Thoughts become things

Web Summit 2016: That's all folks!

Lisbon Alfama

This year (and last year), I was fortunate enough to be invited to Web Summit. Although this year was the year I decided to make good on the invite (and glad I did because it seems 2016 is the last year for free web summit tickets).

Tram Tram 2

I was expecting it not to be good for tech people to attend (if RISE was anything to go by), however looking at the speaker lineup and a whole track called Fullstk (on Day 3) - I’ve been mistaken a lot. Some of the speakers were amazing, and it’s taken a while to digest all the information. Here’s a summary of the jam packed 3 days.

Nighttime Baixa Chiado on Opening night Daytime sign

It seems the organizing committee of web summit went all out, and even placed a lot of signs throughout the city. I’d imagine there was some cooperation with the local government to do so. Also, increased police/security presence throughout the city was noted keeping people safe. And in Lisbon for the night summit, there is two party areas (like LKF) - Pink Street and Bairro Alto. Both within walking distance of each other.

Key takes and preparations

This goes for any large conference (such as South by Southwest). I even use this for my day to day living too.

  • Be prepared. Have a plan B in case plan A falls through. Your plan will not be exact. Be open to changes. I used iCal (which syncs with my phone) to enter in important meetings and sessions. Also noted down the address so that travel time can be calculated.
  • Be social at the night events - always have a drink (shouldn’t be a problem with open bars!). I made most of my connections by being present there. Also invites to other parties, where the the multiplier effect of opportunities are there. Basically, make sure you’re physically able to stay up till 3 - 4 am each day. Always be hustling.
  • Keep your phone juiced up (and have data). For web summit, have your badge on. Scan those badges, then import the data later. Have some business cards as a fallback low tech option (As it was not Asia, business cards at web summit was a plan B for me, I didn’t want to give them all out!)
  • Keep the web summit app installed until you get everyones connections exported off it, and you’ve provided a way of contacting all the people you met out of the app.
  • Account for travel time to events. Always be mindful of your plan B or for alternatives.
  • Use UberPool. I’ve met some connections sharing Ubers with. During web summit most of my ride share mates were also fellow attendees (one of the UberPool rides coincidently was someone I met at one of the parties)

Apps I used

  • Eventbrite (discovery of events)
  • Uber (getting to places)
  • Google Maps (Public transit)
  • Web summit app - For connecting with attendees before, during and after the conference.

Here are my highlights of websummit

Web summit near a big open air plaza

Opening Night

Opening Opening 2

The opening night line to get into the stadium was quite long, but was lucky enough to get into the stadium. A note for next time, allow more time to get there OR just go to an alternate event.

Opening Night @ the night summit

Pink Street Pink Street Horizontal

Pink Street was where most of the action for the night summit was happening at web summit over the 3 days.

Day 1 (November 8th)

The firehose of information starts.

Web Summit Day 1 - Entrance

My most noteable booths on the exhibit floor


Facebook Booth

  • Showcasing Facebook Workplaces (basically a slack competitor). The pricing seems a lot more attractive than slack when it comes to paid programs, at $3 per user but with similar support as the $12 per user per month pricing with slack. It also supports video conferencing too. And for educational or non-profit institutions, it is free. Another feature of this is that you do not require a Facebook account to use this, nor does employers see content in a personal account - it’s a new product completely.
  • FBStart for web summit
  • Free coffee (although personally the web summit coffee from the automatic booths was better).

Delta coffee

Delta Coffee Machine

This was available all throughout the conference. Basically, it’s a coffee automated dispensing machine that makes good coffee (future of work for baristas?).


Mytaxi stand

Good to see some RISE startups at Web Summit. MyTaxi.com was one of the winners of the RISE 2016 pitch contest.

Estonia e-Residency

Apply for e-Residency Estonia e-Residency

  • I’ve given this already a lot of thought. However getting a photo sent to them in the right dimensions was a bit of a hassle. Luckily there was a booth at web summit, and at the booth there was a resident photographer who took the photos. I definetly applied because the tech is interesting, and I’d like to use the opportunity to incorporate a location independent business.


