Tags: webdirections

20

sparkline

Hot topics, transcribed

As ever, I had a lot of fun moderating the hot topics panel at this year’s Web Directions @media in London. Thanks to all of you who left questions on my blog post.

I had a great line-up of panelists:

We discussed publishing, mobile, browsers, clients and much much more. The audio is available for your huffduffing pleasure and I’ve had it transcribed. I’ve published the transcription over in the articles section of this site, so if you prefer reading to listening, I direct your attention to:

Web Directions @media 2011 Hot Topics Panel

Web Directions @media 2011: Jeremy Keith — Panel: Hot Topics on Huffduffer

Newcastling

Usually when I go to a conference it involves crossing a body of water to arrive on foreign shores, often in Europe or America. But the last two events I attended were much closer to home.

Two weeks ago there was Web Directions @media in London. Thank you to everyone who provided questions for the Hot Topics Panel. It went swimmingly, thanks to the eloquence and knowledge of the panelists: Brian, Relly, Bruce and Douglas Fucking Crockford. There was a surprising lack of contentiousness on the panel but I made up for it by arguing with the audience instead. Once the audio is available I’ll be sure to get it transcribed like I did last year.

I just got back from another conference that didn’t involve crossing any international boundaries: DIBI in Newcastle.

Tyneside

It was an excellent event …with just one exception. It bills itself as “the two-track web conference” and that’s the problem. As with Web Directions, I found myself torn between the “design” and “development” talks (a fairly arbitrary distinction for me). The first thing I had to do was choose between Yaili in one room and Jake in another. An impossible choice! I went for Jake in the end and he was absolutely bloody brilliant (as usual) but I’m sure Yaili’s talk was also excellent …and I missed it.

Apart from that heavy dose of FOMO it really was superb. The venue was gorgeous, the quality of the talks was really, really high, the attendees were super friendly and the organisers did a fantastic job of looking after everyone and making sure everything ran like clockwork. I doff my hat to Gavin and his gang.

Jake Mike Faruk Brian Jared Jeffrey

I was nervous about my talk. It was material I hadn’t presented before. But once I got on stage I just reverted to ranting, which people seemed to enjoy. I had fun anyway. Again, once the audio or video is available I’ll be sure to get it transcribed.

It was also my first time in Newcastle …or Gateshead, whichever. It was certainly showing its best side. It really is quite a lovely place.

My next destination is bit further afield. I’m off to Atlanta for An Event Apart which kicks off on Monday. If you’re going too, be sure to say hello.

Topically hot

I’m heading up to London for the next few days to soak up all the knowledge being distributed at this year’s Web Directions @media. I wish it weren’t a double-track conference—no-one should have to choose between Lea Verou and Douglas Crockford—but I’ll be doing my best to maximise my knowledge acquisition while fending off feelings of FOMO.

As well as attending, I’m also going to be facilitating. So I’m not just going there as an fomo-ing attendee; I’m also going to be a mofo-ing facilitator.

Yes, it’s that grand ol’ @media institution: The Hot Topics Panel (sszzz!):

A popular @media tradition, hosted by Jeremy Keith, the final session for day one will feature a selection of speakers discussing questions posed by conference attendees. A lively conversation and some passionate debate will occur, so bring along your questions and enjoy the robust discussion.

Last year’s panel was a blast. Now I am rubbing my hands in gleeful anticipation. I get to play Wogan again. I have no idea who I’ll pulling up on stage but I’ve quite a stellar list to choose from.

I also have no idea what we’ll be discussing/debating/arguing/quibbling about but I hope that by the time the panel actually starts I will have amassed some suggestions. Conference attendees can provide burning questions on the day, through whatever medium they choose; a tweet, a scrap of paper, a sandwich board.

I’d like to get a head-start on gauging the relative mean temperature of various topics. After all, the nature of the topics should probably influence my decision about who to coerce into getting up on stage with me.

That’s where you come in. What burning web design and development topics are keeping you awake? Is there something that really grinds your gears? Vent for me. Vent into my comment form.

