2010 Conferences

Last year, was the first year that I really got going with conferences, managing to attend FOWA London and EECI2009 in Holland.  This was part of a very deliberate plan to get out there and meet and talk to people.  I also managed to get away from my desk / iMac to meet up with a few people I’d only previously talked or worked with via Skype / Twitter / etc.

So, carrying on this year, these are the conferences / events I’m hoping to attend.

The CSS3 Online Confernce – Online (duh!) – Mar 22nd 2010
CSS3 is on my never ending list of “must learn more”.  This looks a pretty interesting line up.

EECI 2010 – Leiden Holland – Sept/Oct 2010
Last years, first event was a fantastic one, and confirmed that the choice to adopt ExpressionEngine and CodeIgniter as my core platform was a wise one!

FOWA 2010 London ?? 2010
Last years 2 day event wasn’t overly fantastic at speech/talk content, but was blooming awesome for networking.

So, any that I’ve missed or should attend?  Which ones are you planning to attend?

New Host

Sorry for another tedious post!

I’ve finally gotten around to moving away from a small Slicehost VPS, to a much beefier one at VPS.net.  So far seems to work well.. please let me know if the site slows down, or has any weird issues!

Thank you.. normal service can now resume.

Finally Updated WordPress

I’ve finally gotten around to upgrading WordPress and giving the site a new theme.

Yet again the control panel has been flipped about, probably the main reason I tend not to offer WordPress for my clients.  I’ve been bitten before! Train the client on the WP Control Panel, a few months later, install the security update and boom I get support calls saying “Hey!  WTF you done!  I cannot find anything”

Deep joy!

Microsoft joining the W3C SVG Working Group

A couple of days ago on the IE Blog, it was announced that Mircrosoft would be joining the W3C SVG Working Group.  So what? I hear you cry!

Why is this important?

SVG or “Scalable Vector Graphics” are, in a nutshell a way to describe scalable graphics using XML, or as the W3C dryly puts it:

SVG is a language for describing two-dimensional graphics and graphical applications in XML

Currently the “modern” browsers (Webkit, Firefox and mostly to give them credit Opera (the great browser nobody uses)) all have pretty decent levels of SVG support.  As always the spawn of Satan IE, lags behind.  Are you surprised? No I didn’t think so.

If in either a patched version of IE8, which compared to previous versions isn’t *that* bad, or in IE9 whenever it appears SVG support is decent, and built in then this means that web developers like me, can start using SVG a hell of a lot more. Mix this in with improved CSS3 support and we can start building accessible as well as interesting websites, without relying on (generally) non-accessible crap like Flash.

A whole wodge of very cool examples of SVG (often sprinkled in with some JavaScript magic) can be found here: http://www.carto.net/svg/samples/ (For best results use a modern browser!).

FOWA London – October 2009

FOWA London 2009, was held in Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall.  This was a 2 day event.  What follows it a very brief write up, in no particular order, and does not aim to waffle about every talk!

Day 1

Taking you Site from One to One Million Users – Kevin Rose / Digg

A rambling, dull opener, though mainly because I think I have now heard the same talk/presentation at least 3 times.

The Future of JavaScript Design Patterns – Unleashing Full Object-Orientated Capability – Dustin Diaz / Twitter

Dustin is great and likeably, but to me this was far far too short on any tech details.  Maybe I drifted off, but it seemed to be lots of lists of different frameworks.  “jQuery is like crack.. one line and your hooked”.  Oh and Twitter will be doing a Google style “Labs.twitter” type thing. God knows what will be on it.

How we Built HelloApp….

Yawn… I walked out, obvious advert / sponsor slot for Microsoft and their MVC.net thing.

Advanced Web App Marketing Strategies – Chris Abad / Spymaster

This was a controversial one, Spymaster was a Twitter game, that as you played spammed the hell out of your friends.  Really questionable morals on this one “Well it’s sort of opt-in.. sort of opt-out”.  Again, like the majority of the talks at FOWA, it was very light on any real detail.  What was interesting was the story that on day 3 or so after the game was launch, Twitter had one of it’s epic failure moments, and was down for hours.  This killed off most of the momentum of the game.  Interesting moral there!

