Breathe

Posted on 15th February 2012

Cold Air

I am just air
A breeze of coldness
Hold me if you dare
I have travelled far, I am breathless

This a poem written by Ethne, aged 7.

Considering she had no help with the words, it's quite a profound first poem. She wrote it on her MagnaDoodle, so Nicole managed to preserve the effort before it got erased :)

Well done Ethne.

File Under: ethne / family / people / poetry
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Do You Remember the First Time?

Posted on 4th October 2011

YAPC::Europe 2011 Survey Results

During August this year, in Riga, Latvia, YAPC::Europe brought together 285 people to learn, discover and discuss Perl. As previous attendees know the YAPC conferences are a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to the Perl community. YAPCs are now held all around the world and each is very different another. Each has their own charactistics, and they all get better and better thanks to the feedback from attendees old and new, which is why the YAPC Conference Surveys are well placed to concentrate that feedback for future organisers.

For YAPC::Europe 2011, the survey results are now online.

Although the responses where down from previous YAPC::Europe events, we still had over 50%, so thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. Interestingly of those who took the survey, none recorded themselves as coming from Latvia. I suspect this is in part due to the language barrier. As the surveys are in English, those that don't feel quite comfortable with the language might feel less inclined to feedback their thoughts and experiences. I'd like to be able to have the surveys available in different languages, but accumulating some of the responses, particularly the free text ones, may prove difficult. However, this is a goal for the future.

Unsurprisingly these days, we saw a large number of people attending who are regulars either to the YAPCs and Workshops or to the Perl community generally. At the conference itself we did ask how many attendees were at their first YAPC, and it was quite significant. However, we are still seeing roughly the same numbers, so we are not necessarily able to keep those new attendees coming back as regular attendees. In this survey however, no-one stated that they wouldn't attend another event in the future, so hopefully next year we should start seeing more familiar faces.

This year I plan to get the free text feedback sections online, and may well provide these for previous years too. I normally only provide these to the organisers (both current and succeding), but I think everyone could benefit from the thoughts and ideas, whether a YAPC organiser or an organiser of any other technical event.

Many thanks to all those who took the time to respond, both to the Conference Survey and all the Talk Evaluations. Your time is very much appreciated.

File Under: community / conference / opensource / people / perl / survey / yapc
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Who Knows Where The Time Goes

Posted on 27th March 2011

Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review
Friday 25th March 2011
Alvechurch Social Club

Since Alvechurch's very own Slim Pickins was put on indefinite hold, there was still a desire to do something on the last Friday of the month. So in January the very first Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review took place. The night is quite different from the previous Roots & Blues Club, but does feature some familiar faces. The biggest difference of the night is that everyone is there to listen to some interesting performances, rather than just out for a night of music. It's created a very different dynamic within the audience, the most noticeable affect being that everyone stops talking and listens to each act. As most performers only play two songs each, it allows for a lot of variety.

To beginning the night, as per usual is Paul Chamberlain, who was then followed by Pippa Morley opening with Black Velvet and Angie O'Rourke performing a very pared down version of Dancing In The Dark. Next up were The Withybed Poets. While most of the performers tonight are singers or musicians, The poetry readings from The Withybed Poets added a nice flavour to the night. The first set ended with a change to the planned roster, with Nicole performing a song she had written with Graham Higgins (the act she filled in for), but which has yet to receive a title.

The second set featured a band put together for the night, Public Sector, featuring Graeme, Paul, Keith and Tony. The highlight of their set has to be their own unique interpretation of The Erie Canal, reworked as The Worcester Canal, with the Captain Pugwash theme tune tagged onto the end. The Withybed Poets came back for a second stint, adding Sam to their line-up. Of all the poems they performed The Doctor's Waiting Room by Meg was a personal favourite, which together with her earlier ode to Rugby Players, proved Meg has quite a talent for the comedic poem. Next up was Katherine, featuring a rendition of Joni Mitchell's Marcie. Last act of the second set featured Iain & Nicole. The first song was one penned by Iain, The Snowflake Song, with their second song Who Knows Where The Time Goes by the Sandy Denny, who Iain admitted before playing the song that he only discovered recently, while Nicole has been a long time fan, and has performed a few of her songs solo at the Roots & Blues Club.

For the third set, Pete Gates featured some traditional blues songs on quite a unique brass guitar. Adrian Perry then took us back to the early seventies with rendtions of Ruby Tuesday, and the great sing-a-long Strawbs' Part Of The Union. Interesting to note that most of the audience knew all the words, especially the chorus! Adrian then added backing to final act of the set, Sue & Fiona. Their second song introducing us to some great "Gaelic mouth music".

For the final set, the Acoustic Roots Orchestra take to the stage, with most of the participants having already played during the night. The Orchestra is a result of The Workshop run by Paul to nuture talent within the village, and give those who might not otherwise feel brave enough to play on their own, a chance to meet others and work on ideas and songs.

It was a great night and a great selection of performers. The mix of music and performance worked well as did the idea of having several sets with breaks between. If you like quality acoustic folk, then you'd be a fool to miss future nights. The next Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review will be on Friday 6th May.

Acoustic Roots Review featured:

Paul Chamberlain
Pippa Morley
Angie O'Rourke
Withybed Poets
Nicole Perrott Hughes
--
Public Sector
Withybed Poets
Katherine
Iain Howarth & Nicole Perrott Hughes
--
Pete Gates
Adrian Perry
Sue Resuggan & Fiona Holmes
--
Acoustic Roots Orchestra

Photos:

File Under: gigs / music / people / review
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Close (To The Edit)

Posted on 8th March 2011

On Saturday March 5th 2011, a neighbour of ours, Kate Angel, took part in a sponsored head shave for Cancer Research UK. Her friend Angie was diagnosed with breast cancer last September and with Angie living in Blackpool, Kate felt she needed to do something to help her. Shaving her head to raise money and awareness seemed to be a positive and inspiring way to do it.

Cora Flowers, a professional hairdresser and neighbour, offered to shave Kate's head, and David Le Marchand, "another Dad", worked on the posters and flyers for the event. Having a video camera, Nicole offered my services to record the whole event as "The man across the road".

Having recorded the event, I then spent Saturday and Sunday having fun editing the video. The full edit came to 30 minutes, but I also managed to make a shorter edit at just over 12 minutes for YouTube, featuring the main highlights.

So far the online donations and the money raised on the day has raised nearly £1,500 (and is expected to be more with all the promotion of the videos). If you would like to donate an amount, please visit Kate's JustGiving page, and donate as little or as much as you can to a very worthy cause.

