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The early morning start was a very good idea. Even arriving at 8:30 meant I was half way along the queue, and it quickly grew behind me!

Once I’d received my pass and goody bag we were directed upstairs for a free drink from Microsoft… which reminded me that I should go and grab some freebies from them! They said they where giving away some Lumias which would be perfect to add to our mobile testing devices.

The conference got warmed up with Syd Lawrence attempting to create a mass game of Guess Who using our phones and a few texts. Unfortunately, as with most Live things, it didn’t go to plan and resulted in just one player being added to the game (out of the 1250 of us) but the point of the exercise was still conveyed.

There was then an in depth talk about everything web from the first guest speaker Jeremy Keith. He explained that upon re-building his site from the ground up after post launch over 10 years ago, he introduced new tech and ideas. However a lot of the same methods where the same, showing that some tech will live on long after we do, in an ever growing ‘tech bubble’ that is the Web!

Next was John Hicks, I was very excited to hear from him as he has a wealth of knowledge regarding all things ‘iconny’, and leads the field in icon type fonts. The idea of using a pre-defined set of icons that are built into a font, means that the site weight is greatly reduced and keeps all your asset styles consistent.

The next guest speaker was Mark Boulton. He has done work for a few companies such as CERN and ULC. Unfortunately, for me, his talk seemed to go no where and I wasn’t able to grasp his point, at times it sounded like he didn’t know what he was trying to say… a bit disappointing…

Following on from Mark was a local lad, Brendan Dawes! He was by far the liveliest speaker of the event, and managed to translate something that isn’t that interesting – raw data files – into interesting and inspiring pieces of artwork using programmatical algorithms and custom built machines such as the ‘Happiness Machine’ (which once a button is pressed, searches Twitter for a ‘Happy Comment’ and prints it out for you as a receipt!

Brendan also wins the award for my favourite quote when explaining to the students about Photoshop 2″. It didn’t have layers, it was like mining in the dark!”

He ended with a 3D model of a snapshot from a particular day… confusing as it sounds, he essentially took the data from a particular moment on a particular day; weather, time, comments etc., and transformed the data into a cylindrical form, with peeks and troughs, pluckers and edges, and then using his 3D printer, created it to make the data handheld… ahhh… clever

After talks from two other speakers, Ling and Eddie, the final talks where from Andy, who says he doesn’t like talking that much yet presented twice in two days, and Jeffery ‘the almighty’ Zeldman.

Suffice to say, both speakers talked about evolution as well as revolution within the design process, particularly implementation and the upkeep of websites. Both speakers explained that it is crucial to involve your clients in the process, and to remember that you are being hired by them to do what you do best in your profession. As Andy put it:
“The client shouldn’t underestimate our importance or role. We are the specialists that they have hired. It’s not about ego, it’s about respect for the work.”

All in all I have learnt a lot from the two days. Its opened my eyes to new ways of working and techniques I can use on future projects. I am eager to pass on my learnings… but for now I need to rest… I am used to writing code, not content after all!


by Austin Waddecar on 16/12/2013

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