A big part of my data & AI course is getting to know Microsoft Azure. This week I started learning the MS fundamentals course (part 1 – 6). It’s a crash course on server terminology, such as virtual machines, containers, VPN gateways and virtual networks. It’s a lot to take in and I’m not sure how much use I’ll have of the ins and outs of Azure, nonetheless it gives me a better understanding of it all so I can become a better translator between real server and data nerds and those who are not.
For some time now, the Man and I have been talking about writing a new and improved version of the guide we wrote many years ago, called How to unconference your birthday. This plan was not high on our priority list for many reasons, but lately I sense it’s moving up on the list.
The vision in our household is that the traditional form for conferences bring very little value compared to the combined investment of all attendees. Imagine a thousand people travelling to a city in Europe, from all over the world, booking hotel rooms for the duration of the event, spending a lot of money on an entry ticket to sit on their butt most of the time and silently listen to a person the organisation deemed worthy to pay a fee (or not) to tell a story (of which you probably can find an earlier version of on Youtube). If you’re lucky it’s a good story, a lot of times it’s not a good story. You probably come home after the event, telling your colleagues or spouse about how wonderful the event was. You spent a lot of money on it, so what else could you say. Admitting that it was a waste of time and money? Your mind will always give a positive spin on your experience. The conference was OK, but I really enjoyed being in another city for a few days. I didn’t learn anything new, but I got to meet two people and we had a lot of fun during dinner.
The Man and I made a different choices early in our carreers. We didn’t want to spend large chunks of our modest budget on such events. Instead we chose very specific events to attend which embraced the collective intelligence of participants. We got so inspired that we organised smaller and bigger events ourselves. All those events had one common theme: connect the people in the room. Not that we skip the role of someone presenting entirely, but we aim to maximize the time for people to interact. That’s what makes travelling to another town, another country, another continent worth it. Talk to each other and you’ll learn.
Post-pandemic travel will commence soon enough. Perhaps not this year yet, but 2022 will most definitely be packed with conferences and other business meetings to make up for the time we couldn’t shake hands. Conference organisers will most definitely continue to pay (or not pay) speakers to receive the sole centre of attention, while a hundred or a thousand people listen, at best processing their thoughts on Twitter, at worst taking a nap in the semi-dark. Imagine thousand people taking a plane to take do this: sit in a chair for eight hours a day, listening, taking some notes, meeting a few people (if they’re lucky). That is what going back to normal looks like when we talk about conferences. What a waste of resources, in the broadest sense of the word.
I guess I feel the urge to inspire others to reimagine the concept of conferences. The Man and I have shown how to do that many times. Some who visited our events, created their own version to connect people in their own community. We know many people who are doing a much better job at organising these type of events than we do. Perhaps now is the time to translate all our combined experience in words for others to read. So if you happen to read this, and have been an event organizer at some point in your life, expect an invite from us to talk about this topic.
I discovered the majority of ervaring geen bezwaar’s audience listens to the episodes in their browser. Another notable thing is that my audience are mainly Mac/iPhone users. A final thing worth noticing is that Spotify is not a place where people listen to my podcast.
Last Friday Daughter woke up with a fever. The new guidelines for younger children is to get them tested when showing covid signs. I called to make an appointment and early Friday afternoon the Man took her to the test centre. A smooth and speedy process. The test location (the very interesting venue called De Rijtuigenloods) now serves as vaccination centre as well and therefore they made some changes in procedure since I went there. You no longer drive-through, but park your car and walk inside. As I got tested before, I prepared Daughter what to expect. People wearing a lot of protective gear. The swabbing that can feel very awkward. The location it would take place. The Man told me she showed some nerves beforehand, but the test was done swiftly and skilfully. She got rewarded with a box of new pencils and on top of that saw a train inside the building. “I didn’t even have to cry,” she said to me. Brave little girl.
I expected the test results would come in quickly as well. They’ve been in business for a year now, so basically everything should run smoothly. I was wrong to expect that. Daughter has no digital ID to log into governmental services yet so we had to wait for a call centre employee to call us with the results. Sunday afternoon they still hadn’t called, despite the promise to have test results within 48 hours. I called and after a few attempts (because I called half an hour too early the first time, which technically was still within 48 hours and therefore there might be a (slight) chance that I would receive a call during that half hour) I had someone on the line who was allowed to read the test results. Negative. That was a relief. Daughter went off to the park immediately and was allowed to attend school today.
Talking about school. The whole going back to school in February was and wasn’t a blessing. Due to a snow storm she missed the very first day in school in 2021. The school decided Sunday night that they wouldn’t find it safe for teachers to travel to school. In our region snowmageddon didn’t really happen, so school’s decision was an overreaction to the situation. The rest of that week, Daughter sled to and from school, as there was no snow free route to bike to school. That took extra time out of our regained working hours, since it is a twenty-five minutes walk to school while pulling a four year old on a sleigh.
And then rain came to cover the streets in ice and therefore we had another school free Monday. This time the right decision. Even if school would be open, we couldn’t have made it in the morning as all the side walks and streets between our home and school were bone breaking slippery. Only four regular school days remained before the holidays. Yet another week where working hours cut in half.
Today is Daughter’s ninth day in school in 2021. I really hope we can have some uninterrupted normal school weeks this March. I really need some sort of steady rhythm to keep up with my course work, serve my current client and create a new episode for my podcast. Though I wouldn’t be surprised to receive a message that a kid in Daughter’s class is diagnosed with covid-19, which leads to quarantine measures for the whole class. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.