Not Even Wrong

John Feminella


Stories and statistics are two excellent tools at our disposal. Felt like a brief introduction to the ideas presented in Thinking Fast and Slow.

That’s it

Two days in lower Queen Anne provided a firehose of ideas that I hope will continue percolating into thoughts as I build things. I’m very thankful my company sends our team to conferences to learn, grow, discuss, and enjoy a change of perspective that cannot be found in day-to-day development. For the past three years Deconstruct has been very effective to those ends, and I imagine it will be into the future.

Published: 2019-07-15

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