Archive: September, 2006


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Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Flickr Services: Flickr API:

Hallelujah! I've been waiting for Flickr to add this method. Now the API is truly complete.

Sydney to Melbourne

Jessica and I will be leaving the confines of Sydney to explore a little more of Australia. We’ll be coming to Melbourne next week.

We’re leaving Sydney on Wednesday at 11am, arriving in Melbourne at 12:30. We’ll stay until Saturday, when we’ll fly out of Melbourne at 11am to arrive back in Sydney at 12:20.

Melbournites, get in touch. I’ve met plenty of you over the last few days, and I figured a quick blog post would be easier than a mass mailout. Sitepoint people, WSG people, general geeks, leave a comment and let me know about places to stay, places to eat, and places to drink. See you all soon in what I’ve heard is the culinary capital of Australia.

Wrapping up Web Directions South

Web Directions South is over for this year. It was a top-notch conference.

The bar was set pretty high on day one, but day two turned out to be equally inspiring. That ol’ smoothie Malarkey got the crowd all fired up with his talk about design inspiration. His slick slides were matched by his equally slick outfit.

Kelly deserves a medal for her presentation. She had almost completely lost her voice, but she went ahead and spoke anyway, holding the lapel mike up close to her mouth so that her whispered words would be audible. What a trooper!

My second talk of the conference went better than I anticipated. I thought that the code-heavy, no-nonsense approach, so different from my first presentation, would put a lot of people off. Not so, apparently. I had a lot of people come to me at the party afterwards and tell me that they really enjoyed it. That surprised me. I thought it would be useful, but I didn’t think it would be very enjoyable.

In fact, I got the best piece of feedback that a presenter could ask for. A woman, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten (sorry!), told me that she was watching my presentation with her colleague as she frantically scribbled notes. At one point, she scribbled down a message and passed it to her colleague. It read, “this code is making me horny.”

Now, that’s my kind of audience.

As always with conferences like this, the presentations are only part of the experience. It’s the people that really make or break an event like this. I’m happy to report that the people at Web Directions were the salt of the earth. I’ve met so many nice, friendly, amusing, knowledgeable peers at this conference. It’s always great to finally meet people in the flesh after reading their blogs or looking at their Flickr pics for so long beforehand. And I was able to put faces to the names of some of my fellow microformateers, Dmitry Baranovskiy and Ben Buchanan.

Extra kudos must go to the Sitepoint gang who threw an excellent after-party, replete with free booze.

Keep an eye on the website for the forthcoming podcast. In the meantime, you can read synopses of the presentations from written by Andrew, official liveblogger of Web Directions South.

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Flickr Services

You can now get responses from the Flickr API formatted as JSON.

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Halfway through Web Directions South

The first day of Web Directions South went superbly. The quality of the presentations was exceptionally high (the quality of the post-presentation schmoozing was also high, thanks to the copious amounts of wine, beer and nibbles provided).

It was interesting to see some overarching themes emerge. In particular, I think just about every presentation I saw mentioned the importance of user testing.

John did a great job with his talk on microformats. He’s such an enthusiastic and passionate speaker, he never fails to get me (and everyone else in the room) excited.

Derek was the last speaker of the day and man, was he on fire! I’ve seen him present a few times and he’s always good, but this time he blew me away. The presentation was almost like a keynote, full of “what if?” questions and creative ideas. I found it really inspiring: it made want to whip out my laptop and start hacking stuff together straight away.

Of course, the lure of beer put paid to that idea.

Day two is about to kick off. If it turns out to be anything like day one, I’m in for a treat.

One talk down, one to go

I’m having a good time in Sydney. As illustrated in my Flickr photostream, I’ve been visiting all the usual tourist locations: the Opera House, filming locations from The Matrix, that kind of thing.

The Web Directions South conference is now motoring along and thus far, everything is going swimmingly. The pre-conference workshops have been going on for the past couple of days. I did a workshop on DOM Scripting and Ajax, which was good fun. The audience were a savvy bunch and they had some great questions and suggestions. The whole thing is online over at the DOM Scripting site.

