@madpilot makes

I was at Web Directions, honest

Miles Burke decided that we all need to prove that we were at Web Directions last year by finding photos of us on Flickr. Mo problem! Here are pictures of me looking rather disheveled.


Me in my natural habitat

Me working at the after party

Me still working at the after party

Ok, to pass on the meme: I wanna see photos from Tim Lucas and Lachlan Hardy.

And that’s a wrap…

I can’t believe web directions is over already. Two days of talks, meetings, greetings, server admin (more on this later) and drinking. Here is a quick over view of what happened for those of you playing at home:


  • John Allsopp talks about Microformats. All this talk of contact databases and vcards gives me an idea…
  • Derek Featherstone rounds up the day with is (from what I have heard) always enteratining talks. This was no different. However, I’m mildly distracted, as I start hacking a new Ruby on Rails site whilst listening to the talk (See talk given by John Allsopp). Yes, if any of you remember seeing a guy testing a website during the talks that was me.
  • And the drinking begins… The Port80 committee is a little late after having an impromptue Port80 committee meeting. However we soon catch up. I have a good long chat with the campaign monitor guys – they are top guys. It’s almost sickening :)
  • Onwards to the Landsdowne for cheap food. Miles is talking up the $5 meals. I soon realise why they are $5 meals. Never the less, the beers are heaping my headache. At this point many of our crew (we have acquired a few Melbanians, some Adelaidenese and a Brisbanite) part, touting tomorrow nights drinking and Andy Clarke’s early morning talk as reasons for an early night. Not so much this entrpid reporter!
  • Myself, Grant and Sarah head over the The County Claire hotel. This has been where the cool kids have been hanging out – many of the speakers and helpers were already there getting tired and emotional about web standards. Drink some more. Meet numerous people. Alas, all too soon, last drinks was announced, and this is where I should have listened to the little voice in my head.
  • A group of four decided that the Landsdowne would once again be an appropriate venue to discuss the finer points of modern dance. A pearl of wisdom if I may. If someone challenges you to an arm wrestle, say no. Although I wasn’t defeated, I still can’t really use my arm properly. Another pearl: If you need to be at a conference session at 9am, don’t get up at 9:30. Yes. I missed Andy Clarke. Everyone has consistently re-iterated how this may have been the talk of the conference, and I missed it. Yeah. That’ll learn me.
  • Next I sat in on Laurel Papworth talking about viral marketing and user-generated content. Pretty interesting. I was listening to the talk, while continuting to hack my new application.
  • The man in blue, Cameron Adams and Kevin yank from sitepoint gave a pretty kick-arse talk on using APIs and mashups, and at this point I actually caome across a term I hadn’t heard of – JSON-P! I use JSON all the time, but this P bit is new and foreign. I will read up shortly. (Still hacking new app)
  • After lunch Jeremey Keith talks about degradable Ajax in a presentation entitled hijax. At this point I start to write the Ajax handlers on the new mystery app, then realise that I really should stop cutting corners and should right it degradably. Thanks Jeremy – you just added a good hour or two on too my app development time. Grrr! To makes matters worse, my battery runs out, so no more app dev for me – my dreams of having it finished before the end of the conference are ruined! :)
  • Next is Derek with a thought provoking and almost forums like presentation on accessibility. He went in to the nitty gritty of how screen readers work. But I think the most important part was that no matter how much tech you throw at the accessibility problem, there is no substitute for sitting down with a user and watching how they work.
  • Now the final keynote address is where the interesting stuff started. Not from a conference point of view (Everything was interesting but from a work point of view). At Bam we went live with three sites a couple of days before I went away (Dumb idea, but they couldn’t wait). Miles gets a message that there was a problem with one of them, no worries – I’ll logged in to MSN and had chat with those left in the office and realised that I’d have to login to fix it. No biggie, except my laptop was out of batteries, as was Miles’. So we borrowed the laptop of one good samaritan, Adrian and we were on our way. Unfortutately, we were in bigger trouble than I thought. We have a rather large client that was been hammering our server the past couple of days, and it was really proving a problem.
  • After the keynote was over we headed back to the port80 hotel (AKA The Vulcan) and I continued to look into the server issue. The server was running at a load of about which means it was running SLOWELY. After a number of phone calls back to Perth, more work on another borrowed laptop at the after party (Thanks Adam), we finally got the server laod to stabilise. If you were wondering, I was the guy sitting cross legged outside the dance room with the black Macbook Pro working :(
  • Finally I could go party (Things weren’t 100%, but they would do). John Allsopp took us to possibily the dogdy-est pub in Sydney – the Star Hotel. This place looked like a mini casino – Coming from Perth where pokies are illegal evey where except the casino, it is weird seeing one-armed bandits all over the place. And I love anywhere which shows harness racing and greyhounds on one of many plasma screens. All class. After that, we took a walk along a street that was littered by asian restaurants. After making fun of the fact that these places usually have gross looking birds hanging in the window, presumably as a sponge for salmonella, we settled on the Superbowl restaurant WHICH HAS A PICTURE OF GROSS LOOKING BIRDS HANGING IN THE WINDOW. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
  • Onward, we continued travelling see weird signs for shops, one of my particular favourites was: Doctor Friend Chinese Medicine Acupunture Massage Skincare center. I’m so tempted to register http://www.doctorfriendchinesemedicineacupunturemassageskincarecenter.com…
  • It is decided that we should go and meet the cool kids (See County Clare) at Purple sneakers. So We drop myself and Grant walk Miles home (trying to convince him to come out with us – he’s so soft) and we start our journey the 50m up the road we need to go. Or so we though. How would have though that Sydnesy has more than one main road!? We got lost. In a 50m square radius. Then Grant fell over and nearly busted his ankle. It was funny. I guess now in hindsight it would of sucked if he couldn’t walk, but it was still funny :) After offering him a shopping trolley, and his refusal, we finally get to Purple Sneakers.
  • Not only is Purple Sneakers a name of a You Am I song, it is the name of a cool, grungy little Amplifier-esce club in Ultimo. Was much dancing to be had with such classics as “Wave of Mulitlation” by the pixies and Parklife by Blur. Other notable mentions included the Strokes, Regurgitator and much, much more. We left there about 4am.
  • The final parts of the night (now early morning) was to sit up and drink beer with Leon on his balcony that over looks the city and watch a magnificant sunrise.

