Archive for the 'Conferences' category

Beyond Tellerand – Play!

Apr 28 2012 Published by under Conferences

I just got back last night from Beyond Tellerand – Play! This is a conference put on by my good friend Marc Thiele. Formerly known as FFK, it’s a conference that I’ve wanted to go to for a while, and which Marc and I have talked about for several years. We finally got it together this year and I made it out. The conference is held in Cologne (or KΓΆln), Germany. There are two days of sessions in two tracks, plus a day of workshops before and another afterwards.

I flew out Monday night, getting into Cologne Tuesday morning. Despite the jet lag and red eye flight, I immediately went for a 10K run on the Rhine River, then back to the hotel room to catch a short nap before heading out to dinner with the other event speakers.

Wednesday, the conference proper began. I saw the keynote and hit up sessions in almost every track. I skipped the pre-lunch track so I could eat early and use the lunch break to ensure my computer could properly project on the screen. The last time I spoke with this machine, I had some problems, not realizing I had the wrong Linux video drivers. But all went well this time and I was the first speaker after lunch.

My presentation was a newly revised version of the Playing with Chaos talk I’d done a few years ago. I cover fractals, strange attractors, a bit of chaos theory, etc. All the examples this time are done in HTML5/JavaScript with canvas. Actually, this version was a bit cut down as I only had 45 minutes to talk, instead of the usual hour or so. The talk went very well. I decided to redo this particular talk because it did seem like one of my most popular talks, and I guess that was a good choice. I do believe I got some of the best feedback for any talk I’ve ever done this time. I am not scheduled for any other talks this year, but I would like to do this one again with a bit more time to cover things. The presentation slides and all the examples are on line at http://www.bit-101.com/chaos.

Wednesday night was the conference party. It was at a small club with Andre Michelle DJing. It got a bit loud and warm inside, so about half the crowd was gathered out front. I found it a bit chilly outside, so I spent the evening cycling between the two locations. Also gave me a chance to mingle with plenty of people.

Thursday, many of the morning sessions were in German, so I slept in a little bit, went for another run, and got over to the venue in time to see Tom Beddard, aka subblue, do his talk about fractals. Two fractal talks in one conference? Does it get any better??? πŸ™‚ This was an absolutely mind blowing presentation. He skimmed through some of the same basic material I’d covered in my talk and then dived in to a bunch of demos from his Fractal Lab program. Hoping to be able to play with this one myself.

Finally, the conference ended. Another nice meal with friends and then back to the hotel to try to get a good night sleep before my morning flight. Unfortunately, that last cappuccino seemed to have hit me hard and after sleeping for about an hour I was wide awake most of the rest of the night. But somehow managed to get up and out to the airport, where I hopped on over to Amsterdam for a 3 hour layover. Finally got on that flight and taxied out to the runway. Engines revved up and we started barreling down the strip, gaining speed. And then seconds before we would have been airborne, the engines cut out. We slowed to a stop and pulled off the runway. Apparently some indicator light had come on just before we were about to leave the ground and whatever it indicated, it was important enough to make them abort takeoff at the very last second. Taxied back to the gate, got someone to fix whatever it was and then we had to wait one hour to “let the brakes cool down”. Bizarre. So, three hours late, I was on my way to Boston. Pain in the butt, but I respect the fact that they made that choice. Better to have people read what happened on my blog than an investigator dig it out of a black box.

A note on the code in the above linked examples: although I haven’t posted the source directly, it’s all HTML and JavaScript, so you won’t have a very hard time digging it up. The examples make use of a personal graphics library I’ve been creating called “bitlib”. You are free to use this library if you find it useful, but understand that I have not released it as an official library, and may or may not in the future. So don’t complain if it doesn’t work, you don’t understand it, or it’s missing some feature you need. πŸ™‚

As for the examples themselves, a lot of the code was thrown together at the last moment with lots of experimentation and just stopping when something looked presentation worthy. So I can’t guarantee how well written or understandable it all is. Needs a lot of clean up. However, I will soon have an announcement on a related subject that some people will find very exciting. Stay tuned!

