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Running Toward Austin

I swear I haven’t forgotten the W3C thing.  Life has just gotten very (and largely unexpectedly) overwhelming of late, and I’ve been falling further and further behind on everything.  To make matters worse, the ideas I want to put forth regarding the W3C are really too long for a single post, no matter how much time I have available.  In fact, I think it’ll take three posts.  I hope to write those soon.  Then again, I’ve been hoping that about a lot of things recently, as my tax attorney and at least two editors can attest.

Before I let it slip any further away, though, I do want to belatedly mention that An Event Apart Austin is open for registration.  Also, this is a great opportunity to mention actual timely news: we’ve just this evening announced that our special guest speaker in Austin will be none other than Molly Holzschlag, who will be giving a talk on designing from the content out.

Don’t miss it, ya’ll!

When It Rains…

I’ve been largely offline for the last couple of days due to an inexplicable failure of my DSL modem.  I was certain that it was another case of the DSLAM dying on me—it’s happened a few times in the past—and when the Covad techs claimed it had to be a modem failure, I was deeply skeptical.  Score one for the topical experts: they were right, and I was not.

While I waited for the replacement modem that I was sure wouldn’t change anything, I was using dialup.  Man, I never want to do that again.  Talk about sipping the Internet through a cocktail straw.  To make it even worse, I was tethered.  To a phone jack.  There was no wifi infusing the house, letting me work anywhere.  It was like having lost a perceptual sense.  It was wrong and confining and I didn’t like it.  No more of that, thanks.  If the Republicans are so hot to amend the Constitution, how about they be useful for a change and add “the Right to Unfetter’d Bandwidth”?

So.  Nothing much happened CSS-wise while I was gone, did it?  No controversies or anything?  Good.

While I may have been getting my bits by carrier pigeon, the AEA team was able to assemble and post a full schedule for An Event Apart Seattle, which includes a session by Kelly Goto on “Designing for Lifestyle”:

As design migrates from the web to mobile devices, our approach must also shift. Learn how companies are using ethnographic-based research to design smarter interfaces.

I’ve seen Kelly speak in the past, and she’s always funny, smart, and relevant.  I’m really looking forward to hearing what she has to say about ethnography and design.

I’ll be offering updated versions of my highest-rated talks in New York, “Hard-Core CSS” and “One True Layout”, and Jeffrey will be talking about selling standards to difficult clients (especially when the client is a boss) and the importance of writing to good design.  All this and Stan too!  If you’re fixin’ to come see us, the early bird deadline is still a ways off, but don’t wait too long.

@media Impressions

I’m back home from @media 2006, and as much as I’m happy to be reunited with my family, I’m very glad I made the trip to London.  All the people I met (and I met far too many to have any hope of naming them all) were great, very enthusiastic and passionate about what they do.  Forget the “reserved Englishman” (or woman) stereotype: if I were to create a single composite image to represent my experience, it would be a warm, wide grin.

From all the commentary, it would seem that people very much enjoyed my keynote, “A Decade of Style”, and several people commented on its similarity to last year’s keynote by Jeffrey Zeldman.  I knew he’d talked about the Web Standards Project, but I didn’t fully appreciate the danger of topical overlap.  Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to have hurt its reception, and I’m glad people found my little trip down amnesia lane to be of interest.  Personal narratives can be highly compelling, but they can also be unimpressive or (even worse) boring.

Of course, there was plenty of love for other talks, but you can understand why I might have been most concerned about how my talk was received, it being the one for which I was responsible and all.  I don’t get nervous about speaking in front of audiences, but I do fear boring or annoying them.  If there’s one thing I strive not to be, it’s a waste of others’ time.

As usual, there’s a quickly expanding body of photos over at Flickr.  I just have two things I’d like to suggest that @media photo taggers please do (or don’t):

  1. While I appreciate the photogenicity of London, pictures of Big Ben or Heathrow airport don’t really deserve the tag “atmedia”.  The venues, sure; the attendees, absolutely.  But a picture that shows all of the seats on your flight to UK were full isn’t really about the conference.  And do we really need to see what you ate for dinner each night?  I say thee nay.  (But then I totally don’t understand the impulse to habitually take pictures of one’s dinner, so maybe I’m a tad off base there.)

