GopherCon Europe 2023: A Totally Nonprehensive Recap

GopherCon Europe 2023: A Totally Nonprehensive Recap

Last Tuesday, I visited GopherCon Europe. ‘Visit’ being the less optimal word, as this time round I was actually an active participant!

No no, I did nothing as illustrious as give a talk , host or organise the event, but I helped make the window dressing that much brighter. It was my first time representing JetBrains at one of their booths.

They say a picture paints at least two words so here’s a summation of my time at GopherCon Europe. Try to see how many gophers you can count!

A Series of Excellent Encounters

Here's a list of all the wonderful people I was able to meet and convince to hold and pose with cuddly toys. For the most part.

Natalie Pistunovich, A Slightly Longer Hi This Time.

To my avid readers (lol) you may remember Natalie from my GopherCon Israel recap. Little did I know she’s also the head organiser of GopherCon Europe! …And a fair few other meetups and groups.

Thankfully I never claimed to be an excellent journalist, and it’s a good thing I didn’t because I’m not. However, something I know is that it takes a lot of work to put a conference together and I honestly had an incredibly fun time.

If you haven't heard any of Natalie’s knowledgeable takes, check her out on the GoTime podcast!

Donna Really-Should’ve-Asked-For-Their-Surname

First Mate of the ship called GopherCon Europe. Without Donna I’m sure Natalie would be even more busy than she already is!

Donna was a crucial part in making sure my first time at a booth went smoothly and gave me some sound marketing advice, that I shall use and claim to be my own. Muhahaa.

In case you’re reading this Donna,

1. If you wish for me to update your name please let me know

2. Thanks for complimenting my colourful shirts

3. I bought the shoes.

Mat Ryer Has Entered The Chat

If you’re unfamiliar with Mat Ryer’s game, then that would make sense because I believe this GopherCon Europe was the first ever edition of ‘Gophers’ Say’. A game show similar to family fortunes/feud that was hosted nearer the end of the conference on the second day.

Mat’s creativity and class throughout the years has made both his hosting style and knowledgeable-ness (totally a word), very prominent throughout the Go Community.

If for whatever reasons you still haven’t checked out the GoTime podcast, I’d definitely recommend giving it a look.

Also, if you’re interested in some hidden lore, Mat Ryer was there when I did my first ever talk and was incredibly supportive. Which was a great help to my nervous, much younger and much more hopeful self.

Donia Chaiehloudj, Whose Heart is Definitely Not Pocket-Sized.

Meeting Donia was another pleasant surprise! If you’ve been following the lore, I first bumped into Donia at GopherCon UK 2022, where she was delivering her hit talk - TinyGo: The Upper Hen.

She also played a key role in me getting the position I’m currently in. This TinyGo article was a part of my take home assignment for the Go Developer Advocate role. Plus she took part in my now-abandoned Go: Around The World Series. (sorry not sorry)

If you get a chance, why not check out Learn Go with Pocket-Sized Projects? A book co-authored by Donia, Pascal Bertrand (who was also at the conference!) and Aliénor Latour (who may have been there, but I didn’t ask)

It currently has 6 of 12 chapters released, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

Geoffrey Teale, From Upvest With Love

Geoffrey is the Head of Developer eXperience at Upvest. When I first arrived at the conference, I was like a lamb in the Sahara desert. Completely lost. Alone, I wandered from the hallway into the place that isn’t called a hallway, but is definitely more than a room.

There Geoffrey stood politely beckoning me over to say hello and saved me from the torment of listening to the rest of my Spotify playlist. He must have recognised that I, at least for the next 10 minutes, had nobody and nothing. Or, maybe he’s just an all-round cool guy.

Anyway, dramatisation aside, Geoffrey is 100% a really cool dude. His thoughts on how to make a workplace an engaging, fun, valuable, inclusive and all around inspiring place resonated with me. I’m paraphrasing a bit as it’s tricky to melt two hours’ worth of chats into a single sentence, but don’t say I didn’t try.

I believe Upvest is hiring as well, so maybe give it a brief look? I say this because if I was actually looking for a Go job I’d have already applied.

