How I Almost Missed My Talk in PHP Asia Conference
Complex over Simple
I was flying to PHP Conf Asia that was held in Singapore from the beautiful city of Berlin... in 1 flight? No, that would too easy for me. Sometimes I want to go to my past me, slap him and make him choose the easy way for once.
So I picked rather dynamic trip:
- from Berlin to Riga - 1,5 hours flight
- from Riga to Istanbul - 3 hours
- and from Istanbul to Singapore - 10 hours!
I had 4 hours break at each airport because airports are so fun, right? I took a risk in Riga and went from airport to the city center, just to get fresh rain and a good coffee. I made it - thanks EU internet treat!
I decided to spend my 4 hours in Istanbul Airport since it was my first time flying more than 3 hours and I was scared that I fill fuck something up if I'd got to the city.
I felt like a responsible traveler:
- I found a gate 709,
- sit in front of it, 3 meters from the table where airport worker checks your passport and ticket
- checked the depart time 2:00 in the morning,
- checked the gate closing time 1:35,
- picked up my laptop and start working.
I was there 3 hours ahead, what could go wrong? There were a couple of Chinese and Japanese guys around, so it was obviously clear this is the flight to the right location.
Going Too Deep
So, I'm coding, preparing a new Rector demo repository for the conference and fixing few bugs I found along. It's around 1:00 and a guy comes to the table - "it will start soon and I'm right here, great", I thought to myself. This man made me feel secure, I would have to be really stupid to miss his last call right in front of me.
I got back to coding and dove deep to the flow, fixing the code and making test pass like a machine gun. It's around 1:25 when I rise my ahead again. Still no boarding, hm. It's probably delayed a bit, that happened on my last flight, no big deal, 10 minutes here and there.
I don't know how that happened but when I raise my head again from the code, it was 1:35. What is going on? Why the guy didn't come to me to tell me to board? I looked around and I saw nobody else was boarding. There were still the same 20 people I saw when I came here. I swear this is the first time I realized, it's a bit weird that there are only 20 people flying to Singapore. I mean, how big the plane is?
My heart started to racing, I must have fucked up something. I closed the computer and almost jumped to the desk:
- "Hi, is this the flight to Singapore?"
- "Hello, I'm busy."
I understood his not very clear English. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck! Noise in my head, this is not the right gate. What will I tell Mike? That I was on airport 4 hours in advance and that I missed my 3rd flight? That's a great way to start an international speaker career, Tom!
I run to displays and checked for my flight... It's here, 709. Good, uff... wait, it's 705. Damn! These are moments I appreciate really good UX. There were no number signs, except mine 709, so I started running in random direction... numbers were going up. I U-turned, hoping for at least some logic.
Good, it's rising! But the gate was closing at 1:35 and it was 1:38. Oh no, not that London experience again, when we missed the flight to Prague (the night end-up being awesome because there were 8 of us).
I run like crazy! This is my only chance!
Well, I missed the flight and spend my "awesome" month in Istanbul...
No, just kidding. I got almost heart attack, but in 10 seconds I found the right gate with 2 other last-call colleagues. I was thanking God, promising I'll never say anything bad to another living creature as thank-you reward for this gift.
Lesson learned? Ask, ask, ask! When I came to the group of people in 22:00, I could ask "Is this flight to Singapore, right?". They'd say "no", then I'd try to convince them it is, then I'd find the right gate. This one helped me a lot in next month, and it was just awesome!
What Would I Miss on PHP Conf Asia if I'd Miss the Flight?
I'm very glad I made it. People on the conference were possessed with kindness and generosity I never saw before on such a big IT event:
- from the best wing-woman "Tom, have you met..." that introduced me to many fellow-speakers and visitors,
- over curious guys from all around Asia, who tried Rector and assumed every bug was their mistake,
- to organizer Michael Cheng, who always let me rest from my first jet lag.
I'm very grateful I could be their guys, I enjoyed talking with you, sharing experience and views on life and code.
I also loved panel discussion PHP - The journey so far (and what's ahead) with Rasmus Lerdorf, Sebastian Bergmann and Derick Rethans. The questions from the community were insightful and touching really important moments.
I would not believe how much can change in software in 15 years.
One more thing, the coffee was supreme. I never had better coffees at the conference - so good I had 6 of them in 2 hours.
Come Next Time!
Michael shared with a big secret: not many people from Europe knew about the CFP or were willing to fly such a distance, who knows - there were actually more free talks slots.
This conference really loves to support diversity and international exchange visitors. So if you want to talk somewhere abroad and you've been to your neighbor country already, follow @phpconfasia and be ready to send your talks.
I'd be happy to go with you if I'll have the chance.
What is Singapore Like?
I got a chance to stay a whole week (thanks again, Michael!) there and I must say, it's a huge crazy city.
But it also has...
- cheap places to eat in,
- super cheap public transport - where Berlin costs 7 €/day, you'll spend that in Singapore in 3 days
- rich free gardens,
- great coffee + wifi right in the center (too bad I found out the night before I left the city)
- awesome views from the top of buildings,
...and many more for you to discover
Everyone speaks English so it's easy to ask, orientate and get it right.
There is a Bigger PHP Family than You Think
In the end, this conference gave me a lot to think about. There is more than Symfony, than Laravel, than PHP 7, than Europe. There is huge PHP community I never knew about, with many awesome people... not people, but heroes who build their local communities, share their know-how and bring people together with much less payment and resource then we in Europe have.
This gave me a kick from my bubble I live in. The kick I needed. Such a kick that during next 2 week I stayed in Malaysia it made me work on:
- Friendsofphp.org - to grow from 200 PHP groups to 1023 PHP groups from the whole world
- Rector PHP Upgrades - we all have framework preferences, but we all write code in some PHP version
I had a great time - thank you Michael and the whole PHP Asia Conf team!
See you next time in Singapore.