published on February 10, 2009

I went to FOSDEM on Sunday. I got up at 6 AM but went to bed at 2 AM (because I still had to review my presentation) … so I only had 4 hours of sleep! I met up with Jo Vermeulen and Tim Dupont at 7 AM in Hasselt’s station. Jo is a PhD student and Tim is a teaching assistant at Hasselt University.
I hesitated at first because both of them have teached me a course either this year or last year, so it’d be a bit weird. But getting to know people is virtually always more fun than pain, so what the heck, I traveled with them anyway!

The highlight of the day for me was of course the big challenge I had posed myself: my own presentation, “Improving Drupal’s page loading performance”, because it was my first ever! I was going to speak to 150 people, in English, after Dries!
Fortunately, I’ve managed to learn over the past few weeks how to control myself, that’s why I had zero stress at my oral exams (one of which was graded by Jo, funny enough :P) so I should be able to do the same on stage! And it worked, I only was slightly nervous. And apparently it showed: many people congratulated me afterwards because it was interesting and apparently well-presented!
I still think I said “eh” too much and mispronounced too often, but it turns out it wasn’t very noticeable. I’ll try to improve upon those things next time.

I’m very glad that it went so well and thanks for all the positive feedback! I spent more than 2 full days preparing the presentation and it was definitely worth it :) It seems that my decision to not do a live demo but record a screen cast instead, was a wise one because Emma seems to be planning to do the same in the future.

If you’d like to find out about all the details of my talk and lots of extra information, then look at this page on my web site.

Unfortunately, I found FOSDEM itself a bit disappointing. If Jo & Tim hadn’t been there, I’d probably have been bored most of the day. They were there last year as well and they too found it underwhelming, with less interesting sessions and more bad presenters than last year.
There was only one Drupal session that really interested me personally, because most sessions were aimed at new Drupal users. The one that interested me, Moving Content from Staging to Live Server, was disappointing because it didn’t offer a generic solution. If Neil Drumm’s session would still have been about the Job queue module, then I’d have gone to that one as well — it was changed a couple of days ago.
So I went to some non-Drupal sessions with Jo & Tim: Pragmatic Smalltalk at which the presenter didn’t show up, so somebody else did it in his place. It was messy and we’d expected it to be more about Sqeak, whereas in reality it was more about implementation details. After that we went to a Wt:Ruby session, which was extremely badly presented: too many bullets on his slides and he seemed to be talking about something else than the slides’ contents… Finally we went to a session about Upstart, which is something like launchd on Mac OS X for Linux. This was in the Janson room – the biggest room, about 3 times the size of the biggest auditorium at Hasselt University — and unfortunately 90% of what the presenter was saying was not understandable.

In the end it was a very pleasant and interesting day, but mostly thanks to the interesting conversations I had with Jo & Tim, not thanks to interesting presentations at FOSDEM. Let’s hope next year is better!


seutje's picture

I really enjoyed your presentation at FOSDEM and I’m looking forward to the improvements you will be working on.

If there is anything I can do to help, I would gladly do so (although it would probably be limited to testing as I’m not that good at coding)

I wish I could enjoy being present at DrupalCON DC, but unfortunately I won’t be able to. It made me giggle a bit inside reading that you recently turned 21, as I’ve had to hear Bart Feenstra complain about being only 20 for a couple hours :P

Good luck on your exams and thesis!

Wim Leers's picture

Wim Leers

Thanks :)

Public testing is probably going to happen either never or very late, because I’ve already got 4 companies who will be testing. Any more testers and I’ll have to spend more time communicating with testers than actually working, which is of course detrimental to progress.

Heh, Bart likes to whine then I suppose, because I was at DrupalCon Barcelona when I was 19 :P No, I bet it was just the nerves :) And dmitrig01 was at DrupalCon Boston at the age of 11 and even presented there…

P.S.: I moved your comment from the other blog post to this one, as it’s more relevant here, but it just wasn’t published yet.

Litrik De Roy's picture

Both the content and the presentation style of your session was great. I picked up a couple of tricks that made it worth to attend.

Johnny van de Laar's picture

I kinda agree on your comments about the presentations. Luckily yours, Roel’s and Dries’ presentations were great!

I’ve been doing some testing about performance improvements myself as well. Some other interesting things (not really Drupal related) are the use of tools like jpegtrans and optipng. They usually cut another 30% from image sizes while they don’t reduce the image quality.

Also the use of cache router can reduce page loading time quite a bit.

Wim Leers's picture

Wim Leers

Yep, I mentioned image optimization as the first bullet on the “Other optimizations” slide. I definitely plan to support this in the daemon I’ll write as part of my bachelor thesis!