Turn The Page

Posted on 10th July 2009

I'm currently preparing myself for YAPC::Europe 2009. My talks are pretty much done, but I still need to fine tune some of the slides, particularly my big talk needs some additional work on its structure, so I don't labour the points. Also for the first time ever, I'm planning to submit a YAPC Lightning Talk. After talking with Mark Keating in Pittsburgh, he asked me to submit a lightning talk to the next NorthWestEngland Perl Mongers' technical meeting. As such I cut down my The Statistics of CPAN talk and gave it a go. The talk was supposed to be 5 minutes. However, 8 minutes later I finished! I guess I still need to cut a few more slides :) Thankfully Mark videoed the night, so I'm hoping I can critique my own performance, and fine tune what I say and the slides I use. Then I can really relax :)

Well not entirely. I've attended every YAPC::Europe conference and I'm now part of the YEF Venue Committee. While I have enjoyed attending YAPC::NA since 2005 in Toronto, I still feel an outsider. In some respects that's good, as it gives me a different perspective. One thing that has struck me over the years is that with every YAPC::NA organising team, there has been usually just one prominent member who is involved with the larger Perl community. In Europe there seems to be at least two (if not more) from each team who are known outside of their local user group. There are many other differences, but it's all helping me to add content for the book I'm writing.

After I helped to organise YAPC::Europe 2006 in Birmingham, I looked at rewriting the YAPC documentation that was available at the time. The previous version had been very US centric and many aspects were no longer applicable to any conference. More importantly, there were many more aspects to organising a conference that were missing. My initial rewrite is still online and hasn't been updated since, which is a shame, as I always hoped that the document would be a living document, with organisers from each year and around the world, helping to add their experiences to the document for future organisers.

As further updates haven't happened, I started to plan a rewrite the document again. Except it quickly became clear that this wasn't going to be a short update. Having witnessed the differences in more recent years between the NA and Europe YAPCs, there were many additions I wanted to make. From compiling and presenting bids, to the actual conference organising and communicating with sponsors, (potential) attendees and the wider IT community. As such, it quickly looked like I was better working on writing a book. I'm hoping that the result will be applicable to anyone organising an open source event, big or small, and will help to improve the conference experience for organisers and attendees alike.

But there was another aspect to writing it as a book that I wanted to help with, and that's promotion. Particularly with YAPCs, promotion to the community has usually been very good. There have been some hiccups along the way, but mostly it works out for the good. But the promotion to the general Open Source communities or the IT media is usually very lacking. Occasionally I come across people who have used Perl, but have no idea that YAPCs would be a good experience for them to learn more. By presenting a guide to organising a YAPC in book form, I'm hoping that it will help to promote how professional the YAPC conferences have become, and maybe inspire more sponsors to get involved too :)

This year, at YAPC::NA in Pittsburgh and I'll be doing likewise in Lisbon too, I've been taking notes. The differences between my casual involvement with YAPC::NA and more involved communications with YAPC::Europe are helping to shape some of my additions for the book. I'd like to get the book finished some time this year, so that I can get feedback from this year's organisers, and possibly other YAPC and workshop organisers from around the world. As yet I still don't have a title for the book, or cover or anything in the way of anything to promote it yet. I do plan to release it Open Source, probably under the Artistic License 2.0. I'm not planning on getting a publisher involved, but rather just release a PDF version. After all the source was originally available to all, and I want everyone organising a big technical event to have the opportunity to benefit from the contents.

If you have any thoughts about the book or what should go into it, feel free to collar me in Lisbon at the beginning of next month. I then plan to post more details about the book sometime in August.

File Under: book / community / conference / yapc

Senses Working Overtime

Posted on 9th July 2009

I haven't written here for a while. and I haven't written that much in my other blogs either. I should have, as I keep having ideas for posts that I figure I should get around to writing up, For various reasons my time has been taken up with other things. I've been very busy with some of my Perl projects, specifically CPAN testers and YAPC Conference Surveys, and relating to the latter, I've recently attended YAPC::NA 2009, have been a judge for the Send-A-Newbie programme and am currently judging the bids, along with the rest of the YEF Venue Committee, for YAPC::Europe 2010 from Keiv.pm and Pisa.pm. On top of that I've also been trying to spend more time with my family.

For the past year or so I've been working 15-20 a week on extra curricular Perl projects. Although I've enjoyed doing the work and I'm really proud of what I've managed to achieve, I do need to take time out for my family. I'm very grateful for the support Nicole has given me, and the fact that Dan and Ethne don't seem to mind me getting up before them at the weekend and waiting to have their breakfast, while I just do this next fix :) But they deserve some of my time now. That's not to say I'm disappearing or anything, just that the balance is slightly shifting in their favour.

Since leaving MessageLabs, I now have a job that is a bus ride away in the centre of Birmingham, which now gives me the freedom to work on the bus for at least an hour a day. It's actually quite amazing how much I can get done, when I have to focus on getting something done with only 30 minites between stops. I've missed travelling to work on the bus, as driving up and down the M5 every work day for the past 6 years has felt more and more of a drain. I used to read a lot, but that all stopped once I started driving to work. I'm now planning to start working through my unread bookshelf again :)

The new job is a bit different, as although they are not a web shop, my role is very much focused on web development. As a consequence I'm really enjoying it. They have a series of sites that have been developed over the years, without any real thought to standards and best practices. As a consequence, they now have me to help clean up their code and processes. I hasten to add that I'm not some kind of saviour, as the guys have been working to improve what they have for some time, but I think they do see me as a bit of welcome relief. It's also been nice to be able to bring a lot of the knowledge I've drawn on for the past 10 years or so, and be able to give their sites a fresh lease of life.

In future posts expect a quick run down of my experiences in Pittsburgh for YAPC|10, some thoughts about YAPC::Europe 2009 in Lisbon and several photos from the various gigs I've been to over the past year. Yes I still have lots of photos to sort though. Soon, I promise :)

File Under: family / perl / yapc

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