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Ask HN: What are some of the best technical talks you've heard?
717 points by mirianbert on Oct 15, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 171 comments

Fork Yeah! The Rise and Development if illumos by Brian Cantrill https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-zRN7XLCRhc

Quote copied from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5170246

"As you know people, as you learn about things, you realize that these generalizations we have are, virtually to a generalization, false. Well, except for this one, as it turns out. What you think of Oracle, is even truer than you think it is. There has been no entity in human history with less complexity or nuance to it than Oracle. And I gotta say, as someone who has seen that complexity for my entire life, it's very hard to get used to that idea. It's like, 'surely this is more complicated!' but it's like: Wow, this is really simple! This company is very straightforward, in its defense. This company is about one man, his alter-ego, and what he wants to inflict upon humanity -- that's it! ...Ship mediocrity, inflict misery, lie our asses off, screw our customers, and make a whole shitload of money. Yeah... you talk to Oracle, it's like, 'no, we don't fucking make dreams happen -- we make money!' ...You need to think of Larry Ellison the way you think of a lawnmower. You don't anthropomorphize your lawnmower, the lawnmower just mows the lawn, you stick your hand in there and it'll chop it off, the end. You don't think 'oh, the lawnmower hates me' -- lawnmower doesn't give a shit about you, lawnmower can't hate you. Don't anthropomorphize the lawnmower. Don't fall into that trap about Oracle."

Although not strictly technical, this is a great talk. Bryan effectively communicates both the history and the mindset of Sun Microsystems and its open-source software heroes, and the bitter disappointment of being taken over by Oracle.

I love this quote (about 33:15) summarizing Sun Microsystems:

Kicked butt, had fun, didn't cheat, loved our customers, changed computing forever.

"It makes me very proud to have worked for a company for whom that is completely accurate. We should all be so lucky as to have that be our epitaph. That is all I want out of my life. That and my family. [...] That is Sun. But that's not Oracle." --Bryan Cantrill. (A very excellent Oracle rant follows immediately after.)

Oh Bryan Cantrill... (don't worry, not criticizing him below)

This is someone whose mind seems to be going at 500mph all the time. I used to love his (and counterparts') early talks on ZFS, but yeah, I've found that pretty much any talk by him is packed with interesting info, but you may have to watch it at .5x speed (even if you're a native english speaker).

His talks on dtrace, ZFS, containers, are all very interesting (most on YouTube).

How did I know that I'd find this talk at the top when I poked my head in here :). I must rewatch that segment at least once every 6 months even when not prompted by people linking to Brian's other, often more technically rewarding talks.

Minor correction - it's Bryan Cantrill, not Brian (according to Wikipedia).


If that's the best technical talk you've ever seen, I have to feel sorry for you. Cantrill may rant all he wants about Oracle but he's not exactly doing better, with all the peddling of node.js to the masses. It is rare for me to see someone come up with so much bullshit in one talk: https://vimeo.com/230142234

Since I don't want to end with a negative note, here is a personal favorite as far as best technical talks go:


Would you mind be slightly more specific about the "bullshit" in the talk you linked to? In particular, that talk is emphatically not "peddling node.js to the masses", but rather explaining why we are moving away from node.js (and attempting to do so in a way that is thoughtful and reflective rather than reactionary and dismissive).

Here is the expanded URL of the tinyurl link to halve the changes of getting a 404 or similar in the far future, and maybe allow finding the content via the Wayback Machine in case infoq also disappears.


Could you maybe add a comment about what your favorite tech talk is? Right now I’m staring at a tiny url hoping I’m not going to be rick rolled.

It's We Really Don't Know How To Compute! by Gerald Jay Sussman

Control engineering

Gunter Stein's inaugural Bode prize lecture from 1989 titled "Respect the Unstable" [0]. In this talk, he uses a minimum of mathematics to clearly demonstrate the fundamental (and inevitable!) trade-offs in control systems design. He effortlessly makes the link between his (in)ability to balance inverted rods of various lengths on his palm (with shorter rods being harder to balance) to why the X-29 aircraft was almost impossible to control and why Chernobyl blew up.

