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LPW Time


Fri Dec 1 20:30:20 2017

You may have read my other blog on my personal site about the LPW, in that article I mostly wanted to splurge on the day after about how great it was while I still had the feeling inside me. This article will hopefully be a more measured affair as I talk about the great community event I experienced for the very first time as an attendee and speaker.


Well time to claim a little bit of smug pride, I passed the event on last year to a group of organisers after hosting it for ten years. I wanted to have new life and a new direction in the event, fresh thinking. I couldn’t have got a better group of people to pass it on to.

This year’s event felt fresher, there was a lot to admire. I loved community bonding elements like the collective morning baking (we cooked a bunch of tasty treats for the attendees to enjoy, the response was massive and the treats excellent - great idea Neil). There was also a lot more support to speakers and attendees with targeted emails to different groups, the same to sponsors and volunteers and this also was brilliant.

The printing of the schedule and having people listed by name and room on the reverse was a stroke of excellence as was holding the after drink social at the event. Both are super ideas and well done to the organisers. I also like that money was spent on camera equipment1 and people to do the AV for the event. There were a bunch of other small details like t-shirts for volunteers and speakers alone that really set this apart as a well thought out event and I can do nothing but thank Neil, Katherine, Rick, Pete and Lee for all their hard work.


As always there were a great number of excellent talks and I want to just quickly run through those I personally attended. This was a first for me as I have been to 10 LPWs before this year and never attended anything but the Lightning Talks as I was always doing something on the organising side.

So the very first real talk I have attended was more of a seminar and it was by the stalwart Dave Cross.

Dave Cross (‎davorg‎) - ‎Web Site Tune-Up - Improve Your Googlejuice‎

This was an excellent 80 minute whistle-stop tour of doing SEO from a technical perspective. I probably knew about 40% of what Dave was talking about beforehand and have implemented at best guess 10% of this. I am planning in the next few weeks/months to implement all of it on the work site and then move what I have learned on to other sites.

As a company I know we can do this already as we have developers who understand more than myself. But this is an area of development where I have some experience and think I can improve my own skills vastly. Dave will be doing a longer version in Glasgow and I am planning on sitting front row for that.

I just want to note that Dave does this service as a contractor as well and if you hit him up on Twitter (@davorg) he will likely give you a more personalised way to discuss with him how he can improve your sites performance with Google.

JJ Allen - ‎To delete or not to delete, that is the question‎

The upcoming GDPR is something that I am focussing a lot on in both blog posts and as Shadowcat.2 We as a company are very keen to be positive in our communities about this massive legal shift and the accompanying technical challenges to implement these laws will entail.

So listening to JJ give a follow up talk to his GDPR talk from last year in which he specifically addresses the issues around deletion was very useful and the talk was excellent. I will be doing a follow up blog that will go into more detail later, in fact I will be pretty much repeating and suggesting we implement JJ’s approach in that blog, so keep an eye out for it.

Tom Hukins - ‎Development: More than Writing Code?‎

Tom gave a wonderful talk that was more of a personal journey. This year he has spent a lot of time working with legacy systems and diving into doing desperate things, changing systems without always knowing how much it affects.

This was a talk about making sure we don’t use too much caution and also managing the fear that you are throwing caution to the wind. I loved the talk and would love to hear Tom give it again with a bit more refinement. He was nervous that this first time out talk wouldn’t work, I think he should be reassured that it worked magnificently.

Paul Johnson (‎pjcj‎) - ‎Modernising A Legacy Perl Application‎

Paul is always a great speaker and well done to the organisers3 for placing these two complementary talks together. Paul spoke with clarity and confidence about dealing with legacy systems and updating them in the same language. I am hoping that he publishes the slide set for this as I would love to flick back through it and recommend it to all the SC developers who missed it.

Ann Barcomb (‎kudra‎) - ‎Fifteen Years of Contributing Casually‎

I have never seen Ann speak before and I think I might have missed out as she was a great speaker. Again I really want to thank the organisers (see footnote for how much) for adding a plenary talk at the end of the day as a wind down and lead into the Lightning Talks.4

Ann spoke a little about her progress from a programmer through to community contributor to an organiser and then into changing tracks and returning to researching open source contributions. This is an area that fascinates and engages me and so I spoke to her afterwards a little about my own journey and the fact that I will be following up on her research and taking her survey.

One of the most interesting5 elements was that if you ask someone, especially a non-technical person, to help you do something that may be connected to a technical community, they are more likely to do it because they are asked. If you continue to engage people they often move from one-off contributors to occasional (or casual) and then into repeat or full-time contributors. Contributions are a journey and it varies for each person.

I could probably fill a whole blog post on what Ann said, but I may first go back over her slides (see udpate below)6 and read the research and so that I don’t misrepresent (any further than I might have done here) her excellent work.

Lightning Talks‎

The Lightning Talks are always a fun challenge. This year I gave my first ever LPW Lightning Talk and my laptop didn’t like the projectors (4K video card did not scale down to SVGA) and then my presentation killed Leon’s Macbook. So my talk was wobbly and fun, I loved it, couldn’t have planned it better. Meant I could waffle and have a laugh and move faster, so thanks Karma and the Lord Murphy of Strikes.

The other Lightning Talks were all fun, as usual Dave Cross gave a great talk and was on just before me, Tom was fun and frothy and Paul Evans gave us his usual light relief talk to make up for the high brow talks he does as longer pieces. I also loved that one of the speakers flew all the way from Japan just to attend the event and give a Lightning talk, again!

‎Wrap Up‎

‎This year I had a lot of fun at LPW. I really want to thank all of the sponsors who also made this an amazing event: Eligo, Perl Careers, CV-Library, WCN, Adzuna, Bytemark, OpusVL,, SureVoIP,Magnum Solutions, Perl 6, Geekuni, University of Westminster, Cogendo, Science Photo Library, The Enlightened Perl Organisation, Evozon, O'Reilly. If you get a chance, please thank them.

I really want to thank all the speakers, especially the ones I saw or spoke to, all the volunteers and all the attendees. This is a great community and it was great to be a part of the event and also to be able to attend and enjoy it in a wholly new fashion.

[Don't forget that you can join in this conversation by using the comments form at the bottom of the page or by tweeting at @shadowcat_mdk]

  1. Last year's videos are available and of varying quality. You can find them on the Shadowcat area on You Tube. ↩

  2. I have written several posts and you can find them in the next directory level up on this site and some of them are also listed in the sidebar. As an organisation we have a strong focus on security and digital rights and so can help and advise people in these areas. It is why we are taking a very measured and serious approach to giving advice and hep to our clients and the various bodies we work with. ↩

  3. Okay I am starting to feel a little less smug and more jealous and aggrieved at how good a job they did now, they are starting to make me look bad ;) ↩

  4. A great idea and one that I have used before so yay me ↩

  5. And as Ann pointed out ‘obvious when you say it but nobody had until she wrote it down for them to read’. ↩

  6. Update 2nd December: Thankfully Ann was able to correct me and let me know that the slides do not actually contain enough information to warrant her sharing them. She did however point me at this excellent article that she authored on for you to read which covers the same topic . ↩