To see the event itself, watch the YouTube video.

File Under: family / health / life / people / rubery
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The Funeral Party

Posted on 28th January 2011

There is something fascinating about graveyards. Rather than being creepy or eerie, I find them quite peaceful. It can be interesting reading the headstones to see how long ago people were buried and some of the dedications.

Recently Dan and I visited the Warstone Lane Cemetery in the Jewellery Quarter, and previously we've visited John Bonham's grave near Droitwich and Ian Curtis' remembrance stone in Macclesfield Cemetery. I've always wanted to visit Highgate Cemetery in London and Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris too. I'll confess that its partly to see where famous names are buried, but I'm also intrigued to see some of the not so famous gravestones, tombs and memorials too.

While attending a funeral several years ago in Cheltenham, I happened to be looking at the headstones as we walked along the path to the crematorium. One stopped me in my tracks as I wasn't quite sure whether I was seeing the resting place of the person I thought it was. The headstone was for Brian Jones and the dates on the headstone did seem to match.

For those who are music fans of the 60s, you will probably remember that Brian Jones was once the guitarist in The Rolling Stones, who died in 1969. My later investigations revealed that the grave was indeed the final resting place for the Stones guitarist.

It's surprising what little parts of history you can discover wandering through a graveyard.

File Under: life / people / sightseeing
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People Get Ready

Posted on 20th August 2010

The Optimum YAPC Attendance

In my recent post about promoting YAPCs, Gabor picked on something regarding the optimum number of attendees. I think he makes a good point that for a conference like a YAPC, 300-400 attendees is a good number to aim for. Anything more and it can become a logistical nightmare for organisers. It also means that the conferences themselves can become a little more impersonal, when a major aim of YAPCs is to bring people together.

With bigger numbers attending, it creates problems for organisers, not only to accommadate the large numbers, but also the cost. Universities have been ideal in the past, as they are usually quiet out of term time, and can usually accommodate several hundred people for little outlay. However, looking for venues that can accommodate thousands, which typically means professional conference venues, needs special effort to cover the costs. Events like FOSDEM are now so well established that large corporate sponsors are willing to donate without much persuasion, but a dedicated language conference would struggle to get the same kind of support.

YAPC::Asia can cope with 500 attendees, but now regularly sells out because they just cannot accommodate any more in the venue they use. In North America and Europe most of the venues can usually cope with around 400 attendees. In Europe we generally see lower attendances due to travel and accommodation costs for personal attendance being too high for some, as we see a larger number of attendees paying for themselves. As a consequence it is unlikely we are going to see a dramatic increase in numbers unless Perl suddenly finds itself being the language of choice for many business, especially corporates.

I have attended large conferences in the past, and while there is a wide choice of talks and more people to meet, it can be a bit overwhelming. You don't always get the chance to talk to all the people you wanted to, and many that you might have common interests with remain unknown to you. At the YAPCs it's a lot easier to talk to everyone, and you also have a better chance of someone pointing out someone else who you really should talk to. Although there are usually a few people I forget to find and say hello to, on the whole I do get to chat to some new attendees, and occasionally they'll come an introduce themselves to me, which is always a bonus. The smaller conferences just seem more sociable, which gives more of a fun element about them, which in turn makes them feel a bit more inclusive.

I think we still have plenty of room to manoeuvre, as I doubt we'll see many 400+ attended YAPCs for NA or Europe, so there is still lots of promoting worth doing. It all has a side effect of promoting YAPCs, Workshops, Hackathons, Perl and the community in general, not just in NA and Europe, but around the world. If people can't attend a YAPC, then we should be trying to encourage them to find a more local Perl Workshop. Both YAPCs and Perl Workshops are a great way to introduce yourself to the community and for the community to bring the best out in you. Another 100 or so attending YAPCs would be fantastic, and I'm sure the Perl Workshops around the world would love to see another 30-50 people attending too.

But as stated previously, promotion is the key. If you don't tell people how great you thought a YAPC or Perl Workshop was, how will others know that they should be attending the next one?

File Under: conference / opensource / people / perl / yapc
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Building the Perfect Beast

Posted on 17th August 2010

YAPC::Europe 2010 - Thoughts Pt 3/3 - Organising A YAPC

When considering whether to host a YAPC, potential organisers often have no idea what they are letting themselves in for. While it can be very rewarding, and a valuable experience, it is hard work. There are plenty of things to go wrong, and keeping on top of them can be quite daunting. However, when you first consider bidding you usually look to what's gone before, and over the past 10 years YAPC events have come on leaps and bounds. This year, YAPC::Europe in Pisa, Italy was no exception.

As mentioned in the previous post, the only real pitfall that Pisa organisers suffered was lack of promotion. The actual event pretty much ran smoothly. There were glitches with the WiFi network, but that seems to happen every year. This year once again, it seems network companies just don't believe us when we tell them that potentially 300+ devices will be wanting to connect all at once to the network. So although you could connect, the network was rather slow at times. Hopefully, future organisers can point to past experiences and impress on service providers that when we say 300+ devices we mean it! It's not just YAPC::Europe, as YAPC::NA has suffered too. Thankfully these problems didn't detract from a great conference.

For many attendees, the primary motivation for attending YAPC are still the talks. You get to see a wide range of subjects, hopefully covering areas of interest that suit all the attendees. However, this is extremely hard. During a few discussions during the event, I commented on the feedback from the YAPC::NA Conference Survey, which featured several comments from attendees, who felt that a beginner track would have been very useful. In retrospect, it might have been even better to have an Introduction To Perl tutorial before the conference, with the beginner track set aside for a variety of introductory topics covering aspects of the language, recommended modules, best practices or useful projects. The tutorial could then cover a lot of ground covering the basics, that would then be enough for beginners to not lose their way in the subject matter of some of the regular talks. Several people have commented that a beginner track, certainly for the first day, would be extremely useful. There have been several suggested approaches to this, but ultimately they are going to be a set of talks that are roughly the same each year.

At times speakers hear complaints that they are repeating talks, but with so many people attending for the first time every year, attendees often welcome having a chance to hear them. So if you do have an introductory talk that you think would benefit from a repeat performance, take in the comments from the talk evaluations and see what you can improve on, and submit it again the following year. I see some speakers benefiting from this to improve their speaking talents and gain more confidence in themselves.

