In keeping with company tradition, the Clearcode team got together recently for another edition of its Beer & Bacon Meetup.
These informal gatherings serve as team-building experiences as well as an opportunity for various members of the team to share their insights on subjects that may be of general interest.
As in the past, there was a diverse mixture of presentations this time with topics ranging from tax optimization and Amazon Web Services to the history of Silicon Valley.
Here is an overview of the 5th edition.
Silicon Valley in the land of Kościuszko
by Ian Simpson – Marketing
The name Silicon Valley evokes images of some of the most well-known companies in the world – Apple, Microsoft and Google to name just a few. And while the history of Silicon Valley’s rise to fame may not be a mystery, the driving forces behind its success are particularly interesting to consider – even as other areas around the world experience similar growth to varying degrees.
Ian presented a brief overview of the background of Silicon Valley, including a breakdown of some of the key factors that have contributed to its success – a high concentration of technical firms, flexible labour laws in California, an open-minded and cooperative approach to business as well as a willingness to challenge the status quo bordering on rebellion.
He also compared the Silicon Valley phenomenon with events in other areas of the world, most notably Poland, pointing out that several factors, including some characteristic traits of Polish entrepreneurs, point to the possibility of rapid growth on the Polish startup scene in years to come.
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Tax optimization for small businesses
by Piotr Korzeniowski – Clearcode CFO
As the deadline for tax filing approaches in Poland, Clearcode CFO Piotr Korzeniowski took time to present a brief overview of best practices for tax optimization. In addition to underscoring the benefits of operating a small business, he also outlined a range of useful techniques for taking full advantage of the concessions available to entrepreneurs. He also gave a brief overview of a range of various retirement savings options available – useful information for anyone looking to plan for the future.
Planning Poker vs #noestimates
by Anna Nowakowska – Scrum Master
With the rise of agile methods for software development, there has been much discussion about the best way to plan sprints and effectively assign tasks to maximize workload value.
Anna used her lightening talk to compare a popular planning method – Planning Poker – with an up-and-coming, and somewhat controversial approach – #noestimates.
Planning Poker – a method popularized by Mike Cohen in his book Agile Estimating and Planning – focuses on discussion and consensus-building with elements of gaming to help agile teams build their sprints. Individual members of the team “play their cards” round by round, in order to share their estimates about how long tasks should take. This has the advantage of avoiding “anchoring” – where the first opinion expressed influences the remaining members of the team.
On the other end of the spectrum is #noestimates – a hashtag first created by Woody Zuill on Twitter in an effort to explore alternatives to estimates for development planning. At the heart of this approach is the assertion that time estimates miss the point when it comes to delivering value for clients – even though the need to quantify progress remains at the forefront of most people’s mentality.
Anna’s presentation gave a good overview of both approaches and sparked lively discussion among those present.
Amazon Web Services that I have come to love
by Paweł Wilczyński – Python Developer
Everyone knows the name Amazon.
But much more than just a place to buy books, gadgets and clothes, Amazon’s offerings include a range of web services that have become increasingly popular.
Paweł’s presentation highlighted, first of all, the fact that everyone – regardless of their profession – is a programmer. Every day we program certain processes in our lives and we use different resources to help us accomplish this.
He then went on to introduce several of the Amazon Web Services that are being incorporated into various Clearcode projects:
Redshift – a data warehouse that allows for easy scaling and full encryption for both data at rest and in transit.
Lambda – an innovative solution for those who don’t want the hassle of managing their own servers. Lambda allows you to upload your code, run it on-demand and pay only for the time you actually use.
Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) – a flexible cloud-hosting service for developers with great flexibility. Thanks to easy scaling you can increase or decrease your capacity by commissioning any number of server instances in a matter of minutes while retaining complete control over your applications.
Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) – an additional service to optimize applications running on EC2, minimize friction and evenly distribute application traffic.
While Amazon’s expansion into web services may worry some, it also reinforces again the increasing popularity of the “as-a-service” model for computing which has great advantages for developers, as Paweł pointed out.