5 responses so far

Making Tools Presentation at Flash and the City

Dec 01 2011 Published by under Conferences, Extensibility, Technology

In case you didn’t get to see my Making Tools presentation this year (or if you tried to see it at RIA Unleashed and suffered through my technical difficulties), you can now see it on line:

http://techchannel.att.com/play-video.cfm/2011/12/1/Conference-TV-Flash-and-the-City-Making-Tools

You can hear the guy who corrected me by pointing out that apparently crows use tools to make tools at 4:00. πŸ™‚

One response so far

FiTC San Francisco

Jun 26 2010 Published by under Conferences

A couple more travel items on my agenda this year. First, I’ll be going on my annual (nearly annual anyway) family trip to Japan in the beginning of July. I’ll be there for a couple of weeks. We stay with my wife’s family in Kuwanashi, near Nagoya, on the edge of a mountain range, rice fields and farms on every side. You probably won’t see much (if any) of me on IM or twitter, though I’ll probably make a few blog posts, more likely at keithpeters.org than here. I look forward to some very scenic runs out there though. We have plenty of day trips planned, and we’ll be driving to Kyoto to spend a couple of days there as well.

After that, in August, I’m off to FiTC’s San Francisco debut! I’ve always loved SF. When I was younger, it was my goal to eventually live there. That’s probably not in the cards now, and to be honest, my coffee-table-book-concept of the city has been tempered by being there in person, but it’s still a great place that I love to visit. I’ve been there for two Flash Forwards, and a number of times for other things. I’m really glad that FiTC has taken ownership of the city, giving me an excuse to get out there again.

One of the highlights this year is that Shawn has gotten Yugo Nakamura out from Tokyo to speak. Yugo is one of the – if not THE – grandfathers of all Flash rock stars. Although I was able to visit his studio the last time I was in Tokyo, sadly, he was out sick that particular day. I did happen to notice one of my books on his shelf though, which I took down and signed for him. Cheeky, I know, but I have no regrets. πŸ™‚

There are the usual assortment of other great speakers as well. I’ll be doing my “Programming Art” presentation. This being my last conference speaking engagement of the year, it’s most likely the last chance you’ll have to see this particular talk.

Another first is that I’ve finally convinced my wife and daughter to come out this time! I’m excited to get to introduce them to some of my world wide friends. I’m hoping that if you all tell them how awesome and godlike I am, they’ll give me a little more respect at home. πŸ™‚ (Just kidding!) Anyway, this also means I’ll probably be out doing a bit more site seeing during the day, and probably taking it pretty easy at night.

Hope to see you in SF. Oh, and by the way, if you sign up and use the code “bit101”, you should score a 10% discount off your tickets.

One response so far

FlashBelt Monday Run!

Jun 09 2010 Published by under Conferences, General

The FlashBelt Run is on! Monday morning, June 14, nice and early. I’m thinking of around 7 a.m. That will give us time to get in a few miles, then shower up and get to the keynote by 9:15.

Thus far, looks like we have the following showing interest:

Me
Jeni H.
Vic C.
Veronique B.
Brandon M.
Terry P.

But no need to RSVP. I think we’ll just leave from the front of the hotel (Holiday Inn Metrodome) right around 7:00. Just show up there with running gear. I’ll post any changes in this post, so check back right here.

12 responses so far

Flash on the Beach 2010

May 18 2010 Published by under Conferences, Flash

A few people have noticed and a few people have asked me about it, so to clear the air, no, I am not speaking at Flash on the Beach this year. But yes, I will most likely be attending. No bad blood anywhere. In fact I was hanging out with Mr. John Davey extensively last week at Multi-Mania in Belgium, having many a Belgian beer and good laugh.

I’ve spoken at FOTB every year since the beginning. It has become more than just my favorite conference, but a kind of personal mecca. Something about the atmosphere and the people who assemble there and the town and the venue just all adds up for a great experience for me. I would certainly love to speak there every year. But last year, I was talking to John and he was mentioning the need to mix things up a bit, not have the same line up year after year. So I said that if he wanted to bench me, that was fine. And so I have the year off.

I’m still very much looking forward to attending the conference, and probably even more so, knowing that there’s no pressure to speak. I can just relax and soak it all in. I also hope to get up to London for a bit to spend some time with Tink and any members of the LFPUG that are around. Always a good time.

So I’ll say what I say every year, If you haven’t been yet, get your butt to FOTB. If you’ve been before, I expect you there again. Tickets are on sale. You won’t regret it!

2 responses so far

BIT-101, coming to a FlashBelt near you!

May 18 2010 Published by under Conferences, Flash

I’m a bit behind on my conference reports, so a quick recap so far.