The scheduling this year, from my perspective, was great. I only had 1 minor clash, and 1 clash where I would have liked to have seen all 4 talks. It's unlikely you'll ever get away with not having any clashes, but if you can gauge the subject matter and level of talks well, and don't put potentially overlapping talks together, you can reduce many such conflicts. This year the list of talks was online for a while before a schedule was published. This allowed those that were already registered a chance to highlight talks they were interested in. I don't know if this helped to guide the schedule, but it did seem a good opportunity to see exactly what talks were going to be popular. Having said, you can only rely on it for a short time, as getting the schedule published is really important both for raising the profile of the conference, and to persuade attendees to come to the event. Some conferences publish the schedule several months in advance, which can be hard to do, but does give potential attendees a chance to show their bosses why they should attend. Saying there might be some good and relevant talks rarely works.

This year the organisers made one of the best decisions ever regarding the schedule, and one that got appreciative comments from just about everyone. The talks started at 10am. In the past we have typically started around 9am, with some YAPCs starting as early as 8am. That early in the morning is a killer on the opening speaker. By starting at 10am, pretty much everyone was there every morning ready for talks. It made for a much more awake and attentive audience.

One aspect of the schedule that is down to the attendees to organise are the BOFs. This year, although several were suggested, I didn't see whether any of them happened. The one that looked likely, I would have attended had I been aware of it. To help these there needed to have been a BOF board by the registration table, which attendees can write their own schedule for. Having everything online is not very suitable for those who don't have laptops or cannot get internet connectivity. Plus a BOF Board helps to promote the BOFs to those who haven't heard of them before. Sometimes you just have to fall back to low-tech ;)

Another potential hazard for organisers is not considering the breaks and lunches. If your venue is in the middle of a city, town or very close to a variety of eating establishments, you can pretty much let your attendees fend for themselves during lunch. However, if they need to search for more than 15 minutes, then that can leave very little time for eating before they have to return to the venue. Due to the venue being quite a walk away from any potential eating establishment, it was rather important that they feed the attendees during lunch. As such they laid on a spread that was fantastic. It certainly avoided any unnecessary wandering into town trying to find something, and also meant we all had an hour for lunch where we could mingle and chat. And pretty much that's exactly what we all did. The breaks and lunches were always full of discussion. It gave us a chance to carry on points from talks, catch up with friends and introduce yourself to new people. If nothing else, this year's YAPC::Europe was extremely social.

As the saying goes, keep your attendees well fed, and you'll have a happy audience. That also means considering additional options, and it was good to see that lunch included a selection of vegetarian options too, as more and more attendees these days are vegetarian or vegan. For the breaks (and lunch if appropriate), try and include water, soft drinks, coffee and tea. Note that last one, tea. While much of Europe might prefer coffee, I can guarantee you'll get complaints if you don't provide at least English Breakfast Tea (we have a wider choice in the UK, but in the rest of the world, it always seems to be labelled as that). In Copenhagen they ran out every break time due to the caterers not anticipating the number of tea drinkers. Thankfully, for Pisa the drinks were very well stocked. A decent cup of tea goes a long way to keeping this attendee happy anyway ;)

The venue choice is always a difficult part of organising an event like YAPC, and largely depends on numbers. Over the last few years, several first choices have had to be abandoned because something hasn't worked out. The venue is never going to be perfect, but as long as there is plenty of room and everyone can get somewhere to sit then you've done well. You always need one room to hold everyone, but If you have some smaller rooms for the other tracks, try and avoid scheduling popular speakers or talks in them. Thankfully it doesn't happen often, and sometimes it can't be foreseen. This year Allison Randal did experience a bit of overcrowding in one of her talks, but no-one seemed to mind sitting on the floor or standing to hear.

The auction is always another trouble spot, and in recent years has rarely been necessary, as YAPCs usually make a profit these days. However, raising funds for the next years organisers, TPF or YEF is never a bad thing, as it all ends up helping to fund and promote Perl events. This year the Pisa organisers tried to be a bit different, and had it have worked as intended, then I think it would have gone down well. This year we had 3 tag teams trying to auction off 4 items each. Had it been kept to that, and the time limit of 5 minutes that had been suggested been rigorously imposed, then the auction would have been short and a lot of fun too. Unfortunately the time limits got abandoned, and some of the items led to a few bemused looks on the faces of the audience. If you've never been to a YAPC, then the auction can be a bit intimidating. None of us are as flush as we once were, so can't always afford to bump up the prices to levels we once saw in years gone by. Having said that, I do think we saw the highest price paid for a T-shirt, with Larry winning the the PIMC shirt off Matt Trout's back, thanks to a lot of friends :)

One point that Dave Rolsky made in his observations of the event, was regarding the price of attendance. We've now been running YAPCs for over 10 years and the prices have largely stayed the same in that time. There has been resistance to price increases, but 99 qr/Dollars|Euros|Pounds)/ is *really* cheap compared to other similar events. I do think there needs to be some alternative options, particularly for students, low-waged (or unwaged) and businesses, but a small increase in the standard price would, as Dave highlights, generate a significant amount of revenue. One aspect of the pricing that we've rarely pitched in the right way, has been for businesses wanting to send attendees, whether singularly or en-masse. It was commented to José at YAPC::NA in 2008, by someone that said that they had to pay for themselves, as their boss considered YAPC too cheap and therefore not a real conference. Having a business package that includes 1 or 2 tutorials in addition to the regular conference is one way to give value for money, but still charge a higher price. Lisbon tried this for 2009 and Riga are looking to use it for 2011. I hope it works, as it has the potential to encourage businesses to regard YAPCs as a credible training event for their employees.

Aside from the tower and the Cathedral there wasn't much to see in the town, which is probably a good thing, as it meant the town wasn't overly touristy or expensive. There were lots of choices for food in the evening, although mostly we all headed for the Piazza where we all met for the pre-conference meet-up. If you'd like your attendees to get a good flavour of your city, then it's worth investing time to point out evening social venues where attendees can meet-up. If you don't then the likelihood is they'll all head for the same place every night, as it's the only place they know how to get to.

If you have strong feelings (or even mild ones) about the conference, it would be great if you could take the time enter them into the Conference Survey. All the responses help the organisers of the future get a good idea of what attendees thought about the conference. In addition, please try and complete the talk evaluations, as I know the speakers do appreciate it. I spoke to a few speakers in Pisa who were very pleased to get the feedback, even if it wasn't always complimentary. Following some discussions, next year the talk evaluations will be simplified a little, so they will hopefully be quicker to complete.