Julien Cretel, Now In Colour

Author of the talk ‘Useful Functional-Options Tricks For Better Libraries’. Before the conference, I noted this talk down as one I wanted to see. I’ve used the functional optional pattern before, but not because I knew what I was doing, it was just sort of already there in the repo.

What secrets could lie within the words written on Julien’s script? I had to know and yet when I saw him in person I had absolutely no idea who he was. His picture on the GopherCon Europe web page was in black and white. The perfect camouflage for someone who is clearly in colour in real life.

Interestingly enough our discussion turned towards how to improve the accessibility and inclusivity of local meetups. I believe it was the first time I could reference something I’ve written and talked about with someone in real life. So that was pretty cool.

Anywho, once the videos are out, check out Julien’s talk!

Xe Iaso, Unix, WASM and Me.

Xe’s talk 'Reaching the Unix Philosophy’s Logical Extreme With WebAssembly' piqued my curiosity as I don’t know a fair few of those words, but feel like I should or will have to at some point.

I initially encountered Xe near the TinyGo workshop area where they explained the thesis and inspiration behind their talk. Xe’s explanation interested me enough that I added their talk to my ‘one to watch when the videos are out, because I’m a bit booth’ed at the moment’ list.

If only there was some way to stream the talks to the booth so that way I could do my job and do my job at the same time. Alas.

Paul Meyer, Master of Confidential Containers

Paul was another person I met earlier on in the conference and thankfully we had time to have a more in-depth conversation.

He introduced me to the Confidential Containers project. “An open source community working to enable cloud native confidential computing by leveraging Trusted Execution Environments to protect containers and data.”

I learnt the words ‘Remote Attestation’, unfortunately my notes on that are a bit jumbled so here’s a definition from Wikipedia. - “Remote Attestation allows changes to the user's computer to be detected by authorised parties.”

Long story short, could be quite useful for medical and really sensitive data. Though let’s pause here before I say anything even more incorrect. Good luck with the Masters Paul!

Manolo Evans, Wearer of Earrings Powered By TinyGo

You heard that right. Unfortunately, you can’t see the earrings too clearly in the photo, but there are probably some examples somewhere. They were circular earrings that had blue and red lights on them that spun round in a circle type of shape .

Those earrings were almost as cool as the shoes I mentioned in Donna’s section of this article. (We’ll get to those).

I bumped into Manolo at the TinyGo booth. He was a part of the TinyGo workshop team. Which was completely chock-full of a bunch of small wonders and imaginative uses of the technology.

Fun fact: Manolo was there at the May edition of London Gophers! Travelled all the way from outside of London to be there and thankfully said it was worth it.

It was pretty awesome talking to someone who is now entering the world of professional development as it offered a unique perspective on what’s currently going on in the next generation of programmers. Lord knows I haven’t thought about university for at least 5 years.

Oh yea, I did briefly bump into Ayke van Laethem, the creator of TinyGo and @deadprogram, but didn’t snag a photo. Alas.

Marvin Collins, Smiling Discreetly

Go is global! A fact you might forget if you spend your time cooped up in an overly expensive teeny tiny London apartment with wobbly shelves and exploding fuse boxes, but I digress.

Marvin not only hosted parts of GopherCon Europe, but is the lead organiser for Nairobi Gophers and something else bigger that I don’t know if I can quite reveal just yet.

It was interesting talking to Marvin about the programming practices around different regions of Africa and made me wonder if I actually should try reviving the Go: Around The World series. The operative word there being 'wonder'.

No doubt we’ll meet again someday, maybe even on Marvin’s home turf?

Boris Schaa, Thanks For The Memories!

If for whatever reason you are reading this article again after I published it on the 5th of July 2023, you may realise that Boris was not in the original article!

This was completely my bad, as I had a picture and everything I just miscounted when I was doing the final re-read and checks.

Anyway Boris was a pleasure to chat to and came back on multiple occasions and was always a bright spot in between the more intense parts of the event.

He also sent me a postcard, as you could do that while at the event. It was a picture of a Lego gopher mural he had created that you can see in the full collage or slightly clipped in the picture.