So all in all a fun-filled couple of days, with both ups and downs, but we worth it. Roll on WD07!

Web directions update #3: Campaign monitor

I just attended the talk given by Dave Greiner & Ben Richardson who created Campaign Monitor and it was the first talk of today that really hit home. Don’t get me wrong, the other talks have been excellent, but this one, for me anyway was about something that REALLY interested me. That is, creating and marketing a online application that solves a specific problem, all while working somewhere else full time. For those of you plpaying at home, I’m doing exactly that with 88 Miles.

It was very reassuring that these guys went through simple experiences that I have had or am currently having. I’m going to stalk, erm, filnd them after all the talks finish and picks their brains.

I’m currently in John Allsopp’s microformats and mashup talk. It is filling my geek quota quite nicely…

More soon.

Cleaning up this town

Kelly Goto has just finished her talk – very interesting. Maybe not in terms of real concepts, but definately has supplied food for though.

Now listening to Jeremy Keith about AJAX. Been eXcellent so far :)

I’m in the foyer of Web Directions

That’s right kiddies, I have arrived in Sydney and I’m waiting for the first talks to start.

I’ve set up a Flickr feed (You can see the results down the bottom of the sidebar, to your right. Please mind the gap.

I’ve set up Shozu to send any photos I take from my picture phone straight to Flickr in (almost) real time, so enjoy the love. Assuming that I remember to take some photos :)

So watch this space for all the latest news from the coolest web conference this side of Sydney harbour…

One week to go…

…until webdirections 06. I’m starting to get rather excited about it all now. Even though I don’t actually have accomodation yet :)

I’ve quite looking forward to meeting the international and national speakers – it will be really cool to meet the big thinkers in the web industry, like Molly Holzschlag, Derek Featherstone and Andy Clarke (not to mention the others!). Hopefully it will leave me motivated and full of beans. Not that I’m not motivated at the moment, but you can never have to much.

Tim Lucas and Cameron Adams obviously have way to much time on their hands, as they released Web directions connections. Cool little app – both Miles and I spent a little too much time playing with it this morning, even though neither really could afford to (work hasn’t really eased up).

Speaking of 88 Miles (Leave me alone – it’s been a big week and I can’t be bothered coming up with a proper segway*), things are ramping up. I’ve made a few tweaks with the design and copy, and it seems to be attracting more sign-ups like a bees to the honeypot. It would be cool to get some big names in the web industry to have a look and blog about it. Now, where to find some poeple of high-enough profile… Hmmm.

On a personal note, I finally graduated last night, so I’m now officially a Bachelor of Computer Science (Hons). Thankyou god it is all over…

It would be a safe bet that my next post will be from Sydney (if my laptop makes it back in time), so until then…

* Is this even the correct spelling on the word in theis context?!