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June 9, 2022 | Episode 219

How I Became a Developer Advocate

  • Transcript
  • Notes

Kris Jenkins: (00:00)

Hello, you're listening to the streaming audio podcast. And this week's episode is a fun one, possibly too much fun. I might get into some trouble for not working hard enough, but in a rare alignment of our travel schedules, I actually got to be physically in the same room as a colleague of mine, Danica Fine. And we realized we have something interesting in common. We're both developers who relatively recently got tempted into this world of developer relations. So now we don't just build things, we build things and we talk about building things and it's a weird job.

Kris Jenkins: (00:35)

And as we sat down to chat about it, we just thought it was a story worth telling. What actually is a developer advocate, how do we get to this life? And how does all that relate to the cooking habits of the duck-billed Platypus? Well, before we get into it, let me tell you that streaming audio is brought to you by, which is our education site for Apache Kafka. It's filled with free information about how to build, maintain, and monitor a successful event system. And when you need to get Kafka up and running, then take a look at our cloud Kafka service, Confluent Cloud. You can get a free account and a Kafka cluster up and running in minutes, and it will scale all the way up to production sizes. Add the promo code PODCAST100 to your account, and you'll get $100 of extra free credit. And with that, let's go on location for a change and get a view on the fun world of developer relations.

Kris Jenkins: (01:34)

On the podcast today and live with me, if you're watching this on YouTube, we have Danica Fine. Hello, Danica.

Danica Fine: (01:40)

Hello, Kris. Thanks for having me.

Kris Jenkins: (01:42)

It's good to have you back in this glamorous location. Danica, you and I, we both have a curious job of being developer advocates for Confluent.

Danica Fine: (01:53)

I'd call it curious.

Kris Jenkins: (01:54)

Yeah. Sorry, curious. And we've both relatively recently come to this life.

Danica Fine: (01:59)

Yeah. How long have you been a developer advocate?

Kris Jenkins: (02:01)

I've been for a year. I've been a DevRel person for a year. Before that, it was always like a hobby that I did on the side of being a full-time programmer.

Danica Fine: (02:12)

When is your DA anniversary?

Kris Jenkins: (02:14)

Do you know it came and went and no one brought me a cake.

Danica Fine: (02:17)

You have to tell people, Kris.

Kris Jenkins: (02:19)

See, you are good at this DevRel thing. You know when to advertise upcoming event.

Danica Fine: (02:24)


Kris Jenkins: (02:24)

So I'm still getting used to that.

Danica Fine: (02:25)

Advertise everything you do because...

Kris Jenkins: (02:27)

Yeah, it was like last week I hit a year last week.

Danica Fine: (02:30)

And no, Kris, we were all together two weeks ago. We could have bought you a cake.

Kris Jenkins: (02:33)

Well, it was... Yeah. Okay. So we need to move on.

Danica Fine: (02:36)

I'll get him a cupcake later. Okay?

Kris Jenkins: (02:38)

Okay. Or something stronger.

Danica Fine: (02:40)

You deserve one of those boozy ones where they put, like they put a shot in the cupcake.

Kris Jenkins: (02:46)

You have better cupcake shops in California clearly.

Danica Fine: (02:49)


Kris Jenkins: (02:50)

But let's try and get to the main point.

Danica Fine: (02:52)

Yes, yes, yes.

Kris Jenkins: (02:53)

Right. So the question on the table is how did you actually get into this life? So before we get to that, tell me what you were doing before you got to this life.

Danica Fine: (03:01)

Yeah. I just had a normal career as a software engineer, just... Actually, I loved it. Actually really, really loved my time as a software engineer. So I probably could have kept doing that indefinitely, honestly. So I was in business intelligence and data visualization for a little bit at Bloomberg. I actually really loved that. I love playing around with visualizations for data. And I think it's really cool to show people who don't really think about data visualizations, like what you can do with it and to represent data better. And then after that, well, during that role, I need to let you know, I would build out courses to help people internally figure out how to build visualizations on their own.

Kris Jenkins: (03:53)

Oh really?

Danica Fine: (03:53)


Kris Jenkins: (03:53)

You're teaching people how to do visualization?

Danica Fine: (03:53)

I was, which is like the precursor too.

Kris Jenkins: (03:57)

Slipping down the slope.

Danica Fine: (03:59)

Exactly. So I got my taste of being a DA.

Kris Jenkins: (04:01)


Danica Fine: (04:02)

When I was building those. So I loved it way too much, building out the courses and talking to people. Yeah, so from there I decided to get into more backend focused software engineering. And I ended up using this little technology called the Kafka. They were like, "Hey, do you want to use Kafka?" I don't know what that is, sure, I'll learn it. And yeah, the rest is history.

Kris Jenkins: (04:26)

Don't think you can skip over all of that.

