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2023 Edition

An anecdote from the North and a lot of context

by 🐘 Fabian Blechschmidt
🐘 Fabian Blechschmidt

Fabian is a full-blooded developer and very active in the Shopware 6 community. Among other things, he is involved in the Mage One project, which continues to offer security and compatibility updates for Magento 1 after the end of official support. Fabian is also co-organizer of many Magento and Shopware-related events: Mage Unconferences, Shopware Community Unconference and FireGento Hackathons. So he brings a lot of expertise and experience around eCommerce, but also other store systems.

Once upon a time, when we did Magento 1 and PWA and headless was unknown I had the pleasure to give a talk at Meet Magento Sweden. We are talking about 2016 - yes, we are old :-D

A little backstory to understand my state of mind.

Organize the second MageUnconference

Back then I lived in Würzburg. It is a lovely city in northern Bavaria. But the unconf took place in Berlin. We already tried to get spaces in the FU Berlin, but we failed because of the bureaucracy. So we tried a year later and succeeded. Three weeks before the unconf I travelled to Berlin to take care of the last things. I talked to the bar about the pre-party and had a nice chat with the janitors and office manager at the university. Made sure we had wifi access and ordered the food and drinks for lunch.

About ten days before the conference a friend from Zurich called me. The needed help on a project and I told him: Sure, in ten days is my unconf, the week after I promised my girlfriend (now wife!) to take some vacation with her, but after the week I can cancel my plans (time with the in-laws - although I like them <3) and help him with the project. He replied that they needed immediate help and if I hurry, I can take the last plane. I argued that late projects will not be faster, if we throw more (wo)manpower on it and that I want more money for the stress, but the dev and his customer insisted.

So I flew the next morning to Zurich and was never again paid so well for a couple of days of work.

I advanced quickly into the project and was able to help, although I flew six days later back.

The unconf

I arrived back on Tuesday or Wednesday before the unconf. The team arrived on Tuesday. We prepared a lot of stuff and spent the evening in the pub. On Friday we had our preparty and because it was our second conference, we (as in I) were bad at estimating the number of people and the revenue we do. We had a minimum purchase amount and it was short to midnight and there was a lot of money not spent yet. We started to drink whiskey and other expensive liquor, because better to spend it, than gifting it to the bartender. It was nearly 3am when I came into my bed.

Saturday started for me at 7:30 by opening the location - thankfully we are a lot better organised today and know what "shifts" are! The day went well and the people were happy. In the evening we had our after-show party and I spent the night with our great attendees until 2am or something.

Sunday started at 7:30 by opening the location. I was done with the world. I lack a ton of sleep, but the party must go on. We had a great second day if you want some impressions, the gallery is still online.. Sunday evening was team time. We made a short review, and celebrated ourselves - because we thought (and think!) the attendees were quite happy.

Meet Magento Sweden

Monday morning. I "didn't sleep" since Thursday and someone had the great idea to submit a talk to Meet Magento Sweden - which was the Monday right after MageUnconf. The plane started at 8:20, so we were at 7:00 at the airport. We were back then Sonja Riesterer (now Sonja Franz), Guido Jansen and me. Sonja is super prepared, so thankfully I only needed to link arms with her and she took care to bring me to the conference location.

The talk

We arrived at 11:00 or something at the conference location. I still was tired as fuck, but the show must go on.

The location was awesome. It was like an IMAX cinema. No chairs but big steps you could sit on. I think about 100 or 150 people, but it was dark, maybe less. I stand in front of the canvas and gave a talk with the lovely title "Fucking up projects - a manual". I gave this talk over a dozen times. I know how it works, where people laugh and that people like it. I gave it in Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and Italy. Even with my sleep deprivation, I knew what I was doing. As people in Germany say, "I could do it while sleeping" - no problem.

(Check out "Fucking up projects - a manual")

I started my talk, introduced myself, explained that the talk is full of irony and sarcasm and a few people laughed already... a few on the left and a few on the right. On the left, the Germans were sitting, and on the right the Romanians, but there was a lot of silence in the room. That is weird and unusual, but ok, maybe they needed to warm up with the topic.

I continued, but still, only a few laughs left and right. The second joke, the third, but nothing changed. Something is wrong here. I stepped beside the speaker's desk to exit my role as a speaker and told the audience that this was weird and whether I did something wrong? I don't want to offend anyone, but if it happened - I'm sorry. Please tell me to avoid it in the future, it is my first time in Sweden or Scandinavia.

I didn't expect an answer and was not disappointed. The room was silent. Ok, whatever. What else can I do other than continue the talk? So I continued.

The jokes got little laughs, and I slowly diminished on the stage and felt very uncomfortable.

I even have some bonus slides... and as a professional (kind of) I gave my complete performance!

Finally... the talk is over. I'm so happy. I have no clue what went wrong, but this was very odd.

Then the session chair came to me. It was a nice guy who welcomed me. I liked him - he took care of the mic etc. He came to me laughing loudly and resoundingly. "The talk was awesome! Great! Thank you!" - I was totally puzzled. "But... but why was no one laughing?" "Oh, Swedish people are like this. We don't laugh, because we don't want to disturb our neighbor."

"What the...!? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME BEFORE!?" - and I started laughing as well. The situation is so absurd if you don't know beforehand.

I'm telling this story regularly and people tell me that a lot of Nordic folk are like this, so be careful. They have great humour, but for some of them, it is hard to show it :-)

🐘 Fabian Blechschmidt

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