@madpilot makes

ByteMe!, PerthMassive and Freelancer Friday – take me where the web goes.

We are hurtling into the wacky end of the year – before you know it, we’ll all be drinking egg-nog and having seedy older men/women hitting on us at office Christmas parties (or vise-versa if you are said seedy man/woman). Well to celebrate, the Perth digital content community is throwing some awesome events over the next couple of weeks: Namely ByteMe! and PerthMassive,

ByteMe! is the brainchild of Kat “I must be taking something because it is impossible for one person to do the amount of stuff I do within a 28-hour day, let alone with in the bounds of current time” Black – it is a free week-long festival that will be show casing the best 1’s and 0’s of the Perth digital community. Not only that, there are some pretty god-damn kick-arse speakers (See for yourself). It it December 2-9 and did I mention free? Oh and AWIA will be running a BarCampNano on the Sunday from 1-4pm – so if you have anything you want to show the world in 20 minutes or less, rock up between those hours to the Perth Town Hall.

Speaking of AWIA, please note that there will be NO Port80 in December because of the biggest digital Christmas party this side of Omnicrone-4, Perth Massive is on! So free up your schedules for the 6th 4th of December 2007, and head over to the Library in Northbridge (The niteclub, not the repository of books) and meet-up with others that like to do what you do (Unless what you like to do is macrame – unless the macrame usergroup shows up). Also free. Free as in beer. And there is Free beer. Which is free as in – beer. Make sure you go and register though, so the organisers knowhow much free beer to get.

Oh, whilst I’m at it, We are having the next installment of our exciting Freelancer Friday initiative at the Silicon Beach house on Friday 30 November 2007. We had about half a dozen people last time which was awesome and since the last one have knocked down some walls and stuff (shh, don’t tell the landlord) so there is heaps more desk space now. If you are interested, drop me an email, or throw your name on the Work@Jelly wiki under Work@ Jelly Perth – Freelancer Friday.

So get your dancing frocks and red (Reebok) pumps and lets rock this Popsicle stand!

Podcamp racetrack’s in 10 days’ on

(Mental note: Work on better blog post titles)

Annnyway, as many of you know, Podcamp is coming to Perth on the 28th and 29 of October. A little birdie and my scouta on the ground tell me that we are getting some big names from over east to participate in this Australian first.

Now, there has been a bit of confusion over what can be presented at Podcamp – it isn’t just about Podcasting. Anything that fits in the realm of new media (I know – I hate that term too, but I haven’t got anything better at the moment) would be a worthy topic.

There will be shirts available on the day. It’s going to be a great couple of days, so make sure you mark em down in your diary.

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 :)

Web 2.0 Application Develpment – A presentation

On October 12 and 13, the WA Department of Industry and Resources and a number of prominent ICT professional organsiations will be holding a conference: ICT WA 2007. You can all the details of the conference at their website: http://www.ictwa.org.au. There will be a wide range of topics covered from Broadband to gaming, so go and check it out. On top of the usual presentations that are usually associated with such conferences, there will be a number of three-hour workshops – one of which will be presented by myself, Bronwen Clune and Richard Giles.

Our topic is “Web 2.0 Application Development – Hints and tips”. All three of us run Perth-based Web 2.0 startups, and know the trials and tribulations that are associated with trying to run the next generation of online applications and social networking sites. The workshop will be fairly informal and, just like any Web 2.0 project will probably take a completely different direction to what we are planning, but currently on the cards is (in no particular order):

  • Web 2.0 in business – how can you fit Web 2.0 into existing business infrastructure, both internally and externally
  • Web 2.0 development – looking at the nuts and bolts of a Web 2.0 project
  • Marketing in the 2.0 space

If you have an interest in starting a Web 2.0 project, or you want to try to convince your boss of the benefits of online collaborative tools, then come along!

Watch my WebJam presentation!

Thanks to greenguy you too can watch me make a fool of myself in front of a live studio audience! Slides and demo are here.

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.

We be jammin’

I’m still a little blurry-eyed from last night (as are most of the beachhouse) – but I can safely say, that WebJam Perth cranked. Estimates of the number of attendees are varied, but there was definitely between 80 and 100 people there was awesome. There was also 15 presenters, and the quality was top-notch!

After picking up the WebJam crew from the airport, and hanging out with them for the day, we prepped the Velvet Lounge and the crowd started flowing in. There was a lot of new faces there too, which is an indicator of how crazy the industry is going at the moment.

Gary Barber presented a rather tongue-in-cheek look at Web3.0 whilst managing to demonstrate some pretty cool drag-and-drop functionality. This got him third place. Nick Cowie launched a scathing attack on a number of locals for producing websites that don’t work on mobiles – which got him second prize. Richard and Simon did a kick-arse visualisation system for Scouta which can only be described, well, visually – luckily there is a video already online. Unsurprisingly, this got them first place and the grand prize of Adobe CS3.

Unfortunately, my presentation Canvas Text Replacement, which is a alternative to sIFR didn’t make the top three, but with the quality of the top three, I don’t mind one little bit.

All in all, it went off – big ups to the WebJam crew: Lachlan, Lisa and Tim, for flying over from Sydney – they have been fantastic.

So one half of WA Web Week is done, roll on the WAWAs tomorrow! For those of you that can’t attend, you can view the live twitter feed on the website.

Podcamp. I want it now daddy!

As the more attentive of you out there knows, podcamp.info have been running a competition-turned-slinging match between the states of this fair country to see who should get the rights to host the first Australian PodCamp. Perhaps when they thought of this marketing plan, they were betting on Sydney and Melbourne (as usual) providing the bulk of the votes. Well unfortunately for them, they didn’t count of Perth’s very own BarCamp being but days before.

Ever since, a crack team of web commandos, accused of a crime they did not commit have been hawking Perth to anyone who would listen, and as a result, up until a few days ago we were in the lead. Now we only have to wait until the end of the week to find out where were stand – the create a further aire of suspense the organisers have removed the leaderboard so it will be a surprise on Friday. Just to make sure that we get PodCamp – we implore you to got to http://www.podcamp.info and vote #1 Perth.

Bronwen and I have even made a video begging for your support. See below.

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

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