Troy Hunt on looking after conference speakers

A thoughtful post from Troy on ways that some conferences mistreat speakers.

Reading through the post and the comments was an eye opener to me – for all his items (except perhaps 3 and 7, see below) – I was surprised that things like this still happen at commercial conferences. Admittedly my experience of conferences lately has been Inbound – which is at the premium end – the way they treat speakers is excellent.

However, a few thoughts related to:
3. Sharing slides
One thing that can provide tons of value for attendees is slide decks. Perhaps it’s different for largely demo driven talks (which Troy’s would mostly be), but in many cases making slide decks available afterwards is a quick and easy way to save attendees frantically scribbling notes during your session, allowing them instead to stay focussed on your speaking. There’s a relief when a speaker say ‘don’t worry about taking notes of the resources, they’ll all be available in the deck afterwards…’

If the sessions is recorded and made available afterwards, that’s even better, but is often not an option at smaller conferences. Also, there’s usually a delay of at least a week or two after a talk while they are produced – something else making the slides immediately available overcomes.

7. Covering Travel and Expenses
This is an interesting one. For drawcard speakers (and Troy is certainly one) this is of course to be expected. And in many cases the headline speakers are paid appearance fees on top. That’s all totally fine.

However, there is an interesting discussion to be had at the lower end of the speaker ladder. For an unknown speaker, getting in front of an audience, and paying for the privilege of doing so may well be a good investment.

Also, compare it to exhibiting at a conference or tradeshow.

As conference sponsorship prices increase, it may actually be a lot cheaper to pay all your own expenses in exchange for getting a conference ticket and the chance to speak to a room full of interested attendees…

Web Content Management System (CMS) Smackdown

I wanted to give you advance warning that we’ll be having our annual Web CMS Smackdown at SBTUG on Wednesday 29 September. Yes, September – roughly 6 weeks away.

Web CMS SmackdownThis was one of our most popular events at the Sydney Business & Technology User Group last year. If you’re already sold on the event and don’t need to know anything more, then just pop over and RSVP now on our Facebook Event.

For those of you who might be a little lost as to what a smackdown is I’ll give a quick overview of the night and what we are aiming to achieve…


The aim of the night is to introduce attendees (usually developers, managers and business owners) to a range of web content management systems. We’ll aim to cover at least 6 of the most popular CMS available – highlighting their main features and target users/customers.


Due to time constraints each of the presentations is very short – 10 minutes of content, plus 5 minutes to answer questions (while the next speaker gets ready to present). This rapid fire delivery is probably where the (silly) smackdown name comes from. I also think that smackdowns have an aim of finding the one best winner (‘one CMS to rule them all’) but that’s where we’ll be a little different – instead we’re trying to find the best CMS for your business (or scenario). You won’t hear speakers criticising other CMS, instead they’ll just be highlighting where their CMS is best fit. If you hear anyone saying their CMS is a one-size-fits-all solution you’ll know they’re talking porkies! Smile

So, for basic web site needs we’ll be covering WordPress, moving to middle-size business solutions such as Drupal and Kentico, and then also briefly covering larger offerings such as Elcom and SharePoint. 

Too many CMS options

There’s hundreds (probably thousands) of Web CMS out there – so we can only cover a few of the more popular ones. Here’s the list of CMS I’m thinking of choosing from:

Even this list is too many so I’ll have to prune it down. I’d love your thoughts on which ones you’d like covered – please leave a comment. Or, if there’s an obvious one that I’ve missed, please let me know that too.

Once the list is finalised, I’ll then be looking to find great presenters for each – again your suggestions in the comments would be valuable.

Why you should attend

I think there’s two main reasons to attend:

  1. You are a business looking to find the best web CMS for your current situation – this night will be way to get a high level look at the popular options – plus meet people who can help you implement one.
  2. You are a developer using a CMS now, but looking for guidance on other CMS offerings. For example, most of the web work I do is with WordPress but it doesn’t meet the needs of more complex sites. Every week or so I knock back work simply because WordPress is a bad fit for the requirements – instead I recommend they find a Drupal developer or SharePoint company. So, if you’re like me – then this night is going to be really useful – for example, I’m really keen to learn a little more about Kentico – I’ve heard great things about it…

You can help

I’d love your input to make this a really useful night. If you are keen could you please:

  • RSVP here to say you are coming
  • Help spread the word (via Twitter or Facebook, etc)
  • Leave a comment with your suggestions and recommendations

Thanks again for your interest – last year this was a huge night. We’re hoping to make this year even bigger.

