I have always relied on the generosity of Perlers

At this year’s London Perl Workshop we decided to trial a new element. The event, as I am sure you are aware and has been mentioned many times elsewhere, is a free to attend affair. We often provide a whole package of free things, workshops, tutorials, attendance, coffee, cakes, evening buffet and a tipple or three. As such we only require you to pay with your participation and perhaps provide a little enjoyment to the mix.

This year one of the volunteers made the bold suggestion that maybe we should have a charity box for the many elements in the Perl world. There are a number of projects that are managed by the Enlightened Perl Organisation such as Send A Newbie, CPAN Testers and the conferences. The business activities, financial assistance and some other support, and often the entirety of the organisation, are supplied by the Organisation.

So we had three boxes on the registration desk throughout the day, we sold a few special t-shirts for donations, and I asked for people to throw in some change if they wished to their chosen project. Again, a volunteer, also took the initiative in corralling people to the moneyboxes.

The results were far in excess of what we had hoped, or even expected, and I would like to thank everyone who made a contribution to the various projects.

We raised:

  • Enlightened Perl Organisation:   £133.50
  • Send A Newbie:                                 £142.03
  • CPAN Testers:                                   £126.71
  • Total:                                                   £402.24

Once again thanks to everyone :)

Working on the Workshop

It is that time of year again when the London Perl Workshop, the United Kingdom Perl Workshop, is just a few days away and all that my mind can focus on is the event and whether I can pull off a success once again.

Well, I say ‘I’ in a rather immodest fashion. It is true that I organise the LPW from the remote shores of sunny Lancaster a good three hundred miles from the London location. It is also true that I take the lion’s share of the initial work and build up to the event in terms of organising website, location, sponsors, programme, speakers, news items, announcements, design of media, etcetera. But it is unfair to indicate that this is in any way a singular effort.

There are always people who help out at the London Perl Workshop, and these days there are people who consider it their duty to arrange a task. There are also those who engage in the workshop as sponsors or supporting our efforts. I would like to introduce you to some of them.

Steve and Martin, who are Clues/antibodyMX start the LPW each year at the social of the previous year when firstly they commit to being sponsors. This is a regular thing for them, and it is always a delight when they come on board. But it doesn’t stop there as Martin will always help out on the day. This year he is also offering a free breakfast to volunteers on the morning of the event, and he will be in command of Lecture Room 1 on the day. Steve, who is a London native, takes it on himself to arrange the pub and liaise with them for the evening social. This task would be difficult to do well remotely, Steve makes it look easy.

Dave Cross is a constant firm supporter and active participant in the Workshop. Each year that I have organised this event Dave has run a workshop and prepared excellent talks that fit within the theme. He is a true hero and his consistency, quality and intelligence are to be admired. Dave has been joined in recent years by Ian Norton, Duncan Garland and Andrew Solomon who have also written and presented workshops and tutorials making the LPW a more valuable event.

We have Marcus, and the excellent chaps at Exonetric, who have come to be known as our morning break sponsors. Marcus takes it onto his own head to organise the morning break and supply a whole plethora of tasty cupcakes as well.

Then there are the people who staff the reception desk. This is a thankless task and it is also dull and hectic in equal measure. There are a number of people to thank here as they all have contributed over the years, Steve, Leigh, Chrissie, Tim, Ian and Claire. Your help has been amazing.

On the day I am always joined by a plethora of volunteers, Leon, t0m, Billy, Avi, David, Jess, Mike and many others return and offer their help.

Sean has been a constant support and help at the university and is a prime reason as to why we have been successful over the years, I have the utmost regard and respect for a very busy man who lends help without pause.

At this point I can only think of the speakers. There have been so many of these that listing them would look like a who’s who of the Perl world. Every year I have new speakers who I have never met and old friends who conjure some magic and interest despite their busy lives. It isn’t easy preparing a talk, it is always amazing when I have people who create several that they wish to give. These people are all heroes to me, they make the event possible and they do all the hard work themselves, they even pay their own way. I cannot thank them either deeply or sincerely enough.

The workshop is a free event, we like to think that you can buy your own t-shirt, and your own food and drink, and until my reign (of terror) started the was a sense that even sponsors were just tolerated and that this was pure grass roots. Well, I apologise, but in growing the conference I have also grown the need for more sponsorship. These days we can no longer blag a free room for the day, we pretty much take over a section of the building, using two theatres, two rooms and a lab. We also need tea, coffee and snacks in the day as many people skip breakfast to get to the event early. The university have to charge for the provision of rooms and services and so we must find the money to cover these costs.