In April I went to FiTC Toronto. This was my 5th time speaking at TO. I skipped last year to do Amsterdam instead. I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable FiTC’s I’ve been to in quite a while. Part of that is me – I think they always put on a decent conference, but my mind was just not into it last year in Amsterdam and the year before in TO. This year I was really relaxed and had a great time hanging out with new and old friends, seeing some great presentations, and just generally digging the community vibe. It was a bit more mellow than some others. A few people mentioned that. I guess we’re all getting a bit older. No need to be out til dawn every night going crazy.

Then last week I was in Belgium for Multi-Mania. My first time there and I had a blast. It’s a two day conference with one day of workshops and one of sessions. I got there a couple days early, so I had two days to just wander around Kortrijk and explore. Got taken out by Koen and a couple of Wouters for a Belgian beer tour. OK, so there’s still some fun to be had for being out til dawn going crazy. πŸ™‚ Since there were a only a handful of non-Belgian speakers/attendees, I wound up spending a lot of quality time with Branden Hall, Jeremy Thorpe, Aral Balkan, Marc Thiele, and some hanger on named John Davey. πŸ˜‰ Finally learned and got to play with Hype during Branden’s workshop and session, and finally got to see Jer’s presentation all the way through. Great stuff.

Those two conferences were a couple weeks apart, so I’m happy to have something like 5 weeks before my next one, which is FlashBelt. Like Multi-Mania, this is one that I’ve wanted to go to for a while. In fact Dave has been asking me to speak for a few years. I keep hearing how awesome it is, so I finally said yes. πŸ™‚ I’ll be doing my Programming Art presentation again. I now have two sessions worth of feedback on it, and have some good feedback to go on. A few things I can shorten up, and a few I need to expand on. I hope this will be the best one yet. You should definitely go to this one if you have the time. It’s cheap! It’s quality! Speaker line up is fantastic! Hope to see you there.

2 responses so far

Programming Art

Feb 03 2010 Published by under Conferences, General

Been a bit quiet around here, eh?

As I mentioned in my New Year’s post, I’ve been kind of taking a break lately. Haven’t really been doing much of anything to write about to be honest. Waiting for inspiration to hit me.

Well, it’s starting to hit. A few weeks ago, I talked to Shawn Pucknell about speaking at FiTC Toronto. So I needed to come up with a subject to talk about. Up to now, I’ve almost always done a brand new talk for every conference I’ve spoken at. Really, the only exceptions are when the organizers explicitly ask me to do a specific talk. But it seems that most speakers are doing the same talk at multiple events these days. Many do the same talk for a year, or a good part of thereof, at every conference they speak at.

I used to be opposed to this idea. I felt like it was lazy. For sure, coming up with a brand new talk and all the slides and examples that go with that, for every conference, sure is a lot more work. But I was talking to a few speakers late last year (specifically Grant and Mario while in Tokyo in November) and started to get a new viewpoint on the subject. These guys are anything but lazy about their presentations. Even though they are doing the same basic talk each time, they are constantly revising and tweaking it based on audience reaction and feedback, pacing, personal experience, new data, etc. Doing the same presentation more than once allows you to get better and better at that presentation. One part didn’t go so well? Drop it or change it? Went too long in one section? Figure out how to shorten it. Randomly run across some new graphic or example that is perfect for the subject? Squeeze it in there for next time.

On the other hand, when you do a new talk each time, you get one shot to make it good, and the next time, you’re onto something new and get one shot at that.

There’s also audience logistics that come into play. Again, I used to think that doing the same talk multiple times would be boring for the audience. But not everyone goes to every conference. If I do a talk in Brighton next year and that’s the only place I do it, there are a lot of people who might be very interested in it, but don’t happen to be at that conference, and will never hear it. And as for those people who seem to be at every conference, well, once they’ve seen your talk, they are free for the rest of the year to check out other speakers during your time slots. I know there have been plenty of times for me when there were two or more presentations going on in the same slot that I really wanted to see. I would be unhappy thinking that when I choose to miss one that I was really interested in, that’s the last shot I’ll ever get to see that particular talk.

So with that said, allow me to introduce my talk for 2010, “Programming Art”.

