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Time to get ready to learn

Dear reader,

Ok, the time is come to get ready for the Dutch PHP Conference. Wait, you didn’t think you just showed up and knowledge just magically flowed into your head did you? Nope, it does not work that way. You’ve got to prepare yourself, you’ve got to be ready to learn.

This week

This week you need to spend some time each day looking at the schedule, and thinking about the topics. How does each topic affect the projects you are working on? For instance, in my projects I sometimes leave them for six months and then come back and pick them up. The hard part at that point is figuring out why I made the decisions I made and what I was thinking was the next step. I am looking forward to Raphael Dohms talk How’d we get here? “A guide to Architectural Decision Records because I think it will help me solve that problem.

I’m not going to list all of the talks and workshops that will be presented,  but I am spending a few minutes each morning looking at the schedule, looking at the projects I am either working on or about to start, and making notes about how I think this session can help me. Next week, I will compare those notes to the notes I took during the session and make a decision on whether to pursue the concept or not.

Thursday and Friday

Day of you need to prepare yourself for learning by preparing your workspace. it’s bad enough that most of us take our work with us to a conference – emails, messaging apps, etc still drag us out of the learning zone but at least during the actual sessions, we have the option of turning them off or putting them under our chair. When attending a virtual conference it’s a lot harder to ignore work since we are sitting in front of our computers where we actually DO the work. So to prepare yourself for learning, shut down email, messaging, and social media. That last one, shutting off social media, is hard for me as a speaker to say because I LOVE to see people posting about my talk on social media, but I love more when people are thoughtfully considering what I am telling them. The two are mutually exclusive.

If you absolutely must, between sessions you can open them back up to make sure everything is fine but make sure you close them back down before the next session starts.

Dedicate the time you have with the speakers and other attendees as learning time and treat it as important. If you don’t, your co-workers and those around you who also want your attention won’t treat it as important either.

Next week

As you go into the next week, keep your notes from the conference handy and review them in your downtime. Waiting for a meeting to start? review them. Waiting for CI/CD to complete a run? Review your notes. Finish a task and need a mental spacer before the next one? Review your conference notes.

It’s not enough to just sit in front of the monitor and say you are learning, learning is an activity and you have to fully participate if you want to reap the benefits. Yes, you need to “be in the moment” during the actual conference, but without a plan for before and after, you won’t get the benefit you are looking for. It just takes a little time each day to get ready for and to debrief after the conference.  Commit to yourself that you are going to get the full benefit of the conference by committing to prepare yourself and allow for debrief time.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

Everything changes…even conferences

Dear Reader,

“Change is the only constant in life.”
— Heraclitus

I’ve been around tech conferences for a long time now. I’ve seen conferences come and go. The more I look at tech conferences though, the more I realize that old Heraclitus was correct. The only constant in the tech conference sphere is that it is constantly changing…and that’s a good thing.

When I started working with PHP conferences There were only a handful of speakers and they were at almost every conference. All of us realized that this wasn’t ideal, but – at least in the PHP community – we had to grow our own talent base speaker-wise before this was going to change. I’m happy to say that this has changed. These days, yes, you’ve still got a few that speak at many of the conferences, but most conferences try to bring in fresh faces and fresh ideas.

When I started doing virtual conferences at Day Camp 4 Developers, it was because only about 1%-2% of PHP developers could get to a conference. Most companies wouldn’t spend the money to send a developer to a conference and most developers couldn’t afford it on their own.  Now, virtual conferences are a necessity of life. Hopefully one that will go away, but night now, there is no denying that virtual events are de rigueur for a while to come. Of curse nobody wanted it to be this way but the silver lining is there are a LOT more opportunities for PHP developers to learn.

When I first heard of the Dutch PHP Conference it was because I was blessed to be asked to speak at the very first one. Back then it was a small one-track conference with 200-300 people in attendance. Fast forward a few years to 2009 and I was honored to actually get to help run the conference. That year we have 3 tracks and a little more than 3x the number of attendees.

Now, for the second year in a row, I am hosting DPC again. This year, like last year, it will be a virtual conference. This year, like last year, the main conference day is free. (And now you know why I don’t run Day Camp 4 Developers events anymore. :) )

It has changed a lot since that very first one, but at it’s core, it’s still run by the same people for the same reason. See, I think the reason I like DPC so much is because I know the people behind the curtain. Joni and Tom have been friends of mine for more than 10 years now, and I see the effort that they – and the entire company – pour into DPC. I respect that they do this out of love.

So it’s an honor for me to be associated with DPC again. I’ll gladly stand in front of a camera for this this year, tell bad jokes between speakers and introduce those speakers to you. Yes, some of the speakers will be old friends of mine. Some of them are new friends of mine. All of them though are members of the herd – the PHP community – and that’s really all I need to know.

Join me and my old and new friends on June 18th for DPC21. If you want to seem some long-form sessions, there are still tickets available for the June 17th talks as well. (Those cost…still worth it)

If you have never been to a PHP conference before in your life, do yourself a favor and block off June 18th, 2021 and get yourself a ticket to DPC21.

As I say for Day Camp 4 Developers “Invest a day in your career” :)

Oh and make sure you join the slack channel and say hi. I’ll be the one telling the bad jokes. :)

Until next time,
I <3 |<

DPC Wrap-up

Dear Reader,

I’m sitting in Schipol airport with Rob Allen waiting for my flight. (Rob is reviewing his photos) Thinking back over the past few days, the word that comes to mind is fantastic. DPC10 was fantastic.

For those that don’t know me, I have a personal interest in DPC as last year I worked at Ibuildings and hosted it. It’s always difficult to hand off something that means so much to you but I am happy to report that Lorna Jane took it and made it her own. It was everything I had hoped it would be.