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Dear Reader,

Welp, here I are staring at June 2021 on the calendar and know that one of my favorite PHP community events, The Dutch PHP Conference, is yet again going virtual. Yup, Yet Another Online Conference. (YAOC) Just another day of YAOC Shaving in a polo shirt and my pajama bottoms.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand and applaud their commitment to the safety and health of the attendees. But come on, there’s only so many times I can get excited about seeing some of these people present again via Zoom. I mean a few of “the regulars” will put you to sleep in an in-person presentation. Give me Zoom and a comfy chair to sit in and you had better end every presentation with an alarm clock going off.

You know my favorite part of on-line conferences though? The afterparty. I don’t have to watch how much I drink lest there be yet another “Cal’s Drunk” story going around. (Ask Joe Ferguson, last I heard he was collecting them all for a book. It will no doubt be masterfully edited by his much more talented better half.) Most of all though, I am the life of a virtual afterparty! (because it’s basically just me anyhow) :)

Still, given the circumstances, YAOC is better than NCAL. (No Conference At All)

It still gives me a day to set aside to hang out with the PHP community. A day I turn off everything else and sit and learn. A day I hang out in slack and make bad jokes. A day I get to catch up with old friends I’ve not seen in more than a year, and make new friends that I can look forward to meeting in person next year.

So yeah, YAOC. But the way I look at it it’s not YET Another Online Conference, it’s YEA! Another Online Conference. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve known the organizers of this event for more than 10m years and I know that virtual or IRL, they know how to throw a conference.

So if you aren’t doing anything on June 17th and 18th, come hang out with me. The slack channel is free an open to everyone. Yes, they don’t charge you a dime to watch me tell bad jokes.

This year, like last, the main conference day is free too. So get a ticket, block off the time in your calendar, brush up on YOUR bad joke or “Cal’s drunk again” story, and come hang with us at DPC21-YAOC.

I look forward to talking to you.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

It’s not their problem

Dear Reader,

Open Source project leaders and community conference organizers share one thing in common. EVERYBODY knows how to do what they do and do it better. I know because I’ve sat in both chairs.

It is amazing to me how many people understand the intricacies of complex problems enough to suggest new ideas or features that will solve their problem.

That’s the thing, though. In both cases – FOSS and conferences – the projects were setup to solve the problem that the founders saw. Your problem may not be their problem, and that’s ok.

If a project doesn’t solve your problem, fork it and make it solve your problem.

If the conference doesn’t do things the way you want it to, start your own conference.


If both of those sound too difficult – because they are – instead of berating the founders for not solving your problem, offer to solve the problem for them.

Yes, that’s right, if you want your problem solved, you need to solve it. It is your problem, not theirs.

Stop dog-piling on people that are just trying to solve a problem, start helping them solve yours.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

Speakers, respect your audience

Dear Reader,

At Sunshine PHP 2019, I saw 1 speaker in a dress shirt and a tie. I ask this person – he is a friend of mine – why so formal? His response was priceless to me.

“I want to show respect for my audience.”

Contrast that with the fact that I saw two speakers deliver talks in T-Shirts and shorts.

I think sometimes those of us who speak at conferences a lot forget the fact that everyone else in the room paid money to be there.

Whether you are just getting into speaking, or you have been doing it for many years, take a moment before your next talk to reflect.

Respect your audience. Do your best to deliver value to every single person there. Present yourself it in a way that is not distracting to anyone.

Respect the fact that you are there only they because they paid to be there.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

Airfare and Two Nights in the Hotel

Dear Reader,

This is a rant, feel free to skip it. Also, I am talking about myself in this rant. There are a lot of other speakers who fall into this bucket with me, but everything I’m saying here applies to me.

The Problem

PHP conferences are changing very slowly, and not in a way that I like. I blame myself. As a frequent speaker I am getting lazy. I get caught up in the excitement of the CfP, I write up 5-10 abstracts and shotgun them into the CfP system hoping that something hits the mark. I’ve not actually written these talks. In most cases, I’m pretty sure I can get 45 minutes on the topic, but I don’t know for sure because I’ve not bothered to write it yet. Adam Culp talks about this very thing in his post “Are Conference Talks Getting Too Soft?“.

The problem is that I’ve lost my focus. My focus should be the cool thing am I dying to share with other developers.  Instead, I’m chasing that “Airfare and two nights in the hotel”. I know this because my focus is writing abstracts. That and abstracts that don’t get accepted, I never bother to write. This is backwards. I should be so excited about sharing something that I write it up anyhow. I should blog about it, prepare the slides, and contact my local PHP User Group and see if they will allow me to present it. The local PUG is the lifeblood of our great community. It is important to me that I support them first, then conferences.

Being the Change I Want to See

To help me refocus, I have set myself two goals for 2015.

  1. I want to present at 5 local PHP User Groups in 2015.
  2. I will not submit to a conference any talk that I have not written and presented at a local event. (The exception I am making is keynotes because some conferences I speak at ask me to write a new keynote.)

I am refocusing my speaking efforts on talking to the local level. There are probably 5-6 PUGs I can reach by car and can speak at. So as I come up with an idea for a talk, I will first submit it to any and all PUGs that will have me. Then, if that talk seems solid and is helping people, I will submit it to conferences.

This is not to say that I won’t be submitting talks to major conferences, but I will not be submitting talks that I’ve not already written and presented at least once locally.

Looking to Others for Help As Well

I am privileged enough to be asked to help score talks for several of different PHP conferences. in 2015, I will start be a lot more picky in the talks for which I vote. I will look for – and up vote – talks where the presenter makes a note that they have given this talk at a local event already.

Wrap Up

So next time you are starting at a CfP, don’t brainstorm a lot of talks, submit them all and write the ones that get accepted. Look at the talks you’ve done for your local PUG, and submit them. You know they exist, you know they work, and you know you are supporting your local PUG.

Wouldn’t it be great if PHP User Group leaders had to start scheduling talks 6 months out? I’ll take that problem any day of the week. :)

Until next time,
I <3 |<

p.s. If you are considering writing a talk and need some help with your abstract, let me help.

Day Camp 4 Developers #5: Public Speaking for Developers

dc4d-twitterDear Reader,

Conferences are a big part of being a developer. Whether you organize them, speak at them, or attend them; they play an important role in the lives of developers. As a conference organizer myself, I know the problems that face organizers and the biggest problem I see is that each year, we get a lot of great talks proposed from the same people. There’s nothing wrong with these speakers, in fact some of them are pretty damn good. It is nice though, to see new faces – and new perspectives – being represented.

The most common reason I hear for not submitting is that developer’s don’t feel that they can speak in public. That or they’ve tried once, didn’t get accepted, so they assumed that no one is interested. I want to help developers, and conference organizers by trying to solve this problem. To that end, I’ve announced Day Camp 4 Developers #5: Public Speaking for Developers.

Check out our lineup for DC4D#5:

Day Camp for Developers is a one-day, on-line, technology agnostic conference. You participate in this live conference from the comfort of your own home or office. Included in your price is access to the recordings of all the sessions for download after the conference.

Come join us, March 22, 2013, for a great day of learning. Invest a day in your career, get your ticket today for Day Camp 4 Developers #5: Public Speaking for Developers.

Until next time,
I <3 |<