More numbers also equals a larger evening budget and the LPW has been known to drink a pub clean of its best ales on several years. There is no absolute requirement to supply a complimentary beverage and snacks in the evening, but it is a tradition and Perl people like to discuss over their preferred tipple with a tasty piece of snackage and I like to give them that. Even more it is nice to give them something for free, it encourages people to socialise and the Workshop is as much social event as technical.

We also have the booklet, banner, print outs, schedules, labels, lanyards and all manner of smaller costs that people expect to see even if they are not necessary but just appreciated. These also cost money and time to produce, so we now have a media budget.

Sponsors, therefore, have come to add the roundness to the event. They smooth off elements allowing us to provide a richer experience with more variety and size. They also allow business to contribute to a community and to engage it in an open and free atmosphere. This is essential for the further integration of business and community, the whole world is finally coming to realise that there is a need for social marketing, they are even calling it a revolution! We have been engaging in this practice for years and this event allows that to be furthered.

So, our sponsors have become an essential component to the running of a great event. They add many elements to the mix and are chosen not just because they provide the fiscal support we require but because their engagement changes the whole shape of the conference. I have nothing but the deepest regard and fondness for all the sponsors who have supported us, and I hope will continue to support the community in the future, I certainly will be trying to tap them up for more money :).

Thinking of sponsors makes me think of my own company. I am fortunate to be in the position to juggle time, it isn’t easy as I have to play catch up quite a lot after the event. I am also fortunate that the staff I work with are supportive, helpful, intelligent, resourceful and complimentary about my efforts. The company has been a firm leader in the need for integrating business and community, I feel we get that right. I want it to be known that a lot of effort is done by all the staff to make this possible and it would be impossible for me to do it without.

Now I have to run and get back to all the last minute things I haven’t done yet, I hope to see you on the day, with over three hundred people registered, this is the biggest LPW so far. And I have also started to plan the fun I will be indulging in next year… :)

Perl Quality Assurance Hackathon 2013

The Search for Sponsors

It was my pleasure to announce last week that Ian Norton and I will be hosting the 2013 Perl Quality Assurance Hackathon in the North West of England.

It is similarly my pleasure to relate that our very first sponsors are signed up. Each year the outgoing organising team donate any funds left from their event to the following year and this year we have a generous kickstarter contribution from the Mogueurs Du Perl of €1495.66 To add to this, with stunning speed and enthusiasm, Renee Backer announced that $foo Magazin would be donating €500 to the event.

I have to be both stunned and amazed at the speed in which we quickly jumped to approximately two thousand euros in funding and then daunted as there is a long slog yet.

Sponsor me…

So, once again, I come to you all with my cloth cap in hand and other arm reaching towards your pockets in gentle, yet persistently indicative, manner to ask for your generous donations to a Perl event.

So why should you donate to the Perl Quality Assurance Hackathon?

Well with all sincerity I will ask you to think about the name of the event, a Quality Assurance Hackathon. This event is intended to ensure that we have, and continue to evolve, a stable, secure, quality language. The whole focus is to invite and secure the attendance of some of the best names in the Perl world and to get them together so they might work on problems, discuss new approaches and generally feed a whole year of new innovation in language quality.

This, for me, is one of the most important events to sponsor and be a part of, it is the reason I am involved and the reason my company will be involved. It is the reason I am an organiser.

I also think it speaks volumes about companies that involve themselves in the community and support innovation in their language, especially in open source. To any outside observer it indicates that the company is a part of the evolving community, and it highlights their responsibility in being a part of ensuring quality in the tools they rely on to conduct their business.

All our sponsors are the nutrient supplying the lifeblood of the Perl testing and quality assurance culture. Without them these people would not gather as this one mass. Sure they meet online, in conferences and at other events but not as one mass.

Also, that is the wrong environment for what happens at the QA Hackathon. The focus of the Hackathon is to get them together and working on the same issues, to discuss and explore and to propose future evolution. The people invited are often speakers or organisers of events, project managers and senior programmers, they have little time for this form of work, essential as it is. Placing these people in this environment together, caring for their transportation, food and accommodation so that they contribute their time fully to the issues of QA is part of the reason we have such a valuable language.

Added to that you will have the grateful thanks of the whole of the Perl world, they will see your logo in association with this event and will see you as one of the influential and valuable members of the business side of our community.

Furthermore, you will have my personal thanks and as much promotion as I can afford to give.

What are you Sponsoring?

