Tag Archives: presentation

Getting Involved in Open Source

The first week of 2012 was pretty jam packed for me, which is a good thing. One of the many things that made this week busy was my talk, entitled “Getting Involved in Open Source” at MHVLUG.

This presentation was one of the hardest I’ve had to pull together, as well as one of the most fun to give. I had 3 entirely different slidedecks, each with their own narratives, each with their own dry runs, before I found something I felt would keep everyone engaged, not be too abstract, and time in at 1 hour. (The final dry run was 1:03, the live presentation came in at 1:05). That left plenty of time for questions, and still the ability to end the meeting by the advertised 8pm.

The focus on this talk wasn’t building your own open source project, but really about interacting with various communities. I told stories about reporting bugs, fixing small features in projects, getting into flame wars, getting ignored, and becoming the accidental maintainer of projects. The core center of the talk was a tale of 3 projects: 3 drupal modules that I’ve submitted issues and code to, that have gone in completely different directions. This was to make the most important point of the talk:

Open Source, it’s made of people!

When folks get involved in Open Source, they think that it’s all about code. My experience has been that while the code is very important, the people are just as important. Understanding how to interact with a wide range of personality types is one of the most important skills for an open source developer. How do you get conversations rolling? How do you get your ideas listened to? When do you know it’s not going to work, and a new approach is required? When do you just walk away from an idea, because it won’t fit in this community?

With 37 folks in attendance, this was one of the larger MHVLUG meetings. The fact that it was also in our new location, made me really happy with those numbers. A very good way to kick off the new year.


Tips for giving effective presentations

Some quite good points from Physicist/Feminist:

The “What” vs. the “So What”: Doumont stressed the idea of getting across your message.  He differentiated the message from the information.  The information can be thought of as the “what”.  The message is therefore the “so what”.  One of the most useful things he said was to “maximize what the audience gets out of the presentation, not the information you put it.”  I think it can be really tempting to put as much information into your presentation as possible, but it is more effective to parse out unnecessary information and concentrate on the “so what”, the motivation for your work.  Your talks should always have a message.

You should read the full article, it has lots of great tips.

The point of maximizing for output not for input is key. My current method to try to get to that is start with a much larger slide deck, dumping in everything I find interesting about the topic. Then I start aggressively editing. Giving yourself time to edit is the key, because everyone’s first draft leaves a lot to be desired.

Presentation Tips: 3 Good Moments

“A good movie is three good scenes and no bad scenes.”

– Howard Hawks

Having just gotten back from CPOSC, filled with some very good presentations, I realized the old adage about movies applies to presentations as well. If you have 3 really good moments in your presentation, and nothing really bad, your audience will walk away satisfied. We’re not all going to be TED Talk speakers, but setting the bar at 3 good moments is something attainable.

Upcoming Talks

Things are going to be quiet here for a few days as I prep for 2 upcoming talks, both which are about aspects of Where is Io.  The first of which is this Saturday at the Central PA Open Source Conference, which I’m about 2/3 of the way through creating that presentation.  Here is the title slide:

The CPOSC presentation is about Android development, using Where is Io as a roadmap through some of the interesting parts of Android.

The second is coming up a week from today at the Mid Hudson Astronomical Association at SUNY New Paltz.  It’s called “Tracking the Movement of the Heavens” and is about the math and astronomy behind Where is Io.  There will be a little bit of content sharing between the two, but they’ll be quite different in many ways.

I’m really looking forward to both talks, especially now that I’ve got quite a bit of material and narrative for the first one nailed down, and a decent set of notes for the second one.

My new presentation remote – Logitech R400

If you give presentations with powerpoint or openoffice slides at any regularity, it is well worth investing in a presentation remote so you don’t need to keep coming back to your computer to flip slides.  It lets you walk around more normally, not having to worry about getting back to the podium/desk/table for the transition.  That level of free wandering on behalf of the speaker makes the entire presentation feel much smoother.

Previously I had a targus remote that I got online.  It, like all other presentation remotes I’ve seen, has a usb dongle which advertises itself as a usb keyboard.  The remote triggers page up/page down, and maybe some mouse functions.  This means it works on any computer, any modern operating system, with no additional software.  While the targus was sufficient, it had been slowly dying over the last couple of years.  It failed for me at Ohio Linux Fest, and when, even after new batteries, it failed before my Git talk, I figured enough was enough.  I scoured amazon reviews, and decided to give the Logitech R400 a shot.  It arrived last night.