Today the conference proper kicked off with the inimitable Kelly Goto, who gave a terrific and inspiring keynote. Then I had to follow her.

I wasn’t sure if I had prepared enough material. When I was practising my presentation back in my room, I was done in twenty minutes. As it turned out, I had plenty to say. In fact, there was only time for one single question from the audience at the end, which is a bit of a shame.

Overall though, it went well. There were no technical hitches (phew!) and some people came up to me afterwards and said they really enjoyed it.

You can take a look at the slides but they won’t make much sense without the context of the presentation. Fortunately, the whole thing has been recorded. I’ll be sure to get the audio transcribed and post it in the articles section of this site.

Now that I’ve got the first presentation out of the way, I can start fretting over the next one. Today I was talking about Ajax in a very broad hands-off kind of way. Tomorrow I’ll be delving into the actual code for building Ajax apps. As usual, I’ll be riding my Hijax hobbyhorse. I’m going to condense a lot of stuff down from my workshop so I’m hoping that the people who were at the workshop will go to the presentation by Thomas Vander Wal which is on at the same time as mine.

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Google Mars

That partnership between Google and Nasa is beginning to bear some fruit.

Web Directions North | February 6 - 10, 2007

I'm going to Vancouver in February. w00t! This conference looks like it's going to kick arse.

Friday, September 22nd, 2006 - RailsConf Presentation Slides and Example Code

A PDF of Dan's slides from RailsConf. Looks like it was an excellent presentation.

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

YUI’s Matt Sweeney and Hands-on YUI Workshops at Yahoo! Developer Day/Hack Day September 29-30 in Sunnyvale » Yahoo! User Interface Blog

Yahoo is opening up Hack Day to the masses. If you're anywhere near Sunnyvale on September 29th, this should be fun.

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006 -- Online Catalog: Using Microformats

Brian's PDF book on microformats is now available from O'Reilly for $9.99. Congratulations, Mr. Suda!

Web Directions South

In a few days, I’ll be getting on a plane to Sydney. I’ve never been in the Southern hemisphere before, much less Australia. I am, needless to say, quite excited.

I’ll be speaking at Web Directions South. Now, at this stage, I’m no stranger to public speaking but I’m kinda nervous about speaking at this conference. See, getting to speak at this event is something of a dream come true for me. Don’t believe me? Let me direct your attention to my first post of 2006, wherein I set down my resolutions for the year. My resolve hasn’t been very strong in the bouzouki playing department, but I’m thrilled that my second resolution is going to become a reality.

If I’m being flown halfway ‘round the world to speak in front of an audience, I want to make damn sure that they get their money’s worth. Fortunately, the schedule is set up in such a way that I think I can please most people. On the first day, I’m giving a code-free presentation called Explaining Ajax. Then, on the second day (which is double-tracked), I’ll be doing a much more hands-on session on Ajax and Progressive Enhancement.

I’ll also be doing a full-day workshop two days before the conference proper. Busy, busy, busy.

I’m feeling pretty confident about the workshop and the hands-on session. I’ve had plenty of experience delivering both. It’s the overview presentation that I’ve been fretting over. I want it to be entertaining but informative. I hope I can strike the right balance.

I spent the last week in Florida hanging out with the in-laws at the beach house in Saint Augustine. I didn’t pass up the opportunity to splash around in the waves and eat plenty of shrimp (though not at the same time), but I spent a lot of time with my laptop open putting together my slides. I’ve spent so long thinking about what makes a good presentation that I fear I’m in danger of over-analyzing everything.

My task isn’t made any easier by the exalted company in which I will be appearing. I’ll be speaking right after Kelly Goto. This is like being asked to play a tune after Mozart has just left the piano.

I probably shouldn’t worry so much. Once I’m standing in front of a captive audience, you can wind me up and let me loose. Usually there’s at least some value hidden in the stream of words that comes gushing out.

The cool factor of Web Directions just went up several notches with the unveiling of a backnetwork-style application called Web Connections. XFN, check. hCard, check. Google Map, check. Flickr pics, check. Tagging, check. RSS, check. Cameron and Tim have crafted a thing of beauty. If d.Construct is any indication, it will prove enormously useful.

