Archive: September, 2007


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Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Kung Shui

Podcast coverage of South by Southwest Interactive 2007 continues to emerge, drop by drop. The audio recording of my joint presentation with Derek emerged last month. As usual, I’ve had the talk transcribed so you can read it, search it and link to it: Ajax Kung Fu Meets Accessibility Feng Shui.

Don’t forget: the RSS feed from the “articles” section of this site doubles up as a podcast.

There’s still no sign of the talk I did with Andy, How to Bluff Your Way in Web 2.0, but as soon as it’s available, I’ll get that transcribed too.

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Ajax Kung Fu Meets Accessibility Feng Shui

A presentation with Derek Featherstone at South by Southwest 2007.

si scott design

Beautiful artwork in a minimalist interface. But you'd better have your browser window maximised on a big monitor. *sigh*

defective yeti: Cliche Rotation Project, Round II

It's time roll out some new clichés. I like "reporting from the green zone" as a substitute for "seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses."

Q&A: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined

A Q&A with Ridley Scott on the eve of releasing Blade Runner: The Final Cut.


Tom Morris was in town today today so I invited him to take shelter from the miserable weather ‘round at Clearleft Towers. Which reminds of something Tom showed me at BarCamp Brighton that I’ve been meaning to share for a while now.

Tom has an hCard on his blog. By default the information provided is fairly basic: an email address, a URL and a vague physical address. Right by the hCard, there’s a simple form that allows you to log on using OpenID. If you log on and you’re on a white list of Tom’s friends, the hCard is updated to reveal more information: telephone numbers and a complete physical address.

That’s pretty clever. And when you consider that OpenID is a URL-based authentication system and XFN is also based around URLs, it would be pretty easy to have the white list correspond to an XFN list on the same page as the hCard.

hCard | OpenID | XFN… it’s like Unix pipes for the Web: small pieces, loosely joined.

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Google 'to test rival to Second Life' - Times Online

Is Google Earth about to become a more immersive environment?


I tend to compulsively sign up to just about every new web-based tool or social networking site that comes along. Most of my accounts then languish unused because the service turns out to suck in a fairly fundamental manner.

I signed up for Tumblr a while back. On the face of it, it doesn’t really have anything new to offer; it’s basically just a blogging tool but one designed for micro-content rather than long posts. But there’s something about it that’s—forgive the nineties term—sticky.

Tumblr allows you to pull in feeds from other places. At first, this is what I did but I realised that there wasn’t much point in that because I already have a lifestream. The lifestream aspect of Tumblr just made it harder to filter the Tumblr-specific content. Jaiku does a better job of that, allowing not just the author, but also the reader, to filter content by source.

I don’t use Tumblr for posting links—I’ve got for that. And I don’t use it for photos—that’s what Flickr is for. So I focus on the things that Tumblr is particularly good at handling: videos and quotes.

The Tumblr bookmarklet is pretty clever. If I click it when I’m on YouTube, it guesses that I probably want to post that video. If I highlight some text on a page and then click the bookmarklet, the selected text will be added as a quote. Most importantly of all, the process of posting is very fast and unobtrusive; one or two clicks and I’m done. That means there’s no tagging, which might make refindability difficult, but the speed and ease of posting makes me more likely to click that bookmarklet.

Tumblr has a kind of casual throwaway feel to it and that’s how I’ve been using it: videos and quotes that don’t quite warrant a blog post or a link. Tumblr isn’t the most fully-featured service out there but that’s also its strength. If you’re interested, you can look at my Tumblr account.

Twitter / David Recordon: I gotz me some hCard and XFN

Livejournal profile pages get some microformats lovin', That's a lot of hCards.

Brighton Wok: The Legend of Ganja Boxing: New Movie Trailer on Vimeo

This looks like being the year's best Brighton-based ninja stoner movie.

Hand Signals

How to interpret those military hand signals they always use in the movies.

