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Max 2008 marks my 25th (differently named) CF conference as a speaker!

Here's something I thought interesting. I just realized that Max 2008 marks the 25th CF conference I've been selected to speak at. I'm not talking about 25 conference, sometimes many years for each: I'm talking about 25 differently named conferences. I'll bet some people would be surprised to learn we've even HAD at least 25 differently named national and regional CF conferences over the years. :-) We have, and let's take a look.

I mentioned last night my delight in learning that I'd been selected to speak at Adobe Max later this year. It got me thinking: that was the one remaining major CF conference that I'd not yet spoken to over the last 10 years. I mentioned that I'd spoken at the MM and Allaire Devcons before it, but as I looked back in my records (carehart.org/presentations/, and elsewhere), I was surprised to see just how many there had been.

I can now say that (as of July 2008) I've been selected to speak at:

  1. Adobe Max (2008)
  2. CFunited (all 10, starting with when it was called CFUN and the DCCFUC before that)
  3. cf.objective (2008, 2007)
  4. Scotch on the Rocks (2008)
  5. Webmaniacs (2008)
  6. CFunited Europe (2008)
  7. WebDU (2007)
  8. CFUnited Express (2007: Atl, SF, Chi)
  9. Minimax (2007, 2005)
  10. CFDevcon (London) (2006)
  11. Powered by Detroit (2005)
  12. MX Vegas (2003)
  13. CF Europe (2003, 2002)
  14. MX On The Rocks, Denver (2003)
  15. Southern Cal Regional CF Conf (2003)
  16. Macromedia DevCon (2002, 2001)
  17. CF Underground (2002, 2001, 2000)
  18. MX/CFNorth (2003, 2002)
  19. Colorado Macromedia TechCon (2002)
  20. MXDC (2002)
  21. CF Edge Conference (2001)
  22. Fusebox Conference (2003, 2001)
  23. CF Odyssey, Bethesda (2001)
  24. Allaire DevCon (2000)
  25. The first national CF Conference in Ft Collins (1998)

Sadly, a lot of them were one-off events, but I always want to support conference organizers. (No one at the first CFUN would ever have imagined it would turn into CFUnited, for instance.)

And while I was invited to speak at CFSouth in 2001, I ended up being unable to attend due to my father's passing the weekend before.

I should note that there are still a couple more conferences that I didn't make or haven't made. No slight intended in not mentioning them. I'm just listing those I did speak at.

Add in user groups...for about 200 presentations!

Considering that I've spoken at some conferences for multiple years, that makes over 45 appearances total. And it's still more presentations, really, since I've often presented more than one topic at a single conference. Then if we count repeated sessions...it's been a lot of talks.

And of course, that's all in addition to all the presentations I've given to, wow, I count now nearly 60 different user groups around the country (and internationally) during the past 11 years! All told, again since I've often presented to a single user group more than once over the years, it looks like I've given nearly 200 presentations total across all CF user groups and conferences. (And that's not counting other conferences like SQL Pass, MS CodeCamps, Wireless Devcons, and then several other IT conferences during my 15 years prior to getting into CF in 1997.)

And I'm happy to say that they've not all been the same talk! :-) It's been nearly 80 different topics!

Details on past talks

If anyone's interested in the details of the talks, I list nearly all of them (with titles, descriptions, dates, locations, and links to the slides) at my site's presentations section. I can say that some are as valuable today as years ago, since I sometimes still point them to to people looking for discussion of a given topic (sometimes I've never ended up writing an article on a topic that I presented as a speaker.)

Not bragging, just looking back on a career, encouraging others, and giving thanks

I don't say any of this to brag. Not at all. It's really just rather unusual when one has a chance to stop and look back on their career (other than when writing a resume.)

You just do things day in and day out, and often you never realize how much you can accomplish with a slow and steady pace. Same with the more than 60 articles I've done, too. You just don't notice the pace while you're in the middle of it. Like the journey of a 1,000 steps, it all begins with the first. In that respect, I'd like to encourage any who've thought of giving a talk or writing an article to *just do it*. You never know where that first step may lead. :-)

Anyway, again, it's really nice to add Max as the capstone to this list. Thanks to all the organizers and attendees who've supported my presentations over the years.

For a real time warp, you can find out more about the various conferences I mentioned (including seeing speaker lists, topics, pictures, and more) at the CFConf.org site, which lists them all going back to 1998.

ColdFusion meetup online webinars will be announced here

Just want to let folks I'm going to start announcing the upcoming Online ColdFusion Meetup sessions here.

I host them, and it turns out next week I'll be speaking in a full session of my own for the first time since we started the meetup in February. I was about to announce my talk here here.

Then I thought: hey, why don't I just announce each talk here from now on? Of course, I've been announcing them to the 1200+ registered members of the group, but certainly some who read my blog (or trip over an entry when it may show up on an aggregator) may be introduced to the group for the first time.

So I'm going to post next the 2 talks for next week, and in the future I'll post the rest. We have a full slate set for December. I'm not sure how far in advance I'll announce the rest of the month's talks. We'll see.