Funnily enough, it was receiving the postcard that triggered my memory and made me realise the error I had made in the original version of this article. So, yea thanks for the memories Boris!

Yarden Laifenfeld, From Israel With Doves

Yarden Laifenfeld is a software engineer at Rookout. Their mascot appears to be a bird, hence the use of ‘Dove’ in the subheading. I also met Yarden at GopherCon Israel. (She’s in the photo collage!) Hence the use of ‘Israel’ in the subheading.

Now that I’ve explained the subheading, I’m hoping the joke is funny. Please Clap.

This time round, I met Yarden at a special edition of Women Who Go Berlin, organised by Ronna Steinberg (who I missed taking a picture of). There Yarden did a talk on the weird and wondrous complexities of ‘stacks’.

Which I am now finding out was not actually the talk she gave at the conference. That talk was called “Go Sync or Go Home: Advanced Concurrency Techniques for Better Go Programs”.

Two talks in just as many days. I could never. I’m already nervous just thinking about it. Big Props!

Todd Kulesza, User Experience Extraordinaire

I actually met with two people in Google’s User Experience Research Team. Presumably for Go, given the circumstances we met and because they were on stage for the ‘Q&A with the Go Team’. Don’t call me a detective.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of Alice Merrick holding a gopher, because I forgot to account for continental drift. (If you get this joke, hi-five)

What does help with the awkwardness of asking people to pose with cuddly toys however, is when people like Todd are simply ecstatic at the notion. It really makes you feel you’re doing good. We even had a chat about Go User surveys and ways to improve the experience and other things I couldn’t possibly reveal.

Todd was kind enough to hand me his business card, and it’s a surprisingly good business card, it even has a watermark. I might just keep it forever, so if my wallet ever gets stolen the thieves will think more highly of me.

The Go Team, In Pixelated Form

On the final day, there was a Go Q&A. And yes, I am a rapper.

If I had to name the panelists from right to left, I couldn’t. Left to right however? That’s a different story. Jonathan Amsterdam, Todd Kulesza (you’ve seen him earlier), Julie Qu, Alice Merrick (I mentioned her earlier), Cameron Balahan and the host of the Q&A Mat Ryer (you’ve also seen him earlier)

They were grilled with questions pre-selected from the audience, but thankfully it was a relatively low heat. (I’m still scarred from my Q&A in Prague).

Fun fact: Julie actually took part in another Q&A during the Women Who Go Berlin event and did a keynote the following day and then did this Q&A at the end of that day. 3 things in two days? I could never.

Funner fact: She also briefly borrowed my charger, which means I technically helped contribute to Go if you don’t think about it too much.

The GoLand Team, In Less Pixelated Form

JetBrains is also in Berlin and is literally down the road from the event. So, I paid the place a visit and met an old friend whom I hadn’t seen since my time getting chased by dogs in Bulgaria. True Story.

My two colleagues on the left and right were a tremendous help with the booth. Without them it would’ve been a much worse experience for me as I’m still not at the stage where I can answer very technical questions about GoLand. But I am very good at hyping up surveys.

The Shoes

Ok, now we’ve reached the most important part of the entire conference. I was wandering around the local mall to pass some time and I found these shoes!

I’m not a shoe collector, but.

I rarely buy expensive things, but.

I’ve never seen a full episode of Sesame Street in my life, but.

Look at them. I had to. When these caught my eye, I thought they were like a rainbow shoe to support Pride month. But, as I went closer, it morphed into Oscar driving Big Bird in a taxi and on the other side is Cookie Monster and Elmo.

Art. Literal Art. Send the Mona Lisa to the backroom, it’s over.

That’s It Folks

Thanks for reaching the bottom of this article. If you’re curious about what I looked like before losing my sunglasses, losing my earbuds and before my necklace broke... here I am.

I had a really fun time at GopherCon Europe; it was well organised; I met waaay too many people and I’m excited to see the talks when the recordings are out.

Working in a booth is certainly tiring, so it’s going to be interesting juggling that and speaking at GopherCon US. But statistically it shouldn’t kill me. So I suppose there isn’t much to worry about.

Ciao, but in German!

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