I have a feeling that any jetlag I may experience from crossing continents will be offset by my permanent state of excitement. Seeing as this visit down under may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, I don’t plan on heading back straight after the conference. Jessica and I will stick around for another ten days afterwards, exploring all that Sydney has to offer.

I can’t wait. My only fear is that I’ve been so busy preparing my presentation that I haven’t had time to practice the useful everyday Australian phrases that Cam told me would come in so handy. To whit, “crikey, this cobber’s going gangbusters on my wallaroo.”

moo | we love to print

Make business cards with your Flickr pics. Got a pro account? You can order a test batch of ten for free. The process of creating the cards is fun and easy. I can't wait to see the results.

Monday, September 18th, 2006

d.construct makes you 35% more friendly

Glenn has some interesting statistics from the d.Construct backnetwork.

Saturday, September 16th, 2006

The comments of crowds

The Future Of Web Apps summit took place in San Francisco this week. By all accounts, it was an excellent two days although it did spark an interesting hand-wringing debate about diversity which reminded me of the best ever episode of Father Ted: “I hear you’re a racist now, Father”.

One of the speakers was Mike Davidson. During his talk about Newsvine and online communities, my ears started burning. Why, I do believe he’s talking about me!

It all goes back to this post I made where I talked about how crap most comments are:

I’d like to propose a corollary of Sturgeon’s Law for blogs: Comments should be disabled 90% of the time.

Mike made the point that he finds it frustrating not being able to comment on my posts. Fair enough. He also speculated that the lack of a comment facility here might well lead to a decrease in traffic. I think he’s probably right.

But here’s the thing: I’m okay with that. I don’t think lots of traffic is a goal to strive for. There’s no doubt that comments are a simple and effective way of driving traffic to your site, but to what end? Instead of having lots of visitors, I’d much rather have a small amount of the right kind of visitors.

I’ve tried to explain this to people in the past (especially people just starting out in blogging) but I keep running into the same problem over and over: nobody believes a word I’m saying. But I swear it’s true! I’ve seen the way that useless comments can lower the tone on other sites and I don’t want it happening here.

Let me reiterate that this problem is particularly troublesome on sites that cover a diverse range of topics. Narrowly focused sites tend to foster higher quality comments. That’s why I’ve got comments enabled on the DOM Scripting blog which is focused entirely on JavaScript, but not here on Adactio, which is a smorgasbord of any ol’ rubbish that pops into my head.

It’s definitely a challenge for a wide-ranging site like Newsvine which seems to be handling the situation quite well. It’s certainly doing a lot better job than Digg. The rude, pointless, spiteful bickering that goes on over there makes me want to block any referrals from that domain. Mind you, it could simply be a matter of numbers. Digg users have clearly left their Dunbar number in the dust while Newsvine still feels cosy enough.

I’ve been trying to get at the root of my issues with comments on blogs. Ironically, I was able to crystalize my thoughts through participating in the comments on a blog post by Bryan Veloso. Oh, the irony!

I realised that comments on blogs are trying to fulfil two roles. On the one hand, they are a feedback mechanism — “Good post!”, “Me too!”, “You’re full of crap!”, et cetera. On the other hand, people claim that comments are a great way of fostering conversation.

Well, which is it? Feedback or conversation? Comments are a so-so way of dealing with both although better tools exist. Email is better for feedback. Mailing lists, forums, and instant messaging are better for conversations.

Now that I’ve had my about the dual nature of comments, I can better address what I want from them.

Here at Adactio, I don’t want to start conversations. I’m not looking to foster a community. I already run one large online community and I’d rather keep this site separate from all that. I am, however, interested in getting occasional feedback or hearing what other people have to say about some of the things I write about here. So, after much deliberation, here’s the moment that almost nobody has been waiting for:

I’m opening up comments here… but with a twist. To encourage feedback whilst discouraging conversation, I’m turning to .

