10 Tech Talks To Watch – Learn New Software Development Concepts in 2021

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freeCodeCamp has a second YouTube channel just for tech talks. And we have published nearly 100 talks there, from developer conferences around the world.

You can subscribe to the freeCodeCamp Talks channel here.

I personally use tech talks as a way to top-up my developer knowledge. Most of these are just 20 or 30 minutes long, and are perfect to watch during a lunch break.

In this article, I’m going to share 10 of my favorite tech talks that we’ve published so far.

Talk #1: Understanding the V8 JavaScript Engine – A Visual Explanation – By Lydia Hallie from Reactathon 2020

How does the Chrome browser actually run JavaScript? In this talk, Lydia will show you what happens under the hood, in Google’s V8 JavaScript Engine.

Lydia says of her talk: “As JavaScript devs, we usually don’t have to deal with compilers ourselves. In this talk, I’ll use visualizations to show you how the JavaScript engine handles our human-friendly code, and compiles it to code that machines understand.”

You can watch Lydia’s talk here (11 minute watch)

Talk #2: Building Your Own Design System with CSS Variables – By Scott Tolinski From the Reactive Online Meetup

This talk is by Scott Tolinsky, host of the popular Syntax.fm podcast and creator of the LevelUpTuts YouTube channel.

Scott says: “You probably don’t need a CSS framework. While CSS Frameworks are wonderful and certainly have their place in the development landscape, they are often overused in place of a custom solution.”

In this talk, Scott will show you ways to avoid the additional performance cost of using CSS framework, and how to “quickly build a robust design system of components tuned to your needs using CSS variables.”

You can watch Scott’s talk here (40 minute watch)

Talk #3: Using curl better – By curl’s Creator Daniel Stenberg at FOSS-North 2020

curl is one of those open source libraries that most developers will have used at some point. It is a powerful and flexible command line tool.

And who better to learn from than curl’s creator himself.

In this talk, Daniel Stenberg will bring you up to speed on the history of curl and how it became so pervasive. He’ll also talk about some of the decisions and tradeoffs he made when designing it. And he’ll show you some curl tricks for consuming HTTP APIs.

You can watch Daniel’s talk here (55 minute watch)

Talk #4: Everything You Know About MongoDB is Wrong! – By Mark Smith at Europython 2020

Mark Smith is a developer advocate at MongoDB. And in his day-to-day work contributing to the popular NoSQL database, he’s heard a lot of misconceptions.

“MongoDB is webscale, right? It’s a JSON database, it’s eventually consistent, and you use map-reduce to query it. Oh, and it’s insecure. Let me clear up some things: MongoDB is an ACID-compliant database with transactions, schemas & relationships.”

“It includes a powerful aggregation query language; map-reduce has been deprecated for some time now. MongoDB doesn’t speak or store JSON, and nowadays it comes with pretty good security defaults (we think).”

In this talk, Mark aims to elucidate some of these myths and explain where they come from.

“Like any database product, you need to know its capabilities and how to get the best out of it. On top of this, the product has changed a lot over the years, but lots of information out there hasn’t caught up. I’ll cover 8 myths around MongoDB, explain how they’re wrong, why the myth originated in the first place (some of them weren’t originally myths).”

You can watch Mark’s talk here (25 minute watch)

Talk #5: How to AVOID Becoming a 10x Engineer – By Ivana Kellyerova at Europython 2020

Ivana Kellyerova is a back end developer from Austria. In this talk, she highlights the absurdity of some of the coding advice out there.

“The internet has never failed at being, among other things, a giant treasure of unsolicited advice by random people on all sorts of things, programming being no exception.”

She says of the conventional wisdom around being a 10x engineer: “Wanna become a better coder? Learn to maximize your WPM. Never look at documentation because that’s just embarrassing. And for crying out loud, change your screen background to black! So there you are, a fairly okay programmer, looking for ways to become better at coding. How do you achieve that? Well I’m no 10x engineer myself (thank goodness), but I do believe that there’s a handful of things we can safely rule out.”

You can watch Ivana’s talk here (30 minute watch)

Talk #6: Functional Programming with JavaScript – By Simon Painter at FOSS-North 2020

Functional Programming is a popular alternative to Object Oriented Programming and other coding approaches. And there are programming languages designed around functional programming approaches, such as F#, Haskell, and Erlang.

But you don’t need to learn a new programming language. You can practice functional programming right in JavaScript.

