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Archive for the 'YAPC::Europe' Category

YAPC Speaker Feedback: Remote Controlled Volunteers

Monday, September 28th, 2009

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::EUYAPC::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!

Travel Planning

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

It’s nearly 2009 and I’m starting to plan my conference travel.  I need to find a balance between conferences I want to go to and realistic amounts of travel.  I am tempted to attend Frozen Perl at the start of February.  I’ve read the schedule, looked at hotels, the city, and even checked the price of flights.  But I will be travelling in January and the conference is much too close to my return to Tokyo.  It would exhaust me to go.

I really like living in Japan but it’s so far away from most of the conferences I want to attend.  I have actually fallen asleep at conferences because I was suffering from jet-lag.  I didn’t expect it to be so difficult for me to travel when I moved here but I am going to try to be realistic in my future travel plans.

I will attend YAPC::NA and YAPC::Europe.  I will probably attend YAPC::Asia but at the minute I’m not sure when it will be or if it will be in Tokyo this year.

YAPC Signs

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

One thing that often gets neglected at YAPC conferences are signs showing the attendees where the venue is and where the relevant rooms are inside the venue.  This year at YAPC::Asia they had the best signs I have ever seen at any conference.  They were placed at the entrance of the university and in front of each building that was being used.  They were large, full colour, professionally printed, and contained a map of the venue and the conference schedule.

Signs used in YAPC::Asia 2008

Signs used in YAPC::Asia 2008

(Image copyright HisashiToday)

At YAPC::Europe, however, it was difficult to work out what building the conference was being held in.  I did eventually notice the following sign on a piece of A4 paper stuck to the inside of a door.  I really hope it’s the last time I see a hand drawn sign like this at a YAPC conference.

Sign On Door of YAPC::Europe Venue

Sign On Door of YAPC::Europe Venue

(Image copyright Jon Allen)

YAPC::Europe – Lightning Talks On The First Day?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

When I first saw the schedule I wasn’t sure that lightning talks would work well on the first day.  A lot of them rely on humour and I had thought that they would work better later on in the conference when the attendees are more relaxed and have more of an idea what to expect from the conference speakers.

But they are about to start so I will soon find out if this works or not.

YAPC::Europe – Lunch Time

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

I have noticed that YAPCs are starting to provide more food for the attendees.  I am surprised by how much they are able to do considering the low cost of attending the conference.  The lunch bag contained a bottle of water, salad, two rolls and a small yogurt based dessert.  It was very nice and it was good to not have to go outside to try to find somewhere to eat around the venue.

YAPC::Europe – Opening Day 1

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

At the start of every conference I think it would be a good idea to blog more.  What usually happens is that I end up with lots of unfinished posts in my draft folder.  I still haven’t finished writing up YAPC::Asia and I think that took place in May.  I have an idea that I might use my YAPC::Asia material and write a comparison between the three YAPCs that I have attended this year – but who knows if I will actually get this finished.

YAPC::Europe started this morning in Copenhagen.  I didn’t have any problems getting to the venue as I travelled with JJ and Barbie and Barbie had taken the time to work out how to get there.  I am really glad that I didn’t need to find it by myself as it wasn’t that clear which building the conference was taking place in.

I had already registered last night at the pre-conference event so didn’t need to do that this morning.  Not that it would have been a problem as the organisers looked very well prepared and the opening of the conference has been very smooth.  The wifi has been much easier to connect to than the one at YAPC::Asia or YAPC::NA.  In Asia there was quite a complex registration process to go through.  In America the login details were not obviously available and I had to ask Yaakov what I was supposed to do to connect.

The conference is about to begin as Jonas is calling for the first speaker.  So far so good.

London.pm Social Meeting

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Last night I managed to drop in to the London.pm 10th Anniversary social meeting.  When I planned my trip to YAPC::Europe I hadn’t realised that I would be arriving in London on the same day as that meeting.

It worked out surprisingly well as I was concerned that I would be much too tired to go and see anyone.  But the flight was good and I had arranged to meet up with Dean before going to the meeting as I did think I would be too tired to cope with a whole crowd of people for too long.  It took me longer to find Dean than he expected.  He had probably expected me to have more of an idea of where exactly I was in London.  He also didn’t know that asking me things like “are you on the south side or the north side of the river” may as well have been in a foreign language as I am never going to know the answer to that.  He was lucky I had even noticed that there was a river at all!

I was pleased that I got to catch up with some people who won’t be going to YAPC::Europe this year.

Visiting the Dentist

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Today I made my first visit to a dentist in Japan.  I have had a lot of pain in an erupting wisdom tooth since the middle of last week.  This happened to the same tooth a couple of years ago.  I went to see a dentist in Northern Ireland and at that time I was told the tooth was fine and that it was normal for this to cause a lot of pain.

This morning I woke at around 5.30am with a fever and decided that I would need to go and see someone about the tooth.  I had no idea where to go so I did a quick search for “English speaking dentists in Tokyo”.  Luckily for me one of the top results was a surgery in the building Marty works in.  Going to the dentist can be quite a traumatic experience.  I have never really understand what dentists do to make people feel so uncomfortable.  Today I didn’t feel nervous but that was mainly because the fever made me feel sick and I was in quite a lot of pain – I didn’t really think anyone could make me feel worse.

I turned up without an appointment just after the surgery opened.  I was told that I would have to wait for an hour.  I was thrilled with this.  When I had the problems in Northern Ireland I found it really hard to get an appointment at the dentist.  Even though it was considered an emergency, because of the pain, I still had to wait for two days until a dentist could fit me in in their lunch break.

I was impressed with the surgery.  It was really clean and peaceful.  The dentist made me feel comfortable and took time to explain everything that was going to happen.  It seemed more efficient than any dentist I have been to in Northern Ireland.  The dentist who analysed my x-ray and looked at the tooth didn’t do any of the mundane things like taking the x-ray or cleaning my gums.  He had a dental technician to do this for him.

Although the visit went well it turns out that I have a problem with my tooth.  The dentist wanted to schedule surgery to remove it at the start of next week but I will be in Europe as I am going to YAPC::Europe.  It’s haven’t felt well in days and it’s possible that I am going to feel awful throughout my whole European trip but I don’t want to cancel.