ZendCon, the aftermath.

Now that ZendCon 2009 is over and I’m back home safely, albeit tired, in London after a whole week of giving presentations and meeting old friends and making new, I have an itch to reflect a little bit on the trip, reminisce if you like.

First I would like to mention the talks I gave at ZendCon and make my slides available, as I have been asked quite a few times so far to publish them but have no yet had much time to deal with it.
If anyone wants the originals they can contact me directly and I will be more than happy to oblige :-)

The first talk I gave was about frontend caching and how you can get the most speed out of your website by optimizing the various bits of the frontend.
This is a talk I really enjoy giving and have but a good amount of work in preparing for, and didn’t spoil it that I got a full room for that one where people were very engaging and keen on learning about the topic.
All in all it was a huge success and I got a lot of good feedback from people, both in terms of how I can tweak the presentation and people just generally interested in knowing more, both of which makes it worth it spending time on making a good presentation! :-)

Here is the slide deck for the caching talk: http://www.slideshare.net/helgith/frontend-caching-the-new-frontier

My other talk was about PEAR2 and Pyrus and what’s upcoming with both of those initiatives, this one I was asked to give at a very short notice but I’m very ecstatic how it turned out, especially given the time constraints I had on various fronts.
My crowed was small, mostly due to the fact that Elizabeth Smith was giving her famous SPL talk, but I didn’t mind as I had a very good group of people and I toned it down into a more of a personal approach where I gave each person more attention and it gave people the opportunity to more freely bring up their questions and control the flow of my talk, a very nice change of pace.

The slides are available at http://www.slideshare.net/helgith/pear2-pyrus-the-look-ahead

PEAR2 and Pyrus are definitely something for everyone to look at as soon as they can and something they will use in the future.
The future is here! Reach out and embrace it ;-)

Now with a big conference like ZendCon there are many aspects to the conference it self and how one can measure the conferences success, ranging from the speaker experience to the attendee experience all the way over to the social aspect of the conference and in between.
With ZendCon as far as I could see, most of those went over stellar! As a speaker I really enjoyed the conference and I heard very good feedback from people about the conference in general.
It didn’t hurt that Keith Casey organized a unconference for ZendCon this year and man oh man it was a success, a lot of quality talks and panels came out of it and it was to a point where some people attended more uncon sessions than actual conference sessions! Now if that is not success then I don’t know what is!

On the social side of things there were fewer conference organized social events than most other conferences that I usually attend and the open bars were a fair amount of joke, I’m sorry Zend but you get a minus point there :-/
But fear not, that’s where the whole social aspect comes in, the people around you will make it bearable and you will feel more inclined to chat with a random person just to make up for the lack of alcohol.
But as with any other PHP conference there were a couple of self organized social events in various bits of San Jose and San Francisco, where speakers and attendees likewise get up and figure out a plan to entertain them self, usually involving alcohol, and the outcome – A great social event with drinks at hand and great people to get to know and catch up with old friends.

In relation to the social portion above, among other things, I feel like I should make a special mention of Microsoft and the people they had at ZendCon this year.
Josh Holmes and Paul Treichler were the Microsoft guys that stand out head and shoulders above the rest.  Not only was it enjoyable to talk to them about the way and the world, but they were just as adapt and prepared to discuss what Microsoft were doing right and what they were doing wrong, in addition to talk about Microsofts competitors (One could say that in some cases they knew the competitors tech just as well, if not better than Microsofts, but you didn’t hear that from me! ;-)) on top of being socially capable and just fitting right into the crowed with us, be it at the bar of at the conference – This kind of diversity is something very few, but in increasing numbers, Microsoft employees poses and they are the kind of people that are slowly building up the trust and reputation of Microsoft with open source nutbags like my self, the reason being, they get us!

If Microsoft continues sending people like Josh and Paul to conference to interface with people then I’m sure that Microsoft will start gaining grounds again and lose their “We are all bad and horrible people” stamp they have.

And now to tie in Microsoft and the social bit properly!
While ZendCon was happening then Microsoft was holding Bing party up in San Francisco (remember, ZendCon was in San Jose) – And in an classic example of self organized social, John Coggeshall and Scott MacVicar caught wind of the event and started organizing for people to register for it and to find a way to get everyone there.  After a lot of pondering it was decided to get a Party Bus! to the event and back to our hotel.
One thing led to another and we ended up with a big group of people going up there and as it turned out, Josh made sure that everyone got into the event at Ruby Skye (The Bing party) and that Microsoft pitched in on the bus and also made sure everyone had a night to remember! The night was LEGENDARY.
So on behalf of everyone that attended that party from ZendCon, I would like to than John, Scott and Josh for making things happen!

I can just now hear people start thinking “Microsoft is just buying your loyalty!” and my simple response is, no, no they are not – This is just a case of a changed mindset at the company which helps facility for me and other reconsidering previous ideas we had about the company, its employees and more importantly its products – With the right attitude and directional change, anything can be achieved.

Anyway! So all in all, I would like to thank the organizers of the conference, especially Eli White! for a great conference, unconf people, the attendants and old / new friends for making it such an enjoyable experience and Microsoft to throw such a fun Bing party!
Now to hope there will be a ZendCon 2010!

Just as a final plug, a lot of people asked me where I work and what we do, so I’m just going to plug my companies website to simplify things! :-)

http://www.echolibre.com/ and our blog is located at http://blog.echolibre.com/
If you want amazing work done, contact me directly or any of the contacts details on the company website.

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