Danica Fine: (04:29)

Maybe you could piece it together.

Kris Jenkins: (04:30)

What were you using Kafka for?

Danica Fine: (04:32)

Oh, it was really cool. I have a couple talks on that actually from Kaka summit.

Kris Jenkins: (04:39)

Pitch your own product.

Danica Fine: (04:39)

Hey, why not? Kris, you have to learn.

Kris Jenkins: (04:46)

Okay, that's fair enough.

Danica Fine: (04:47)

Pitch your product. Yeah. So I was part of a group at Bloomberg where we were the, you know, Kafka existed in the company, but we were the first team really to try to use it at scale for mission critical applications to produce market data. So we took this monolith and I think it was like 10 or 20,000 lines of code that people hadn't touched in a little while. And we're like, hey, yeah, let's move it over to Kafka streams and see what happens. And it made the system more robust and it was great. Everyone loved it. Took a while to get there.

Danica Fine: (05:12)

But it was a really fun project and I fell in love with Kafka streams at the time. And yeah, I really liked talking about Kafka at that point because after we made that project work, other groups in the company were like, oh, how do we use Kafka? So again, I was like, oh I like talking about technology. Sure. I'm going to share our use case with others and now the rest is history, right? I could say that?

Kris Jenkins: (05:41)

I think you could say that.

Danica Fine: (05:41)

Okay. Okay. Good.

Kris Jenkins: (05:42)

Was that the first exposure to Kafka?

Danica Fine: (05:43)

Yeah, it was.

Kris Jenkins: (05:43)

Oh cool. And then event streaming in general?

Danica Fine: (05:47)

Yeah, that was... Yeah, because prior to that I was, like I said, I was doing some BI stuff mostly and yeah. So that was almost four years ago. Maybe? Three or four years ago. Yeah. So, but that was like a hefty application that we were building. So we got like every auxiliary Kafka related technology. We touched it all in that process and we were really pushing the limits of what you can do with Kafka stream. So it was really fun, kind of really difficult, but it was great.

Kris Jenkins: (06:18)

Yeah. On how large team?

Danica Fine: (06:20)

There were seven or eight of us. But I think only like four or five of us were working on that at that time. So it was really cool. I enjoyed it.

Kris Jenkins: (06:29)

I can imagine. What is Bloomberg? I've not worked for a company quite like Bloomberg, but I've worked for a lot of finance companies and I imagine they're in the same huge, generally slow moving internally companies.

Danica Fine: (06:43)

I think they, you know, I always hear that about financial organizations, but I think where Bloomberg's very different from other similar organizations in that they position themselves mostly as a technology company. Because they're like outside of the market, right, so they make the run market run, but they're not held to, I don't know, maybe all the same constraints as other financial organizations, kind of, and they're using a lot of really cool technologies. So the team that I was on, we were in San Francisco and it was kind of cool. Like the office that we had there was more of a startup feel where it's like, hey, what cool technologies can we use? And we were given sort of the freedom to play around with it and see what would work for the company. So yeah.

Kris Jenkins: (07:32)

That's cool.

Danica Fine: (07:32)

And now...

Kris Jenkins: (07:33)

So you decided to leave them.

Danica Fine: (07:35)


Kris Jenkins: (07:35)

How does that work?

Danica Fine: (07:37)

Well, I had the great opportunity to come work for Confluent full-time and talk about Kafka as my job. Which like I said, I love being a software engineer. I didn't actually want to leave that life, but I thought it was a really cool opportunity to come and be a developer advocate and see what it was like, so.

Kris Jenkins: (07:58)

How's it been going? I mean, were you right? Was it cool? I mean, have you been enjoying DevRel life?

Danica Fine: (08:04)

I think so. Yeah. No, I love how varied it is. I love that there are so many different aspects to the job. I think we talked about this before, about you don't really know what's coming up next with your job and it's like always kind of surprising. There are things that you know that developer advocates do, and then that's really only the tip of the iceberg. And then there are so many other things that go on behind the scenes, other cool things. And it's just been fun. What do you think?

Kris Jenkins: (08:33)

I found like if I go back to my life as a programmer, you've got... You could pretty much look at my calendar every day and it would stay stand up 9 to 9:15, programming rest of day. And that's pretty much every single calendar day of my programming career, by and large.

Danica Fine: (08:51)

What does it look like now?

Kris Jenkins: (08:52)

Now it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Danica Fine: (08:58)

I love that.

Kris Jenkins: (08:59)

Yeah, it's all over the place.

Danica Fine: (09:03)

But in a good way?

Kris Jenkins: (09:04)

But in a good way, yeah. It's like super varied and it's all either technology or about technology, which is exactly up my alley.

