Handmade Seattle (HMS) 2022 starts November 16th—now less than a month away!
Dozens of you are new readers after watching my interview with Randy AKA the famous Professor Rework. Handmade Seattle extends you a warm welcome, and a friendly warning that I'm slightly into Majora's Mask and chocolate wine. I hope that doesn't distract you from why you're actually here: understanding computing and programming deeply.
I hope veteran members join Randy's changelog. He's an indie dev, he's hilarious, and he's making a living by building Handmade-style software (a big theme for this year.) What more can you ask for?
All right let's discuss tickets, our lovely lineup, and a bonus section about this year's themes.
Ticket Discount Ending
Whatever is left of tickets will be charged at door prices around October 31st:
So if you haven't registered for a track, now's the time to do it! A new ticket holder is immediately noticed and incredibly impactful.
P.S. If you're a student or financially disadvantaged, reply to this email and briefly explain your situation. HMS offers meaningful discounts if you're struggling.
We're a hybrid conference, meaning both in-person and virtual attendees will enjoy the official presentations equally.
Expect some cool additions this year too: job booths, fireside chats—essentially speaker panels—plus a third day for socializing. I shall convince willing adults to drink ChocoVine (original Dutch chocolate, not those weird variants!)
Talks and Demos
This is the heart of HMS. We've prepared thoughtful (and impressive!) presentations to broaden your horizons as a systems programmer. You'll meet new speakers as well as returning characters you've grown to love.
There are too many presentations to list here, so let's visit the schedule on the main website. Note that the order of presentations is not final. We should have that nailed down by the start of November.
Memory Strategies: The Merits of (Un)safe
A contentious topic dominating the programming world is memory safety and how memory should be managed. I've felt genuine disgust towards the public attacks between certain factions from some language communities. I'll refrain from being specific.
Most of all it concerns me that many engineers are adopting one of two opposing (and, in my view, terribly unhelpful) communication styles. Roughly speaking:
- If I'm not aggressive, I'm not showing competence. Being rude and downright viperous comes with the territory of proving I'm right.
- If I challenge someone too much, I'm being hostile. Being welcoming of all people and their ideas is more important than deciding who's correct.
As you might've guessed, I think the best approach lives outside these binaries. Roughly speaking again:
- Civility matters but I will challenge you and you should challenge me. I welcome you as a person, but I will reject your ideas if they make building software worse.
Translating this into practice is tricky. It's also a herculean effort when emotions are running high. The crucial point is that it's possible. That's why HMS is excited to announce a two-part conference podcast dedicated to memory management.
Our guests will show us how to bring the public heat down and learn from each other. The lineup is as follows:
Ryan Fleury [Guest] - Ryan is a very competent C programmer who will represent the merits of "unsafe." To become familiar with him, I recommend watching my interview with Ryan a few months ago and reading his powerful essay on manual memory management.
Evan Ovadia [Guest] - Evan is the creator of the increasingly popular Vale language, which diverges from Rust in how to reason about safety. However, Evan is putting aside his advertising hat to discuss the merits of "safe" in practice. He's even started a cool Memory Safety Expedition which is quite relevant to us.
John Austin [Guest] - As a more neutral figure, John's a successful founder of a studio that must ship games on tight deadlines. He's also an early pioneer of Rust and has studied its evolution since 2013. John serves as the bridge between each end of the safety spectrum.
Allen Webster [Moderator] - Allen is the esteemed creator behind 4coder, co-founder of Dion Systems, and up-and-coming content creator. He's shown remarkable ability to conduct healthy conversations and I couldn't think of a greater moderator.
I respectfully step aside so Allen can take charge of this discussion.
For the first time Handmade Seattle is hosting a small job fair, with the goal to expand in future years. This is criticial to show the industry that our Handmade values can improve the products already out there.
If you're looking to get hired, attending this conference is a great way to do it.
System Era: Creators of Astroneer
Wombat Studio: Best 3D Pose Reference App
TestFit: Real-Estate Feasibility Software
Pontoco: Creators of The Last Clockwinder
JangaFX: Real-Time VFX Software for Real-Time VFX Artists
Mystery Job Booth (No, Not Nintendo)
These are the official booths, though some more may be added. It's motivating to me that we already have half a dozen companies explicitly interested in hiring Handmade people. This number should only grow in future conferences.
P.S. Physical and virtual attendees will have access to all recruiters.
A third day to live, just like that one Zelda game
For in-person attendees we have an optional Day 3 where I organize a series of hangouts throughout the day. This is happening on Friday November 18th, and you would opt-in to the events that interest you.
Day 3 is a delightful opportunity to socialize if you weren't able to in days prior. You can also bring along your partner, friends, and sometimes pets! I'll send more details on how this works as the conference draws near.
With the schedule essentially complete, now we sell the remaining tickets while inviting attendees to the private chat server.
Chat Server Invite: November 2nd, 2022
The floodgates to the private chat server will open two weeks before the conference. Attendees will receive an email invite at this time. This will be an opportunity to network early and plan your private meetups before HMS begins.
Promoting the Event!
My marketing game wasn't as strong as I envisioned, mostly because I've been figuring out how to operate a small business full-time (it's my first year doing so.)
Lastly, word of mouth is powerful! It's the real way we get people to attend. If you believe in Handmade please tell your friends and loved ones about us. It makes all the difference.
Bonus Section: Conference Themes
Wow you're still reading? You're a genuine fan, come shake my hand in person :D
The core of Handmade Seattle is celebrating low-level programming: to understand deeply how computers work and use this hard-won knowledge to build quality software. We'll always have talks and demos about this. The truth though, is that to impact the tech industry we must build on top of that core.
After thoughtful discussions with trusted members of the community, I'm adding three new themes:
1. Fostering an Entrepreneurial Spirit - I want to see more engineers who care about the craft take more risks. To start a software shop, to become indie hackers, or join noble nonprofits. I want us to ship high-quality software that respects the user and that users would gladly pay for.
This year we'll have presentations from people who are taking these risks, and speakers who will offer advice on how you can take them too.
2. Training Developer Muscles - Our community has a famous meme: "Handmade is knowing how many milliseconds it is." Jokingly or not, we can call this computational efficiency and it's an important muscle of our developer anatomy. However it is not the only one.
This year we'll discuss how Handmade software can achieve widespread adoption. Writing snappy and buttery-smooth programs is amazing, but not enough.
3. Reclaiming User Value - The software industry is in a dangerous state of decline. Software crashes too often, exhibits more bugs than is tolerable, and becomes slower with updates. Companies disrespect consumers with unnecessary notifications, siphoning of data, and tricking them into spending more money. All of this occurs while denying them user agency: they're a passive consumer, not the owner of their computing enviornment.
This hell, in my view, comes from consuming what I call Corporate McSoftware. McSoftware is an inevitable outcome of the trend to mass-produce software primarily for amassing control and increasing profits. Important Handmade values like software quality and user agency take a backseat.
Originally I had called this theme "adding user value." Sadly I've come to realize we've lost too much of the value we used to already have.
Our first step is to bring that back.