As some may be aware I started writing a book last year, about how to organise a YAPC. After some feedback I had intended to make a second draft. Due to other commitments that hasn't happened as yet. Following further feedback from the YAPC::NA organisers and discussions with organisers and attendees of YAPC::Europe, as well as all the feedback from the surveys, I plan to pool those, together with the original feedback, and work on the next draft over the next month. Seeing the success of the git way, I'll be making the text available on Github, so any one can supply patches. My eventual aim is then to publish an ebook, together with a print on demand version, that can be used by organisers of YAPCs and workshops to help them plan and improve Perl events for the future. If you're interested in such a book, keep an eye out for updates in the near future.

Overall I enjoyed YAPC::Europe this year, and came away with several ideas from talks and discussions in the hallway track. My thanks to the Pisa organisers, you did a grand job. Now have a well earned rest. Next year Riga will be our hosts. With Andrew and his crew now having so many workshops and YAPC::Russians behind them, next year should be every bit as successful as this year. Good luck guys.

A final thought from YAPC::Europe in Pisa this year. Josette Garcia noted that 4 people who attended the very first YAPC::Europe were in Pisa. I was one of them, and I think Dave Cross, Nick Clark and Léon Brocard were the others. Of the 4 of us I think Léon and myself are the only ones to have attended every single YAPC::Europe. I wonder who'll break first :)

File Under: conference / opensource / people / perl / yapc
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Calling All The Heroes

Posted on 16th August 2010

YAPC::Europe 2010 - Thoughts Pt 2/3 - Promoting A YAPC

This year, YAPC::Europe was reasonably well attended, with roughly 240 people. However, a few weeks prior to the event, the officially registered attendees for YAPC::Europe 2010 was considerably lower. Although every year it seems that many register in the last 2 weeks, there is usually a higher number registered before then. So why did we have such low numbers registering, until just before the conference this year? I'm sure there are several factors involved, but 2 strike me as significant.

The first is the current dates for the event. As mentioned in my previous post, the Perl community attending YAPCs is getting older, and many of us now have young families. August is notoriously bad for anyone with a family, as the school holidays govern a lot of what you're able to do. Those that can take time out to attend the conferences also have to juggle that with family holidays. Employers are often reluctant to have staff away during August, as too easily they can become short-staffed due to others taking holiday. Having said that, the attendances haven't fluctuated that much in recent times, regardless of whether early/mid-August is chosen or late-August/early-September. Although, the exception does seem to be Vienna in 2007 which attracted 340 attendees. As such, when deciding dates for a YAPC, bear in mind that some of your potential attendees may find it difficult to attend, or only be able to decide almost at the last moment.

The second factor was a pitfall that this year's organisers fell into too. Lack of communication. Immediately prior to the conference and during it, there was lots of news and promotion. However, 6 months ago there was largely nothing. Although, we finally had about 240 attendees, it is possible that there could have been many more. Big splashes across the Perl community with significant updates (website launch, call for papers, opening registration and unveiling the schedule) are a great way to make people aware of what is happening and can generate a buzz about the event long before it begins.

This year I noticed that a twitter search for 'yapc' in the weeks before YAPC::Europe, featured mostly posts about YAPC::Brasil, and I'm currently seeing several posts for YAPC::Asia. Last year, José and Alberto kept a constant feed of news, snippets, and talk link posts onto twitter and other social network micro-blogging services, which helped to generate posts from others attending or thinking of attending. This year that potential audience attracted via the marketing efforts, seems to have been lower than in previous years. The results of the Conference Surveys will hopefully give a better picture of this.

In recent times the Perl community has talked about marketing Perl in various ways. However, promoting our own events seems largely left to the organisers. While the organisers can certainly add fuel for the fire, it's the rest of the community that are needed to fan the flames. In the past YAPCs and Workshops have been promoted across various Perl sites, and in various Linux and OpenSource channels, which in turn generated a lot of interest from attendees and sponsors. The latter target audience are just as important as the former. While we want more people to attend the events, the sponsors are the people who fund them to make the happen. But not marketing the events to get maximum exposure likely means there are potential sponsors who either never get to hear of our events, or are turned off by the lack of exposure the event is generating.

Although the events do manage to get sponsors, for the organisers it can often be a very traumatic process getting sponsors involved. Once you've made initial contact, you'll need to persuade them that sponsoring the event is a good way to market their company. If they're able to see photos online of the events (possibly including sponsor branding), or read blog posts that direct people to the conference website (with all the event sponsors listed), it gives potential sponsors a feeling that it may be a worthwhile investment. Some sponsors are strong supporters of OpenSource and want to give back, but a large number are looking to promote their own brand. They're looking to make maximum revenue for a minimum outlay. They want to see that funding events is going to generate further interest and brand recognition to their target audience. Exposure through blogs and other online sources all helps.

As I've implied, much of this exposure is down to the community. If you attended YAPC::Europe (or YAPC::NA or any other Perl event, including Workshops) have you written a blog post about it? Did you tweet about the event before you went, during or even after? Have you posted photos online and tagged them with the event, in a way that others can find them? YAPC::Brasil and YAPC::Asia attendees seem to be doing this rather well, and there is a lot we can learn from them. In the last week, there have been several posts by attendees of YAPC::Europe 2010, but of the 240 people attending, it really is a small percentage. And likewise I saw a similar kind of percentage posting about YAPC::NA this year too. Several years ago use.perl and personal blogs were full of reports of the event. What did you learn at the event, who did you meet, what aspects of Perl are you going to take away with you from the event? There is a lot you can talk about, even if it was to mention one specific talk that you felt deserved comment.

With aggregators, such as Iron Man, Planet Perl and Perlsphere, whether you post via use.perl, Perl Blogs or your own personal site, you can get the message out. Next year, anyone wondering whether attending a YAPC is worthwhile is likely to search for blog posts about it. Are they going to find enough reasons to attend, or persuade their manager that they should attend? I hope so. YAPCs and Workshops are a great way to promote what is happening in Perl, and by talking about them we can keep that interest going long after the event itself.

In Gabor's lightning talk, looking at Perl::Staff and events group, he highlighted the differences in attendances between the conferences. Typically a YAPC::Europe has 200-300 attendees, YAPC::NA has 300-400 and YAPC::Asia has around 500 attendees. However, FOSDEM (5,000), LinuxTag (10,000) and CeBit (400,000) all attract much higher numbers. It's a fair point that we should try and provide a presence at these other OpenSource events, but a dedicated language interest event is unlikely to attain those attendances. The hope though is that we may have a knock-on effect, with people seeing Perl talks and a good Perl presence at those other events, might just take more of an interest in Perl, the community and the various Perl specific events.

