Tags: skills



What do I know?

On our way back from New Zealand, Jessica and I stopped off in Sydney for a day. That same evening, the “What Do You Know?” event was going on—a series of five minute lightning talks from Sydney’s finest web geeks.

Maxine asked me if I could do a turn so I put together a quick spiel called Five Things I Learned from the Internet. Those five things are:

  1. How to wrap headphone cables in a tangle-free way.
  2. How to fold a T-shirt in seconds.
  3. How to tie shoelaces correctly (thanks, Adam).
  4. How to eat a cupcake (thanks, Tara).
  5. How to peel a banana (thanks, Kyle) with a bonus lesson on the bananus.

At least one of those things will blow your mind. Pwshoo!

Farewell to June

June was a busy month.

July is looking a lot calmer. I’m going to be in Brighton for the whole month. I will, however, be using the time to prepare for the onslaught of events in the coming months. In September alone, Brighton will play host to a whole slew of events falling under the banner of the Brighton Digital Festival:

I’m going to be spending my non-travelling time this month preparing a workshop to precede dConstruct. Keep an eye on the site for more details very soon.

Oh, and remember: tickets for dConstruct go on sale this Tuesday, July 5th.

L33t ski11z

Here are three life skills I have learned from the internet:

  1. How to fold a T-shirt in 2 seconds.
  2. How to peel a banana like a monkey. (Thanks, Kyle!)
  3. How to tie my shoelaces correctly.

You’re welcome.

Skillful stories

After spending almost a month on the other side of the Atlantic, it was nice to return to Brighton to find it in the first bloom of Spring. Just a day or two after I returned, I was able to enjoy a nice wander around the Spring Harvest food festival sampling the culinary delights and randomly bumping into fellow geeks like Aral, Steve and Mark.

Such is the scenius of Brighton. There’s always plenty of smart folk around to gather together with, as evidenced by the multitude of geek gatherings like Build Brighton, dotBrighton and UX Brighton. Last night it was the turn of Skillswap, expertly organised by James.

Skillswap hasn’t been about swapping skills for quite a while. Instead it has morphed into a curated evening of related short snappy presentations sometimes followed by an ensemble Q and A. Last night’s theme was Skillswap Seeking Stories and it was a humdinger.

Phil Gyford expounded on his wonderful Pepys’ Diary project and how it has been nurtured over time. Gavin O’Carroll spoke about Spacelogone of my favourite sites—and the structure of narratives, games and websites. The marvellous Matthew Sheret, who really impressed me at History Hackday, wrapped it up with a demonstration of the power that each of us has to use the internet to tell stories with our data. “You are Time Lords!” he exclaimed, and illustrated his points with some lovely artwork he commissioned from Tom Humberstone.

It was very generous of Phil, Gavin and Matt to give up their time and travel down from London to deliver such a fantastic evening of thought-provoking entertainment. Seriously, it was better than some paid conferences I’ve been to. And—thanks to the sponsorship from Madgex—there was free beer (“free” as in “free beer” …as in “beer!” …as in “free beer!!”).

Anna was working her podcasting magic, recording the talks. You can subscribe to the Skillswap Huffduffer account if you want to hear them once they’re ready.


It’s been a busy week in Brighton. Tantek was in town for a few days, which is always a recipe for enjoyable shenanigans.

The latter half of the week has been a whirlwind of different events. There was a Skillswap on Wednesday and on Thursday, I gave a talk at the Async meet-up, which was quite productive. It gave me a chance to marshall some of my thoughts on responsive enhancement.

The week finished with Layer Tennis. I was honoured—and somewhat intimidated—to be asked to provide the commentary for the Moss vs. Whalen match. Holy crap! Those guys are talented. I mean, I knew that anyway but to see them produce the goods under such a tight deadline was quite something.

Meanwhile, I just blathered some words into a textarea. When it was all done, I read back what I had written and it’s actually not that bad:

  1. There Will Be Blood
  2. Pukeworthy
  3. Plastered
  4. Bacon Nation
  5. Zoom In. Now Enhance.
  6. It Ain’t Meat, Babe
  7. Longpork Is For Closers
  8. Bass. How Low Can You Go?
  9. Dead Rising
  10. Troll Man
  11. Craven Applause

It was a somewhat stressful exercise in writing on demand, but it was a fun way to finish up the week.

Now, however, I must pack a bag and fly to San Diego. No rest for the wicked

The Scenius of Brighton

Recent events reminded me again of what a great place Brighton is for a geek like me. Remy’s all-JavaScript Full Frontal conference went superbly—hence the effusive praise over on the DOM Scripting blog. James and Nat organised a superb Skillswap on the subject of wayfinding. If you missed it, the audio is up on Huffduffer.

It seems like Brighton has a high scenius level.

Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene.

It’s fitting then that, , the man who coined the term “scenius”, will be curating the Brighton Festival next year.

There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason why Brighton should be a geekier place than any other UK town. Sure, we could retroactively discover geographical or social conditions that favour Brighton but I think the truth is that it’s just a large-scale .

And it’s not just a geek thing either. The music scene in Brighton is maintaining its reputation, although the scene is somewhat lessened by the recent demise of The Gilded Palace of Sin.

Occasionally, the worlds of geekiness and music mesh to form a glorious venn diagram of fun. The £5 App Musical Christmas Special was one such scenius supercollider. It featured free booze, live music from , and many tales of hackery including a demo of the absolutely wonderful from Toby Cole of Build Brighton, one of the many Brighton geek institutions.

Lest I become too comfortable in my Brighton hive, I’m off to explore another geek scene tomorrow. I’m going over to Belfast to meet the geeks of N’orn Ireland. I’ll be speaking at Refresh Belfast about personal projects in general and the building of Huffduffer in particular. I’m looking forward to it. If you’re in the area, come along and say hello.