James West has worked as a Software Developer for 8+ years, and has been in Higher Education for over 17 years. He has presented at a number of conferences across the United States, on topics ranging from online course development and pedagogy to custom software development and system integration. He is a Trekkie, a Whovian, and all around Sci Fi buff; For the past 5-years, he's worked as a freelance software developer in his off time. James resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife, daughter, and the world's fiercest chihuahua, Porthos.

James' Sessions

  • Bus Accident Management

    What happens when one person in your organization knows all of the ins and outs of your systems, your software, and your processes, and that person leaves? Worse, what happens if that one knowledgeable person doesn't take a new job, where he/she might be contacted for advice, but dies? This is the basis of the theory behind Bus Accident Management. If the critical person in your organization, the one who knows how everything works, is killed tonight in a bus accident, how will your business operate tomorrow morning?

    Regardless of why you have one person who knows how everything works, how can you manage for the likelihood that you will one day lose that person? In IT especially, we focus a lot these days on disaster recovery (DR), we backup everything, ship backup sets off-site, and set up RAID on all of the servers. We plan for every eventuality, up to and including alien invasion, hey just because something is unlikely doesn't mean it's impossible. Believe me, you want a network manager who has a plan for an alien invasion, even a hypothetical one. Server virtualization is fantastic, because it makes it possible to relocate the entire infrastructure to a data center outside of the disaster area, with relative ease. But in all of this planning, we often overlook the people who know how everything works. We don't think of the "disaster" of the one person who knows all of the details of our processes leaving. We develop numerous undocumented, and poorly understood processes, and don't plan for the day when the designer of those processes is no longer around. We also greatly underestimate the operational lifetime of our processes and software. However long you think you'll be using a particular bit of code, multiply by a factor of at least 10. Now hopefully, your code is all documented, as are all of your processes. But they're probably not. So now is the time to plan how you'll manage a bus accident that causes the loss of critical organizational knowledge.

    Speaker: James West

  • Implementing a Modern Web Stack in a Legacy Environment

    Legacy Code {cue ominous, dramatic chord}; we all have it, we all loathe it, we all have to use and maintain it, and we can't just easily scrap it all in favor of something new. However, it can be possible to replace legacy code piece-by-piece, while integrating into the existing system. This presentation will offer a case study in which a portion of the functionality of a Classic ASP site is surgically replaced by a modern MVC/WebAPI application, in-place, as part of a larger project to update and modernize an organizations legacy code.

    Speaker: James West