BarCampVancouver - Part 2

BarCampVancouver 2007

Pho­to by John Biehler

It was sup­posed to rain, but the sun, along with some dra­mat­ic clouds over the moun­tains, was def­i­nite­ly out over us as we start­ed our day at Work­space. I should men­tion that before the ‘Sched­ule Jam’ that I men­tioned in the first post start­ed, I got to sip a cup of beau­ti­ful cap­puc­ci­no, pre­pared by Dane Brown and munch on a crois­sant, while chat­ting with Monique, Phillip and Mon­i­ca.

Soon, the pris­tine white walls of Work­space began to fill up with atten­dees (and by def­i­n­i­tion, pre­sen­ters). After some ini­tial announce­ments, Roland Tanglao of Bryght, one of the key spon­sors of the event, pro­ceed­ed to video 3–5 sec­onds of each and every attendee! My in-a-nut­shell self-intro­duc­tion was “David, Build­ing Great UI’s”. Let the peo­ple who didn’t under­stand that UI stood for User Inter­face attend my talk lat­er on.

The ‘Sched­ule Jam’ requires that all of the vol­un­teer pre­sen­ters make a brief intro­duc­tion to describe your pro­posed ses­sion for all (but not as brief as the 3–5 sec­ond intro­duc­tion to who you were). At that point, time slots were found for the post-it pad sheets that we had made with our ses­sion names and oth­er info (URL, email address, etc.) on them. High Tech it wasn’t, but hey, it worked.

One of the first ses­sions of the day was Tod Maffin’s Favorite things, which remind­ed me a lot of the Mac­World Tips and Tricks Ses­sions I used to go to (only not always as use­ful as this one). I even learned some cool key com­mands. Did you know that com­mand-shift-tab in Fire­fox retrieves the last tab closed, remem­ber­ing the URL you were last on? It’s the per­fect anti­dote to the ‘Oh crap, I closed the wrong tab!’ prob­lem. I also learned (and this one real­ly floored me, as I should have known it) that there is pret­ty much a stan­dard for the Pref­er­ences… screen in any Mac pro­gram (includ­ing the Find­er, Fire­fox, Word and a whole bunch of oth­er pro­grams I tried): It’s com­mand-com­ma. Wow. We got intro­duced to some extreme­ly clever lit­tle pieces of soft­ware the Todd uses for his work, and some of us con­tributed our own (I showed off Visu­al Hub, a swiss-army knife of video for­mat con­ver­sion that can turn near­ly any video file into one that can be shown on your iPod, AppleTV, TiVo or just your com­put­er screen). A few were one’s I’d heard of, includ­ing Adi­um, a mul­ti-pro­to­col chat client and Paparazzi, a clever screen­shot app that will take grab any web page, includ­ing the tons of stuff that may be scrolled off screen (Years ago this app saved me a ton of time.)

I also saw Lee Lefever of the com­pa­ny Com­mon Craft do their ses­sion on his videos that explain com­plex sub­jects using a tech­nique that they call Paper­works. I had made actu­al­ly blogged about these videos back on June 1 from my oth­er blog,, so it was nice to meet the man behind the Inter­net meme. As I said in June, “It’s only a mat­ter of time before some adver­tis­ing exec sees one of these and rips off the tech­nique for a ‘hip’ spot about a car or razor.”

I was impressed by my friend and fel­low blog­ger John Biehler’s ses­sion on ‘Hack­ing the iPhone in Cana­da’. John showed a bunch of screen­shots from his iPhone (yes, actu­al screen­shots), that illus­trat­ed how he had locat­ed and fol­lowed direc­tions from sites like Shaun Inman’s that allowed him to install all sorts of cool soft­ware on his iPhone, includ­ing a Nin­ten­do Emu­la­tor and a Voice Recorder, as well as he afore­men­tioned screen­shot gen­er­a­tor. No hacks for spoof­ing a stan­dard Rogers phone (like my Treo) in soft­ware yet, but if you brave enough (and can get a hold of an exot­ic piece of hard­ware called a Tur­bo SIM), you can cut up your cur­rent phone’s SIM, insert it into the Tur­bo SIM, and it will do this for you. It’s impres­sive, but I think I’ll wait till the iPhone makes it to Cana­da, all the same. Hope I don’t lose my patience if it takes years for this to hap­pen…

Pho­to­Camp came next. It’s the ever-pop­u­lar ses­sion on pho­tog­ra­phy held by Kris Krug, the pro-pho­tog­ra­ph­er and head of Bryght. He had a lot of help from oth­ers, includ­ing Matt Trenta­coste, who showed some amaz­ing images that demon­strat­ed how a com­bi­na­tion of spe­cial lens­es com­bined with soft­ware could pro­duce images with per­fect focus in every part of the pho­to. I bet we all saw a lit­tle peek at what could be an impor­tant tech­nique that will be used a lot in the future. Unblur in soft­ware! Who could have pre­dict­ed that?

