@madpilot makes

AWIA’s very own OpenID server

I just deploying a new version of the AWIA website, which adds an OpenID service provider – so now AWIA members can use their member username and password to login to any OpenID-enabled website.

OpenID is a de-centralized authentication standard that allows you to use one username and password across any site that supports the standard. It can also send common information such as email address and username. The number of sites that support OpenID are steadily rising, which is why I added these functions to the site.

It is all very easy – login to your http://app.webindustry.asn.au/members/login click “Your details” then “Edit”. There is a new field labelled username. Enter a username here and then, when you come across an OpenID enabled site, just login in to http://app.webindustry.asn.au/user/[username]

Easy as you like it!

Web Directions over for another year

What a crazy week we have all had, a week of much drinking, socialising and occasionally learning stuff. Highlights from the second day were Andy Clarke, talking about layout techniques that can be stolen from comic books. Andy has such a effortless presentation technique and always presents beautiful slides and this year was no exception. Coming from a developer background, well presented design talks really interest me, as it is something I know little about, although there was quite a bit of overlap with some traditional user interface theories, which is what I did my honours thesis on.

Lisa Herrod‘s presentation on usability and accessibility was awesome – she tabled her idea for splitting up the official accessibility checklist between all members of the design team, emphasising the the point that it isn’t just the front-end developers responsibility. Quite often there is the situation where the copywriter, for example, will drop the content on the front-end guy, thinking there job has been done, which isn’t the case.

Finally, Mark Pesce who is an amazing speaker presented the awe-inspiring final keynote about mob rules. Basically, he noted that the internet finds a way to route around not only technical issues, but social issues such as censorship. He made mention of companies that were quietly chipping away at the traditional network infrastructure giants not with large amounts of money, but having many individuals helping out. Everyone was mesmerised.

Although, from a technical point of view many of the presentations were aimed at the beginner to intermediate level, there was much to be learnt from listening to what the presenters weren’t saying. Picking up little tidbits about what happens behind the scenes is what has inspired me. That and all of the adhoc discussion that goes on over beers.

And beers we had. Sydney has much cheaper beer prices than Perth and coupled with free beer almost every night, the pub was a very popular destination. Wednesday night was Port80 Sydney, and myself (under the guise of 88 Miles) and Adrian sponsored the bar tab. What we didn’t know was the Quarrymans’ hotel has Wednesday night trivia in which Port80 entered two teams, one of which can second. Nice work.

Thursday night drinks were provided by Adobe at the conference venue, and the Friday night closing party was lubricated by Microsoft. Andrew Krespanis managed to drink a Windows XP Home license. Myself, Grant and Joe (from Hive Media in Melbourne) stayed up at all hours on friday discussing all things web from Flash vs AJAX to running a web business. It is amazing discussing things with people that really know what they are doing.

Saturday, I headed over to the Nerf Palace to hang with a number of the Ruby on Rails Oceania clan as well as some of of the Sitepoint boys for some impromptu hacking. I decided to see what all the fuss was about by working on an iPhone/iPod Touch version of 88 Miles. Thanks must go to Tim, Cam and Mike for letting us take over their house. After this we quickly scurried over to WebJam!

Once again, I thought I would get up to the plate and present. Nick Cowie was the other local to to the three minute thing. There were some amazing talks –  Dmitry Baranovskiy presented his microformat validator, which is going to revolutionise the way we use microformats, trust me. Myles Burne showed the power of YAML and HAML and some guys from Digital Eskimo spruiked their site lobbying for the government to improve the NSW liquor licensing (Sounds like something we should do in WA). Unsuprisingly, Dmitry won – more suprisingly, my AJAX-based front end to the Ruby on Rails debugger came second, which means I can get $150 worth of Sitepoint schwag and I get to go back to Web Directions for free! (Again!) I’m publish and release the code soon – just got some clean ups to do.

So as you can see – a pretty crazy couple of days. Now to let my liver recover!

Sleepless in Sydney – Web Directions begins…

Here we are again at Web Directions and the drinking, erm, learning has begun.  Last night, we had Port80 Sydney at the Quarryman Hotel which was conveniently across the road from our hotel. The usual Perth suspects where there (as was expected, most of them are staying at the same hotel across the road) but we also had a number Port80 noobs who can along, probably for the free beer. Unknown to us, the Quarryman has a quiz night on a Wednesday night, so we entered two Port80 teams, one of which can second!

Once again, Grant and I were up to our usual shenanigans, and we decided to ignore the advice of the others and headed to a late night pub until 3am, so I’m feeling a tad seedy now. BUT that dd mean I managed to get some sleep last night. Unfortunately, the friendly barkeep failed to mention that they had redirected M4 motorway to flow right next to my room. At about 5:30 it seems that every truck in NSW drives along Harris St, which has a metal plate in the room which plays an ever so sweet drumming noise as said heavy vehicles drove over them. Nice.

Anyway, we have now managed the get to the conference proper and we are just over half-way through the first day. We started off with Rashami Sinha from Slideshare speaking about the perils of popularity. It was very oriented around the different types of social networking. It is scary how many Facebook users there were in the room. I’ll rant about Facebook shortly.

I next went to Andy Clarke awesome talk where he looked at how web designers can steal techniques from comic books. Andy is an awesome speaker which I was silly enough to miss last year – but I’m glad I made it this time around. His slides were beautiful and he presented so smoothly. Enough gushing.