For those not familiar with the meetup, I've written about it here previously (though that was from the perspective of a potential speaker).

Got a topic to present? FAQ for prospective speakers on the CF Meetup (online CFUG)

Updated Jul 2016

Are you interested in presenting to a CF/CFML audience? We'd love to have you on the Online ColdFusion Meetup, the online CF user group that I host. This entry is a bit of a FAQ for prospective speakers.

The LEAST you need to know

  • The most important thing to know is that if you want to speak, just let me know by email at charlie (at) carehart.org or by twitter (@cfmeetup), and I'll work to get you scheduled.
  • If you've created and presented a talk at a conference or local user group, the Online CF Meetup is a great way to get your talk out to a still-larger audience (if you choose to present here after the conference/user group, though some present on the meetup first, as a form of practice. Whatever you prefer.)
  • Even if you haven't ever presented a talk at a conference/ug, and maybe never will, you're still welcome! The CF Meetup is an easy place for any speaker who may like to present on any CF-related topic. And it can even be easier than presenting before a "live studio audience", as it were, as I discuss more below.
  • If you're concerned about webcams (and what your office--or you--may look like), don't worry. We don't use them. We're interested in your content: your voice, and your screen which is shared, via Adobe Connect, which is VERY easy for you as presenter, and using VOIP/internet audio (within Connect) rather than phones.
  • Our slots are typically for an hour but speaking for less time is ok if you prefer.
  • We do record the meetings, so it's a great way to have your session recorded (most conferences don't bother), so your hard work is saved for posterity and again still more people get to watch them.
  • Any topic that may be of interest to the ColdFusion community is welcome. It need not be solely about CF or CFML, but can be something of generic interest to all web developers. (Being an official Adobe CF user group, we can also have SOME talks on alternative CFML engines like Lucee, Railo, or BlueDragon, but note that we can't have a majority of topics on them.)
  • Finally, if you may wonder about the technical matters of what you need to be a presenter, and especially if you have any hesitation about presenting online, please see the faq below, What do I need to be a presenter on a Connect meeting?. You may also want to check that list, to see answers to important questions you may have not have considered.

Whether you're a new or experienced speaker, whether you want to discuss a new or old topic, whether for beginners, intermediates, or experts, there's an audience for your talk within the 1,200 2,400 2,700+ member Online CF Meetup user group (as of July 2016), which typically gets about 30-50 people per meeting (different folks for different meetings, typically), and then the additional views of the recordings.

So if you're interested, let me know. And if you have time, please consider the following.

Some common questions speakers may have

If you're interested in speaking, you probably have a few questions. In this note I try to address them:

  • Why should I consider speaking?
  • So what is the ColdFusion Meetup?
  • How often, and when, do you meet?
  • How long do sessions typically last?
  • Where do you meet?
  • Are your meetings recorded?
  • Can anyone attend the meetings? Watch the recordings? How do they hear of them?
  • What topics are welcomed?
  • Is there any list of topics people are interested in?
  • What next dates are available?
  • I'm afraid to commit to a date if I may not be able to make it
  • OK, so how do I become a speaker?
  • What if I'm nervous about presenting?
  • What do I need to be a presenter on a Connect meeting?
  • I just don't have time to build/update slides for a talk
  • Why presenting online is different, in a good way
  • How can I support the group?

Why should I consider speaking?

People enjoy presenting to the CF community for a variety of reasons: to share experiences and discoveries, to help solve problems they've faced, to share new tools, or even to promote something they've written.

There are certainly many CFUGs the world over, and we support them fully, but some people may not be close enough to speak to (or attend) one. And though some CFUGs welcome remote presenters, many presenters don't know where to turn or which to try to present to first.

The CF Meetup is really a great place to present, whether you have a new or often-presented talk.

In the case of a new talk, you can use it to work out the kinks (some find it easier to talk in front of a mic rather than standing before an audience). Also, other CFUG managers can see your talk and then may ask to have you present it to their group, whether on-site or online. (They may prefer that to telling their members to just go watch your recording.)

And if you have a talk you've presented before, consider that many may not have seen your talk, even if presented to other groups or conferences. And even if you recorded it before, this is a chance to do a second take. You can of course use this as a chance to revise a talk done previously (practice makes perfect), or to reprise a previous talk you did that you think some groups may feel is old news. We have room here for classic subjects!

Finally, another benefit for you is that we record all our meetings (more on that later), so you can share the URL of recording on your site, in emails, in your materials, etc.

So what is the ColdFusion Meetup?

The Online ColdFusion Meetup is an online CF User Group--in fact it's the largest CFUG in the world with over 1,200 2,400+ 2,700+ members (as of July 2016). Don't let that scare you, though, as a prospective presenter. We tend to have about 30-50 attendees at any one meeting (sometimes more, sometimes fewer. It all depends on the topic.)

We've had 17 165 245 talks so far (as of July 2016).

So how often, and when, do you meet?

Well, most CFUGs meet monthly, but being online we have the luxury to meet more flexibly. :-)

For years we had settled into a pattern of weekly meetings, Thursdays, at noon or 6p US Eastern time, sometimes with speakers in both slots.

