PHP Appalachia Wrap-Up

I stopped writing conference wrap-ups a while ago, mostly because conferences are pretty much all the same. You go, listen to some smart people talk about PHP, eat-drink-be-merry with friends and fellow PHP geeks, then you go home.

However, imagine sticking roughly 25 geeks together in a house in the mountains for 4 days and see what comes of it. Cooking together, hacking together, talking PHP together, playing some video games together and of course drinking together. I think everyone would agree that it's worth the $15 plus travel and the cost of the cabin.

We came from 9 different states and 2 different countries (yay Paul!) and we all had different backgrounds and working environments. We all had differing opinions on quite a lot of things from politics to IDE usage to just about everything else. There were some great discussions, some great meals, and some *awesome* impromptu presentations. The PHP Trivia was a hoot also, although I realized much to my chagrin the answers I knew revolved around spelling people's names or drunken escapades by PHPers at past conferences. Oh well. Despite crappy Internet connectivity, a toxic hot tub, a visit to the emergency room (poor Cal) and a visit from the Pigeon Forge Fire Department, the whole conference went off without a hitch.

What I found most interesting is the group bonding that occurred (note, I said bondING). Everybody pitched in to cook, and clean, and present, and discuss, and participate. I feel like we all met some new friends and had a lot of fun with the old ones. But it wasn't just about having fun, it was about the exchange of information which so readily happens when you're stuck with people for 4 days straight.

Don't get me wrong, large, more formal conferences obviously have their place, and I really look forward to those too, but for a different reason. The nature of a large conference definitely allows for broader networking, more presentations, and sometimes a bit of formality is a good thing. A small uncon like this basically takes all the great things about a conference and compiles it into one nice neat little package. Kind of like the top of the muffin. Tastes awesome, but might not entirely fill you up like a whole muffin would.

So, anyway after all is said and done, I think I can consider this a success and something I'll definitely be up for helping to plan again. A very special thanks to:

  • Whitney Turland for cooking authentic Louisiana gumbo for the entire crew (and even a special veggie batch just for yours truly!)
  • Sara Golemon and Maggie Nelson for cooking breakfast for the crew
  • Keith Casey for completely planning the uncon schedule
  • Paul Reinheimer for keeping us entertained the entire time
  • Cal Evans for enduring 13 stitches despite being one of the few sober ones at the time
  • all those that took the time to present (they were great, guys.. seriously)
  • Joe LeBlanc for disarming the fire alarm multiple times
  • and of course our sponsors, who really did help us make the event a success (php|architect, NuSphere, Cool Blue Interactive, and ServerGrove Networks. Many, many thanks to you.)

We've also begun talking about next year's PHP Appalachia, so if you think it sounds like fun, be sure to keep your eyes and ears open. :)

PHP Appalachia Update

PHP Appalachia is now only 3 weeks away! We have 30 people currently signed up, but there is still room for more. There may be room in the Main Cabin (room sharing availability is on our wiki) or else there are plenty of campsites and hotels in the general area.

Remember this is an unconference, which is being scheduled by the fabulous Keith Casey (who did an outstanding job as ZendCon's recent unconference Chair) and you can see the tentative schedule also available at our wiki. As you can see there will be plenty of time to do other things, such as visit Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, and the surrounding areas.

We've also started a list of attendees at the wiki, and although not everyone is listed, I'm sure you'll see some familiar names on there.

So come drink, be merry, and maybe kick around some PHP with us in the mountains!

PHPAppalachia Wiki

Hey, we now have a wiki for PHP Appalachia, so if you're attending be sure to list your name on there. I could do it myself but what do I know; you may want to keep that your little secret. Plus, I'm lazy.

We're also listing great places to eat, so if you know of any in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, feel free to add it to the list.

Also, if you want to add fun places to go, that would be killer too.

We still have spots open for anyone that is interested in attending. Plus, we know it will be way better than PHP Vikinger... (just kidding, Derick :) ).

Camping at PHP Appalachia

People have been asking me about the camping arrangements for PHP Appalachia, so here's the deal, if you're interested.

In order for us to formally reserve camp sites or cabins, we would have to provide upfront the full deposit on the cabins and one night's fee for the tent sites. Not only do we not have the cash to front that, quite honestly I'm not sure how many of our attendees will want to camp versus making other arrangements (how many people can think that far ahead? :) )... thus making it difficult to reserve anything formally at this time.

However, what we've worked out with the Pigeon Forge KOA is that you can call and make your own reservations for whatever you want (camp site versus tent site) and mention that you're with the PHP Appalachia group. They'll do their best to keep us all together as a group.

Although they're completely open right now, the sooner you make arrangements, the better chances you have of getting a reservation and being put with the rest of the group.

To make your reservation, you can call the Pigeon Forge KOA at (800) 562-7703. Incidentally, at the moment, if you try and reserve online it erroneously says that they're all booked up, so you'll have to call.

Rooms Sold Out, Registration Still Open

After a bit of a PHP Appalachia feeding frenzy earlier, all rooms have now been accounted for. However, if you still want to attend, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Sign up with the $15 registration fee and request to be put on the waiting list for any rooms that might open up. If you are unable to attend, you will of course get your money back.
  2. Sign up with the $15 registration fee and reserve a spot at the nearby KOA ( to stay in a tent or a cabin. They are currently closed for the season but will reopen next week. We will be confirming large group availability then, but you are able to reserve individual cabins now.
  3. Sign up with the $15 registration fee and make other arrangements for accommodations at a nearby hotel of your choosing.

Keep in mind that we will be limiting the number of attendees at the conference to 50. We still have spots open, but unfortunately I don’t know how long they will last. Of course if you register and then need to cancel, you will get your $15 back… so you should register now and at least reserve your spot.

[cross-posted on]

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