Image credit: WWE

Office 2010 & Windows Intune at SWUG this Wed

I’m looking forward to the Sydney Windows User Group (SWUG) this Wed (only 2 days to go!).

Nick Rayner (newly blogging again) has lined up another rip-snorter (<- the first definition) and managed to get both Alistair Speirs and Jeff Alexander presenting on the same night (many people travel miles to hear just one of these guys – they’re that good :-))

Alistair (newly married) will be talking about Office 2010 including Visio, Project and SharePoint. I’m a big Alistair fan (as you know), so I’d be going anyway, but having just upgraded to Office 2010 I wouldn’t miss it. Office 2010 is an excellent upgrade IMO, particularly Outlook 2010 which has removed just about every frustration I had previously – its speed improvements are worth the upgrade alone (search, startup, shutdown, etc). I love it, and am looking forward to learning all those little tips and tricks that usually take months to learn – Alistair is a master at surfacing them.

Jeff (newly TechEd planning) will be covering something I’ve never heard of – Windows Intune (no, not iTune!). Something geeky about cloud services… managing… securing… PCs.
Whatever – if Jeff’s presenting it’s worth tuning into (<- see what I did there).

By the way, did you know that SWUG is the ultimate Windows User Group? Well it is. There, it says so on the box…

Sydney Windows User Group 

See you there – RSVP here.

SBTUG: Social Networking and Chocolate

If you’re like me, then you probably cringe when you see people referring to themselves as a ‘social media strategist’.

And if they point to Gary Vaynerchuk as their main example of why you too should embrace social media then I really despair. Too often it seems, we’re told of the wonderful success stories, with scant mention of the hard work, sweat and perserverance these overnight social media celebrities have been putting in… for years  (as most overnight successes do).

Of course, anyone and everyone can use social networking, but with so many options, how do you know which path to choose? How do we avoid ending up like this poor person:

When it comes to getting the right social media guidance, you obviously want to be wary. Sure, you need to have an open mind and accept that the way you’ve traditionally done stuff might not be the way you’ll succeed in the future. But that doesn’t mean you should jump on the latest social networking fad, or embrace a popularity contest strategy that has little financial rewards. And if you’ve been employing a particular social media approach that doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit yet, it doesn’t necessarily mean you dump it.

Chocolate keyboardInstead, you need to understand – without the hype – what’s really going on in the social media and social networking space.

So, what do you do? How do you find the right guide?

And, perhaps most importantly, how do you get to eat a lot of chocolate in the process…

The Solution

Well, my friends, I have the solution. This month at the Sydney Business & Technology User Group (SBTUG) we are fortunate to have one of the world’s leading social media consultants presenting. Laurel Papworth (aka @silkcharm) is coming along to give us an update on the state of play in social media and social networking. If you are a regular SBTUG member, you’ll remember she presented to us a little over 18 months ago. Things change rapidly. This time she’ll be reviewing what’s changed, what’s new, what you need to understand, adapt to & embrace, and what you should ignore.

About Laurel Papworth

You can read her full bio here, but I thought it worth mentioning the following extract so you get the idea:

Laurel has been a virtual communities/online Community/Social Network consultant since 1989 when she was involved in Twin Peaks IRC and Usenet groups online. For the last decade, Laurel has been running virtual worlds and MMORPGs as a game moderator, forum admin, customer service manager and marketing consultant. Laurel has a patent in social network currencies and is considered a leading social media monetization strategist worldwide.

Laurel Papworth - Social Media GuruSince 2005, Laurel has been teaching social media classes, including at the University of Sydney, has advised projects such as Interactive (social media) Emmy award winning Scorched.TV and recently went to Saudi Arabia to work on the iMatter Project for Middle East Broadcasting, teaching Arabic women how to blog and use social media to gain a “voice”. She also runs workshops on Government 2.0 on their social media strategies in Asia.

Laurel is currently in top Power150 bloggers for Marketing and Media worldwide, as collated by the global Advertising Age magazine. She is a popular keynote speaker around the world, recently returning from a Portugal keynote, and her books and courseware are available for download under Creative Commons Licence from

If you are business owner, software manager or developer, utilising social networking in your role, then this will be an extremely valuable session. Come and learn from a recognised expert (and engaging speaker), who imparts considered and data-backed advice to all levels of business, including government, enterprise and small business.

I’ve heard Laurel present many times, and can tell you she’s excellent. We’re lucky to have her for the night. And if you are still wary of social networking, then let me put it another way… she’s one of the few people who when I hear the term ‘social media strategist’ I don’t cringe! She’s the real deal.

Please RSVP here on our Facebook Event or email me to secure your place.