In recent years (as of 2016), there seems to be a change in the desire of presenters to speak online (they still love speaking at conferences, of course!), so we have not been able to be weekly (let alone often monthly).

There is no change in the interest of attendees, though. We still have a huge membership, and every talk still gets as many attendees as the early years.

And there are enough potential topics (new and old) that I don't see the well running dry.

And it may not be the same folks attending meeting to meeting, which is fine, really. That's the beauty of being an online group. People will come if the topic interests them. No crowd is too big or too small.

We still try to meet on Thursdays at 12p or 6p US Eastern time, even if no longer on a weekly basis, simply because it's a pattern many have come to expect.

And those two time slots try to balance not only the needs of US audiences (across 3+ time zones) but also those outside the US. Noon will be the afternoon/evening for Europe and east but before dawn in Asia/Pacific and west. 6pm will be morning for Asia/Pac but late night for Europe. These are the challenges of a world-wide audience. (We've also polled the membership over the years and these were the most popular timeframes.)

But we can be flexible on the time and even the day. If you have a desire to present at another time, there will be an audience for it, for sure.

How long do sessions typically last?

Our talks are typically for an hour but you can take less time if you prefer (or a little more, if you need; just let folks know before you start if you think you will, or at least at the hour if you find you're running long). There's also time for questions afterward, which can go from anywhere from a few minutes to as much as a half hour, all dependent on your availability/interest as a speaker.

Where do you meet?

Again, we're an entirely online group. We never meet in person and we have members all over the world. The group always meets at http://experts.acrobat.com/cfmeetup, which is an Adobe Acrobat Connect meeting room that is opened only for the meetings (typically a few minutes before and after, just like a room in "the real world").

Are your meetings recorded?

Yes, they are. And as I mentioned above, that's a real benefit of speaking at the Meetup, if you're interested in being able to have others see your presentation after the fact. We post the URL for all our meetings at both recordings.coldfusionmeetup.com and Charlie's UGTV site, which offers links to recordings from hundreds of speakers from different CF user groups around the world.

And we owe a debt of gratitude to Adobe for their provision of a free Acrobat Connect account as well as the space and bandwidth for holding and presenting the recordings. This is an offer they make to all official Adobe User Groups. For more info on that (if you're a UG manager or want it for your user group), see the other blog entries I've done, starting with this one/.

Can anyone attend the meetings? Watch the recordings? How do they hear of them?

Yes, anyone can attend the meetings and watch the recordings. Membership in the meetup (which is free, at coldfusionmeetup.com) is just to allow for automatic emailing of announcements. There's an option to RSVP there. That's not mandatory, but it gives a bit of a heads up of how popular a topic will be.

Even without signing up, you can also follow the RSS feed offered on the Calendar entry there, or you can follow us on Twitter (@cfmeetup).

What topics are welcomed at the Meetup?

Getting back to being a speaker on the Meetup, we welcome pretty much any topic related even slightly to ColdFusion, whether on an advanced or a beginning topic, a new or old feature, etc. The beauty of the online format is that people can easily choose to come or not, or can just watch the recording. And again, logistically, no audience is too large or too small.

It need not be solely about CF or CFML, but can be something of generic interest to all web developers. (Being an official Adobe CF user group, we can also have SOME talks on alternative CFML engines like Lucee, Railo, or BlueDragon, but note that we can't have a majority of topics on them.)

Going back to a point I made before, we can even have you present some classic topic that you think some audience may appreciate. You (or a user group manager) may fear presenting an "old" or niche topic before a live audience because of the risk it may not bring out enough attendees. That's not a problem for us. With a thousand+ members, your talk will find an audience here! :-)

A user group manager may also worry that some niche topics may cause some to skip a month, and then be annoyed since it will be another month until the next meeting. We don't have that problem either, since there will be another meeting the next week! So really, any topic is welcome.

Is there any list of topics people are interested in?

In July 2009 I created a page on the CF Meetup site where members can edit the page to indicate topics of interest. Feel free to consider (or add to) that. It's not been used too heavily yet, so it's not at all "the" list to choose from.

Really, about any topic you want to present is generally welcome.

What next dates are available?

I'm always trying to line up speakers for future meetings. I welcome even just expressions of tentative interest (if you're not quite ready to set a fixed date). I'll keep track and follow up with you down the road.

I'm afraid to commit to a date if I may not be able to make it

No problem. Just go ahead and let me know that it's tentative. You can always postpone or cancel if you need to. I tend to announce each meeting only the week in advance, so no one but you and I will know if you have to cancel/postpone. And even at the last minute, people understand. Again, since we meet so often, and since no one has "drive to the meeting", it's really not the end of the world if we end up not having a topic any one week/slot.

But if it would help you mentally to pre-set a date, just to have a deadline to work toward, again, I'm happy to mark you down on my internal calendar. Only you and I will know until we're ready to announce it the week before.

OK, so how do I become a speaker?

If you're interested or have any other questions, please drop me a note at charlie (at) carehart.org or by twitter (@cfmeetup), and I'll work to get you scheduled.