Danica Fine: (09:11)

And it's fun too. All of it's fun. Like it can be very heavy technically, but it's still a fun thing. You know, that's kind of our job, I guess? Or we should talk about this, but I think I view this as making technology as accessible and as fun as possible, as interesting as possible.

Kris Jenkins: (09:29)

Yeah. I think, I agree, but to me it's like, because I'm just such a complete geek, to me the technology already is fun and interesting.

Danica Fine: (09:38)

That's fair.

Kris Jenkins: (09:39)

And it's like not hiding that. It's... As a programmer, as a geek in society, you feel like you can't be too enthusiastic because you'll be seen as a nerd, right.

Danica Fine: (09:49)

That's fair. But it's our job to do that now.

Kris Jenkins: (09:51)

Now you get free past to just say, this is brilliant.

Danica Fine: (09:54)

I love leaning into it. It's so much fun. I've got like a whole laundry list of projects and things that I want to implement now.

Kris Jenkins: (10:03)


Danica Fine: (10:04)

And really just build the fun things that I've been wanting to build.

Kris Jenkins: (10:06)

You can raise your nerd flag and everyone is happy.

Danica Fine: (10:09)

I think... I already kind of think I'm a nerd, but I'm worried that it's actually so much worse than I think it is. Like, there's potential there. So watch this space.

Kris Jenkins: (10:22)

[inaudible 00:10:22]

Danica Fine: (10:22)

But yeah. How did you fall into it though? What were you doing prior to being a DA?

Kris Jenkins: (10:25)

Well, I was, before this, I was a contract software developer. For about 10 years I had had a company that was mostly a Java shop before then. And I left that for reasons that we can get into...

Danica Fine: (10:42)

Was it Java? Was that the reason you left?

Kris Jenkins: (10:47)

No, no, no. There is a sliver of Java in that and at the end of that period, I felt a little bit burnt out and I felt I reached the point where if you'd asked me at the time, I thought I could do anything I needed to with Java, but I couldn't really be bothered, you know?

Danica Fine: (11:03)


Kris Jenkins: (11:03)

Java can feel a bit heavy a bit for [inaudible 00:11:06].

Danica Fine: (11:06)


Kris Jenkins: (11:07)

I felt like a Java expert who had run out of enthusiasm to get programs written.

Danica Fine: (11:12)

Have you tried scholar?

Kris Jenkins: (11:13)

There's a separate rant.

Danica Fine: (11:13)

That'll be the next episode.

Kris Jenkins: (11:19)

But I start experimenting with other languages, all right.

Danica Fine: (11:21)

Oh, okay.

Kris Jenkins: (11:22)

And through various things, I found Clojure, which is a list on the JVM.

Danica Fine: (11:29)

I wanted to make a little joke in there about you finally found closure in your life, like metaphorically, or like emotionally Clojure,

Kris Jenkins: (11:36)

Such a typical California, all your jokes eventually come back to therapy.

Danica Fine: (11:40)

I just want to make sure we're okay. Everybody, all the time.

Kris Jenkins: (11:43)

All the time.

Danica Fine: (11:43)

Are we good? Yes.

Kris Jenkins: (11:45)

Just checking where I'm a little...

Danica Fine: (11:47)

Sort it out.

Kris Jenkins: (11:48)

So I did a lot of work in Clojure for a while. And to my great surprise, started getting contract work for Clojure.

Danica Fine: (11:56)

Is that really baffling?

Kris Jenkins: (11:57)

It was because I thought it was a super niche language and it kind of is.

Danica Fine: (12:01)

Oh, so you thought you were being hipster and then it was like, oh this is actually mainstream. Was that?

Kris Jenkins: (12:06)

No, no, no, no, no, no. Thanks for accusing me. I thought this is so interesting that even though it's probably going to harm my career, I want to do this for it.

Danica Fine: (12:17)

But then it worked out.

Kris Jenkins: (12:18)

And it turns out that whilst there are far fewer jobs for Clojure, there's more demand than supply.

Danica Fine: (12:25)


Kris Jenkins: (12:25)

There are more employers looking for good Clojure people than there are good Clojure people looking for a job. So it worked out quite well for me.

Danica Fine: (12:33)


Kris Jenkins: (12:33)

And I did Clojure for a while and then I got a job working at a company that was half Clojure, half HASCO.

Danica Fine: (12:39)


Kris Jenkins: (12:40)

And that's when I was really seduced to the dark side.

Danica Fine: (12:43)


Kris Jenkins: (12:44)

Yeah. Because it's like stop being A-S-M-R or A-M-S-R or whatever that is.

Danica Fine: (12:47)


Kris Jenkins: (12:47)

You like that too much. But yeah. I just found that I'm spinning out this story of how I become a DA.

Danica Fine: (13:02)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's what we do.

Kris Jenkins: (13:02)


Danica Fine: (13:02)

You're you're supposed to do that.

