DPC Talk Review

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of speaking at the excellent Dutch PHP Conference in Amsterdam. I haven’t done anything like this before and I did a lot of preparation – as you’ll know if you read this blog regularly.

My talk was entitled “PHP Deployment with Subversion” and was a series of suggested tricks for using Subversion, both tools and structure, to help with deployment. I’m on holiday in Amsterdam for a few days (since I haven’t visited the city before) so I’m currently not able to upload my slides but I will post them here in a day or two. You can get a sneak preview though as there is flickr evidence of my presentation available.

I included a demonstration in my talk which showed a nabaztag (electronic funky rabbit device) notifying of different events, such as tests failing. What I hadn’t really taken into account was that I’d be speaking in such a large room – there was seating for 400 people (about half full I think) and the rabbit is only 8 inches high or so, he was a bit little! I wasn’t following the chatter at the time but I was hugely amused to see this tweet from Breuls when I checked twitter the next day!!

Overall my talk was relatively successful in the sense that I said what I wanted to, I didn’t talk too much or too little, and my nabaztag demo actually worked. I do feel however that my nerves got the better of me – I’m rarely intimidated but having never spoken at a conference before I found it very difficult to adapt to speaking in the main hall. This is the first time I’ve used a microphone, they clipped it onto me and then I started giving the presentation, that was really strange. And also having a large stage with my slides projected on a screen the size of a small house … you can’t look at them, or point at them, or anything. I thought I’d become less nervous with time but I’m afraid it never happened! On a personal level, to give a talk like that, perfectly competently, is an achievement in itself and I’m trying to forget how hard it really was and just feel proud instead :) After the talk I only got one question, which was “Where can I get one of those rabbits?”, so I wasn’t sure if I had put my technical content across well. However quite a few people came to pick my brain afterwards so I guess I did OK.

I owe huge thanks to everyone who provided moral support and tried to convince me I’d be fine, and even more thanks to my boyfriend Kevin who did the setup for the nabaztag (Naz the nabaztag needed his own wireless network) and helped me write the code to run the demo. I’ll write more about the rabbit and the demo at a later point, looks like a lot of people will be getting them :)

Speaking aside, I had a great few days meeting old friends and new ones at the conference, and attending some really interesting sessions. Speaking was very very stressful although perhaps only because I didn’t handle it as well as I might have. The definite upside though is getting to hang out with the very cool kids at the Speakers Dinner afterwards – thanks guys, I had a wonderful night. All in all I can’t wait for next year!

DPC Day 1

Well, its a misleading title because the day is only half over but the Dutch PHP Conference 2008 is well and truly underway! Today I’ve been in the Zend Framework tutorial given by Matthew Weir O’Phinney, which is a full-day session. Its been excellent – with some concepts, some examples, and now a real working application to take a look around and learn from. I’ve had to work with ZF a little bit lately and I wish I’d been able to have this tutorial before I did that!

I’ve been able to catch up with a lot of people since arriving late last night and making the mistake of not going to bed until late because I wasn’t tired (still on UK time) and then having to get up early today! Tonight we have an Ibuildings employees event which will be great, I’m excited to put faces to names for all my colleagues – the downside of the telecommute is that I mostly know people on Skype or IRC and not in real life. Later on there is a pre-conference social as well (from 8pm) – which is why my day is only half done :)

Looking forward to tomorrow, when there will be a phpwomen stand upstairs outside the main hall, we’ll be giving out shirts (they’re white this year) so if you want one then come and get it! Tomorrow at 2pm I’m giving my talk “PHP Deployment with Subversion” which looks like it will be well attended. Oh and its Worldwide Knit In Public Day as well so I’ll be attempting to fit that in as well!

Dutch Conference

Today I leave for Amsterdam, to visit the Dutch PHP Conference where I will be getting my first experience as a conference speaker. It would be fair to say that I’m very nervous – its a high profile event and the other speakers in the lineup are pretty amazing!

When I was invited (or perhaps that should be “volunteered”) to speak at this event, I realised that I would need a lot of preparation in order to be able to deliver something like this. I arranged to give short technical presentations at local GeekUp events and went to both Leeds and Sheffield and spoke there. When I had assembled the content of the talk for Amsterdam, I circulated the slides around a few technical colleagues and friends, to make sure that it was accurate and covering sensible material. I was also charmed and excited to have the chance to attend the PHP London User Group meet last week and to give the actual talk there. So, at this point, there is little more I can do to prepare other than attempt not to get too drunk at the pre-conference social on Friday night!

The social side of things is something I’m really looking forward – this conference is organised by my employers, so I’ll have the opportunity to meet the developers I work with every day but haven’t met yet or don’t see often. This in itself I know will be fabulous, although I will certainly forget everyone’s names! In addition there will be people I know online from #phpc and of course some members of phpwomen.org as well – we are running a PHP Women stand at the conference and giving out shirts – so if you want one you had better come along and ask nicely :) I am also looking forward to meeting new people that I don’t yet know I’m going to meet – so here’s hoping for a wonderful time and not too many talk nerves!! To recover I’m staying on in Amsterdam for a few days since I haven’t visited the city before, seems like a good opportunity.