I'd be very interested to see attendance figures for other dedicated language conferences, particularly for Europe, as I think Perl is probably about average. The EuroPython guys certainly attract similar numbers to Birmingham. In the past I've done a fair amount of pitching Perl at Linux, OpenSource and Security Conferences in Europe and to Linux User Groups around the UK. Birmingham Perl Mongers undertook 3 "world" tours in 2006, 2007 & 2008 doing exactly that. It was great fun, and we got to meet a lot of great people. If you have a local non-Perl group, such as a LUG, would they be interested in a Perl topic? Are you able to promote Perl, the Perl community or Perl events to them? Sometimes even just attending is enough, as you'll get to talk to plenty of other interesting people. The initial 2006 tour was primarily used to promote YAPC::Europe 2006, which Birmingham Perl Mongers were hosting that year, and it did help to raise the profile of the event, and eventually got sponsors interested too.

One thing that the Pisa organisers did, specifically osfameron, was to broadcast Radio YAPC podcasts (Episodes 0, 1, 2 & 3). Genius. I got to listen to them after each day, but I can imagine many haven't been able to hear until they returned home. It would have been great to have something before the conference too, even just the news updates and some of the highlights to look forward. Interviews with the organisers and any registered attendees would have been great too. It was a nice touch to the event, and it's promotion, to be able to feature interviews with speakers and attendees to get their experiences. I hope future organisers can try something similar too.

There are several people trying to raise the profile of Perl at the moment, but it takes the whole community to support their efforts by blogging, talking beyond our community and promoting events to those who might not have considered treating the conference as part of their training. We have a great community, and one that I'm pleased to be a part of. I want the community and the events to continue for many years to come, and talking about them can only help that. It's why Matt Trout shouted at many of us to blog about Perl and promoted the Iron Man aggregation competition.

The Perl community and events are very healthy at the moment, we just don't seem to be talking about them enough. As the business cards state, we do suck at marketing. If we want to avoid the mistakes of O'Reilly at OSCON last month, and the badly named tags, then promoting YAPCs and your experiences at them, are a good way to show how it can be done right.

In my next post I'll be looking more at the YAPC event itself.

File Under: conference / opensource / people / perl / yapc
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Growing Up

Posted on 13th August 2010

YAPC::Europe 2010 - Thoughts Pt 1/3 - Young Blood & The Old Guard

Last week I was in Pisa for YAPC::Europe 2010. Although I was doing a talk about CPAN Testers, my intention was to keep a low profile and observe more. Having run the conference surveys for the past few years, it has been noticeable that the attendance has been changing. While there are new people coming along to YAPCs, the general average age is getting older. Marketing Perl to companies to encourage its use is one thing, but attracting people in general to the language is also important. The fact that for a notable number of attendees this is their first YAPC, probably means we are getting something right.

There were several European Perl Mongers that were noticeably absent this year. While some had posted apologies (mostly due to imminent baby arrivals it would seem!), others perhaps have moved on to other jobs, projects or languages, or their life means that they cannot commit to something like YAPC any more. While we miss them, it is a natural way for the community to evolve. It does give a chance for newcomers to become involved and this year I wanted to see who we are potentially going to see more of.

It seems we have quite a few people who are giving us, the Perl community, a fresh look and I think that the Perl community is rather healthy at the moment thanks to them. At least from a European perspective. YAPCs are an ideal chance for people to meet and discuss projects, which otherwise can take days or weeks via email and even IRC. Those new to projects can better introduce themselves and forge better communication channels with other project members, both during the conference and at the evening social events. I think it was Dave Rolsky who observed that the Europeans seemed more accustomed to putting down laptops and talking, rather than sitting in silence hacking away. There certainly seemed to be lots of discussion in hallways this year at least.

With all the fresh faces around, it's crossed my mind on several occasions, as to who is the old guard these days. There are several I could name who kind of fit the bill, and many of us have been around working on projects for quite a few years. Not necessarily hacking on perl itself, but certainly helping to build the Perl community. We have quite a vibrant community, one that I think is quite inclusive, supportive and appreciative. We have disagreements at times, but it's a community that seems to easily span age and experience barriers and is willing to learn from each other.

Keeping a low profile initially seemed to be working for me, that is right up until the afternoon of the last day. During the day, José had asked if I would help with his lightning talk, but not wanting to be part of any more talks, I respectfully declined. Little did I realise it was just a ruse, so he could say thank you to me for organising and running the YAPC Surveys. So much for not drawing attention to myself! After the Lightning Talks, brian d foy took centre stage to present the White Camel Awards. I was very pleased to see both Paul Fenwick and José Castro receive awards, and in fact was laughing at José as he realised one of the awards was going to him. However, José was almost in hysterics when he saw my reaction when I realised I was also receiving an award.

As I mentioned in my acceptance speech, I've never wanted an award for what I do. I do it because I want to, and because I love being part of this community. I had been asked before whether I would accept a White Camel Award, and I'd said no. Although I don't think the awards themselves are a bad thing, its just that I think others have been more deserving of them. I've been involved in many Perl projects over the years, and have largely hid behind them, as I've always felt the projects themselves are far more important than me. The fact that several people felt I needed to be acknowledged this year, regardless of my reluctance to receive the award, I guess means that sometimes I just have to accept that people would like to say thank you for the work I do. If like José, there was one person I should thank for introducing me to the Perl community, it would be Richard Clamp. It was Richard who gave me my first proper Perl job and persuaded me to go to a London Perl Mongers social.

Which sort of brings me to one of the projects I helped with last year, and I'm very pleased to see continuing this year. Introducing people to the Perl community is one aspect of the Send-A-Newbie programme. Edmund instigated the programme last year, and we managed to bring 3 people to YAPC, giving them a chance to experience the conference and the community. The hope was that they would use and benefit from the experience, and hopefully feel more empowered to contribute to the community. Then maybe be in the future, they might be able to attend future YAPCs. I was delighted to see Alan Haggai Alavi at this year's YAPC, and surprised to see him so soon. I was then even more impressed to hear what he has been doing to promote Perl in India, as this is exactly the kind of enthusiasm the Send-A-Newbie programme can benefit from too. I spoke briefly with Leon Timmermans, who was this year's attendee via the Send-A-Newbie programme, and again it seems we've found another deserving recipient.

