Blog feature: Matthew Champion, Future Rewired 2024

This blog was written by Matthew Champion, the original source can be found here

Another year, another Future Rewired! Much like Dirty Harry, in all the excitement I can’t remember whether there have been five or six shots editions, but the result was the same: an excellent day full of interesting and insightful talks, a great collection of people to talk to and my own talk that I was very happy with!

If you’ve never heard of or attended Future Rewired, it’s an annual festival/conference to bring together those working in the digital sector in Guernsey. The format has changed slightly over the years, but generally speaking, there are multiple tracks (some years have had three, this year had two) divided roughly between deep-dive technical on one side and more creative, marketing and business-focused topics on the other.

The Talks

My usual metric for determining the overall quality of talks on offer at a conference is how much I struggle to decide which of the tracks to be on at any given point; based on that rubric, this was a successful year! At each slot I really wished that I could somehow watch both talks, but alas I am only one human with the ability to view one talk at a time* and found myself gravitating towards the deep-dive technical track for most of the day.

*I’ve never sounded more suspiciously like I’m actually multiple people

The talks were well-researched and excellently delivered, so let me butcher their content by providing some brutally short and only vaguely accurate summaries of some of my favourites:

Simplifying Web Application Infrastructure with Azure Bicep – Dave Wratten

Simplifying Web Application Infrastructure with Azure Bicep – Dave Wratten

I’d heard of Bicep before (tl;dr it’s Infrastructure as Code, allowing you to programmatically create resources in Azure) but I’d never really had the time to dig past the surface or see it in action. Dave went through the basics of Bicep, how you can use it and some of the power that it provides and it has definitely given me the information necessary to know that I need to find the time to try it out for myself!

Note: It took me a shockingly long time to realise that it’s called Bicep because it transpiles down to Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates. Y’know, Bicep… ARM…? Hahaha… we have fun here.

Introduction to Ovine Ciphers (Baah Codes) – Patrizia Kaye

Introduction to Ovine Ciphers (Baah Codes) – Patrizia Kaye

You’ve likely seen umpteen bajillion barcodes in your life, but have you ever really… looked at them? This talk was a fantastic explanation of what bar codes are used for, how they encode data (I didn’t realise that QR codes use such a surprisingly small area for actually storing data) and how they are graded when the ink finally hits the paper. I love it when someone really knowledgeable about a niche area goes into the details and intricacies that we mere mortals may never even consider (for example, this engineerguy video on “The Ingenious Design of the Aluminum Beverage Can” is a personal favourite). I’ll never look at barcodes the same way again!

Nuxt: Ditching WordPress for fast, modern, content-driven sites – Damien Guard

Nuxt: Ditching WordPress for fast, modern, content-driven sites – Damien Guard

I went into this one with some trepidation because my blog is currently running on WordPress.com. Whoops.**

Damien covered off what Nuxt is (a Vue framework for building performant sites without a lot of the overhead from server-rendered sites), how he currently uses it to quickly build out sites that look good without having to put a lot of effort in.

Similar to Dave’s Bicep talk, I came away with a real feeling of “I need to give this thing a go”. I can’t promise this site will switch away from WordPress any time soon, but I’m not saying it won’t happen…

**There’s a story behind why I chose WordPress and I’ve considered switching for years but it has always felt like a daunting task that I didn’t have time for since I’d rather be writing the blog posts!

Memory management 101 and how Rust does it better – Matt Champion

Memory management 101 and how Rust does it better – Matt Champion

Well that’s a familiar name. He sounds cool.

If you attended though, you’d have realised that I am in fact not cool, but an absolute dork that loves talking about low level concepts like memory management. I’ve already talked about Rust on my blog before, but this was my chance to really get into the weeds and cover off how value/reference types work, the difference between the call stack and the heap, how garbage collection works and then tie it all together with how Rust takes a different approach to other languages that manage memory manually.

I was what you could charitably call “a little bit overeager” given that I started my half hour slot with a plan for 30 slides, several code demos and two audience participation sections. I knew I was going to be covering a lot so I had to move with some speed, but I’m actually really happy with how it came out and I’ve had some lovely feedback from some of the audience afterwards so I’d consider it a success (although next time I think I’ll definitely try to reduce the scope of my talk rather than see how much information I can compress into 30 minutes)!

Note: In my talk I used a physical ball of string to demonstrate how pointers work and I’m still unhappy that Dave pointed out that I could have made puns about thread safety or string references. How dare you come up with better jokes about my talk than I did, that’s not allowed.

The People

Given how much time and effort goes into all of the talks, it feels cruel to say that they aren’t actually my favourite part, but it’s true. The reason for that is the magic of the “hallway track”: the socialising and networking during the in-between moments of lunch, registration, after the talks etc.

There are plenty of people I see quite often at other events that I enjoy catching up with, but what I really appreciate at Future Rewired is that I get to talk to people that I’ve only met occasionally or am meeting for the first time. It really is a treat to have lots of people in the same room that are excited to talk about the things that they are interested and passionate about.

It’s a really inclusive environment with a lot of people with different levels of experience across the technical, creative, marketing etc. fields and I love the experience of meeting someone for the first time, finding out about what they do and then learning things from them almost instantly.

The Summary

Future Rewired 2024 was another corker and well worth the time spent preparing and attending. I continue to feel very fortunate that we get an event that brings so many smart people together every year.

I guess you could say that I do feel lucky… punk.


(This blog was written by Matthew Champion, the original source can be found here)

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