Speaking is a great way to get your name out there among your peers. The marketing term is “Thought Leadership” but in gaming it’s called Leveling Up. Regardless of what you call it, getting up in front of a group – especially a group of your peers – and presenting on a topic will help elevate you in the eyes of the audience, and also the community in general. Talk enough on a single topic and you will level up and become known as the “X person.
- The Unit Testing person
- The Security person
- The DevOps person
Becoming the “X” person will most definitely raise your profile in your community. By investing the time to create and present a talk, you are laying the groundwork for the next phase of your career. This doesn’t mean that everyone who speaks is going to step out and become a professional speaker. Nor does it mean that because you’ve created a talk that you are going to get a promotion, new job offer, or anything other than the polite applause of your audience when you are done. Like anything, if you are persistent, if you work to master your topic and the craft of spinning a good yarn, then yes, it will help you reach the next level.
The next time you have an idea for a talk, don’t just discard it, write it down, roll it around in your head, create it, present it, and level up.
Until next time,
I <3 |<
(Mom, don’t read this one)
The late great George Carlin had many awesome comedy skits. One of them – possibly his most famous – is “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” from the comedy album “Class Clown”. In it he gives his list of seven words that – at the time – were inappropriate for over the air broadcast in the United States.
I thought it would be fun – if for no other reason than clickbait – to run the 7 dirty words against Github to see who is using what, and where. I took screenshots so that you can see each word and which languages use it the most. I also list PHP’s rating for each word out of the top 10 languages.
So, without further adieu here are Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” but you can apparently use in code with impunity.
(PHP – 9/10)
(PHP – 3/10) :facepalm:
(PHP – 5/10)
The only conclusion that can be drawn is that we have lost the ability to communicate without profanity. :)
Until next time,
I <3 |<
This is an excerpt from a project I am working on titled “Spin a Good Yarn”. Details available soon.
Crafting a great proposal, writing a good talk, learning to present it; all of these things are very important if you want to be a good speaker. However, there is something else you need to do, you need to get yourself organized and you need to do this before you submit your first proposal.
Most conferences will want you to submit not only your talk, but also your personal information when you submit to a CfP. The two most important pieces of information you can give them outside of your talk is your picture and your bio. You can prepare these ahead of time, or you can wing it when it comes time to submit. Trust me, being prepared ahead of time is much easier.
Everybody hates pictures of themselves, you are going to have to move past this because every conference you submit to is going to want a picture. Here are a few simple pieces of advice.
- Find one you like, or can at least tolerate. If you don’t have one, ask a friend to take a few (dozen) pictures of you and choose one from the stack. If you are really into it, have a professional (or a very good amateur) photographer shoot headshots for you.
- Crop it properly so that you are the focus. We are all happy that you and 3 friends went on a hike last year and got a photo taken together, but nobody really wants to figure out which one you are in the group. You really want a closely cropped headshot of just you.
- Bigger is better. Conference organizers can always shrink your picture but most of the time, you can’t enlarge a photo well. Give them a large, full-color photo to work with.
- Smile. Please, whatever you do, smile. This isn’t a mugshot or a passport photo. If you don’t smile, you don’t seem excited. Who wants to go see a speaker who isn’t excited?
Most importantly, before you submit your talk, have your picture picked out and ready. Some conference organizers may not ask you for it when you submit but most will.
While it is not necessary to use the same picture at each and every conference you submit to, if you are planning on speaking at multiple events per year, you may want to pick one and stick with it for at least a year. Building this kind of consistency will help with your name recognition as well as help Google identify that picture as you and place it prominently on your Image Search page.
Have your biography written and ready to go. Not only your bio, have 2-3 versions of it. Some conferences don’t have length limits, others have ridiculously short limits on bios. Whichever, be ready.
First, craft your full-length version. Put in it everything that potential attendees need to know about you to understand why they should listen to you on your given topic. (Afterall, that is the point of including your biography.) Don’t go overboard, they aren’t usually looking for your autobiography, but include the salient points.
Second, craft a two paragraph version. Try to keep this version under 100 words.
Third, craft a two sentence version. This is the “just the facts, ma’am” version. This is your personal elevator pitch. Have it ready for those conferences that have ridiculously short biography fields.
…and the rest
Other than Bio and Picture, most conferences ask the same mundane questions.
What airport will you be traveling from? If you are like me and in an area with multiple airports, it pays to know which one you want to travel from, and which one is the cheapest to travel from. Those two are not always the same.