(Yes, comments are open. No, you shouldn’t just write “First!”)

Londoning

The @media conference has been a constant star in the UK web standards community since 2005. This year, the baton was smoothly passed to those awesome aussies, John and Maxine of Web Directions, creating the hybridly-titled Web Directions @media that took place in London last week.

Before the conference proper, there were two days of workshops in the Hogwartsian location of the superbly-named Goodenough College. I spent a day on Getting semantic with microformats and HTML5. I think it went pretty well. I came to the conclusion that it’s easier to explain everything about microformats than to explain the new outline algorithm in HTML5. Luckily everyone had pocket books on hand. It took quite a while to fold them all but I think they helped.

The conference itself was of the usual high standards, although there was only so much I could see, given its dual-track nature. Everything was recorded though so the podcast will help take the sting out.

For my part, I moderated the now-traditional Hot Topics panel. It wasn’t quite as controversial as recent years but it was a thoroughly enjoyable discussion. My heartfelt thanks to the panelists, John, Hannah, Simon and Christian.

Now I’m back in Brighton but I’ll be heading back up to London on the weekend for Science Hack Day. It’s all set to be an excellent event. All of the requisite pieces are in place: bandwidth, food, drink, prizes, and plenty of smart people in a superb venue. If you haven’t added your name to the list of who’s coming, do it now.

Keep an eye on the website for more details in the run-up to the weekend—subscribe to the RSS feed. You can also follow @sciencehackday on Twitter but then you won’t get all the juicy details about playing with pollution data, documenting fictional APIs and developing synthetic biology.

T minus five days. I’ll see you on the launch pad.

June

by Camper Van Beethoven—one of my all-time favourite albums—features the song June wherein David Lowery asks:

Are you weary of the lengthening days?
Do you secretly wish for November’s rain?

Not in the least, David, not in the least. In fact, I’m really looking forward to June, both for its lengthening days and its avalanche of geeky goodness. To whit:

Web Directions @media comes to London from June 8th to 11th. It is pretty much guaranteed to be awesome.

I’ll be fanning the flames once again for the Hot Topics panel. I’ll also be running a workshop on getting Semantic with microformats and HTML5. I love the fact that there are two workshops on HTML5 and yet there’s absolutely no overlap between the two—I’ll leave you to decide whether that’s a testament to the breadth of the HTML5 spec or an indication of just how much is encompassed by the word ‘HTML5’.

The price for the conference goes up on May 15th so you’d better get in there and grab a ticket now if you haven’t already. And just between you and me, if you use the promo code KEITH then you can get a whole hundred squid off the asking price.

If you’re already in London for @media Web Directions, consider sticking around that weekend for the BarCamp. Nothing has been announced other than the dates but .

A week later, on June 19th, is when the geekery really hits the fan: Science Hack Day at The Guardian offices in London! If you haven’t already done so, add your name to the list of potential attendees. Trust me: you won’t want to miss this.

Needless to say, I’ll be updating both here and on the wiki as the event comes together. And it is coming together very nicely: we have a great venue, we have plenty of bandwidth, and we have lots of interested geeks, hackers and programmers. The only thing I need to make sure I can get covered is the hackfuel: food and drink.

The total cost for food and drink will probably be somewhere between £2,000 and £3,000 but I’m hoping to spread that cost amongst a bunch of sponsors. I think £500 should be a nice sweet spot for sponsorship.

If you work for someone—or know of someone—that wants to support a fine event such as Science Hack Day and would consider £500 a small price to pay for the resulting , please get in touch and let me know.

Big in Japan

I’m back from Japan. Thank you to everyone who took the time to give me some sightseeing tips. I had a a great trip.

Web Directions East was really well organised. John and his team took really good care of me and all the other speakers. The only glitch was on my part and it was medical in nature.

Maybe it was the long flight over, maybe it was lack of sleep, but my body protested its new-found surroundings by rebelling in the vocal department. As I was wrapping up my presentation on stage on the morning of the conference, I could feel my throat becoming raspier. An hour or two later, my voice was on its way out. I attempted some damage control by ducking back to the hotel for the afternoon which meant that sadly, I missed a whole bunch of undoubtedly excellent presentation while I tried resting up my body and throat. I still had a whole day of workshopping to do two days after the conference proper and I needed my voice for that.

