@madpilot makes

Ideas 6: The Edge of the Web Edition

Perth has had it’s day in the sun, by holding the last five Ideas events, but now it is Brisvegas’ go. The theme: Edge of the Web, because we have two speakers giving you exclusive previews of their Edge of the Web presentations: Ash Donaldson presenting Designing to persuade: Shaping the User Experience and yours truly blabbing on about Stuff They Never Taught You at Website School.

We will be at the Plough Inn, Southbank on October 21st 2009. So if you are in Brisbane, and have been meaning to get to an AWIA event, now is your chance!

Members are $45, non members are $55. Bargin.

See you all then!

Ideas 5: The accessibilty edition

The Australian Web Industry Association, together with Web Industry Professionals Association, present Ideas 5. This year’s Ideas is is focussing on Understanding WCAG 2.0 & Preparing Websites with Improved Accessibility. If you are a web developer, and you aren’t thinking about accessibility then you REALLY need to get your butt down to the Melbourne Hotel in Perth on 22 of April 2009. Tickets are only $40 for AWIA members ($55 if you aren’t. In unrelated news, AWIA memberships are pretty cheap)

The two talks will be given by Roger Hudson and About Andrew, both experts in their fields, so seriously, it’s a great opportunity to hear from people that know what they are talking about.

Go to the website and get more info. Go on. Seriously.

Now do I make a bad pun about Christmas or summer BBQs…

You know what, I’ll save you the pain.

The reason I’m being tempted by such high-brow literary devices, is the AWIA Web Mixed Grill – 24 short web articles from now up until Christmas – a web advent calendar if you will. Today saw Miles Burke givng hints and tips about being a successful freelancer, and tomorrow I’m blabbering on about HTTP request codes or something, and I hear from a small avian creature that there is a number of other hawt-sauce articles coming up, so it’s well worth the RSS subscription.

Of course, if you think that you have what is takes to impart some knowledge on the web world at large, then there is still a few spots left, so email mixedgrill@webindustry.asn.au and pony up some grey matter.

Why freelancers should go to conferences

Let me take my Event coordinator hat off for just one moment, and replace it with my “Hey, I’m a freelancer – why should I fork our hundreds of dollars to go to a conference” hat (I have a lot of very specific hats). Miles Burke recently wrote about why you should attend two conferences every year, but what about you, my fellow freelancers, who have to watch the pennies? I personally think freelancers have the most to gain from attending conferences – think about it:

  1. Learning new stuff. As a freelancer, every minute you aren’t working on a client project is money you aren’t making. When do you get a chance to find out about new stuff? It’s usually squeezed in around lunch time or after hours, which is cool but how can you moot the benefits of a new tech? Although things like twitter or forums fill the gap a little, nothing beats old school, real word face-to-face talks. There are lots of people at conferences who’s minds are focused purely on new stuff.
  2. Meet famous people. Conferences are really just an excuse for the organisers to fly over people they admire. The thing is, because these people are only really famous on the internet, they are still usually really down to earth and approachable and are more than happy to chew-the-fat over a beer or three.
  3. Inspiration.  Smart people hang out at conferences. Smart people talk about smart stuff at conferences. Smart ideas are inspirational. Every time I come back from a conference I have a head full of crazy ideas that I wish I had more time to implement.
  4. Networking. I don’t care what anyone says – the MOST important skill a freelancer can have is the ability to network. 90% of my freelance work comes through people I’ve met (And I’d put money on the fact that most freelancers are the same). Freelancers by definition won’t have a dedicated marketing person, or a huge marketing budget, so networking is really a cheap and easy way to meet new clients (and more importantly new friends). Conferences have many people in a small area who could potentially want to talk to you. (Don’t forget your business cards).
  5. Tax Deduction. ‘Nuff Said

Ok, ok talk is cheap (thank god, otherwise I’d be bankrupt) but there really isn’t a way to describe the experience of a conference – the only way you’ll understand is to go to one. Now, you sandgropers are lucky because we have Edge of the Web on our doorstep. I had to fly to Sydney and sleep on a mates floor to get my first conference experience, and it still cost me nearly $2000 (but it was freaking awesome). You can get the same experience for $495 – I’m no Dr. Maths, but that sounds a truck load better.

