@madpilot makes

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 :)