  2. If a person is depicted in your photo and you know their name, you should put that in your photo’s tags.  Whether you use the proper format (“Joe Person”) or the compressed version (“joeperson”) is irrelevant, since Flickr treats them as being equivalent.  But it’s nice to be able to find all the photos of, say, Jon Hicks by a convenient name-tag.

    I’ve also seen people tagged with both their name and URL, so a photo of Jon Hicks might be tagged both “jonhicks” and “hicksdesign“.  That’s a decent bit of design redundancy and probably worth doing, but at the very least, tag the names.  I’m going to go clean up my omissions on that score this evening, so as to flesh out the semantic gooness of my own photo stream.

Just my two bits of tagging advice; take ‘em for whatever you think they’re worth.  In the meantime, if you’ve ever wanted to see me wearing a suit, or with my fangs partially extended in anticipation of a fresh meal, well then—I guess it’s just your lucky day, innit?

Sweet Home Chicago

As Jeffrey said, An Event Apart Chicago was fantastic.  There was a great energy in the room—not only in the speakers, but in the audience as well.  The old talks felt like they had more punch, and the new material was crisp and fresh.  We got a lot of really sharp questions during our talks, and even the between-session chatter crackled with high-level insight and ideas.

There have been some great shots posted in the Flickr group, which includes a few humble efforts from yours truly.  Several of them give an idea of how packed the house was, and still there was a sense of intimacy.  For this, I give a great deal of credit the venue itself; as Jason said, I just want to take it with us wherever we go.

Thanks to all who made the day so great.  With the energy charge of Chicago still humming in my head, I’m looking forward to AEA New York more than ever.

Presentation Remotes

This one will be of interest to the dozen or so of you who regularly give presentations that involve some sort of (Powerpoint, Keynote, S5, whatever) slide show.

Just before An Event Apart Philadelphia, I went out and bought a Keyspan Presentation Remote.  I picked this particular make and model because I’d used one at Web Essentials 05 and it’s programmable, which always hooks me.  It also has the ability to control the mouse pointer, change the audio volume, and more.  So I bought one.

Bad move.  As attendees of An Event Apart can tell you, we had problem after problem with the damn thing, both with the default settings and with the customized configuration I’d set up.  It turns out the remote has two “modes”, and the default mode can be only partly reprogrammed.  Sadly, it won’t stay in the alternate mode.  If you don’t interact with the remote for a minute or so, it goes back to default mode, which means it stops doing what it’s supposed to do (advance slides).  We ended up just not using it.

While I was at IceWeb, I borrowed Molly‘s (or maybe it was Andy‘s) Kensington Pocket Presenter to deliver my talk.  This little baby is simple as anything: largish back and forth keys that map to Page Up and Page Down, a red button for the laser pointer, and a “stop” button that blanks the screen in supporting applications.  That’s it.  And that’s what makes it great.  Even better, the USB receiver slides into a storage slot in the remote itself, and doing so turns the whole thing off, is pure genius.  It fits easily in the hand, both in terms of size and shape.  It’s the iPod of presentation controllers, designed to do one thing and do it very well.  It’s enough to make me reconsider my whole “one device to rule them all” stance.

I picked one up at the Apple Store the other night for not much more than it costs at your favorite online discount e-store, and I couldn’t be happier.  The one little quirk I noticed was that the first time I plugged one of these into my PowerBook (running Tiger), the system said I was plugging in a new keyboard.  I dismissed the dialog box, and it’s worked without a hiccup ever since.

So: Keyspan remote bad, Kensington remote good.  Of course, if you really need a presentation remote that can do a convincing impression of a slow-moving mouse driven by an Etch-A-Sketch interface, then you may disagree with me on this one.  Me, I’d rather just have a slide controller, and if I need to do something with the mouse, I’ll walk over to the computer and use the mouse.  Shocking!

