PDF Presenter

Recently I've switched how I prepare and deliver presentations, using LaTeX to mark up the content and producing PDF slides from that. Which is great but I miss having some of the during-presentation functionality of LibreOffice such as a timer and being able to see what's on the next slide. Happily for me, there's a PDF Presenter Console on github and it does what I need!

Getting the thing installed was a bit of a puzzle as it has many dependencies (and that's just the compiler) but I now have it working like a dream on both my laptop and my netbook. I discovered that it didn't work with my presenter mouse but with a bit of help from a friend, I have a patch for that and now when I'm presenting I see something like this:

You can set which screen show this, and which shows just the main slide, and you can also set what duration the countdown timer should start from. One really key feature is that the timer doesn't start counting until you advance from the first slide ... unlike in open office where I usually put up the title slide during the break before my talk, then have to stop and start the presentation to reset the clock so I've got some vague idea of my running time!

So in true open source form, there's a tool out there already (thanks Jakob, and thanks for responding to my emails!), and I was able to adapt it to my use case, or rather Kevin was able to! I would love to have the presenter console packaged so I could recommend it for more users, but for now I have a great open source solution enabling me to do what I'm good at - delivering content.

Slide Markup with LaTeX: First Steps

Since starting to create (a large number of) presentations using LaTeX, I've been impressed at how easy this is to pick up and also how quick it is to work with marked up content rather than dragging objects around in Impress or equivalent. With that in mind, I thought I'd outline the very basics of the markup (with probably more snippets to follow as I discover them).

Start at the very beginning

First of all, LaTeX templates are fussy things, start with someone else's outline (for example the one Dave posted, which I use), or one you made earlier. There is some preamble and then the main contents of the presentation go between the \begin{document} and \end{document} bits.

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Summer PHP Conferences

Conference season approaches and in May I'm on a trip to take in two of the most high-profile events in the PHP conference calendar: DPC in Amsterdam (19-21 May) and php|tek in Chicago (24-27 May). The two events have historically been a few weeks apart and I've always complained at having all the fun for the year in such a short space of time - but this year the events are literally back-to-back, there are a small number of speakers attending both and we're pretty much all on the same flight from Amsterdam to Chicago!

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Creating Presentations with LaTeX

This spring/summer, I'm giving quite a few talks at conferences, and I have a number of my own clients that I'm writing new training materials for. That's a lot of content in total and so, inspired by Dave's article about LaTeX and powerdot (and with some help from Dave himself!), I've started to write my own presentations this way too.

Getting started was a struggle, I've never really used anything like it before and if there's one thing LaTeX doesn't do well, it's error messages! The blog post I linked above has a sample presentation in it and I used that as my starting point. The source code goes in a file with a ".tex" suffix, e.g. presentation.tex. I then installed the texlive-latex-extra, latexmk, vim-latexsuite, latex-fonts-recommended and texlive-fonts-extra packages from aptitude, and generated a PDF by running:

latexmk -f -pdfps presentation.tex

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The PHP Community Conference

Next month, I'll be heading out to Nashville for the PHP Community Conference. This is wildly exciting for a few reasons; this is the first in what I hope will be many episodes of this event, and I'm speaking in a lineup that blows every other conference schedule I've seen out of the water. I have met and hung out with enough of these people to know that I'm going to get smarter just by being there! I love watching the industry leaders discuss technology, I learn so much, and I know that this event will be a fabulous opportunity for that.

The event is entirely community organised and run, rather than being backed by an organisation. I am a great believer in having events come from the community that wants to attend them, and as an organiser (both for community and organisation-backed events) myself, the freedom to do things that will really work, rather than things that can be agreed by a management committee, makes the difference between a good event and a great one. What's different about this PHP Community Conference is that most of the organisers are speakers and attendees of some of the biggest conferences in the PHP world ... and they've built the international-level conference *they* want to attend!

The lineup is nothing short of stellar, these guys and gals would be the main feature at most of the other PHP-specific events I've been to, in fact three or four of them have been keynotes at other events I've attended. I'm speaking myself, which was wildly exciting from the moment I got the acceptance email right up until the rest of the schedule was published ... and is now slightly daunting, in the best possible way! I'm giving a half-day tutorial on Web Services, covering all the theory points and showing you how to not only consume but also publish your own services. I work so much with APIs and being able to take the time to properly share my experiences so others can go on to build their own kick-ass services is something really special.