The fundamental message is extremely important and the derivation is so crystal clear that it is simply marvelous to watch him present it. I like it so much that I re-watch it about once a year.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Lhu31X94V4

[1] Pdf transcription (use it to skim or go over the details. However, the lecture is easier to follow and has a lot more than the transcript): https://jagger.berkeley.edu/~pack/me234/GSBode.pdf

1. Why Do Keynote Speakers Keep Suggesting That Improving Security Is Possible? - James Mickens https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajGX7odA87k

2. James Mickens on JavaScript - James Mickens https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5xh0ZIEUOE

3. Creating containers From Scratch - Liz Rice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fi7uSYlOdc

4. 2013 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Existence of Nothing - Panelists: J. Richard Gott, Jim Holt, Lawrence Krauss, Charles Seife, Eve Silverstein. Moderator: Neil deGrasse Tyson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OLz6uUuMp8

5. 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation? - Panelists: David Chalmers, Zohreh Davoudi, James Gates, Lisa Randall, Max Tegmark Moderator: Neil deGrasse Tyson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgSZA3NPpBs

6. Zig: A programming language designed for robustness, optimality, and clarity – Andrew Kelley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4oYSByyRak

7. Concurrency Is Not Parallelism - Rob Pike https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN_DpYBzKso

> 3. Creating containers From Scratch

I read that as "creating containers IN Scratch (a visual game programming language from MiT)." It wasn't as impressive as my expectations, only because my expectations were so very high.

James Mickens on JavaScript is hilarious! I've been a huge fan of his ever since I stumbled onto one of his AMAs on Reddit.

I just watched the first video. That was so good!

What’s the message?

Bret Victor talks are inspirational:

- Inventing on Principal https://vimeo.com/36579366

- Stop Drawing Dead Fish https://vimeo.com/64895205

Yep, I thought Inventing on Principle was the best computer-related talk I've ever watched. Not easy to describe what it's about! Design, tools, art, UI, visualization, invention, life.

It's like he has caught on to a kind of a zen thing. It is almost as if he isn't even there, while presenting about a technological topic at all. That is just the media for him to get an expanded wisdom across. What that message is is hard to identify. But there is a glance of it at the end of inventing on principle. It's a lot more profound than what the talk seems to be at the surface.

I really wish he would publish more frequently He has inspired me greatly.

Yeah, I was marvelling half the time at the wisdom, it makes other speakers seem merely knowedgeable, clever, brilliant etc. I missed most of it in my summary before. I love the

this is a cool way to live your life, according to some principle - this is mine; these are some other amazing people who had their own

aspect of it. His creators should be able to see and control what they're doing as they do it principle is awesome, and he's maybe uniquely well-equipped to do something about that. I wanna get the synth he designed!

what is curious to me is that that synth is famous for being extremely unfriendly to program. its usability is pretty bad and goes against many of his principles. i love bret victor's thinking and work since he became independent though.

What's the synth?

Fully agree. You forgot one!

Brev Victor - The Future Of Programming https://vimeo.com/71278954

on one level, yes

on another, they're down right scary and overwhelming, or at least dumbfounding and perplexing

..thinking specifically about The Humane Representation of Thought https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agOdP2Bmieg I had to stop it half way through.. :-/

see also Seeing Spaces https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klTjiXjqHrQ and Media for Thinking the Unthinkable https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUaOucZRlmE

The most humorous would have to be the "Wat" talk by Gary Bernhardt: https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/wat

The screenshot of GIMP running in Chrome running in Firefox is one of my favorites!

His boundaries and functional core, imperative shell are less funny but life changing.

Thanks, without knowing the title of the talks I could not for the life of me parse parent.

This is hilarious! Thanks for sharing!

Two of my favorites:

code::dive conference 2014 - Scott Meyers: Cpu Caches and Why You Care: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDIkqP4JbkE

CppCon 2014: Mike Acton "Data-Oriented Design and C++": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX0ItVEVjHc

They're mostly about C++ and cache aware/data oriented programming.

The Mike Acton talk is really valuable to anyone interested in efficient software, and doesn't have so much C++ as to be a barrier: I found out about it from a Go developer.

Yes, I agree. It is more about a mindset rather than C++ specifically. I watch again now and then just to remind myself of the lessons that can be learned from it.

The top 5 most referenced tech talks on HN are:

- Douglas Engelbart - The Mother of All Demos

- Bryan Cantrill - Fork Yeah! The Rise and Development of illumos

- Guy Steele - Growing a Language

- David Heinemeier Hansson - Startup School 08

- Rich Hickey - Hammock Driven Development

The top 50 are listed at https://techyaks.com which I recently updated with a ranking "techyaks score" that ranks talks (first) by HN reference count.