LOLTheist: Blasphemy is Teh Funneh

Just as with lolcats, the cumalitive effect of this lolcat/religion mashup is pure hilarity. I'll never look at religious iconography the same way again.

.: This Is A Knife :.

Faceball on Channel 4. Too weird.

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Amazon: A Quick Tour of Our New Remodel

Amazon is AB testing their next design iteration. Bye, bye tabs (yay!), hello fly-out menus (boo!).

Twitter Blog: Tracking Twitter

Twitter introduces the ability to get alerted by phone or IM when keywords are mentioned. A nice little unobtrusive feature.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Stephen Fry - VideoJug

Stephen Fry answers questions on VideoJug about technology and Web 2.0 amongst other things. Swoonsome.


Amazon is selling MP3s. Right now it’s US only (and I’ve got a sneaky US account on the side) but hopefully this will reach foreign shores before too long. Straight out of the starting gate, they’ve got about 2 million songs on offer. Every single one of those songs is encoded at 256kbps with no DRM. It’s that last detail that makes this such a big deal.

I’ve never been able to get my head around the justifications for DRM. In the past, I have been literally sitting in front of my computer with my credit card in hand, eager to spend money on music I love. But rather than greet me with open arms, services like iTunes instead treat me with suspicion, demanding that they get to call the shots about how I can use music that I’ve bought.

For a really egregious example of where this can lead, take note that Virgin Digital is shutting down:

All tracks used Windows Media DRM, and therefore were only playable under Windows and on WMA-compatible devices. The site now advises its customers who have purchased tracks to back them up, as they will not be able to download them again once Virgin Digital has closed. It’s unclear whether the purchasers of individual tracks will be able to access their songs without burning them to CD and reimporting them as MP3s, but it’s better to be safe than sorry if you’re one of those customers. And naturally, subscribing members will lose access altogether once their subscriptions lapse.

DRM-crippled suppliers treat me like a criminal. That turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. It’s precisely because of the DRM that I resort to using peer-to-peer networks or other illicit means of music acquisition.

Make no mistake, the design of the iTunes music store trumps Amazon on just about every level. For most of the purchasing process, the user experience is far superior on iTunes. But the user experience doesn’t end with a financial transaction. The user experience of interacting with the purchased song continues long after leaving the store.

I haven’t bought anything from the iTunes music store because of the DRM. I have used it though: I’ve been given gift certificates for iTunes downloads. This is what I have to do after completing a download:

  1. Pull out the read/write CD I keep just for this,
  2. Burn my new music to the CD,
  3. Rip the music back as MP3,
  4. Erase the CD in preparation for step 1.

And that’s perfectly legal allowed by the terms of service*. But I can’t just convert from DRMed AAC straight to MP3—that would be illegal.

Now, it’s pretty clear that this kind of “copy protection” isn’t going to get in the way of anyone who seriously wants to make copies of the music. All it does is place frustrating stumbling blocks in the path of legitimate customers who want to listen to their purchased music wherever they choose.

I hope that the launch of the Amazon MP3 store is a sign that record companies are finally beginning to realise that people who want their music to be open and portable aren’t criminals—they’re music lovers.

John Gruber puts it best when he says:

Given the Amazon MP3 Store’s audio quality, prices, and user experience, I can’t see why anyone would buy DRM-restricted music from iTunes that’s available from Amazon.

In a wonderful twist, the current number one bestselling song on Amazon is 1234 by Feist— the very song that Apple uses to promote the iPod Nano. And why not? iPods and MP3s have always been a great combination (it always frustrates me when I read reports by lazy journalists that contain statements such as “only songs purchased from Apple’s iTunes music store can be played on the iPod”). I suspect that the vast majority of iPods are filled with un-DRMed music, mostly ripped from CD. Now, thanks to Amazon, there’s also an easy way to fill them with un-DRMed music downloaded from the tubes of the internets.