With programmes like Send-A-Newbie, the Perl marketing efforts and the community in general, I'm very hopeful that we'll be seeing more young blood in the community in the years to come. However, it still needs some effort from every one of us to ensure that happens. Which brings me to my next post in this short series, which I'll be posting soon.

I've now been in the community for over 10 years, with Birmingham Perl Mongers celebrating their 10th birthday in September. I'm guess that means I'm one of the old guard now, which isn't bad for a C programmer who had a lot to learn all those years ago. I feel I've come a long way in the last 10 years, and it's been a fantastic journey. Perl and the community have changed immensely in those years, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the young blood and fresh faces now, take us in new and interesting directions over the next 10 years and more.

File Under: conference / opensource / people / perl / yapc
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Stargazer

Posted on 17th May 2010

Many aspire to be rock legends, but few rarely attain it. Ronnie James Dio was all that and more.

I was first introduced to Ronnie James Dio thanks to Tommy Vance on the BBC Radio One's Friday Night Rock Show. To begin with it was Rainbow, then shortly after Black Sabbath. Dio managed to pair himself with some great talent, and his writing, singing and performances were the greater for it.

I first saw him on stage with Black Sabbath in January 1982 at Stafford Bingley Halls. It was snowing and cold, but the band were on fire. My mates and I managed to get right down the front, and had an absolute blast. It was a great gig, but also a very eventful one. It was the gig that got stopped halfway through the song Black Sabbath, as dry ice had spurted out from underneath the drum riser and shot up Vinnie Appice's leg, giving him some nasty burns. After a short while they returned on stage, with Vinnie getting a huge cheers for carying on. When Ronnie left Black Sabbath and formed Dio, I managed to catch them on several tours during the 80s, and often went backstage to get my programme signed. Ronnie always waited until every fan who waited had got something signed. He'd happily chat with fans and get his photograph taken, and you always got the feeling he always appreciated the fans.

In 1992 I was with Ark at Rich Bitch Studios in Birmingham, where they were recording the Cover Me With Rain EP. Paul and Gel shot upstairs to tell us Sabbath were here. Unsurprising we all found excuses to head downstairs to get a drink or something to eat :) The guys were very relaxed and seemed very at ease to say hello.

In more recent years, I haven't seen that many gigs, and I even regretted not going to see Heaven & Hell and Dio's 'Holy Diver - Live' tour at the time. Thankfully I have some great memories of his live shows and he leaves behind some great songs and albums. I always wished I could have seen him perform with Rainbow backing the 70s, and oddly enough I was playing Tarot Woman to Dan on Saturday from Rainbow Rising, as I continued his education in classic rock ;)

Ronnie, you always were a star. R.I.P.

File Under: dio / music / people
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Behind The Mask

Posted on 23rd August 2009

Last week it was noted that Why The Lucky Stiff had disappeared from the internet. There have been several thoughts regarding his disappearance, and some very strong reactions too. It strikes as very odd that rather than concern for someone, several have resorted to anger and made matters worse by now digging deeper into his personal life.

While I don't know _why, and I'm not part of the Ruby community, I have been aware of him and even read his Poignant Guide some time ago. He came across as a very creative and interesting character and I'm sure he was a credit to the Ruby community. He appears to have written alot of interesting code and been very good at promoting Ruby, both online and at conferences. So to me it seems strange to read some the "investigation" work going to try and understand why he has disappeared.

Some have suggested something serious has happened, and perhaps he had implemented a Dead Man's Switch, while others have summised that with having his birth name "outed" publicly recently, he just felt the intrusion into his personal life was too much. Whatever has happened I think it's sad that there seems to be lots of negative reaction to the situation. Of all the comments and articles I've read, only John Resig's Eulogy to _why seems to be in anyway a thought provoking hope that all is well the person.

Several people believe that he has taken it as a personal insult that someone has decided to research his birth name, and then publish it publicly. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but it did make me think about how people treat those of us with an unusual online identity, that we happen to use in person too. One person struck as rather insensitive, as he acknowledged that after discovering something about _why's personal life, _why had asked him to keep it private. With the current wave of discussion, that person saw fit to announce it to the world, so they could show a bit of one-up-manship.

In all the time I've known of him, I've only ever known _why by his pen name, and like many others have never felt the need to know his birth name. In the Perl community there are three prominent characters to use an unusual identity both online and in person. chromatic, Abigail and myself. While I've been told the birth names of chromatic and Abigail, I've long since forgotten them as to me their pen names are who they what to be identified as. For myself, I've never gone to great lengths to hide my name, but my pen name is how I prefer to be known. My birth name is for my family (although even some of them refer to me as Barbie) and the tax man.

Once I sent a mail from a work account that included my birth name, to a friend in the Perl community. I received a reply asking if I could send from my personal account in future, as seeing my birth name had confused the hell out of the recipient and took a little while to suddenly realise it was me :) Another friend on discovering my birth name by way of a slip up online, felt the need to alert me, so that i could hide it. It seems some people actually quite like me having an unusual identity.

My pen name actually came about back in 1983, long before I ever got to use the internet, and was extremely useful when I was a Roadie. People remember an unusual name, and I know for a fact that I got asked to crew several gigs because tour managers and the like remembered me by name. I'd like to think it was also that I did a good job too, but that first impression of being introduced as Barbie was rarely forgotten. In all that time I was a roadie (1984-2005), no-one ever really put any effort to discovering my birth name. Some asked, but many more have been more interested in how I got to be named Barbie. Occasionally I've explained that it is my birth name and that my parents were rather eccentric. Amusingly some have even believed that.

However, Barbie is very much my public identity, and that's something that I'd rather keep. It has some very positive benefits for me, as it has helped me to get several jobs, and has often been a good introduction for some. My private life is not something I write about a lot, mostly because it's private. I talk about Dan, Ethne and Nicole from time to time as they are part of who I am, though others guard even that part of their life very carefully. In _why's case, this was something that he didn't seem to want to promote, at least not in the context of his _why persona. Respecting someone's privacy should be an obvious thing for any human to understand, though sadly there are some that feel that no-one has a right to a private life.

Does discovering someone's birth name really make any difference to how you see that person? The only reason I can see for anyone making something like that public, against the wishes of the individual, is to begin a character assassination. As I see it, _why may well have therefore taken steps to ensure that if people cannot respect his privacy, then why should he respect what they think about all he has given them. To some it is a tantrum, to me is purely about having had enough with the world that the persona of Why The Luck Stiff touched, and wanting to walk away completely and utterly, leaving no trace that it ever existed.

