Hi, I'm Toshi from Cloud Product Development Division. I work as a software engineer at HDE.
This year HDE sent 6 software engineers to AWS re:Invent 2017 held in Las Vegas from November 27 to December 1. In this article, I would like to share my experience from this big conference. Since many videos and slides of presentations are already available, I will focus on on-site activities I had instead of presentations which you can watch right now.
40th Monthly Technical Session (MTS) was held on November 17th, 2017. MTS is a knowledge sharing event, in which HDE members present some topics and have QA sessions, both in English.
The moderator of the 40th MTS was Matsuura-san.
The first topic was an explanation of a fixed bug in one of our projects by Fukutomi-san. He noticed that his project sometimes labeled HTML emails as illegally modified. The cause of the bug was excessive newlines generated by the use of a certain email client. After removing those excessive newlines, HTML emails were no longer incorrectly labeled as illegally modified.
The second topic was "OWASP Top 10 2017" by Kodama-san. OWASP Top 10 is an awareness document written by The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), which represents a broad consensus about the most critical security risks to web applications. A variety of security experts from around the world shared their expertise to produce the list. Furthermore, the list is free to access for everybody. So it is very recommended to adopt the OWASP Top 10 as the first step to producing secure code.
Kodama-san also described how OWASP Top 10 2017 differs from the last one that came before it, OWASP Top 10 2013. Some risks from 2013 didn't made the list this time around, and the community decided to put some new risks in their place. Most risks stayed in the list, understandably with a change in their importance. He also explained the risk rating methodology that was used to make the list. To finish the topic, he mentioned what developers, security testers, application managers, and organization each needs to do as their next step in producing secure code.
The third topic was an introduction to one of our projects by Xudong-san. He began by explaining what the project is and why it is needed. The approach that is used to achieve the goals of the project is data-driven decision making. He mentioned the kinds of data that this project needs, how it retrieves those data, and how the software system works in general. He wrapped the topic up by reporting the project's current status.
The fourth topic was "Slack Frontiers" by Kawatake-san and Hosaka-san. Frontiers is a conference by Slack about exploring how the nature of teamwork is changing. Participants get to hear about Slack's newest products, learn how Slack improves work and workflow, and hear from customers about the ways their organizations are evolving. This year is actually the very first time Frontiers was held. The event was held September 12-13 in San Francisco.
Akane-san began the topic by explaining what San Francisco and the atmosphere of the event was like. In this event, Slack announced two new products, Shared Channels and Dialogs. A Shared Channel is a bridge connecting a company's Slack Workspace with another company's. According to Hosaka-san, Shared Channels are simple, transparent, and controllable. Dialogs, on the other hand, are forms which provide a focused workflow to quickly collect information from users. For example, during Frontiers, Slack itself used Dialogs to file in customer inquiries. They ended this topic by describing how other companies use Slack.
The fifth topic was "O'Reilly Velocity" by Bagus and Tanabe-san. Velocity is a conference by O'Reilly about building and maintaining complex distributed systems. Sessions covered themes such as capacity planning, distributed data, distributed systems, monitoring, networking, orchestration, resilience engineering, serverless, systems engineering, and technical leadership. The conference was held October 17-20 in London.
Some of the keynotes that either of them found interesting includes "Why an (Interactive) Picture Is Worth a Thousand Numbers" by Miriah Meyer and "The Evolution of Chaos" by Kolton Andrus. Some of the sessions that either of them found interesting includes "Serverless Security: What's Left to Protect?" by Guy Podjarny and "A Postmortem of Postmortems: Trends and Behaviors across Organizations" by Eric Sigler. They also shared their experience traveling to London, such as the food, transportation, and sights.
The sixth topic was "Understanding the Bitcoin Forking Drama" by Kirby-san. He is one of our Global Internship Program (GIP) participants. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system. There are currently several Bitcoin forks out there. Hard forks bring radical change to the protocol, so new version rejects all transactions made from the older client software. On the other hand, in soft forks, new client is backwards-compatible.
He then explained some Bitcoin forks, such as XT, Classic, Unlimited, Cash, and Gold. The aforementioned drama of each forks were explained by walking us through the development of Bitcoin itself.
The seventh topic was "The Dat Project Ecosystem: Distributed and Decentralized Tools for the Open Web" by Hugo-san. He is also one of our GIP participants. Dat Project is a distributed data community, with which people can share, backup, and publish their file systems. It was created for scientists (e.g. to share data sets), but is useful for everybody.