This is great, thanks.

John Carmack's talks, especially the ones from his id days at QuakeCon.

Watching somebody get on stage and just talk for hours in detail without notes about a whole range of technical topics that they mastered and enjoy is pretty inspiring.

I’m by no means a gamer but have always admired Carmack for his sheer brilliance. I stumbled over one of his talks while doing something else and jumped to various points in the talk. _Every. Single. Time._ he was talking about something profound and the talk is friggin several hours long.

To make him more impressive, he had a pretty significant speech impediment when he was younger. So he was never some natural orator, he had to work extremely hard to sound like one.

I feel it was a huge loss that he no longer holds talks in any capacity. We get a detailed and incredibly interesting blog post from him like every 12 months, but otherwise, nothin'.

Guy L. Steele, "Growing a Language" (1998) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ahvzDzKdB0)

As far as technical presentations can be, this is a work of art, and in spite of its age still completely relevant.

And YouTube doesn’t even really capture his use of beautiful crayoned transparencies in the live version of the talk!

Also, any talk where Richard Gabriel and Guy Steele get together will be a treat. I really miss those old quirky OOPSLA days.

I'm not a Closure coder but I loved this talk on how as your tooling becomes more complex and automated, you start to lose sight of simpler solutions to problems. It's all about woodworking!

Tim Ewald - Clojure: Programming with Hand Tools https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShEez0JkOFw

Clojure people seem to give really good talks; it's starting to make me think I should look into learning the language.

It does take time before he starts drawing the parallel between woodworking and software, but it is well worth the wait!

Thank you for reminding me of this great talk.

Hammock Driven Development by Rich Hickey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f84n5oFoZBc

Adding to that Simppe Made Easy, also by Rich Hickey

Nearly all of Rich Hickey's talks are worth giving a watch. He's an incredibly gifted speaker. The Value of Values and The Language of the System are also among his best.

The Feynman Lectures (on Physics) are incredible - Feynman had such an amazing mind, one of the greatest the world has known, yet could explain complex things like he was talking to a friend in the living room over drinks. Never patronizing, always amusing & informative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3mhkYbznBk&list=PLLzGzdSNup...

This. And also "why magnets repell each other" https://youtu.be/36GT2zI8lVA

"Design, Composition and Performance" by Rich Hickey. His view of what improvising means is brilliant.


Free Electron Lasers

...or why we need 17 billion Volts to make a picture.


HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16028723

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a microscope which allows scientists to map atomic details of viruses, film chemical reactions, or study the processes in the interior of planets? Well, we’ve just built one in Hamburg. It’s not table-top, though: 1 billion Euro and a 3km long tunnel is needed for such a ‘free electron laser’, also called 4th generation synchrotron light source. I will talk about the basic physics and astonishing facts and figures of the operation and application of these types of particle accelerators.

Most people have heard about particle accelerators, most prominently LHC, at which high energy particles are brought to collision in order to study fundamental physics. However, in fact most major particle accelerators in the world are big x-ray microscopes.

The latest and biggest of these synchrotron radiation sources which was built is the European XFEL. A one billion Euro ‘free electron laser’, based on a superconducting accelerator technology and spread out 3km beneath the city of Hamburg. The produced x-ray pulses allow pictures, for example from proteins, with sub-atomic resolution and an exposure time short enough to enable in-situ studies of chemical reactions.

This talk aims to explain how particle accelerators and in particular light sources work, for what reason we need these big facilities to enable new types of science and why most of modern technology would be inconceivable without them.

Indistinguishable From Magic: Manufacturing Modern Computer Chips [0]. This talk is delivered really well and always leaves me with a sense of awe in how CRAZY it is that humans figured out integrated circuits. Its a bit out of date, but it gives enough of a peek under the hood to understand why Intel has had such difficulties going to 10 and 7mn processes[1].

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGFhc8R_uO4 [1]: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-cpu-10nm-earnings-am...

The talk that had the most influence on how I write software is Robert 'Uncle Bob' Martin's "Architecture: The Lost Years" [1]. Being a Ruby conference keynote, it helps if you know how Ruby on Rails works, but the lessons apply to all software.

