I have finally booked flights for my summer travel. I start travelling next week and will be away from home for 14 out of the next 21 weeks. I have booked 20 flights and plan to be in Seoul, Pittsburgh, Rome, Chicago, Madison, Amsterdam, Belfast, Frankfurt, London, Tallinn, and Sydney. I’m a bit apprehensive about the amount of travel I’ll be doing, but I will get to catch up with a lot of people. As well as a number of family events I’ll be attending YAPC::NA in Madison and YAPC::EU in Frankfurt. I’ll also be back home in time to attend YAPC::Asia in Tokyo. As always when I travel I will try to meet up with local Perl Mongers.
Attending and speaking at the Perl conferences is important to me but I haven’t managed to come up with an interesting talk this year. I will be speaking about The Perl Foundation at YAPC::NA and I may do this as well at YAPC::EU. But I had really wanted to create a lightning talk based around the number 25 as YAPC::EU will be my 25th YAPC and this year marks the 25th anniversary of Perl. I still have time to get inspired, but I have so many Perl related things that I’m working on that I don’t know if I’ll manage to make the talk a priority.
I arrived in Riga last night, and my luggage joined me this afternoon. I’m glad I brought a rain coat and umbrella, but I didn’t bring enough winter clothes. It’s about 13 C (55 F) and I’ve been living in 33 C (91 F).
I met a couple of friends last night from Birmingham.pm, and though I may be lured out of my room this evening, I’m planning on spending today by myself. I have not been overly well and I’ve got a large backlog of work for TPF, which I would love to make a dent in. Tomorrow I plan to attend the Perl 6 Hackathon.
By the time I finally got to Pisa the conference was well under way. At the start of any conference it usually takes me a while to work out where everything is, as I have absolutely no sense of direction, but since I was staying at the conference venue getting around was incredibly easy. Just as well really as I didn’t want to waste any time getting lost.
I don’t get to see many talks at a YAPC as it’s a great opportunity for me to work on projects with people in person. I usually manage to see a couple of talks a day and I was disappointed that I had missed some of the talks on previous days. These were talks that I had also missed at YAPC::NA with the thought that I would get to see them in Pisa. I also didn’t get to spend enough time working with other people. I had a whole list of things I wanted to discuss in my notebook and I maybe touched on half on of them.
I managed to see José Castro’s talk on how he runs jobs interviews. It was an interesting mix of technical questions and trying to work out how the person being interviewed will react when they are faced with a problem they can’t easily solve. Mind you I hope he wasn’t hoping to recruit at the conference as he probably scared off any potential employees with the amount of glee he showed at the thought of how difficult the whole process was!
I also got to see most of Matt Trout’s “State of the Velociraptor” talk. I had seen this before at YAPC::NA and it was an excellent upbeat keynote. It would have been a great way to end the conference, as the talk was a celebration of the good things in Perl, but in Europe the conference finishes with lightning talks and the auction.
I attended the lightning talks, but since I was speaking I found it hard to focus on the talks that went before mine. I gave a talk called “10 Things to do with a Conference T-Shirt“, which involved making something new out of 10 t-shirts. It was a five minute talk that required more than 20 hours of preparation but it was worth it. I’m going to find it difficult coming up with something equally creative for next year. (I have been asked to put up the pictures of the modified t-shirts but I’m probably going to give this talk at YAPC::Asia, so I want to wait until after that conference.)
The conference finished with the auction. It was much too long, which tends to happen every year, but I did like the new format. Usually we have one auctioneer but this year the auction was carried out by three teams. It was planned to be much faster than usual, as there were only 12 lots, but as the teams were competing against each other to raise money some of the lots did take a long time.
The teams were from the U.K., U.S.A, and Europe. I loved how the different cultures were evident in the styles used to sell and also thought that the different accents helped keep it interesting. All the auctioneers were good but the Daves were my favourite as Dave Cross has one of those accents I could listen to all day and Dave Rolsky really can sell.
I enjoyed the conference and was sorry that I had seen so little of it. Next year I’m going to have to plan to arrive days before the event to allow enough time to cope with travel delays, as I seem to be plagued by these no matter where I go.
I finally arrived in Pisa on Thursday evening. My rescheduled flight was supposed to arrive around lunch time but when we got to Pisa there was a storm. It looked really beautiful above the storm but the propeller plane was not able to fly into it. This meant that the flight was diverted to Genova and after a lot of chaos I ended up on a bus to Pisa. Surprisingly I had met up with some friends on the flight so the whole thing felt more like an adventure than a disaster. I had also come to terms with the fact that I was going to miss the second day of the conference and ended up quite enjoying the drive along the coast.
I was a bit bedraggled when I arrived at the conference venue. The lightning talks were about to start but I decided that a shower was a much better idea. Once I was finally wearing clean clothes I ventured out to catch-up with some people. There is no doubt that I enjoy the social aspects of the conference. There are so many fascinating people to chat to in the Perl community that the part of my brain that was still alive at 2am was buzzing with thoughts when I finally went to bed. It was not the best start I have ever had to a conference but at least I ended the day smiling and looking forward to the next day.
I’m fairly fed-up tonight. Instead of being at Pisa for YAPC::EU I’m in a hotel at Munich airport. My plane from London was delayed and I couldn’t get a flight out tonight. The airline staff did try to find a way to fly me somewhere close to Pisa so that I could have gotten a bus or taxi but it wasn’t possible.