He then explained in more detail what the protocol is like. According to him, Dat Protocol shares some similarities with others, such as Git (e.g. versioning of data), BitTorrent (e.g., peer-to-peer), and DropBox (e.g. synchronization of data sets). He also explained how to share data with the CLI tool dat. He also presented some practical applications of Dat Project, such as Beaker Browser and Rotonde (a social network).
Working in the global team, which comprises of members located in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand majorly, it is much a rare opportunity to be interacting closely together physically solving puzzles and enjoying a dinner event like this. During the escape hunt, we were collecting the puzzles, clues, under limited time and trying to solve all of the puzzles under pressure. This is one of my first times working with a group trying to solve multiple riddles like this and the experience was not only pleasant by gratifying. I was teamed up with two of sales members; one from Taiwan and one from Thailand and one executive member and myself was working as the consulting team. I believe this team member was quite diverse and I was able to get perspectives from different members.
Initially, we were trying to collect the clues that was sporadically hidden in the room; however, everything looked suspicious and everything seemed like a clue to us. We had found an armor, several wooden cards, locks and number symbols on the mirrors. These clues do not combine and we were not able to reach unanimity between the members. In the end, we tried to grab the first hint for our very first clue and found out. After the gamemaster, the person in charge of running the game or the referee, encouraged us to look for more wooden cards have we realized that we were on the right track but lacking the wooden cards needed to proceed. When we finally collected all of the wooden cards needed for solving the puzzle, we had to match the color orders in order to come up with the combinations that would solve the numbered lock.
The opened lock led us to a whole new room and there were plenty more clues to look for. However, I was very obsessed with the left wooden cards and trying to combine the numbers on the wooden cards with the numbers on the mirror. Later have I finally realized that the numbers I have do not combine with the clues any more I should go on to look for more clues. I found out that other members were much more interested in the armor that was left aside by me and they had started building the armor. This is the reason I think team work was important-each one of us was focusing on a different clue and none of us were sure what would lead to the next clue. Finally, one of the member got a white piece of paper that he was holding, I left the wooden cards aside and looked at him afar. I saw the broken patterns on the backside of the paper he was holding, and I was reminded that a similar pattern I had found in the new room that had arrows on it too. Suddenly, I asked him if I could briefly borrow the paper and I rushed into the new room trying to recover the broken patter on the map. I found out once the patterns are matched, I could obtain the numbers that matches the arrows. The arrows allowed us to unlock a lock that enclosed a cabinet of the rest of the armors.
After the armors parts were collected, we were unable to correctly assemble the lose armor to the instructions on the page. We had to finally call the lifeline and ask for the gamemaster to help us correct the armor. This is when I realized that the armor I had overlooked was very important for acquiring the next clue. As foreigners, we were not able to fully assemble the traditional Japanese armor. However, once the armor was completed and matched with the numbers on the mirror, we were able unlock the final combination lock that leads us to the final room. The final room required us to solve an arithmetic calculation.
In the end, compare to the average group, we did not score very well-have we not only passed the time limit, but also asked for more clues than the average team. However, I believe that as four members that were not so used to working closely together, we worked together immediately well. We have only exceeded the time limit by a minute, but we only have four members compared to the other groups. As a tradition, we had took a few photos and received our certificate to celebrate our victory. Unfortunately, there were not many photos that we could take during the escape; as a result there was only the picture at the bottom.
After the escape hunt, we went to a dinner on a boat party for a group of 15 members. The boat seemed quite big for our party and I hoped that we could have more members than present. However, it is indeed a rare opportunity to enjoy a yagatafune to such a small party. The main theme of the party was the farewell of our manager from the global team and welcoming a new manager into the team. However, since we rarely get together, I believe it was also a bit more difficult to find the common topic to talk among all of the members, luckily, beer and sake made everyone more talkative. The speech given by the ex-manager was also compelling. There were members that made a card for our ex-manager and handed over during the meeting and the dinner ended with lots of singing and laughter.
Sawasdee ka~ Hello everyone!
I’m FAI from Thailand, a global member from HDE, Inc. in Japan. I’ve been working here as a part-timer in HDE since June 2014 and finally joined as a full-time employee recently!
Many people may have heard about an Escape Room. For those of you who has no idea what it is, escape room is actually a game in which a group of players will be locked inside a room and they will have to solve a series of puzzles in order to unlock the room and escape. Hints are usually hidden within the room. Many places provide themes to the room and integrate story line to the game itself to add the spice for the players. Sounds fun right? I, for one, have always wanted to try out the escape room, but never had a chance until just last week…
Our company decided to take us on an adventure to an Escape Hunt. You’re probably asking in your head, ‘Wow that must be nice to be working in a place where they would bring you out for a game activity’. Well, YES, it’s pretty awesome! But seriously, not only the Fun that we have had, but there are other things you can obtain from the game itself. One thing for sure is the value of teamwork that would be required for everyone to team up in order to solve the mystery and pass the game lock. But you’ll find that there are more to that. The main objective of this event is also actually a training for our Global members. So….Here goes the story of our Escape Hunt !!