The Perl QA Hackathon asks the contributors to give up their time to attend the event, added to that we will attempt to sponsor as much of the costs as we can. There will be a staged application with the attendees asked if they need to be sponsored with:

  • Evening Meals;
  • Accommodation;
  • Travel;

We call this a three stage application. The candidates will select their funding level if they need some or all of those three stages and we will attempt to cover the costs based on their submissions. We have decided to aim for having a maximum 40 attendees. 10 unsponsored, 10 part sponsored and 20 fully sponsored. Our costs indicate that we need to raise a significant sum to cover this number of people and this is where we need your help.

We will make sure that breaks, lunches and drinks throughout the day are covered for all attendees.

So once more I ask you to contact me about sponsorship of this event. We will consider any form of sponsorship, from direct funds, to hotel rooms, to travel, to sponsoring staff with time or refunding their expenses. We have a long list of possibilities and as always we will be showing our budget and costs to the world. We will be sharing a document on our website that shows how much is being asked for and spent on every person/item in the event.

And if we have an excess budget we will have a nice surprise for next year’s organisers.

Thanks for considering us.

-mdk

Google Code In 2012

Once again we will be attempting to participate in the Google Code-In (http://www.google-melange.com/gci/homepage/google/gci2012) on behalf of the Perl Foundation with the support of the Perl Community.

As last year the principal organiser will be Paul Johnson accompanied by Florian Ragwitz, Wesley Johnson and Mark Keating.

We are looking for the whole community to help contribute towards the initiative by providing once more a few things.

1. We need you to head to the EPO Wiki (http://wiki.enlightenedperl.org/gci2012) and fill out suggestions of small tasks (http://wiki.enlightenedperl.org/gci2012/tasks) that can be completed by our prospective students. The rules for tasks have changed this year:

The programme will be limited to 10 mentoring organisations; there were 18 last year. There will be no monetary reward for students. Completing one task earns a certificate. Completing three earns a tee-shirt. Each organisation will select two students out of the five who completed the most tasks for that organisation to be grand prize winners. As before this prize will be a trip to the Google HQ. There will be no easy, medium and hard tasks; instead each task should take a student around three to four hours to complete. And there will be no translation tasks. The tasks will be in five categories:

  • Code: Tasks related to writing or refactoring code
  • Documentation/Training: Tasks related to creating/editing documents and helping others learn more
  • Outreach/Research: Tasks related to community management, outreach/marketing, or studying problems and recommending solutions
  • Quality Assurance: Tasks related to testing and ensuring code is of high quality.
  • User Interface: Tasks related to user experience research or user interface design and interaction

2. We will need you to sign up to mentor the students through their tasks. If you submit tasks it would be great if you could also choose to mentor them but this is not a requirement and don’t consider it to be a hindrance to making suggestions. Sign up to be a mentor (http://www.google-melange.com/gci/homepage/google/gci2012). It is often a time consuming task, but it isn’t thankless. This is a great opportunity to work remotely with young people keen to start in the world of IT.

As always we have an online presence not just via email but on irc and via various mailing lists and the wiki. We have valued all the previous contributions and look forward to a new slew of entries from the various community groups.

The time is tight and there are limited places this year so don’t be idle and make sure you contribute early. There is no closing date for adding tasks as they can be added throughout the entire programme, however we wil need to show that there are a number of tasks already present and this must be done before the 12th November. Our application goes in on the 5th November and the organisations are announced on the 12th, this means we must have tasks between those dates. So don’t delay.

Your help is, as always greatly needed and mightily appreciated.

-mdk

QA Hackathon 2013

Next year’s Quality Assurance Hackathon was originally intended to be held in the Roman town of Londinium on the banks of the River Thames in the south-eastern nub of the Kingdom of England. However, due to complications arising from the collision between a condom and a time machine(1) the event will now be held elsewhere in the Kingdoms United.

At this time the precise location is being determined using a mixture of cunning, guile, a D20, real ale and an Ouija board(2) but will be released as soon as humanly possible…but, who the heck needs to be exact…

I can reveal that it will be held in the North of England. Indeed gentle ones we will be inviting you to the shores of Merry England but not to its rather assertively Middle English determined, multi-cultural, contradictory fiscal status indulged, southern dominions but to the flung out provinces of the North West. In these far dispersive wilds people are real people; whippets, flat caps and racing pigeons are sometimes accurate yet still stunningly blunt stereotypes and puddings are sometimes black and made of blood.(3)

With true British veneer, the location will no doubt still be Roman in essence, historical in attitudes and full of those quaintly amusing, yet weirdly humoured English bigots that merry old Blighty has cheerfully exported to all your foreign shores.(4)

So, hear, recall, watch, applaud, contribute and commit to the 2013 QA Hackathon NWE.(5)

—-

We will soon have the Act site live and will be discussing dates, attendees, costs and all other ephemera every Thursday in the usual irc.perl.org channel.