Kris Jenkins: (13:02)


Danica Fine: (13:02)

Yeah. Tell me, Kris.

Kris Jenkins: (13:04)

I'm trying to get to the point. So there I am. I'm working with these HASCO people. It's like, they've got nearly everything I like about Clojure, but they have a really type system. And that's when I really went all the way down the rabbit hole functional program.

Danica Fine: (13:17)


Kris Jenkins: (13:17)

And I spent about five or six years, mostly doing functional programming as a contractor building event-driven systems.

Danica Fine: (13:26)


Kris Jenkins: (13:27)

Which is really interesting. And I loved that model of doing things. In all that time, I never found a good data store.

Danica Fine: (13:34)


Kris Jenkins: (13:34)

For event driven stuff.

Danica Fine: (13:37)

That whole time.

Kris Jenkins: (13:38)

All that whole time. Yeah. And I know for a fact that I had Kafka on my must checkout list.

Danica Fine: (13:43)

Oh. So it was just there waiting.

Kris Jenkins: (13:44)

Yeah. And it never quite percolated to the top of the list.

Danica Fine: (13:47)

Okay, so how...

Kris Jenkins: (13:47)

And then...

Danica Fine: (13:49)

How? I'm on the edge of my seat, how did this happen? How did it all come together?

Kris Jenkins: (13:52)

Because of... So meanwhile...

Danica Fine: (13:54)


Kris Jenkins: (13:56)

Up at another chapter so we can get to the point. Meanwhile, I really got interested in just generally doing like programming community stuff. So I was talking at conferences, I was trying to write more blog posts, I was organizing a meetup in a local pub in Chiswick, which is where I live. It was a monthly meetup. Any language we would just hack on something and drink beer for an evening.

Danica Fine: (14:23)

That sounds pretty good.

Kris Jenkins: (14:24)

It was great.

Danica Fine: (14:24)

Is that still happening?

Kris Jenkins: (14:25)

No, no, sad. I ran that for four and a half years and then I had to draw a line under it.

Danica Fine: (14:30)

Okay. It's sad.

Kris Jenkins: (14:32)

Yeah. But it was great fun. And one of the things that made it great fun was everybody in the room would split into teams and everyone would solve the same problem.

Danica Fine: (14:39)

Oh nice.

Kris Jenkins: (14:40)

But in different languages. So you get to the end of the night and you get to see an [inaudible 00:14:46] team and you'd never looked at, but you saw an [inaudible 00:14:49] team solving the same problem you'd solved in a completely different way.

Danica Fine: (14:52)

Okay. That's really cool. That's awesome.

Kris Jenkins: (14:54)

That was good times.

Danica Fine: (14:55)

Should do that. That should be new meet up.

Kris Jenkins: (14:57)

As you know, I'd happily start a new one now if London was actually open for meetup, which is starting to be.

Danica Fine: (15:05)

Okay, so soon. By the end of the year. So do it again. That would be fine.

Kris Jenkins: (15:07)

So I've been doing all this, basically, DevRel stuff on the side in a way. And one of the regulars at my meetup was Ben Stopford.

Danica Fine: (15:19)

Celebrity alert, man. He was just casually showing up to those.

Kris Jenkins: (15:28)


Danica Fine: (15:28)

That's pretty cool.

Kris Jenkins: (15:28)

And I...

Danica Fine: (15:28)

Ben Stopford, he's just like you.

Kris Jenkins: (15:31)

He's just an ordinary guy, famous author of the book, Designing Event-Driven Systems.

Danica Fine: (15:33)

It's a great book.

Kris Jenkins: (15:34)

Yeah. And yeah, so I knew him when he worked back in the banking world. And I remember him moving to some Kafka-esque company in those early days and I thought, oh yeah, I'll bump Kafka a few points up my to do list. I still never got round to it.

Danica Fine: (15:55)

Where was it on the list now? Like 10 down.

Kris Jenkins: (15:57)

It's a very long list filled with conferences over the years. I never... It was sort of... You could feel, looking back, you could feel the narrative percolation to the top of the list. And then I had one contract was working for a blockchain company.

Danica Fine: (16:15)

Oh no.

Kris Jenkins: (16:16)

Oh no.

Danica Fine: (16:16)

Oh no.

Kris Jenkins: (16:17)

Which I still to this day I find technically very interesting and business wise, really a solution looking for a problem.

Danica Fine: (16:27)

Yeah. I agree.

Kris Jenkins: (16:28)

Yeah. I think some people will find that controversial. Some people will not find it, but yeah. I like the people I work with. I love the technology we're working on. After a couple of years I absolutely couldn't see the point of why we were doing it.

Danica Fine: (16:39)


Kris Jenkins: (16:40)

And out the blue who should phone me up saying the infamous words in our industry, would you like to meet for a coffee? None other than Ben Stopford.

