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Software Development / Tech Culture

This Week in Programming: Conference Plans and the Delta Variant

AWS cancels its re:Inforce 2021 event due to COVID-19 and it wouldn't be shocking if others were to suddenly cancel everything again.
Aug 14th, 2021 6:00am by
Featued image for: This Week in Programming: Conference Plans and the Delta Variant
Feature image: Monitorama.

To surprisingly little alarm and few, if any, headlines, Amazon Web Services‘ has canceled its upcoming re:Inforce security conference in Houston, which was scheduled for just later this month.

“We’ve been closely monitoring the evolving situation with COVID-19 in the Houston area,” the company writes at the former landing page for the conference. “Because of the elevated COVID-19 threat level in Houston, we have had to carefully reassess our plans for AWS re:Inforce 2021. We have made the very difficult decision to cancel AWS re:Inforce 2021.”

Given the recent situation in Texas regarding COVID and its overwhelmed hospitals, it’s not all that surprising, but one can only wonder if today is something like last year’s late February and early March. We were such sweet springtime babes back then.

It certainly wouldn’t contain that same level of shock if we were to suddenly cancel everything again — can you remember a time a conference was canceled before last year like that? — but it sure seems like some folks are preparing for the onslaught again.

AWS re:Inforce certainly isn’t the only conference that has been canceled, though it is the largest. Monitorama, while much smaller, has also canceled this year’s in-person event and, outside of the tech world, Bravo TV has canceled its BravoCon, also due to the COVID resurgence.

Meanwhile, the headline this week that takes the award for “words you’d rather not read” goes to “Zoom shares surge nearly 7% as conferences get canceled and workers stay home.” After 2020, and the glimmer of brief hope that early summer 2021 offered, we know that the last thing you were looking forward to was another virtual tech conference.

What do you think? Will we see a similar wave of conference cancellations as we wade into the coming colder months here in North America? Or will a “COVID-19 vaccine required” approach, such as that taken for all of the still-as-of-yet-occurring Linux Foundation events become the standard?

This Week in Programming

  • GitHub Moves to Codespaces: This week, GitHub announced that its engineering team has moved to Codespaces, its web-based Visual Studio Code offering, which it said: “solved some very real problems for us: it eliminated the fragility and single-track model of local development environments, but it also gave us a powerful new point of leverage for improving GitHub’s developer experience.” If you’re interested in all of the details, GitHub has penned a blog post diving into the whole process of making the move, including details on how they got Codespaces to reduce the time it took to open up code from 45 minutes down to 10 seconds. Now, they write, “New hires can go from zero to a functioning development environment in less time than it takes to install Slack.” In addition, the company has made Codespaces available to Team and Enterprise Cloud plans.

  • The AI Behind Copilot Gets an API: We’ve written numerous times about all the controversy surrounding GitHub Copilot — what the company refers to as “your AI pair programmer” — but if you happen to be among those who more so find the technology innovative and interesting, then this bit of news is for you. OpenAI, the company behind Codex and GPT-3, the deep learning language model from which Codex descends, has decided to release an API for OpenAI Codex. OpenAI Codex is the system that takes natural language and translates it to code, and it will now be available via an API in private beta, which you can sign up for starting, well, the other day. OpenAI Codex, they write, “is most capable in Python, but it is also proficient in over a dozen languages including JavaScript, Go, Perl, PHP, Ruby, Swift and TypeScript, and even Shell.” As for its uses, it will allow you to “issue commands in English to any piece of software with an API” and OpenAI sees it as excelling the most in helping developers with what they consider “the least fun part of programming (and the highest barrier to entry),” which they say is “mapping those simple problems to existing code (libraries, APIs, or functions) that already exist.” For the time being, access to the OpenAI Codex will be free.
  • Calling All Cloud Native Developers: You’ve likely heard by now, but if you haven’t — the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has put out the second half of this year’s Cloud Native Survey and they want to hear from you! The first survey focused on the cloud, containers, and Kubernetes, while this half looks at CNCF projects and other cloud native technologies, their adoption, and “how organizations are using different cloud native technologies, including CI/CD, serverless, service mesh, service proxy, and storage.” And what would a survey be without incentives, so this one includes the dangling carrot of virtual passes to this year’s still-so-far-in-person KubeCon.

  • Visual Studio 2022 Preview 3 Arrives: The third preview of Visual Studio 2022 is now available, bringing with it “new capabilities on the themes of personal and team productivity, modern development, and constant innovation.” But what does that mean? Well, Preview 3 will be “adding new capabilities to some of the less used, but useful, features such as attach to process” and doing things like bringing improvements to the all-important dark theme. What’s an IDE release without some mention of dark theme, after all? All kidding aside, Preview 3 adds new capabilities to run tests in Linux environments and new project types for frontend development with React and Vue.js applications using either TypeScript or JavaScript, which, if you’re interested, Microsoft has an entirely separate blog post for, diving into the details of the new JavaScript/TypeScript experience in Visual Studio 2022 Preview 3. Preview 3 also gets deeper into troubleshooting, adding a diagnostic analyzer to look at memory dumps to identify common problems in .NET applications, adds the ability to work with multiple Git repositories at once (that’s another separate deep-dive blog), and adds one-click publishing to Azure DevOps. As usual, you can test out Preview 3 while still running your regular environment, so get going and find out what the future feels like.

  • Bitbucket Pipelines Gets Runners: It might be easy to run your CI/CD pipelines on Bitbucket Pipelines using Atlassian’s infrastructure, but perhaps you want a bit more control, or you have some security requirements that don’t really allow that. Well, you’re in luck, because Bitbucket has just announced that Runners in Bitbucket Pipelines has just become generally available, which means “you can now point your builds to run on a machine that you specify,” whether an on-prem server or a private cloud. Beyond that, runners will allow you to do things like host multiple runners per machine, increase memory limits and manage runners at the workspace level. To get started, check out the docs. Currently, Bitbucket’s runners are ready for Linux, but the company says it is “actively working to support Windows runners” and expects them to be available later this year.
  • Upon Programming 10,000 Hours… Now, I can’t say I’ve spent anywhere near 10,000 hours on programming, despite my teenage obsession with customizing my own $100 personal copy of VBBS and countless other projects, but ex-Googler and Kubernetes contributor Matt Rickard certainly can, and does. Now, upon completion of such a feat, Rickard has offered up his reflections on 10,000 hours of programming, which he cautions are “only about pure coding — no lessons sum up to ‘programming is about people’ or ‘how to be a senior technical leader’.” Thank goodness for a lack of empty platitudes, although his list of 31 tidbits does include that rather trite, yet somehow necessary, reminder that you need to “Know when to break the rules.”

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