Atlassian booth

In the software as a service section, Atlassian has a very prominent booth (with Schwag!).

TAP portugal

I flew over here on TAP so thought I might check it out as a travel blogger too. The airline was showcasing the new seating for business class for their new planes, and also got to sample it.

My verdict? It’s similar to cathay pacific in controls and comfort - but a bit wider. Too bad it’s Star Alliance.

TAP Business class seating

BMW stand

At web summit BMW was showcasing their electrict vehicles which you could testdrive (drive around the block).


Fintech startups

Two companies on the floor doing something cool.


Facebook: 10 years from now

  • Connecting the billions of people
  • Building truly intelligent machines to manage the mass of information only
  • Building virtual reality experiences for anyone to access anything and anytime. The ability to connect with anyone over long distances is why facebook is excited about VR.
  • Facebook will bring the remaining 4 billion people online. In space for rural areas, high altitude for urban areas. Wireless cells for high density areas.
  • Facebook has its own space program but has some setbacks
  • Facebook has high altitude drones for delivering internet
  • Facebook has computer vision AI to determine what sort of photo is when it is uploaded. But AI needs to be trained.

Future of the worker

  • Basically AI is going to shake up the economy in a big way eventually
  • Lets hope that there is a social safety net in place, because not everyone has investments (and how do people get those investments in the first place).
  • Observation: I can already see jobs being lost at the low end of the spectrum, it’s only a matter of time till AI starts taking over for others (self driving ubers, and eventually self aware computing) - humanity will be enslaved haha.

The art of conference hacking

This talk was more focused on companies trying to get good positioning. But Basically, find a partner company who’s attending (also look for warm mutual connections). Basically common sense.

Ask your Developer

Ask your developer

  • The developers are revolting. How to retain and attract developers. Don’t forget that developers are now empowered and a developer can change the world on their own.

The Developers are revolting

  • Give them (developers) problems not solutions

Give developers problems not solutions

  • Don’t treat them like commodities. (A lot of managers in Asia (particularly Hong Kong), need to attend this talk for sure. There’s a shortage of developers there for a reason)

Dont treat developers like commodities

  • Code is a creative thing, give your developers space. If you don’t give them the right tools, they can’t create something cool.

Code is creative

Day 1 Afterparties

  • Spent most of my time at a Canada Web summit event. Free beer and free food.
  • Then moved onto a Teamleader party near Praça do Comércio. That was a cool party where there was an open bar.

Day 2 (November 9th)

Web Summit Sign

Day 2 Startup exhibit standouts



This seems like a cool startup at first glance. As a gamer and coder, I love this a lot. It gamifies the whole aspect of teaching people how to code (just like the Swift game that apple did). I’ve already giving this a try, and found the concepts quite addictive - especially for those who prefer to see things visually. I think they are better than codility - but they need the ability to add test cases.



I have a big interest in smart locks. While it’s now a crowded space, their tech seems interesting on their website. Although they are an Alpha startup so hopefully they will continue and be part of the beta program.

My requests for ULockMe, they need to use blockchain tech.

Lunch on Day 2

On day 2 I decided to spend some time at the RISE lounge, which had free cantonese food, and coffee.

RISE lounge

Designing security and safety for billions

Facebook Talk MEO Arena prior to FB Talk

Facebook’s mission is to keep the world connected. So they need to be mindful about safety and also security (while delivering a good user experience). Here are some pointers:

  • Be mindful of the impact when building services
  • Usernames and Passwords came from a bygone era - people don’t use strong passwords anymore and reuse passwords. So keep this in mind.
  • Therefore try to avoid using usernames and passwords to secure an account alone.
  • Facebook use social graph for password reset code, because email may be insecure especially if your email account is owned.
  • Facebook also uses machine learning for security to determine if it is the actual person
  • Facebook even tests passwords on the black market.
  • Facebook builds self defending apps and uses its own crypto. Also thwarts backdoors from bad guys or governments.
  • For privacy (I know I know.. Facebook and privacy), Facebook uses TOR and End-to-End encryption.
  • Look for OSQuery on Facebook GitHub for securing a network.
  • Threatexchange.fb.com is another interesting site to look at.

