Plone Conference Update
Right... with just over 4 weeks until the Plone Conference 2010 kicks off, I thought I'd give everyone a bit of a 'behind the scenes' update of everything going on and where we are with it. There is a bit to cover as quite a lot has happened in the past few weeks.
Probably the most important is that the talks schedule has been announced. This year once again we had a load of fantastic talks submitted and we didn't have enough room in the schedule for all of them. We put all the submitted talks out to pubic vote, which gave us a good idea of which talks were popular when we had to assemble the schedule. Looking through the schedule there are a number of (for me personally) clashes, which is inevitable. Belive me, we shuffled and shuffled the schedule quite a bit, but with just so many good talks clashes are inevitable. We have tried to spread the topics out as much we can, so that their is a 'New to Plone' talk and a 'Case Study' talk in every timeslot, so even for those who are just starting out of Plone or interested in the less technical side, there is something for you throughout the event.
There are also a number of training events in the two days prior to the main conference, with some great Plone community people offering training.
We have a keynote from Alex Limi and Alan Runyan about the future of Plone. Taking a break from the past few years in which the guest keynotes have been from people involved in software freedom, we decided to go down a different tack: Richard Noble, land speed record breaker and lead of the Bloodhound Supersonic Car project will be speaking about challenges in getting the conventional engineering world to understand the new, distributed, agile world needed to push the boundaries of engineering... not unlike issues we face with Plone and Open Source in general.
One new thing this year is the Plone in Business event. This is an event aimed specifically at analysts, customers, evaluators, journalists etc that want to find out more about Plone. This will be a day of two halves. The first half is the launch of the Plone Community of Practice to be run by JBoye which will be an event for a limited (about 10-12) number of people already using Plone, who want a place to regularly meet fellow Plone users and discuss issues/ideas with using Plone. Think of it a bit like a users group, but for people who generally wear suits to work.
On the lighter side of things, we have the beer and pies ordered for the beer and pie festival, which we are hoping is going to be a great event and a good chance to have a drink and chat with fellow Plonistas (not like the Plone community needs help with this ;) ).
We have the wifi link tested which will connect the conference venue, the Thistle Hotel in the centre of Bristol back to the Netsight Metropolitan Colocation Centre half a mile away on top of a hill. This will provide the main backbone connection to the venue, and once again this year we have Wyn coming over from Finland to setup the wifi around the venue as he did last year in Budapest.
We have a bunch of great sponsors this year, without whom the conference would not be possible. One of the sponsors, Enfold Systems, has even donated 450 copies of their new Plone 4 User Manual so every delegate should get one. There are still sponsorship opportunities available, and if you want to get your name out in front of the Plone Community, you need to be quick as we will be sending the printing orders in at the end of this week.
Whilst we have attempted to keep the price down as low as we can for the Plone Conference, we do recognise that there are some fantastic students out there that are working on Plone whilst at university and for whom the regular ticket price might still be impossible to cover the cost of.
Whilst we have a pretty tight budget this year, we are going to make available 10 student tickets for just GBP100 +VAT.
I have also made some updates to the conference registration system, such that if you register, but are unable to complete the payment for some reason at that time, you will be emailed a link so that you can get back to the data you already entered and retry the payment. Our payments are all being handled by Paypal, which we thought was a good idea at the time, but Paypal has now arbitrarily put a restriction on our account which means whilst you can pay for the tickets just fine, we don't get the money until after the event... so Paypal are currently sitting on GBP15,000 of ours (and rising) which put a bit of a dent in cashflow!
We have decided this year to hire a professional event video company to do all the recording of the talks at the conference. Whilst this has cost a pretty big chunk of money, it means that the recording of the talks should be top quality. They will be taking a feed from the projector too, so will be able to do picture-in-picture showing the speaker and their screen. This company are also providing all the audio equipment: mics, speakers, amps etc. and the staging, lighting, graphics. So it should be a pretty good looking event! We will not be streaming the talks live, but we will be hoping to get the recorded talks up very shortly after the event (in a week or two).
Right... I think that is everything I can remember to report. One last request... we need to get final numbers in for t-shirts, bags, etc to the printers in the next week. So if you are going to be coming to the conference, can I please ask that you register as soon as possible to give us the most accurate idea of numbers.