Seriously, if you are umming and ahhing, just do it. I’ll see you in November :)

What I learnt at Web Directions South 08

First off, thank to WA government for having the foresight for ignoring the actual birthday of the Queen and making today a public holiday – my couch has been-a callin’. So what has been happening over the past couple of days?

Day 0

After getting in early morning on the Wednesday, I toddled along to Stories for one of their famous egg and bacon rolls with Simon, Lachlan and Nick.  Oh how I’ve waited for that. I could have gone home at this point a happy man, but then there was work to do! Spending the day tweaking my presentation, next it was up to the Kirk for memories of last year (Yes, they still only have five pint glasses) and then on to Port80 Sydney: Wednesday edition. We had a fantastic turnout, with over 80 people – most of which were new faces. Big ups to Clever starfish, radharc and Saasu.com for throwing dollars on the bar. I’m seeing a definate pattern here in regards to free beer.

Day 1

Waking up slightly hung over, I was off to the registration desk, and then the games began. Highlights for me was Dmitry Baranovskiy’s web vector graphics  talk. I’m about to go download raphael and build some stuff – not only if the guy a genius, but his talks are hilarious. Unfortunately, I missed the JavaScript workshop, where I hear Cameron Adams wowed the crowds with a JavaScript drum machine – with visualizations. The final keynote from August de los Reyes tied software and psycology together, something that I think is the crux of what we do. It was also a great talk, although the ads were a little too much to take.

What I learnt:

  • Seeing cool stuff is inspiring.
  • When giving a presentation, find out about the audience – it’s better to pitch a bit to high than to low.
  • Don’t try to squeeze in 2 hours of material into 55 minutes

Day 1.2

Next up was WebJam8. The one big disappointment of this trip is that I didn’t get something entered in WebJam, but having a Web Directions talk to do and a stupid amount of work took priority… Some really cool stuff was shown: Dmitry came third with a live code, that added reflections and animation to images on a web page, Diana came second with a crazy funny fast presentation about governments and bike helmets and the winners, Mr Speaker and Henry Tapia did a awesome YouTube remixer. In a moment of unlike-me-ness, I wentback to the hotel at a reasonable hour…

Day 2

…and for the first time EVER made it to the first session of the second day! So no one can joke that I missed the best talk of the conference (as happened the past couple of years) and I wasn’t dissapointed. Jeffrey Veen is a brilliant speaker, and I wanted to pull my laptop out right there and then and cut some code. This is the sort of stuff that makes these conferences. After lunch, I gave my presentation on OpenID, OAuth and webservices (Available on slideshare here), and I think it went pretty well. The backchannel was only positive, so I count that as a win. Next I headed over to Douglas Crockford for a good old fashioned Computer Science lecture, god that takes me back! Whilst a little dry, and technical (Who am I kidding – I wanted that) it generated some great discussion.

What I learnt:

  • Great talks bring in personal experience
  • You need to get the audience to think
  • Dual monitor Powerpoint never works properly when you need it to

Closing night

With all of the festivities over, it was time to let the hair down at the Shellbourne, for a quick shandy.  Had a debate about designers vs UX experts (We were actually arguing the same point, it turns out), and had many an indepth conversation, including one with Charles from Opera, about webservice brokering. So much so, my plans to build one may now be possible (Huzzah!).

What I learnt:

  • Finding random “locals” to go out with doesn’t mean they know where they are going
  • Peanuts 2u is actually a brand of salted almonds
  • There is a “No redheads” policy in NSW pubs
  • Bats are weird and scary

So that was my Web Directions experience in a nutshell! Roll on Edge of the Web – only five weeks until we get to do it all over again!

Have a happy and safe conference season

We are about to head into my favourite times of the year – Australian web conference season! Ausralia’s biggest web conference – Web Directions South – is due to kick off on Thursday, and as usual the Perth Posse (sans Adrian and Rose) and heading over. There is even a few n00bs who have joined the clan, making for this years Port80 Sydney even bigger! As previously mentioned, I’m lucky enough to be speaking on OpenID, OAuth and Webservices on Friday. Not to mention always amazing WebJam 8 on Thursday night (Unfortunately a lack of rips in the time-space continuum has stopped me from presenting in that this year – I petition for a 30 hour day – whos with me?) and the always crazy post-conference drinks on the Friday. Let the games begin.

