Conferences you did not know existed and now you know you just need to go to
Go to conferences. It's good for you.
Ever wondered why to go to conferences ? Is it worth it, especially if you do not feel confident that the conference is on something that would be in an immediate realm of your day-to-day interests ? Just go ! You might end up learning something and meeting new people. And new people mean more variables to mix up your life. A bit scary, I know. Still worth it though. Wondered what conference in Europe are weird enough so people wouldn't mind having another misfit ? Here you go.
Now imagine something niche within the industry. To me, AI comes to mind. Mages in robes in their towers, sending out autonomous robot armies against each other. Right ? There's a conference for that ! At nucl.ai, in July, in Vienna, you can meet AI professionals from academia and industry alike, most of them coming from game development background. The atmosphere is very newcomer-friendly, the only requirement is that you're interested in AI, not necessarily having anything to do with it professionally. Petra and Alex, the organizers, are wonderful people that make this conference quite unique. It's happy fun to see ideas floating from academia to the industry and vice versa. Don't forget the presentations on work-in-progress major AAA games ! I've learned there that the everyday programming in the games industry is quite different than the one I do in terms of best practices and patterns. Definitely worth a try !
Erlang User Conference
Speaking of something completely different. Erlang ! Was functional before being functional was considered cool. Very practical, very fast, parallelize everything ! Processes everywhere ! Message passing ! Want to feel the groove as well ? Visit Stockholm in September for Erlang User Conference. Meet creators of the language, talk about massive scale deployments. Other FP languages are welcome. I would even say, the more strange the better. Idris seems to be the topic of interest as well. Eat good food, walk the city of dynamite. Erlang has a quite close-knit community which gives you this warm family feeling.
Speaking of family. There's a family of conferences known as SoCraTes. Software Crafstmanship and Testing. SoCraTes. Get it ? :D As it's more than one conference a year, it's harder to go to all of them. I only went to Codefreeze, in Finland, in January, and only once, but loved it already. Codefreeze, Finland, in January. Get it ?! :D First thing is that you don't know what will happen there. You just go, meet the people and then you sit down and everyone talks about what they would like to learn and what they can share. This way you come up with some loose agenda you follow more or less. One track, very intense. Talking, swimming in ice water, learning, sauna going. Very intimate feel, not many people, lots of things to learn.
Chaos Communication Congress
Speaking of lots of people and intimate feel. Chaos Communication Congress is, I think, the biggest gathering of all nerds and freaks in Europe, yet being there feels quite at home. The best organized conference I've been to. Friendly people showing their wares on their humble tables, 4 simultaneous tracks, huge building with intricate hallways. It's cyberpunk, it's inclusive, it's about hardcore infosec topics, it's about politics. Everything's there, everyone's there. 4 days of data being constantly uploaded to your brain, on the waves of Club Mate. Feels like an extended holiday present, as it's happening in the last week of December.
Chaos Communication Camp and The Dutch Camp. Imagine CCC, the Congress, but in the woods. Middle of nowhere, multigigabit internet connection. sleeping in the tent, then going to a world-class lecture. Both CCC, the camp, and The Dutch Camp, the camp, are happening every 4 years, each of them taking alternating slots. So every 2 years there is a camp somewhere. Did I mention that the location changes every event ? Happy camping !
So go out there. Explore. Meet people. Learn. Have fun. None of the above are much expensive and most of the events have a policy of "write to us if you want to go but can't afford the ticket". Friendly people fixing problems together.