Philly ETE In Review

Welcome to my new blog.

First, a little about myself. I’ve spent most of my professional career designing, developing application solutions, and training people in massively scalable, massively distributed, “reactive” systems and relational databases. I’ve done project management, consulting and programming in more languages than I can list here. I develop iOS apps in my spare time and am teaching myself Android development. I’m also an author/writer, ham radio operator, cook, and beer brewer. I also stir the pot on Twitter.

Second, a little about this new blog. I hope this will be a place where I can toss some of my ideas about technology (specifically IT) to the internet winds and see what hits me in the face as it blows back. I’m going to try to post on a more or less regular basis as time and ideas permit. Why now? I’m looking for new opportunities and I have some time.

Third, so what’s a tesseract? It’s a four-dimensional cube, a hypercube. So the name references the idea of thinking a dimension or two “outside the box”. I like to challenge ideas and thinking.

So, enough about me. You probably dropped by to read about The Philadelphia Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise conference which had its 9th year.

PhillyETE, as it’s affectionately known, is organized by Chariot Solutions and is held at the Sheraton Society Hill and is the premiere technical conference for developers, managers, and thought people in the region. I’ve been attending for most of the years it has been put on and I have to say it is an amazing conference. This year was no exception.

The lineup this year was top notch including speakers from all over the country and attendees all over the world. If you’re interested in the details head over to Each year PhillyETE has a core topic. This year it was reactive programming and design, but as usual there were topics related to management, products and other technologies.

The firehose of information and knowledge, along with the conversations, food and location are both exhilarating and always leave me with more ideas and things I want to try than anyone can achieve. It’s a way to recharge and motivate myself as well as to meet new people on areas I normally haven’t had a chance to work in.

This year, PhillyETE’s topic seemed to be reactive programming. I’d heard about it for a few years now and really hadn’t had a chance to dive into it much. The ironic thing is I have been working on reactive systems and application designs since the 80s. The session called “Go Reactive: Blueprint for Future Reactive” by Roland Kuhn, Akka was stuff I already knew and used. The main difference was the language. The architectural design and paradigm was second nature to me and I was sensing déjà vu.

“Back in my day…” we called it “event-driven programming” on desktops. On servers we call it “message-driven”. On the server side the architectural differences are minor. I’ve worked with message-driven reactive operating systems as well. Who knew! Cool!

Now I just need to learn Akka well enough I can put it on my resume.

Dave Thomas did a great presentation on the programming language Elixir, and how it helps to learn new things and ways of thinking. He presented a video of a tribe that could not distinguish certain colors because they had no words for them. The analogy being you can’t see different ways of doing things if you can’t talk, describe, or code about it. There was a lot of startled murmurs in the room after the video. I have “collected” programming languages for years. I have done everything from APL to assembler to NewtonScript to ObjectiveC and a bunch in between. Elixir is different and interesting enough I should give it a try.

Those were just two highlights of the conference for me. At the end of every year I always feel a mixture of wishing it was a week long conference, and relief that it was done and would I ever use any of this “cool” stuff. In either case, I always look forward to the next year’s event.

Thanks much PhillyETE, Chariot Solutions, speakers, Sheraton, and new friends. Learn on!

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