Nov 16

Igniting Talks: a Learning Experience

I’ve been a bit quiet of late; been busy, to say the least. Work has been crazy (and will be for the foreseeable future), but among other things, I have been working on an Ignite style talk for DevOps Days Ohio. Why so busy? Well…. in part because it’s a more difficult type of speech than “normal” — while there are but 20 slides, they advance automatically after 15 seconds.
More, though, due to the brilliant idea I had for a theme…. which goes something like this:

  1. Talk is on the Three ‘R’s of DevOps
  2. Three ‘R’s — like School’s three ‘R’s
  3. School….
  4. Chalkboard
  5. Let’s do slides as though they were chalkboard drawings.

Yes… hand lettered, hand drawn, on black paper. Mind you, I’d not done much hand lettering in a while. And black paper is a new experience. In some ways it’s less forgiving than white, I think. But I forged ahead, nevertheless…

First I came up with rough ideas/topics for slides — just a couple of words to illustrate ideas.

Before I started drawing anything, I spent some time practicing lettering and sketching out designs. All in all I filled half of a sketchbook. Some of the designs took hours of sketching and practice before I had something which would work.

From there I penciled my designs on 9×12 black paper — using a white Sakura Gelly pen for inking. After the ink died, erasing with a black eraser and coloring with pencil and markers. The 9×12 was a nice format, but in the long run it caused me grief…

The 9×12 scanner wasn’t working. Trying to photograph the sheets left me with trapezoids — despite using 4 different cameras, multiple mounts, numerous programs, and lighting. Software only went so far to correct the trapezoids. The gimp was pretty powerful, albeit very tedious to try to correct the trapezoids. Phone apps were a bit easier, but still left artifacts on the margins.

Out with the paper cutter and hope I could trim down to letter sized drawings. Many had sufficient margins that I could trim. Others, well, I had to crop out some details at the edges. Finally I had 5 which I had to redraw. Doing them over went quicker than the originals, though I did modify some details in the process — simplifying in places. Scanning next, with post-process rotation, brightness/contrast adjustment, and scaling in gimp.

Finalize the script. And practice. Edit. Practice some more. My talk is scheduled for Thursday…. I expect I’ll have practiced the talk forty or more times before then — timing is everything!

Next time I do an Ignite format talk, I think I’ll start with recording me brain dumping. From there, come up with slides and execute. They might be totally digital; they might be hand lettered. I’ll do white on black again some day, but I’m a little burned out on it now. I wish I’d kept track of the total hours spent on the project — it’s probably safe to say that all told each slide took somewhere between two and three hours to complete, although they did go faster with practice.

The next scheduled talk is at Code Mash on algorithms — it’s a longer format, with examples to code. That one should be fun as well, though for different reasons.

Looking back, it was perhaps a bit ambitious, but I learned a lot and had fun stretching some muscles which tend not to get much use.

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