BUT! We can’t let the east coast have all the fun – don’t forget that Perth first major web conference is  happening in less than 6 weeks! Our little sub-committee has been toiling away for the past few months organising the very first Edge of the Web conference and fourth WA Web Awards. Tickets are on sale now for both events, being held on November 6 and 7. There are some awesome speakers coming from overseas and over-east. There is also a number of other soon-to-be announced activities, so what this space.


Speaker Program and Workshops are now available

We are now three months out from Perth’s first ever Edge of the Web Conference, so what better time is there is announce the speaker program and workshops! There is come awesome topics there, and I’m really excited about the whole thing! Get the skinny here.

There is also now only a week and a half before entries for the WA Web Awards close, so if you are thinking of entering, hurry the hell up!

Did I mention I’m excited? :)

BarCamp Perth 2.0 – We came, we saw, we caught bird flu

Put 80-odd  geeks in a room and magic happens, which is what happened on Saturday at BarCamp 2.0, Perth. It was a fantastic turn out – we even got a couple of east coasters (Thanks @marclehmann and @liako) to enjoy the frivolities. Although, due to me running around like a blowfly with it’s head cut off, I still manged to get a couple of great presentations, which could lead to some seriously cool ideas which is all you can ask from a BarCamp.

But the biggest announcement for the day was WA’s very own Web conference – Edge of the Web.  After three awesome Web Awards over the last three years, it was a natural progression for us to push the envelope a little. Keep November 6 and 7 free – it’s going to be three types of awesome. We have international and national speakers, and we are fairly good at throwing parties over this side of the Nullabor. Oh, and we are running a poll, were you can put your 3c worth in picking our logo.

Having said that. I do have one gripe about our fair city. After the PTUB that followed BarCamp at the Royal, we moved on to @richardgiles‘ place for a cuppa tea and a scone. We realised we were out of Brandy, so we went out to find a friendly establishment to purchase a night-cap or two. It was 10pm in the evening AND EVERYTHING WAS CLOSED. I seriously caught a cab out to South Perth to go through a drive through. WTF. Anyway. Enough bitching – it was a top day and night and I’m not going to let our draconian liquor licensing laws spoil that.

Anyhoo, I’m off to nurse this cold that I and half of the Perth twitterati seem to have contracted.

Ideas 4 – We pulled it off!

… and it rocked.

Just to test our sanity, AWIA decided to pull together Ideas4 in two weeks, (minus a couple of days because of public holidays) and not only did we do it, we managed to hit our attendance target and managed to have the show run smoothly!

We had 84 attendees (one all the way from America!), and two lovely presenters who did a terrific job.

A big, huge thanks to Rachel Cook, who despite being 8 months pregnant, told us about her time in Silicon Valley as an Angel Investor, and to Lisa Herrod who flew all the way from Sydney (on her birthday no less) to remind us that standards-based code and semantic markup aren’t enough to make a site accessible.

Jordan recorded both talks, and has uploaded them to Vimeo, and there is an Ideas 4 Flickr set. If you took photos, remember to tag them as ideas4.

Ideas 4 – Rachel Cook at Ideas4 on Vimeo.

Ideas 4 – Lisa Herrod at Ideas4 on Vimeo.

I was an awesome night – can’t wait for the next one!

AWIA Event: Ideas4

For those of you who don’t remember, AWIA (and back in the day: Port80) has been running a series of talks, deemed “the Ideas series”, and I’m proud to announce the next one in the franchise: Ideas4!

We are lucky enough to have Lisa Herrod, a User Experience expert (and all-round nice gal) flying over from Sydney and local girl, Rachel Cook talking on startups. We might even have a special international guest, if everything falls into place ;)

Ideas 1,2 and 3 were awesome, and I’m expecting nothing less from Ideas 4, so make sure you mark 30 January 2008 in your diary. Tickets are $25 for AWIA members and $35 for non-members.

Head over to http://www.webindustry.asn.au/ideas4 for the rest of the details and to get your tickets.

Hurry though, they’ll sell out. They always do…