What if I'm nervous about presenting?

Don't be. This is a friendly place. And I'll guide you through the entire process. As a veteran presenter of hundreds of user group talks myself, both live and online, I've helped our Meetup presenters (veterans and newcomers alike) with issues as varied as helping firm up a compelling title and description to sharing tips on how to present effectively online, including helping you sound good and even helping pick out good choices for headsets or mics--we don't bother with webcams. For all we care, you can speak in your underwear. :-)

What do I need to be a presenter on a Connect meeting?

As for software, you don't need anything special. Connect is based on Flash (yes, still as of July 2016), and most browsers have that. And Adobe Connect works with Windows, Mac, and Linux.

There are no ports you need to open, whether to be an attendee or a presenter. It all works over port 80 or 443 (if you really preferred). As a presenter, you'll just install one little additional Flash plugin when you are first marked to be a presenter (before we start the meeting).

Then you'll just share your screen with us. Whatever you show, we'll see. You don't need to upload anything, or offer a preso in some particular format.

If you have two monitors, that's great (but not needed). You could move the Connect window off to the second monitor, which makes it easier to keep an eye on the chat pod, as well as to confirm that we see what you want us to see. It works fine if you have only one monitor, too.

As for your voice, we don't use the phone (for now, as it's not offered in the version of Connect we use.) Instead, both speakers and attendees participate via VOIP/internet audio, provided for within Connect. You just need a mic and speakers. A USB headset works best, but even an older analog one can work.

While the mic and speakers in your laptop will work, it would be better if you use earphones or a headset to prevent echo from your computer mic picking up your speakers.

I just don't have time to build/update slides for a talk

Some speakers fear they don't have time to prepare a new talk. Well, I've already explained that old talks are ok, too. In that case, you just show up and give the talk you've given.

But if you are thinking of a new topic, just note that you don't really have to come up with a bunch of slides. Presenting online can be different in that respect. Let me explain.

Why presenting online is different, in a good way

You'll find that with an online talk, you can get away with putting a lot less detail into your slides. In a live talk, you may do that as much to help prompt you for what to cover. Sure, presentation software has notes features, but you may fear being tied down to the laptop in a live event, or if you printed the notes you may feel uncomfortable holding them while you talk.

But with an online talk, you can print those notes out for yourself (in large print) to have sitting next to you at your desk (or viewed on a second monitor). You can see them, but the viewers don't need to. (You can give them a notes file after the talk if you want to, to give them those details, and URLs, etc.)

Even in a live talk, with the extra bullets, have you noticed they don't help you as much when it's time to switch away from the slides to a demo? In an online setup, that won't be a problem. You can just as easily view your notes easily whether showing slides or doing a demo.

These things make doing an online talk a lot easier.

You could even just make a whole talk out of simply walking through a live demo. No one would care if you had "slides". More and more people are going away from them.

How can I support the group?

Hey, we could always use your support, whether as a speaker or just in helping "spread the word" on the group. :-)

If you're a blogger or belong to a mailing list and want to promote the Meetup as a place for prospective presenters to consider, we'd be grateful. Feel free to point them to this blog entry that you're now reading.

You can point potential members to the CFMeetup site (coldfusionmeetup.com), which also lists all the past meetings. Again, it's free to join the group. And let them know they can find the recordings at recordings.coldfusionmeetup.com.

I meant, "how can I support the group monetarily?"

Ah, well how nice of you! :-) Seriously, though, we're not setup to take in donations for now (nor are we setup as a non-profit).

I will say I pay a monthly fee for the meetup.com site, which is a commercial third-party site otherwise used by groups that meet in real life, and it helps them organize and promote such meetings. Our URL really just redirects to a specific section of their site, devoted to our group.

Beyond that, running a user group is itself a significant time commitment (getting speakers, organizing and announcing each meeting, managing and posting the recordings, and so on). Still, running the CF Meetup is really a gift to the community, and just another part of the many wonderful ways that we all learn from each other in this great CF community.

But if you're interested, I'll point out that there is an option on the meetup page for contributing a monetary donation, or I do also have an Amazon wish list.

But thank you!

But really, thanks for your support whether you're a speaker or an attendee, or if you do anything to help promote the group. It sounds trite, but as with all CFUGs it really is your group. You can help make it what you want it to be, and by promoting it to others, you make it all the more compelling a place to "watch and be watched".

I welcome your feedback and comments, and I hope to "see" you at an upcoming meetup.

Who owns who in the book publishing world: can't tell the players without a program!

Ever wondered who owns who in the book publishing world? It becomes important for those who run user groups, as most publishers have great programs to provide free review and giveaway copies of books for our groups. But how do you know whose program to go to to get a particular book? It's not as simple as it seems, since many imprints are actually subsidiaries of a larger publisher.

It's like they say in baseball: "you can't tell the players without a program!" :-)

So with that, I'd like to present my observation of who's who, using primarily the list of publishers listed in the Adobe UG program. It generally just lists the parent publishers, so this will help you know who to go to for particular books. (Authorized UG managers can see the list in the "third party program resources" page.)