* Matthew points out that back-ups, archiving, shifting format, all currently illegal in the UK. Here’s the petition to change that. Even the government agrees that the current situation is pretty stupid but the law hasn’t changed.

Now Form A Band

A campaign for better music from

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Veer: Products: Merchandise: Helvetica Coffee Mug

I think we should get a whole set for the Clearleft office.

The Tech - Volume 127, Issue 41

Now this is the way to launch a video game.

Blaby Conservative Future: Subscription Rate

This blogging Tory MP is stealing someone's bandwidth for the photo in this post. Said photo has been subtly altered. Hilarity ensues in the comments.

Flickr Ate My Baby on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Sounds like Prince is being a bit of a twat. And Flickr have become complicit with the twattiness, to a degree.

Flickr Ate My Baby

Monday, September 24th, 2007

One Laptop Per Child -- XO Giving

Buy a laptop for a child in the developing world and you get one for yourself.

Designing For Hackability » SlideShare

Brian Oberkirch's presentation from Webmaster Jam looks excellent.

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Weak signal

Remember when I went off an a big rant a while back about some very badly-designed pedestrian signals? My opinion has only strengthened since I wrote that diatribe.

Those signals of insanity appear to be slowly taking over the whole country. I was in Norwich last week to talk about DOM Scripting and Ajax with the good folks at Norwich Union, two of whom I had already met at the dConstruct microformats workshop. While I was out and about in downtown Norwich during a lunch break, I couldn’t help but notice that the city was infested with the aforementioned signals.

I brought them up during the Ajax workshop—they’re a perfect example of terrible affordances and even worse feedback; both very relevant aspects of Ajax interface design. Nobody had a kind word to say about the devices. One of the attendees described how, just that day, he had managed to stop an elderly couple from getting run over by a bus; they were understandably confused by the awful pedestrian signals.

It’s quite gratifying that I everybody I talk to about this feels the same as I do. Those excruciatingly awfully-designed objects are going to cause fatalities, if they haven’t already.

I couldn’t help but feel vindicated when, walking down Norwich’s wonderfully-named Rampant Horse Street, I saw signs attached to the pedestrian signals on both sides of the road that read:


Signs of a bad UI

Apart from providing a good giggle about what a “man signal” might be, these public-facing instructions are a damning indictment of terrible interaction design. If I need to RTFM before crossing the street, something is seriously wrong with the user interface. I’m tempted to apend my own all-caps message to the signs:


Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site - New York Times

Excellent news from the New York Times: no more charging for content. Finally, I can link to NYT articles from blog posts (and

Thursday, September 20th, 2007



Six Apart - News and Events: We Are Opening the Social Graph

Six Apart are getting ready to make portable social networks a reality. Watch this space for code.

Juicy Studio: WAI-ARIA in HTML

How to get ARIA working in HTML (no namespaces in HTML, remember). Once again, Gez is providing superb documentation in the area of JavaScript and accessibility.

Orbicule | Undercover

An interesting product designed to catch the thieves after your Macbook gets stolen.

Home :: WEBJAM

This Ning competitor has a lot of really nice UI touches. Also, the fact that you can play around a lot without signing up is a plus point.

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry is blogging. This makes me happy. All is well with the world.

Field Notes Brand

Dan is claiming that these notebooks could be moleskin killers. I am intrigued and I do like the nice use of Futura.

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Inscribed in the living tile: Type in the Toronto subway (Joe Clark)

The paper of Joe's talk at ATypI Brighton. It's fascinating, well-researched stuff.

Wii: The Opera

It’s been almost a year now since I gave a little talk at a soirée thrown by Opera up in London. It remains one of the most pretentious speeches I’ve ever given, second only to my first Reboot talk. It was also one of the most stressful—my iBook was playing silly buggers, leaving me to try to recall all that purple prose from memory.

Still, it was a fun night out. Everyone seemed to like what I had to say and the folks from Opera said they were very pleased. “Oh, really?” I said with a gleam in my eye. “Then I probably deserve some sort of reward, don’t I?”

