Tags: edinburgh

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Travel talk

It’s been a busy two weeks of travelling and speaking. Last week I spoke at Finch Conf in Edinburgh, Code Motion in Madrid, and Generate CSS in London. This week I was at Indie Web Camp, View Source, and Fronteers, all in Amsterdam.

The Edinburgh-Madrid-London whirlwind wasn’t ideal. I gave the opening talk at Finch Conf, then immediately jumped in a taxi to get to the airport to fly to Madrid, so I missed all the excellent talks. I had FOMO for a conference I actually spoke at.

I did get to spend some time at Code Motion in Madrid, but that was a waste of time. It was one of those multi-track events where the trade show floor is prioritised over the talks (and the speakers don’t get paid). I gave my talk to a mostly empty room—the classic multi-track experience. On the plus side, I had a wonderful time with Jessica exploring Madrid’s many tapas delights. The food and drink made up for the sub-par conference.

I flew back from Madrid to the UK, and immediately went straight to London to deliver the closing talk of Generate CSS. So once again, I didn’t get to see any of the other talks. That’s a real shame—it sounds like they were all excellent.

The day after Generate though, I took the Eurostar to Amsterdam. That’s where I’ve been ever since. There were just as many events as in the previous week, but because they were all in Amsterdam, I could savour them properly, instead of spending half my time travelling.

Indie Web Camp Amsterdam was excellent, although I missed out on the afternoon discussions on the first day because I popped over to the Mozilla Tech Speakers event happening at the same time. I was there to offer feedback on lightning talks. I really, really enjoyed it.

I’d really like to do more of this kind of thing. There aren’t many activities I feel qualified to give advice on, but public speaking is an exception. I’ve got plenty of experience that I’m eager to share with up-and-coming speakers. Also, I got to see some really great lightning talks!

Then it was time for View Source. There was a mix of talks, panels, and breakout conversation corners. I saw some fantastic talks by people I hadn’t seen speak before: Melanie Richards, Ali Spittal, Sharell Bryant, and Tejas Kumar. I gave the closing keynote, which was warmly received—that’s always very gratifying.

After one day of rest, it was time for Fronteers. This was where myself and Remy gave the joint talk we’ve been working on:

Neither of us is under any illusions about the nature of a joint talk. It’s not half as much work; it’s more like twice the work. We’ve both seen enough uneven joint presentations to know what we want to avoid.

I’m happy to say that it went off without a hitch. Remy definitely had the tougher task—he did a live demo. Needless to say, he did it flawlessly. It’s been a real treat working with Remy on this. Don’t tell him I said this, but he’s kind of a web hero of mine, so this was a real honour and a privilege for me.

I’ve got some more speaking engagements ahead of me. Most of them are in Europe so I’m going to do my utmost to travel to them by train. Flying is usually more convenient but it’s terrible for my carbon footprint. I’m feeling pretty guilty about that Madrid trip; I need to make ammends.

I’ll be travelling to France next week for Paris Web. Taking the Eurostar is a no-brainer for that one. Straight after that Jessica and I will be going to Frankfurt for the book fair. Taking the train from Paris to Frankfurt will be nice and straightforward.

I’ll be back in Brighton for Indie Web Camp on the weekend of October 19th and 20th—you should come!—and then I’ll be heading off to Antwerp for Full Stack Fest. Anywhere in Belgium is easily reachable by train so that’ll be another Eurostar journey.

After that, it gets a little trickier. I’ll be going to Berlin for Beyond Tellerrand but I’m not sure I can make it work by train. Same goes for Web Clerks in Vienna. Cities that far east are tough to get to by train in a reasonable amount of time (although I realise that, compared to many others, I have the luxury of spending time travelling by train).

Then there are the places that I can only get to by plane. There’s the United States. I’ll be speaking at An Event Apart in San Francisco in December. A flight is unavoidable. Last time we went to the States, Jessica and I travelled by ocean liner. But that isn’t any better for the environment, given the low-grade fuel burned by ships.