There are a number of factors that go into making a wise crowd:

  1. Numbers. Generally, the bigger the crowd, the better. I have no idea how many people read this blog so I have no clue as to whether there will be enough people to make this work.

  2. Diversity. A diverse range of backgrounds and opinions is vital. I suspect that my site is mostly read by geeks, but I know there are non-geek friends and family that also stop by. Everybody’s opinion is valuable.

  3. Independence. This is the clincher. To really get wisdom from a crowd, it is vital that each person is acting independently. For a practical demonstration, just think about the “ask the audience” part of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The results are strikingly good because each audience member has no idea what the others are choosing.

Comments on blogs fall down on that last point. Traditionally, comments are visible, thereby influencing future comments. That’s good if you’re trying to stoke a conversation, but lousy for getting some honest feedback.

So here’s what Im going to do:

I will occasionally open up some posts for comments. You will be presented with the usual form: name, email, url, etc. I would greatly appreciate getting your opinion. However, your comment will not be published immediately.

Comments will remain open for a set period of time; sometimes a week, sometimes a month. At the end of this time, all the comments will be published at once. At this point, it will no longer be possible to add a comment.

I still need to iron out a few technical details. It would be nice if there were a cron job set up so that you could be notified when your comment goes live. But mostly it’s a pretty straightforward set-up. It’s really only a minor variation on the traditional comment model but I’m intrigued to see what the results turn out to be.

Like I said, I won’t be doing this for every post. I intend to stick to my rule of thumb and keep comments closed 90% of the time.

Let’s get the ball rolling. What do you think of this idea? How vehemently do you disagree with my assessment of comments on blogs? Exactly how pretentious and arrogant do you think I am?

Comments are open.

Two Point Oh Yeah! – T-Shirts for the Ajax generation

Ben was wearing a "Well Fed" t-shirt at d.Construct and it looked great. I think I'll have to get myself one.

Brown University

Interesting use of unobtrusive JavaScript for front page navigation. Bonus points are awarded for the hAtom and hCard markup.

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Grab Your Fork

A Sydney-based food blog that includes an event calendar (sadly not hCalendar). I'm going to trawl through the archives.

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

iTunes Search API Around the Corner? -

Jonathon has found some circumstantial evidence of an API for searching the iTunes music store. That could be really interesting. It might be fun to mash it up with Amazon's API.

Highlight Microformats with CSS :: journal :: hicksdesign Ο°

Jon has come up with a lightweight user stylesheet for highlighting microformats. It works a treat for my site.

Speaking at d.Construct

I like public speaking. I know that it strikes the fear of God into some people, but I get a kick out of it. As long as I’m speaking on a subject that I care about, there’s nothing I like more than addressing a captive audience.

I’ve done a fair bit of talking this year, with more on the way. Usually when I stand in front of a crowd, it’s to talk about DOM Scripting or Ajax. This year’s d.Construct was different. I had the opportunity to talk about APIs.

I have some experience with using a few APIs but I’m by no means an expert. Rather than attempt to give an in-depth technical overview of Web Services, I decided to share my personal experiences. It was the developer’s equivalent of showing off holiday snapshots.

I was kind of nervous about how it would go down. What I was doing was quite self-indulgent. But people seemed to like it. It’s funny, but as many a songwriter will tell you, the more personal you make something, the more universal its appeal.

Most people seemed to really enjoy the talk. That was probably helped by the fact that I kept it fairly short. After half an hour, I was done. That left plenty of time for questions and answers, which are always the best bit. There were some great questions from the audience that prompted even more babble from me.

I have to say, it was particularly pleasant to find myself speaking to an audience of over 300 people in Brighton. I felt proud to speak as a representative of my adopted town. With d.Construct, Andy has shown that it’s possible to put on a large, well-organised event outside London.

Here’s a page of links to sites I mentioned during my talk. I don’t think I’ll bother putting my slides online: they make absolutely no sense without the explanation to go with them.

My talk, along with all the others, was recorded by Drew, who did a fantastic job. They’ll popping up in the podcast before too long. I’m getting my talking transcribed through Casting Words and I’ll publish it once it’s ready.