Danica Fine: (16:50)

Oh man. And the rest was history?

Kris Jenkins: (16:53)

And the rest was history.

Danica Fine: (16:54)

I love, love that. [inaudible 00:16:56] Yeah. Yeah. I was just looking for the right place. Awesome. But, and you became a developer advocate.

Kris Jenkins: (17:01)

Yeah. Basically he said, do you want to... I feel like, okay, so this is praising the interview, but he said, do you want to do like coding and talking about coding and going to conferences?

Danica Fine: (17:13)

And the answer is always yes, I feel.

Kris Jenkins: (17:14)

And I said, yes, but what's the catch? And he said, all the stuff you build has to be built with a database. And I'm like, okay, that doesn't seem like a big ask. Which database? He's like Kafka and I'm like okay.

Danica Fine: (17:30)

Kafka's a database?

Kris Jenkins: (17:30)

Kafka is a database. Yeah. Controversial.

Danica Fine: (17:30)


Kris Jenkins: (17:33)


Danica Fine: (17:33)

He opened with that.

Kris Jenkins: (17:34)

No, he didn't. I'm priceying what Ben said.

Danica Fine: (17:36)

Okay. First off I love... That's a verb? Priceying?

Kris Jenkins: (17:39)

Yeah. It's pricey something.

Danica Fine: (17:41)

I mean, I know that a pricey is a... That's a noun.

Kris Jenkins: (17:44)

See, I always think of Americans as people who will verb anything.

Danica Fine: (17:49)

But you've just verb a noun.

Kris Jenkins: (17:51)

[inaudible 00:17:51] I think we use the nation of verb now.

Danica Fine: (17:51)

Now you're verbing verb. Is that a verb?

Kris Jenkins: (17:56)

I think we can verb verb.

Danica Fine: (18:01)

I haven't flipped through the dictionary recently enough.

Kris Jenkins: (18:04)

Do you know it's a very mutable language.

Danica Fine: (18:08)

Okay. Take a look later and see. All words are made up, so.

Kris Jenkins: (18:11)

All words made up like [inaudible 00:18:12] and words like that.

Danica Fine: (18:15)

Kookaburra. No, that one's real.

Kris Jenkins: (18:15)

Yeah. It's a real made up word.

Danica Fine: (18:17)

They're weird looking birds.

Kris Jenkins: (18:18)

They are weird looking birds. They look fatter than they should.

Danica Fine: (18:22)

They don't, it's not, they just, they look like something out of a studio Ghibli film.

Kris Jenkins: (18:27)


Danica Fine: (18:28)

But in real life. It's moderately concerning to me because they're just everywhere in Australia.

Kris Jenkins: (18:35)

Is this... Great thing about Australia is it's clearly from the same planet, but at some point their species just diversified off and you get things like that. Platypus...

Danica Fine: (18:43)

And it's incredible.

Kris Jenkins: (18:43)

What's going on with that?

Danica Fine: (18:45)

And also, I think, echidnas there too?

Kris Jenkins: (18:48)

Echidnas? Yeah.

Danica Fine: (18:49)

Like why do these things all just exist there?

Kris Jenkins: (18:52)

Do you know?

Danica Fine: (18:53)

I love it.

Kris Jenkins: (18:54)

Would you like my... I'll give you my Platypus trivia because I like the duck-billed platypus.

Danica Fine: (18:58)

I got it. I'm so ready for this.

Kris Jenkins: (18:59)


Danica Fine: (19:00)


Kris Jenkins: (19:01)

Two bits of Platypus trivia. The first is when they first brought platypli back to the Royal Academy of Sciences in London or whatever, they thought it was a hoax. They thought someone had surgically stitched a Duck's bill onto a rat.

Danica Fine: (19:16)

Oh no. Okay.

Kris Jenkins: (19:16)

It was ages before they realized actually this is a creature that's ruining all our [inaudible 00:19:22]

Danica Fine: (19:22)

What? Rooting it. Well, echidna kind of does the same thing, right?

Kris Jenkins: (19:26)


Danica Fine: (19:26)

Doesn't it also lay eggs or something?

Kris Jenkins: (19:28)

It lay eggs. It's a mammal. It suckles it's young. It's like, what is it? Is it a mammal? Is it a bird? I don't know.

Danica Fine: (19:31)

Does it have wings? No. Okay. Well the platypus, I guess, kind of [inaudible 00:19:38] anyway. Okay.

Kris Jenkins: (19:38)

Anyway so there is the first fact and the other great fact, right? So it lays eggs.

Danica Fine: (19:43)


Kris Jenkins: (19:44)

It suckles its young so it produces milk.

Danica Fine: (19:46)

Got it.

Kris Jenkins: (19:47)

It is therefore the only creature in the world that can make its own custard. Eggs and milk. It can make custard. Theoretically.