US Election fallout

Outside advertisement capitalizing on the election results

  • Even an advertisement capitalized on the election results (see the picture)
  • Across the western world there’s a lot of discontent blaming immigrants/muslims/etc.
  • American voters don’t like the idea of the candidates saying it’s my term.
  • We live in a world of curated news feeds and engines so we won’t see the real thing, therefore it could be a surprise if most of your social graph favored the same candidate. Case in point, my own social media graph is a bit polarized on the political angle, so I see both sides of the coin. Personally I don’t care about someones political beliefs (I stay neutral - meaning I hate or like both sides equally), I saw the points for both parties and weighed them up and saw the most likely candidate.

Love & tech in the time of Tinder

Tinder founder Tinder stats

  • Tinder is very empowering for contacting people
  • Profile optimization tip according to the founder: Don’t do model poses, be real/authentic.
  • Another tip: Fill in all your information in your peofile.
  • Surprising fact about Tinder data - drumroll millennials are having less sex.

Day 2 Afterparties

  • InvestHK meetup at Silk lounge
  • Digital Nomads meetup
  • RISE ChinaAccelerator party
  • secondhome.io + Uber party at the up and coming secondhome coworking space at Mercado Riveria (above the Timeout Market)

Day 3 - My favorite (November 10th)


Day 3 was my favorite. So basically I’m gonna split this up into subcategories because there is a lot of information to digest. Also, the general theme is about security and privacy (one of the hot topics - and my favorite thing). I’d like to be able to build zero knowledge systems personally.

Lunch on Day 3

I kept seeing the Chicken Tachadinha stand, but decided to try it out.

Chicken Tachadinha Chicken Tachadinha snapchat comment

The meal

My most noteable booths on the exhibit floor

King Of App

King of App

The name sounds a bit cheesy. But I like their approach for building apps. Basically they are trying to be a wordpress for app development, and monetizing by publishing.

Talk: How hackers changed the industry

Key takes

  • The security industry started by scripts/tools to exploit vulnerabilities

Some of these tools which changed the industry

  • Then as soon as a hacker got fired for testing out their own company network, someone started a company and sold it for a billion dollars to IBM. Therefore, this spawned a whole new industry for security and penetration testing.

Open source philosophy

Key takes

  • Transparency of governance and code.
  • Free exchange of work. Makes it easier to work with people outside of the company without going into the details of intellectual property deals, etc.
  • Open source doesn’t work everywhere - some cultures don’t take criticism very well. Will only work in places where having criticism is ok for the feedback loop.
  • You can’t compete without open source. Open source developers do it for the art of code creation. Get it out there vs Get it perfect. Just make sure it builds. “If you’re not gonna harvest the extra r&d out in the world you’re not gonna compete”.
  • Recommended reading: http://producingoss.com

Conversation with a benevolent dictator for life - Larry Wall

Key Takes

  • People use perl because it allows them to expressive.
  • There is a huge ecosystem of modules.
  • Perl caters with a lot of needs. And obviously fits the way they are thinking. Sometimes they just need a script, then they need to go a different direction and build a full application. (MVP to real product!)
  • But programs tend to evolve from something simple to something complex. Bad programmers will produce bad code in any languages, good programmers can produce good code in any language (even PHP).
  • On the topic of a 100 year language - we don’t know what a language will be like in 100 years, but according to Larry Wall we can guess that it will be something can evolve over time - For example: Perl 5 was not anticipating the web, yet it was able to power most of the web when it was around. Perl 6 language concepts have come from natural languages. Community is important.
  • Any language that is successful needs to have a good community.
  • My take: Perl is very similar to the ruby philosophy, from past RubyKaigi’s - Matz also talks about the 100 year language at several RubyKaigis in Japan and Ruby conferences around the world