I spent the day before the workshop being somewhat antisocial by not speaking at all. That helped somewhat but on the day of the workshop itself, I still sounded like Tom Waits. From a medical standpoint, I probably shouldn’t have attempted to spend a whole day talking about Ajax but from a professional standpoint, I was determined to deliver what I had promised. I made it through …just. There were times when I thought I really wouldn’t be able to reach the end of the workshop but it somehow worked out. On the positive side, I really only had to make sure I was audible to one person: the simultaneous interpreter. The interpreters’ voices were all working just fine so the workshop attendees received a translation of my words without an accompanying translation of my laryngitis.

On reflection, it probably wasn’t the best idea to celebrate the successful conclusion of the workshop with an evening of merriment that culminated with karaoke. But hey, when in Japan, right?

The rest of my time in Japan was spent soaking up as many sights, sounds and—most importantly—tastes as I possibly could. In brief…

  • Everybody I met in Japan was friendly and helpful. This is a country where people don’t get into fights when they get drunk, they just get even more polite and friendly.
  • Every subway stop in Tokyo has its own jingle. This is, quite simply, awesome.
  • Advertisements eschew telling you a domain name in favour of showing you what to search for. They must be very confident of their search engine rankings.
  • is a great part of Tokyo. Personally, I think it’s even cooler than .
  • A trip to proved fruitful. I successfully acquired a .
  • Getting up early to visit was totally worth it. It’s a huge chaotic cathedral of seafood.
  • Visiting the on a weekend was fortuitous. There was more than one wedding party to observe.
  • is a beautiful place, perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Staying in a heightened the experience.
  • —or at least the — is crazier than Shinjuku and Shibuya combined. It’s an unimaginative cliché to say this but it really was like Bladerunner.

Then there was the : , and in Tokyo, , and in Osaka …it was all wonderful.

Diligent tourist that I am, I had my camera with me at all times. For your viewing pleasure I give you:

YouTubing

I’ve posted a few videos from Web Directions North up on YouTube. You can watch Cindy Li and Dan Rubin showing far more gumption on the snowboard than I was capable of mustering.

My favourite is a portrait of my fellow bunny slopers. They all thought I was taking a picture. I started filming and counted the seconds until they realised. It’s a shame that the video quality on YouTube is so crap: you can’t really spot the subtle changes as their smiles transition from genuine to faltering to strained. I’d like to make a whole series of videos like this; what a wonderful way to break the social contract.

Update: David Swallow points me to Long Awkward Pose, a site dedicated to this technique. Wonderful!

My timid little foray into posting videos on YouTube pales in comparison to my fellow Clearleftist, “nice” Paul Annett. Paul is a magician, you see. I don’t just mean that he’s a really good designer; I mean he does honest-to-goodness magic. It always makes for fun Friday evening drinks.

Anyway, Paul posted one of his card tricks on YouTube. It appears to have a struck a chord. The video has over 2,000,000 views and 5,000 comments, making it one of the most popular videos on YouTube ever. It’s weird to think that Paul’s homemade video has been viewed more often than many television programs.

Oh, and if you’re curious about how the trick was done, read all about it. Now if only Jared Spool would reveal how he did that levitating trick he was showing in Vancouver last week.

I’d twit that

Khoi writes about Twitter and its younger sibling, Twitterific. He makes some great points about the differences that the two interfaces confer on the experience of Twittering.

He’s not the only one with something to say about Twitter. At Web Directions North, the subject came up at least once every evening and usually resulted in an hour-long conversation/discussion/argument about its merits and failings. I can’t remember the last time that a service prompted such strong feelings.

Personally, I found my emotional connection to Twitter deepening while I was in Vancouver. I didn’t have much opportunity to Twitter myself because my phone didn’t want to play nice with Canadian networks but Jessica was twittering. Being able to catch up with the minutiae of her activity during the day was just wonderful. Of course there’s always emails, chats, phone calls, blog posts and Flickr pics but they all require a certain level of effort.