Holy crap, this thing is amazing.  First, and most importantly, the thing fits perfectly in your hand.  It has that same kind of ergonomics of the Tivo remote, where your hand is perfectly relaxed holding it.  It’s weight is enough to know it’s there and solid, and whatever surface material they used for it just feels touchable.  The buttons are in the perfect places so that I realize pretty quickly that 5 minutes into my next presentation I won’t even know I’m using it any more.  Whoever did the ergonomic design on the R400… bravo!

The remote is pretty simple, which is good.  Page up / Page down, F5 (which is play presentation in open office and power point), and a screen blank function which works inside of a fullscreen open office presentation, though I have no idea what key it actually is.  There is also an integrated red laser pointer, of pretty reasonable power.  The other notable facts of the remote are the usb dongle fits inside the remote itself, so there are not 2 pieces to get seperated and lost, and there is an off switch.  As this thing is going to live bouncing around in my backpack, so I always have it with me, having an off switch to ensure that accidental bounces don’t hit keys and drain battery is good.  It also has a nice neoprene case, which makes that less of a worry.

I’m really happy about this presentation remote, and can’t wait for my next group presentation to give it a proper work out.

P.S. For another $40 you can “upgrade” to the R800 which has a green laser and a countdown time.  That’s more than I need, but people love the green laser pointers. 

Streaming talk on Git

Tomorrow night (Wed, Jan 6th) at 6pm EST I’ll be presenting at MHVLUG on Git, the distributed source code management system.  New and notable on this talk is that I’ll be streaming the talk live on ustream, and, assuming the tech doesn’t horribly break down in the middle of it, will be taking questions from the viewers online as well.

For those software folks that read this blog, or the facebook / twitter posts it generates, this might be of interest to you.  Getting your head around merges in git takes some work early on, and with any luck the diagrams and explanations I pulled together with help quite a bit.

Tips for creating good presentations with Open Source Tools

If you are a Linux user, and you have ever had to give presentations, you probably used OpenOffice Impress to do it. OpenOffice Impress is a reasonable clone of PowerPoint, though certain things like Animation, work very poorly in OpenOffice, and you can’t insert a table (grrrrr….).

Any good presentation has graphics or diagrams in it. There is a drawing tool in OpenOffice to create them, which is a little clumsy, but works. However, the output looks like poo. While OpenOffice will antialias fonts (making them smooth), it won’t do so for graphic elements. Thus you end up with reasonably nice looking fonts, and graphics that look like MacPaint circa 1996. What is a budding presenter that wants to stay on Linux to do?

About 2 years ago, I found Inkscape. Inkscape is a vector graphics program that would be comparable to Adobe Illustrator (though it’s been 9 years since I last used Illustrator, so I don’t claim any ability to compare them). Inkscape is largely designed for graphic artists (which I will not claim to be by any stretch), and has all the sort of drawing tools you would expect for that. I originally stumbled upon it when creating block diagrams in Dia, which while pretty straight forward, again looks like poo if you’ve got anything that isn’t a vertical or horizontal line in it. While Inkscape requires a little more freehanding of shapes, the control over those graphics, and how pretty they look on export, entire makes up for that.

Inkscape’s native format is SVG, which is vector based, and thus scalable to any size without looking bad. While it has the disadvantage of being a different tool then OpenOffice it has the distinct advantage that nearly anything drawn in Inkscape looks about 10x better than OpenOffice drawings, without even trying. If you try, you can get stuff that is clearly 100x better.

What I’ve recently found works best is to create a base image in inkscape with all your elements you are trying to explain. Don’t add much text or any arrows showing flow, as OpenOffice does this reasonably. Then use that base image for 1 or more slides in OpenOffice where you draw over it with Arrows, Simple Blocks, and Text. OpenOffice objects can be transparent (or partially transparent), which means doing overlays in OpenOffice works pretty well, and looks pretty reasonable. Believe it or not, the final OpenOffice presentation will look better in Adobe Acrobat as a PDF, which has very good scaling algorithms, and will antialias your OpenOffice graphics objects even when OO doesn’t (which, granted, is pretty retarded).

Pictures are worth 1000 words, and good pictures are worth a lot more. But also remember, good pictures take time. Yesterday I spent 3 hours coming up with, and creating 1 graphic which was the basis for 4 slides, then 2 more hours figuring out how to best represent the information on those slides to be clear, simple, and useful. Just like any programming effort, don’t think you can crank it out in the hour before it is due.

Ok, back to diagrams and presentations. Happy Friday!