Ian Forrester also managed to make a video of the whole thing. It’s weird being able to watch myself speaking. I use my hands almost as much as Simon does.

With the benefit of video playback, I can now say that I’m glad I wore my suit. In fact, I think what I really need is proper evening wear. Can’t you just seem me giving a presentation in a top hat and tails? I could even use a cane for pointing at the slides.

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Happy Cog Studios: Work:

Happy Cog redesigns and its siblings.

Sunday, September 10th, 2006


Reading through the post-d.Construct buzz, I see a number of recurring themes:

  1. The seats were too narrow.
  2. The badge incorporating the programme was ingenious.
  3. The Backnetwork rocked.

I’m certainly in agreement with that third point. Every conference should have an app like the Backnetwork.

I exchanged a couple of business cards over the weekend but really, it wasn’t something I needed to worry about. I knew I could just go into my network and download any vCards (via hCards) that I wanted.

It’s fun watching the Backnetwork fill up with Flickr pics, blog posts and reviews as attendees document their time at d.Construct. For my part, I’ve been updating my list of contacts to incorporate more people that I met over the weekend.

Thanks to the magic of XFN, here’s a microformatted incomplete list of the wonderful people I know from d.Construct, copied and pasted from my profile:

Fables of the dConstruction

What a weekend! d.Construct 2006 is over. It’s hard to believe after all the weeks and months spent preparing for a single day.

The night before the conference was spent wining and dining the speakers at one of my favourite restaurants. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it. I still had time to pop in for a quick drink at Heist. It seemed like everyone was having a good time, which was gratifying to see.

On the morning of the conference itself, I went along to the Corn Exchange early with Jessica; she kindly volunteered to help out on the day. We both pitched in with bag-filling duties. By the end, I was convinced of the merits of having a schwag-free conference next time.

Still, it seemed like people enjoyed their goody bags. The Yahoo! Answers water was probably the most practical thing in there.

The talks themselves went well, with very few technical hiccups. Nonetheless, I found it hard to completely relax and enjoy the presentations because I was so concerned about everyone else enjoying themselves.

It’s interesting reading blog posts about the different presentations. The reactions are quite varied. One person’s high point is another person’s low point. Mind you, I think just about everyone was in agreement that Jeffrey Veen was, as always, wonderful.

A few people felt that Jeff Barr’s talk was a bit corporate for a grass-roots event like d.Construct. I can see their point. It’s his job to travel the world giving what are basically product demos. The redeeming factor is that he has some great products to demo.

Something else that detracted from the grass-rootsiness was the paucity of Q and A. Apart from my talk and Simon and Paul’s, none of the other speakers had time to take questions, which is a shame. Without the audience interaction through asking questions, presentations can feel quite one-sided and lecture-like. That’s just my opinion, of course, but it seems to be one shared by everyone I talked to.

All the speakers said that they would have loved to have taken questions. Well, here’s a hot tip: learn how to measure time. 45 minutes is a nice compact timeframe to fit in a good presentation and still have time to take questions (half an hour can feel rushed and an hour often drags). Not allowing time for questions feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity. Going over the allotted time is downright discourteous.

I’m probably being over-critical. Nothing ever goes quite like clockwork and for the most part, the d.Construct schedule went very smoothly. This was probably helped by Richard’s affable and admirable role as compère.

The WiFi was a bit flaky in the morning but that was all fixed by the afternoon. As Suw pointed out, there was a distinct lack of power outlets in the main auditorium. There were quite a few out back though.

The after-party at The Terraces was great fun. Needless to say, the free booze ran out pretty quickly. I never even got the chance to play crazy golf. But I still had a great time. It’s always great to catch up with old friends and meet new people in a geek-saturated crowd. There’s something quite tribal about a gang of Web geeks gathered in a bar.

I ended up back at Blanch House, drinking cocktails ‘till three in the morning and unwinding with some fellow delegates.

Saturday was spent lounging, relaxing, and generally taking it easy. I got up far too late to attend the OpenStreetMap workshop, which is a pity. I ended up wandering the seafront and going to the Lego shop with an ever-changing amorphous crowd of friends in tow.

