Day Camp For Developers

I’m very excited by a new virtual event which is coming up, and at which I have been invited to speak. This is Day Camp 4 Developers, an event aimed at developers of all disciplines and focussing on the soft skills that sometimes we miss in our pursuit of technical excellence. I’ll be giving my talk “Open Source Your Career”, which looks at how being involved in open source outside of work can improve our professional development. The event is on November 6th, and you can buy tickets here.

There are a number of things that really appeal to me about this event: Continue reading

Working with Web Services – Froscon 2010

This weekend I’m at froscon in Germany, giving two talks. One had no slides (but may have video, if I see it then I will post the link here) and the other was “Working with Web Services” which I gave this morning in the PHP room. My slides are here:

Thanks to the PHP room organisers for accepting me as a speaker and to Sebastian for twisting my arm in the first place – it’s a fun event!

Geeks Can Write

A couple of weeks ago I gave a lightning talk at the PHPNW user group entitled “Geeks Can Write” or “Can Geeks Write?” – basically shooting down the worst of the excuses for not writing that I’ve heard and asking everyone to give it a shot! If you are interested, then the slides are on slideshare. Happy writing :)

Keynoting at PHPNW10

I’m slightly surprised but mostly wildly excited to announce that I’ll be the keynote speaker at the PHP North West Conference in October. It is held in Manchester in the UK, which is about an hour from where I live in Leeds, so it is definitely my “home” conference, and this makes me even more excited since I know I’ll be in such great company!

The talk is Teach A Man To Fish: Coaching Development Teams and really it’s about how a little investment of time or effort can build your existing team into something better – and how that team can then sustain its improvements and continue to raise its performance and the game of the individual team members. All in all I am pretty excited about this talk – as with most of my conference talks, it started life as a rant in a bar, and I’m now excited to be preparing it for a more formal setting!

The event itself is a must-see for anyone doing PHP or allied technologies that can get there (Manchester is pretty central and pretty cheap – if you’re in the UK, you have no excuses!). It’s a Saturday event, 9th October 2010 and tickets are on sale – the Early Bird prices are still available and we’ve held the prices as low as possible again, we don’t need frills, we just want lots of people to be able to join in! I hope to see quite a few of you there, let me know if you’re coming :)

Speaking at FrOSCon

In August I’ll be attending FrOSCon in Germany for the first time, and speaking there. It’s a mixed technology conference, with rooms set aside for separate scheduling for various projects and technologies. I’ll be speaking in the PHP room, delivering “Working With Web Services”, a talk which covers how to consume all sorts of types of web service from PHP. I’m excited about that and even more excited to hear that I’ll also be speaking in the main track, where I’ll deliver “Open Source Your Career” – stories and advice about how involvement in open source can positively influence the career path for each of us.

I haven’t visited this part of Europe before so I’m also including a couple of days to see the area, and really looking forward to the trip. Since there are technologies other than PHP, and since I’m rarely in Germany, I know I’m going to meet a lot of new people … and I can’t wait :)

PHPNW10: Call for Papers

It’s official, PHP North West 2010 is definitely happening … and for that we’ll need some people to pop along and give a talk! As in previous years, we’ll first of all deal with selecting the papers for our main conference day, 9th October. Talks can be 60 minutes or 30 minutes, can be on any subject if you can persuade us it’s relevant to PHP developers, and speakers anywhere on the spectrum from expert to newbie are welcome.

So what are you waiting for? Go submit your talk at our call for papers page. If you need more assistance then you should check out these resources (and yes, some of them are mine but I feel strongly about this topic and want all you interesting and hesitant people to start speaking!)

Are you submitting? What tips would you offer to those thinking of doing so? Already we’re at over 50 submissions, more than last year, so competition is tough but oh my goodness, I’m so excited :)

Your Open Source Stories

In this post, I am asking for your help and input, although it might seem like a post about nothing in particular to begin with. Please keep reading!

Last month, I gave a talk at TEK-X entitled “Open Source Your Career”. Personally I think that a lot of the high fliers in this profession use their community activities as a boost to their professional development, and I know that this has been true for me too. So in my talk I told stories about situations I’d met in my professional life and how I’d either achieved or made new opportunities by building on skills and experience (and network) that I’ve come across in my community activities.

For example I said to my CTO, Ivo Jansch that I was giving this talk and he asked what it was about. I said that, in a nutshell, I didn’t think Ibuildings would have trusted any of their developers to host the Dutch PHP Conference unless they’d seen that person hosting events elsewhere – as a volunteer co-host of PHPNW, I gained some experience doing this sort of thing. His response really brought home how true it is that getting out there can reap rewards in ways we don’t expect – or in my case don’t even recognise. He simply said “one reason you have the job you have now is the fact that you did an oracle podcast for zend once which I heard when I received your CV”. It hadn’t occurred to me that activities like that would have helped when I was changing jobs.

