@media day 2

***As promised here’s the second part. The ‘me from yesterday’ started to writing after picking up from the ‘me from the day before’ that but both of them failed to finish the work from the ‘me that was Friday’ so i’m carrying on. Bloody useless fools***

Day twos opening keynote was presented by a guy knocking back bourbon, had a slide from ‘Who framed Roger Rabbit’ and proved to be the second most entertaining of the event (that award came later). Andy Clarke presented a little set called ‘Hardboiled design’ and the working examples he gave just blew my fragile mind. He started with the idea that we shouldn’t make all web users have the same experience on every browser. This is nothing new in itself but what he did next was to show how a really well produced website can degrade nicely in less capable browsers.
Several examples followed including a 404 page which looked the same in each browser only with minor changes depending how capable each one was. Then another with two separate pages with lovely effects in Safari where we saw cards flipping when clicked and wobbling when rolled over. Then the firefox version which didn’t support the flipping going onto the IE version which didn’t do much but it was laid out very neatly and looked great in each version. No JS was harmed in the use of the effects, so to see a different version of each page in every browser was not only novel but also refreshing in a way. A huge amount of slugging away would have got every page to work the same way but probably at the forfeit of the nice CSS effects. When all browsers have the same support as webkit then all would be good with the world and every one would see the same thing and this was the main point of the talk that I took away. Don’t shoehorn everything into a site which works with IE6 and above, produce something for the top browser and then let every other catch up in the next five years as the site could be up for that amount of time. If you don’t get this stuff in early then its wasted. I almost slipped back into Safari as my main browser so I can try out some fancy stuff but I have a feeling most of the stuff covered in the talk isn’t out in the wild yet. Many of his points had legs but what was interesting was at the end when he pointed out he has the luxury of being able to work for clients directly and isn’t part of a team bogged down by guiding forces so he has a lot of freedom to work. His IE6 style sheet is a work of genius as well.

Sandi Wassmer was next with a talk about inclusive design. Sandi obviously had a lot of passion about inclusive design which is something we have been focusing on a lot at work and her slides (http://www.slideshare.net/SandiWassmer/inclusive-design-is-for-everyone) could easily be applied to our sites. What was interesting was her points about the horror buzzword ‘web 2.0’ was used to cram as much fancy stuff into a website as possible and this came right after Andy Clarke who was advocated putting effects into sites, Sandi’s stance was to ‘Develop features and functionality from a users perspective, not a technology one’. Obviously the two can work together very well, but both could also be taken to extreme from either angle. ‘Test the hell out of it’ was the key for the presentation for me.

The next talk for me was from Hannah Donovan who had slides filled with sketches of monsters and even a Judge Dredd panel (there was Star Wars but thats too damn mainstream). Hannah’s talk about telling stories through design hit home in several place and one point that was that the design is the first thing one the site that people see. I know this as I have to deal with my work on websites all the time, but she somehow made my neurosis gland work double time while talking about it. Blimey Riley, she knew how to scare me. through the use of pop culture (A Neil Gaiman quote “put a lot of guns in a lot of drawers”), how the team should feel about each other (trust and caring about the input) and a load of Agile references this was the talk which meant the most to me. Hannah is obviously a designer who cares about her stuff and I loved her technique of telling stories around her design while presenting to people. I naturally waffle (hence the long blog posts) and enjoy building up back stories for characters I create so It should be a natural progression for me. The delicious list she gave out has some interesting reading (http://delicious.com/hannahdonovan/storytelling) and I really hope her slides and talk become available (i overheard someone saying the talks would be recorded and put out but I don’t know if that was only for one or two people) The audiopresentations will go up in the future but I doubt I will link to them as they could be copyrighted/only for people who went to the event.
***EDIT*** Hannahs slides: http://www.slideshare.net/hannahdonovan/storytelling-slideshare

