I started the week exhausted and ill, but knowing I had an even more exhausting few days coming up. I was slightly dreading going to Malaga, because conferences always mean getting very little sleep, and if I hadn’t already booked the flights and a hotel with a strict cancellation policy, I probably would have backed out.
I’m so happy I didn’t.
Monday kicked off with a guest lecture at Ravensbourne University, discussing the pleasures and pitfalls of blogging, and how to use social media to get more clients, without being one of those people who use terms like “personal brand” and “social media butterfly”. *pukes*
Then on Tuesday I flew to Malaga for SADFE. It was a conference I hadn’t heard of before and I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, one of my forensic friends persuaded me into it and I’m very glad he did.
The quality of discussion was excellent, with people getting involved and asking questions. The conference was smaller than I expected, but this actually worked well as it felt like a more intimate forum and people were perhaps a little more likely to air their views.
But I’ll go into more depth about that part when I write my official round-up. Here I’ll talk about the social programme, which was brilliant.
It really does make sense when you’re running a conference in any industry to ensure that people can actually enjoy themselves while they’re there. Yes, it means forking out a little extra cash, but the value you’ll get back in return is totally worth it.
For example, I have spent the past two years telling all my fellow forensicators to go to DFRWS, and now that I’ve sampled SADFE, I’ll be doing the same for them.
This week involved touring around Malaga, dinner in nice restaurants, drunken walks through the city streets at 2am, holding whisky in paper cups and trying to find a follow-up bar, getting completely lost and deciding to chalk it up to the “exploration experience”, taking a tour through a botanical garden, and looking down over Malaga from a viewpoint on a mountainside.
Long after I’ve forgotten which specific talks happened at which conference, I will remember my first visit to a wonderful city in Spain and the people who made it happen.
So, if you’re planning a conference, plan a fun one. 😉
On Saturday I was very disciplined and stayed in my hotel room until 5pm working on a RAID recovery article and a series of other things.
Then I left to go exploring.
I’d half-planned to follow some advice in a tweet from Devour Malaga:
However by the time I’d stopped working the market was closed, and I needed to make sure I was near internet cafes because I was still half-working whilst simultaneously wandering around the city.
I ended up at a bar opposite the cathedral, eating tapas and drinking the best piña colada I’ve ever had.
When the sun had set I decided it was time to head back to the hotel. I dropped in to the Guardia Civil’s Counter Terror exhibition on the way home (because I’m never really off duty even when I am).
I continued wandering through the streets because I didn’t really want to go home, but I had no specific plans.
Then I saw a sign: flamenco y centro de arte gitano.
I’m always a bit wary of things like this, because it’s usually non-Romany people deciding to piss about with our culture whilst still being racist in their spare time.
But I followed the sign, because you never know. And then I saw that the name of the place was kelipe, which was a good sign because that’s a Romany word.
So I went inside.
It’s a really brilliant flamenco show and I completely recommend it (and not just because the artists are Romani, although that does help…). You can find out more and book tickets on their website. And here’s a sneak preview:
After the show I went up to the guy who’d sold me my ticket, said thank you in Romani, and asked if he spoke our language.
Suddenly the artists surrounded me: “una hija gitana! una hija gitana!” We got by in a mixture of Spanish, English and our various dialects of Romani and managed to express our joy at seeing each other and invitations to do so again.
When I got back to my hotel I collapsed into bed tired and happy.
On Sunday I flew to Barcelona and am currently hanging out with a friend here for a couple of days. Then back to England for one more week of crazy schedules, and then finally I’ll be back into a routine.
Unless I get persuaded to go anywhere else this year… 😉
In summary, my week contained: working too hard, digital forensics, wine, forgetting to eat, getting completely lost, speaking multiple languages, wandering around religious buildings, the Spanish police counter terrorism unit, and an evening of Romani shows.
Possibly the most stereotypically Scar week ever.
So, how was yours?