Category Archives: Subhuman Slavery

@media 2010 day 1 thoughts

***I’m sitting here at two in the morning trying to finish this off so if what follows is a bit rambling then I apologise in advance. Its also taken around two days of prodding and poking at the the drafts to get it to this point so its kind of fragmented. I’ve also split it between day one and two to help turn it into more bite sized chunks and to help me write it. By getting day one published i can focus on day two as a second post, rather than the whole event in one hit. Day two will be covered soon***

Right, where to begin. It was great… the end.

Seriously, thats how it felt to me. Short. It was over too damn quick and while i picked up some fantastic stuff i’m struggling to remember most of it so i’m going to go through the event blow by blow with the hope it sparks up some memories. This is mainly my initial reaction based on what I remember, my notes, my tweets and also the tweets of those around me. In a months time when I’ve fully digested all of it then I shall hopefully come back to this and totally turn it upside down. I’m not going into the talks in detail, just my gut reaction and I have plenty of gut to react with (moar salad plezzze).

Day one kicked off with an intro then straight onto Brendan Eich. I get this blokes status, the guy is a massive influence on the web and his early work paved out much of what web people do today but i honestly had trouble following his stuff. It was too technical for my poor old mind and if he had one picture of a unicorn or a lolcat i would have been sold but in the end we settled for code. The chap did use a rather good example of getting code correct with a clip from ‘army of darkness’ so I went away with some form of glow inside me. Using the free (if slightly erratic Wi-fi) i was able to check twitter during a few of the talks and I’m kind of glad to see I wasn’t the only one who struggled here but kudos to the guy. Its like having Phil Tippett turn up at an FX convention, the blokes a genius but his work is only relevent to those in his field.

After first break it was time for Christian Crumlish and an interesting talk about ‘designing for play’. What I got out of his talk the most was the idea of people wanting to collect ‘points’ on regular websites could it be the same with friends on facebook? and I know I love getting hits on my toilet tentacles animation on youtube. Am I just a stat junkie? Well yes, i am a complete completist so its just backing me up. Also the use of mask online to hide our real persona. I was reminded of the story about Peter Sellers going on Parkinsons chatshow dresses as a Gestapo officer because he didn’t like talking about his personal life. Could it be I use the name Dr Monkeyface due to some kind of fear of showing my real self online? I’ve built up a full personality for the evil bastard in my head is something I’ve often thought about putting down on paper but more about that later (its relevant to the last talk actually). I think the Dr M thing is also a way of protecting the family. Like Spiderman (yeah i’m now comparing myself to a superhero. EGO TIME) I don’t want people I don’t know about to know about the family. Its me they are dealing with, not them. Anyway, Christian mentioned a boardgame called Pandemic. I must hunt this game out.
Fascinating stuff and one i’m now stalking in blog and twitter and i’m going to track down his latest book if its in waterstones to have a snoot.
*EDIT* Although not the slides from the event, similar slides are to be found on his site at:
***EDIT PT2*** Woooooooo-hoooooooo Slide 31 ROCKS!!11!!!!1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!!!11!

Next up was Rachel Andrew with a talk about core CSS3. Interesting stuff but kind of lite on examples. Karl has already drummed a few CSS3 things into me and it would have been good to see a few more working things. I came away from the talk slightly deflated feeling I had been cheated a little but I’ve since downloaded here slides and having the chance to read them and ponder more, i’ve come to the conclusion she had a slightly bad response from me and I’ve found the slides very interesting.
Felt bad on the day but actually very relevant to my level of code and I now feel guilty for my initial reaction 🙁 Slides are on her site:

Lunch was next (Salad? are you saying i’m fat?) followed by Simon Willison and a talk about crowd sourcing. This was quite funny in places and was demonstrated with an excellent example which highlighted several stages of the development. The example was of the Guardians use of crowd sourcing to sort through the MP expense claims recently and it was great to hear how they managed to screw up several times (don’t tweet about something which will hammer the server) and how they fixed it (tweet 30 seconds later and asking people to stop pressing f5) I may never actually use any crowd sourcing in my work but the use of a real life example was wonderful.
Highly entertaining and I have yet to find his notes