What I Need From You

I’m giving this talk again, at FrOSCon in Germany in August. It was a huge amount of fun to deliver last time but I’d really like to pull in more stories from other people to include in my talk. So … have you ever got involved with something outside of your day job, only to realise later that it was a good career move? And would you let me tell your story?

Answers on a postcard, by email, or in the comments field below. Any and all input is very gratefully received :)

The Unavoidable PHPWomen

I’m subscribed to a number of women-in-tech mailing lists because, well, I’m a woman in tech. Every few months or so a thread will come round about a technical conference with no female speakers. The issues around this are many, lengthy, and not something I want to write about here (or not today anyway!).

I was pleasantly surprised to note, then, that at the recent TEK-X conference, there was one slot where you could not AVOID seeing a female speaker. While Elizabeth Marie Smith delivered her slightly ranty “Cross Platform PHP”, Ligaya Turmelle was sharing her wisdom in her session “Replication with MySQL”, and in the remaining track there was a community roundtable, with my noble self on the panel! (OK so a panel is not a talk but hey, bear with me!)

I want to say thanks to TEK-X for being an amazing conference, to the community for being generally fabulous, and to the women in particular for being awesome beyond belief – this was a good day :)

TEK-X: Conference Report

Its been quiet around here recently, partly because I have been really busy and partly because I was in Chicago last week for the wonderful TEK-X conference. It would be very cool to get to go skipping around the world to conferences, however people paying for my airfares do seem to like me to perform some useful function while I am there and this was no exception with one tutorial and two talks to deliver, plus an appearance on a panel. I’ve attended this conference in previous years however so I knew it would be well worth it :) My sessions and an overview are outlined below:

PHP Best Practices

I was privileged to get a tutorial slot alongside my good friend Matthew Weier O’Phinney for a second consecutive year. This year we presented “PHP Best Practices” which was a lot of fun. We squabbled over topics and took turns presenting them from our own point of view. A description of the session and a link to the slides are on the page if you are interested.

Subversion in a Distributed World

Now that this talk is finally over, I don’t mind admitting that this was the one that I regretted submitting pretty much from the day it was accepted until the day I delivered it, including some rather sleepless nights. It was an adaptation of my “git folks are fanbois” bar rant but I got so concerned that I wasn’t supporting my accusations with facts that it evolved into a very coherent evaluation of what I consider to be the four main version control tools around at the moment: Subversion, Mercurial, Bazaar and Git. The talk went over better than I could ever have dreamed, and again you can find description, feedback and slides on the relevant page. If someone could please stop me next time I submit a talk that needs as much work as this, that would be awesome!

Open Source Your Career

I almost didn’t submit this talk, since its so very difficult to get a community talk accepted at the big conferences. They usually have one, at most, and I wasn’t sure I was in the top one of submitters on this topic. But, I had a transatlantic airfare to justify and I figured it might make a good second talk – I also know Cal well enough to know he likes a slightly contraversial take on these things. When he accepted it I was fairly surprised and actually quite nervous about spending an hour talking about myself in a conference session! I spoke without slides, so there aren’t any, but you can read the outline and feedback on In a nutshell: get out and do things, you will reap the benefits one day.

In Conclusion

I had a great time in Chicago, and also managed some touristy outings into Chicago:

Garden in the City The Bean

The conference itself was quite a rollercoaster, not least because every session I delivered was written from scratch for this conference and I spoke at two other big events this year already – 4 sessions over 4 days is a tall order however you look at it and I had pushed my own boundaries a bit with the talks I submitted (for the record, I submitted plenty of perfectly nice, ordinary, technical talks that somehow didn’t make the cut!) On the final morning I delivered the career talk and then immediately sat on the community panel. I was aware of people saying to me “have you seen twitter?” but I had to turn around between sessions so I just nodded, smiled, and got settled for the next session. The upshot of that was that I sat in Marco’s closing remarks and read 2 hours worth of tweets about me, plus all the feedback on both sessions, all in one go.

At the risk of understatement, the feedback was totally out of this world, I couldn’t believe how well the sessions had gone over and it took me about 3 days to get over the shock … which is another reason it took me so long to write this post.

I’d like to say thanks to everyone who was there, left feedback, helped me prepare or just showed up to the conference and joined in the event as a whole. Stay in touch and I’ll see you all next year :)

Podcast: How and Why to Become a Speaker

This is a podcast version of my rant-in-the-bar advice to anyone thinking about speaking, or wondering how to begin. Personally I think many more people could be sharing their expertise at events than actually do so, and I would really like anyone who wants to get involved to have a starting point. So if that’s you, and you have a spare ten minutes to listen to my thoughts on the subject, then the mp3 is here.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any other advice you’d give to someone who isn’t yet speaking.