Week 274/5 Red Dead

Missed a week due to being on a plane to Long Beach for a wedding. The way I’ve been managing to do week notes again is by literally putting a 15 minute placeholder in my calendar so nothing gets scheduled over it, in a time I’m usually free, which obviously fails when I’m not.

In the last couple weeks we had our big company sponsored event – JAMstack_conf. I am generally kind of exhausted and bored by a lot of events these days (that’s a me problem rather than a problem with events), but I found this one very invigorating and not just because we were hosting. There’s something really fresh, and yet old-skool, going on with the JAMstack – people making sites that are best for the platform and that work really well on the open web – feels like the same wave that’s causing everyone to start publishing back to their own sites and blogs again. I love it.

I’ve also done two of my civic duties as an American this week – I voted in the midterms and I did jury duty! Sadly, I didn’t actually get called in for a court case. Maybe next time.

Mostly, though, I have been playing Red Dead Redemption 2. 36% complete.

Week 271

Yesterday, I went to a conference for the first time in ages (HeavyBit’s DevGuild) and it was actually professionally useful to the problems I’m facing at work. I’m not sure why this is so shocking to me, but maybe for the first time I’m actually in the right place. We announced our series B funding on Tuesday, so lots of congratulations all around.

Bee hoop

I had another crafternoon with Monica, and made a small bee embroidery hoop that I’m quite pleased with. Starting to get the hang of satin stitch.

My Anki Vector robot arrived and it’s honestly adorable (I was a KS backer, so I had a pre-order). I’m looking forward to the updates they plan for it – especially hooking it up to Alexa or Google home so he can be come the cutest robot butler.

Also, from a kickstarter this week is a little QSun UV tracking device. It’s rubbish. I mean, yes, it tells me how much UV there is via some lights, but it feels physically awful (maybe for some technical reason I don’t understand, it’s surface is made of a material that feels like black grit that flakes off) and the app doesn’t seem to be able to remember my location or who I am. I can’t even be bothered to write about it for my under-loved IoT blog. C’est la vie.

 

QSun texture. Also, I cut my thumb.

And of course, some flowers.

More autumn ikebana

Full Frontal 2009

Last week I was lucky enough to get to attend Full Frontal 2009 in Brighton with a whole bunch of my colleagues to lend a bit of support to friend and fellow Glow developer, Jake, after his previous highly successful first foray into the world of speaking at last year’s @media ajax.

The range of topics was excellent. It was really good to see some more people speaking about server-side JavaScript and it seems that Simon Willison’s talk and demo of node.js was a particular highlight for a lot of people and certainly seemed inspiring (which is possibly why he’s always such a good last speaker).

I’m never terribly good at taking notes, but I didn’t think there was an off session of the day. PPK wowed us with the frankly impossible task that is mobile browser testing, Todd Kloots did one of the better and more thorough introductions to ARIA and accessible JavaScript development talks I’ve seen (and it’s a shame he ran out of time), and Robert Nyman did a gallant job of explaining closures and currying (amongst other things, via the inexplicable medium of Ben Affleck) – both of which I think are akin to explaining string-theory to primary-schoolers.

Of course, I’m slightly biased and I really want to tell you everyone else is just being kind and he actually sucked, but even though I’d already seen Jake’s “Optimising where it hurts” practice run-throughs and had already heard many of his jokes and examples, I still laughed throughout and thoroughly enjoyed his animated way of explaining the topic (which he does fluently and coherantly) and thought he stole the day.

Generally, I thought the day was a total success. The venue was lovely (although it’s a shame it wasn’t a slight bit more central, and the rain always sucks) as it was a fully-functional cinema – seats were comfortable and the quality of the screen and sound were excellent. Everything seemed to be organised extremely well and can’t really fault it, so big congrats to Remy and his lovely wife, and all the helpers. I really hope they organise one again next year – I’ll definitely be there.

Microformats vEvent and London Web Week

I mentioned at the start of the year that we were planning to have another “Microformat vEvent” in the first quarter… well, slightly later than planned I’m pleased to announce that we’re good to go and you can now sign up!

LWW

The event has been delayed so that we could take part in a new grander event which is London Web Week. It’s going to be a solid week of all things webby, and includes other such highlights as @media London, BarCampLondon 4, a Web Standards Group event and a new one-day conference aimed at new comers who are just interested in or starting out in web development and design, called Web Roots. Even Pub Standards is sneaking in on the act (keep an eye on upcoming for the “The Great Pub Standards Heresy“).

The full schedule of events is available here and I expect it’ll expand to contain a few of the London user groups for various web… things… over the next few weeks.

So, back to the point of my post. Microformats vEvent!