Last talker before the final session was Mark Boulton on grid systems and some comments on typography. Odd numbers prevail. This is underlined and has a question mark against it in my notes so i obviously thought it was important. Mark was saying that in grid systems (which he showed several examples) odd numbers feel better (ironically his website seems to use four on the homepage). I need to examine this theory more as I may not have understood it as much as I thought I did. I can’t comment too much until I see his notes (can’t see them yet and can’t remember much of his talk) if they ever get released. I have a stack of notes to unravel which I made during his talk so once I break out my own Rosetta stone and translate my scribbles, i’m kind of struggling with his. More my own fault as his talk was probably the one which is more relevant to my day to day work. Drop 960 was another of his asides 🙂
I need to think more about his talk when my brain has cooled down.

The final event was the hot topics. This was a series of questions aimed at a small group of the speakers and the most important point was ‘HTML5 doesn’t work in IE6’ Its something that as web designers, we should tell clients who ask for that vague and elusive feature ‘HTML5’ to be included in their newest website. The buzzword HTML5 is replacing web 2.0 as the next annoying feature and if they ask for it, then tell them it wont work in IE6 and it will help kill IE6 faster.

Hopefully the talks will be released as podcasts/audio recordings but if they are not then my poor old brain will have to try and remember some more details at a later date. Overall day one didn’t feel as well knitted together as day two but that could just be because I was there on my first day and surrounded by web people who all nodded sagely while I was itching for a copy of photoshop.

Day twos comments will appear soon…

Chanting evil

Today was the first day of the Suffolk Skillz event which I was taking part in. As a rep of CSD I was there along with three other able bodied victims to teach them some of the thought process in web design. Its basically 45 minutes of chaos as we run a mini agile scrum with year 7 students to develop the content for their schools website using post-it notes and Balsamiq mockups software. Fun but hard on the feet/mind.

I also went to pick up the little un from Brownies this evening only to find them sitting in a circle and chanting something over and over again. To me it sounded vaguely demonic but then what do I know about Brownies and the rites of passage they perform there. She wont tell me but insists she needs brimstone, a goats head and three pieces of chalk next week. Dunno if I have any chalk left.

On a side note, I’ve finally finished my first tutorial on the site. Its a tutorial requested to show how I did my posters and as I tend to make things up as I go, there isn’t a lot of structure to it. Its done though so I’m happy.

Domed from the start

It was a brave effort which involved little sleep and the death of a printer.

Tomorrow (being a Friday and Children in need day) is a ‘wear your hobby to work’ day. Now how the hell does one express 3d animation as an outfit? I’ve left it too late but yesterday night I stumbled across a site with some photos on which could only begin to be called incredible.

The guy has made a giant head from a 3d model and then exported the 3d model a textured file into a Japanese app which then converts the file into a papercraft jobbie. The prospect of wearing a two foor big giant heeeeead was just too damn pant wettingly flamboyant to turn down. I had a load of reference photos of my noggin so set to in c4d. The result (at 1:30am) was a not too shabby, low poly model of myself and a rather knackered pair of eyes. At lunch time I belted out to buy some stiff card which would fit though my printer and have managed to print several pages until the point the printer realised I was actually asking to do something other than have stuff sit on top of it and has now given up after making a very loud groaning noise. There was a clunk at one point but it seems to have been the groan which killed it. I am also under the suspicion that A4 would be big enough as the eye which came out of the printer was only slightly larger than my own.

Given enough time (AKA not at the last minute) I would have taken it to a local printers have have it done at A1 or A0 size.
So I’m left with three options for my dress up day tomorrow. A Fantastic Four tshirt, lugging my camera gear in or smearing my naked body in paint… See…. its a body covered in paint… you know… Bodypaint… like the Maxon app?

Sodding please yourselves.

I still have plenty of old cinema gear from back in the day, but the prospect of wrapping myself in a roll of trailer film just isn’t appealing right now so I think I’m going to travel the road more geeky. Pity I don’t have a white lab coat and some grey hair dye to go with the FF logo, I would make a great overweight Reed.

Damn me and my hard to translate into fashion hobbies.