Another one would be "Let It Crash! The Erlang Approach to Building Reliable Services" by Brian Troutwine. [2]

I don't know if you would call it "technical" but Brett Slatkin's talk on Cohort Analysis is something anyone interested in tools to analyze how our users behave should watch. [3]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpkDN78P884

[2] https://www.infoq.com/presentations/erlang-reliable-services

[3] https://www.onebigfluke.com/2013/05/video-cohort-analysis-ta...

Elevator Hacking: From The Pit To The Penthouse by Deviant Ollam and Howard Payne https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOzrJjdZDRQ

They've done several iterations of this, including a censored/shorter version for DEFCON 22. This version is the best, with all details, no secrets withheld. I find the content rather stunning, and I've even watched it several times.

I love this video it actually got me into fooling around with elevators. I have a full box elevator keys just because of this talk, with no idea what to do with them.

Define "technical". But when it comes to programming I always enjoy Sandi Metz's talks. I can highly recomend this talk she made at the RailsConf in 2014, about taking an ugly beast of code and turning it to something more digestable and beautiful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bZh5LMaSmE

Totally agree, Sandi is awesome, all of her talks are worth watching. I quite like the the one where she tells the future https://youtu.be/JOM5_V5jLAs . I feel that kind of step change will shortly be with us (if we're not already in the middle of it)

In the middle of a step change?

"Is it really Complex? Or did we just make it Complicated?" (Alan Kay): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubaX1Smg6pY

This reminds me of a comment on a book titled ‘Discrete mathematics and its application’ by Kenneth Rosen which was along the lines of how smart the author was at the same time not being able to explain the concepts to someone else in an easy manner and to be honest I had the same feeling. I understood those concepts from other texts which definitely means that it isn’t me who was was inadequate or not upto the task. I was willing to learn but the smartest of the texts in the field left me feeling stupid. Can somebody else chip in on this argument?

I TA'd a fist year University course using, I believe, that textbook during my final two years of undergrad.

The material itself is difficult to learn and harder to teach well. At my University, it seemed that the Prof had to teach the subject for 3 or 4 years before they could reasonably get half the class to pass the final exam.

At the same time, I've often felt like I would have no harder of a time teaching the subject to 11 year olds. It's just a weird topic.

Yeah, there's unity to it and no system other than "break the problem apart, look for these properties, think hard, and match them to the identity that also has these properties".

A lot of interpretation and intellectual confidence involved, difficult things to communicate.

Most of science is bridging gaps. Between a person ans a phenomonon, then between others persons.

It should be told every semester or so that if you wish to understand something, don't stop until you found something that match your own idiosyncrasies.

Douglas Engelbert, “Augmenting Human Intelligence” from 1968. Introduced the world to the mouse (and therefore the GUI), video conferencing, revision control and basically the modern personal computing environment.

Also known as the “Mother of All Demos”. I don’t think I’ve watched the entire thing in one sitting (I tend to jump over some of the drier parts), but I do return to it every year or so because it helps me remember the lab innovations of 1968 didn’t reach consumers until the mid/80s to late 90s, which helps me keep innovation in perspective.

This was so unbelievable even by 2010s standard. Gotta thank Jay.

Although not strictly a talk, I would highly recommend the first of the SICP lectures[0], if only to expand your thinking about what computer science:

"I'd like to welcome you to this course on Computer Science. Actually that's a terrible way to start. Computer science is a terrible name for this business. First of all, it's not a science. It might be engineering or it might be art. We'll actually see that computer so-called science actually has a lot in common with magic. We will see that in this course. So it's not a science. It's also not really very much about computers. And it's not about computers in the same sense that physics is not really about particle accelerators. And biology is not really about microscopes and petri dishes. And it's not about computers in the same sense that geometry is not really about using a surveying instruments."

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Op3QLzMgSY

can someone please convince me that the use of the word "magic" is justified? yes I know sicp is universally exalted in the cs/programming community and even though I haven't read it yet I support the principle of a principled approach to computation (it's math after all in the purest sense) but I can't support the infantilism of words like magic and the wizard on the cover of the book because the two themes are directly in opposition. there is no magic and clear rigorous analysis of programs is very fruitful.