I must admit, not having a working phone did feel a little bit like going cold turkey. I’m sure that, like Dan, I would have been Twittering from on top of Whistler.

If you want to see some real Twitter addiction, Patrick Haney has it bad, man. He paid the price for his addiction when a Twitter drinking game was decreed at the Media Temple closing party. The rules are simple:

  • If you receive a Twitter, you must take a drink.
  • If you send a Twitter, you must take a drink.
  • If you say the word Twitter, you must take a drink.

I hadn’t seen Tantek in an inebriated state until that night.

Après Web Directions North

All I can say is, “Wow!” Web Directions North was one superb conference. The speakers were great, the organisation was slick and the social events were out of this world.

Every conference has its own vibe and this was one of excitement and fun. I was reminded of the atmosphere at a rock concert; when there’s energy coming from the stage, the audience responds in kind.

I’ve already described the presentations I was fortunate enough to attend, but I haven’t yet mentioned how well-put together the whole thing was. Maxine and John have plenty of experience under their respective belts while Dave and Derek have the benefit of being seasoned presenters themselves. Together they put a lot of thought into planning and executing a kick-ass conference.

Oh, and if you happen to be in the conference-organising business and you want some of that same success, here’s a tip: hire Cindy Li. She made sure that everything went like clockwork, mananging both the speakers and the attendees like they were play-doh in her hands.

At Web Directions North, I felt like I had the chance to connect with a lot of people; old friends and new. The end of any conference is often a bittersweet and frustrating time. All the people who have gathered together to share inspiration and knowledge scatter back to their respective homes. The size of this event combined with social events such as the infamous Media Temple closing party ensured that missed opportunities were kept to a minimum. Most of all though, I’ve enjoyed the best post-conference wind-down ever.

What better way to follow two days of wonderfully geeky talks than with two days of outdoor activity at Whistler? I rented a snowboard and all the associated paraphernalia. Even if I couldn’t actually do anything much, at least I could look the part. I had fun in the snow with my fellow bunny slopers but snowboarding is clearly not the sport for me. Racing down the mountainside in a rubber tube, on the other hand, is clearly my forté. The appeal of rubber tubing lies in the almost complete lack of skill required—apart from keeping your bum in the air for the bumpy bits.

And what better way to follow a day of outdoor activity than an après-ski extravaganza courtesy of Microsoft? The Redmond giant thinks that we’re so shallow that our affections can be bought with an endless supply of free food and booze for two days straight. Well, they’re right. I have a new-found soft spot in my heart for Microsoft.

Seriously though, It was really great that Adobe and Microsoft weren’t just faceless sponsors; they also had plenty of delegates in attendance. It felt really good to be able to put faces and names to the software that plays such an important part in the life of a Web developer. I enjoyed some very productive conversations with the Adobe gang and I was humbled to meet some of the developers working on IE7. I’m less likely to pour a vitriolic rant into an anonymous textarea now that I know some of the faces and names at the receiving end of the blogosphere’s ire.

Now I’m on my way back to England. While I am of course sad to be leaving Vancouver, I don’t have the usual post-conference ennui. I feel satisfied. I’m looking forward to getting home where I hope I’ll have some time to reflect on some of the things I discussed with the intelligent and passionate people at Web Directions North.

Web Directions North, day two

Day two of Web Directions North went just as smoothly and wonderfully as day one. Kelly kick-started the day in typically inspiring style. After that, delegates were faced with the geek equivalent of Sophie’s choice: to attend a double bill of Adrian Holovaty and Craig Saila or a double bill of George Oates and Paul Hammond?

In the end I opted for Paul and Oates over journalism. No doubt the Adrian/Craig set-up was just as impressive but the Flickr talk blew me away. Then again, I can’t be objective about this stuff: the subject matter interests me so much that I could listen to it for days.

After lunch, I had the great pleasure of introducing Steffen Meschkat and Ducky Sherwood. Their presentations made me realise just how much of a map geek I really am.

