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The Sad State of Too Many Perl Videos
2014-09-17 22:46:31 -0400

I've been a good boy lately and have settled into a good exercise regimen. The combination of an exercise bike, and Apple TV, and a 46" inch television screen in the same room helps. I can watch half a tech talk while I pedal away.

It's also once again driven home how tough it is to find a good Perl talk that you'd want to watch. I hate to say it, but too many of them are embarrassing -- shoddy audio quality, bad video quality, a weird pattern of cutting to the slide and back to the speaker far too often. Look, I get it, Confreaks can't be everywhere. (Just for kicks, a search for "Perl" on Confreaks returns one video - a Katrina Owen Rails refactoring exercise that has the dumb luck to have the word "Properly" in its title.)

A favorite recent Perl presentation featured the camera locked in on the projector screen because it was a live coding exercise. That works out well. I'd rather see the screen than the speaker, anyway. Problem is, anytime the speaker cleared the screen, the camera would lose focus. With no areas of differentiation to find near the middle of the screen, everything would go blurry and you could picture the auto-focus searching for contrast to hone in on. It was only when he got to the middle of the screen that things would snap back into focus. Here's a sample.

I tried to watch another presentation that would have random jump cuts. We'd just lose 30 seconds or a minute of the presentation every so often. Here's an example. Were they recording on a DSLR and needed to stop the recording every five minutes due to file size/manufacturer limitations?

Here's a DBIx::Class presentation that begins with nearly two minutes of dead air. That's thirty seconds of editing time someone missed.

I'm pretty sure the audio and video aren't lined up in this YAPC DBIx::Class presentation. Since the speaker's square is so small in the corner it's not a big deal, but it is annoying. Also, the presentation is horribly laid out. The speaker has slides and seems to wing it from there. He tries to come up with examples off the top of his head but can't. He skips over plenty of bullet points. Maybe that's because the slide deck is meant for a longer presentation and he had to squeeze this in? I don't know.

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Perhaps the most awkward videos to watch were the ones at YAPC NA 2014 (here's one sample and a much smaller second example) at a venue where a large mirror hung on the wall behind the speaker, reflecting a sea of bored looking faces in the audience. Makes you realize how tough a job any presenter has to do.

I didn't have to search that hard for these issues. They're pretty easy to find -- just watch just about any of these videos. It's frustrating in many of these examples, in particular, because they're ones I'd have liked to watch without all the distractions or problems that made them completely unwatchable.

So, yes, I'm just whining tonight. Now excuse me while I go hit the bike and learn nothing from all of the above examples and try another one... Sawyer X is usually a good presenter. There's a talk he gave on Asynchronous Programming I'm going to try tonight if the piss-poor audio quality doesn't drive me completely batty.

Update: As it turns out, the audio wasn't the issues on that Async talk. It was the video:

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That screen is impossible to read code on. Thankfully, the slides are available on the web, but reading them on an iPhone is not a big improvement. ::sigh::

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