Watching the SICP lectures, I had a moment of "I totally did not see that coming", with triple exclamation marks. The ability to do astonishing things with so little code justifies the word magic to me. Also magic as sleight-of-hand is not infantile to me, either. It's ingenious and practice, practice practice in order to astonish the audience.

Crowley defines magick as the execution of Will upon the world. Programming is actually a better fit for this particular definition than most of the western-occult-tradition ritual stuff Crowley himself was doing (including the enochian stuff).

Somebody with only a shallow pop-culture understanding of occult tradition is bound to associate it with fuzzy thinking & children's media. The use of alchemical metaphors in SICP indicates that the authors have at least some familiarity with the history of magick, though.

The most important figures in the western occult tradition were mathematicians (like Dee) or invented early computational or permutational devices (like Llul). Magick is very firmly bound up in this kind of mathematical thinking. On the other side, the mathematical foundations of computing come out of mathematicians who had occult justifications: Godel (and Cantor before him) was a mathematical platonist who dabbled in gematria, and his work on computability was part of the ars magna for him. (In case you're not up on the history, Turing's work on universal turing machines was an attempt to rephrase Godel's incompleteness in a way that was accessible to non-mathematicians, and his later work with Church proving the equivalence between Godel's model and lambda calculus was built upon this work. While computing machines predated this formal basis, the formal basis is pretty important -- we all learned it in college, after all!)

Maybe it's just me (I haven't actually read the book), but I don't see the guy on the cover as a wizard. He's holding a pair of dividers which I associate much more with a craftsman or study of geometry. I just assumed the clothing was a style I didn't understand.

He's an alchemist. The original version of the illustration says salve/coagulate rather than eval/apply.

You're right, it occurred to me as well. He looks more like a 14th / 15th century european scholar than a neocromancer.

There's an aphorism: "objects are a poor man's closure; closures are a poor man's object". When I got to the point in SICP where I understood that, the word "magic" was very definitely justified :)

even though I haven't read it yet

Maybe there's your answer.

Just about everything Kate Gregory has presented at cppcon is worth watching. The nitty gritty tends to be C++-centric (as befits the venue), but the overarching themes are more or less universal.

Where Rich Hickey's Simple Made Easy talks about simplicity at the macro level, and mostly as an aspirational goal, Kate's talks focus on the practicalities of actually achieving simplicity at the micro level.

Raymond Hettinger - Beyond PEP 8 -- Best practices for beautiful intelligible code - PyCon 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wf-BqAjZb8M

David Beazley: Python concurrency from the ground up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCs5OvhV9S4

Oh, Dabeaz has so many great talks. He has one of those teaching styles that can contagiously convince even the most Python dismissive person to start learning it.

Casually live coding any idiom even if the language didn't really support it. Definitely worth your time.

Rich Hickey has a lot of excellent stuff to say. Not only are his ideas philosophically sound, but also real, practical and ready to use in the form of Clojure.

This recent review "10 years of Clojure", encapsulates a lot of of the wisdom:


Agreed! "Hammock driven development" definitely has stuck with me over the years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f84n5oFoZBc

Not the best I've seen but definitively one I would like to recover the link to : a Googler presentation where she explain how they took about 2 years developing a memory optimisation (circa 2007~2009 IIRC) and manage to finish a few months before it became indispensable because they were about to have an hardware shortage. They were consuming hardware faster than the industry could produce. I just can't remember who she was nor the link. Does it rings a bell to anyone ?

I'm guessing it could be Anna Patterson (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Patterson)

This is the only video where she mentions working on the problem - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7rzFqP3daI

Hum, no it was not her. I think it was a Google I/O on googlevideo at the time but I could be wrong. My memory is a bit fuzzy.

SVG can do that?! (Sarah Drasner) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADXX4fmWHbo

The use and abuse of CT scanners


Truly fascinating talk about the capability of CT scanners, not in a medical environment. I don't want to say much more as I don't want to give any spoilers.

I don't know if it is part of the bests, but very interesting anyway: Modern Dictionaries by Raymond Hettinger [1] It's about Python 3.6 dictionaries improvements.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p33CVV29OG8

Jake Archibald's "In the Loop", Visual explanation of how the javascript event loop works! Awesome video for every javascript developer.