Christmas Bonus

But why all this talk about chocolate? Well, two things:

  • First, this will be our last meeting for the year (*sob*). So, it’ll be our SBTUG Christmas party (*woo hoo*). Which means we’re bringing along beers, cocktails (did somebody mention mojitos) & nibblies in addition to our regular pizza feast. And chocolate.
  • Second, Laurel loves chocolate. It’s the least we could do!

So, do yourselves a favour. Book the night of Wed 25 November in your diary now. Come along to SBTUG and hear one of the leading social media consultants outline the state of play, PLUS enjoy a beer, pizza and plenty of chocolate. Sound like a good night? I look forward to seeing you there.

Full Details

When: Wednesday 25 November 2009 at 6pm
What: Social Media and Social Networking for Business
Who: Laurel Papworth presenting
Where: Microsoft, North Ryde (click for map)
Register: RSVP here to secure your place
Cost: $5 donation* to cover pizza (the beer, mojitos and chocolate are provided for free!)
Why: Because you need to understand how to use Social Media in your business

(*If you’d like to sponsor the night, and help us remove the $5 donation request, then please shoot me an email. We’ll promote you and your company/service on the blog, in our email newsletter and on the night.)

One Final Thing

If you could help promote the event I’d really appreciate it. A simple retweet or thumbs up would be great. But I expect many of you will have to print this out and physically hand it to your boss the people who need it most… :-)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) at SBTUG

Sydney Business & Technology User GroupNext Wednesday (Sep 30) at SBTUG we’re lucky to have Kristin Rohan from SassySEO along to give us a Beginners Guide to SEO For Business.  Make sure you RSVP here.

It kicks off at 6pm next Wed 30 Sep at Microsoft, North Ryde (full details and map here).
(We ask for a $5 donation to help cover the cost of pizza.)

SEO for Business

She’ll be covering a number of areas including:

  • Why it is relevant
  • What tactics you can use both internally (ie on page) and externally (ie off page)
  • How to optimise using ‘white hat’ techniques
  • Plus dispelling a few myths about SEO (you’ve no doubt received those spam emails from companies claiming they can ‘guarantee’ top 3 rankings)
  • She’ll also cover social media briefly (Twitter & Facebook) with a focus on how it can improve your website’s visibility and brand strength

Kristin has more than 16 years of Marketing, Media, Sales & Publishing experience, including three years doing Search Engine & Website Optimisation.

After the pizza break…

That’s not all though. After the pizza break we’ve got Jodie Miners and Tatham Oddie presenting on Web testing. Tatham will giving an overview of where testing fits in the business/development cycle, and then Jodie is taking us through her adventures with Selenium and Automated Web Testing.

It’s going to be a good night.

Hope to see you there. :-) versus

At one time in the not-too-distant past, the mention of ‘open source’ carried a stigma with it. Perhaps an inkling that it was not high quality. Or managed by socially inept geeks. Or not well supported.

But those days are long gone, and the adoption of open-source in the enterprise is high. And while this in itself is not particularly new, what is new is that it is finally being acknowledged by major closed-source companies. Microsoft is an obvious case in point.

The recent announcement of Microsoft’s is welcome news to many, and seeks to be much more active than previous initiatives – but what does it really mean? versus is Microsoft’s new foundation:

“The CodePlex Foundation, a non-profit foundation formed with the mission of enabling the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities, launched today, September 10, 2009.”

By contrast, is project hosting for open source software (created in 2006).

If you’re confused by this, you’re not the only one, and Microsoft’s Mission FAQ does little to clarify the issue.

Even posts from developers I respect give little clarity:

Scott Bellaware, in a very positive post, raises some interesting issues and focuses (rightly) on the opportunity this presents – but is more a message of hope than anything concrete.

Scott Hanselman’s post – complete with non-evil assurances :-) – gives a good overview and outlines the board, but still doesn’t clarify the mission of the foundation nor the benefits to common folk (that’s you and me). And, perhaps because of some pretty aggressive blowback MS have received over the announcement, he’s taken a slightly defensive stance. Probably wise, given the comments that resulted on the post, most of which are negative.

Going further, Scott’s podcast (download links here) serves largely to magnify the confusion – and illustrates how unsure everyone is.

Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing a little bit of back-pedding from Microsoft with comments to the effect of the announcement being a ‘soft launch’ (see Bill Staple’s comment on Scott’s post).

But let’s be fair, ‘the org’ haven’t really worked out the full plan yet, and it will take shape over time. After all, that’s their 100 day plan.