By evening time, this friend-cloud coalesced into a big barbecue on the beach. When the grilling was done and the drinks were flowing, by the light of the setting sun and the rising moon, we formed a circle and played Werewolf.

Nothing can top Werewolf on the beach so we didn’t even try. Some people came back to my place for more liquid refreshment and a spot of Quake before drifting off to their separate corners of the physical world.

I was sad to see everyone go, but it was great to have them all gathered here in Brighton for the weekend.

Friday, September 8th, 2006

Simon and Paul

Simon and Paul have finished giving their presentation and very good it was too. They covered a lot of ground in a short time but they did it in a clear, easy to follow way.

As is now mandatory, the presentation was illustrated with Flickr pics including one of mine, which I wasn’t expecting.

he guys did a good job of showing how useful APIs are from inside a huge company and from the evangelism they were doing, I expect to see Hack Days starting at other companies soon.

The talk flowed nicely into my presentation where I talked about APIs from the viewpoint of someone on the outside looking in. That’s no accident, of course: we planned the schedule that way. I think it worked out well.

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

d.Construct travel news

If you’re planning to come down to d.Construct tomorrow morning on a train from London, you might want to rethink your travel plans:

A train drivers’ union will decide later whether to go ahead with a major strike which is set to cripple services across southern England.

There’s always the bus, though that takes considerably longer. Or you could just come down tonight and go to the pub.

Update: The strike has been called off! Praise Jeebus!

Inspecting Morse

Does anyone reading this know Morse Code? If so, please let me know what this audio message means (I got as far as figuring out that the subject is “hello”).

I was trying to work out how to solve this conundrum when Brian suggested using Mechanical Turk. Of course! It’s the ideal task for for it. But when I tried to create a request I discovered that I needed an American bank account.

If anyone out there with the necessary connections wants to create a HIT for me, that would me much appreciated.

Go on… decode the message that some smartarse has left for me and earn yourself some .

Update: It’s been cracked! Matthew Somerville and Stuart Langridge earn super geek points for doing this. The message reads:


Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

d.Construct events

d.Construct is almost upon us. Everyone at Clearleft is excited and nervous in equal measure.

I wanted to give a quick heads up on some of the satellite events taking place around the conference.

If you haven’t heard yet, there will be pre-conference drinks on Thursday evening starting at 7pm at a place called Heist on West Street. We’ve hired out the downstairs room which should accommodate one hundred eager geeks.

It’s worth sticking around the day after d.Construct too. The guys from OpenStreetMap have put together a mapping workshop. It begins at ten in the morning and will probably go on until four in the afternoon on Saturday. The central hub will be the offices of Brighton Web at 2 Brunswick Terrace in Hove. Most of the time you’ll be out and about purposefully striding the streets of Brighton with a GPS device in hand. GPS devices will be provided but if you have one, please bring it along.

It looks the weather is going to be quite nice on the day of d.Construct. It’s a sign. The gods of weather clearly want us pasty geeks to go outdoors. With that in mind, I’ve decided to host a microformats picnic during the lunchtime break: 12:452pm. The Pavilion Gardens are right next to the Corn Exchange. The park has got WiFi, though it may hard to see your laptop screen in the sunshine. This picnic is for everyone. If you’re just curious about microformats, please come along and ask any questions you want. If you’re already using microformats, let’s talk about that.

All these events are on Upcoming. I’ve also marked this up in hCalender so you can subscribe to the events and stick ‘em on your mobile phone, iPod or whatever.

Monday, September 4th, 2006

YouTube - Human Space Invaders

This one's for Simon.

The unflappable Duke

When Richard gets a good book in his hands, nothing can disturb him.


Another trains/maps mashup... real time positioning of the Dart in Dublin.

Werewolves of London

BarCamp London is over. I had a really good time, for which I would like to thank Ian, Ben, and Murray ‘Gizzajob’ Rowan. I’m excited and energised by the stuff I saw over the weekend.

