Library Podcasts

Ep. #76, Growing Alongside JAMstack Communities with Tessa Mero of Cloudinary

Guests: Tessa Mero

In episode 76 of JAMstack Radio, Brian is joined by Tessa Mero of Cloudinary. They share stories from the developer advocate role, tips for scaling communities, and tactics for improving accessibility to online events.


About the Guests

Tessa Mero is a Senior Developer Advocate at Cloudinary. She is an event organizer, currently focusing on the Jamstack SF event. Previously she’s been involved in running communities in PHP, APIs, DevRel, Vue.js, and Joomla events. She is a public speaker and avid career mentor, helping countless developers land their first developer roles.

Show Notes

Transcript

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Brian Douglas: Welcome to another edition of JAMstack Radio.

On the line, we've got Tessa.

Tessa, some people might know who you are from the events that you host, but do you want to give yourself an introduction and tell us why you're here today?

Tessa Mero: Sure. My name is Tessa Mero.

I've been involved in developer communities for exactly 10 years now, since beginning of 2011.

Brian: Wow.

Tessa: It started out as a hobby.

I started going to PHP meetups to extend my knowledge so I can do better work.

I used to write PHP code, and then I became a teacher and was going to even more meetups, and then I ended up organizing meetups because I like to stay after with everything I'm involved in.

I'm like, "Oh, what do you need help with?"

I just like to be involved at greater levels with everything that I do, because it's a good feeling. It's a good feeling to be helpful, and that just evolved over time into organizing events and so many different meetups in so many different communities.

Brian: Wow. That's awesome. You mentioned in passing you became a teacher. Is that like grade school education or do you teach something else?

Tessa: I was doing full-time development, and the college that I graduated from, they had a teacher that had to leave suddenly and they asked me, "Hey, would you like to just teach one class?"

It's like, "Really, we don't have time to go through an interview process with candidates," so I ended up teaching one class, the PHP course, and it went so well that they wanted to hire me part-time.

I was actually doing that, teaching evening classes on top of my full-time job.

I decided it was time to leave my full-time job to start a company with no plans at all of what I'm going to do.

I'm like, Oh, I want to be a founder of a tech product and I'm sure how plenty of time to think of something.

As soon as I quit my job, within one week, the college says "We'd love for you to come on full-time," and I ended up saying yes to that, so that whole other plan is like, maybe I don't really need to start a company because teaching full-time, why not?

All the speaking at events and organizing events and teaching college and past development turned into a developer advocate role, a skillset that I didn't even know I had until someone mentioned like, "Oh, why aren't you applying to developer advocate roles?"

I'm like, "I don't even know what that is and I never really thought of that."

Brian: What year was that, that you eventually transitioned to developer advocacy?

Tessa: I started doing volunteer developer advocacy work around 2014, '15 without knowing that that's what it was, and then 2016 was my official role with Cisco Systems.

Brian: Okay. Excellent. Real quick programming note, I used to sell Cisco networking switches, which I know Cisco is a large conglomerate.

I'm sure you were probably in the web side.

Tessa: Yep.

Brian: That was my first job out of college was actually doing sales for Cisco through a warehouse distributor.

But anyway, enough about me.

Then I guess my next question is you got a job at Cisco.

What sort of things were you sort of advocating at Cisco?

Tessa: I was on the WebEx Teams team.

Brian: People are very familiar with that.

Tessa: And also the triple API team, so I was on two different teams and then it transitioned more on the focus of WebEx teams, and it used to be called Spark API and then it got changed to WebEx Teams, and that was definitely a lot of fun because of all the interesting different usage with creating bots with it and showing people how to use that.

The biggest focus was a lot of events and travel.

It was maybe 75% plus travel, sometimes all month long, and just going to speak as many things as I can, podcasts. Just anything.

Brian: Help me understand too as well WebEx, because I'm always a consumer of WebEx, people invite me to do webinars and conversations.

I was actually just on a WebEx last week, a couple of them last week.

Like you mentioned as an API, which used to be called Spark, so is there integrators that build integrations in the WebEx?

Is that where your advocacy was?

Tessa: Yes, integrators building things using the WebEx teams API.

It's more of like a chat platform with video. It's separate from WebEx, but I think--

I'm not sure if they eventually combine the tools together and they're just planning on doing a lot of integrations with different platforms to make it more strong.

Yeah, the focus to developer communities, building apps for it.

Brian: Okay. I realize you also don't work for WebEx anymore so we should probably talk about your current employer, which is Cloudinary, which Cloudinary has actually been on this podcast before, early, early on JAMstack Radio.

Yeah, it was a great conversation.

For context, episode 26, for anybody who wants to go back and listen to that earlier episode, but actually if you want to give us an update, what Cloudinary is and sort of what you sort of advocate for them today.

Tessa: Sure.

First off, the biggest thing that attracted me to working for Cloudinary is their DevRel team is very community-driven and community-focused and really about building things and being involved in a way to give value to developers rather than focusing on ourselves first, and that's something that I care about is putting developers first and then things eventually come back in a positive manner.

Cloudinary has a media APIs and several different SDKs, and it's for working with media, images, video, if you want to optimize it, manipulate images in realtime in any way.

It's creating a better media experience on web and web apps and mobile apps. It's really interesting.

I spent some time yesterday testing our new SDK.

I'm not even sure if I'm supposed to mention that.

It's really fun because it feels like I'm in a Photoshop tool but using code to control all of the changes on a photo and it's fun because I feel like I'm in full control of this and I can change this in any way I want.

Not only can you just edit one image, you can use code to edit millions of images in an instant.

Brian: Yeah. We actually use it for a project actually that's public at this point for the GitHub Stars website, to do the image handling on the fly, so when the stars provide context of what they're doing.

The GitHub Stars program is very similar to MDE program, which we'll talk about in a sec.

I suggested it in passing of how to solve a problem that we were having with images and the team kind of ran with it and they're like, Oh yeah, the thing that you mentioned in passing, it works for us.

I'm like, Oh cool. I know things around this place.

But yeah, I'm super impressed with the tool, and since that first conversation we had on this podcast, I've always kept it back of mind, but also have stuff that's running on it that I just don't have to think about, which is also a nice part.

Tessa: Yeah. I love that. We're a very fast growing company, so there's going to be a lot more features, a lot more options.

There's going to be just so much more to it to give more flexibility and make developers'lives easier.

Brian: Yeah, indeed.

Speaking of making developers lives' easier, the sort of combination and connection, I just alluded to it previously, but you actually run a program at Cloudinary to engage your--

I don't know if you call it your power users or how would you explain the MDE program?

Tessa: Sure. I wouldn't call them ambassadors.

They are more like experts, because you're not required to know anything about Cloudinary to become a media developer expert.

Acronym, MDE. It's an exclusive program where MDEs or Cloudinary employees will recruit others and say, Oh, this person is very engaged and involved in developer communities and they care about media, they talk about images and videos and how to work with it more efficiently.

I'll recruit them and they'll come in and being part of the Discord community is a big part of the program.

We don't have any set requirements aside from just being active and involved. All of the MDES, they all either run events, speak at events, organize events, attend events. They're all very community-driven. Some focus more on maintaining open source libraries or building applications. Some focus on content, some focus on presenting. Their skillset is kind of all over, kind of like DevRel teams or large DevRel teams. It's a good chemistry with the whole group.

All of them are just really highly respected people that are just such great people to be around because of the interview process of we have to understand and know these people, and we go through their social media and make sure they're just a compassionate person is something that I really look for.

Brian: Yeah. You mentioned a keyword that popped out to me because I do DevRel in my day job.

People know that, but scaling the DevRel team, like having individuals who you call experts to be able to solve a problem, use a problem, use a feature, and you get that feedback, which is it the Cloudinary has a discord or is it for the MDEs have a Discord?

Tessa: We call that general media, media developers community. Anyone can join.

Brian: Got you.

Tessa: If you're working with images and video, anyone can join and get resources and just meet people in the community.

Then the MDEs have their own area to talk internally, but they're also part of all of the public channels.

The word usage is confusing. Media developers and media developer experts.

Brian: Got you. It sounds like this Discord is not Cloudinary specific too as well, so there might be folks who have expertise in other places.

Tessa: Yes. Competitors are always welcome, to me, I have no issues with that at all.

I think the priority should be helping developers with use cases and solving problems, not really about who belongs here. I'm about welcoming everyone.

Brian: Yeah. I like that. I like to hear that too as well.

Also I just wanted to point out, I see Cloudinary everywhere, not just on this podcast, but also just within the JAMstack in general.

But the one place I saw it really take off is on the live streaming setups, like a lot of DevRel teams have gone and set up their own live streaming.

We had talked before we hit record on this podcast that you've also even dabbled too as well, doing live streaming as well.

But the one thing I do notice is that the majority of the folks who sort of create their live stream when they have the interviews, like Learn With Jason is one of them that I think of when I think of live streaming.

The way they generate their cards or their-- What do you call it?

I don't know if they're called flyers in the modern age, but-

Tessa: Social cards maybe? Social cards.

Brian: Social cards, yes.

Creating the social cards to be able to share about the future interviews that you're having or the future streams.

I see so many live streaming developers and developer advocates who are using Cloudinary to generate those on the fly.

I'm not sure who generated that trend, but it seems to be very consistent with a lot of people who are doing lots of content.

Tessa: Thank you for reminding me. I need to start using that.

I think one of my coworkers created one as well because it's just so easy to access that I don't think about it.

Brian: Yeah. I mean, it's a great use case for when you talk about this media development.

If you're going to create the same thing over and over again--

I think of the YouTube thumbnails, like making clickable contact or the social cards, leveraging Cloudinary for that, and then also this quick show note, Kurt Kimball who's thew orst.dev.

He did a whole write-up on building his auto-generated social card for Apollo streams.

I don't know if he was the first one, but he's the first one I saw who explained it in great detail and Cloudinary was the tool of choice to make that happen.

Tessa: I love that. I think I may have seen that article.

I have to double check it out again.

Maybe I'll recruit that person that become a MDE.

Brian: You should. I mean, he does do DevRel.

He's DevRel manager at Apollo, so he is cranking out the content and I think that's the name of the game these days.

I want to get back to the community conversation too as well, because we've gone from we had our meetups, like we had the safe space that we just go and have a conversation, maybe have a pizza and a sparkling LaCroix, but now we've moved to remote and I know that you're the current organizer of JAMstack SF.

I'm curious, what has events been like for you during this 100% remote reality we have?

Tessa: It was a lot of confusion and trying to just figure out what tools to use and how to use it because there wasn't a lot of documentation available that makes you just, Oh, this is super easy.

I made a lot of mistakes over the last year at the very beginning.

For example, I tried to run one of my events on Discord where the speaker is presenting, so I muted my microphone and I can't remember what happened, but no sound came in the entire time.

I didn't have the recording. The second time, I'm just like, Okay, I'm going to keep my microphone on.

I'm like, Oh perfect. I got the recording.

Then I went back and listened to it and it was mostly the sound of me breathing through the entire-

Brian: Oh, wow.

Tessa: Presentation on their end and just trying to figure out-- I'm like, Okay, I think I want to use different tools.

Then I tried Zoom and learn how to stream Zoom with Streamlabs OBS into Twitch, and that was such a pain that I wrote a blog post on how to do it on dev.to just so I don't forget how to do it.

It was more of like documentation for myself, but I just posted it public.

Then I realized there's even an easier way because the issue with taking parts of the Zoom meeting and cutting pieces and creating your sources and making it show a certain way is when someone extra comes on, it completely destroys everything.

Or if they screen-share, everything just kind of messes up.

Then I discovered StreamYards.

And I discovered that actually from someone I was talking to Gift Egwuenu.

She's an organizer of one of the JAMstack events, JAMstack Lagos I think.

We had a meeting and we were just talking about SteamYard and she was showing me what it is and how she's going to switch to it, and it was just so flawless and easy to use an instant, links to Twitch, click start, and there it goes.

Everything runs very smoothly. It was built specifically for streaming meetings.

Brian: Yeah, and they recently announced funding or acquisition. I can't remember.

Some announcement happened with StreamYard, but it sounds like they've sort of hit a nerve when it comes to the need of streaming needs for folks.

Yeah, if you have not heard of StreamYard, definitely check it out.

Tessa: I have no affiliation with them.

Brian: No affiliation. I guess the current setup too is, so you've just been doing StreamYard. Do you do Meetup or do you use something similar to coordinate the communication?

Tessa: I decided to switch the JAMstack San Francisco.

I started with just Zoom.

I started a Zoom event and I ran into the issue where no matter what I do, I get Zoom bombed, and then I wrote an article about that and how to avoid being Zoom bombed.

There's actually a lot of communities of I wouldn't say the most kindest people in the world that look for public Zoom links, and then they all coordinate together to enter that Zoom meeting at the same time and just start posting vulgar and inappropriate things in chat with virtual webcams and anything that they can do.

The only way to avoid that is not allowing anyone to show their video or chats or have sound on or anything. I'm like, Okay, there needs to be ... There has to be a better way to have a virtual event. I decided on live streaming, even though it just seems more difficult and I'm like, You know what? I'll see, I'll try it and see how it goes.

I decided to change up the JAMstack theme a bit to see how that goes with JAMstack tech founders, founders and CEOs, to really show that they care about the community and they do Q&A, answer questions.

Sometimes they announce features or news that they haven't told anyone else or anywhere.

There's always exciting updates and just being able to like see a demo straight from the creator, and usually they'll have an engineer and advocate join and talk about it too.

It's a lot of fun because I tell them it's informal, it's casual.

If you have a bunch of people walking around in the background, bringing you food, eat a taco during the stream, I don't care. Just relax and enjoy it.

Brian: I love that because I feel like we've come full circle around when you were originally doing meetups and you would stay after and have that connection.

Your sort of laid back approach to the event also makes it approachable to other folks.

Especially if you're talking CEO, founders of these companies that are potentially growing to be the next XYZ company.

Well, we could drop whatever name, the next Cloudinary.

Then I love that now have access, and the other thing that I love about--

I'm personally enjoying the remote meetups and events is because they're accessible.

Anybody who can stay up or be available during that time zone, that's the only limitation today is time zones.

If you do have an event in an evening on the West Coast, you're not limited to only people in San Francisco or only people in Silicon Valley or California.

You have access to it just by making yourself available for a couple hours in the evening or morning or lunchtime.

Tessa: One thing that I highly consider is time zone.

That's one of the most important things if you want a higher viewer count, and because I'm in the Pacific Northwest in the U.S., people in Europe are about nine, 10 hours ahead of me.

I always do my live streams around 10:00 AM, sometimes 11:00 AM, if that's feels too early for that week.

I struggle with sleep very frequently. I am insomniac, night owl.

Brian: Well, I appreciate your consideration too, as well, because I know early JAMstack's SF were always evening events, but that's quite different that it's a morning event because the majority of us, like we're all working from home and I can imagine that as we wake up and sort of do our morning standup or our stand up might even be later at this point, that we're able to engage in content.

Do you find a lot of folks who are attending the event but also working at the same time? Or how do you sort of combat against the distraction?

Tessa: One thing I've noticed is I'm not a fan of going to Zoom events unless I'm a speaker, but if it's a live stream, I enjoy just sitting in chat and chatting a little bit, listen a little bit and then going back to work and then kind of switching back and forth.

It makes it easy for me to attend even more events rather than taking time off from--

I mean, of course I'd be allowed to take time off to attend any developer events at any time, but I have a lot of obligations and responsibilities that I prioritize and I see the same situation for all other developers.

They are able to just do a lot more and they like it, but there is a big missing piece, the whole social factor and there's a lot of people who prefer in-person events.

With me, I prefer a little mixture of both and I do miss hanging out with people, especially in the evening times for dinners for some beverages, tea, coffee, coffee at night, cocktails.

Brian: Coffee cocktails. I guess what's your outlook on the rest of 2021?

It's a new year, new opportunity for hosting events.

Do you feel like the current setup that you have with the morning streams through Zoom but directly into a Twitch or rather StreamYard is what you ended up getting into?

Tessa: Yes. I've been thinking about that quite a bit as I have a lot of decisions to be making pretty soon.

I know there's a lot of vaccines being rolled out, but it's only accessible in certain regions and areas.

Some places like Israel is already doing a fast pace of vaccinations, and then there's going to be a lot of countries where they might be more not prioritize on being able to easily get vaccines, and organizing events in-person, especially when it comes to conferences, I want to make sure it's fair for everyone.

How I see things is I think there's going to be more services providing the ability to come to the event and help with the stream setup.

I'm thinking about maybe bringing in a volunteer or figuring out a way to set it up in-person. I know it's not simple.

Thinking about different options to be able to stream a live event so that way I can have both audiences.

Brian: Yeah. One thing that I used to do, so I'm originally from Florida and when I first started my developer career, I was in Florida before I moved to the Bay Area.

I would always find the sort of premier meetups on Meetup.com because Meetup.com when I started developing was pretty new and I would actually follow their stuff and then watched her videos, and that's how I got acquainted to a lot of stuff, just a lot of technology just early on in my career.

I liked the hybrid model.

I liked the fact that you could still have the connection, the community, and I hope that we can move towards that eventually because I mentioned also before the stream that I do like being in the San Francisco offices, connecting with folks who were in the Bay Area, but also I love the fact that people have access to the information.

The more we can do to things like the stream or host the things on YouTube or whatever video service the kids are using these days, it provides a level of access so that way me and you don't just know the latest and greatest on how to create social cards on Cloudinary.

We can share that knowledge with everybody through blog posts and through videos and stuff like that.

Tessa: Yeah, I absolutely love that. It's going to be interesting.

I think things are going to start changing more along the lines of early 2022, and to organize an event, especially a conference, it takes a lot of time and preparation.

That's going to be a while before people are able to organize that without any issues or having to change the date frequently, but maybe meetups will be a thing towards the end of this year.

Maybe it'll come back.

Brian: Yeah. You mentioned support. How about sponsorship and even speakers?

Is it easy to find either of them in the current setup?

Tessa: With sponsors, it doesn't really cost anything to run my--

Different online events would cost different. If you use certain platforms, it may be very pricey.

With the way I have things set up, I just pay an annual fee for StreamYards, which my company sponsors the cost of that, and just prizes.

Prizes is the only thing I look for with sponsors, but you everything is different so I can't speak for other people's virtuals events.

Brian: Yeah. I realize we haven't actually-- Your event is JAMstack SF, but do you have a stream URL that folks can find it after the fact?

Tessa: Yes. Twitch.tv/jamstackSF.

Brian: Okay, excellent.

We spent a lot of time talking about JAMstack SF and communities and the sort of current pandemic and how it's shifted it.

But I'm curious to hear just anything new with Cloudinary since you're working with the DevRel team there as well.

Tessa: Yes.

One of our biggest focuses that we've been working with for probably the last six months is building out this tool called Media Jams, and I'm concerned if people are going to Google it because the website's not live yet and it's indexed by Google, but it's not live.

It's not what you see right this moment is not how it's going to look or function.

Brian: When is it going to launch?

Tessa: We have about one to two months before it is live, and it is the coolest thing ever because it's a community project which I'm 100% supporting in any way I can.

I'm putting as much effort and resources as I can with getting involved.

Media Jams is I can just kind of explain it step by step.

You open up the website and you search for what technology stack you're using, and then you can look for use cases on content related to media.

Maybe you're trying to build an image gallery with Gatsby or you're trying to optimize your images using Angular or just any kind of technologies that's involved in the JAMstack.

You can search for it and find what you're trying to do.

Every article can be done by a junior dev or a senior dev, any level.

You can be one month into coding school and still be able to follow this tutorial.

We have very strict guidelines on how simple the word usage and the code has to be, and the code sample is the biggest part.

Less content, more code samples.

It needs to be forkable and it needs to be on a code sandbox live right on the front.

All code is open source of course.

All content is open for anyone to copy, use, and it's a community-driven project so all the content on there is by people who have author accounts.

So far we've been privately inviting authors from the media developers Discord and the MDE community.

Brian: Excellent. I love these platforms that give you what you need to solve a problem really quickly because I've been working on this little side project.

Actually, I mentioned it last episode of the pick so I won't get into it, but if you listen to last episode you know I talked about Flavor Flav, which is ...

Tessa: I've watched a lot of those episodes, if you are referencing the TV show.

Brian: No, not specifically Flavor Flav.

I ended up doing live streaming and I started building a project live on the stream and we couldn't come up with a name, so I thought of a name, because in my experience, if you think of the worst name, some other better name will come eventually.

It's been like three weeks and no one's changed the name on me.

We did spend a good 30 minutes on a stream trying to think of a better name and nothing else came for it.

Tessa: I like it. It made me laugh.

Brian: It's basically open source recommendations, but saucy which is the description, which is also not a description.

Again, something that I've learned in DevRel, the quicker you just throw it out there, then you can sort of mold it into the thing you need to be eventually, but content is king so you just got to continue to put stuff out there and people will think of you as relevant.

Tessa: I love that.

Brian: But I'll definitely check that out.

Tessa: One thing that makes this project stand out is it's not going to be specific to only using Cloudinary as an option for media.

Right now, of course that's what we're populating the website with as that's the resources that we have to take advantage of, but down the road, we're going to invite competitors and different media related APIs, so that way they can--

Contributors, they can add content on anything, code samples on using any API sets related to media.

Brian: Excellent. Yeah.

For context too, as well, for when this will go out, it'll probably be a month before I guess your project will ship.

Tessa: Yes.

Brian: If people want to get involved and submit to this project with their own ideas and samples and examples, how would they get in touch?

Tessa: They can join the media developers Discord and message me.

I'm the only Tessa in the Discord.

You can join it by going to the URL, discord.gg/mediadevs, M-E-D-I-A-D-E-V-S.

Or you can click add server and type the word media devs.

That's the easiest way to add a server.

Brian: I didn't know you could do that. You could just search by server.

I've always tried to find that little short URL for Discord links, but how are you liking Discord nowadays?

Tessa: I've been using it since probably 2014, '15.

I'm a bigger fan it than any other tool because I know it very well, so I know the shortcuts and how to organize the servers in a way that most people don't know exists.

You can color code your servers. You can group them.

You don't even have to manage looking through 50 different.

I have 7`5 servers on my Discord.

You can create one server of your own, which is free to create a server, of course, and then you can push notifications from other servers and to your one server so you can kind of see a compilation of all the important information that you need to see.

Brian: Yeah. I mean, wow.

I just got learned because I've been using Discord but as so many other folks who have made the migration from Slack and then Discord, I'm new to the game and I don't have as much experience as you do, but I have seen people do things like that.

I am intrigued and we definitely should connect and talk more shop in DevRel and collaborate and stuff like that.

But I appreciate the conversation and learning about the JAMstack SF community, just in general communities and what we're sort of going through today.

I do want to transition us to picks, so these are jam picks. Things that we're jamming on.

Could be music. It could be food. Also it could be tech.

I feel like the second half of this conversation has kind of been picks, but we won't count those as picks.

We can pick new picks if you like.

Tessa: I can talk about my hobbies, but I've never been able to really have hobbies because of the amount of travel that I've done.

I've been traveling since day one in my career in tech since 2011, because all it takes is going to one conference and you're hooked.

You're attending them and attending them, and then you get convinced to be a speaker and you're like, Oh, I would never speak.

Public speaking, not for me.

Then all of a sudden you're speaking at events and you don't know how that happened, and then it's never ending from there. I love it.

It's very addicting. Bing home for the last year, I'm just like, Oh my gosh.

I have the whole evening to myself, like, what do I do?

What do people do on weekends and evenings?

I kind of had to like figure that out and I'm like, maybe I'll start playing video games.

I've never really had time to ever play. Maybe I played a couple hours a month.

Now I get to put more than that into it, and I'm putting a lot of my time into cooking every day.

I'm cooking up a meal. A lot of the times I'll take pictures of it and I'm creating a whole collection of my beautiful food.

Brian: What sort of things have you learned this year?

Tessa: Recently, I've been experimenting with Indian and Pakistani spices and creating different curries.

When I'm talking spices, I'm talking like a hundred dollars worth of different spices to create different recipes and flavors, and they really know how to flavor their food in a way that it's just so many different flavors that it's just so delicious.

I like really spicy food.

I also grew up with Korean food, so I've mastered so many different Korean recipes.

I'm kind of experimenting different areas.

I bought a very high end smoker and I've been smoking meats and experimenting different ways to cook meats, like smoked brisket is my favorite thing to make, beef jerky is very easy to make.

One thing I haven't learned how to do is make bacon, so that's on the list.

Brian: Wow.

Tessa: I can go on forever on different things I've been creating.

Brian: Well, you speak in my language one with the food, but I think you've superseded anything I've ever cooked this year.

I mainly just making bread. That's been my go-to.

Tessa: I love the smell of making bread.

Brian: Yeah, and I like the skill it takes to actually make it look good too as well, because there's one thing you can make bread, but then actually the skill of making it look like bread as well I found was actually a hard thing to do this year.

That's been nice to learn, but I'm glad you found some time to learn some hobbies and also eat food as well, which is definitely recommended.

You mentioned gaming.

Any games in particular you picked up this year?

Tessa: Yes, I play this game called Valorant, which is kind of like a Counterstrike mixed with Overwatch and different types of games.

It's very high strategy, high paced, high thinking game, and that's my favorite type of game where you make one little mistake with your thinking process and you basically screw your whole team and it makes you just spend a lot of time just strategizing.

It feels like I'm exercising my brain constantly just be more sharp, and it helps me with thinking in all other areas.

That's my excuse to play games by the way. It sounds good, right?

Brian: Yeah. It sounds great. You applied that to your day job. I'm familiar with Valorant.

I've actually not played it, but I'm off and on I watch people play on Twitch, so that's sort of how I engage gaming.

I always take time off of work and that's when I do play games.

Other than that, I always get stuck in the writing code and building side projects, which is another time-suck that I wish I would just spend more time making real things in real life, but that's neither here or there.

Thanks for sharing your picks. I've got two quick picks.

One thing, we mentioned Gift in JAMstack Lagos.

Go to jamstack.org, folks, to find out all the other meetups that are happening for the JAMstack.

One in particular I wanted to shout out which is JAMstack Toronto, which is run by Henry.

He does a lot of great stuff. He's a public speaker.

He comes from the design and old school engineering space, so he's been running quite a few of the events over the past year and he always gets some pretty good names up there at the Toronto area.

Actually, at this point, he's actually got names from all over, all over at the meetups, but he's a great person to follow.

Tessa: Gift and Henry. I think it's Henry, not Henry. I'm not sure.

I have to double-check but they both are a superstar MDEs in our community.

Brian: Oh, okay. I didn't know that. Excellent.

Tessa: A lot of our MDEs involved in JAMstack communities and a lot of them also organize JAMstack events, and it's really amazing.

I let them know that I was coming on to the JAMstack Radio and they were very excited.

Like, it live? Can we watch it?

Brian: Yeah, honestly, I could technically do this live.

Tessa: If you do it live, you have to slowly build up that viewing community, but that would be easy with just spreading the word on Twitter and in Slack channels, Discord channels and people will join and support.

They love stuff like this.

Brian: Now I'm tempted.

But with that I had one more pick, which is my camera, which is a Canon EOS M200.

That sounds like a lot of words. It is.

When I switched from using standard webcams to do using a Canon as a webcam-- I actually have this plugged into USB.

Canon actually has a webcam utility.

Obviously the camera is going to be a little expensive to sort of drop a couple of hundred dollars on, but it's changed my entire streaming Zoom experience when folks see sort of the shallow depth of field.

I just can't go back to using a regular webcam ever again.

It's been great to do for remote conferences as well, so shout out to that.

Tessa: Yeah, I would love the link to that.

I am slowly upgrading little parts of my setup one at a time.

Brian: Yeah. That is exactly what I did this year is each piece of things that I didn't know anything about, I research like crazy.

While you were cooking brisket, I was Googling on the Internet and watching YouTube videos.

I do have a video, actually, folks, if you want to check out the YouTube video, I do have a video on my YouTube, which is youtube.com/ilikerobot.

Whole other name for the name of the YouTube.

I just happened to pick that name a long time ago.

Tessa: I love it.

Brian: I do walk through my entire desk setup of-- It was December of 2020 is when I walked through, and I say that because it's changed since then.

Just FYI. I always be changing, but speaking of always with changing, thanks for the conversation, Tessa.

Best of luck with the hobbies.

Tessa: Likewise.

Brian: We'll have to keep in touch. I need some recipes.

I need to get into the kitchen and learn some new things.

You had me at Indian spices. I'm also a huge fan of Korean food.

My neighborhood in Oakland, we have tons of Korean restaurants off of Telegraph.

Tessa: Just make a request and if I don't know how to make it, I will master it on my end if it's something that I like to eat.

Brian: Excellent. Oh, I appreciate that.

Folks, keep spreading the jam.

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