It has to be acknowledged of course – without getting too cynical – that ‘open source’ is a powerful marketing angle, and Microsoft has been wise to take a bigger stake in the mindshare (along with Facebook, Google, Apple, Atlassian and plenty of others joining the likes of Mozilla, GNOME and OSI).

Everyone wants to be ‘involved’ in an open source initiative these days, and if you can’t leverage an existing one, then creating your own is the next obvious step.

So the question is whether a commercial entity (Microsoft), creating a foundation ( is a bad thing. Is it? I don’t think so. Sure Microsoft stands to gain a lot, but as long as others do as well, then it can be a good thing right? Time will tell…

Advantages of

There’s a number of advantages that a foundation can provide, and whilst it is still unclear exactly what Microsoft (ahem – I mean, “the board”) will focus on, the obvious three revolve around providing:

  • copyright protection
  • patent advice
  • licensing services

There’s also the perception benefit of something being associated with a protective foundation. As Scott mentioned in his podcast, jQuery is a good example of a project that gained much wider acceptance in enterprise once it was embraced by Microsoft. The technology didn’t change, but the perceived trustworthiness of it did. And hopefully projects that come under the umbrella will gain this intangible benefit also.


The main issue with is that they’ve come in half-cocked and made a confusing mess – and just when was starting to gain momentum (eg they just hit their 10,000th project earlier this year).

People are loving, but now they’re unsure what is going on. In fact, some people are so confused by it all I’ve seen a few wondering if Windows 7 is going to be made open-source on LOL!

Be Patient

But give them time. The current problem with is simply a matter of poor timing. It was launched too early (most likely forced by the Marketing departments in response to a competitor’s launch around the same time) and has not yet worked out what it wants/needs to be. That’s why they need high-quality participants to come on board.

Aside: Whenever a half-assed product/service/announcement comes out – don’t get too confused. Just apply the ‘look over there’ test. Google, Apple and Microsoft love playing this game of seeing who can divert the most attention away from a competing vendor’s release (I’ll see your Bing announcement and raise it with a Wave diversion, etc, etc). For those playing along at home, see if you can work out what the announcement was a response to…

And thus…

Come back in 3 months when the board isn’t stacked with Microsoft & ex-Microsoft staff, and they’ve got their mission fully sorted, and I think we’ll all be pleased with the initiative.

SBTUG – Wed 24 June 2009 – Visual Studio 2010, Customer Feedback, Google Wave

I love the Sydney developer community. Really I do. Here’s why…

I’d previously organized a speaker for SBTUG tomorrow night, but he had to pull out (due to valid work travel reasons). This was two weeks ago. Then I got sick for a week and a bit, so it wasn’t until late last week I started getting around to finding replacements (yeah, I know – pretty disorganized for me). Two guys from the community quickly offered to help. But then one of them called me on Monday to say he couldn’t make it (due to valid health related reasons). No problem, Andrew Coates and Jodie Miners both jumped in to help at the last minute. They’ll be joining Ewen Wallace tomorrow night.

The funny thing is I reckon tomorrow night will be one of our best meetings in a long time. Take a look at the line up below:

Agenda for our 24 June 2009 meeting

Visual Studio 2010, Google Wave, plus Managing Customer Feedback – (click here to RSVP)

Come along and gain a high-level introduction to the productivity enhancements in Visual Studio 2010; An overview of Google Wave, Plus a review of various customer feedback options including UserVoice, GetSatisfaction, Fogbugz, Bugzilla and more.

This meeting will be more informal than usual, with attendees free to ask multiple questions and contribute their experience.

6:00pm : News
6:30pm : Visual Studio 2010 Business Benefits: Andrew Coates (@coatsy)
7:30pm : Pizza
7:45pm : Handling Customer Feedback : Ewen Wallace (@CADbloke)
8:05pm : Google Wave Overview : Jodie Miners (@jodiem)
8:30pm : Finish

Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

Bonus: We have some cool prizes including Expression Studio, Security packages and movie tickets to give away.

We’re meeting in the usual place (Microsoft, North Ryde) at the usual time (6pm).

Here’s a summary of the presentations:

  • Andrew Coates taking us through the business benefits of Visual Studio 2010, with a particular focus on the productivity enhancements coming. Ideal for developers and software managers planning adoption of Microsoft’s upcoming release.
  • Ewen Wallace covering his misadventures :-) in looking for a solution for developers to handle customer feedback. He’ll be covering, GetSatisfaction, Fogbugz, Bugzilla, Mantis and others.
  • Jodie Miners giving us an overview of what all this buzz about Google Wave is. Come along and get ready to rethink your approach to email, IM and online conversation.