Niqui led a great discussion on Flash and accessibility… not an oxymoron. This discussion will continue long after BarCamp, I’m sure. Both Aral and Niqui are doing great work from within the Flash community and it’s important that the accessibility community can reach out to liaise with them.

I never did get ‘round to doing any more podcasting on the Sunday. I was too busy enjoying the presentations and talking to the other attendees. In the course of talking to people, I found some new APIs and saw some great mashups. By far the most fun mashup of the weekend was a hybrid of Pecha Kucha and

is a presentation format that forces presenters to show twenty slides with twenty seconds per slide. Each presentation is exactly six minutes and forty seconds long. I first saw it in action at Reboot 8.

There was a Pecha Kucha session on the first day of BarCamp. On the second day, there was a session of Pecha Kucha. This involved taking the last twenty links from someone’s account and displaying each one on the screen for twenty seconds while the account owner frantically tries to explain why they bookmarked it. Oh, and you’re not allowed to peruse back through your links beforehand.

I couldn’t resist so I just had to bear my online soul to the room. It was loads of fun. Watching other people run their links was equally fun. This was by far the most enjoyable Pecha Kucha experience I’ve had yet.

Still, my overriding memory of BarCamp will probably be of mob justice lynchings and murder in the night. Simon returned from FooCamp wildly excited about a social (or possibly anti-social) game called Werewolf. I won’t go into all the rules here but suffice to say it involves paranoia, psychology, lying, and treachery. What a great way to get to know people. We played from nine in the evening to five in the morning. So much for having a mini mashpit.

Spore Gameplay Video - Google Video

Spore fascinates me. It looks like the kind of thing that could change gaming forever.

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

Microformats triple bill

The excellence at BarCamp London continues. For a self-organised unconference, there’s some great planning in the schedule. I attended three microformats presentations back to back.

Frances Berriman got things started with a succinct introduction and explanation, followed by some discussion. I feel bad because I think I hogged the conversation… I tend to get very excited about microformats.

Glenn was up next with the practical examples. He showed and explained the d.Construct backnetwork. Then he followed that up with his experiences of using microformats. It was fascinating, and once again, the discussion afterwards was great.

By the time Drew was up, the level of complexity had been gradually increased. He talked about parsing microformats and did an excellent job of explaining some fairly technical stuff.

It was very inspiring. But then, I’m biased: microformats remind me why I fell in love with the Web in the first place.

API - MetaWeather

I think it could be fun to mash up events (via location) with weather. This API would let me do that. How useful would it be to know what the weather would be like before coming to dConstruct, for instance?

Virtual trainspotting

The second day of BarCamp London is going great — I’m amazed a the energy and enthusiasm after a night of very little sleep for everyone. The lack of sleep can be attributed to Simon and his damn Werewolf game.

I’ve just seen the most wonderful presentation from the excellent Matthew Somerville. He works on They Work For You… and I just found out that he’s the guy who did the renegade accessible Odeon site!

He’s built a fantastic mashup of maps and train times. Maybe I shouldn’t be drawing attention to it because he’s getting the data by screen-scraping — because there is no National Rail API — but damn, this is sweet! You can find out when they’re due to arrive at a station. You can see the trains moving along the map. Click the checkbox to speed up the movement by ten.

See how Brighton is in the drop-down list of stations? Matthew added that in the middle of the presentation in response to my request. After all, I need to get back down to Brighton later today.

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

Live from Barcamp London

I’m at Barcamp London. It’s been a great day so far with lots of disparate talks nicely punctuated with plenty of food and drink.

For my part, I cheated and recycled my Hijax talk from XTech (I figured most people wouldn’t have seen it). It was fun.

I spent half of my time grabbing people for quick interviews for the d.Construct podcast. I’ve just published the episode so download the MP3 and get a taste of that Barcamp magic.

The mini-Mashupcamp is next on the agenda. After that, the sleeping bags come out.

I plan to do some more field recordings for the podcast tomorrow. And I really must take more pictures and post them to Flickr.

Friday, September 1st, 2006

Digital Web Magazine - The Big Picture on Microformats

A great article by John Allsopp that serves as an excellent introduction to microformats.