I can't wait to get out to Nashville on April 21/22 and meet the speakers and the fantastic crowd of attendees that I know an event like this will draw. Which is not to say that there are not other great conferences, but I'm really looking forward to seeing something special in Nashville ... I sincerely hope to see you there!

A Tale of Two User Groups

This post is probably only relevant if you're interested in PHP and UK-based. In the next few weeks I'll be at some user groups that I don't manage to visit often. On Thursday, 3rd March, I'll be at PHP East Midlands to talk about Design Patterns. On Tuesday, 12th April, I'll be at PHP West Midlands, also speaking but this time about OAuth. I may make it to one or other of PHPNW and LeedsPHP user groups in that time as well ... and all of those are within 2 hours' driving of my home! PHP is alive and well where I live, my great respect and thanks goes to all the community leaders who make these groups happen - thank you all :)

27 Ways To Be A Better PHP Developer

Last weekend I was at the PHPBenelux 2011 conference in Antwerp. As conferences go it was pretty awesome, completely surpassing my expectations in many ways! The schedule was published in advance but I somehow forgot how many friends I have in that part of the world and what a wonderful crowd there is at this event. My hearty congratulations to all the organisers and my thanks to everyone who attended - they used joind.in for the feedback and there are plenty of comments on there too, which I now consider a metric of how engaged a community is!

I was at the conference to give a keynote with ex-colleague and good friend Ivo Jansch. We gave our new talk "27 Ways To Be a Better Developer" in the opening keynote slot, which was a lot of fun (even if I did freak out slightly and hide in the middle). Ivo and I have lots of experience of working with developers, recruiting, running teams, and we had a great time working out *which* 27 items to include and how to tell the story. It was a little bit hectic since we had about 50 minutes to give the talk but we had some generous reviews and so many people have come and told me about one or two points that have made a big impact on them. These are the slides:

Thanks again to all who made this event what it was - organisers, sponsors, speakers and attendees!

Speaking at DIBI

In June 2011 I'll be speaking at a rather awesome event called DIBI at the Sage in Gateshead (if you're a southerner, then Gateshead is near Newcastle, which is "up north"). DIBI stands for "Design It, Build It" and has two tracks, one focussing on development and one focussing on design. Last year was their first event and although I didn't attend, I have only heard good things about both the conference and the socials!

I love it when really fantastic events happen in the north, especially because I'm based in Leeds and have ties to the North East, so I'm very excited to be speaking. Tickets go on sale in the New Year and I hope I'll see lots of you at the Sage on 8th June!

Keynoting at PHPBenelux

Have you got your tickets for PHPBenelux yet? If not then I hope you will do so because I would love to see you there!

I'll be delivering a keynote at the PHPBenelux Conference in Antwerp in January alongside my good friend Ivo Jansch. Between us we've got plenty of stories to tell from our experiences in various areas of development and we'd like to share those with you! I hope you'll come along and join us, and if you are quick you can catch the early bird prices, saving 50 euro.

On a personal note I have many great friends in this part of the world and I'm super-excited to know that I'm able to visit and see both the old friends I know well and the new friends I haven't met yet. I attended this conference last year and it had a great atmosphere; this year the content is better again and with three tracks, I don't know how we'll choose which sessions to see!

Are you attending? Leave a comment and make sure to come and say hi at the conference in Belgium :)

Be My Guest for DayCamp4Developers

This weekend I'm presenting at DayCamp4Developers, a virtual event comprising a full day of workshops for developers of all disciplines to improve their soft skills and move forward in their career. I get to attend since I'm speaking, but even after I've given my slot I know I'll be online to watch the other talks and I know I'll learn something myself! I believe that, however good your technical skills are, being able to communicate effectively means the different between being the bearded expert in the corner who knows everything but has been in the same job 10 years, and being the high flier that soft skills and technical skills combined could make you.

I have one guest ticket for this event, and I want to make sure that it goes to someone who will make good use of it. So, if you would like to be my guest for DayCamp4Developers, this weekend 6th November, then leave me a comment and tell me why you want to attend. In a couple of days (probably Wednesday evening, UK time) I'll close the comments and pick a winner - put your email address in the comments box (it isn't displayed) so I can reach you and let you know.

If you don't win, and want to join us anyway, then you can still buy tickets. Check with your local user group if they have an affiliate code and if not - use this link to buy your tickets, using my affiliate code ;)

Looking forward to "seeing" everyone on Saturday!

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