As you may know, in July 2008 I started a site called Art From Code. Algorithmic and generative art has, since I first started programming, been one of my biggest passions. In the old BIT-101 lab, I called them “experiments” but they were really quick and dirty interactive art pieces. Art From Code was an attempt to continue some of that same spirit, but with more focus on static images and less on the code behind them. I know that not providing the code for the pieces, and not making them interactive was a huge negative in many people’s eyes, but for me it was somehow very liberating and opened up my creative flood gates for a good six months. Then I got hooked on iPhone programming, and … well that’s another story.

So, while I was trying to figure out what to do next in my extracurricular programming life, one of the options was diving back into art. Another was to do more with games. I find game programming very fascinating. It has many of the same creative aspects as programming art, but in the end, I tend to get much more bogged down into the details of architecture and story line and level creation, and before long even the most exciting game idea becomes a chore to finish. With art it’s always fresh. Short iteration times and when you just publish the result, no bug reports!

Anyway, I decided I wanted to do more generative art again, but didn’t want to limit myself to just ActionScript and Flash. There were a lot of different tools and frameworks that I knew about and had dabbled with, that I thought would be fun to eventually try out more in depth. Stuff like Processing and Open Frameworks, but also lesser known stuff like Context Free Art, Structure Synth, Nodebox, and Toolbox, among others. I figured, what better time to dig into them but now, when I had nothing else particular going on anyway? And if I based my 2010 talk on them, that would keep me focused on them for quite a while. Enough to get to know each one really, really well by the end of the year. And so, that’s what my Programming Art talk will be about. Here’s the blurb:

As soon as computers had visual displays or printouts, people were using them to create art. In this presentation we’ll take a short look at the history of computer generated art, and a hands-on walk through of several of the available programs and languages used for that purpose today, including Flash, Processing, Structure Synth, NodeBox, Context Free, Open Frameworks, and maybe others.

I’ll be debuting the talk at FiTC Toronto in April, most likely doing it at Multi-Mania in Belgium in May, and then again at FlashBelt in Minneapolis in June. Those are the only conferences I’ve yet committed to speaking at in 2010. If I’m not totally bored with the talk, I don’t get rotten fruit thrown at me, and I get invited to speak anywhere else after that, I’ll probably do it a few more times.

Out of the talks I’ve given, one of my own personal favorites was my Art From Code talk at FiTC Amsterdam just about a year ago. I definitely plan to incorporate certain parts of that talk into Programming Art, before exploring the different tools.

I think it’s going to be a fun year!

12 responses so far

Hello Tokyo!

Nov 24 2009 Published by under Conferences, Flash

On Thursday, I’m heading out to Tokyo to speak at FiTC! I’ll be getting in late afternoon Friday, Tokyo time. As I’m sure many know, my wife is from Japan and I’ve been over there several times. But when I go with family, we are up in a pretty small, rural village in Kuwana-shi, near Nagoya, just doing family stuff. This time I will be going alone and in Tokyo for four days. We have the conference and party after that on Saturday, so if you are in the area and going to the conference, I look forward to seeing you. If you are not going to the conference, I’d still be happy to meet anyone, talk about Flash, iPhone, whatever. I need to do some shopping for the family – my wife has a long list of stuff she wants me to bring back. I might need extra luggage. πŸ™‚

I also plan to get a couple of runs in. So if anyone wants to do a sunrise 5k around the Imperial Palace one day, let me know!

7 responses so far

FOTB Slides and Asobu Game Toolkit

Sep 26 2009 Published by under ActionScript, Conferences, Flash

Now that I’ve had a chance to settle down, catch up on some email, spend some time with the family, upload my photos, and blog about Flash on the Beach 2009, I will post my slides:

Presentation Slides

As usual, seeing a bunch of bullet points and diagrams doesn’t replace the thrill of watching me babble on for an hour, but it’s the best I can do unless John releases the video taken by that camera man who was in my face the whole time. πŸ™‚

In there, I mentioned the game toolkit I’m working on, called Asobu, which means “to play” in Japanese. A lot of people asked me about it at the conference, and I hope I didn’t set expectations too high. I’m not trying to revolutionize the Flash gaming industry or create the next big thing that everyone uses to make games. Really all I’m trying to do is make a few reusable classes to use in my own games and make things easier for myself. But I’ll release them and if anyone else wants to use them, they’ll be free to. And hopefully a few people will say, “why the hell did you do such and such that way?” which will lead to improvements for myself and anyone else.