As I say at the beginning, I don't know the reasons for the disappearance, but I do hope that the person behind the persona is okay.

File Under: internet / life / people / web
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Guiding Light

Posted on 6th February 2009

In 2006 I, along with 3 others from Birmingham Perl Mongers, organised the 2006 YAPC::Europe Perl Conference. It was thankfully a great success and invigorated several with ideas of things that they could do to join or create communities. Whether that was forming a local Perl Monger user group or starting a code project that would eventually be submitted to the CPAN. However, one person was inspired to go to another YAPC the following year and then submit a talk and speak at the 2008 YAPC::Europe Perl Conference. Had the 2006 conference not been in Birmingham, UK in 2006, Edmund would likely never have gone to a YAPC, and never realised how valuable they are. Not just in terms of the presentations and speakers, but of the communities and projects that are discussed, that he might not otherwise be aware of. And perhaps most importantly, realise just how easy it is to be included into the community and how easy it is for everyone to make a difference.

At the conference dinner in 2008, Edmund was struck by the lack of younger members of the communty in attendance, and started to think about why. For some time I have been trying to understand what we as a community can do to bring new people into the community, and although my perspective has focused on YAPCs, it equally applies to projects and local user groups. However, there is one aspect that I had neglected, that was obvious to Edmund. Funding. Most of those we are trying to encourage to come along to a YAPC are likely to be unwaged or on low wages, and cannot afford the costs of travel and accommodation for 4-6 days.

Last week Edmund launched the Send-A-Newbie website, with the support of the organisers for the 2009 YAPC::Europe Perl Conference to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, together with several members of the Perl community who have voiced approval. It is a great idea, and is a great way to enable students in particular a chance to attend the biggest Perl developer conferences in Europe.

The initaive aims to send at least 6 people, although even if only 1 person is selcted to attend this year, I would consider it a success. As it happens some grant applications have already been received, so it is likely that at least 1 person will attend thanks to the programme. Hopefully more will be approved for grants providing the funding can be obtained.

So how can you help? Well if you have the ability to do so, please consider donating. Mentioned the programme to anyone who you think might be a worthy recipient of a grant, and get them to apply. Mention it at your local user group, and see whether anyone can help with a donation. In order to keep YAPCs and the Perl community healthy we need to encourage potential future stars that attending the conference is a worthwhile oppotunity. If they could benefit from a grant to cover their travel and accommodation costs, then it really is in yours and their interest to do something about it. Applications will be accepted until 1 June 2009, so there is plenty of time yet to promote and apply for grants.

File Under: community / conference / education / opensource / people / perl / yapc
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It's My Life

Posted on 4th February 2009

The twitter phenomenon has grown rather well over the past few months. I have started to use it more in the last month, and I note that a number of people I'm friends and acquaintences with have also been using it quite a lot. Which is nice, as although some use it to just tell everyone what they are doing now, others use it as a blogging tool to have a quick rant, or ask followers a question. Occasional conversations and idle banter make it quite a fun way to keep in touch with firends and people you like to talk to, plus there are the useful links to news items, etc. that people post.

Every one of my followers I either know personally, or have had contact with them online several times prior to twitter. Of the people I follow (discounting project/news feeds), only Stephen Fry and Henry Rollins I don't know personally. Seeing as they are well known personalities they expect to have a lot of followers, Stephen has recently reached over 100,000 followers. But I'm not a celebrity or well known personality, yet I'm starting to get twitter requests from people who I have never met, or know anything about. That's not to say that they are random people, as those are usually easy to spot and can be ignored, but are followers of and/or followed by other people I know. I have my twitterings protected as I really don't like the idea of people I don't know, randomly trying to follow everything I say. Not that I have anything necessarily personal to say, but to me I feel my whitterings have a limited personal appeal and are really only of interest to those that actually know me.

With that said, you could argue that I am well known in the Perl community, and indeed I am. But from that perspective people are really only interested in my projects, most specifically CPAN Testers. However, those projects I blog about elsewhere, and are not a regular part of my tweets. It feels awkward to actively block people from my twitter feed, so I usually leave them in the queue, hoping that I eventually meet them, or have someone else mention them, so I can get a reference as to who they are.

I wonder how others feel about random people listening in on their musings? Does it feel like an intrusion or do you feel you are reaching people with what's going on in your life. Do you use it as a way for others to keep tabs on what project you're working on, or do you like the idea of people being interested in you?

Twitter has certainly been a strange success. It's kind of like a global IRC, with a channel that you create. It's reached outside of the geeks that started to use it, and with the success of Facebook and the status updates, people who would never have thought to put their lives on the internet are now doing so. At the moment, outside of Japan, they have no revenue model, so it will be intriguing to see how long that can last, and whether any future changes turn off the new adopters of the service. I'm sure we'll hear a tweet or two about it when it does.

File Under: internet / life / people / web
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Rockin' In The Free World

Posted on 26th January 2009

Earlier this month, a good friend of mine, Jono Bacon announced that we was starting to write a book about building communities. It's been a subject that has been discussed at length by many communities, many times over many years, and there is no one right answer to it. Some methods work in one context and don't in another. You see it all depends on the people, and specifically the personalities, who are part of the community and who you want to encourage (or discourage as the case may be) into joining, rather more than the project or common interest element itself.

Jono's book, titled Art Of Community, will be a look at how to build communities from different perspectives. He's getting several notable Open Source community members to help contribute their stories and it looks like it will be a really useful book for those starting a project, or user group to get some ideas of how to make it happen.

The hard part of starting any community, is promotion. Jono himself is taking note of this for the book's promotion too. You see the book itself has started a community of people who are early supporters of the book, and want to help make it a success. Part of making it a success is letting people know it exists. As Jono is already widely well know in technical communities (I've known him for about 8 years thanks to him starting WolvesLUG near me), he does have a head start. But it still needs people to talk about it, discuss it and eventually review it. I thought I'd write this blog post, partly to help promote the website that the book now has, but also make others aware that the book is being written.

I'm looking forward to reading the completed book, as apart from being a great read, I expect it to become a great source of reference for helping new communities promote themselves and florish.

Having started Birmingham Perl Mongers back in 2000, been a Perl community member, a member of the YEF Venue Committee and a major contributor to the CPAN Testers project, I've been very accutely aware how hard it can be to build a community. Though it should be noted that the building part isn't just about getting a project or user group off the ground, it's also about keeping it going, and encourage others to get involve and help the community thrive.