The conference was wrapped up by Jared Spool and really, it doesn’t get much better than that. What an outstanding speaker!

And just like that… it’s over.

I’ve been to a fair few conferences by now and this one ranks amongst the best. The organisation was superb, the speakers were great and most of all, the people were smart and fun. May this be the first of many WDNs.

Web Directions North, day one

The first day of Web Directions North just wrapped up and what a day it was.

Everything went super-smoothly right from the get-go with some opening remarks from the ever-sauve Dave Shea followed by some very entertaining audience participation led by Molly. Her Crimes Against Web Standards presentation was punctuated with hilarious video cliplets from Eric Meyer and others.

After that, I did my talk which went pretty well. As I said at the outset, I was covering the basic Ajax stuff to set the scene for Derek. I was John The Baptist to his Jesus Christ.

Once that was done, I had a long lunch in the rotating restaurant on the nineteenth floor of the hotel… if only the damn fog would lift a little bit more.

The afternoon was spent luxuriating in the microfromats presentation from John, Dan and Tantek followed by Joe Clark in scintillating form. He conducted a fireside chat and had the audience in the palm of his supple hand. He gave us a scoop by unveiling his call to Tim Berners-Lee to scrap WCAG 2. Quelle surprise.

Now I’m kicking back with a beer courtesy of Adobe and meeting some great people. All in all, a great day. May tomorrow go equally smoothly.

Web Directions North, day zero

I’m in Vancouver… at least, I think I’m in Vancouver. It’s so foggy that none of the distinctive landmarks are visible. I’ve been told that there are glorious mountains around here but I haven’t seen them yet.

The flight was fine. It was long but punctuated with a decent selection of movies. I’m always in a quandary when it comes to movies on airplanes. I don’t want to watch anything too good because it’s not exactly the best viewing environment. At the same time, I don’t want to watch any old crap. So on this flight, I watched Flags of Our Fathers, which was too good for airplane viewing, Marie Antoinette which was just crap, and The Illusionist which was just right for in-flight entertainment.

Once I landed and got to the hotel, I met up with Cindy and Dan who graciously kept me company while I went out for a bite to eat.

I went to bed at a reasonable hour but of course I was up ludicrously early this morning. I’ll probably need to take a nap later today. In the meantime, I’ll be imbibing some of the local coffee.

There are workshops going on today. I was thinking of flitting in and out of them all day but I fear that a jetlag-induced nap might be misconstrued as boredom.

If the fog clears, I’ll head out and take pictures. I’d probably be tempted to spend the day re-agonising over my slides but that isn’t an option. Andy is using my iBook for his presentation because his Macbook is on the fritz (I’ve borrowed Cindy’s laptop to write this). Combined with the fact that my mobile phone doesn’t seem to work here, I’m feeling distinctly disconnected.

Vancouver mover

My bags are packed with winter clothing in preparation for some post-conference skiing or possibly snowboarding in Whistler. The conference is of course Web Directons North, the Canadian counterpart to the superb Australian event.

The line-up looks amazing. I feel very honoured to be speaking at the conference. I’ll be talking about Ajax once again, but this time I won’t be alone. Derek and I will be teaming up to give a double-whammy of Ajax and accessibility in a two-hour long session.

Originally we were planning to do lots of rapid-fire segments, switching between speakers regularly. That turned out to be a little tricky to organize so we decided to do two separate but interconnected talks instead. I’ll be laying the groundwork, explaining Ajax and flogging my Hijax hobbyhorse. Derek will take over from there and do the real hard work: making Ajax applications work with assistive technology.

As usual, I’ve been fretting about the presentation and agonising over my slides but I think I’ve got things in a more-or-less finished state now. I’m just glad I’m on early on the first day—I’ll be able to relax afterwards and enjoy the rest of the conference. The only difficulty will be deciding which sessions to attend when there are two tracks of talks.