So what does / will Asobu consist of? First of all, it’s going to be mostly generic, architectural type stuff. There won’t be any physics engines, collision engines, 3d engines, particle systems, tile maps, isometric engines, or anything else like that. Well, a few of those things might make it in there someday, but I’m concentrating more on the things that make up the different structural parts of a game and hold them together. So far it has:

– A state machine with scenes and transitions. This is named after and loosely based on the Director class in cocos2d for iPhone. I showed some examples of this in action in the presentation, and there are some code snippets in the slides. Basically, you make each part of your game a Scene – the intro, the game itself, instructions, high score table, credits, etc. – and move between them with the Director. There are various prebuilt transitions, or you can create your own.

– A few essential UI Elements: A configurable label for displaying text, a button, and a very flexible menu system. I might extend the label to make a larger, multiline text area. In my experience, these are most of what you need to show options, settings, instructions, etc.

– A sound/music manager allowing a single point for loading/embedding sound files and playing them with various options, mute/unmute, volume, etc.

– A library/asset manager for loading/embedding and accessing external assets in one place.

– The beginnings of a level manager class for loading/embedding external level definitions. I’d also like to see if I can extend a level editor I made for a game with my Minimal Components into something generic enough to be reused on multiple projects. It would be great to have a relatively easy way to create at least a good chunk of a level editor with drag and drop of custom objects and property inspectors for them. We’ll see how that pans out.

Anyway, there is a lot of work to be done on all of this. The Director and Scenes and the UI Elements are the furthest along. Stay tuned to see more. Again, I don’t think anything here is going to amaze anyone anywhere, but what’s there already has proven helpful to me, and hopefully will be helpful to someone else too.

10 responses so far

Flash on the Beach 2009

Sep 26 2009 Published by under Conferences, Flash

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Well, I’ve just returned from my fourth attendance of Flash on the Beach. I think I enjoyed this one more than any others since the first one (which, in my mind, was legendary and incomparable).

Pre-Conference:

Actually, I was in England for over a week, spending three and a half days in London before going down to Brighton a couple of days before the conference started.

I was in London to give a 2-day training workshop with the London Flash Platform User Group. My good friend, Tink, had been asking me to come out and do that for close to a year and finally nailed me down. I arrived last Wednesday morning, relaxed a bit and helped get the workshop venue set up, got some food and a couple of pints and got to sleep early to be prepared for two full days of standing up and speaking. The workshop was on ActionScript Animation. Basically, most of the material from Foundation ActionScript 3.0 Animation: Making Things Move!, and a bit from Advanced ActionScript 3.0 Animation. There were 12 attendees. The venue would hold about 14. We had 13 but one guy had something come up at the last minute. Overall, I think it went pretty well. Those who I talked to seemed pretty happy, though, to be honest, it was a lot of material to cram into their heads in two days. I discovered that planning for a presentation that size with an unknown audience is pretty tricky. Thought I had enough, but 2 hours before the end of the second day we had covered everything I had prepared. So I winged it and taught them about old school 3D – perspective formula, moving things in 3D space, vanishing points, etc. First with some images, then plotting points and drawing lines in 3D. I think that for some it was the most interesting part of the whole two days.

Saturday, I got to meet Tink’s little boy and spend some time playing with him. This was great, as Tink and I have been friends for a while and I’d never met his son. Chuck Freedman also arrived in London and hung out with us in the morning, as well as Pedro from Brazil, who had also flown out for both the workshop and Flash on the Beach. (Thanks for the Cachaca Pedro!)

Saturday afternoon, Chuck, Pedro and I got a train down to Brighton. From there, I went over to a house that was being rented out by a whole bunch of attendees, where I stayed on Saturday night. We had a barbecue on the beach and when it got dark and cold we went back up to the house and did the usual things Flash people do at conferences – eat, drink, and be silly.

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Sunday I worked a bit more on my FOTB presentation, as well as did a few things for my regular job. At 2 p.m. I was able to check into my hotel (MyHotel), so made my way over there. Sunday night was the speaker’s dinner right in the restaurant at MyHotel, same as last year. Really great to see everyone again. Way too much manly hugging was done, but it’s all good. πŸ™‚ I left there relatively early as I was speaking the next morning, and wanted to add a few final touched on my presentation, run through it one more time, and get a decent night’s sleep.