I was assured that some token of appreciation would indeed be forthcoming. Given Opera’s partnership with Nintendo, it wasn’t unrealistic of me to contemplate visions of a DS Lite or even a Wii. Sure enough, within a few weeks a package arrived at the Clearleft office. I eagerly opened it up to find… a cartridge of the Opera browser for the DS Lite. It was a nice thought but seeing as I don’t have a DS Lite, it was of little use to me (I passed it on to Paul).

I thought that was the end of the story but then I bumped into some of the Opera posse at South by Southwest. “We’re still planning to get you that Wii,” they said. “But it’s just so hard to find one.” These words were the sparks that reignited the flame of my gaming dreams. “I’m getting a Wii,” I would tell anyone who would listen, “any day now.”

But as the weeks and then the months passed by, my optimism began to flag. Sometimes I would see David Storey at a conference. “We’re still getting you that Wii,” he would say. “Sure,” I’d say, “sure.”

The most recent of these exchanges was at the dConstruct after-party. “They still haven’t gotten you that Wii?” asked David. I assured him that they hadn’t. “That’s terrible,” he said, “but they’re so hard to find in Norway. Are they hard to find here in the UK?” I grabbed someone who was walking by and asked, “Are Wiis hard to find?” “Not any more,” I was told. “That’s it,” said David, “I’m going to go into a shop tomorrow before I leave town and buy you a Wii.”

Now I realised that it could have just been the alcohol talking but in the long-standing tradtion of taking advantage of those in an inebriated state, I pressed my phone number into David’s hand, telling him, “Call me when you’ve got it and I can come and meet you.”

Alas, David’s phone battery died the next day. For want of a phone call, the plan fell through. But all was not lost. Opera’s newest employee is Chris Mills, aka Mills of Steel, aka Dark Satanic Mills. He was also at dConstruct and could clearly see the sad desparation in my eyes. Taking matters into his own hands, he simply bought a Wii on Amazon and had it shipped to me.

It showed up last week. It was like Christmas but better because at Christmas time I didn’t have a Wii and now I do.

It didn’t take long to get it all set up. Chris had thoughtfully sent on some Wii points as well. I dutifully spent 500 of those points on the Opera browser.

By good fortune, I had a house guest at the time. Joe was in town for the ATypI conference. Inevitably then, we spent the first hour of Wii time testing various sites in the browser. Everything is rendered in a somewhat unusual font, featuring a particularly odd “e”, its crossbar tilted at a jaunty angle… hey, you’d start to talk like this too if Joe Clark came to visit you.

Unlike the iPhone, the Wii comes with support for Flash (hence games like PandiPanda). That means that sIFR works flawlessly. There’s also an in-built zoom layout option which I suspect is using Opera’s small-screen rendering.

Once we had established all that, we moved onto the real order of business. I had already experienced the joy of Wii sports once or twice but Joe had his Wii cherry popped that night. Much fun was had. Jessica kicked our asses at bowling, for which she dispays a remarkable aptitude.

Now that there is a Wii in the household, I fear that my already poor productivity may plummet to new depths. On the other hand, this little gaming console might just provide me with the most exercise I’ve had in years.

Tusen takk, Opera.

Monday, September 17th, 2007

jQuery UI: Widgets, Components, and Interactions

From the people who brought you jQuery comes a set of widgets built using jQuery complete with documentation and tutorials.

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

Bugroff and do something useful!

Best. Social networking site. Ever.


This nicely understated teaser site isn't going to dispel any of the mystery around the Cloverfield project.

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Parroting Pareto

One of the principles underlying the design and development of microformats is to adapt to current behaviors and usage patterns. This ensures that microformats are built upon data that people are already publishing. It’s a lot easier to get people to format existing data than it is to change what they publish entirely. That ties in with another principle: ease of authoring is important.

A lot of the watchwords of microformats dovetail nicely with , also known as the 80/20 rule. In the case of microformats this means aiming for low-hanging fruit and solving 80% of the problems with 20% of the effort.