As always we will be seeking to fund the attendees for their travel, accommodation and as much of the day to day bills as possible, I would ask that anyone wishing to attend, sponsor, promote or otherwise engage in this event contact Mark Keating (mdk – m.keating@shadowcat.co.uk) or Ian Norton (idn – I.norton@shadowcat.co.uk) as soon as possible.

-mdk

(1) This joke appears at the behest of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Trall

(2) The actual truth is that we have to approach a number of different potential venues to be sure.

(3) Though we also have a rather decent vegetarian Black pudding that captures the exact essence of flavour if not the exact right texture.

(4) All text taken from the previously unreleased BBC sitcom, Oops Mum Where Do We Pay the Licence Fee.

(5) North West England.

Join, Sponsor or Donate to the EPO

Once again I find myself acting like the archetypical London guttersnipe of the Victorian era, gleefully doffing a cap in my hand and wiping a cold tear from a dirty cheek and saying ‘please mister, or lady-miss spare a tanner to help me poor old dad who is sick of the dropsy’.

As I take your warm offering or brave your disingenuous scowls my friends will be happily picking your pockets, grabbing silk handkerchiefs, pocket watches and purses and racing off to the happy strains of ‘you’ve got to pick a pocket or two, boy…’

So, I come to you once again to ask for your money, your support, your time and your approval. The Enlightened Perl Organisation is seeking to increase its membership, gain more donations and sponsorship for the various projects and initiatives it has to offer.

If I might have a few moments of your time I will describe what I would like you to do.

The minimum step

If you find yourself unable to commit to a yearly fee, or too strapped of funds to even donate or sponsor you can still support the organisation by taking out our ‘special’ membership. This costs nothing and shows your general support of the organisation and its efforts, it will also place you in a position to hear of our programmes and hopefully contribute to, and decide upon, future initiatives.

The preferred step

Please become an ordinary membership. Our new membership interface now makes it trivial to sign up and pay, and your yearly membership will be used in full to support the work of the organisation. Aside from legal fees, and general bills the organisation pours all of its money into community projects, events and initiatives. All the work of organisation and promotion is done by volunteers.

Ordinary members have a greater day in the running of the organisation and can be appointed as officers and run for directorship. I urge you to consider this as your support, funds and presence is invaluable to us.

The Other Steps

I would be pleased if you would consider donating to (a recurring amount) or sponsoring the organisation or one of our initiatives. I would also ask that you consider asking the companies you work with, and for, who are part of the greater Perl world to do the same.

We allow people to set up recurring payments or one off amounts to specific initiatives, such as Send A Newbie, CPAN Testers etc., as well as the main organisation. These initiatives need constant funds to keep them active, progressive and useful, it is only by securing commercial support to complement the individual community efforts that we can achieve any sense of stability.

Averting Crisis

In the past eighteen months we have undertaken a complete overhaul of the organisations look and infrastructure. Since we are volunteers with busy lives this has meant we have had to sacrifice certain elements, one of these was monitoring our membership.

Because of this we have allowed memberships to lapse or decay and are now facing an issue of many people not renewing their association. I would like to urge you to visit our new membership site and renew your membership immediately and to encourage others to do the same.

I also urge others in the Perl community who are not yet members to join with us, we are hoping to grow the membership and influence of the organisation and if we can raise the funds we have a range of exciting projects to be involved with, and events to be a part of, in the coming year.

‘Thanks for your time, guvnor, ‘ere I fink some lark ‘as ponied orf wiv ya spoils…’

Support a Research Project

The Perl Foundation is pleased to be working with and promoting Kevin Carillo’s research into newcomer experience and contributor behavior in Perl and other FOSS communities.

You also can help by taking the time to fill out this survey.

Kevin is a PhD candidate in the School of Information Management at Victoria University of Wellington. His research topic is about the influence of newcomer experience on contributor behaviour and performance in Free/Open Source Software communities.

If you have joined the Perl community within the last 2 years, he would like to invite you to complete an online survey. He is interested in hearing from people who are either technical or non-technical contributors, and who have had either positive or negative newcomer experiences.

The data you provide will help gain insights about the experience of newcomers within the Perl community. It will also be used to improve the survey before it is later administered to contributors from other FOSS projects.

This survey is anonymous, and no information that would identify you is being collected. The results of the research may be deposited in the library’s institutional repository or presented at conferences or published as articles in professional or academic journals. You may request to be emailed the results of this research. Email addresses are stored in a separate database and cannot be linked to participant responses. The School of Information Management Human Ethics Committee has approved this research project.

The survey should take around 20 minutes of your time. If you know members of the Perl community who you think would be interested in completing it, please do not hesitate to let them know about this research.