Conference:

Day 1:

The conference started with the keynote done by Richard Galvan and Mark Anders. I recall the first bunch of conferences I went to, where the keynotes were usually done by Mike Chambers and Mike Downey. They were really part of the community – hung out and talked and drank and played XBox with everyone – so when they did a keynote it was just them talking to us. In recent years, it seemed like keynotes have gotten very … infomercially. But I felt Richard and Mark did a decent job of turning that around, just presenting some cool statistics and tech demos and sneak peaks. Some cool stuff.

Biggest TweetDeck EVAR!!!!1

It’s also worth noting that because the keynote is one of the single track items, everyone attending was in the Dome at the same time. This was the first year where the balcony was opened up in order to accommodate everyone.

Me, me, me!

After the keynote I was up. I was also in the Dome (with no balcony though). My talk was on “Casual Game Architecture, or How to Finish Coding a Game Without Despising It”. As the keynote was ending, I had one of those, “what the hell was I thinking???” moments, sure that hardly anybody would really be interested in that. Certainly not enough to fill the Dome. But, surprisingly, it was decently filled up, and many people came up to me later and said they liked it. Many others tweeted their approval.

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There was one particular point that several people expressed disagreement with – polling for input as opposed to using events in a more direct way as I advocated. In fact, I wasn’t at all surprised, and expected that would be a bit controversial. I plan to do a separate post on that to explain more what I was talking about. I look forward to the discussion that it may spark. While I love to be right, I’d be just as happy to learn something or see the situation in a new way.

Interestingly, however, on the idea of combining the model and the view and putting display objects directly in the model (HERESY!), I got a TON of agreement and even some respect for having the guts to say something that on the surface just seems so wrong. I’ll probably do a full post on that subject too, which I’m sure will also spark some fun conversation.

Them, them them!

There were lots of great sessions, as usual. I remember last year I said I probably went to more sessions in a conference than I had in a long time. This year I also had a pretty high attendance ratio. In fact, there were several slots where it was a real tough choice because there were two speakers I really wanted to see. The iPhone app created by Chris, Havard, Paulo, and Paul was fantastic. So much better than trying to carry a crumpled up paper guide around in your pocket all the time.

After my own session, I tried to get over to see Chuck Freedman talk about sound visualization, but he was in the Pavillion, which was packed and I couldn’t get in. So I went in to see Carlos Ulloa talk about several recent projects. Some great deconstructions of how he and his team went about doing the projects, the problems they encountered and how they solved them.

After that was another tough choice. I really wanted to see Rob Chiu, who is an amazing photographer and film maker. But as I’d seen him at every other FOTB so far, and had never seen Mike Jones, I decided to see Mike. Also, Mike was talking about the new Spark components in Flex 4, which I didn’t have the tiniest clue about, so I thought I ought to at least get a tiny clue. It’s still a bit mysterious to me, but I have a better concept. The Adobe Town Hall meeting was also going on at that time, and I wish I could have seen that as well.

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After that, another impossible choice. Dr. Woohoo – say no more – and Josh Hirsch were both speaking. But also, Thea Eason was talking about Accessible Action Games. I decided to go with the game track. It was a bit of an eye opener to see how accessibility could be applied to games.

I skipped the Hillman Curtis single track slot to go do a bit of needed work and came back for Joel Gethin Lewis’ “Inspired Talk”. In a way, it was a bit like Jonathan Harris’ talk last year, without the preachy bits. πŸ™‚ Lots of large scale arty installation pieces and the concepts behind them. Then some non-judgmental philosophical messages. All good, but not so much my cup of tea maybe.

That wrapped up the first day. The night’s party was at Audio down the street. I remember last year we went to Audio and it was a dark, crowded, somewhat smelly place with loud music. We stayed about 10 minutes. This year, it was a dark, crowded, somewhat smelly place with loud music and we stayed about 5 minutes. πŸ™‚ Oh the joys of bashing on conference parties. I know John understands that we want to talk to each other, not scream at each other over loud music, but as he says, where is he going to find a venue for that, that will fit 1000+ people in Brighton. As usual, a good chunk of those people found their way over to the Old Ship hotel, where the conference was located the first two years. It’s always fantastic to hang out there, drink Leffes and have good conversations.

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Day 2:

I woke up in surprisingly good spirits, surprisingly early. Went and had a massive breakfast at Bill’s. Missed the “Elevator Pitch” session, where a bunch of individuals get 3 minutes to say what they want, but made it to the next session. Although I pretty much knew what he was going to say, I decided to go see Grant Skinner’s optimization session. Personally I feel there is sometimes too much emphasis put on code optimization, but Grant did put everything in the right perspective, which was good.