The Pareto principle has proven to be a very good guide for microformats, especially when you consider :

  • infinitely extensible and open-ended
  • an attempt to get everyone to change their behavior and rewrite their tools
  • a whole new approach that throws away what already works today

The success of microformats can almost certainly be attributed to the Pareto-driven principles underlying their creation. That success—and the success of the community clustered around microformats—has prompted other movements to adopt similar working principles, WHATWG being the most visible exemplar.


I am more than a little concerned at the way that studying existing behaviour is being held up as a make-or-break point in discussions around HTML5. Unlike microformats, HTML does need to cover a lot of situations including some that fall far outside the 80%-90% curve.

Accessibility is the most obvious area of contention. By their very nature, accessibility concerns are not going to affect the majority of users. That doesn’t mean they can be dismissed. This is as true for microformats as it for HTML5. Technically, the could be dismissed simply by invoking the Pareto principle but that would clearly be an untenable position. Instead, the microformats community and the accessibility community have been working together towards possible alternatives (the first step being to document test cases—the have been working their asses off at that).

So accessibility is an area where the Pareto principle simply doesn’t hold up, in my opinion. That’s why I’m concerned by Mark Pilgrim’s dismissal of the longdesc attribute. It’s a well-reasoned dismissal founded almost entirely on existing behaviour: most people aren’t publishing images using longdesc, therefore it should be dropped. Similar research has been used to justify the non-requirement of the alt attribute and, God help us all, the reintroduction of the font element. It’s all very well-reasoned and logical. It’s also, in my opinion, wrong.

We know that most Web pages are crap— is a relative of the Pareto principle. If existing behaviour is given such importance in the development of HTML5, then the format will only end up codifying what most people are publishing: crap, in other words.

The longdesc situation is a classic case in point. Here’s an attribute that is actually supported in assistive technology; an unusual situation, given Freedom Scientific’s usual glacial pace. That’s not the problem. The problem is that not many people are implementing longdesc. The solution is either:

  1. educate publishers or
  2. provide an alternative and lobby screen-reader manufacturers to implement it—good luck with that.

I’m not having a go at Mark here and I don’t want to single him out at all. My concern lies with the over-reliance by the WHATWG on the Pareto principle in general and existing behaviour in particular. I think that justifications based on raw numbers are behind most of the concerns of the HTML 4 All group.

On an unrelated note… let me quickly point out another issue with the Pareto principle, unrelated to HTML. The 80/20 is misleading. Human minds are pattern recognition machines; as soon as we see the numbers 80 and 20, our brains jump to the conclusion that they are both fractions of the same total (100). In fact, they are percentages of different totals. The Pareto principle could just as easily be the 80/30 rule or the 90/20 rule.

Making The "Perfect" Cup of Tea » SlideShare

John Sutherland's excellent presentation from BarCamp Brighton.

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Duo Consulting Blog: An Event Apart – Exploring Web Standards & Emerging Best Practices

By far the best round-up of AEA Chicago. "Jeremy Keith looks a bit like Alan Rickman's Severus Snape in Harry Potter."

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

The Morning News - Still Life

Beautiful images of destruction. "I drop the figurine from the same height in complete darkness while the lens of the camera is open. When the figurine hits the ground, the sound triggers the lights to go off for a fraction of a second."

T-Shirts (dConstruct 2007)

If you missed the conference, here's your chance to wear a little bit of dConstruct every day. Stylish t-shirts sporting a design by Kevin Cornell.

Breaking boxes with Brian

It all started with some silliness at The Highland Fling. With the shwag preparation complete, the volunteers created a wall of cardboard boxes and we filmed Brian’s head-on assault.

Fast forward to dConstruct 2007. The bag stuffing and schwag prep was all wrapped up the day before the conference. There were packing boxes aplenty. Said boxes were quickly stacked into an edifice of cardboard and cameras were unsheathed.

