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Speakers are being posted as they are announced. Check back tomorrow for more!

We are proud to present talks highlighting the intersection of tech and the arts. All talks are pre-recorded and will be dripped out over a week starting on September 3, 2021. This gives attendees the freedom and space to watch their own pace, on their own schedule and not necessarily at their desk. We’ll also have a few watch parties.

Over the three days of the conference, speakers will come together for a series of live panels to talk with each other and interact with attendees in a chat.

Keynote Speakers

April Speight

Image of April Speight
April Speight

April Speight is an author and developer advocate based in Beverly Hills, CA. She graduated from the University of Maryland University College with a BA in Global Business & Public Policy in addition to a certificate in Business Project Management. She later pursued and completed a MA in Luxury and Fashion Management at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

April began her professional career in the luxury fashion industry as a menswear stylist and visual merchandiser. She later transitioned into the tech industry as a project manager and systems analyst. In August 2020, she published Bite-Size Python: An Introduction to Python Programming with Wiley as a starter for adolescents to learn the Python programming language. She is currently a Sr. Cloud Advocate with the Spatial Computing technology team at Microsoft.

Nitya Narasimhan, PhD

Nitya is a PhD in Computer Engineering, and a Polyglot with 20+ years of experience in software research and development across industry, academia and startups. She is currently a Senior Cloud Advocate in the Developer Relations team at Microsoft, helping mobile and multi-platform app developers build on cloud and AI technologies.

She is an avid visual storyteller, exploring the use of sketchnotes and visual vocabulary to make it easier for everyone to understand, retain, and recall, complex technologies. Learn more at https://sketchthedocs.dev or follow her @nitya on Twitter.

Nitya Narasimhan, PhD

Weiman Kow

At the start of the pandemic, I made a short informational comic to summarise how Covid-19 spreads and 5 precautions to take to stay safe. While it was made for my own personal reference, the comic quickly became viral internationally and resonated with audiences from five to eighty years old. It was picked up by schools, hospitals, refugee camps, and governments, from Africa to Slovenia, to be used as advisories and teaching material. As a result, I created an initiative called Comics For Good, and in this talk I will share more about our struggles and successes in using comics and community efforts to fight Covid-19 misinformation and spread covid facts.

Weiman is a games artist turned Senior Product Designer at VMware Tanzu Labs and has been volunteering her design skills for various non-profits through Techladies (Singapore) and better.sg since her mid-career switch five years ago. She is interested in ways to use tech for good and systemic change. In her spare time she also dabbles with watercolor and digital illustrations, and sketchnotes design and product conferences.


Kylie Stradley

Kylie Stradley

There’s a Security Engineer at the End of This Talk

The mid-career muddle is a lesser known but potentially mystifying malady. You get the job you initially wanted but then maybe you’re not so sure anymore. Why would a backend software engineer decide to pivot and become a security engineer? Should you also become a security engineer?

I was once curious about security but I didn’t think I could ever work in security engineering full time. Sure I dabbled in breaking things in the console, checked for coupon codes stored in unobfuscated front end code but breaking stuff “just to see if I could” wasn’t enough to make a career pivot. I’ll talk about some of the recurring patterns in my life that lead me to realize I should try out security engineering. I’m hoping that you’ll leave the talk thinking more about all the little things that make up security or even better, you’ll leave the talk wanting to work in security too.

sabrina gannon

Picture this! Building your visual communication toolkit for developers

Transmitting ideas is complicated! As developers we use a lot of different tools and techniques to transmit our ideas into code, but often we fall back on the written word or another meeting when communicating with our teams. While writing is great, there are ways we can use visual elements to encapsulate our messages and make them memorable. In this talk we’ll explore adding visual elements to our documentation to improve collaborating within our teams and with our future selves, as well the more fun ways these tools can be used to capture self expression outside of getting the work done. We’ll be building a visual toolkit that ranges from being for your eyes only, to more polished and shareable forms that you might want to bring to your team or community. Using this toolkit as you grow more senior in your role will help you to transmit bigger ideas further than ever before!

Sabrina is a senior software developer at Dribbble, a design community platform. They work day to day as part of a distributed team evolving legacy Ruby on Rails code, which has taught them about the importance of creating effective ways of sharing knowledge across time and space.