The Hacker Code - activity logs, encryption and radioactivity

Hackers are powerful

Key takes

  • Anything can be hacked by anyone.
  • A backdoor for the good guys is a back door is the bad guys. No backdoor guarantee is the best
  • Hacker responsible disclosure - report it then publish it
  • Hire hackers to hack your company - only way to make yourself secure.
  • Do Bug bounties (crowd sourced security testing).
  • Build Zero knowledge systems - the best database is a database with nothing in it. If there’s nothing in it you’re not a target.
  • Be mindful of your digital footprint
  • Mr Robot (recommended show), real hack attacks.
  • Encryption - world security vs national law enforcement.
  • On collecting data, Going Dark vs Blinded by the light.
  • Privacy policies = ownership policy
  • Personal information = hazardous waste (do not collect more than needed)
  • We are all connected.

API Design talk

  • If you’re a software engineer, chances are you are using something that someone else has done
  • APIs exist forever.

Reclaim your freedom with free (libre) software by Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman

This talk goes into a lot of depth on freedom/privacy. Some key takes here:

  • Everyone deserves freedom
  • If you value privacy and your rights - don’t post photos on Instagram/Facebook. You don’t use Facebook, Facebook uses you. My own comment that any free platform does this - I still use those free platforms to connect, however I keep most of my good content on my own paid servers.
  • For software to free (and the program not to use you) the users need complete control.
  • Don’t use apps that are tied to a particular server (vendor lock-in).
  • DRM is malware
  • Amazon swind… kindle has a backdoor to delete books. Every portable phone has a universal backdoor (aka full time listening devices, tracking people’s movements all the time).
  • Mobile phones don’t really have off switches. In other words - Stalin’s dream in the soviet union had the technology existed then. Democracy = freedom and privacy of movement
  • You shouldn’t have to say who you are to transact (zero knowledge systems). See the previous talk about why Zero knowledge systems are important.
  • Proprietary code = spyware
  • An ethical website runs without JavaScript.
  • Insurance companies should not let people be tracked.
  • Be scared about driverless cars. Can computers make moral decisions? (See I-Robot).
  • Uber can set a dangerous precedent (especially if its driverless), if it becomes self aware (if you’re doing something that someone doesn’t agree with it - be careful).
  • Online Payments can be anonymous but without aiding tax evasion.
  • I don’t like ads, I’m happy to pay if I can pay anonymously (data can be misused/stolen by rogue employees, governments, and other bad actors)

Closing - The age of moonshots and hyperloop one

While I didn’t get to attend this talk in person, the hyperloop seems interesting enough. It’s basically like a metro but with the speed of an airplane.

Hopefully, it will come to Europe - would be a good testing ground as there’s no borders (assuming that no other country tries or leaves the EU). Maybe in Australia - Sydney to Melbourne.. work in Sydney, live in Melbourne anyone?

Key points

  • Entrepreneurs challenge the boundaries all the time (see Uber)
  • Always naysayers all the time talking down on the tech
  • Advise to Entrepreneurs who want to go for a moonshot idea is go for it - It’s the best time to do so (if you look at whats been done over the last 2 years). Access to capital, resources, etc.

Day 3 Afterparties

Pink Street Day 3

  • Casper ventures party
  • Startup creator party
  • Web summit official afterparty

Key takeaways for the day

  • Sharing is caring
  • Build zero knowledge systems to avoid getting hacked (make yourself an unattractive target)

Towards the end Closeup


Videos for web summit which I’ll be catching up on missed talks are on Facebook

Key takes

  • Future of work see
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Who am I?

I write codes, work on projects when inspiration strikes, I am passionate about usability / user interaction, I love new technology (right now blockchain), I travel, and I blog (ocassionally, but try to be regular)