Here are three angles (more will probably follow):

Breaking boxes with Brian

Styling File Inputs with CSS and the DOM //

A clever little technique by Shaun for faux-styling file input elements using a mixture of CSS and JavaScript.

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Morethanseven » Brighton Rock(s)

The slides from Gareth Rushgrove's presentation at BarCamp Brighton. It's all about Restful Rabbits.

Little People - a tiny street art project

Little handpainted people left in London to fend for themselves.

Barcamp Brighton talk -

The slides from Matthew Somerville's excellent BarCamp Brighton presentation: Is Cornwall part of England?

Games » Bloxorz

An incredibly addictive and deceptively simple puzzle game. Ignore the instructions and dive right in.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Fossett sought via Google Earth

There's something very Gibsonesque about this real world mashup of Google Maps and Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

I work on the web.

Tim Lucas is using machine tagging to aggregate Flickr pics from the "I work on the web" meme started by Lisa Herrod.

Brian Suda breaking boxes at dConstruct 2007 on Vimeo

Continuing the tradition started at the Highland Fling. I love the way that Ribot wanders into shot like C3P0. Ribot robot.


Emily's new site for little snippets of design and subculture goodness looks like a treat.

How to Turn Cheap “Choice” Steaks into Gucci “Prime” Steaks | Jaden's Steamy Kitchen

The science looks solid, the steak looks delicious and the explanation is witty. I must try this.

swissmiss: urban cup holder

"The cup holder is easily clamped with one hand to posts in the street, then used as a coat/bag/umbrella hanger and a drink holder." Smart.

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Brighton daze

It’s been quite a few days here in Brighton. dConstruct passed by in something of a haze. I was so busy running around trying to make sure everything went smoothly that I didn’t pay all that much attention to the presentations. I should have just relaxed and enjoyed myself; everything went fine. But of course, anything could have gone wrong at any moment and that’s what kept me wound up.

I didn’t have a speaking slot this year so I had nothing to worry about. But I did introduce some of the speakers and I found that almost as stressful. I’ve come to the realisation that the amount of speaking time doesn’t matter that much; it’s the situation of standing on stage in front of an audience of peers that’s scary.

Of all the stages to stand upon, the Brighton Dome has got to be one of the best. It really is quite an amazing venue.

The day went off with nary a hitch and most people seemed to enjoy themselves. Some of the presentations divided opinion. The same talks that underwhelmed some people had others enraptured. I kind of like that. We tried to put together a mixed bag and I’d rather that a talk was loved or hated rather than being judged just average.

As I said, I didn’t have much chance to pay attention to the presentations though I made a point of catching Denise and George chatting on the sofa. I loved it. It was the perfect format for the middle of the day and the content was fascinating. I can understand if it wasn’t everyone’s bag (if your big company has sent you to a conference with an order to “go learn stuff” then you’d be sorely disappointed) but I thought it was wonderfully relaxed and entertaining. Or maybe I just enjoyed the F-bombs and C-grenades.

Cameron was as smooth, dependable and awesome as always. Tom excelled himself. Heck, all the speakers were on top form. Matt is giving himself a hard time but just check out his presentation: it’s a beautiful study in apophenia.

Once the conference was done (and the after party… and the after-after party) it was time for BarCamp Brighton. I got a little sidetracked by the Brighton Food and Drink Festival on the way but when I showed up I found the BarCamp spirit in full swing.

The venue was great, the food was superb and the presentations were fantastic. The plan was to just have ethernet internet access but Dave worked some of his Pier to Pier magic to provide rock-solid WiFi. In short, the whole thing was wonderful. Matthew talked about Cornish politics, John told us how to make the perfect cup of tea, Mikel showed off the OpenStreetMap data for Brighton, Paul taught a magic trick and I talked with Tantek about portable social networks.

I missed the talk by Jon Linklater-Johnson but I caught with him afterwards to see his CSS specificity cards. He made a memory game out of matching the specificity of selectors. How cool is that?