The good news is, I’ve managed to twist the arms of a couple of nice folks to do some speaking for us. We’ve got Dan Brickley and Tom Morris. Surprisingly, both usually more aligned with the RDF camp rather than microformats – but I’m personally up for breaking down that wall (and I hope they are too) and seeing if we can’t all “get along”. So, with that in mind, they will each be taking on topics that look at microformats working along side other semantic web technologies in complementary ways.

Full details on what these guys will be talking about are again, on the sign-up page, as well where and when (The Yorkshire Grey Pub, Holborn, Tuesday 27th May, 7pm) you need to show up. Make sure you sign-up quickly though – we’ve only got a limited amount of space, and entrance is with ticket only.

dConstruct 2006

Thursday

On Thursday night I headed down to Brighton after work for the d.Construct web conference. I’ve been looking forward to it for ages, so I can’t say I wasn’t buzzing a bit. Met up with Dave when I arrived, and also Adam Bardsley who I’d met at the WSG event back in July. We headed down to Heist for the pre-event social type get together and I got to say hello to a few faces I already knew, and also meet some people who I’ve known around and about online, but had yet to meet face-to-face. The nice thing about having been to BarCampLondon the weekend before meant there were plenty of faces I recognised.

Friday

Stayed out a bit too late on Thursday, so was a little sleepy first thing on Friday but the amazing weather soon picked me up. Summer hasn’t left Brighton yet, apparently. We (myself, Dave and someone he works with) located a little cafe for breakfast, then made our way over to the Corn Exchange. After receiving lanyards (which also doubled as programs for the day) and goodie bags we went in for tea and coffee and to say hi to the people we knew there and meet even more people. And then the day began for real.

Photo of the conference theatreAll of the sessions and speakers were interesting and insightful. Each spoke from experience which is more important than anything. The downside to the sessions was possibly the length of time the speakers spoke for – they didn’t leave much room for Q&A sessions, and that is often the most useful part of a presentation.

Even though Flex isn’t my area, I really enjoyed Aral Balkan’s session (and meeting him again) since he is just a little ball of energy and so enthusiastic. I’d not seen much about Flex, but was suitably impressed. Jeff Bar’s presentation about Amazon’s APIs was neat too – the Human Turk, especially.

A highlight of the day for me was definitely the Microformats Picnic. It was a rather short-notice idea Jeremy came up with in the previous week, and only a handful of people had marked themselves down as attending – but the good weather must have prompted more to join, since there were a lot of people listening, including random Brighton passers-by, to Jeremy explaining what Microformats were, how to use them and answering queries! It was slightly surreal with the indian twinkly music in the background though, coming from further down into the park.

Since I wore my Microformats shirt to the event (along with a few others), I got to discuss Microformats with plenty of people who were interested in using them, so it was fun for me. A few people have since emailed me to find out more, or get some advice.

After the conference, I grabbed some dinner with Steve, Faruk, David, Trev, Ben and Neil and then we headed down to The Terraces for the after-party.

The after-party was fun, although we missed the tab, but not to worry. Everyone was in a good mood, and there was plenty of chat related to the topics we’d seen during the day and generally throwing ideas about – mostly in mine and my friend’s cases, how to incorporate Microformats into various mash-ups!

As the party wound down, Drew and Andy rounded a few of us up for cocktails back at the delegate hotel. I think we finished up around 3am!

Saturday

Decided to stick around on Saturday since the weather was continuing to be lovely. Got in contact with Natalie and met up with the crowd from the night before. Dave and I watched Natalie and Simon have a go at the bungee-trampoline things and then had lunch at “Oh So Social” followed by a wander along the sea-front to watch the “eXtreme” skateboarding, have a dig through some second-hand books, and a trip to the Lego store to drool over the new Mindstorm robots (£180!!).

I ended the day with the group having a BBQ down on Brighton beach, followed by a game of werewolf (I wasn’t a wolf at last, but they still lynched me!). Made it home by 11pm, shattered but very pleased.

After

The backnetwork really comes into its own now that the event has happened. I’m a bit rubbish at remembering names, so the fact that a majority of people have included their photograph on their profile (and most have managed to include a useful, proper, photo) has made it easy for me to mark those people I’ve met and grab any contact information I need.

I collected the odd business card for mobile numbers, but generally there was no need for them. Good because business cards get lost, and it’s more environmentally friendly (yes, computers aren’t, but we’re running them business cards or not).

Also, I can grab my new friend’s links as as XFNified blog listing, and subscribe to them all in one go.

The other nifty thing is everyone’s profile page collects photos and blog posts that include them. You can see mine here: My backnetwork profile!

I hope they continue to use it for future conferences because it’s a really great resource.

If you have a flick around on the backnetwork, you’ll find all the links to other people blogging about this and photographs, so I don’t need to make you a list! Go forth and explore.