I wanted to see Cameron Adams, but the room was so full (there were people sitting in the hall) so I went and hung out with Rose and Adrian.

Now I’m sitting in John Allsopp‘s talk about the future of the web – looks like we agree – the mobile web is going to be the next big thing. I’m seriously thinking about going out to buy an iPod touch when they get released tomorrow so I can get developing on some serious mobile web sites.

Right, getting motivated – will probably start cutting some code soon :)

Port80 Sydney

It is just under two weeks until Australia’s biggest web conference, Web Directions is on in Sydney and as happened last year a whole bunch of Perthites will be making the trip across the nullabor. As a result, the AWIA committee has decided it is time to try another Port80 Sydney, so if you are interested in seeing what the whole Port80 thing is about it would be a great time to come and drink some beer, chat with with other web geeks and generally have a bit of fun. It’s really informal, and you can just turn up – you don’t even need to RSVP!

Where: Quarryman Hotel

216 Harris St (Cnr Pyrmont Bridge)

Pyrmont NSW 2009

When: 6pm 26 September, 2007

See you all there!

Podcamping across the Universe…

Well more correctly, across the Nullibor Plane – We just received confirmation for the PodCamp Australia guys that Perth has won the right to host the first PodCamp! Not only did we win, we won pretty convincingly, with 152 votes. Syndey came second place with only got 82!

The event in October should feed all of the locals’ hunger for local events. Check out http://www.podcamp.info for more details as they come to hand.

Managing the menagerie of marvelous, erm events

First of all, let me apologise for the hideous attempt at alliteration. For those of you who have been following this blog, you would have noticed a large number of events that have been hitting the shores of the west coast of Australia. This isn’t the half of it – there are many other similar groups such as SIGGRAPH, Byte Me!, Plug and Play, WAnimate, PIGMI and Perth Massive who put on regular events.

Let me state this now – it is AWESOME. Being the most isolated city in the world we (on many occasions) have missed out on big events/concerts/sporting events and so we are often forced to put on our own events. This does create a slight problem though – quite often there are event clashes as there isn’t really much communication between all the different organisations. For example, on the 15th of August Perth is hosting WebJam, which has meant that the Perth Bloggers meetup is probably going to be rescheduled (because of the audience overlap) whilst still clashing with “Digital Content Industry Audit” that is being put on by ScreenWest and DoIR.

Now I know that things such clashes are inevitable – there are only so many days in the calendar, but I think we as industry groups (I’ve got my AWIA events hat on now) really need to make a concerted effort to let each other know what it going on. A nice flow on effect from this is that more people will hear about these events which spreads the love.

A proposal (and thank you to Kat Black for debating with me already)

This is far from well hashed out, and I would really love to hear your feedback on how we can do this.

In an ideal world there would be one central place where all events in the know Perth universe would be posted. The reason this hasn’t worked in the past is because EVERYONE tries to set these up, each one of the above bodies probably has an event calendar, which doesn’t help our cause. For it to work effectively, the owner needs to be a neutral body, such as DoIR or Central TAFE or similar. It would need to be community driven, perhaps with a trusted representative from each organisation with write access to a calendar or blog allowing them to post events on behalf of said organisation.

Pros:

  • It is open – anyone can read and consume the information via the web, RSS etc.
  • There is no barrier for the event owner to post an event. If they had to email an already over-worked public servant to post this information this would quickly fall in a heap.
  • It is neutral – there is no ownership issue if it is driven by a neutral party who has a vested interest in ALL the groups involved.
  • Builds up a contact point for all the organisations in Perth. If you want to get in contact with an organisation, their details are right there.

Cons:

  • There is still some administration from the point of view of the neutral body – they need to ensure the right people have write access and will still need to monitor for in-appropriate posting and such
  • For it to work, there needs to be a long term commitment from the neutral body

So why haven’t I suggested other options such as a event co-ordinator mailing list (my original idea) or a Facebook group or an Upcoming account or similar? As Kat pointed out, we are all constantly inundated with email, so adding more noise might mean the message is lost. A blog or dedicated calendar system can still feed information out via RSS or email alerts – it is simply more flexible. I would also feel more comfortable if the system wasn’t a closed one such as Facebook or Upcoming – by all means we can feed this information into these sites (automatically most of the time) but they shouldn’t be driving it.

I am more than happy to get the ball rolling on this, but I need to know if this will be of use – it will only work if those people who are actively organising stuff are going to get behind it.

Please leave me with your thoughts.

Australian Web Industry Association – Annual General Meeting

This is a quick reminder that the Australian Web Industry Association Annual General Meeting is on Wednesday 1st August at 6pm at the Velvet Lounge in Mt Lawley.

If you are an AWIA financial member, please come along so you can hear our reports for the last 12 months, as well as vote for the new committee member positions. Their are 5 vacant positions, and the nominees are:

  1. Adrian Lynch *
  2. Ben May
  3. Bronwen Clune
  4. Gary Barber *
  5. Harriet Wakelam
  6. Jamie Lyford
  7. Jordan Brock *
  8. Kay Smoljak *
  9. Piotr Dancewicz *

* Indicate a current committee member.

If you want to play an active role in the AWIA, you must come along and cast your vote. If you can’t make it, you can download the proxy voting form from the AWIA website.

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