All Talks (by topic)

Sarah loves talking about the intersections of where tech and people come together. As a polyglot, Sarah has worked in a variety of tech stacks and fields, and she has a wide range of interests. Her talks often reflect this and she brings a different perspective to many topics in the field, both technically and professionally.

This is a list of all of the talks and descriptions that she has given. It also includes a list of ideas she’s either outlined or would like to give at some point.

If any talk sounds like something you would like at your meetup, users group, conference, or other event, please contact her on her Contact page.

Technical Talks

These are the talks where the focus is more on the technical aspects of a product, language, or device. Click on the name to jump to the description.

Human Skills Talks

These are the talks where the focus is more on either the people involved in making the software or the people involved in using the software. Click on the name to jump to the description.

Keynote-Worthy Talks

These are talks that have an important message behind them, either about being in the software industry or about how we develop our software. These talks are usually insightful and encouraging as well.

Talk Descriptions

These are all of the descriptions sent to conferences about the talks. They’re sorted alphabetically.

A Primer on Functional Programming
Length: 30-45 minutes
Resources: Slides, notes
Presented at: Nebraska.Code() 2016, Self.Conference 2016, KCDC 2016, Prairie.Code() 2016, Music City Code 2018, Code Daze Vol. 2 (2018), CodeMash 2019

Functional programming languages are gaining in popularity. If you’ve worked in object-oriented languages, you might be baffled at how they work. Maybe hearing the word “recursion” makes you want to scream. Or maybe you’ve just heard the hype and want to know what the hype is about.
In this talk, we will briefly explain what functional languages are, and go into some examples of tasks that these languages are suited for. We will look at the major languages in use today and see how they work. We’ll see some of the things they have in common, and the many things that make them distinctive. Finally, we’ll offer some suggestions on how to dive into learning these and using them on your own projects.

Building an Open Source Artificial Pancreas
Type: Technical/People Skills
Length: 35-45 minutes
Resources: Slides, notes, video (after presenting)
Presented at: Pittsburgh Code & Supply Meetup (future)
Based off a lightning talk given at Self.Conference 2018, Strange Loop 2018, and CodeMash 2019

Have you ever thought about what open source software or hardware could achieve? What if it could help improve people’s lives by solving some of their health problems?
After the medical tech industry kept promising a system to help automatically manage insulin for type 1 diabetic people and never delivering, some people got together to find ways to do it with the tech they already had. Over the past few years, a “closed-loop” system has been developed to algorithmically regulate people’s blood sugars. After reverse engineering bluetooth sensors and 915 MHz insulin pumps, the system became possible. As a diabetic, I also built this system and saw my sugar values stabilize much more than I could ever achieve doing it manually myself. Now I’m working on contributing back to the projects as well.
I want to talk about this system, from a technical side as well as a personal side. I’ll talk about OpenAPS (the open artificial pancreas system) and how it works, what problems it solves, and its safety and security concerns. I also want to show how it’s helped me, and what this means for my health now and in the future. I ultimately want to show how we, as software developers, can change people’s lives through the code we write.

Building Your Team to Last: Successful Onboarding and Mentoring Practices
Type: Human Skills
Length: 35-45 minutes
Resources: Slides, notes, video
Presented at: Nebraska.Code() 2016, KCDC 2016, Prairie.Code() 2016, deliver:Agile 2018, CodeMash 2019, Pittsburgh Code & Supply Meetup

Hiring and onboarding new team members is an expensive and risky process. It’s crucial to hire people who mesh well with the existing team and get them up to speed in a timely manner. Balancing this while minimizing the initial impact on productivity is often a challenge for even the most experienced lead developer.
This talk will cover some tips on building your successful team. We’ll discuss:
* How to choose the right types of people to add to your team.
* How to onboard and mentor your new team members, including patterns of ineffective mentoring and why they’re harmful to the team.
* How everyone can benefit from bringing on junior developers and interns the right way.
* By the end, you’ll see how your whole team will benefit from these strategies.