As it was the airlines fault they have put me in a hotel. I don’t have my suitcase and the thoughts of wearing the same clothes tomorrow that I’ve been wearing from 8 this morning are not cheerful ones. Tomorrow will be the fifth day in a row that I have had to go to an airport. I’m exhausted and the things I had hoped to do during the conference are becoming more and more unlikely. I hoping that tomorrow is a better day.
I’m finally on my way to YAPC::EU. I’ve been travelling since Sunday and I’m really tired. Part of me thinks that I’m crazy to try to make this conference but I’ve been at all of them since 2001 and now that I live in Asia I miss the European Perl Mongers. The conference started this morning, so I’m missing the first day. I’m also going to miss the conference dinner but I’ll still have two days of talks to attend and hopefully enough time to catch up with people.
As I wasn’t sure that I would make the conference I only submitted a five minute lightning talk called 10 Things To Do With A Conference T-Shirt. This has been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and is completely prepared as I gave it at YAPC::NA earlier in the summer. I have been considering translating this into Japanese for YAPC::Asia but I don’t know if I’m brave enough to get up and talk in Japanese.
I’ve another couple of hours before my first flight so I’m going to try to catch up on some of the backlog of email that I have. It’s going to be a busy week!
I’m not back in Tokyo yet but I have already started to arrange my summer travel. It needs to be done, because I want to travel using airline miles, but at this point I feel like I never want to travel again. I’m out of luck though since at the minute I’m sitting at the airport waiting to board a 15 hour flight.
Registration has opened for YAPC::NA and I do plan to attend. I have also been trying to work YAPC::EU into my travel plans. That’s proving a lot harder as I have visitors this summer. I’m trying to decide if it will be worth attending even if I only make the last day. I really do want an opportunity to meet up with the European Perl Mongers.
I used to think of conferences as something that happened in the summer, and a northern hemisphere summer at that. Now I know that there are conferences that I could attend in every month of the year, if I had the time, money, or inclination.
The first conference I’ll be attending in 2010 is Perl Oasis and it’s taking place in Florida next weekend. I won’t be speaking. It will probably take me until April to have new talks written for 2010. I had also wanted to go to Frozen Perl, but I’ve decided that it’s a bit expensive. Not the actual conference, it’s low-cost at $100 (US), but the flights and hotel would cost me more than $1000. As well as the cost there is the cold. It is being held in Minneapolis, which is expecting a low of -23°C today. In the past this has appealed to me but I’ve already had enough travel hassle in the past month due to cold weather to make me want to avoid this where I can.
This year I’m not going to attend OSDC.tw. I enjoyed the conference last year but the four days I spent in hospital with food poisoning after the conference has put me off, even though I know it wasn’t the conference that caused the illness. I do want to attend some non-Perl conferences again this year but I’m not sure which ones yet. Gabor has been organising an events team on behalf of TPF to attend FOSDEM and CeBIT but I’m going to be in America during FOSDEM and won’t be able to travel to Germany at the start of March for CeBIT.
The main Perl conferences of the year take place between June and September. So far, there is no information on YAPC::NA apart from the fact that it will be held in Columbus, Ohio. I’m hoping that it takes place some time in June as this year family commitments will prevent me from attending conferences in July and early August. This means I won’t be going to OSCON and I won’t be able to attend YAPC::EU. I’m disappointed that I will miss YAPC::EU as I’ve been to the past 9.
As for the rest of the year I haven’t decided yet. There’s been noises made about a Vancouver Perl Workshop and I really enjoyed OSDC in Australia this year. But I think I’ll wait until I finish my next trip before I make any more decisions.
This year I gave a talk called “Remote Controlled Volunteers” at both YAPC::EU and YAPC::NA. Today I received official feedback from YAPC::EU and two weeks ago I got the feedback from YAPC::NA. This is the first time I have ever received formal feedback for speaking at a conference and I’m impressed that a volunteer is willing to put in this much effort for the speakers.
I was curious to see how similar the feedback for both conferences would be. As I suspected the talk was better at the second conference. (My average score out of 10 for overall presentation went from 8.80 to 9.23). I didn’t do an exact count of the number of people at my talks but I think in both cases around 10% of the attendees have provided feedback. This means that the results aren’t statistically significant. They are interesting though and the written comments provide useful information on how to improve the talk. Some of the comments also amused me, my favourite being:
speaker was confident and had no strange odors; laid bare the
problems with being a jerk in a volunteer community, which is
something people often need reminding of
I would love to receive the feedback sooner. I tend to use a talk for one particular conference season. This year that meant I was giving the talk at both YAPC::NA and YAPC::EU. YAPC::NA took place on the 22nd – 24th June. The surveys for YAPC::NA were kept open for responses until the 14th August by which stage YAPC::EU, which took place at the start of August, was already over. I understand that people need to be given enough time to respond but I can’t imagine that much speaker feedback is given at that late stage. I could be wrong but I know I would find it difficult to answer a survey on a talk more than a month after I had heard it.
Now that I have seen the feedback I’m going to make more of an effort to fill in speaker evaluation forms at next year’s YAPCs. One other quick point about feedback. After my talk in YAPC::NA, Miyagawa made a comment to me about my presentation materials. He was very polite but basically he was telling me that I could do much better. So it’s thanks to him and a crashed hard-drive (I lost the final version of the presentation) that my average score out of 10 for presentation materials went from 8.70 to 9.0!
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