Danica Fine: (19:57)

Has anyone done that?

Kris Jenkins: (19:59)

Somebody must have done.

Danica Fine: (20:00)

I imagine it's a protected species. So maybe we can't do that.

Kris Jenkins: (20:04)

Probably, yeah. It seems a bit cruel. But even the theory they could make our own custard would be wonderful.

Danica Fine: (20:09)

That is fascinating.

Kris Jenkins: (20:11)

Yeah. So you're joining us here on the Australian animal podcast.

Danica Fine: (20:15)

That's great.

Kris Jenkins: (20:18)

So reeling this back into Kafka.

Danica Fine: (20:20)

Yes. Okay. How do we recover that?

Kris Jenkins: (20:22)

How do we recover? You, I believe, are visiting Australia soon as part of your DevRel life.

Danica Fine: (20:28)

So I've been told.

Kris Jenkins: (20:29)

Yeah. Taking anyone with you?

Danica Fine: (20:33)

Yeah. Just this weird canyon, Kris. So sir Kris Jenkins, he's coming with me. You may have heard of him.

Kris Jenkins: (20:39)

Thank you for... I don't think your vote counts, but I like that you're fishing for my knighthood.

Danica Fine: (20:44)

Sir Kris, I love that it's a palindrome. I want that for you.

Kris Jenkins: (20:48)

I think history needs a palindromic knight and I'm the only person able to step up.

Danica Fine: (20:53)

Absolutely. If we can start the vote on that, I don't know if that's definitely not a crowd source thing.

Kris Jenkins: (20:58)


Danica Fine: (20:58)

But it's a could be in the future.

Kris Jenkins: (21:02)

If there are any politicians listening, we could...

Danica Fine: (21:06)

Phone in now or [inaudible 00:21:08], let's get this. Secure this for you. But yeah, we are going.

Kris Jenkins: (21:14)

We're going to Australia and Singapore.

Danica Fine: (21:16)

We're really excited.

Kris Jenkins: (21:16)

It's going to be great fun.

Danica Fine: (21:17)

Oh man. It's going to be so much fun. I mean, now that I'm chalked full of trivia.

Kris Jenkins: (21:22)

Yeah, share with the locals.

Danica Fine: (21:25)

They're going to be like, yeah, we know. Yeah, no.

Kris Jenkins: (21:27)

So what are we doing while we're out there?

Danica Fine: (21:29)

What are we doing? Entirely too much, but also not enough. So I think it might be the perfect amount, hopefully, hopefully, but it'll all be interesting. I promise.

Kris Jenkins: (21:46)

Well, this is DevRel life, right? So we are, we're speaking a conference. We're talking to customers.

Danica Fine: (21:46)

Yes. Some meetups.

Kris Jenkins: (21:46)

We're doing hackathon work out there.

Danica Fine: (21:48)

Yes. Like a hackathon workshop.

Kris Jenkins: (21:50)

It's all about code in the end.

Danica Fine: (21:50)

It is. It is. But also we're going to have fun along the way. So we are speaking at what? NDC Melbourne?

Kris Jenkins: (21:56)

NCD Melbourne, yeah.

Danica Fine: (21:57)

That's going to be incredible. I look forward to that. I think we both speak on the final day of that, the 25th, right?

Kris Jenkins: (22:02)

We do. So here's a little bit of DevRel trivia. If you are in this life, you will know it. And if you are not in this life, you won't so share, you must have found this. So if you speak at a conference, there are two conferences you are at. There's the conference before you give your talk and there's the conference after your talk.

Danica Fine: (22:23)

Yes. I agree.

Kris Jenkins: (22:24)

They are two different beasts.

Danica Fine: (22:25)

Unfortunately, I think we're both speaking on the final day. And I think I speak on the final time slot as well. So I only get one conference out of this conference.

Kris Jenkins: (22:36)

Oh, okay.

Danica Fine: (22:36)

But you get a little bit more.

Kris Jenkins: (22:36)


Danica Fine: (22:40)

But yes, I absolutely agree. I agree.

Kris Jenkins: (22:42)

It's different. Right? When you've... It's hard to let go of pairing the talk in your mind before you give it.

Danica Fine: (22:48)

Absolutely. I mean, I'm here with you today because I'm in London for Devoxx UK. And thankfully my talk is like right in the middle of the conference.

Kris Jenkins: (22:56)


Danica Fine: (22:56)

So I was able to see a couple things beforehand while I was frantically preparing. And it was really nice to see a bunch of really great talks afterwards, so. For my second conference. Conference number two. But yeah, no, Australia's going to be great. We have a lot of great meetups planned and more in the works.

Kris Jenkins: (23:15)


Danica Fine: (23:16)

So I think I know I use this phrase too much, but watch this space, seriously. There's going to be a lot of cool things.