Simon Painter says “Using just a few JavaScript libraries, such as RamdaJS, developers can implement some of the most powerful patterns and techniques from the world of functional programming? Code that is:

  • More robust
  • Easier to read
  • Easier to maintain
  • more scalable

This talk is recommended for anyone who wants to learn some Functional Programming in the comfort of familiar JavaScript.

You can watch Simon’s talk here (55 minute watch)

Talk #7: Linux Basics – A Hands-On Workshop – By Bill Stearns at the Wild West Hackin’ Fest

This is a full-blown 3-hour Linux workshop from a seasoned Linux teacher. It focuses on networking and security commands.

Bill Stearns, an instructor from the SANS Institute, says of this workshop: “Maybe you’ve not used Linux, or you have and just aren’t comfortable with using the command line. Here’s your chance to see an instructor guide you through commands as you try them yourself, hands-on. You’ll learn more about what they do, and why you might want to use them.”

You can watch Bill’s entire workshop here (3 hour watch)

Talk #8: Object Oriented Programming is Not What I Thought – By Anjana Vakil at the Øredev Conference

Anjana Vakil has given some of the most widely-watched tech talks in recent years. And this talk on Object Oriented Programming is similarly great.

Instead of trying to describe her talk, I’m just going give you the full description she wrote for this talk when she submitted it to the Øredev Conference because it’s gold:

“Join me as I have my world shaken by the discovery that objects & classes aren’t OOP’s most important concepts: messages & late binding are. We’ll try to peek inside the heads of Alan Kay & other OOP founders as they created languages like Smalltalk, and find that those “old” ideas seem strikingly relevant today.

“Our jaws may drop as we realize that OOP & functional programming aren’t as different as we may have thought and that the 1st OO language wasn’t created in the 60’s or 70’s, but much, much earlier… What awaits us at the end of this journey?

“At worst, we’ll undergo a brief crisis of faith in everything we ever thought we knew about programming. At best, we’ll shift the way we view this near-ubiquitous but oft-misunderstood paradigm, and walk away with new insights for how we architect & understand our code.”

You can watch Anjana’s talk here (40 minute watch)

Talk #9: The Basics of Social Engineering (AKA How I Break into Casinos and Airports) – By Chris Pritchard at DEF CON 27

Social Engineering is a fancy word for tricking people. Even the most sophisticated security systems usually have humans in the loop somewhere. And humans are one of the most vulnerable components. So it is no surprise that a lot of big real-world hacks use social engineering.

As Security Risk Manager Chris Pritchard explained to conferences goers at the legendary DEF CON: Social Engineering isn’t just about reading body language, facial expressions, and being charming.

“I’m going to focus on the basics: how to perform reconnaissance, how to match dress styles, how to make up a pretext that fits your knowledge, how to get real staff to help you, what to do if you do get in, why you should interact with staff, and why you should practice being observant. These are important tools to learn and use, which can help you make a start in social engineering.”

That’s right. You’re going to learn how to trick people. But more importantly, you’re going to learn how people trick people, so you can defend against it.

You can watch Chris’s talk here (25 minute watch)

Talk #10: Level Up With the Fundamentals of Web Development – By Colby Fayock at Byteconf React 2020

Colby Fayock’s 2020 tech talk: Level Up With the Fundamentals of Web Development

Finally, freeCodeCamp contributor Colby Fayock gives some web accessibility design tips in this fun, breezy talk.

“Seasoned and beginner alike, developers have a habit of jumping right into a framework or new technology that makes a lot of promises while also glazing over important fundamentals that without, tend to hold back a website or application’s potential. Without some basic knowledge of HTML, you might inadvertently exclude people from learning about your company through your website due to poor accessibility.”

He also gives some quick performance tips. “Lacking an understanding or simply being afraid of CSS, you might be more prone to add unnecessary libraries on top of libraries that just add to the weight of the page, impacting how quickly your app can load.”

Colby covers some basic HTML and CSS strategies that you can start using right away to make your websites faster, more accessible, and ultimately more SEO-friendly for search engines.

You can watch Colby’s talk here (22 minute watch)

We Publish New Tech Talks Every Week

Again, we’ve partnered with dozens of major developer conferences to publish their tech talks on freeCodeCamp’s Talks channel.

Shout out to PyCon, DEF CON, Reactathon, and so many other awesome developer conferences out there for making these talks freely available through the freeCodeCamp Talks channel.

The best way to stay on top of the newest tech conference talks is to subscribe to the freeCodeCamp Talks channel here.

Enjoy the talks, and happy coding. 👍

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