Meetup Groups Update, Labour Day 2022

Meetup Groups Update, Labour Day 2022

by Bob Bloom

category: "meet-ups"

Hello fellow local PHP devs ☺

This is Bob Bloom, lead organizer of GTA PHP, York Region PHP, and Laravel Toronto. 

Things have been cooking over the summer. I want to update you on what is happening.

I am late with this update, as we had a medical emergency in the family, and I caught my annual "fall is coming" cold. As well, this update has turned into a bit of a planning exercise for me -- ergo, a lot of re-writes ☺

New Laravel Toronto Sponsor:

Although not 100% official, it looks like we do have a new sponsor for Laravel Toronto. 

This is fantastic ☺ We lost our two Laravel Toronto corporate sponsors, and lead organizer, during the lockdowns. One of which was a Laravel Toronto founder and sponsor. So at the moment Laravel Toronto is without a corporate sponsor. 

A first meet-up at this likely corporate host is proposed for Thursday, October 13, 2022. 

I will let you know when all is confirmed. 

Proposed Meet-up Schedule for the 2022 - '23 Season:

I will continue doing consolidated meet-ups, with each meet-up for all groups. However, it would be good to start doing meet-ups here-and-there just for each individual group. 

This is what I have in mind for the upcoming season. **Nothing is confirmed**

  • September 2022: no meet-up
  • Thursday, October 13, 2022: First Laravel Toronto meet-up at our new sponsor --> for all groups
  • Saturday, November 05, 2022: first annual PHP Day Toronto, as a "Big Meet-up"
  • Thursday, December 08, 2022: meet-up at 7shifts
  • Thursday, January 12, 2023: meet-up in York Region
  • Thursday, February 09, 2023: "PHP Day Toronto Online 2023"
  • Thursday, March 09, 2023: meet-up in York Region
  • Thursday, April 13, 2023: meet-up at 7shifts
  • Thursday, May 11, 2023: meet-up at new sponsor
  • Thursday, June 15, 2023: meet-up in York Region

Beyond Meetup dot com:

There is only one reason to remain on as a way for local PHP devs to discover our groups. For this reason, and this reason alone, it is worth staying on and paying their, IMO, inflated subscription price.

Again, THANK YOU to 7shifts for picking up the monthly tab, which comes out to almost $40 Cdn per month.

Remember when WeWork bought Remember when WeWork needed cash and over-milked their cash cow? Oh, I remember ☺ In the face of an intense backlash WeWork abandoned their over-milking ways. 

That's when I started contemplating getting off of

It's been very convenient to leave things as-is, and rely completely on for everything. However, with our groups having "bottomed out" and now on the up-swing, now is a great opportunity to start branching out. 

I want to start with email, and with a website for each groups.

Email List:

I want to get away from using as the prime way of sending emails to our members. 

I want to be able to:
  • • set up a series of welcome emails when a dev first joins a group
  • • send an email to everyone regardless of group membership
  • • send an email to everyone belonging to a particular group
  • • accommodate those who want to receive emails but not belong to a group

As tempting as it is to build my own email app -- it would be fun ☺ -- it is much wiser to sign up to an email site. 

I asked a new service coming on stream shortly, about offering a discount to their service for our groups. I was warmly received. This service looks very promising. Hopefully, things are on schedule there, and I will have an update for you at the end of this month. 

Group Websites:

Most PHP UG's do not have their own website. Doing your own group site is a PITA. As with my own experience with websites done by volunteers over the years (and years), such a site is usually done by one person. When that person retires from the site, the site is not maintained. 

Even so, I think it is long past time that each of our groups have its own website. It is good marketing. I am already doing write-ups and blog posts. And, there is always the hope that there will be someone to help out. 

These are live domains:

I am thinking of using a template from TailwindUI

What do you counsel we use for doing websites?

PHP Day Toronto 2022:

I attended several True North PHP Conferences, and really enjoyed them. Three volunteer PHP devs organized them, holding one each year for a series of years, at Microsoft's Canadian headquarters in Mississauga. The amount of effort to organize and run them was insane.

It's been a while now since those TNPHP conferences. If memory serves, it's been six odd years now.

(Me at a True North PHP Conference)

Having been properly intimidated about the effort to get a conference off the ground, I've assiduously avoided leading the effort all these years. However, I think it's time we did a conference, and some crazy dev has to get the ball rolling.

I cannot use the name "True North", which is a great name. So I am taking a page from other conferences and calling it "PHP Day Toronto". My hope is that we can build this into an annual, multiple day, event.

The plan for this year is not to have a conference, but just a "Big Meet-up". Our groups need a nice little weekend event, relaxed and informal, to connect & re-connect, and get in some good presentations. Next year, I am thinking of a one-day conference.

I enquired at venues in south York Region. Two venues replied, quoting a range from $3,000 to $9,000. For 75 devs, 9:00am-4:00pm, audio visual, coffee, lunch. And parking not always included.

I joked with my wife that we could take over a dim sum restaurant for $3,000, and she insisted on going. If she had to sit through some boring techie presentation, so be it.

I can see how a multiple day conference budget tops $50,000.

For what this thing is supposed to be, it makes no sense to be spending this kind of money.

I enquired about co-working space but received no replies. I may visit a few ones nearby to see if there is potential, and perhaps as venues for regular meet-ups.
I bought the domain and did up a quick site. I am thinking of TailwindUI's Keynote template for the 'real' website. 

We are very fortunate that with little more than an idea of having PHP Day Toronto 2022, 7shifts said they are game for some sponsorship. Thank you ☺

"PHP Day Toronto Online 2023"

In April 2020, I organized a virtual meet-up with a bunch of other local PHP groups. I thought that perhaps this would become an annual thing that we do in February, because we always seem to be cancelling meet-ups in February due to the weather. 

  • • I want to do a "PHP Day Toronto Online 2023" in February 2023:
  • • half day of presentations
  • • theme = "Back to PHP"
  • • presentations: "new features in PHP 8.1 and 8.2", "building your PHP", "'C-ing' PHP up close", "Laying the Foundation". 

In Closing...

Our groups are on the up-swing, after a tough spell over the last few years. 

Now is a fabulous opportunity to get emails, websites, and conferences going. 

The emphasis this year is on connecting, and re-connecting, with each other.

-Bob Bloom

Update: In-House Email List System Not Out Of The Question

I sat down yesterday and typed out a list of email features that I want to build to help me with my interviews podcast. 

For the first time ever, I have in mind to build features specifically with serverless deployment in mind. 

There are two reasons for this: 
  • • to not "trap" email processes within one app, but to make email processes available to any app I build
  • • as a way to develop discrete processes in their own environment, without being overwhelmed with what I will generally term "server overhead"

Never mind that I know shit about how to do full cycle PHP serverless development. With my PHP Serverless Project *finally* about to get rolling, this will change. These features will aid in the learning. I know enough to understand the potential value.

If I am doing all this stuff already, then perhaps it is just a small matter of doing emails for the group. Who am I fooling, "small matter" translates directly into "scope creep".

Nonetheless, I am building email features. The cost of contemplating more features, before writing one line of code, is very low. So contemplate I shall ☺

By the way, I am thinking of using Twilio for the actual emails, and using both AWS and DigitalOcean for serverless deployments.