Who's owned by who?

Again, as mine is a blog focused on ColdFusion, this list is also focused only on the publishers (and their imprints) that would be of interest to CFers. The publishers below sometimes have (many) more subsidiary imprints than those I list. Beyond that, though, these lists may still be incomplete for publishers we may be interested in, and I welcome feedback and corrections.

I've tried to get the information from the actual publishers sites themselves, and have offered a link where available. Another useful resource for this is a blog entry by Tim O'Reilly on the state of the computer book publishing industry. It had a little more detail in some areas, yet also didn't list all the publishers mentioned below.

  • Apress: Friends of Ed

  • Manning: none

  • McGraw Hill: Osborne and many others, but none in this space it seemed (from http://pubeasy.mcgraw-hill.com/pls/pubeasy/bepublist.publist_page)

  • O'Reilly: Pogue Press (O'Reilly source-- as it states, others listed there are distribution partners, not subsidiaries)

  • Packt: none

  • Pearson: Addison-Wesley , Adobe Press, Exam Cram, IBM Press, Macromedia Press, MySQL Press, New Riders, Novell Press, Peachpit Press, Prentice Hall, Que, Sams, Sun Microsystems Press (Pearson source), additional info from O'Reilly blog)

  • Wiley: Dummies, John Wiley, Sybex, Teach Yourself Visually, Wrox (Wiley source)

Hope that helps someone. And while it's accurate today (as far as I know), it could certainly become dated over time as transition in the industry continues, if you find this entry some months or years from now!

Recording your next user group meeting (and finding the recording)

If you're a user group manager who is taking advantage of the free Acrobat Connect account from Adobe for user groups, the next challenge for you may be how to make and use recordings of your meetings. I find that many managers have just never done this, and it can be so valuable, especially since you can then list the recording for your members and indeed for the entire community on my UGTV site. More on this later.

Making a recording of your meeting

Fortunately, it's very easy to record your meeting. It doesn't matter if you'll be having any remote attendees. Indeed, it doesn't matter if you'll be having a remote speaker. As long as you have an internet connection, you can record whatever a speaker says and shows. Everything you see and hear will be captured and can be played back in perfect fidelity.

While you're in a Connect meeting (as a host, discussed in the earlier blog entry), simply hit the Meeting>Record Meeting option in the top menu bar. You'll be prompted for a name and description. Don't worry too much about getting this perfect at that point, since I'll show how you can easily edit the information later. (You don't even need a description, and since the recording will be timestamped, you don't even need to worry about creating a unique name, if you'll be editing it soon after the meeting--so you don't forget which recording is which.)

Tip: As a word of advice, I'd recommend you be prepared to start your meeting right after you hit the record button. The recording will indeed start immediately, and I've heard too many recordings where the host and/or presenter are fumbling around getting things situated while the "tape" is rolling. Please be considerate of those who will listen to your recording later.

They don't want to have to wait--and there's no easy means to know how long such preliminaries will go on. Advancing the playhead in the playback mechanism isn't as precise as it could be, either, so the listener won't be able to easily skip ahead. This is an easy mistake in the moment. You figure everyone else in the room is waiting patiently while you get started. But it's quite annoyance at the start of a recording.

An update: Yes, as I'll discuss later, you can now with later versions of Connect go back and edit the recording, but you probably won't bother, so just keep this in mind.

When you're done, you simply hit the Meeting>Record Meeting menu option again, or the red "recording" icon/dot in the top right of the Connect interface (which tells you you're recording).

Note that there is no "pause" feature. If you stop it, you're stopping that recording and would need to start a new one. If you're having multiple talks during a meeting, it may be best anyway to create a separate recording for each.

Here's another tip: you can use the ease of creating recordings to create a quick one before the start of the meeting to test how you and your presenter sound. Sometimes, you can't judge by what you hear, if you've got bad bandwidth temporarily. You can create a quick recording, go listen to it, then delete it. I'll show how to find the recordings next.

Finding the Recording URL

OK, so you've made your recording. Now, how do you find it? I hear this lament from user group managers all the time. In fact, it was 2 such pleas for help that I saw today which sparked me to create this entry (been meaning to for some time).

You get to the recordings not through the Connect interface but instead through the same interface you use to create the meeting. (Each Connect account may have a different URL, and of course you need a valid login/password, so I can't tell you how to get in. If someone else setup the meeting, you need to contact them, or your Connect administrator, to get that info.)

On the Admin page, click the "Meetings" link on the top of the page. That will show all your current meetings. (You can also use "my scheduled meetings", but it's a slightly different presentation of meetings list.) Select your desired meeting (the one where you made the recording--as you may see several listed).

You will then see several links, one of which will be "Recordings". That's where the recordings (if any) for that meeting will be listed. Click that.

Now you can click on a recording (that name you gave when you started the recording). That will show you the URL for the recording ("URL for viewing"). You can click the link right there to have it open and start playing the recording. You'll want to make sure it sounds and looks good. If not, just take notes to do things better next time. You can't edit the recordings in any way. An Update: note that you can now edit your recordings, such as to remove deadspace at the beginning or in the middle, or if a speaker loses connectivity for a time, etc. You do such edits from a button on the same manager pages being discussed here.