On 19th October 2017, a totally normal working day in Japan, all of our global members left the company early evening and headed to Asakusa, where the Escape Hunt is located. As we reached the location, we were separated into 3 groups. My group has 5 team members, and we were assigned to an escape room called “Zen”. (No phone is allowed inside so I couldn’t take any picture of the rooms inside)
As we entered the room, we were so confused on what to do and where to start. The only instruction that was given in the beginning was that we will have to unlock the room by using hints hidden around the room. We can call for hints from the game master. Each hint worth 1 minute. And we have 60 minutes to escape.
In my group, everyone has ZERO experience in the game (O___O). We only know that Okay we will have to escape from the room, but like HOW!?
This picture is my group after we have finished the game already. Anyway, inside the room, there were two hidden rooms that we had to unlock to get the next hints and so on. I would say it was really hard in the beginning to figure out what to do and what to look for.
After spending about 10 minutes in the first room, plus calling for one hint from the gamemaster, we were able to figured out the first puzzle and unlocked the key to the second room. From here, we started to get the sense and logic of the game itself. After gaining experience from the first puzzle, we’ve learned that the first thing you have to do is Observe the whole room (<.___.>), and Find any marks or symbols that you feel it may lead you to the next hint.
I’ll give one example of the puzzle to give a better picture of how the game works. This puzzle was the easiest one to be noticed. So as we entered the 2nd room, we’ve found something similar to this on the wall. (I drew this so it’s not exactly how it was, but just to give an idea hehe).
After scanning the room for quite a while, we found that we can also find these symbols embedded into two Japanese rugs that are hung on the wall of the room. Well, here are all the hints we got for this puzzle, what is your next guess? (Hmm..)
The answer is to count all the symbols on those rugs and put it in the equation above to get the passcode to unlock the next puzzle. (Could you guess that? haha) This one was actually the easiest one to solve so we didn’t take much time to figure out after observing the whole room for a while.
You might feel that this sounds easy, but most of the puzzles have hints hidden throughout different places and rooms. There are overall about 6 or 7 puzzles and some required hints from different rooms. Hints for the last puzzle (I would say the hardest one to solve) are dropped throughout the whole walkthrough of the game. The game itself requires players to be observant and attentive at all times, and most importantly cooperative.
Since we were given only 60 minutes to escape the room. After realizing what needs to be done, we have to be quick in solving the puzzle. That’s where teamwork comes in. For instance, the example of the puzzle I’ve given above. It took us only about 3 minutes to figure what to do next. It’s the counting part that takes time. Here, we have to come up with a strategy and assign each team member each task. For our group, we assigned four people with symbols for them to count the number of symbols that appeared on the rugs, and one person record down the number to do the calculation.
To dig deeper, I believe that not only cooperative skill, but the trusts developed among members are also fairly important. Some puzzles were quite complicated that sometimes we are not sure if our direction of solving the problem is actually the right one or not. Since there are many possibilities to achieve the solution in a short amount of time, I believe it is essential to act right away once the decision has been agreed among members.
Anyway, to sum up our activity, Escape Hunt has been a fun and learning experience for all of us. We all have gotten to know other members in the group better within just this 60 minutes. We can all see that each of us has different abilities that added up to a great teamwork. Some are highly intuitive, some are great at logic, some equipped with good observation, some have high leadership, and some are great supporters.
But the best thing is that my group became the first group to solve the escape room within 37 minutes, and we are so proud of ourselves!!! HAHAHA
Someone once said that “The study meeting is not complete until you write a blog.” Even though this isn’t a study meeting but since I had the chance to participate in the SaaS Conference Tokyo 2017, here is my report about that event.
About SaaS Conference Tokyo 2017
This conference has been held annually since last year by Mr. Hiro Maeda, the famous venture capitalist. Invited speakers include those who are working at SaaS startups in Silicon Valley and Japan.
This year, the slogan of the conference was “Start from zero to 10 billions of ARR, growth of SaaS Startups”. MongoDB, DoubleDutch, Stripe from the USA and SmartHR, Salesforce.com Japan, PLAID were invited to speak at the conference. By the way, this conference needed the registration fee which is rare in Japan, 6,500 yen for registration, 3,500 yen for Reception party ticket.
Unprecedentedly, our company HDE, Inc. had become platinum sponsor of this conference. So we can get 3 tickets.