Please note: If you arrive after 6pm, the doors will be locked. You’ll need to call me on 0413 489 388 to come and let you in.

See you tomorrow.

Sydney Windows User Group covers Windows 7 and Touch

Sydney Windows User GroupLast Wednesday (13 May 2009) we had the first meeting of the newly formed (reformed?) Sydney Windows User Group (SWUG). Nick Rayner and I are leading the group, although to be fair Nick is doing 90% of the work. He’s the initiative, drive and main organizer.

And doing a fantastic job I must say. The first meeting was packed and had more interaction amongst attendees than I’ve ever seen in a long time. It bodes well for future meetings. (The group meets on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at Microsoft North Ryde, so make sure you get along to our next meeting on 10 June if you’re interested.)

At the first meeting we Nick covered an introduction to Windows 7 (now that the RC has been released – and we also had a loadfest prior to the meeting). After pizza I covered Touch on Windows 7, and then a few comments about Touch in general (eg on Microsoft Surface and even a quick look at the TouchWall).

The presentations are available here.

I’ve embedded a few of the videos I would have liked to have shown at the meeting (but sadly we’d run out of time).

Here’s a promo for the HP TouchSmart (which we all had a play with – thanks to Nick for bringing it along):

And here’s a look at Microsoft Surface discussed in a medical scenario. The important point from this is the value of touch as a mechanism for removing the barrier between doctor and patient. There’s a huge difference when a doctor has a monitor between you, and control of the input devices. But when both are sitting around a touch screen or table and interacting, those barriers are removed. There’s a ton of other scenarios of course including education (which I’ve mentioned before).

And here’s a look at the TouchWall (you may remember this being in the news a year or so ago). Consider team meetings when everyone can interact, as opposed to be held hostage by your boss hogging the mouse :-)

At our next meeting we’ll be taking a look at Windows Media Center in all its glory (details).

A big thank you to Microsoft (especially Jeff Alexander) for looking after us.

BTW: Don’t forget about the Sydney Business & Technology User Group (SBTUG) – our meeting next week (27 May) is looking at Adobe Flash & Flex compared with Microsoft Silverlight.

Virtual Earth Developer Contest

Virtual Earth contestOver on the ViaWindowsLive site they’re running a Virtual Earth contest. Simply submit an article or video about something cool you’re doing with Virtual Earth and you’re in the running.

You get a T-shirt just for entering (assuming your entry is valid :-), and there are a bunch of other prizes if yours is up the higher end on the awesomeness scale.

You can contribute your article or video on the Contribute Article page.

The site gets a fair amount of traffic, so is a good chance to get yourself some exposure as well as contributing to the community.

SBTUG: Wed 28 Jan 2009 – SharePoint, Windows 7 and Touch

[Ooops! Forgot to post this on my own blog (but it’s over on the new SBTUG blog – and while you’re there let me know what you think of the revamped SBTUG site).]

Quick details: The Sydney Business & Technology User Group

Join the SBTUG group on LinkedInWhen: Wed 28 January 2009

  • Time: 6pm (until approx 8:30pm)
  • Where: Microsoft, North Ryde
  • Contact: Craig Bailey : 0413 489 388
  • Cost: $5 donation (to cover Pizza)
  • More details:


About our sessions:

SharePoint for Managers : Kathy Hughes

Kathy will be presenting an overview of the business benefits of Microsoft SharePoint. Come along with your questions about how to best use SharePoint in your business.

Learn from Kathy’s extensive experience implementing SharePoint in a range of companies, what works best, what to look out for, and how to get user buy-in.


Windows 7 Overview + Touch + Microsoft Surface: Craig Bailey

Craig will be giving a quick overview of Windows 7, and then giving a practical demonstration with the HP TouchSmart, showing how multi-touch works and how touch on the screen can be used in business. He’ll also be showing the Microsoft Surface emulator and demoing a few educational applications, to give an idea of what can be achieved.


Please help promote the group:


Join the SBTUG group on LinkedInSBTUG group on LinkedIn

We’ve started an SBTUG group on LinkedIn – feel free to join us if you see value in connecting with others on LinkedIn.


Don’t forget, if you haven’t already, you can join the SBTUG group on Facebook.

And please RSVP for Wed night’s event here to let us know you are coming.

Help promote SBTUG

I need your help – please spread the word about SBTUG. A blog link or some Twitter love is always appreciated :-)


Last but not least, you can always follow us on Twitter here.


Hope to see you there. If you are keen, please leave me a comment letting me know what beer you prefer to drink.