If you have never been to a PHP Conference, you owe it to yourself to make 2006 a year to attend one. There are of course the obvious benefits of attending the presentations and being able to see these presentations first hand as well as being able to interact with the presenters, ask questions, etc. A more subtle benefit is the networking which happens at these conferences. People whom you recognize from email addresses on mailing lists, pseudonyms on forums or names on the covers of PHP books are actually living breathing people (and usually fine, upstanding people at that). PHP conferences are a great opportunity to interact with both the presenters, conference organizers and the other attendees, who likely share many common interests with you, chiefly a passion for PHP and web development.
One conferences coming up soon I would like to attend is PHP UK 2006. Unfortunately time and distance make it impossible for me to attend. I consider Harry Fuecks a personal friend, though we have only corresponded via email and coordinated on projects. I would love to have the opportunity to finally meet in person (and perhaps purchase a few malted beverages 😉 ) Another PHPer I consider to be a friend is Marcus Baker, of SimpleTest fame, and a PHP London regular, is going to be attending and is helping to organize the conference. Many of the talks look interesting as well. Derick Rethans always gives informative talks, and I have read and was very impressed by Matt Zandstra’s PHP Objects, Patterns and Practice book.
There is a conference I know I am attending: php|tek 2006. I will be attending because I will be presenting talks on Design Patterns in PHP and Test Driven Development. I am looking forward to meeting everyone there, and hopefully I will see you there.