Hats off to Glenn and the whole Madgex for a job well done. I was feeling pretty exhausted after dConstruct but BarCamp completely revitalised me. And yes, there was Werewolf a-plenty (I’ll never believe Natalie again).

With the out-of-towners coming to dConstruct and BarCamp, I wanted to make sure that everyone enjoyed their time in Brighton. I think everyone did. The weather was great, there was lots to do and there was a great buzz in the air.

I’m lucky enough to get to travel to quite a few geek gatherings in far-flung places. I really enjoy that. But for the past few days, Brighton has been the epicentre of geekdom. Welcoming my peers to my adopted hometown is a particular thrill. Brighton—if you’ll forgive the cliché—rocks.

YouTube - Anti-Piracy Ad from The IT Crowd

This is absolutely brilliant. I've often wondered what luckless ad agency was suckered into doing those ridiculous anti-piracy films so wonderfully lampooned here.

Internet People

I get about 50-60% of these memes.

Apple - To all iPhone customers

Early adopters of the iPhone now get a $100 of Apple Store credit. Nice bit of customer management.

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”, 1946

A beautifully marked up and typeset copy of George Orwell's classic essay.

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

D minus one

The microformats workshop is done. Praise be!

Despite my nervousness, I felt it went really well. Tantek and I make a good team. We also had some special guest slots by Norm! and Glenn. Most of all, we had a great audience of fifteen keen developers asking excellent questions.

It was quite a cosmopolitan gathering with two Belgians, two Swedes, two French, a Greek and an Israeli in attendance. I wonder if the audience at dConstruct will be this diverse?

With the workshop done—and with no speaking slot at the conference to prepare for—I should be able to relax. But there’s far too much to do. It’s time to start hauling boxes of schwag from the Clearleft HQ over to the Dome and start herding the speakers together for pre-conference prep.

No rest for the wicked… although there will be a kick-ass party for the wicked tonight.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007


I’m feeling a very strange mixture of excitement and apprehension this week.

As the days count down to dConstruct 2007 on Friday, I’m feeling like a little kid at Christmas time. I’ve been looking forward to this all year. Now, as my friends from distant shores begin to wend their way towards Brighton, I’m fit to burst with anticipation.

At the same time, I’ve been frantically preparing for the microformats workshop I’m doing with Tantek two days before the conference. We’re planning to have a very hands-on practical day, light on slides but heavy on exercises. It makes a nice change from the DOM Scripting and Ajax workshops I normally do. They have a minimum level of complexity that doesn’t lend itself to hands-on exercises. The nice thing about a deliberately simple technology like microformats is that someone could potentially begin the day knowing nothing about microformats and end the day markup up hCards and hCalendars to beat the band.

I think the workshop will be good but the demons of doubt always descend at this point. I’m going to try to harness their insidious whispers to keep working on my material instead of letting them paralyze me into inaction.

Still, I’ll be glad when the workshop is done. Then I can really let my hair down and enjoy the conference… as well as all the other events going on in Brighton this week:

In the midst of all this merriment, conference attendees can also indulge in the dConstruct Photo Scavenger Hunt which starts on the 5th and ends on the 9th. To participate, take suitable pictures around Brighton and tag them with , , , , , , , and .

I don’t know what that last one’s all about.

If you’re coming to dConstruct, I’ll see you soon and together we can let the good times roll. As soon as I’ve done this workshop.

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

The Man in Blue > There are no social networks

Cameron's plea for social network transparency and portability is one of the most lucid and succinct yet. – the Blog · Various Positions are hiring. If you're London-based and in the job market, I can think of a lot worse places to work.

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

Julian Beever's pavement drawings

Scroll down to see "Anamorphic illusions drawn in a special distortion in order to create an impression of 3 dimensions when seen from one particular viewpoint." Insanely great.

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

typography - a photoset on Flickr

A collection of books with beautiful typography.