Book Review: Confessions of a Public Speaker

I received "Confessions of a Public Speaker" as a gift this winter (you know who you are, thankyou!), and it's been on my bookshelf waiting for me to have a reason to sit still long enough to read it. A series of long flights presented exactly that opportunity so I brought the book along to read, which was perfect as I was travelling to give a tutorial at the PHP Community Conference in Nashville.

My first observation was that although I thought this would be a pretty serious book, I was laughing! Not just smiling, but actually giggling on a fairly small plane of people doing the short hop over to Amsterdam. I saw a few people trying to read the cover to figure out what this great comedic tome would be :)

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Ideas of March

You may find that you read a few of these posts today - the title is a play on the fact that today is the Ides of March, and the story goes like this:

I'm seeing increasing numbers of my friends and peers announcing that blogging is coming back into fashion, which came as a surprise to me since I didn't realise it had gone out of fashion and I've been blogging regularly without realising how uncool that was! With twitter managing to annoy everyone in the last week or so either with a new client, bad behaviour towards existing 3rd party clients, or reassigning twitter names, change is in the air.

Personally I like to blog, it's a platform that I control, and I'm always too verbose for 140 character limits (which is a nice way of saying that I talk too much - if you've met me in person then you knew that already!). The blogs, and perhaps more importantly their comments, are the best way I know of sharing ideas and having those accessible and grouped together if you want to refer back to them at any point in the future. They are also wonderfully asynchronous; I see some great posts coming past about technologies that I don't use, then find myself reading those articles a few months later when I'm onto the next project. Having the various blog posts, even those short ones that people think "don't qualify" or "aren't good enough", really help me get started with something new - and I try to leave the same trail on my own blog and in the comments of others' when I'm figuring things out that I think others might come up against later (where "others" includes me, if I have slept since writing the blog post!).

So - will you join us? Will pledge to blog, or to comment on blogs, in March? Here's to a revival of blogging (and some continuation from those of us who fail at being with the cool crowd!)

5 Years of Blogging

I've just realised that today marks 5 years since the very first post on this blog. I'm not sure how 5 years came around, the blog began because I was just leaving a job and every time I did that, I lost my directory of useful scripts that I collected. I also didn't know how to use grep 5 years ago (or linux, or vim ...) and so I couldn't find things in the directory anyway. So I started to blog things, in the hope of finding them again when I wanted them.

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Make Blogging Your New Years Resolution

Do you have a New Year's Resolution? Is it to blog (or blog more often)? If so, keep reading!

I'm coming up to my 5th anniversary of blogging and looking at my stats, I've written around 150 posts per year for most of that time, although in 2010 I "only" wrote 102 posts, possibly because one or two other things happened in my life. So many people tell me they want to blog, or they have a blog but can't find the time to write, that I thought I'd try to give some pointers for those resolving to blog this New Year.

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Advice To Another Blogger

Recently I was approached by a friend of mine looking to start his own technical blog. I've been blogging here for some years, and he wrote to ask my advice. I replied to him, but thought that the ideas could be useful to others in the same position, so here's that email, published here for anyone else who wants to see it:
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My Talk Filing System

Three years ago, I had never spoken in public (I have video of that first attempt and all I can say is that I've come a long, long way!). Since then, I've done rather a lot of it. I've submitted countless conference talks, had the minority of those accepted, and prepared and delivered those that were. Not many talks have been given twice, but some have, and now some are getting rebranded since I am working for myself and can choose my own slide branding these days. All this adds up to a lot of content to keep track of!

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How to Be a Good Conference Citizen

I get to a lot of events and the crowds at each one are different and there's a different atmosphere - but at every event there are people who are making the whole thing less enjoyable for everyone else. Probably a lot of those people don't much care what effect their behaviour has on other people, but if you want to avoid being one of those people, these are my tips:

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Tips for Event Hosting: Content, Feedback and Socials

This is the final post in a short series about hosting events, based purely on my own experience and no specific expertise, in the hope that they will be useful to others doing similar things. If you are interested, you can read the first two posts, about preparing for the event and what to do on the day. This post is about some of the additional things about an event; sharing the content afterwards, getting feedback from attendees, and the most important bit - the social event.
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Tips for Event Hosting: On The Day

This post is the second in a series of three about organising and hosting events. If you're interested, you could also read the first post about event preparation.

As an organiser you should know exactly where you are going on the day and what you need. Namebadges (sticky labels and pen if nothing else) will be needed at registration, if you have tickets and need to tick people off then rope in lots of volunteers (it sounds like a lot but 3-5% of your total attendee count is ideal) and brief them, and spread out across as much space as you have so you can parallelise as much as possible - registration is always chaos because of course everyone shows up at once and causes a backlog! Continue reading

Tips for Event Hosting: Preparation

I've been to a lot of events, mostly technical, software-related ones, and I've also helped organise a few as well. For people organising events for the first time there are definitely some pitfalls that might not be obvious until you actually, well, until you fall into them! I thought I'd capture my experiences into a series of blog posts, in case they can help any future organisers to avoid some of the traps. First up: what to do before your event starts.

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