Going Global: The Future of Facebook Connect – Cat Lee

Facebook Connect and Facebook Translate were pimped here, Cat was “lovely”, had stunning shoes.. but really just gushed for 20 mins

Future of Social Web Apps – Ed Anuff & Mike Malone / Six Apart

Another advert slot, from the guys that bought and closed Pownce (with 1 weeks notice).  Nice idea of a system, but I find it hard to trust them with my sites / data after Pownce.

The Future of HTML5 – Bruce Lawson / Opera

Cracking talk, finally some techy bits, even code on the big screen at last.  Really fired up now over HTML5, lots of very lovely things coming.  Will experiment more in the coming days.  Lots of resources here: – http://my.opera.com/ODIN/blog/2009/10/05/future-of-web-apps-london-html5

How the Guardian is using APIs, Framworks and Tools to Build a Mutualised Newspaper – Chris Thorpe / The Guardian

Interesting, meandering talk.  Need to investigate more into their platform.  Also mentions of the UK gov. trying to open up it’s data.

How People will use the Web in the Future – Aza Raskin / Mozilla

20 minutes of blue-sky thinking.  Very entertaining and a good one to finish off day 1.  Must investigate their Ubiquity thing http://labs.mozilla.com/ubiquity/

Day 2

During day 2, I skipped a lot of the talks, as I was too busy waffling to people / pimping myself.

The Future of the Cloud – Simon Wardley / Freelance

Probably the best talk of the show, very entertaining, very interesting.  Basically Ubuntu have hedged their bets on Amazons EC2 standard for cloud computing / services.

The Future of Print – Lynne d Johnson

Very American biassed talk.  Didn’t catch a great deal of it, was basically a “Print is Dead!  Long live Print” type thing.  Journalists become online content creators, editors become Online Commutity Directors.. etc etc. Not very convincing.

Startup Metrics for Pirates: AARRR! – Dave McClure

Again, half listening.. lots of it seemed to involve the idea of stop adding shit to your web app.. instead cut stuff.. if people complain.. you’ve found what your users love.. so bring it back.. but better!

At the end of Day 1, I was kindly invited along to a dinner at Sticky Fingers by Benjamin Dyer (of Actinic) with around 40 or so varied and interesting folk.  Thanks again for the invite.. was a *lot* of fun.  After far far too much red meat, we skipped the invite to the “official” party, which was miles away in Piccadilly Circus.  Instead we ended up in some dodgy pub in Kensinginton *hooray for random pubs!*.


The event was sponsored by the following:

Microsoft – They were showing off their Expression Web / Blend / Thing software (*yawn*), their MS Table/Surface thing (*Wow.. huge fun*), and a few other touchy feely things.

PayPal – Showing off their new platform at www.x.com I had a 10 minute chat with one of their guys, and I was still none the wiser as to what it was all about.  Felt I was playing buzz-word bingo.

Yahoo – No talks from them on the main stage, but they were upstairs in force.  Great schwag, and got to talk geo stuff to them… Lots to play with on – http://developer.yahoo.com/

Ordnance Survey – Wow.. finally OS data coming *slowly* and painfully onto the web.  http://openspace.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/openspace/

Vodafone 360 – Vodafone is attempting to take on Apple App Store/iPhone or Google Android with it’s own open platform for developing widgets/apps for a range of handsets.  Interesting stuff… doubt it will gain much traction for now. – http://info.vodafone360.com/en/experience/index

Sun / Sun Startup Essentials – These guys took over most of the basement.  Interesting!  Got an idea? Need hardware/funding.. These guys offer it (in exchange for some of your stock etc…).

To Sum Up…

The venue suffered from tech failure.  The WiFi was dire, just plain didn’t work.  I ended up paying for 24hrs access on the BTOpenZone which was in the building and more-or-less worked.  With so many geeks in one room, most were on iPhones on O2, which meant that cell-phone reception was also pants.