I’ll get the bus to Heathrow tomorrow and then I’ll spend nine and a half hours on the flight to Vancouver. I won’t be alone. Veerle will be on the same flight. She was supposed to fly out today—Andy and Molly were able to make the flight—but a fog-bound London prevented her making her connection. At least now we can keep each other company on the flight out and agonise about our respective slides together.

If you’re going to be at Web Directions North, I’ll see you there. If you can’t make it, expect plenty of Twittering and Flickring from Vancouver over the next few days.

Northwest passage

Web Directions North in Vancouver is shaping up to be the conference highlight of next year. I’m extremely happy that I’ll be speaking. If it’s just half as good as its Australian predecessor it will be awesome in its rockitude.

‘Scuse my usage of words like “awesome” and “rockitude” but I’m trying to get in the mood for the aprés-conference weekend of snowboarding. Sound good? Why don’t you join me.

You’ve got a couple of options for securing a ticket (aside from the obvious option of actually buying one). If you’re quick off the mark, you can just about make the closing deadline for the competition from Digital Web magazine:

To win, submit your very own snowboard design! In the grand tradition of pro snowboarders and classic boardsmiths like Burton, Lib Tech, and Sims, we invite you to put your design skills into the most radical snowboard ever! Make it geeky, make it awesome, make it classic—whatever you want, it’s your design.

There are already some great entries. Even if you don’t win a ticket, there are tons of runner-up prizes.

The other way of earning a ticket is very cool indeed. You can participate in the Web Directions affiliate program:

Join our affiliate program and get 4 people to sign up for the conference and we’ll give you a free ticket for youself.

All you need to do is get your unique affiliate URL from us, and then you can spread the word in whatever way you think is right for you.

This is an excellent idea and something I’d like to see more conferences offer. It’s a great way to ensure that enthusiastic, passionate bloggers get to attend, regardless of their financial situation. Seeing this kind of innovation three months before the event bodes well for the conference itself.

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.

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.

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.”

September is the coolest month

There’s going to be a spate of very cool events happening in September. Together, they span three continents.

The fun kicks off in Europe. As you probably already know, d.Construct 2006 will be taking place right here in Brighton on September 8. The conference is already sold out, but if you haven’t got a ticket, you can always put your name down on the standyby list.

If you are coming along, consider sticking around for a weekend of geekery. I’ve put together a list of restaurants, pubs, and hotels, all geo-encoded and mashed up with Google Maps. If you’re planning on staying over, you’ll probably want to book a room soon. It turns out the TUC Congress will be coming to town a few days after d.Construct.

Don’t forget that you can track the build-up to d.Construct 2006 by subscribing to the podcast.

If you’re in North America, then there’s something that might interest you in San Francisco. The Future of Web Apps summit from Carson Workshops will be taking place on the 13th and 14th of September. The last summit, held in London, was excellent. It was inexpensive, the WiFi worked, and the speakers were great. This time, the summit has been stretched to two days, but the price remains tasty and the line-up looks very good indeed.

One week later, the inaugural Webmaster Jam Session will be taking place in Dallas on the 21st and 22nd of September. While the Carson Workshops event will be looking at the big picture of developing web apps, this looks like a more nuts’n’bolts affair, detailing how to go about building and promoting websites.

But the event that has me most excited is taking place on the other side of the world.

Web Directions 2006 will be taking place in Syndey, Australia from the 26th to the 29nd of September. I’ve been asked to speak at the event, for which I am extremely honoured.

As well as giving two presentations at the conference proper, I’ll be giving a workshop on DOM Scripting and Ajax on the Tuesday beforehand. If you’re attending the conference, you get a discount to the workshop.

I’ve never been to Australia before. I’ve never even been south of the equator so this will be my first experience of the Southern hemisphere. I’m looking forward to it immensely. The fact the conference looks like it’s going to be amazing only adds to the thrill. I’m going to have to pull out all the stops to hold my own with speakers like Derek Featherstone, Kelly Goto, and Mollarkey.

If you live anywhere near Sydney (near being a relative term for Australia), Web Directions looks like it’s going to be unmissable. I look forward to seeing you there and, if you can make it along for the workshop too, all the better.