IceWeb on Ice

IceWeb 2006 wrapped up today (that is, Friday), and I’m deeply honored to have been a part of it.  The attendees were just wonderful, there were great speakers all around, and I was as impressed as everyone else by Joe Clark‘s Icelandic benediction at the beginning of his talk.

In general, it’s been an amazing trip.  In some ways, though, the highlight came before I even set foot on Icelandic soil.  On the way over, the Aurora Borealis was visible out my plane window.  With a touch of desperate improvisation, I managed to coax some half-decent shots of the lights (and the wing of our plane) from my battered PowerShot S45.  You can see them up on Flickr, along with a few of the better shots from our Wednesday trip through the Icelandic countryside (in the general photostream).  The actual aurorae were nowhere near as green to the eye as what’s seen in the photos, but more of a silver-blue phosphorescence with maybe a little tiny hint of green.  It was hard to judge, looking through a plastic airplane window while trying to block out cabin light enough to see them.

That’s not to minimize the beauty of this country, however.  There is a bleak and wild character that’s hard for me to resist, even as I know I’d never survive the dark of deepest winter here.  Much as I love landscapes, and Iceland has those in spades, the people are the best part: friendly and accepting in a way that’s still proud and reserved.  It’s hard to explain.  Moreover, they do know how to party.

My deepest thanks to all our hosts for letting me be a part of IceWeb, and I hope I get to return some time in the future.  Takk!

Still Here

I’ll get back to the whole IE7 thing in a day or three.  Sorry to start the conversation and then go silent, but I’ve recently learned two things.

  1. The week after announcing a new event over at An Event Apart (like, say, AEA Chicago) is always very busy as registrations come in, people contact us with questions, posts have to be written, and so on.
  2. The week before an event (like, say, AEA Atlanta) is always very busy with travel preparations, double-checking of arrangements, last-minute tweaks to talks, and so on.

So of course we’d set things up to have both happen the same week.  With another conference on my schedule for the end of the same week as AEA Atlanta.

Anyway, as I say, I’ll get back to the blogging Real Soon Now.  In the meantime, I have two new appearances to announce (in chronological order).

  1. 27-28 April 2006 – Iceweb 2006 – Reykjavik, Iceland

    I’ll be presenting “The One True Layout?”, which will be a detailed look at the pros and cons of techniques debuted in Alex Robinson’s article.  A bunch of other big names will be there as well, despite which I got top billing on the site’s speaker list.  Ha!  Take that, Mr. Dave “I’m Too Sexy For The Web” Shea!

  2. 12 May 2006 – Carson Workshops – London, England

    This will be an updated version of the full-day seminar “Professional CSS XHTML Techniques”.  Seating on these is quite limited, so you might want to register early and often.  Or at least early.

That’s it for now.  I hope to be back soon.

An Event Apart Chicago

Back when we announced An Event Apart Atlanta, there was a promise of more cities to come:

Can’t make Atlanta on April 3rd? Event Apart seminars in Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles (not necessarily in that order) are up next.

The first of those three has now been announced: An Event Apart Chicago, to be held June 2nd, 2006 at the Gleacher Center right in the heart of downtown Chicago.  Not only will this show reprise the speaker lineup from our Philadelphia show, but our first foray to the Windy City will also feature Jim Coudal as a guest speaker.  He’s a respected Web designer and founder of Coudal Partners, the guy behind Jewelboxing, The Show, and The Deck, and (along with Jason Fried) opened this year’s SXSW Interactive.  He hasn’t chosen his specific topic as I write this, but as far as I’m concerned he can call it “An Hour of Jim Coudal Talking About Whatever The Hell He Wants”.

Registration is already open, so if you’re planning to attend, don’t tarry.  (In fact, just as I went to post this, the first registration came in!)  We have a hard limit on the number of seats available, so when they’re gone, they’re gone.  Much as it pained us, we had to turn away a number of people from the first two Events.  If you want to avoid paining us further, register soon.

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