Posts Tagged ‘andyclarke’

Event #4: Manchester

I think leading up to this one, it felt different to me.  We’d managed to pull off three of these gigs and both from the positive feedback we’d had and the fact that we knew most of the audience at this one, Manchester’s gig was bound to be different.  We also crammed in four speakers because we’d invited up Remy Sharp up from Brighton as our special guest as the only non-Northerner on the tour.

There were a few last minute issues around what cables we had and getting everything up and running but come kick-off we’d got everything in place and NoHo had begun to fill up.  It’s always been tough with working out numbers for these different venues – although their capacity is often more that we’ve allowed, we didn’t want it to be too crowded – although there was seating, there wasn’t enough for everyone (or perhaps we would have had to allow less people in to make it so).  Every venue has it’s challenges when they’re not geared up for such things and perhaps the lighting was the downside in this one.

Hopefully we’d made it clear that this was a very DIY, rough and ready kind of set-up so people might not’ve been too surprised that we’d got the projector nestle atop a tall step ladder (masqueraded by one of our standee banners).  We’d also been very keen to get a balance between people that had spoken on the web circuit along with people that hadn’t – or that had never spoken before.

Ben Childs was first up talking about the complexities of mobile platforms, the difficulties of natives apps, how Apple has changed the traditional operator controlled model and how we can provide good levels of mobile web experiences to our sites.  I think he did really we communicating his experiences from his days at Orange along with what they do at Common Agency and it certainly must’ve been intimidating for him to be first on with an expectant audience in front of him in this strange context.

“The Hodge is a ledge” was posted out on Twitter for a reason; you don’t get something polished and perfect with Dom, you get something better – something real with his sessions.  Today we ventured through SEO tricks good & bad, misconceptions, mistakes and great Twitters stories.  Highly entertaining and very engaging, we were really pleased to have him on board!

During the break we had Gavin from DIBI, not only venturing all the way down from Newcastle again but really unwell.  Again, generous with the t-shirts and a free ticket to their conference – we appreciated his and Ellie’s efforts coming down to spread the word about DIBI – that’s dedication people!  We had the last of our donated books from O’Reilly, No Starch & Paul Boag to give away – hope the winners get a lot our of them!

We did try and cram a lot into this one but we wanted to break our rule/guideline about having local speakers and get Remy Sharp up from Brighton to dazzle up some tech talk about HTML5 APIs.  We’ve tried to balance the content of these and we knew any particularly technical talks would divide the audience a little but Remy’s style and depth of knowledge is really valuable stuff and not something you can hear just anywhere.  While the talk around HTML5 mainly focusses around different tags in mark-up, the APIs seem to super-power javascript working with it in so many ways.  It was great to have him come up and talk for us, if only to show how much appetite there is up North both for events like this and the kind of content he talks about.

Not only had Andy Clarke headlined our Leeds gig the week before, then visited our one in Liverpool as a member of the audience but also rounded out our line-up tonight, on our home turf.  He’d incited heckling on Twitter and he had a few hecklers!  On great form, he walked us through what he means by Hard Boiled web design, which is the subject of his next book and the theme he’ll be working through various talks through the year with this chapter called ‘I, the Jury’.  It’s great to see him at work – a natural performer and he made a persuasive argument for going beyond graceful degredation and effectively being less graceful but appropriate with how we cater for less able browsers.  His ‘universal IE6′ stylesheet would get people muttering as this effectively serves a plain text version of a site to IE6 but the premise is sound: design for the most able browsers first, then find an appropriate display for those less able.

It’s been a whirlwind fortnight for us to get these all done and quite fitting to finish on home turf.  We’re really grateful to all that attended, tweeted and generally supported us in making these happen.  It’s certainly shown that there is demand for this kind of thing in the North, there is a wealth of talent around us and that we can make it happen up here ourselves!


Dan & Rich

Event #2: Leeds

These events are experimental in many ways.  Rich & I haven’t organised anything like this before, so we really grateful for the feedback we got from Mondays gig in Sheffield.  One recurring comment was seating, so never let it be said that we ignore this stuff – in Leeds we sorted seating!

It was interesting for us to see how each event could really have a very different feel: because of the venues, the line-up of speakers and the audience – perhaps after doing our first in Sheffield, our increased confidence too?  With that in mind, we’re really looking forward to the next two in Liverpool on the 15th and Manchester on the 17th!

The venue (upstairs at BarRoomBar on Call Lane) seemed to work pretty well and gave a nice intimate feel about it.  Really nice to be able to look out from the stage to see so many faces.  I have to admit, I did actually quite enjoy being the compare this time around ;)   First up, Stuart Smith gave us an overview of the complexities around developing native apps and widgets for mobile devices, which I’m sure many that haven’t really dipped into mobile development might not’ve realised – and you can’t go too far wrong with a slide of a corn on the cob shaped vibrator!

Chris Mills from Opera regaled us with songs from his far distant homeland gave us some great insight into HTML5 and all of it’s idiosyncrasies – which although did share a bit in common with Bruce’s talk from Monday, also showed how much there is to take advantage of with this new version of HTML.  A couple of great plugs for HTML5Doctor that Rich contributes to, which were welcomed!

Part of what these nights are about is socialising – talking to people you’ve not met before, so hopefully the break started people on that path.  We again had some books and merchandise to give away, kindly donated by No Starch Press & O’Reilly but were fortunate to have Gavin & Ellie, organisers of the DIBI conference down from Newcastle and generously gave away some t-shirts and a ticket to their event.

We were really pleased to be able to welcome Andy Clarke to our little gig series, not only as a speaker but as a sponsor, so we started by giving some jammy lucky winners a complete set of his For a Beautiful Web DVDs and a copy of Transcending CSS (enjoy!) before getting stuck into Chapter 1 of his Hardboiled CSS talks ‘I, The Jury’.  As someone said to me after, it was like seeing a famous comedian doing a warm-up show in a pub in London – one of those rare moments where you get to see something they’ll be using in some capacity at bigger gigs, working it through and being able to feed back to them.

There was a loads of great examples and ideas to digest and while being a little controversial in some eyes, there’s some great reasoning behind it.  Aim for the edges, do the best you can with the capabilities the browser has to offer and find a good level of experience for browsers that maybe don’t support everything.

Also in the audience it was great to see Sam (@nocturnalmonkey), who’s done all of our design work for the gigs and Rich Quick who’s Squizzle app is one of our sponsors and has helped make it all possible – especially after traveling all the way down from St Andrews to be there last night!

All in all, we’re really pleased that so many people came and made it a success and we’re grateful to all of the speakers and sponsors who have helped to do this.  Roll on Monday… after some much need sleep ;)


Dan & Rich

Great to read a few opinions on last night’s gig already: