Civo Navigate!

I quite enjoy conferences, listening to talks, visiting a few workshops and talking to people, it’s fun!
But my experience is quite limited, especially in recent years. Until september this year, it was 12 years since my last conference at Nordic Game Conference in 2011. So quite a while!

As you might know, I’m an ambassador for Civo, a cloud native service provider. Since about a year ago they started to host conferences, where the first one was in the US, and now in september, the first EU one was hosted in London at The Brewery, and I was invited.

I’ve earlier written about my issues with anxiety, something which makes traveling to another country for a couple of days kinda hard. So to make it easier for me, I decided to bring my 10-year-old son (I was assured that it would be child-friendly enough before hehe).
I’ll try not to dwell in this kind of issues in this post, seeing it’s quite irrelevant, but I can tell you that it all went very well (with a tiny issue where I bought a ticket with train to Maregate instead of Moorgate and almost ended up way off course!).

The brewery and our first day in London

The Brewery was more than I expected! It was a really hot period in London while we were there (above 30c every day, in September!!), but the ventilation at the brewery was so good that I even had to wear my hoodie during some of the talks!
Over the two days of the conference, food (which I gathered was made at The Brewery) was served. A lot of it was stuff I (nor my son) had not tried before, and it tasted fantastic.
The areas for the talks where of great size and the staff succeeded greatly in both sound and light during all talks we attended.
The rooms used for workshops where large enough while still cozy.

The brewery have quite a history (with brewing of beer if you can imagine), something I would recommend checking out at their site if you are interested in brewing history!

We decided to pre-register the day before the event started, and got to meet some of the Civo Staff, whom where very friendly and easy to talk to, we then took a small stroll through Islington and ended up eating sushi at Itsu, a place which ended up being the only place my son wanted to eat (he really loves sushi).

We headed back to the hotel quite early and watched a movie to be able to get up early for the keynotes.

Day one of the conference

We succeeded in getting up at a decent time to grab some breakfast at the hotel before heading out.
We were both a tad bit sad that there was no real “English Breakfast”, but it was still good (seeing there were chocolate muffins and hot coco, my son was quite happy either way!).

The event host, Nigel Poulton, was a great choice by Civo, witty and fun, pleasant to listen to, perfect fit.
After a small introduction, the keynotes was on, a duo consisting of Nick Caldwell and Marty Weiner took the stage.

Day one keynotes

The keynote was a lot about their experiences surrounding management and their work at reddit, a really giving and relatable talk.
It was quite humoristic, something I enjoy, and even though it was about a hour long, it went by way too fast!

I quite early noted that my son, who only know a little English, found the talks quite… boring (although he totally understood any Smash Bros references) and made the mistake of not taking enough breaks between them during the first day.
What he really seemed to enjoy was the booth area though, and especially the table, where he was allowed to learn how to pick locks, something I think is a great thing for a 10-year-old boy to know… ;)

Son Lock-picking!

There were a lot of talks and workshops I would have loved to attend, but as always at a conference, you have to pick out the ones you really want to see that are not overlapping. Seeing I brought a 10 y/o with me, that kinda made it obvious that I would have to do other things than just watch talks as well.
I was able to attend quite a few though, and they were all great!

Civo is a cloud native (especially kubernetes focused) company, so a lot of the content at the event was focused around that but not only that, I listened to a Sustainability Panel which was very interesting, went to a WASM workshop, a talk about databases in the cloud and even listened a bit to a talk about AI/ML.
AI and ML was quite prominent at the conference, which is not too weird seeing Civo announced their GPU clusters and improvements to their ML platform at the event, but most of that goes over my head (yes… yes… I really need to read up a bit on it and try it out, I know it’s the coolest thing ever…).

The team was quite busy, but I had the chance to a few short talks with a couple of people from the team - which I really enjoyed, seeing we have only seen each-other through Zoom calls before! - as well as a couple of other of the ambassadors, and of course a lot of the people in the booths!
Very enjoyable, although I’m so unused to all the social stuff that I’m sure I seemed quite awkward, hehe.

At the end of the day, there was a party, which we attended for a bit, but my son was quite tired, so we headed back to the hotel relatively early (after eating at Itsu again of course) and watched the end of the movie we started the day before, and then slept.

Day two of the conference

We got up early the next day as well and headed to the venue right after breakfast, the keynotes the second day was with Kelsey Hightower, a quite well known person in the cloud native world, which I really wanted to listen to.
Just as the keynotes the day before, it was awesome, a lot of the talk was focused on hes life after google (and being retired), after the initial talk he was accompanied by Mark Boost and Dinesh Majrekar from Civo for a discussion and then answering questions from the audience.
I didn’t have the chance to say hello and speak to Kelsey, but from what I saw, he seems to be a very humble person, and even stayed at the event for most of the day just talking to people.

Day two keynotes

This day, I decided that I would make sure that my son was a bit more stimulated, so between every talk or workshop we attended, we took a stroll in a new direction in Islington.
It was my son - and my - first time in London, so seeing the town was an experience!
We found a nonconformist graveyard (Bunhill Fields) which I had no idea was located there, I even stumbled on the gravestone of William Blake and Daniel Defoe, which made me quite excited.
We visited a few smaller parks and squares and saw quite a bit of Islington, which was fun.

The Blake headstone

I had the time to watch quite a few talks during day two, notably a panel about Open Source (with Amanda Brock, Peter Zaitsev, Liz Rice, and Matt Barker) which was really giving.
We visited the booth area quite a few times as well, both for me to get the time to speak to the people there, but especially so that my son could keep on working on he’s lock-picking skills!
The event ended with a final talk by the Civo Team and Nigel Poulton and a last visit to the booth area, where my son won a Lego set from Okteto and was gifted a stuffed Kubefirst mascot! (I kinda think that was the best part of the visit for him, possibly challenged by the lock-picks!).

Lego all done!

My son wanted to go to Itsu a third time, but I decided that we would actually go a bit further and look for a real restaurant.
We finally decided on hamburgers at a cozy place called “Fat Hippo”, the burgers where really good, but so large that neither of us where able to actually finnish them of.
After eating, we headed back to the hotel and the third day in London was at an end.

Heading home

I won’t dwell too much on this part, but the last day we spent in london was mainly by watching all the “you must see that thing” things in London.
We watched Big Ben, the Palace and a bunch of other things, quite fun and especially rewarding for my son who haven’t been in a city larger than Gothenburg before (The population of London is quite close to the population of our whole country, and 10 times as large as Gothenburg)!

Big Ben

The trip home went flawless (although, me being so nervous made us get to Gatwick way too early, hehe) and we got home to Sweden quite late on the thursday evening.

Final thoughts

I’m extremely happy that I went to the event, and I think that bringing my son was a great thing.
I have missed going to conferences, and Civo Navigate EU as my first in such a long time was probably a perfect match.
I would strongly recommend visiting the next Civo Navigate if you are close to the event, well worth the low ticket price for such a great event. (And I don’t just say that as an ambassador, I really mean it).

Hope to see you at the next Civo Navigate EU!