Starting with Mr. Hiro Maeda’s greeting speech with his hot passion for this conference.
How to create worldwide level marketing team
The session started with Ms. Meagen Eisenberg @MongoDB CMO. The earlier part was her presentation, the latter part was Q&A session facilitated by Mr. Hiro Maeda. This year, most of the sessions were organized with such style. It was very useful for me to attend these Q&A sessions since Mr. Hiro Maeda asked various questions that I also wanted to ask the presenter.
I learned why and how should startups create their web page, how to invest with limited amount of money.
Of course, they are using MA, CRM tools like Marketo, Salesforce, etc.. In MongoDB, sales manager and marketing manager have a weekly meeting to check and adjust the inquiry (including the data from free download).
In addition, she studied in Waseda University about 20 years ago, by any chance we were classmate?
Zero to One of SaaS business
The true story about how SmartHR has been growing this 2 years by its CEO Mr. Miyata. He appointed newcomer to be in charge of customer success he did not know what is “customer success.” It was a good point for him to be able to hire public relations. He wanted to hire person to be in charge of marketing but it was too difficult. He talked about why he invests in TV commercial and so on.
His tasks had changed by each stage of the company. At the first stage he worked as sales and product manager, however, now his main task is to arrange the company organization.
I think that is SaaS Native company because they are using the words “Churn Rate”, “ARR” and “ARPA”, etc. as an indicator of management.
Salesforce in Salesforce -How to construct and educate the sales-
The next one is from two sales managers from Salesforce.com Japan. Each in charge of different sales team: Inside sales and direct sales. They talked about how to organize sales team named “the Model”. Actually, I had once heard about this model, and our company’s sales team model referred to this model. However, they talked more deeply about recruiting, assessment, sales career path, incentive plan, etc..
Their group strategy was 7 members in a team. I heard the same strategy from Microsoft. So I think it seems true one manager can manage up to 7 members.
The Key of huge ACV
A session by Mr. Suzuki, CEO of PLAID. PLAID is providing the service “KARTE” that real time communication service on top of e-commerce site and website.
The question from Mr. Hiro Maeda, “If you could go back to the starting point, what should you do and should not do?” He answered, “Only concentrate one service.” He thinks the development of the mainstream service had to be postponed due to other services, and there are parts left as negative assets.
Anyway, what a tremendous ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) transition it is!
How to set the SaaS price
This session is about how to set the pricing in SaaS by Mr. Patrick McKenzie. He has been lived in Gifu prefecture in Japan. Anyway, his is so fast-speaker, the latter part of the conference, English, fast-speak, for me is slightly hard to hear.
He said Japan has significant potential for SaaS market, few competitors furthermore it’s super difficult to enter the Japanese market due to culture differences and Japanese language.
The road to achieving 2.5 billion yen
The last talk was given by Mr. Lawrence Coburn from DoubleDutch. This session was the only discussion. He said if you could achieve the ARR, Triple ->Triple ->Double->Double->Double each year it would be successful. But for me, it’s triple, triple trouble, the last session, no slide, English.
He said what his failure is that he could procure $ 8 billion and he spent a bit of money.
We were given a chance to give lightningtalk as a sponsor, so I gave LT in there. (Definitely, I did the work.)
The reception party was held at the restaurant near the conference venue. However, there are fewer people than I expected. There were lectures in the party. And I could meet some business friends. Among them, I met Mr. Murata. He is a junior from my high school club (not a direct junior) and he is now running a company, AI Travel as a CEO. His service is a booking system for flight ticket, hotels for a business trip. If you are interested, please contact him.
Most of the companies that presented at this conference were born as 100% SaaS native company. So I think there are a lot if a difference between our company and them. And I could confirm it becomes common to use the terms “Negative Churn Rate”, “ARR” that we used to use in our company.
I could learn so many things from this conference, including several topics about marketing, sales team building, assessment, education, how to grow as a SaaS startup companies. I think it was worth for paying 6,500 yen.
I hope next year we can make a presentation at the conference. We will do our best.
This time I was listening to the talks while taking notes on PC, but without power supply, the battery couldn’t sustain. Therefore, latter parts of the conference I had to take handwritten notes which were too difficult for me to do so.This is why there are lesser contents about the latter part of the conference mentioned in this article. (It’s just an excuse.) I have to consider this problem for the next time.
I had to take about 1 week after the conference to finish the blog. I hope I had prepared in advance so that it could be finished a bit more quickly.
This time, I had to prepare LT, so I participated without preliminary research. I should study the services created by the speakers a little bit more and wished I would be able to ask questions if possible.