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Unit Festival 2016 – World's First Queer Tech Conference

This is a conference report for my company:

Hi all,

I visited Unit Festival last Saturday and those are my notes:

The conference had a very wide subject area, ranging from app development, tech and science to social problems and art. IMO, it’s a pity that it only lasted for one day and that there were up to six talks/workshops/panels happening at once. With 70 speakers and half an hour for a speech, they had to be very general and superficial. And I ended up having to choose between a couple of things that interest me that took place simultanously, while later not having much to do... But it was a great experience anyway ;)

As for the most interesting talks I attended:

“Serving VR Realness” by Alison Bennett was a presentation of the “Virtual Drag” project, where a couple of drag queens were 3D-scanned and put in virtual reality. It was my first opportunity to try out VR in practice, and frankly, it had awful quality. (Update: I tried out Oculus, and this thing really is amazing!). Maybe it’s just a fault of that particular implementation, but what I’ve heard about VR that “you can feel as if it all was actually real”, for me wasn’t true at all. But obviously there a great potential in this technology. And what was quite inspiring about this presentation, was the idea not to stick with trying to make VR as real as possible, but quite the opposite: to use it for developing unreal experiences, art etc.

Mauricio Martinez in his speech “QA within the development process: communication & team work” pointed out, how QA is different from “just testing”, why is it such an important part of the development process, how responsible that job is, and what’s the place for QA specialists in the team. Great talk, congrats, Mauricio ;)

Marie Amigues, who runs Altagram, held a talk “Cultural challenges in video game localization. Can we make everyone happy?”. Obviously, localization is much more than just translation. Marie pointed out the main problems that she and her team had with localizing video games, ranging from simply fitting different-length strings in a fixed-width button, to complete lack of context supplied by the publisher, or the publisher not caring at all about their suggestions that a dialogue about “getting rid of the refugees” might not be a good idea for the European market...

“Healing the Homo Ludens” by Manouchehr Shamsrizi was about starting to make a use of the fact that people aren’t really motivated by the plain facts, numbers and rational arguments (like “it’s proven that doing this exercise will increase your lifespan by five percent”), but rather by fun. He leads RetroBrain R&D, which focuses on fighting dementia using new technologies. Their ”Memore” is a technology designed to make senior citizens do exercises that are proven to be beneficial (if not crucial) for their physical and mental health. Their approach is effective because if you can control a video game by doing exercises, they simply aren’t boring anymore.

“From Bitcoin to smart contracts: reimagining the future” by Brian Fabian Crain was a brief introduction to current state of Bitcoin and related technologies. He focused on pointing out, that the idea of block chains can have much wider applications than the Bitcoin itself, like signing contracts or voting in elections. Surprisingly, he treated its full transparency as a huge advantage, even though it’s sometimes necessary to be anonymous. Like in case of elections - in most of democratic countries you are constitutionally guarantied to have an anonymous vote.

“The future of language education” by Jose Luis Romero Fernandez was a brief presentation of Abroadwith, a social network created to make the best of learning languages. It’s most efficient when it’s connected with learning the culture of a given country and interacting with locals. And most importantly: actually being there.

Best regards,