Tip: Here's another reason to view the recording while you're at this point. If the recording prompts for a username/password, you can alter it to not require that. Indeed, you can also make a slight modification to be able to track how many times the recording is viewed. I cover both in another blog entry, "Webcast: How to track views of your Breeze/Acrobat Connect recorded presentations".

Finally, while you're viewing the recording information (whether before or after you move it as discussed in the above-named entry), you will also see an option called "Edit", where you can rename it or add/edit the description. You can change this any time, even after people have started viewing the recording. The URL of the recording won't (and can't) be changed if you edit this information.

Tell the world about your recording

Now that you have the recording URL, you'll certainly want to blog it, and tell the presenter also, as s/he may also blog about it. (Again, be sure to have tested it first to make sure users aren't prompted for a username/password.)

Finally, don't forget to post it on the repository of recorded user group presentations, UGTV. Yep, that's a section of my site, but it's for anyone to post recordings to. Indeed, if you find a recording and don't see it listed, you can add it, whether you're the author or not. (If a recording is listed publicly, I can see no reason the author wouldn't want it listed in the UGTV list.) For more on the UGTV, see the UGTV category at right.

Hope that helps. Let me know if I forgot anything, or if it helps you. Feedback is always welcome.

User Group Managers, Unite

If you run a ColdFusion user group (or indeed, any Adobe user group), you should know that there are a couple of manager meetings taking place.

The first is a 2-hour meeting, online, during the Adobe Community Summit. I can't share details of that one, but I can say that if you're a UGM and therefore are on the Adobe UGM forum, you can find the details there.

The second is a live, day-long event being held at CFUnited. You can learn more about that at http://ugmm.cfunited.com/2007/. There you'll find the schedule, speakers, topics, and registration. At just $29, it's a bargain for a day-long event, and with the range of speakers and topics, it should be great value.

I spoke at the event last year, but sadly can't attend this year because of my day-long class being held the same day. There is a copy of my presentation, where I pointed to dozens of free resources for UGMS, in the Community Portal (again, UGMs are authorized to access that and can find out more in the UGM forum.)

As for that day-long class, if you're not a UGM and will be at the conference on Tuesday--or want to come early--there are still slots open for my class. I know the topic may surprise some, but there are many who will be shocked to learn of the hundreds of little--and big--changes that were introduced in CF 6, 6.1, 7, and their updaters. It'll take a whole day to cover them--and that's at a rapid pace!)

Webcast: How to track views of your Breeze/Acrobat Connect recorded presentations

I'm happy to present my first webcast, a short audio/video presentation showing a screen recording with narration of how to solve a problem. I plan to do many of these in the future.

This first one is a 5 minute video showing how to solve the problem of tracking how many people have viewed a Breeze/Acrobat Connect recorded presentation.

I discussed the solution in a previous entry, but some had asked for more details. Rather than write them out, I used this as a chance to put together the webcast.

I'd like to point out that these webcasts themselves are not made as Breeze/Connect presentations, since I ultimately want to make them downloadable to ipods. I've made this and will make future ones using Camtasia Studio 4 from Techsmith. They've been so kind as to give me a demo license and I look forward to creating many more.

I'll welcome feedback from folks both in what you think of the approach, and its design, as well as any ideas for future webcasts you may like to see. Of course, I especially welcome feedback on the topic itself.

An alternative means of archiving your group's mailing list: Google Groups

Did you know that a Google Group can be created solely to be an online repository/archive for another existing, traditional mailing list? I just learned this today.

In an entry last week (see below), I pointed out how the mail-archive.com site offered a great repository for archiving and providing a search interface for any group's mailing list.

But this Google Group's feature may appeal to some as an alternative. For more, see the Google Group's technote, Can I use Google Groups to archive another mailing list?.

For more on the other alternative I proposed, including a discussion for why either of this is different from proposing that any individual create their own gmail account for reading mailing lists (an entirely different subject/solution), see Need a (safe) searchable archive for your mailing list? Get one for free!.

The mail-archive.com service does have one distinct advantage: it can be setup to hold previous messages sent to the list being archived. Google Groups cannot, for now, so it will only be able to start archiving once you set it up.

Hope this helps someone or some group with a mailing list that lacks its own archive/search/web interface features.

Need a (safe) searchable archive for your mailing list? Get one for free!

Is your group's mailing list run on a traditional list server? If so, do you have an available, searchable archive of past messages? If not, or if it doesn't work well, here's a free solution for your group.

mail-archive.com is a free service for archiving any mailing list. Once your list's archive is created, the service will receive and archive all future messages to the list, and offers a web-based interface for anyone to view the list messages (by date or thread) and of course search existing messages.

