2009 Highlights

14 Jan 2010

I'm a bit delinquent, but this is my first post of the year, and sticking with tradition, it's a chance for me to record highlights from the previous year. This is my seventh consecutive year doing this; it's hard to believe I've been blogging consistently for that long.

I used to speak at more than a dozen conferences each year, and it negatively affected the quality of my talks and the quality of my life. My speaking schedule for 2009 was much better:

I gave the last talk at PHP UK, and although it wasn't considered a keynote, it sure felt like one. It was one of my favorite talks for numerous reasons. I had just spent a few hours drinking Persian tea in the sun at a café with Jon and Jon, so I was both relaxed and energized. The stage had no podium, so I felt very connected to the audience. (It also helped that the auditorium was shaped like a bowl.) The feedback was also extremely kind; people thought the talk was inspiring, even better than expected, mind boggling, and the highlight of the conference. (One person even suggested it saved the conference.) Perhaps more surprising than the quality of the feedback was the quantity, thanks mostly to the ubiquity of Twitter. To those who said nice things, thank you so much. It really helped lift my spirits. I capped off my visit to London with an Arsenal match. (It was yet another draw; they're doing much better this season.)
PHP Québec
Almost immediately after returning from the UK, I was off to Montréal for the annual PHP Québec conference, one of my favorites. I enjoyed all the usual delights, including viande fumée at Schwartz's. I was very happy to be giving the closing keynote, and even happier about how many people were there and all of the nice feedback on Twitter and elsewhere. I managed to get a photo of the audience participating in a change blindness experiment, which I later used in a change blindness demonstration, just to be meta. :-)
The annual php|tek conference was back in Rosemont (not too far from Chicago), and it was every bit as fun as expected. I was able to celebrate my birthday at the Map Room, where Sean played beer host, and everyone had a great time. (I know I did.) I also managed to make it downtown, where I tried Chicago-style pizza for the first time. It was pretty good, but it just can't compete with New York-style pizza. (I still love going to Grimaldi's for lunch when the line's short.) My talk was a big hit as well, but I didn't have quite as much energy as when I gave it at PHP UK.
San Jose is no Portland, and that one fact made this OSCON a little underwhelming. It has often been my favorite conference of the year, but not this year. Luckily, Andrei convinced Helgi, Jon, Sean, and me to stay in San Francisco. As a result, some of my best memories were of places like Samovar, 21st Amendment, and Russian River. In the evenings, I learned a lot about grids, leading, and vertical rhythm from Jon while watching him prepare his talk. The tutorial I gave with Sean went really well, although it was a little rough around the edges, and my talk was a big hit. A big thanks to Chris Sontag for saying it was "by far one of the top three talks" of the conference. :-)
My last conference of 2009 was actually four conferences, because I participated in a traveling conference called CodeWorks that visited seven cities. (I spoke at the last four.) Atlanta, Miami, Washington, and New York each have their own memories. I received more feedback on Joind.in than Twitter during CodeWorks, which is a testament to the fine work of Chris Cornutt, who has been making it better and better over time. (It's a speaker feedback site.) Aside from some really good talks, one of my favorite memories of CodeWorks was sitting outside in Miami enjoying cigars, mojitos, and conversation with fellow speakers. My favorite stop was New York, of course, where I played tour guide for as many people as possible. I also organized a beer dinner at Beer Table to cap off the conference. It was a fantastic night with great food, great beer, and great friends.

Here's a brief list of other highlights:

The highlight of the year for me was announcing Analog. I still can't believe how supportive everyone has been, and I can't thank you all enough. You can tell there's a lot of excitement and energy in the air as we enter 2010, and I hope Analog is a big part of all of the good things to come.

Keeping with tradition, here's a list of things I hope to accomplish in 2010:

Speak at better conferences
I'm cheating a bit, because I'm already scheduled for Kiwi Foo Camp, Webstock, ConFoo, and South by Southwest. If I speak at no other conferences, this is already going to be a landmark year for me. I hope to one day become one of the top speakers at web conferences, and speaking at fewer, better conferences should give me the opportunity to make progress toward that goal.
Make something
I like to learn and share what I learn, so I do a lot of writing and speaking. I want to continue doing that, but I want to also find time to make something. I'm very lucky to be working with great friends at Analog, and because this is one aspiration we all share, I have high hopes. :-)
Work on my blog
This is a minor goal, but I want to spend some time fixing a few old bugs in my blog, including a finicky OpenID implementation. (If you try to comment with OpenID and have trouble, please try posting without it, and sorry for the hassle.)
Publish more
During 2009, I wrote one article and a handful of blog posts each month. I try to always be very respectful to my readers, so I only post to my blog when I think I have something interesting to say. (Posting highlights each year might be an exception!) 2009 was a tough year for many reasons, and my inspiration suffered. I'm already excited about 2010, and I hope to blog much more. I also have a growing list of ideas for articles.

Thanks very much for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful 2010.