Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Past Blogs

Who Can Speak at Your Conference?


If you're organizing a conference, one of the most important tasks is selecting speakers who will give unique and interesting talks to your attendees. But you've also got your budget to worry about...

Whether or not you can pay for your speakers' conference ticket and travel costs is one of the biggest factors in determining who can speak at your conference. There are few types of people who are generally more able to speak at conferences than others. To illustrate this, let us take a look at Earth 517, where StickerConf (the nation's most prestigious annual conference for sticker designers and developers) has just opened their speaker application process. These are some of the people who are thinking of applying:

A man with sideburns and an outdated flip-phone wearing worn jeans, and a hat and hoodie from last year's StickerConf


Logan is the best there is at making stickers, bub. His sticker consultancy has been in business for decades and he is a common fixture at conferences. He is a popular speaker, but his well-worn talks always seem to cover the same material.

Just like last year, Logan will apply to speak at StickerConf, and will pay travel and ticket costs with his company's finances.

A father in pajamas with his active 3 year old daughter and infant son


Scott is a committed single father. As a widower, he is the sole wage-earner and caretaker for his children Rachel (4 years old) and Nathan (1 year old). Scott's independent shop has been a leader in the sticker-making industry since the beginning, but these days he only has time for two things: parenting and making stickers.

Scott can't afford to pay his own way to StickerConf; there are college funds which need to be filled. Taking days off from his work to prepare a talk and to speak at StickerConf is already a significant commitment. If StickerConf won't cover his travel and ticket costs, Scott won't apply to speak.

African woman in business jacket holding a briefcase full of stickers


Ororo is an industry longtimer and senior director at the largest sticker factory in the US. Her first priority is her career and managing her team at the sticker factory. The factory doesn't cover conferences, so she uses her own vacation time to attend and speak at a few conferences each year. Due to her busy schedule, she often neglects her own personal time.

Having already agreed to speak 2 other conferences this year, Ororo has room for perhaps one more new talk in her schedule. She will apply to speak at StickerConf if her costs are covered, but otherwise is considering taking a real vacation.

Man with beard and chalk, wearing glasses and jacket with elbow patches.


Hank is a tenured professor at a university where he teaches several courses on sticker making. He has a well honed stage presence, and years of experience teaching the traditional and theoretical methods. However, without any real world experience, his talks haven't changed much over the years.

Hank gets ample time off during school breaks, and a yearly stipend from the university for conferences and travel. He enjoys learning new things at StickerConf, and will apply to speak every year.

A blond man standing on a hover board and taking a selfie


Warren is an entrepreneur who founded StickrIO a few years ago. He has managed to speak at a few conferences in the past year, and he has had a really great time talking to the community and increasing awareness of StickrIO.

Warren will apply for every speaking slot he can find, polish up his slide deck in the week before the conference, and StickrIO will pay his travel costs.

Young woman wearing sweat pants and backpack, slurping a noodle-cup and rushing to her next class.


Kitty is attending state college on a full ride scholarship, and next year she will graduate with a degree in Sticker Sciences. As a full-time student with no parental support, she is broke as heck. But she is heading straight towards a career in sticker making and has been watching StickerConf's talk videos on YouTube for years.

She would like to share her fresh perspective with the professional sticker community; as well as to meet all the people that she has admired from afar. A quick peek ahead in Earth 517's timeline shows that one face-to-face conversation with Scott will give Kitty an insight which enables her to complete the breakthrough new sticker adhesive that she's got brewing in the school lab. But if StickerConf won't cover her ticket and travel expenses, Kitty can't speak.

Based on these profiles, if StickerConf does not cover travel and ticket costs for their speakers, they will only receive talk proposals from Logan, Hank, and Warren. However, if StickerConf is able to cover speakers' costs, they will have a much wider variety of talks to choose from. In fact, the lack of expense reimbursement tends to play a larger role in talk submissions for under-represented people than it does for those who are not.

Music Players for iOS.


Since iOS updated to version 9, the Music app is awful. Pants. Terrible. Balls. Poop emoji. Specifically:

So, I did the only reasonable thing, and spent an evening evaluating the available options from the App Store. These are the things that I was mostly interested when evaluating music apps:


Ecoute is the best of the bunch and just $.99. Has an simple and clean interface, and allows you select music by Album, Artist or even playlists! It's standout feature is allowing you to queue up music to play next. Good-bye,


A solid audio player, and it's free (but well worth the $.99 in-app purchase to support development). The UI is clear, and it gets right out of way and lets you to your music. I like the innovative way that it displays your album art in a random order to re-introduce you to old audio friends. And you can pick between music, audiobooks and podcasts. The only downside is that (as of this writing), it doesn't read playlists.


The UI is gorgeous, I love the outline around the album fills up as the song plays. But it is far too gesture driven for my needs - and I feel like the "track forward" and "track backward" gestures are reversed. Some of the App Store reviews mentioned problems with Albums containing multiple artists. But I tested this and didn't have any problems.


This app is focused on creating and customizing playlists. I only want to pick albums and play those - sorry Songbucket, it's not you, it's me.

Last Month

Next Month