And yes, someone can even import past messages to stock the archive (http://www.mail-archive.com/faq.html#import). Cool! Better still, it protects the privacy of the list members by hiding or obfuscating their email addresses. They even make it possible to respond to the sender via the archive using a special server mechanism that avoids delivering the address to a spambot. See the info at http://www.mail-archive.com/faq.html#spam and skip to the 2nd paragraph for more. I note they even detect emails in signatures and remove those, replacing it with "[EMAIL PROTECTED]". Very nice. They even have a mechanism to permit a sender to a list to PREVENT their message being archived (by their including the header X-No-Archive: yes). Finally, I'll point out that other CF mailing lists already use it, including the venerable CF-talk list: http://www.mail-archive.com/index.php?autobahn=nolimit&hunt=fusion so a list organizer or list member can check out the interface before deciding whether to use it. If you're interested in doing this for your list, you may want to contact the person who runs it (though, technically, they don't mandate that you be the list owner to set it up). You may at least want to announce your intent on your list to avoid a bunch of members setting up duplicates. Feel free to point them to this very blog entry to learn more.

And on a related topic, if your group's mailing list is hosted on a "groups" site like google or yahoo groups, then you should already have archiving and searching of the list contents there.

If you have a group and don't yet have a list, you should consider those free "groups" services. It's a great way to bring a community together. I've written elsewhere about that. (Update: tipicalcharlie domain is no more, but page recovered using Archive.org.)

PS I do realize that Gmail could help me here, as an individual, but this is about solving the problem for all members of the list.

PPS I'd like to point out that I did previously write an entry on this same topic on another blog but wanted to reprise and update it here for those who may have missed it.

Are you recording CFUG meetings? Check out this tip to track how many visits you get

If you're a CFUG manager who may be taking advantage of the really nice offer from Adobe for us to use Connect to broadcast and/or record user group meetings, here's a nice tip for being able to track how many people have viewed the recording.

It turns out you can move a "Recorded Meeting" to the "Content Area" of your Connect account, so that Connect will treat the recorded version as "Content". Once you move it, you will now have access to the report section for the "content" (including the count of users who accessed the recorded version).

(Thanks to "Alain" on the Connect forums for sharing that answer when I asked about the challenge.)

Once you move it, you may wonder where to find it in the Connect Admin interface. You generally work in the "meetings" area, but you'll see a link in the top navbar next to that saying "content". That's where the recorded meeting is moved. Any URL for the recording remains the same.

What's more the count reflects all views since you recorded it, not just since you moved it.

One gotcha to watch out for: be sure to check the permissions on the recording, as the move could change the permissions. (Update 11/07: there was a time when I observed that the permissions would change, but recently I observe that I no longer need to do that.) Check "set permissions" while looking at the list of meetings at Content>My Content.

For more on the notion of user group managers using Connect, see the links below.

UGTV: Now offering dozens of video presentations from your favorite presenters

When I announced yesterday the repository of recorded video presentations I labelled UGTV, I may not have made it clear enough that these are recordings from dozens of your favorite presenters. It's not just my own presentations. Indeed, right now I don't have any posted myself. :-) There are now dozens of presentations, so come take a look.

I've also since updated the look and feel, to add searching and paging, in addition to the sorting it already offered.

I also want to reiterate that I welcome (and encourage) folks to add more links to other recorded video presentations. Indeed, I hope that CFUG managers will keep this in mind as the place to post notices when they record a new presentation. The form is very simple, asking only for the title and URL for a new presentation to post.

Visit the repository at UGTV.

UGTV is on the air. Watch CF presentations from your home/office or CFUG.

If you've missed past CF presentations at CFUGs and online meetings, did you know they may have been recorded? Well here's good news: I've now created a repository to hold links to all such recorded presentations, across any and all CFUGs (and I'm open to talks beyond CF). Come see them (and add any new ones) at a site I've named "UGTV". :-) It's available simply as http://carehart.org/ugtv/.

If you missed my note Friday on "Is your CFUG taking advantage of the free access to Breeze for Adobe user groups", I talked about how Adobe UG managers can use a free Beeze (a.k.a Adobe Connect) account for bringing in remote presenters, allowing remote attendees, and creating such recordings.

The UGTV site also points out existing lists of recorded presentations that focus on specific "venues". I hope that this site can be a repository of any and all venues--even personally recorded ones as some may start to create. Think of is as UGTube! (I actually found that the domain name is available, but decided not to use it for fear of tradename infringement.)

The site is a work-in-progress. For now, it's functional, allowing you to both list, sort, and add presentations (yes, anyone can add presentations. Please do!)

I'll evolve the site further, for sure to improve its interface and functionality.

For now, please spread the word both for those who want to watch (from home/office or in a group at a CFUG) and those who might be able to add new presentation.

And let me know what you think, below. I welcome your comments (though again, if commenting on the interface, note the comments on the page where I list plans I already have).

Is your CFUG taking advantage of the free access to Connect for Adobe user groups?

One of the benefits of being an Adobe User Group (CFUGs and others) is that the managers have access to a free Acrobat Connect account that can used to have remote speakers and/or attendees, and to record your presentations (so others local or remote can watch what you've had presented).

Many CFUGs don't seem to be taking advantage of the feature, so I wanted to point it out. Your manager may not know about it, or may have forgotten, or just may not be seeing the benefit. I share this to help you inform and encourage them. (This account is only for use with user group related activities.)

