I just got done giving my Write A Better FM talk at Tek11, and I’m really pleased with how it was received. On the one hand, I feel like I was, at least a little, preaching to the choir, but I think I also got through to some people who had some of the same questions that I’ve thought about over the last 15 years.
I feel like my thoughts on the topic are still a little scattered, but putting together this talk solidified them quite a bit for me, and I think I might go back to working on the book just as soon as I finish the Apache book project I’m working.
If you’re interested in the topic of open source documentation, technical documentation in general, technical customer support, or any of those related topics, I’d very much like to hear from you, particularly if you 1) have a significant amount of experience in technical support and 2) are interested in collaborating with the book.
I realized, several times, mid-sentence, that I was being very harsh to one particular person or project, and backed off, but I think for the most part I am very pleased with how the talk went. I only regret that I wasn’t able to find my Flip before I left home. I would really like to have recorded it.
I posted this earlier, but it was lost in the ether … somewhere.
Before lunch I gave my “N Things You Didn’t Know About Apache HTTPD” talk at Tek11. This is a talk that I’ve done before but which gets large parts of it rewritten every time I give it, based on what new features are most in my mind lately. N is currently 29, which is actually quite a bit more than I can reasonably cover in an hour.
About three items into the talk, the power went out. The Chicago area has had terrible weather this week, as has the rest of the country, and this was a pretty wide-spread outage. I just kept going. I’ve tried to design my presentations so that my slide deck is really just prompt cards for me, and a few useful examples or funny pictures. The audience was very kind, and some of them followed along with my slides that they had already downloaded.
I don’t know how long Twitpics keeps images, but here’s a picture of folks following along in the glow of their laptops.
My favorite tweets about this are: 1, 2, 3.
I was very impressed with how the hotel and conference planners handled the outage. By early in the next hour, they had run extension cords from generators to the projectors, and did this with very little disruption. Kudos to Cal, Marco, and Ardi, and whoever else was involved in this. I’m always impressed with the professionalism of this conference, but today more than ever before.
A quick reminder that Tek11 is just a week away, but there’s still time to get your tickets. I’ll be speaking twice – once about all of the things you didn’t know the Apache HTTP Server could do, and once about writing a better FM. And, of course, dozens of far-more-brilliant people will be there too, speaking about many PHP-related topics, and hanging out having fascinating conversations, and working on fascinating projects.
You can hardly afford to miss it. See you there.
Tek11 is just a month away, and you should come. PHPTek is one of the best conferences I attend, always full of practical, usable presentations. It’s primarily a PHP conference, but also has a great deal of web-related content and awesome people to hang out with.
This year, I’ll be giving two talks.
The first, N Things You Didn’t Know Apache Could Do is a high-speed sprint through N features of Apache HTTP Server (N is currently 25, I think) that, in my experience, most folks are unaware of. And, with the release of 2.4 imminent, much of this content will be focused on the cool new stuff in 2.4.
My second talk, Write A Better FM, is completely new content for me, and is about what it takes to make your documentation and your customer support more customer-focused, and less … ahem … traditional, free software, the luser is an idiot and an annoyance, RTFM style. This draws on my 15 or so years of working in Open Source documentation, in the Perl, Apache, and PHP communities, as well as writing a half-dozen books.
In addition to these two talks, there will be many community luminaries giving a wide range of talks which, if the last 4 years are any measure, you’ll be able to go back to the office and apply immediately.
You should come.