Overall a great show for me for the people I met, new contacts, faces put to skype/twitter accounts etc etc… The talks though, generally were not really up to what I expected from the event.  I paid a semi-early-bird price of £230 for the 2 days (ignoring the cost of the hotel / travel / 3 days away from invoice-able work etc).  If I’d paid the full price of £400, I’d be asking for at least a part refund.

Carsonified (the event organisers) need to try a lot harder.  Pay more for proper wifi, pick less obviously promotional speakers, and learn that if you want to talk about the Social Web.. that there is more out there than just Digg and Twitter.

Networking – 9/10
Venue – 5/10
Tech – 1/10
Fun – 7/10
Talks – 6/10

Overall – 6/10 – Must try harder!

Internet Returns

Yep.. still alive.. just!

We left Bay of Islands and drove to the Coromandel Peninsular on 10th December.  We stayed at the Rapaura Watergarden, in their little ‘cottage’, which was really a rather sweet large garden shed set in a private sub-tropical garden, complete with pet ducks and a rather tame collared dove.

No Internet, no mobile phone reception, no tv, no radio… you get the idea.

Whilst on the beautiful Coromandel, we visited the incredibly quirky/geeky and downright scarey Driving Creek Pottery & Railway.  This is the creation of local potter/artist/sculptor/eccentric Barry Brickell.  Barry bought a chunk of New Zealand bush back in the early 70’s, and over the last 30 years or so has built a twisting railway up through the hills for about 3km, up to a summit where he’s constructed the tackily named “Eyefull Tower” as a pretty impressive (albeit tree-house inspired) lookout.  Brod thinks the whole thing is a cross between Rupert Bear and Indiana Jones.  If this was in the UK, Health and Safety would condemn the place, no safety locks/barriers/systems.. you just have to hope the driver is having a good day the day you visit.

After the loony railway, we drove around to the other side of the peninsular, to the unpronouncable town of Whitianga (the Kiwis do odd things with ‘Wh” it becomes “Phhhh” or something), then back to our forest retreat/shack via a suicide road (30km of gravel, single track, twisty, blind-bend roads, but with Kingfishers and equally suicidal truck-drivers for company).  We had eggs laid on the premises (not due to the bad roads!), and several bottles of NZ wine (mainly due to the bad roads :P).

On the 12th we departed our little Eden, and headed South for Taupo.  We broke the journey about half-way in the town of Matamata, which for the Tolkien geeks is also known as Hobbiton.  At the local iSite centre (NZ’s verson of Tourist Info centres), we jumped on the tour bus to Hobbiton, with a huge crowd of… 1, some poor tourist from deepest, darkest Canada, who had taken a bus from Auckland especially to do this nerdy trip… bless.  Hobbiton, the film set, is a few kilometres outside of Matamata, and is a sheep farm.  Our tour guide Eric, who was older than Gandalf seemed to ignore the fact there were only three of us, and took us around with gusto, even asking us if we had brought costumes to dress up in….. yeah.. right.  Aparently it’s not uncommon for nerds people to travel half-way around the globe to dress up as Bilbo.  This weird little tourist thing may.. or may not still be here in years to come, as they may.. or may not.. be about to film The Hobbit here, though legally we cannot talk about that, as technically according to the NDA nothing has been agreed yet… or not agreed…. yay for legal speak bollocks.

Onwards to Lake Taupo, along the stunning Highway 1, to our motel, the rather imaginitively named “Lake Motel“.  This is a small (5 room) motel, with a 70’s retro theme.. done really rather well.  Yes we love our hostess Helen 😉

The word of the week for Taupo, is “Awesome”, after our waiter in the local pub/restaurant place, whose resonse to everything sounds like he’s from BIll & Teds Excellent Adventure…. “two more beers?  Awesome!”, “The world is about to end?… Woah.. thats Awesome!”… aye.. gets tedious by the 9th time.

Anyhow.. we are currently stealing Wifi from a kind/unsuspecting/clueless neighbour.. so that will do… pics etc will be uploaded soon..ish.