Let me expand on each of the reasons to consider using it.

Gives you access to remote presenters

The most obvious to some is that it permits a group to have a presenter who's not local. Many CFUGs have a hard time getting presenters from within their ranks. Some do get remote presenters to come live, such as if they're in town (which is always nice), but at least a Connect-based presentation is better than having none. It can also inform you of techniques from specialists holding expertise just not available within your group.

Such Connect-based presentations have been very successful. Not always perfect (audio, video, and bandwidth problems can play up), but successful far more often than not judging from those who try it once and then do it again.

Permits you to welcome attendees who might not normally come

Yet another benefit, whether you have a remote presenter or not, is that it can also be used to let others in your group (or even outside your group) see the presentation without being there. Yes, this is a two-edged sword, in that you don't want to cannibalize your local attendance by people saying, "I'll just stay home". We all know that being there is very important, so one wouldn't want to always substitute "watching" for showing up.

Still, there are some who for family reasons, or due to other commitments, can't make some or even all the meetings. This is a nice way to connect them to your group (and promote whatever other services your group may offer).

Naturally, this also opens the door to folks who aren't even local to your group to join in. There are ways you could limit who can participate, but the general thinking among most groups is that you should just let anyone in.

I'll talk about recording and watching recorded presentations in a moment. But this idea of having lots of online attendees brings up a point worth noting.

Sidebar: Challenges of a large number of online attendees

You may wonder, "should I worry at all about how many online attendees join in?" Yes, you might want to be aware of a couple of points. First, the Connect account that is shared is designated to have no more than (I think) 150 total participants at once, across all groups that may share it at once.

Second, when you have lots of online attendees, they tend to engage in chat, which may be a challenge for your presenter to keep up with. I do believe that the person running the Connect meeting can turn off the chat. I'm pretty sure it can be switched on at the end of the meeting (or when desired during the meeting), to open the floor to questions. Such online chat is a two-edged sword, as it can give detract focus from your local attendees. Like any tool, all must use it responsibly.

Recording your presentations, whether a local or remote speaker

Another really nice benefit of using the Connect account (even if you have no remote attendees) is that you can use Connect to record your presentation--even if you have only a local presenter. That's not something that many have yet thought of.

These recordings can then be made available for anyone to watch. They are saved on a server at Adobe (part of the account that's offered). Once recorded, you can share the URL of that recording with others in your group (such as those who missed the meeting, or want to see the presentation again), as well as those outside your group. There's no cost to watch the presentations, nor does is there any limit for the group on how many people can watch the recording. As far as I know, there's also no time-limit for how long the recorded presentations remain available at Adobe.

Speaking of these recorded meetings, I've long been meaning to create a repository for such, and writing this post finally motivated me to do it. It's now available at http://www.carehart.org/ugtv/. I may break it out into its own domain eventually, if it takes off (ugtv.com and .org are already taken). I'll also share the link with Ray to add to his nifty CF portal, where he links to such CF resources.

As far as the issues above about having too large a number of online attendees, or a concern over cannibalizing local attendance, note that you can choose in a meeting to not allow any remote attendees, and only offer the recording. That's your own call.

Showing previously recorded presentations at your meeting

One final benefit of these recorded Connect presentations is that you can use them as alternatives to live speakers. I mean, think about it, if you're viewing a presenter via Connect, it's not much different to just view such a presentation, recorded previously.

I know some may lament, "well if we can just watch the recording, couldn't we do that on our own?" I'll say, sure, you could, but would you? Do you? I know I have a really hard time getting around to watching all the available recordings that already exist. Just like we could also read a book or article or blog entry and perhaps hear all that a given speaker would say on any topic.

Yet still we go to the CFUG, both because we might not otherwise get around to reading up on the subject, and because we may never even think to in the first place. And of course, there's also the networking and camaraderie that comes from actually being at the meeting.

Those who know me know that I'm a huge fan of CFUGs, both learning from them and contributing to them. I've spoken to several dozen of them, many several times, over the past 7 years. I was also manager of the Atlanta CFUG in 2006-7 (and previously managed the Southern Maryland CFUG in 2002-2003). I offer this as one more way for the community to share and strengthen itself. I hope it proves helpful to many.

PS: The Virtual Online CFUGs

While we're on the subject of Connect-based presentations, note as well that there is a long-standing "virtual" meeting, called the ColdFusion Meetup, now run by myself and Ra Camden. It meets about monthly, and he often posts recordings of past presentations on the site. Ray had also previously started a new "Jedi Virtual User Group", with one meeting described here (if he has a link to all of them I'll change to that).

Getting access to the free Connect (aka, Breeze) account

If you're a user group manager, or want to encourage your manager to take advantage of these benefits of having remote speakers, attendees, or recorded meetings, the user group manager should contact the adobe user group program coordinators. All user group managers should know how to reach those folks. I'm just reminding you to do it. :-)

In the meantime, come take a look at my UGTV listing of previously recorded user group presentations, and add any that I'm missing.

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