Jake Archibald talking about the javascript event loop and actually making it both entertaining and easily grokable! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCOL7MC4Pl0

Another event loop talk from Philip Roberts. The tool he created to display the event loop in real time is fantastic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aGhZQkoFbQ

I'll call out one channel that I haven't seen on this thread -- the Computer History Museum in Mountain View publishes some astonishing oral history videos, presentations and other footage. So many of the challenges that pioneers faced in the past have historical resonance; and unlike almost any other major human revolution, the pioneers of our space are captured in video that is readily available to all.

So you can hear the likes of Fred Brooks talking about IBM's approach to unifying operating system interfaces with System/360[1], Bjarne Stroustrup describing the origins of C++ [2], or watching Charles Simonyi and Tom Malloy demonstrating Bravo, the Xerox PARC document writer [3].

Some quite astonishing material hidden in their archive that hasn't in my view had nearly the audience it deserves.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c0_Lzb1CJw&t=5422s)

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69edOm889V4

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_Na1SJXSBg

"Papers I Have Loved" by Casey Muratori is a talk about CS algorithms useful in the game industry. https://youtu.be/SDS5gLSiLg0

The Haskell Journey from Simon Peter-Jones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=re96UgMk6GQ

Here is a good one that come to mind:

1. This one is alive demo where the speaker derives the Y Combinator from first principles. A really interesting exposition of functional programming at its finest. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FITJMJjASUs

What has my compiler done for me lately? - Matt Godbolt


Entertaining talk, not extremely in depth, though.

Java Puzzlers by Joshua Bloch and Jeremy Manson are pretty entertaining. For a pretty bog standard language, Java has some more exotic corners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbp-3BJWsU8

I really enjoyed "The Birth And Death Of Javascript".


I've been using this for finding videos to watch while eating and its been great.

A lot of talks here do show up in the feed.

Richard Hamming (as in Hamming codes, Bell labs etc): "You and Your Research". This had a profound effect on me at 18 when I heard him present it (it was by then a "set piece" talk) and it still holds valuable advice for me now.

In general his published talks have all been good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1zDuOPkMSw or just read it at https://www.cs.utexas.edu/~dahlin/bookshelf/hamming.html

Breaking the x86 Instruction Set by Christopher Domas. https://youtu.be/KrksBdWcZgQ

I found it easy to follow and pretty entertaining.

Probably one of the best introduction/starter to network programming with Golang. I love this talk. The speaker doesn't just throw a bunch of terms and theory at you, or slides, he just gets into the code and solves the problems as they arise. Pretty good talk even if you are not interested in the network programming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afSiVelXDTQ&t=1208s

Did you mean to start the video half way through?

Here are some of my favorites:

How To Design A Good API and Why it Matters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAb7hSCtvGw

Agile Methods The Good, the Hype and the Ugly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffkIQrq-m34&t=420s

Implementing a Strong Code-Review Culture: Derek Prior (2015) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJjmw9TRB7s

I guess this is more of a 'soft talk' but I still reference this all the time and watch it at least once a year. One of the more relevant and practical talks for any software company.

I recommend Sean Parent's talks: http://sean-parent.stlab.cc/papers-and-presentations/. Pretty much everything is very good. It's usually C++-centric, but his subjects are deep enough to be useful to software engineering in any language.

Is he still on réversible computations ?

You Spent All That Money And You Still Got Pwned by Joseph Mccray https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJsNu0VRKYY&t=14s

Very terse and content rich security walkthrough of corporate IT security fails by Joseph. I find delivery also highly entertaining.

Propositions as Types by Philip Wadler

A really in depth look into why functional languages stand out as a programming paradigm. The short of it being that they parallel perfectly (almost proof for proof!) with mathematical logic.


Hacking the mind, how to get your brain into the right mode

Marty Lobdell - Study Less Study Smart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlU-zDU6aQ0

AJ Jacobs: The Importance of Self-Delusion in the Creative Process” https://vimeo.com/68572000


On Machine Learning biases

Aylin Caliskan - A Story of Discrimination and Unfairness https://media.ccc.de/v/33c3-8026-a_story_of_discrimination_a...


On scaling test automation, why scaling does not deliver the value you want

GTAC2016: Scale vs Value - Test Automation at the BBC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkPHntWZAPc


On Future of Machine Learning

Joscha Bach - Machine Dreams (33c3) https://media.ccc.de/v/33c3-8369-machine_dreams

Joscha Bach - Computational Meta-Psychology (32c3) https://media.ccc.de/v/32c3-7483-computational_meta-psycholo...

