Pragmatism in the real world

Tek.X recap

TekX (pronounced Tek-Ten) has finished and we’ve all gone back to our respective daily lives. I had a blast and learnt a thing or two as well… I’ve also been a little busy, which is why this post is “late”.

The week started on Saturday when I flew to Chicago from Manchester. Rather helpfully, tek was held at a hotel close enough to the airport, that the hotel had a free shuttle. As a tip for next year, you need to phone the hotel to come and collect you if you don’t land at the terminal next to the train station.

On Sunday, Lorna, Derick and myself went to Chicago city centre; apparently, this is known as “downtown”. We were intending to do a river boat trip, however that was all booked up, so we ended up grabbing lunch; having a look around Millennium Park and then doing a walking tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. This turned out to be an excellent tour. The lady was extremely knowledgeable and shared her knowledge freely. it was a very enjoyable afternoon and I feel that I know much more about Chicago’s history now.

Chicago's skyline reflected in 'The Bean'

I ended up working much more than I expected over the week, however, I did manage to make nearly all the sessions I wanted to. Due to a scheduling conflict, I missed Kristina‘s tutorial on MongoDB as I was giving a Zend Framework tutorial at the same time! My tutorial seemed to be appreciated and I hope that those attending learnt something new. It was an introduction to Zend Framework, starting from first principles; in Amsterdam next week, at the Dutch PHP Conference, Matthew and I will be doing an all-day tutorial covering the next level of Zend Framework usage.

Josh Holmes opened the conference proper with his Simplicity keynote. I’ve had the privilege of seeing this at PHPUK earlier this year, however, a second listen was appreciated. Josh showed us his theatre background when the mic failed by continuing to talk and projecting his voice all the way to the back of the room. I gave my talk on Zend_Form next, which also seemed to help people learn a little more about the component. As there’s probably more confusion over decorators than anything else, I concentrated on them, which may have made them clearer for those who saw it.

I don’t want to provide a run down of all the talks as exploring the page will tell you more than I could here. I do want to highlight a few though. Lorna‘s talk on Subversion and DVCSs was the most objective and balanced discussion on an emotive topic. I had seen an earlier version at my local user group and Lorna really pulled out all the stops at Tek to give the best session I’ve seen her give. Having missed her tutorial, I made sure that I went to Kristina’s talk on MongoDB. I’ve heard some rumblings in the Twitter stream about Mongo, but didn’t actually know anything about it before her talk. It is always a pleasure to listen to an expert who is passionate about her subject. Talking about passionate, Elizabeth‘s talk on cross-platform PHP was a study in how you don’t need many slides if (a) you are angry and (b) slightly hungover and so are prepared to rant! I thought I knew all the pitfalls of developing PHP sites for both nix and Windows, but Liz managed to point out a few more to think about.

Liz gets angry during her talk!

Tek is a very community oriented conference and it did feel that there was an open atmosphere where talking to each other was encouraged. This is known as the “hallway track” and I found it very beneficial, managing to get some useful conversations with people who know far more than I do. This definitely increased my knowledge and hopefully those who talked to me also gained. I also managed to get some time with Chris “phpdeveloper” Cornutt who helped me get the source code working on my computer so that I can help the project by fixing the bits that annoy me the most :)

Potbelly sandwiches

Finally, I’d like to thank Marco, Cal, Keith, Arbi and Beth for hosting an excellent conference and inviting me to speak at it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go next year too!

3 thoughts on “Tek.X recap

  1. I was actually just in Chicago myself for this weekend, and I took the boat tour guided by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Our guide was great too!

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