Photo of Sabrina Gannon
Sabrina Gannon

denise yu

Denise Yu

Crochet Patterns are Computer Programs

During the winter of 2020, I decided to revisit crocheting as a hobby, and I discovered that reading patterns to make projects from yarn felt surprisingly similar to reading code. This led me down a journey to discover the interwoven history of fibre arts and early computer programming. I searched for different ways to represent crochet instructions based on programming language design paradigms, and ended up philosophically pondering what even is a computer. This talk is a lighthearted meditation that will hopefully inspire you to look for computer programs in unlikely places.

Denise is a Senior Engineering Manager at GitHub, where she helps to build cool products for open source communities. She enjoys cycling, skiing, playing way too many JPRGs, and she only has mild carpal tunnel from crocheting.

Aisha blake

I Remember the Time I Knew What Recursion Was

Do you ever get goosebumps when you listen to a beautiful piece of music? We can experience moments of euphoria upon hearing a moving crescendo or an unexpected phrase. In those moments, our brains release dopamine, which is associated with learning and memory as well as pleasure. Can music, in general, help us recall information? What about encoding that information in the music itself? Let’s explore some of the research that’s been done on the effects of music on memory and discuss how we might apply it to developer education and improve learning outcomes!

Aisha Blake is a Senior Developer Relations Engineer at New Relic currently building <title of conf>, a musical tech conference. A theatre kid turned tech community leader, she also co-organizes self.conference in Detroit. In her spare time, she sings karaoke and pets dogs.

Aisha Blake

Yasmin Islas

Yasmin Islas

Yasmin Islas is an animator and character designer based in Mexico City. She has collaborated with many studios in Mexico City, and worked with clients such as Giphy and Adult Swim. She co-directs an animation collective called Papaya Queen, their short films have been selected in festivals in Mexico, France and Kosovo. Her personal work blends pastel colors, nature and cute characters. She gets bored really easily so she enjoys transporting her characters to different mediums other than 3D such as embroidery, ceramics or even piñatas.

Yasmin will talk about her experience as a character designer and animator. She will show some of her influences and explain a bit about her artstyle. 

The audience will learn about what it takes to develop a personal style when making art. Learn about the importance of taking art to different mediums to enrich the creative process.

Trish Khoo

Finding my calm in beetles and gouache

From the depths of depression, a beautiful beetle emerges. There are many reasons to paint, all of them valid. Some paint for money, some paint for self-expression, some paint to heal. When Trish gets sad or anxious, she paints beetles in gouache and it helps her find some peace. In this talk, Trish will explain her technique for painting highly detailed realistic pieces using gouache, and explore different ways that painting has colored her life.

Trish Khoo has been creating her whole life. She has explored many mediums including gouache, watercolor, acrylic, aerosol, pastel, charcoal, pencil, ink, and even digital. She has created wall art, t-shirts, playing cards, business cards, and mobile applications. Name a craft and she’s probably tried it. In her day job, she is a Director of Engineering for Octopus Deploy. 

Lisa Moritz

Lisa Moritz

Sketchnotes in Tech

Each of us takes countless notes during our workday for presentations, meetings, and difficult tasks. Most of these notes tend to suffer from the “long and indecipherable” phenomenon, which is why they quickly end up in trash. Often such notes do not help us to remember the important things. Yet that’s exactly what we created them for!

In Lisa’s session, you’ll learn how to integrate sketch-notes into your daily work as a techie and what advantages they can offer you. You’ll learn what sketch-notes are about, how to use them for your own benefit, and how they can help you finally remember the things that matter. To ensure that you have everything you need after this session, we’ll draw together, step by step, some common symbols used in software development and architecture.

You’ve come to the right place if you want to improve the way you take notes. You don’t need an A in art, you simply need to want to try something new.
Get your pens out, ready, go!

