Sold On You

Posted on 27th November 2011

Two weekends ago, The Paul Menel Band played their first gig with their new line-up. Debbie Saunders joins the band on sax, and adds that soulful sound back into the mix.

The venue, The Marr's Bar in Worcester was a great little club, and I hope I get to see more gigs there. It's only downside was the fact that it is typically an 18s and over type venue, due to licensing, and as a consequence there is a large young audience in the town that aren't able to get in to see gigs. This is a shame as I think we should be encouraging a younger audience to live gigs, as so many venues have closed due to lack of attendance. Hopefully The Marr's Bar doesn't suffer the same fate.

The gig itself was brilliant as always. Due to a late cancellation of the support act, Paul's son Luke Menel stepped in and provided us with a stunning performance of various acoustic indie tracks. Considering his age, Luke is truly a star in the making, and it will be great to see his musical career progress.

Being a small venue, the band's energy was bursting at the seems, and you could tell everyone was enjoying themselves. Several times during the set, Steve Harris looked lost in his only little world with licks flying along the fret board. Steve Swift, Bill Devey and Ian Diment all deftly locked the band into the groove and allowed Debbie, Dr Steve and Paul to soar, as they did often.

During Under Your Wing, Paul brought Luke back on stage to add backing vocals as he does on the forthcoming album, Three Sides to Every Story. The song itself is a very personal song for both Paul and Luke, so it was great to see them both taking centre stage. Tonight was a great showcase for the band, and hopefully some videos from tonight will eventually surface on YouTube as we had several different camera angles on the go.

In the meantime, collating my photos of the night we have the soundcheck, Luke's performance as well as the headliners.

Date: 12th November 2011
Venue: The Marr's Bar, Worcester

File Under: gigs / menel / photography

How Soon Is Now?

Posted on 27th November 2011

The YAPC Conference Surveys site has now been updated with the results of the Pittsburgh Perl Workshop and the German Perl Workshop.

The site has also been update to provide a tabbed display of the different types of event, to make it a little easier to find results. Over the next month or so I am looking to get more of the past data online, as well as the feedback that I normally send to just the organisers. I have lots of data waiting in the wings, and its only been my lack of free time that has prevented me from finishing off the sanity checks.

There are also plans for the future surveys, and as previously mentioned, the German Perl Workshop has given me the push to work with other languages. There is still some work to be done, but the first non-english language survey did seem to go very well. Perhaps understandably there are translations that I missed, so my next step is monitor (particularly for the results pages) London Perl Workshop what was missing, and provide Max (if he doesn't mind of course ;)) with the additional text for translation. I will then use this as a basis for all future workshops, which I will then provide via a git repo for anyone wishing to use the surveys in other languages. Note that for the short term the survey results will be presented in the same language the survey was presented, although in the longer term I would like to be able to allow switching the text (at least the questions) to english or other available languages.

The London Perl Workshop is still running, and has another 2 weeks to run. If you attended the LPW this year, and haven't completed the main survey or the talk evaluations, please take the time, as it really does help the organisers and speakers to make the events better and better.

If you're interested in running a survey for your event next year, please get in touch ( and let me know in plenty of time, particularly if you'd like to run the survey in a non-english language.

File Under: community / conference / survey / workshop

Die Mensch-Maschine

Posted on 10th November 2011

German Perl Workshop 2011 - Speaker Evaluations

I have now sent out all the talk evaluations from this year's German Perl Workshop or more correctly Der 13. Deutsche Perl-Workshop. If you were a speaker and haven't received an email, please check your spam folders first, and let me know (barbie at cpan . org) if you don't find it. The mail will have come from barbie at birmingham . pm . org.

My thanks to all the organisers of GPW2011 and everyone who took the time to respond to the evaluations. From previous experience the speakers have very much appreciated your feedback. I would also like to extend extra special thanks to Max Maischein aka "Corion", who took the time to translate all the questions, templates and emails into German for me.

The results of the main survey will be published soon on the YAPC Conference Surveys site.

This is the first survey that I have undertaken in a non-English language, and for the most part it has been very successful. While there have been some slight problems due to byte vs character lengths (I'll save my 'why-oh-why did we ever start with ASCII and not UTF-8' rant for another day), the work Max has done to provide all the translations has started me on a path to be able to accommodate other languages.

At the moment the plan is to create a GitHub repository of all the necessary files, with language branches containing the appropriate translations. Then should anyone wish to request a survey instance in the future in a non-English language, their first step will then be to provide the necessary translations for me. It currently takes roughly a day to set-up an instance, so drop-in replacements for these files will ease the set-up process. It will also mean that as time goes on and questions get added, refined or deleted, we can replicate these changes across all languages.

I'd like to see the survey site get more use in the future, and although I'm happy to run the survey sites, with the support of Birmingham Perl Mongers, the longer term goal has always been to allow others to create their own instances. With the official release of Labyrinth this year, much of the tool set is now Open Source. I still need to release the Survey Plugin for Labyrinth and the additional command-line tools used, but getting the language translations moving will be a big step forward. Hopefully I'll have more news in the new year.

File Under: conference / labyrinth / opensource / survey / workshop / yapc

If You Think About It

Posted on 6th November 2011

It's been a while since I posted some gig photos, and last week Nicole and I attended a rather fun gig. Our friends the Superficials were playing The Actress & Bishop in Birmingham, and as usual I took a long my trusty camera.

Alas I didn't realise that the batteries need charging so only managed to capture half the gig. Still for me that was still 600 photos! Thankfully I did manage to get some decent photos among those 600, and you can see a selection of them at the link below.

Being the weekend closest to Halloween, unsurprisingly the venue was full of the traditional vampires, ghouls and zombies ... including the staff :) However, the most surprising was a guest appearance by Andy Pandy! I can only assume the costume hire shop had run out of scary monsters.

Superficials were great as always, and deserved the top of the bill. They far and away showed off their quality of musicianship and song performance to be the better band of the night. Featuring many songs from their debut album as well as many as yet unrecorded songs, the band played a fine set. To honour Sir Jimmy Saville, the band dedicated Pushing Daisies to the great man who sadly died earlier in the day. With them playing so many great songs that weren't on the debut album, Surface, though, I am really looking forward to hearing their second album. A great band and a great night.

And should you now wish you'd been there too, another reason for posting the set now is also to highlight and promote a very special gig the band are doing this weekend at The Rubery Social Club, New Road, Rubery on Saturday 12th November.

It's a charity event and all the proceeds go to an extremely worthy cause. If you're in or around Rubery or Birmingham on Saturday and are looking for something to do, your support and attendance would be very much appreciated.

Superficials along with Black Bears and The High Commisioners will be playing the night away, to pay tribute to a young boy called Owen Evans, who sadly died last year from a very rare disease called Aplastic Anaemia. The gig aims to raise awareness for Aplastic Anaemia as well promoting 'A Trek For Owen'.

The whole of Owen's school, Beaconside Primary & Nursery School, have been raising funds by way of charity runs and other events and now Saturday's big event Live Band Night. There will be a raffle during the night too with some special prizes. Tickets are £5 for Adults and £2.50 for Children (Under 12′s).

On 12th May 2012 Owen's mum Sue, his headteacher Paul and family friend Lexi will be walking along The Great Wall of China to help raise £10,000 for Team Owen.

If you can't make the event on Saturday, you can still help Team Owen reach their £10,000 goal by supporting them at JustGiving or buying the special A Trek For Owen wristbands. It really is a worthy cause.

File Under: charity / gigs / music / superficials

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