Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dutch Mobile Conference

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce that I am now an international public speaker, for I just came back from Amsterdam after giving a talk at Dutch Mobile Conference.


Since I just got started in public speaking this year, I had no idea how conference proposals are selected, and I was submitting to pretty much every conference that I have something to share. Android conferences are obvious, but I even submitted something to Fluent Conf, a javascript conference. Now, the normal thing to do is to propose a javascript talk, since I did work on web development for a year and a half. But no, I ended up drafting a talk on embedding a WebView in an Android app and writing a javascript bridge to call native Android functions from a web page. I wasn't expecting it to be accepted, but I thought I'd try anyway.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I was browsing Lanyrd for Call for Speakers, and stumbled upon the call for Dutch Mobile Conference two days before the submission deadline. DMC focuses on mobile web apps, so a talk on bridging web and Android with a javascript bridge sounds pretty relevant. Copy-and-paste I went, submitting my Fluent Conf proposal. On a fine morning in February I got an email from the organizer for DMC. They accepted my proposal!


I did not prepare my talk until May, a few weeks before the conference. At the point I was panicking a little, because I don't use WebView in my day-to-day work, and I didn't feel comfortable giving a talk about it. I was speaking at AnDevCon III around then, and Stephan Branczyk asked me to repeat my session at his Android meetup. I told him that I'd rather give the DMC talk since I wanted to rehearse, and he liked the idea.

As I prepared the slides, I discovered that I am actually describing the Android implementation for PhoneGap. More panic ensued. After all, they could just use PhoneGap, so why bother listen to me explaining how to roll your own? I thought about not giving the talk at all, but flights and hotel have been booked months in advance, and I really couldn't get myself to give up the chance to see Amsterdam. I went ahead and give my talk at the Alameda Android meetup, and the audience found it interesting. One of them was using PhoneGap, and he was happy to learn the inner workings. That gave me back my confidence, knowing that I am still sharing valuable information.


Comes June, and off to Amsterdam I went. DMC ran alongside DPC, Dutch PHP Conference. The same conference pass was good for both conferences, and I ended up going to quite a few sessions on the PHP side. They were not strictly PHP talks though, but rather related technologies that are useful to PHP developers.

Scalability talk
Scalability talk

For instance, Thijs Feryn gave an overview of scalability, and many of the same technologies can be used for a Django or Rails server.

Frontend and backend
Frontend and backend

My talk was in the afternoon on the first day.

I reviewed my slides the night before my talk, and realized that I prepared it for the Android meetup, but this audience probably little or no experience in Android development. I did not really have time to prepare more slides to give an Android overview, so I just added a slide with the Android logo, and talked over it.

At the beginning of the session I warned the audience that it was going to be very heavy on the Android side, and invited them to ask me to clarify if anything was not clear. I was very happy when the questions got raised, because it meant people were following along. And they seemed to like the talk, according to feedbacks on joind.in. Yay!


The organizer took great lengths to make sure that everyone enjoyed the conference. There was a social gathering for all the attendees at a bar after the first day, and I stayed until 3am, chatting with everyone.

As a speaker there were even more events. The day before the conference we met in the hotel bar to get to know each other, then went to dinner at a restaurant next door. On the first night there was a speaker dinner, where we were presented our speaker gift - an Arduino!

Arduino Uno
Arduino Uno

That was the perfect gift for techies like me. I have wanted to tinker with Arduino for a while, but didn't get around to order one. So I am very excited about this gift.

Overall the organizers took really good care of the speakers, and I had a wonderful time. A big thumbs up to the everyone running the conference!

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