Speaking at OggCamp

I'm delighted to announce that I'll be speaking at OggCamp this year. This is an event that I've attended both previous years, and one that I always seem to get a lot out of. It's an open source, anything goes, unconference kind of event. Except that this year there is also a scheduled track of talks alongside the usual unconference content.

I love oggcamp for the sheer randomness of what I learn there. I've variously seen talks on home automation, mapping, operating systems, politics ... the list is pretty long. This year, it's in Surrey, on the same weekend as the final deadlines for my book so I figured I'd have to give it a miss. But when I got an invite to speak on the scheduled track, I realised this was the omen I needed, and accepted at once!

I'll be giving a talk entitled "Open Source Your Career" - a talk which brings up an aspect of open source that we often don't discuss; the personal rewards that an individual can gain from being involved in open source. If you thought it was all about altruism, think again. I'll be bringing anecdotes, from my own career and others', about how the best way to fast-track your professional growth. See you in Surrey :)

The Worst Way To Find Women Speakers

I am a female speaker, and a software developer, which puts me in a fairly small minority at the events I usually attend (I'm a PHP consultant based in the UK, to give you an idea of what kind of events those are). Recently I've been asked my opinion more than once on the issue of women speakers being in a minority at technical events, and I've also been the "token" women speaker at a technical event.

The worst thing you can do is find some random, underqualified person who represents the demographic you want to include, and put them on the stage. Although gender is often the issue we hear most about, the same applies to anyone who isn't a young, white male; it's just that gender is easier to see and talk about than either age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else, and also since I'm a young, white female, it's the only aspect I can comment on.Women are in such a minority that they are, almost by definition, representative (see http://xkcd.com/385). Anyone who sees your randomly-selected woman speak will simply go away thinking that women aren't really good at speaking. Continue reading

PHP North West 2011

We might still be in the thick of the summer conference season, but there's an event coming up this autumn which has me very excited: PHP North West 2011.

This is a regional PHP conference based in Manchester, UK, and I've been involved with it since it began (I'm surprised to find this is our fourth edition, it still feels like a shiny new adventure!). This year the dates are 8th and 9th of October and with an added tutorial day on the Friday, it is bigger (and of course better) than ever. In case you missed the announcements, here are the main things you need to know:

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Summer PHP Conferences

Conference season approaches and in May I'm on a trip to take in two of the most high-profile events in the PHP conference calendar: DPC in Amsterdam (19-21 May) and php|tek in Chicago (24-27 May). The two events have historically been a few weeks apart and I've always complained at having all the fun for the year in such a short space of time - but this year the events are literally back-to-back, there are a small number of speakers attending both and we're pretty much all on the same flight from Amsterdam to Chicago!

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The PHP Community Conference

Next month, I'll be heading out to Nashville for the PHP Community Conference. This is wildly exciting for a few reasons; this is the first in what I hope will be many episodes of this event, and I'm speaking in a lineup that blows every other conference schedule I've seen out of the water. I have met and hung out with enough of these people to know that I'm going to get smarter just by being there! I love watching the industry leaders discuss technology, I learn so much, and I know that this event will be a fabulous opportunity for that.

The event is entirely community organised and run, rather than being backed by an organisation. I am a great believer in having events come from the community that wants to attend them, and as an organiser (both for community and organisation-backed events) myself, the freedom to do things that will really work, rather than things that can be agreed by a management committee, makes the difference between a good event and a great one. What's different about this PHP Community Conference is that most of the organisers are speakers and attendees of some of the biggest conferences in the PHP world ... and they've built the international-level conference *they* want to attend!

The lineup is nothing short of stellar, these guys and gals would be the main feature at most of the other PHP-specific events I've been to, in fact three or four of them have been keynotes at other events I've attended. I'm speaking myself, which was wildly exciting from the moment I got the acceptance email right up until the rest of the schedule was published ... and is now slightly daunting, in the best possible way! I'm giving a half-day tutorial on Web Services, covering all the theory points and showing you how to not only consume but also publish your own services. I work so much with APIs and being able to take the time to properly share my experiences so others can go on to build their own kick-ass services is something really special.

I can't wait to get out to Nashville on April 21/22 and meet the speakers and the fantastic crowd of attendees that I know an event like this will draw. Which is not to say that there are not other great conferences, but I'm really looking forward to seeing something special in Nashville ... I sincerely hope to see you there!

Why I Love Unconferences

I'm seeing increasing numbers of unconferences popping up and I must say I'm quite enjoying them. Last year I went to OggCamp, we included an unconference at DPC, and now there's a PHP-specific event coming up in Manchester: PHP Unconference Europe or phpuceu. I really like unconferences but I think sometimes people don't know what to expect, so here's an outline.

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27 Ways To Be A Better PHP Developer

Last weekend I was at the PHPBenelux 2011 conference in Antwerp. As conferences go it was pretty awesome, completely surpassing my expectations in many ways! The schedule was published in advance but I somehow forgot how many friends I have in that part of the world and what a wonderful crowd there is at this event. My hearty congratulations to all the organisers and my thanks to everyone who attended - they used joind.in for the feedback and there are plenty of comments on there too, which I now consider a metric of how engaged a community is!

I was at the conference to give a keynote with ex-colleague and good friend Ivo Jansch. We gave our new talk "27 Ways To Be a Better Developer" in the opening keynote slot, which was a lot of fun (even if I did freak out slightly and hide in the middle). Ivo and I have lots of experience of working with developers, recruiting, running teams, and we had a great time working out *which* 27 items to include and how to tell the story. It was a little bit hectic since we had about 50 minutes to give the talk but we had some generous reviews and so many people have come and told me about one or two points that have made a big impact on them. These are the slides:

Thanks again to all who made this event what it was - organisers, sponsors, speakers and attendees!

Speaking at DIBI

In June 2011 I'll be speaking at a rather awesome event called DIBI at the Sage in Gateshead (if you're a southerner, then Gateshead is near Newcastle, which is "up north"). DIBI stands for "Design It, Build It" and has two tracks, one focussing on development and one focussing on design. Last year was their first event and although I didn't attend, I have only heard good things about both the conference and the socials!

I love it when really fantastic events happen in the north, especially because I'm based in Leeds and have ties to the North East, so I'm very excited to be speaking. Tickets go on sale in the New Year and I hope I'll see lots of you at the Sage on 8th June!

PHPUnconference Comes to Manchester

I'm very excited to hear that the PHPUnConference Europe (@phpuceu on twitter) is coming to Manchester on February 19th and 20th! So excited, in fact, that I've rushed out and bought my ticket (for a whole £40, that's a good investment in my opinion). The event brings together the PHP community from across Europe to an unconference where the speakers are the presenters, and really anything goes!

A great feature is the contributions and interests section - if there's some content that would be particularly useful to you, or a talk you think would be a good fit, then you add it on this page. All the attendees can vote for which sessions we want to see and so we crowd-source the best lineup possible :)

If you fancy some more structured PHP training then hang around in Manchester after the event because thePHPcc are bringing their PHP Days training to Manchester on the Monday and Tuesday following the weekend event, which is pretty exciting :)

Hope to see you in Manchester, all I need to do now is work out which topics I want to see/give talks about ...