And then there’s Ireland. I make trips back there to see my mother, but there’s no alternative to flying or taking a ferry—neither are ideal for the environment. At least I can offset the carbon from my flights; the travel equivalent to putting coins in the swear jar.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not moaning about the amount of travel involved in going to conferences and workshops. It’s fantastic that I get to go to new and interesting places. That’s something I hope I never take for granted. But I can’t ignore the environmental damage I’m doing. I’ll be making more of an effort to travel by train to Europe’s many excellent web events. While I’m at it, I can ask Paul for his trainspotter expertise.

Flung and refreshed

I’m back in Brighton after a long weekend in . I paid a visit to , the , toured and took in the many sights along the .

In amongst all of these tourist activities I enjoyed the geeky goodness of The Highland Fling followed by Refresh Edinburgh. Both were nice intimate gatherings. Both were also recorded for future podcasting. In the meantime, here are some of the presentation slides:

You take the high road…

…And I’ll take the low road but I just might be in Scotland afore ye. Next week, actually. April 5th, to be precise. That’s the date of the Highland Fling conference in Edinburgh.

This will be a focused grassroots one-day event and I think it’s going to be fun. The focus will be on and the grassrootsiness comes courtesy of the reasonable price of £125. There are still tickets available so if you fancy a day of inspiration and learning in an historic city, grab one for yourself.

I have the great honour of being asked to deliver the opening keynote. I hope I can deliver the goods. I’ll have my work cut out for me just meeting the high standards of the rest of the day’s schedule. The line-up looks really good. If I have one criticism, it’s that the line-up is distinctly male and non-Scottish. It would have been nice to see more local representation (says me, the Southener).

This imbalance may well be addressed a day later. Refresh Edinburgh doesn’t have a confirmed venue yet but it will definitely be taking place on April 6th, Good Friday. Sign yourself up if you can make it.

I’ll definitely be there. I’m going to stick around Edinburgh for the weekend too. My last visit was all too brief. I’m looking forward to spending more time in such a beautiful—and downright cool—place. See you there.

The heart of Midlothian

I’m in Edinburgh. Jessica is here for a translator’s conference and I thought it would be fun to tag along for the ride, seeing as I’ve never been here except for an in in-utero visit which doesn’t really count.

My, what a place! The architecture here is extraordinary. Wherever you look, there’s invariably a building or ten steeped in history.

I’m staying in a hotel in the new part of town. New is relative. This is the Georgian part of town. Just about every house is built in that classical Georgian style that Dublin likes to pride itself on (sorry Dublin, you’ve got nothing on Edinburgh). The cumulative effect is like stepping back in time.

Then there’s the old part of town. Here, the feeling is medieval. Stone buildings, narrow alleyways, winding steps, and of course a great big huge castle overlooking everything.

After meeting up with Alan White for a chat yesterday, I went for a wander around the old part of town. There’s a real pleasure of discovery in coming across the house where Boswell met Johnson, or going into the Writers’ Museum in a narrow 17th building.

I haven’t been able to capture much of this city’s splendour in pictorial form because the weather has been fairly drab and rainy. It all adds to the atmosphere, I suppose.

Actually, I’m kind of glad that the weather has driven me back to my hotel room to take refuge. I can stop procrastinating and get on with last minute preparations for the Refresh Web Standards Conference in Orlando, Florida next week. I’ll be giving a half-day workshop on Ajax and a presentation on microformats. If you want to come along, there are still tickets available for a mere $395 — and that includes an open bar at the end of each day!

So tomorrow I fly back from Edinburgh down to Gatwick. Then, the next day, I’ll be back in Gatwick to get on a transatlantic flight to the sunshine state.

Right now I’ve got old buildings and bad weather. In another two days I’ll have new buildings and good weather. It seems that never the twain shall meet.