Joscha Bach - From Computation to Consciousness (31c3) https://media.ccc.de/v/31c3_-_6573_-_en_-_saal_2_-_201412281...

[Edit] Layout

The Scandalous Story of Dreadful Code Written by the Best of Us - by Katrina Owen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp_ST9nbf5M

This talk made a strong impression on me when I was figuring out how to write more beautiful, and more readable code.

I like the talk by Ryan Dahl, node.js inventor

Original Node JS Presentation, 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztspvPYybIY

In 2018 he gave a follow-up presentation "10 things I regret about node", but that presentation is more for experts.

Steve Yegge talking about the system he built at Google, called Grok: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTJs-0EInW8.

If we have anything half that good in the wider programming community in twenty years time, I will be very surprised.

Many years ago, I had the privilege of having Prof Peter Saunders as my MSc adviser while at King's College London. Peter Saunders was (apart from being a great educationalist), the person who did the maths behind James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis. He was far and away the best maths teacher I ever had.

Anyway, he also taught a dynamical systems (chaos theory) class to a mixture of MSc students and final year undergrads. On this occasion, he was explaining some principle, and was busy talking while writing on the board.

He turns round, and there is a sea of blank looking faces in front of him. No one has understood.

"Well it's obvious" he says, and turns back to the board.

2 minutes later, he turns back. Now there is a sea of bored looking faces in front of him. Why?

Well it's obvious...

Everyone understood completely. Genius at work

CCC (Lange, Domke) - The exhaust emissions scandal ("Dieselgate")


Demo of Ivan Sutherland's 1963 Sketchpad:


It was a drawing app with the following features:

Snap to object ("This allows me to be sloppy while I'm drawing and get a precision drawing at the same time"), connected vectors, arcs, alignment with other objects, copying, multiple "files," scaling ("It scales approximately 2 miles in size"), 3D, etc etc

It blows me away that this kind of UI was even conceived in the 1960s. It feels like there was a dark ages middle period after then until quite recently.

I hope this isn't too much of a stretch. Heard it recently and thought it was really interesting.


It's a stretch to expect me to click on it without you saying what it is!

Noted! Still getting used to HN. :)

The Search for the Perfect Door - Deviant Ollam - Shakacon

About physical security.

It's funny that you do go to the trouble of commenting this, which probably takes longer and more effort than clicking the link. I do get your point though.

I was doing it for everyone, not just for me. Your comment adds nothing to HN except ill-feeling.

now i read and replied to this chain instead of clicking! dang

I love this video and have watched it multiple times to refresh my sheer awe at how insecure the world is when you dig even slightly under the surface.

Jim Weirich's talks about "connascence".


"The Power of Composition" by Scott Wlaschin


"Elixir should take over the world" by Jessica Kerr https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X25xOhntr6s

Despite the title is about Elixir, Jessica exposes a lot of topics like how ideas arise at the same time from different people, what different programming paradigms offer and how can they work together, error handling in a myriad of paths, and mainly people.

Thomas Dullien (halvarflake) on security, moore's law and anomaly of cheap complexity. In the talk Thomas discusses the idea why simplicity is important and how increasing complexity increases attack surface.


After seeing the top-voted one, perhaps I should hesitate here. But I do remember Kevin Loney's "Controlled Flight into Terrain", on what you can do wrong with databases, as very good. I saw it at a regional Oracle users group years ago.

More recently I have looked at Raymond Hettinger's "Beyond PEP 8--Best Practices for Beautiful Intelligible Code", and I hope improved my Python as a result.

"Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" by Karsten Nohl and Nemanja Nikodijevic from CCC 2016. It exposes how insanely ancient and insecure the global flight booking system is, allowing for stealing of personal information and even other people's flight tickets.


Silver bullet: Hadi Hariri (2015) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wyd6J3yjcs

Every time people think a technology will solve all their problems (remember guys from NOSQL back in the days?), they need to see this talk. The speaker also did this talk as a keynote a couple of times during other conferences.

It's not directly technical although it does speak about technical things, but Steve Blank's talks about the "secret history" of Silicon Valley are amazing. He's got some on YouTube, and links to some on his blog. He talks about how different tech was made to fight the Nazis, Soviets and co and how they made their own tech, and how it just became an arms race, whilst also spawning a good chunk of Silicon Valley startups and how it affected VC money down road. You get tech and Silicon Valley (/ and) history and business all in one.