Kris Jenkins: (23:23)

You're going to saying much this space until you say, and the rest was history.

Danica Fine: (23:26)

Absolutely. Yeah. Why not? I only have a couple go to phrases and...

Kris Jenkins: (23:31)

I do believe when we're out there, I'm being cameraman for your... You're going to really record some release notes.

Danica Fine: (23:37)

I believe so. Yeah. We're going to see the stars align with all the upcoming release dates, but yeah, there will be a camera. I'm hoping that we have some really good social media moments, live tweeting and running around NDC Melbourne as well, so.

Kris Jenkins: (23:54)

We'll put it on TikTok.

Danica Fine: (23:56)

No, you first.

Kris Jenkins: (23:58)

We'll try and figure out TikTok, and then if we figure it out, we'll put some stuff.

Danica Fine: (24:03)

It's not really a goal at the top of my list. So we'll see if that comes together, but regardless, we will have a lot of really great moments. We will have a camera with us and I think we'll get a lot of good podcast out of it as well.

Kris Jenkins: (24:17)

I hope so. Some more field recording for the podcast.

Danica Fine: (24:20)

Yeah, that'll be great. We'll do it. Like, run around like The Office style, like have some really good... Anyway. No, that's a US thing. I think that the US Office was better than the UK office.

Kris Jenkins: (24:32)

Jeez, I never saw the office, the UK or the American one. I never saw it. It's just, I think I was traveling at the time and the whole series just passed me by.

Danica Fine: (24:42)

You were traveling the entire time?

Kris Jenkins: (24:44)

I think so.

Danica Fine: (24:45)

Kris, that has multiple years of your life.

Kris Jenkins: (24:48)

It's a busy life. It was all, you know, if you can remember it, you weren't there. Yeah.

Danica Fine: (24:55)

So you're okay. Right? Coming full circle here.

Kris Jenkins: (25:02)

Okay. Enough.

Danica Fine: (25:02)

Well, I think, okay. I think the takeaway from today is that we both settled into the DA life and it is incredible.

Kris Jenkins: (25:08)

Yes. It's great fun. And it's a great way to... You know how so many people are in this industry get promoted out of programming, into management and you end up managing the thing you love instead of doing the thing you love. And this is brilliant because we get to stay doing the thing we love, but we're so much around it to fill out the variety.

Danica Fine: (25:28)

Yeah. I do love it. I do.

Kris Jenkins: (25:31)

It's a good times.

Danica Fine: (25:32)

I do. I almost feel bad when I talk to people I know. And you know, we're talking about work and I just love my job too much, I think. So I want everyone to experience this, you know.

Kris Jenkins: (25:45)

For my wife and my mother, I'd just like to remind everybody that it's really hard work too.

Danica Fine: (25:48)

It is.

Kris Jenkins: (25:48)

It's super hard work.

Danica Fine: (25:49)

We're incredibly busy all the time, but I don't think I would have it any other way.

Kris Jenkins: (25:54)

No, it's a roller coaster. Sometimes it's incredibly busy, but it's huge fun.

Danica Fine: (25:59)

Yeah, absolutely.

Kris Jenkins: (26:00)

And I get to talk to lovely people like you.

Danica Fine: (26:02)

Ugh, Kris.

Kris Jenkins: (26:03)


Danica Fine: (26:04)

Kris, but yeah. So what, if you could sum it up? What does being a DA mean to you in one sentence or two or three? However many sentences you need.

Kris Jenkins: (26:15)

There's... Let's see. It's about building stuff and talking about it. Often I think our job is two things. We build stuff, right, and then if it goes well, we talk to people who might want to build their own kind of stuff like that. If it goes badly, we go and talk to the product teams and say, we've got some rough edges.

Danica Fine: (26:37)

Either way. We get to build things and talk to people.

Kris Jenkins: (26:39)

Yeah, so if you like that life, geeking out and then talking to people, it's a great life.

Danica Fine: (26:44)

It works out.

Kris Jenkins: (26:44)

But how about you? What's your summary?

Danica Fine: (26:45)

That's my summary. Well, I think in my previous two roles, like I said, I kind of fall into that... I want people to know what they can do with the technology, because most of the time I feel like the pain points that people hit with any sort of tech is just not knowing what they don't know, right?

Kris Jenkins: (27:03)

Yeah. [inaudible 00:27:03].

Danica Fine: (27:03)

And even if the docs are great there's always people out there who just miss something. Right? So, yeah. I just I love having the ability to help point those things out to people and so that they can have that aha moment or finally get over that blocker. Right? So, yeah. I guess, I don't know, this probably is a negative connotation, but I love being an enabler. Like helping people get what they need out of, out of Kafka, out of the technologies here so it's been great. I think that's what it means for me.