After that was Joa Ebert, also on optimizing AS3, but in quite a different way. Joa is an amazing individual. I’m sure you’ve gotten a taste of what he’s done and what he talked about. I’m sure if I turned around, I would have seen hundreds of jaws hanging open. He got the only standing ovation I was during the 3 days.

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Then another tough choice. Jer Thorp on data visualization stuff, or Richard Lord on application frameworks. Gah! I went back and forth in my mind a dozen times and settled on Jer. Very cool stuff indeed. But I really wish I could have seen Richard’s too.

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From there, Joel Baumann on “Numbers in Art”. A no brainer with that title, but I should have read the description better. I thought it would be more algorithmic stuff.

That was my last one of the day, as I needed to phone home and do a bit of work. Went to the party at Oceanic, where we’ve been before. It was the one that had the various themed rooms. That was pretty cool. But this year all the rooms were closed off. Only the center disco area was open. So we got a dark, crowded, VERY smelly place with loud music playing. And a nearly empty dance floor. Sigh. But the good news is it is very close to the Old Ship! Guess where we ended up. πŸ™‚

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Day 3:

As much as I wanted to see Koen speak, and as much as I wanted to see Andre speak, my body really, really, really wanted that extra hour of sleep. So I made it in for the second session. Again, a brutal choice: Mario “Quasimondo” Klingemann, or Stacey “Bitch Who Codes” Mulcahey. I chose Stacey and was well rewarded with a very insightful and very funny talk.

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I stayed in my seat and watched Hugh Elliot who was up next in the same run. For this, I had to skip Colin Moock and Seb Lee-Delisle. So I told him it better be worth it. He talked on “The 10 Best Excuses To Not Do Amazing Work”. To be honest, this was probably my favorite session of the conference. Very inspiring, funny, and really well organized. This will probably be the one session I go find the slides on line for, and maybe even print them out.

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I skipped the next session because I had just spent almost 2.5 hours straight in the Pavilion theater, which is in dire need of air conditioning. I was almost ready to pass out. But after a long lunch, I was back in the Pavillion for Ralph Hauwert. This meant I had to skip Jared Ficklin. Dammit. As usual, Ralph showed some amazing examples, and ended off dropping the bomb that he’s leaving the Papervision team. I know this news spread around the world within minutes via twitter, so you probably know more about it than me by now.

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The final session was one track in the Dome, with balcony – Joshua Davis. Didn’t really like this one too much, for a number of reasons that I’ll keep to myself, but no big deal.

The End:

There are several factors that cause FOTB to be a great conference. One is the location. Brighton is a really fun city to walk around, shop, eat, etc. It really is on the beach and there’s the pier with a full amusement park just minutes away. You are away from anything really city-like so it’s almost impossible to get a corporate, serious attitude there. It’s just fun.

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And the venues and hotels have really great atmosphere and charm (that almost make up for the lack of air conditioning). Another aspect is, of course, the speakers. As I’ve just outlined, there are always many great sessions. John tries to keep a core of key speakers (which I hope I remain on) but always switch new speakers in and out so there’s fresh content.

And of course, one of the biggest things about FOTB’s charm is the organizer, John Davey.

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The conference is obviously a labor of love for him. He puts so much into it and treats every speaker as well as the attendees like they were family. In fact, I think he used the term family at least a half dozen times when he was on stage. That shows in the fact that almost every year, the speakers have gotten together to do something for him – some kind of token gift of appreciation, both as a group and many individually. I’ve not seen that at any other conference.

This year we decided to take a group photo. We gathered as many current and former speakers and supporters as we could and went down to the pier and did a professional photo shoot, then had it printed out poster size. This was presented by all the speakers to John on stage. As usually, he struggled to not get emotional. πŸ™‚

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And like that, it was done. A whole bunch of us planned to meet in front of MyHotel at a certain point to decide what to do for the evening. As people were waiting for other people to arrive, we moved into the hotel bar and started ordering pints. Then as people arrived, they moved into the bar too. Finally it became obvious that nobody was going anywhere so we wound up in the hotel restaurant for the evening.

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I eventually made it upstairs to bed and was able to get up in time to make the trek to Heathrow. Back to the family for dinner Thursday – much missed. Back to work on Friday – much work. And now a weekend to unwind.

For all my pics of the week, see here.

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