Type: Event keynote
Length: 15 minutes
Resources: Slides, video
Presented at: Techtonica Launch Celebration (Jan 2018)

Doors are great! Wooden doors, metal doors, red doors, blue doors, green doors, big doors, small doors, double doors… they’re all over. They’re opportunities to end up in a new place. Sometimes you know what’s behind the door, and sometimes you don’t.In this keynote, I share my story of how I always wanted to be a developer since I first learned to program as a kid. But many barriers and challenges showed up along the way. It took many years, a big community, and some really encouraging people to help tell break through those barriers and get through those challenges. And sometimes, even when you don’t know if you can or should go through a door, you never know what wonders will be on the other side

“Hey Mycroft!” Getting Started with the Open Source Home Assistant
Type: Technical
Length: Approx. 45-60 minute
Resources: Slides, notes, code, video
Presented at: NDC London 2019

Home virtual assistants, like Alexa, Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, are gaining a lot of popularity. They’re now incorporated into our phones, our laptops, and even available as separate devices in our homes. Some people haven’t adopted them out of privacy concerns. A new system called Mycroft has come onto the scene, and it’s built on open source hardware and software. You can install it on a Raspberry Pi, an old Linux box, or buy their own Mycroft device.
In this session, we’ll go over the basics of what Mycroft is, and how you can quickly install it yourself. From there, we’ll talk about some of the underlying software and see a short demo. Finally, we’ll see how to build a new skill into it and contribute it back to the community. You’ll leave with your own virtual assistant and the knowledge on how make it do what you want but keep your privacy in check.

Intro to Hacking with the Raspberry Pi
Type: Technical
Length: 30-45 minutes
Resources: Github, slides, notes, code, wiring diagrams
Presented at: Nebraska.Code() 2015, UMKC IEEE monthly meeting, KCDC 2015 (with encore), MINK WIC 2015, IEEE-KC monthly meeting, DevUp Conf 2017, Pittsburgh Code & Supply Meetup

You’ve heard lots of hype about the Raspberry Pi, the credit-card sized computer available for under $40. This talk will introduce some of the Pi’s features, explore some sample projects you can create, and show you how to write code to control hardware through it’s IO pins. After this talk you will be ready to make your own cool hacking projects with the Pi.

Life as a Midwestern Developer
Type: Human Skills
Length: 25 minutes
Resources: Slides
Presented at: AlterConf Austin 2017

Major tech cities are full of developers. It makes sense. The tech companies are all over. But what about the developers located in other cities? Smaller cities? Cities that don’t have the recognition that the other major cities do?
I will speak on some of the difficulties I have had as a developer born, raised, and living in the Midwest. I’ll talk about some experiences I’ve had with other developers from the coasts as well as assumptions I see made about us. I’ll also talk about what I think we can do to be more inclusive of Midwest developers and not apply some of the biases towards them.

Maintaining Your Mental and Emotional Health While Job Hunting
Type: Human Skills
Length: Approx. 40 minutes
Resources: Slides, notes
Will present at: Self.Conference 2018, DevUp conf 2018

Searching for a new job. We all have to do it at some point. In the thick of the search, you’re likely to get a lot of terrible tech interviews as well as a bunch of rejections. How do you maintain your energy, your motivation, and perhaps more importantly, not feel like a failure after all that?
I will talk a bit about my most recent job search. You’ll see how I went into it with a different frame of mind than I had in the past, and how that helped me push through the interviews easier and take better care of myself in the process. You’ll also hear about some of the specific interviews and the problems I saw with them. I’ll show how, as companies and teams, we can improve the process for everyone. Finally, I’ll offer ways that both companies and employees can offer feedback to continue to improve interviews.

The Power of Secrets
Type: Human Skills
Length: 35 minutes
Resources: Slides, video
Presented at: AlterConf Portland 2016, Self.Conference 2017, DevUp Conf 2017

Secrets can be scary if they get out. That’s the very feeling I had when I wrote a Medium post revealing my biggest secret, which was read by thousands.
In this talk, I will share the story of how and why I came to share this secret with the world. I’ll also talk about how sharing this ultimately made me a better teammate, developer, and person, and how it had the complete opposite reaction than I expected. Through these experiences, I’ll share my insights on why being more open benefits you and your team.

Pursuing a Passion Project: Struggles and Successes
Type: Human Skills
Length: 30 minutes
Resources: Slides
Presented at: MINK WIC 2017

In 2016, I had a variety of small ideas that ended up combining together into a new project: Finding a way to amplify the voices of the underrepresented groups in tech. I decided to start off with a podcast. After 7 months of fighting technology, fighting life battles, and fighting imposter syndrome, I released the first episode.
Along the way, I’ve learned a lot of things about connecting with people and communities, pursing my passions, and starting a very large project. I will share how I went from a vague idea to creating and releasing this new media to the public. I’ll also talk some of the technical aspects that I go through to pull off an average episode of the show. Finally, you’ll see how ultimately my passion drove this project to success.