Now for the comedy award which goes to Relly Annett-Baker. I think everyone in the audience was in stitches at one point or another during this talk. Dressed in a schoolgirl outfit Relly managed to show how to make baby Jesus cry, how to not make users feel like muppets when something goes wrong with a form and some really bad 404 pages including one with a goat that gets fan letters and little Moo from Moo cards got mentioned.. The bit about about forms and what to do when they go wrong was one of those blindingly obvious ones but it needs to be pointed out sometimes. *State the error (eg on line 4 the email address is wrong, this helps the user find how they fucked up) *Explain the error (not just you fucked up, you tell the user what is wrong) *create a resolution (help the user fix the error). It sounds obvious but its better than some standard form text which basically says there is a problem then leaves the user to figure out where it is and what it is.
I doubt her slides would mean much to most people when you looked at them (Giant head of Shigeru Miyamoto means what again?) but would probably help me wet myself laughing again. The best talk in terms of entertainment and some really thought provoking material.
All together now “get some death”
***EDIT***
Slides are up 🙂 http://www.slideshare.net/RellyAB/all-the-small-things-microcopy-and-web-design

(At some point between last night and now, the ‘me from yesterday’ lost the @media card with the lineup on it. He has be executed for incontinence and fortunately the ‘me that is now’ is able to carry on due to the notes I had scribbled out on my imacs screen. Anyone got some screenwipes?)

Aral Balkan started very strongly. He bounced around the stage excitedly talking about emotional design and had a real charisma and energy with his talk. He talked at great length about how you should try to make people smile with your apps/design and give them a little happiness with it. He demonstrated this with a couple of little apps. First was his ‘avit app which was rather smart. A little stone/potato-thing with a giant smiley face (think aardman style) searches safari books after you scan a barcode to see if its in their lineup. Very nice and the faces it pulls when it tries to get online and fails was pretty funny. Rather than the usual evil spinning thing which goes round and round and round and round and round until you get hypnotised and buy another iphone, the little spud talk to you telling you he is struggling and then cries because the internet hates you. Quite cool and I can see the use if you have a safari books online account.
His next demonstration was with another of his apps ‘feathers’ which is a twitter app that allows you to add special characters and has a nice little bird characters which slowly fills up and turns red when you hit the 140 char limit (something I do all the time). He also had a tiny rant about facebook and the feathers for facebook app and the API being pulled from under his feet. Now at this point I was getting a touch annoyed. While Aral was a good speaker, he obviously loves his own apps and his own work so much he spent most of the talk telling us all about the great features in there. Great features though they are, they are not someone elses features and it felt like a sales pitch for his stuff. The guy is obviously very talented but if i wanted to hear someone talking about how great their stuff was, I would have stayed in the main foyer and listened to MS, Opera, yahoo et al flogging their goods.

The last speaker of the day (and event) was Scott Berkun. I know why this was last, this was a really motivational talk which wrapped up the day well. Scott had me enthralled so much that I didn’t make any notes so sadly I can’t put too much down but it had some stuff about Edison not inventing the light-bulb, a photo of Einstein and Hemingway saying the first draft of every book is shit (then probably went off to have a Hemingway moment). Innovation and inspiration come to us when we are out walking when the Id and Ego are not concentrating on each other. There was some stuff about showers and Karl muttering in my ear about white noise but the lack of notes isn’t helping. The news today that the talks will be available as podcasts in the near future is excellent as of all the talks, Scotts is the one I would like to hear again (mainly due to lack of notes, what WAS I thinking?)

And with that I am done. The ‘me that is today’ will sail off into the sunset to leave way for the ‘me that will be tomorrow’ to read this and wonder where the grammar and speel checker went to.

All that is left to say thanks to all that went, all that I meet, all that I heard and those that organised. I’m now off to rest my bloody stubs which once looked like fingers and to do all the things I should have done over the last couple of nights. Like sleep…..

More failed photos

Two more photos which didn’t come out as well as I would have hoped (sound of tray on face)

OI! DAWSON! I’ve seen the picture in that slide before! You two must have searched on the same interweb. Who was that doing the presentation?
edit – I think it was Aral now. Not sure.

Hannah Donovan reenacts the AT-AT’s movements in the storyboard on her slide by sprouting two extra legs.

@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: http://mediajunkie.com/2010/designing-for-play-slides-from-webvisions-2010/
***EDIT PT2*** Woooooooo-hoooooooo http://www.slideshare.net/xian/designing-for-play-at-web-directions-media 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: http://www.rachelandrew.co.uk/presentations/web-directions-media-2010/

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…