Will your company sponsor by covering your travel? If you are lucky enough to work for a company that understand that you speaking at conferences helps them in thought leadership and recruiting, and they are willing to sponsor, then let the organizer know. I will not admit to making speaking decisions on something as simple as money, but I won’t say that it’s never happened either.
There will be others. It’s a good idea to make a list of the ones you are asked and have convenient answers for them handy.
The more you prepare before you begin to submit, the easier the process will be for you. Also, as you submit to multiple conferences, and start to get accepted, you will find that being consistent in these elements – picture and biography – help you with name recognition, another very important factor in getting accepted to speak.
Until next time,
I <3 |<
So yesterday (March 29th, 2016) I started a small crap-storm on twitter directed at one of my favorite SaaS vendors, MailChimp. I didn’t mean to, I really do like MailChimp. I’ve been using them since ~2009 and find their service to be awesome. However, As you can see from my tweet, I couldn’t figure out how to make the signup form for Nomad PHP secure.
At first, do no harm
The problem arose when the person running @mailchimp answered and informed me that even though the URL wasn’t secure, the information was securely transmitted the server. I would show a picture of that tweet as well but @mailchimp has removed it. The information passed was of course, wrong. If the URL is not secure, the information being sent is being transmitted across the wire in clear text. If at this point, you are not sure what the difference between HTTP:// and HTTPS:// is, read “How does HTTPS provide security?”.
The problem is, not only did I know it was wrong, those people who follow me and @mailchimp also knew it was wrong. What followed was a dogpile on @mailchimp, which was not my intent, but then again, I didn’t ask them to give false info either. Honestly, I just wanted to know how to get an encrypted URL to the form for people to join the list.
Later in the day – I’m not sure if no technical people noticed, or if they just wanted to let things die down – @mailchimp did eventually give me the answer I needed. To their credit, they owned the mistake that was made earlier in the day as well. If you don’t use MailChimp to manage your mailing lists, this section won’t be of much interest to you.
First, I am talking about a specific type of form, MailChimp’s “General Forms”. These are the forms that are hosted on MailChimp’s servers and they just give us a URL to pass out.
To get there, log into your account and select a list.
From there select “Signup Forms” to get to this screen.
And from there, select “General Forms”. You’ll get a screen that among other things shows you the “Signup form URL”. This is what all the fuss is about.
Notice, it’s not secure. When they finally did answer, @mailchimp told me to replace the domain with “list-manage.com” and then I could use https://.
So I took them at their word, using the info from the screen above, I tried:
This did not. I simply replaced eepurl.com with list-manage.com and added the s to https://. The instructions were as clear as they could make them in 140 chrs, which is to say, they left out a step. eepurl.com is MailChimp’s URL shortener. It will not – and apparently never will – handle encrypted URLs. However, Nomad PHP’s eepurl resolves to http://nomadphp.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=b39a511bbe71aa74d27241bb6&id=193666c7d7 and that page is encrypted. A sad note, not all of the elements on the page are encrypted, so even thouhg the data being sent back to the server is encrypted, the page won’t get a “Green Lock”. MailChimp, can we do something about this?
If you use Mailchimp and want to pass around a secure URL so that people can join your mailing list, take the eepurl, paste it into a browser and let the page load, then take that URL and add https:// . Since in Nomad PHP’s case, the form is actually hosted at list-manage.com, I didn’t need to make any changes. It is my understanding that this is not always the case. So make sure that if your forms doesn’t resolve to list-manage, that you change the domain as well.
Ok, back to the crap storm. MailChimp did not shy away from their mistake, unlike a lot of companies I deal with, they owned it.
They could have “Clarified” the response, they could have ignored it totally and just kept going. MailChimp did the right thing. While I am bummed that I didn’t get a screenshot of the offending tweet, I actually do appreciate the fact that they deleted it instead of just leaving bad info out there for unsuspecting muggles to run across.
I deal with MailChimp not because they are flawless in their execution – far from it, they pissed me and a bunch of others off recently with their changes to Mandrill – but because when they are wrong, they own it. I respect that, I aspire to that.
I aspire to treat my customers with the same candor. With Nomad PHP, Day Camp 4 Developers, and all my other endeavors, I try to be honest with my customers and own my mistakes.Whether this takes the form of a public apology or a refund to someone who wasn’t 100% satisfied that I delivered what I promised, I would rather take the hit financially or ego-wise than have someone think I wronged them.
Thank you MailChimp for leading the way.
Until next time,
I <3 |<