Lisa is Senior Consultant at INNOQ. Her main topics are web-architectures and programming in Java and JavaScript. She does front-end as well as backend-tasks. Besides programming and designing architecture, she does sketch-noting. She’s been streaming the creation of sketch-notes for software architecture since June 2020

Andy Sacher

What if we wrote a bot to draw a zine on writing bots that draw zines? During this session, you’ll learn how to craft a no-code script to randomly generate zine titles, stories, and art–then run it immediately in your browser or automatically as a Twitter bot. No guarantees they’ll make sense, but they’ll be fun!

“A few years back my mother took a hard corner in her fuchsia VW and a loose piece of peas flew out of a tote bag and pegged me in my left ear. I bet that’s when I got my personality.” Andy tuba (they/them) has stories like this galore (none of them true and correct, but all of them goofy) and has applied their years of experience in theater and software engineering towards making buttons to “generate one more.”

Andy Sacher

Brittney Braxton

Brittney Braxton

What we take with us: pandemic habits in the new world

As I’ve adjusted and settled into a radically different pace in my life over the last year I’ve found a lot of enjoyment with my “Art Time,” a practice I started during lockdown. Making time for creativity has been making time for me. Throughout the past year, I’ve come to realize that productivity hacks are an endless journey. We track and plan our time, but for what? What is our end goal? The free spaces I had collected into my day-to-day and week to week could be filled with more…or less. This talk centers on my exploration with art during 2020 as a lens for self-care and owning one’s schedule. I hope to connect with listeners by giving them permission to schedule time for making art and exploring their creativity. I’ll also discuss healthy avenues for generating ideas that steers clear of the social media self-comparison whirlpool that often lies dangerously close.

Brittney Braxton is a software engineer located in Michigan. She enjoys crafting, coding, and cats, all while enjoying a good cup of tea. Brittney strives to connect with folks who geek out over code with hopes to contribute to a friendly and inviting tech community. 

Jillian meehan

Jillian Meehan is the kind of person who really likes to have a lot of projects, but with a full time job and lots of other responsibilities in her life, it’s way too easy to get burned out trying to keep up with all the things she wants to do. It’s also way too easy to get bored of whatever it is she’s working on and move on to the next thing. It wasn’t until recently that she learned how to recognize when it’s time to move on from a project or hobby, and to walk away from it without feeling guilty.

Jillian’s talk will have some concrete examples of methods she’s tried to keep herself feeling motivated to work on a project, plus options for what you can do if your side project or hobby starts feeling like a chore. And finally, advice on quitting—knowing when to quit, what quitting means (and what it doesn’t mean), and why quitting is nothing to be ashamed of (it’s good, actually!).

Jillian Meehan is a Project Manager at Lickability, a small software studio in New York making mobile apps. She also sometimes makes zines, newsletters, websites, and other stuff.

Jillian Meehan

Rojhan Paydar

Rojhan Paydar

The Unexpected Art Journey That Lead To Drawing and Selling Tech Merch

I will be going over how I started in my art career from casual doodles, and how I eventually started making tech drawings. I will talk about the concepts and process for my original drawings such as “Coders Are Actually Beavers”, “Snack Break”, and “Hot Fix Hot Sauce”. Then, I will share the process of making these drawings into merchandise, and choosing what is best to start with! This includes showing you how I started a Shopify store, how much work went into it, and how I was able to market it. From there, I will share why I made the switch from Shopify to RedBubble, and hopefully give you insight on what would work best for you, should you choose to tap into this market as well!

Hi there! My name is Rojhan Paydar, but I also go by Ro! I am an associate software engineer at E-By Design, part time mentor at Juno College of Technology, digital artist, and own an online store!  As a bootcamp grad who was doodling for fun, I didn’t think about my career in art. Drawing was something I always did once in a while, especially to express my emotions, but I didn’t own a digital tablet until April of 2020. Digital art really was a game changer for me. I spent several weeks drawing from morning till night, but once bootcamp started in May of 2020, my focus was entirely coding and nothing else! Once I graduated in July of 2020, I found myself still hyper focused on coding and trying to get that first role. After landing a role that was not a good fit for me, I turned to art again to help with processing my emotions, and eventually that turned into drawing tech related drawings. I would post these drawings online, and the responses were fairly positive! Most of my drawings are punny, silly, and a lot of my humor. Thankfully, the dev community is as punny as me, and they seem to enjoy the silliness that they bring.

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