Miško Hevery's talks on writing testable code. Watching those videos immediately made me a better developer, lots of well explained, practical advice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcT4yYu_TTs&index=6&list=PLD...

21st Century Application Architectures by Werner Vogels, 2013 https://skillsmatter.com/skillscasts/4023-21st-century-appli...

I can’t even say how many times I recommended someone to watch it - even today, 5 years after.

GOTO 2016 • Secure Coding Patterns • Andreas Hallberg


Simple advice to create more secure and imho bug-free code.

Some of his advice:

Let functions return what they promise. Don't return null or false, but throw exceptions.

Use immutable objects.

Use domain objects.

Don't black-list: white-list.

Not so much technical, but my favourite talk about technology and more:

"Back to the Future (of 1994)." Danny Hillis (1994). 19 mins


Messaging at Scale at Instagram - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E708csv4XgY

Covers many things but I specifically got to understand how they use Redis to manage stuff like photo updates to follower / following lists.

Play CTF! A Great Way to Learn Hacking by LiveOverflow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfjV8XukxO8

This talk is less technical than his other videos, but really catches the spirit of discovery, failure and learning.

Making impossible states impossible" by Richard Feldman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcgmSRJHu_8 has really changed the way I approach dealing with data in my code and was very insightful.

Technically not a tech talk but since it was at Talks at Google, this one: Frank Abagnale: "Catch Me If You Can" | Talks at Google - YouTube


Ian Cooper's "TDD, Where Did It All Go Wrong" (which Uncle Bob Martin has recommended on his Twitter): https://dev.tube/video/EZ05e7EMOLM

Zebras All the Way Down - Bryan Cantrill, Uptime 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fE2KDzZaxvE

Lots of great tangents that add to the subjects. I love talks like this.

Douglas Crockford on the good parts of Javascript https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEzQf147-uEpvTa1bHDNl...

I excitedly clicked this link, thinking I'd love some insight from the JavaScript an himself. I can't digest 104 videos, I was hoping for a really good 1~2 hour presentation. I'm going to cherry pick a video or two, if anybody has a favorite they can recommend.

A Better Default Colormap for Matplotlib (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAoljeRJ3lU)

This talk is made better by the fact that it's rather brief (~20min).

The CMU Database Lecture series is great. Requires a fair amount of background knowledge on how DBs work to follow though.


Here's a list that I've curated over the past several years: https://github.com/JanVanRyswyck/awesome-talks

Thanks for this.

Brendan Gregg's talks on Linux performance. Scroll down to "Talks": http://www.brendangregg.com/linuxperf.html

Statistics for Hackers by Jake Vanderplas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq9DzN6mvYA

A really nice intuitive intro to resampling methods.

Uncle Bob and his talks about architecture are a must. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEeEic-c0D4

You may like https://techyaks.com — it’s a site with over 80K software development tech talks ranked algorithmically.

Programming with nothing by Tom Stuart https://codon.com/programming-with-nothing

Rob Pike - 'Concurrency Is Not Parallelism'


And Concurrency Is Not Not Parallelism

MIT Pathway to Fusion Energy:


Greg Young - The art of destroying software

He has a few talks that he barely uses any presentation material and it's very good.

Any episode of The Ben Heck Show on YouTube.

Kent Beck - 3X

10+ deployments per day from Velocity 2009. It was really a pivotal talk in the early days of the DevOps movement


Fixing Twitter: Improving the Performance and Scalability of the World's Most Popular Micro-blogging Site by John Adams (then from Twitter)at Velocity 2009 (Velocity 2009 was really an incredibly pivotal and influential conference in the DevOps movement).


Bootstrapping an Infrastructure by Steve Traugott at Lisa 1998. I don't know of any videos of the talk, but the related paper eventually lead to Puppet and the beginning of the modern configuration management software


There is no talent shortage by Andrew Schaefer, co-founder of Puppet from Velocity NYC 2013.


(edited for consistant formatting)

YouTube is absolutely packed with technical channels on any software / computing topic that interests you.

...and youtube doesn't have everything.

e.g. What we actually know about Software Development and why we know it's true.


Seriously, what was the point of your comment?

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