Attending CppCon was a great experience which I’d recommend to anyone in this field. Everyone I interacted with was really welcoming and nice to talk to - nobody annoyed me in the entire conference. I don’t get why there needs to be a code of conduct since people are following it anyway!

It was great to meet in person all the legends I’ve been watching on youtube and to be surrounded by the world’s top C++ engineers!

It was also very exciting for me to visit the states for the first time - quite the enriching experience. The Meydenbauer Center is probably the best place for hosting conferences!

The rest of the photos I took can be found on facebook.

My experience

I attended only 2-3 sessions before mine (which was about doctest and was on the 4-th day from 2 pm.) and the reason for that was that I wasn’t fully prepared with my talk. I stayed many hours in my hotel room fixing slides and rehearsing - things I really should have done in advance. I didn’t get to meet awesome people as much as I wanted to precisely because of that and I missed a bunch of talks I wanted to see and now I’ll be watching them on youtube from home… After my presentation I went to talks non-stop and finally enjoyed the conference to the fullest extent possible.

My session was recieved very positively (even though the room wasn’t full) - I think everyone that attended got something out of it - some people even mentioned my session in their trip reports :) - the slides can be found here.

I had a lightning talk on the 2-nd day and I thought to myself: “It’s just 5 minutes - what can possibly go wrong!”. Well on the 2-nd minute my mouth was already super dry and I had trouble speaking. On the 3-rd minute I wanted to quit so badly - I even started mumbling and made a comment about the dryness of my mouth - so unprofessional. I made it through the 5 minutes, but all I wanted was for it to be over - I HATED each second of that experience - I could hear myself talk in the worse possible accent because I couldn’t move my tongue freely - every word was a struggle. When the session was over I quickly hid somewhere and stayed there for 10-20 minutes - I was so ashamed. The next 20 hours I felt like complete shit (even in the next day) - I hadn’t felt so low in the past couple of years - not even after personal dramas and rejections - nothing got to my self-esteem as much as failing in front of a couple houndred people + being filmed. I tried cheering up myself by saying “it can’t have been that bad” and “I won’t forget to bring water for my big talk” but you can’t rationalize yourself out of feelings… Feelings are king. I also had trouble sleeping and had nightmares how I fail much more spectacularly on my upcoming talk and I quit programming for good… So what I did on the next day was I made a 4 hour walk around Bellevue - went to a few parks, touched the water in the bay. After 2-3 hours of walking under the sunshine in the perfect weather - I smiled for the first time.

So needless to say I drank a full bottle before my main talk and had 2 more ready to go at the stand (1 of which was completely gone by the end of the talk - I felt the need to drink quite regularly). I don’t know if it’s because of the anxiety from public speaking or it’s from all the speaking. I also don’t think everyone has this problem - but it’s a big one for me.

It’s also interesting how much my heart rate increases when I make comments on the microphone during sessions - the adrenaline rush I get is so huge - much more than when I’m presenting. I don’t know why it is such a big deal for me to speak up in such a way - perhaps it’s the possibility to have an unrehearsed conversation in front of everybody - or just that I can say something dumb - I don’t know… But I rarely speak up like that precisely because of that HUGE anxiety I feel - and oftentimes I talk to the presenters after everything ends - not on tape and not being actively listened to by hundreds of people.

My advice

So here is my advice:

  • For attendees: make sure you have read Kate Gregory’s excellent blog post “Surviving an intense conference” - it’s full of advice on how to plan for the conference so you get the most out of it!

  • For speakers: everything for attendees applies, with some additions:

    • make sure you have read all from the “Presenter Information” page
    • be fully prepared with your talk (slides + rehearsing)! I mean it!
    • have at least one bottle of water next to you when you’re speaking

The talks I went to

Jason Turner - “Practical C++17”

If you’re wondering which C++17 features are worth adopting and how to evaluate them - this is the talk!

Panel with Chandler Carruth, Matt Godbolt, Jim Radigan - “Optimizing Code Speed and Space with Build Time Switches”

This was so great! So many niche details and insights into how and why compiler implementers make the choices they make - we need more sessions of this kind - such information is so hard to find and is also so entertaining!

Nicholas Ormrod - “Fantastic Algorithms and Where To Find Them”

A few niche but interesting algorithms - and a good conclusion about algorithms in general.

David Watson - “C++ Exceptions and Stack Unwinding”

Everything you need to know about how exceptions are actually implemented - pretty deep stuff!

Nir Friedman - “What C++ developers should know about globals (and the linker)”

A nice compact presentation about globals and some underwater rocks you might hit.

Andreas Weis - “Howling at the Moon: Lua for C++ Programmers”

If you want to learn about Lua and how to integrate it easily with modern C++ - this is the talk for you :)

Chandler Carruth - “Going Nowhere Faster”

Chandler made a very compelling presentation - as usual! Make sure to watch the video when it’s up

Matt Godbolt - “Unbolting the Compiler’s Lid: What Has My Compiler Done for Me Lately?”

This was an excellent talk targeting both beginners and advanced coders showing us a thing or two about the assembly the compilers generate and also showcasing the compiler explorer.

Michael Spencer - “My Little Object File: How Linkers Implement C++”

Everything about linkers - a very good summary!

All talks are coming up on the youtube channel - I missed a bunch of great presentations - like the “Meta: Thoughts on generative C++” one from Herb Sutter and many many others!

Thanks for reading :)

Leave a Comment