So tired…

Over the last few weeks I’ve been helping setup a workshop as part of a local event called Suffolk Skillz (with a Z to make it hip).
As part of the event, local companies and organizations such as Milsons, the Police, NHS, fire service and CSD have all setup 45 minute sessions which are aimed at school kids and trying to teach them about erm… stuff. CSD’s contribution (ie our team) was web design and the theory behind it all.
Originally it was going to be four people at the even but fate (and a few other things) intervened and we lost one guy from the list last week as he was overloaded with work meaning it would be me and two non-tech staff helping. Both of them are great people but probably know less about web design than me and then after a far too early start, I got up to the business park to be greeted by the news we had a second member of the team drop out, also due to work issues.
So it left me to bound around, hopped up on caffine and lucozade like some hyperactive Nesquik rabbit, and try to get groups of year 7 kids to understand the basic theory of web design. The other guy with me was a massive help, but was struggling with the design software we used (not his fault, just not his area) and I freely admit to panicking slightly when the first group heaved into sight but we tackled it well.
After several of the 45 minute workshop thingys it was the end of the day, only broken up by free sarnies (dry), more coffee (bitter but caffeine full) and a set of blocked toilets and I’m shattered. Its hard work keeping youngsters entertained en mass.

Tomorrow is day two of Suffolk Skillz (with a Z to make it even hipper)….

Oh and the washing machine backed up and i had to drain it. Sadly it drained all over the place and we now have a whiter than white kitchen floor.

frickin’ laser beams

I’m going to break a rule I mentally promised I would stick to when I started this blog. I told myself never to blog about work, but today was one of those random days which needs to be written down so I can try to understand what happened.

Agile training.

Its the phrase of the year and as I’m part of the agile web team its only fair we actually do some form of training. As this was the first one that was setup we all got together to take part in what was being described as an informal kick off. I could only live in fear as I kept thinking back to a video I had once edited which involved a man in a bright orange waistcoat who got groups of managers to build small bridges of Lego between tables while shouting about ‘team building’ and ‘logic’. Its supposed be about team building I think…

Anyway, today’s training kicked of with being told more about agile development and then the dreaded phrase ‘we are all going to play a game’ was uttered. Not once but several times.
My spine was packing up and getting ready to leave at this point but the quick coffee break before starting to design a ‘better mouse trap’ gave me a chance to mull it over. I made a quick joke about using cats and even Galactapuss to catch the mice and back we went, only for someone on the team to actually go with the idea of normal (although better trained) cats.
The way agile works is you work with the client at all stages and produce versions for the client to check. They then either tells you to take a hike or asks you to change the colour scheme (sometimes both), so we kept feeding ideas back to our mock client who kept firing feedback at us and we went through three iterations before the final presentation.
I have to say I wasn’t overly convinced with our idea at first as I would have happily had my original idea of a nuclear powered atomic robot with the brain of a cat built by exiled Russian scientists but the final idea of a cat genetically modified to like water so it could hunt mice in a swimming pool was outlandish enough to tick most of my boxes.
In the end it was more Bruce Banner than Reed Richards and could have quite easily had some laser beams on the side of its head to hunt the mice with.
If only we had got one more iteration in…

On a side note, for some reason i’ve been listening to a lot of Chinese man’s groove sessions 1+2 lately and can’t get the tune from Ordinary Man out of my mind. The intro is from “My Fair Lady” and actually helped me remember the name of Eliza Doolittle while taking part in a pub quiz over the weekend. Who says French trip hop can be useful in the strangest places?

It was like something from a Hitchcock film…

If this was the BBC news then thats how it would have started. As this isn’t the news I had better start it another way.

I was at Sidegate primary school yesterday to help with the new server install and I made sure i was there nice and early (7:30) as one of the server team said he would be there from 7am.

I wandered around the school yard looking for the team only for a seagull to swoop low over me, then again, then again and again only the next time he dropped some guano about three inches away from my foot. To say this guy was low would be an understatement, i could have reached up and plucked him out of the air (if i fancied my eyes pecking out). In the end i belted to the cover of some trees and he sat ontop of a roof watching me with that evil glint that only seagulls can pull off. Everytime i went out into the playground he would swoop down and buzz me dropping his lunch from the previous day at me. Obviously there is a nest somewhere and they thought i was after some nice, tasty seagull for lunch.
I beat a hasty retreat back to the car and sat waiting for Keith in relative safety.

Lord only knows how the they deal with all the children in the playground during the day.