Kris Jenkins: (27:38)

Being an enabler. That's a nice note to end on.

Danica Fine: (27:41)

I'm going to add that to my resume.

Kris Jenkins: (27:42)

Thanks for being on the podcast again.

Danica Fine: (27:45)

Thank you for having me, this was incredible fun.

Kris Jenkins: (27:46)

Cool. I will see you in Australia.

Danica Fine: (27:53)

Yeah. That's probably the next time I'll see you.

Kris Jenkins: (27:53)

Cheers, peace out.

Danica Fine: (27:53)


Kris Jenkins: (27:53)

And there we leave it. The next time Danica and I cross paths in the real world will be in Singapore and Australia towards the end of June, we're going to be doing some conference talks, some meetups, some podcasts, meeting as many people as we can, talking about Kafka. And I can already tell it's going to be a lot of fun, fairly chaotic, and hopefully very enabling as Danica would say. At the risk of encouraging us, if you enjoyed that, now is the perfect time to click like or thumbs up or leave us a review or whatever your podcast user interface offers by way of feedback. We'd love to hear from you. And if you want to get in touch, you'll find our Twitter handles in the show notes. So drop us a line directly. We are currently hiring for another member of our team. So if that sounded like something you'd like to be a part of, send me a message. I would love to talk to you about it

Kris Jenkins: (28:45)

For more information on Kafka itself, heads to, where you'll find everything from high level overviews of what Kafka does well, to deep dives into this technology that makes it work. And when you need to get Kafka up and running, take a look at Confluent Cloud, which is our fully managed Apache Kafka service. You can get started in minutes and if you add the promo code PODCAST100 to your account, you'll get $100 of extra free credit to use. And with that, it just remains for me to thank Danica Fine for joining us and you for listening. I've been your host, Kris Jenkins, and I'll catch you next time.

What is a developer advocate and how do you become one? In this episode, we have seasoned developer advocates, Kris Jenkins (Senior Developer Advocate, Confluent) and Danica Fine (Senior Developer Advocate, Confluent) answer the question by diving into how they got into the world of developer relations, what they enjoyed the most about their roles, and how you can become one.

Developer advocacy is at the heart of a developer community—helping developers and software engineers to get the most out of a given technology by providing support in form of blog posts, podcasts, conference talks, video tutorials, meetups, and other mediums.   

Before stepping into the world of developer relations, both Danica and Kris were hands-on developers. While dedicating professional time, Kris also devoted personal time to supporting fellow developers, such as running local meetups, writing blogs, and organizing hackathons.

While Danica found her calling after learning more about Apache Kafka® and successfully implemented a mission-critical application for a financial services company—transforming 2,000 lines of codes into Kafka Streams. She enjoys building and sharing her knowledge with the community to make technology as accessible and as fun as possible.

Additionally, the duo previews their developer advocacy trip to Singapore and Australia in mid-June, where they will attend local conferences and host in-person meetups on Kafka and event streaming. 

Continue Listening

Episode 220June 16, 2022 | 48 min

Tips For Writing Abstracts and Speaking at Conferences

A well-written abstract is your ticket to conferences, but how do you write an excellent synopsis that will get accepted? As an experienced conference speaker, Robin Moffatt (Principal Developer Advocate, Confluent) often writes presentations that help the developer community to understand Apache Kafka and its ecosystem. He is also the Program Committee Chair for Kafka Summit and Current 2022: The Next Generation of Kafka Summit. Having seen hundreds of conference submissions, Robin shares best practices for crafting abstracts that stand out, as well as tips for speaking at conferences.

Episode 221June 23, 2022 | 69 min

Common Apache Kafka Mistakes to Avoid

What are some of the common mistakes that you have seen with Apache Kafka record production and consumption? Nikoleta Verbeck (Principal Solutions Architect at Professional Services, Confluent) has a role that specifically tasks her with performance tuning as well as troubleshooting Kafka installations of all kinds. Based on her field experience, she put together a comprehensive list of common issues with recommendations for building, maintaining, and improving Kafka systems that are applicable across use cases.

Episode 222June 30, 2022 | 48 min

Automating Multi-Cloud Apache Kafka Cluster Rollouts

To ensure safe and efficient deployment of large-scale Confluent solutions including Apache Kafka clusters across multiple cloud providers, Rashmi Prabhu (Staff Software Engineer & Eng Manager, Fleet Management Platform, Confluent) and her team have been building a cluster management solution —the Fleet Management Platform for Confluent Cloud. In this episode, she delves into what Fleet Management is, and how the service streamlines Kafka operations in the cloud while providing a seamless developer experience.

Got questions?

If there's something you want to know about Apache Kafka, Confluent or event streaming, please send us an email with your question and we'll hope to answer it on the next episode of Ask Confluent.

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