The survey is available at:

https://limesurvey.sim.vuw.ac.nz/index.php?sid=89971&lang=en

It will be available until Monday, 22 October, 2012.

Kevin will post news about my progress with this research, and the results on my blog: http://kevincarillo.org. If you have any questions, please contact me at Kevin.Carillo@vuw.ac.nz or my supervisors Sid Huff at Sid.Huff@vuw.ac.nz and Brenda Chawner at Brenda.Chawner@vuw.ac.nz.

 

NWE.pm Virtual HackDay #3

Next saturday, 22nd September 2012, the North West England Perl Mongers will be holding their third Hack Day of 2012. It was decided at the 2011 hackday that in 2012 we would hold some virtual hackdays, one each quarter, to compliment our main hack day traditionally held in November/December.

These hackdays are virtual events where we shall gather online, in the irc channels such as #northwestengland.pm on irc.perl.org, in Google Hangouts on Google+ (to have video conferencing) and on mailing lists and other social media channels. This will allow people from anywhere in the world to join us.

Once again Shadowcat Systems in Lancaster wil be throwing open its doors to anyone who wants to come to the office and partake of good coffee to help them to hack.

We will be hacking on a new look, shape and feel to Presenting Perl, a community resource site, as well as finalising work on the new Members area for the Enlightened Perl Organisation, there will also be work undertaken on the ironman.enlightenedperl.org project, though people are allowed to bring their own project and just hang with us.

If you wish to attend either online or in person then please jump into the #northwestengland.pm channel on irc.perl.org and say hello. If you wish to attend at the Shadowcat Offices then please contact Mark Keating as soon as possible Contact Ian and Mark for more information or pop into one of the channels or join our mailing list.

The hackday will start at 10 a.m. (BST – GMT +1) on Saturday 23rd September 2012 and run until around 6 p.m. or until we stop.

Look forward to seeing you there.

 

More Meat to Market

New Committee Members

As announced on the front page of the Perl Foundation, and my pleasure to repeat here, the Perl Foundation Marketing Committee has three new members in the form of:

Torsten ‘Getty’ Raudssus

Jess ‘Castaway’ Robinson

Ian ‘IDN’ Norton

This is part of a continuing move to further the goals and aims of the committee and we hope to utilise the skills and talents of these people in the coming months.

If you have any specific marketing needs, or merely want to join in the conversation about this important area then please drop us a line or join in at #tpf-marketing on irc.perl.org.

-mdk

Long Live CPAN Testers

As noted on the Shadowcat News Page over the previous weekend Shadowcat Systems has become the first company to pledge support for CPAN Testers and to make a monthly contribution to the initiative using the signup page on the Enlightened Perl site.

Committing to Long Term Support

What do I mean by long term pledge and monthly contribution?

CPAN Testers, and those who use it or know about it need not be told this, is an invaluable service to anyone who is committing to, or using modules from, CPAN in the Perl world. They test every module that is uploaded to CPAN against pretty much every distribution and make a report of any issues, these reports are searchable and repeated with new versions of the module and just about every version of Perl.

Run that through your thoughts a few times if you aren’t wowed already.

This service is free. I mean free as in beer. They do it because they saw that it needed doing.

Of course it costs money to use the servers and create the service and until now this money has come from fund-raising, donations of hardware and the pockets of those who maintain the service.

We still have, and will continue to have, donations of hardware by many companies, and long may that continue. We still have a method by which individuals, and companies, can make one-off donations, and all hail the excellence of those that do. But what we do not yet have is a sustainable source of income that will pay the basic costs of the primary services.

So I have a plan

If we can get between 20-40 companies to make a regular monthly commitment of just £20 ($30 or €25) using the repeat subscription part of this form, then we will cover all base costs for the system and have a method by which we can evolve and improve the service. The other donations can then be used in the best way possible to improve and further the system.

Shadowcat has done this, I now encourage you all to do the same (or get your companies to do the same).

CPAN Testers and the Enlightened Perl Organisation

Late in 2011 CPAN Testers became, financially, part of the Enlightened Perl Organisation, we became the umbrella for their financial needs to help support and grow the initiative.

The EPO provide this service as they see CPAN Testers as a companion community service, tying in the same role by providing a function that enhances community and supports business.

The EPO and the Perl Foundation are working in unison to help support CPAN Testers. The Enlightened Perl Organisation is a not for profit organisation registered in England and Wales (06526172) and dedicated to supporting worldwide Perl 5 events and the community. The EPO act as a business organisation for the CPAN Testers initiative and supply banking and business services at no charge, all funds donated to CPAN Testers are used to further promote and support CPAN Testers.