A good case in point is the CPAN Testers project. I first became a CPAN Tester back in 2004, and contributed several thousand reports for the Win32 platform. It was thanks to Leon presenting a BOF at 2003 YAPC::Europe in Paris, that I first became interested enough to join the volunteer effort. Shortly afterwards I started contributing to code for the smoke tools and the websites, creating the CPAN Testers Statistics website in the process. With the help of the Statistics site I was able to promote the project to other Perl programmers at YAPC events, by show how valuable the service the project provides is. Over the last few years the number of testers has grown, and the number of test reports submitted has gone from a about 100 per day to over 5,000s per day. In June 2008, Leon handed over the Reports website to me, as I was eager to improve the websites and make them more useful. Since then, I've had several developers help contribute patches and ideas to the project and it has been very encouraging to see the community driving the site forward. CPAN Testers now have their own server, a whole family of websites and a great tester community. In our case the community has built itself and mostly promoted itself from being a useful set of websites for developers. It'll be interesting to see if Jono pinpoints anything that we actually did do to build the project community and just never realised we were doing it.

I'm also interested in reading the book, as it is likely to have some useful references for a book project I'm currently working on. Although I don't plan on making it a hard copy book, it will be available online, and I hope to encourage contributions and improvements. My book doesn't have a working title as yet, but the subject matter is 'organising Open Source conferences', and will also have thoughts for workshops, hackathons and large technical meetings. The blue print for the project is based largely on my own experiences of organising The 2006 YAPC::Europe Perl Conference, but will hopefully include other thoughts and comments from conference organsiers for other Open Source events, such as the organsiers of LUGRadio Live, which Jono himself was significant instigator of. Like Art of Community, my project will also be available online under a Creative Commons license, and I'll be watching to see how the Art of Community community establishes itself and see whether there are any good ideas I could use too.

I look forward to finally reading the book, but in the meantime I'll just have to keep an eye on the Art of Community website updates.

File Under: community / opensource / people / website
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In The Clouds

Posted on 1st July 2008

My photos are finally online from the YAPC::NA Conference in Chicago. Although many of the outdoor photos have come out well, many of the indoor ones haven't. For the conference itself, the main room was too dark on stage to really catch the speakers well, and all though the other two rooms were well lit, the speakers always seemed to move at the wrong moment. I think it might have helped if I';d have used my tripod a bit more, but I really do need a good digital SLR.

I did want to add lots of tags and things to all the photos, but that's just going to have to wait until I have more time. In the mean time, enjoy.

For those that only want to see the conference related photos, these are they:

For those who just want to see the sights of Chicago, then you'll more likely want to see these:

As an added bonus I'm piecing together some of the photos I took during the Speakers Party, where we were able to get a grand view of the city. At the moment I have only uploaded 1, but hope to get the other two sorted soon.

File Under: chicago / community / conference / opensource / people / photography / sightseeing / yapc
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Where The Birds Always Sing

Posted on 4th April 2008

Peter N M Hansteen

Peter N M Hansteen

This week I was at The UKUUG 2008 Spring Conference, where I gave two talks on testing. While I was there I met Peter N M Hansteen. The name didn't ring any bells, and it was only when I was in conversation with Peter that he happened to drop the snippet of information that he was part of Bergen LUG, who implemented RFC1149.

Okay for most people that probably doesn't mean that much, but for real geeks this is one of the guys that implemented RFC1149!

So what is RFC1149? It's full title is "A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers", which also goes by the acronym of CPIP ... Carrier Pigeon Internet Protocol. Yes you read that right Carrier Pigeon. There was a later revision of the RFC which allowed for Sparrowhawks, but in 2001 Bergen LUG took it upon themselves to attempt a practical experiment to prove the RFC1149 actually worked. You can see all the photos and reports of the event, to which they invited Alan Cox along as an impatial witness, on their website. Peter can be seen in this picture, on the far left.

The reason I know all this, is that in the first version of my Understanding Malware talk, I used it as a humous aside. Amusingly, Peter did a talk about Spam and Malware at the UKUUG conference. It's a small world :)

Incidentally my photos for the UKUUG 2008 Spring Conference are now online. Click the links below:

File Under: birmingham / conference / internet / people / ukuug
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New Dawn Fades

Posted on 14th August 2007

The Factory Club with Peter Saville, Tony Wilson & Alan Erasmus (Photo copyright Kevin Cummins)

The Factory Club with Peter Saville, Tony Wilson & Alan Erasmus (Photo copyright Kevin Cummins)

In recent years there have been several people that have passed away, who helped to shape my life. John Peel, Tommy Vance and Alan Freeman all helped to promote different forms of music and introduce me to many styles and genres that perhaps otherwise would never have discovered for myself. They all gave young bands a chance and help to change a generation. My generation. One other man also did that, perhaps more than I realised at the time. Tony Wilson.

Tony Wilson first came to my attention back in around 1975/76 when he used to present Granada Reports. A regional news programme for the North West of England (Lancashire, Manchester and Cheshire), that was partly an alternative to the mediocre Nationwide that BBC put out. Tony along with Bob Greaves presented local news, but also occasionally featured music from the North West too. Tony's passion for promoting music from Manchester enabled him to get So It Goes on the air. Although it wasn't only about Manchester acts, it did help to create the image of Manchester being a vibrant music scene.

The Haienda FAC51 membership card

The Haienda FAC51 membership card

In 1979 Factory Records released their first piece of vinyl, A Factory Sample EP featuring among others Joy Division. On FAC 6 they introduced me to Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, who long before they were a pop band, were a UK alternative to Kraftwerk. They helped to bring several Manchester bands to national notoriety. Although with Happy Mondays that wasn't necessarily a good thing. Tony also created the In The City music festival, which was great way to celebrate music across the city. Bars and cafes would become venues and put on all sorts of music throughout the week. When The Haçienda (FAC 51) was opened it was like a breath of fresh air. For many years one of my most prised possessions was an original The Haçienda membership card, until it got stolen.

I moved from the North West in 1982, but regularly made return trips for various gigs. I met Tony once, along with Rob Gretton, all of New Order and several other Manchester musicians over the years, and always found it an inspirational experience being around the Manchester scene. I still see Manchester as a kind of spiritual home and it holds a lot of memories. That's partly thanks to Tony Wilson, for giving the city pride in itself and its music. Thanks Tony.

R.I.P. Anthony Howard Wilson (20 February 1950 - 10 August 2007)

File Under: manchester / music / people / roadie / tv
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