Kris also cleared up a con­fu­sion that I’d had for some time as to what EXIF Data is. It’s the extra data that’s vis­i­ble in Flickr, as well as oth­er soft­ware that tells you what cam­era the pic­ture was tak­en with, the ori­en­ta­tion, the res­o­lu­tion, host com­put­er, the date and time it it was tak­en, the dig­i­tal zoom ratio, F-stop…you name it. It’s all in there. Here’s an exam­ple. It can even con­tain copy­right data, if you choose (some soft­ware lets you insert it there).

After a lunch of piz­zas piled near­ly to the ceil­ing, organ­ic ‘hip­pie food’ for those who want­ed some­thing health­i­er, and a few oth­er ses­sions, I did my pre­sen­ta­tion on ‘Effec­tive Ani­ma­tion in User Inter­faces’. When I get anoth­er free cou­ple of hours, I’ll fin­ish con­vert­ing it for the web and put it on my oth­er web site.

After Bar­Camp was over at 5, John and I head­ed out and got some din­ner, and then he con­tin­ued on to catch the Simp­sons Movie with Rebec­ca and John Boll­witt (who was, unfor­tu­nate­ly, busy work­ing and couldn’t attend this year’s Bar­Camp.) Rebec­ca live­blogged the whole event, and even got a pic­ture of me in. I think you can tell I was hav­ing a good time.

OK, I think I’m going to pub­lish this ‘Post that Ate my Evening’ now. To those who I didn’t men­tion or link to (or both), my apolo­gies ahead of time. Sleep beck­ons.

BarCampVancouver - Part 1

First of all, apolo­gies again to those peo­ple who got a scare from the title of that last post­ing. I should have real­ized that the Twitter/Facebook echoes of it would not include the fact that it was some oth­er poor soul in the acci­dent, not us.

At any rate, it’s now 9:42 AM and where am I, this cloudy morn­ing? At Work­space, typ­ing away as Dar­ren Bare­foot is hav­ing peo­ple describe their pre­sen­ta­tions for today’s Bar­Camp. What is Bar­Camp? A do-it-your­self con­fer­ence where the atten­dees are also the pre­sen­ters. It’s cre­ative, geeky, and inspir­ing. Every­one is an expert in some­thing. How can you not be inspired by some of these peo­ple?

I’m not going to Live­blog this, but I thought I’d set the stage for a recap lat­er. Want to pay atten­tion (and take notes) as much as pos­si­ble dur­ing the day. Oh, and yes, I am pre­sent­ing. Check out, my ‘pro­fes­sion­al’ User Inter­face Blog for details. Ah, cross pro­mo­tion. So impor­tant.

A Serious Accident in the Evening

Map of Accident
Pam and I were decom­press­ing over Jeop­ardy (on the TiVo) and get­ting ready for a late din­ner when we heard a crash.

Then we heard anoth­er crash. It was, I thought, like thun­der, but Pam lat­er described it as a sort of scrap­ing of met­al. That would turn out to be the more accu­rate descrip­tion. At about 8:10, a white truck came down the East­ern on-ramp to the Granville Bridge. That’s the one that is fed from the hill that starts at the inter­sec­tion of Hem­lock and Broad­way and actu­al­ly cross­es 4th Avenue at about a height of 40 feet or so.

It must have been the wet street (it had just rained pret­ty hard after a week or so of oil and oth­er grime on the bridge). The truck spun out, crashed through the rail­ings (first crash), and went head-first down to the street below (sec­ond crash). When we arrived, along with all of the oth­er stoney-faced neigh­bors and passers-by, it was clear that one pas­sen­ger was either already dead or near­ly dead. We could see his arm, but not his head, hang­ing out of the truck’s white cab, which was smashed near­ly flat against 4th Avenue. The police and fire depart­ments had already arrived (even though it had been no more than 3 or 4 min­utes), and even­tu­al­ly pulled that pas­sen­ger out. The oth­er was cov­ered by a tarp and had not extri­cat­ed from the truck before we left and walked back home (a mere 500 feet away or so).

It’s been a vio­lent week in the South Granville area. Ear­li­er, on Mon­day at about 10PM, a police­man shot a chain-wield­ing guy who had already beat­en some­one else in the mid­dle of 16th Avenue and Granville. As safe and peace­ful we usu­al­ly find our city (and that has been the case for the major­i­ty of the two years we have lived here already), it def­i­nite­ly feels like there has been a strange spike in death and may­hem.

Where to Find the Time?

It’s a big change, mov­ing from part-time to full-time.

We get to bed pret­ty late (too late, unfor­tu­nate­ly), and are up just after 6 AM. I’m in the office in Burn­a­by by 9 and home around 6 or 6:30. That leaves evenings (a bit) and week­ends free. Last week­end (a three day week­end, thanks to the BC Day hol­i­day) we vis­it­ed my broth­er in Seat­tle (which was a lot of fun, and we got to take the new car on its first long trip — no prob­lems, and we even got to use cruise-con­trol for a while as well!). This week­end we’re cel­e­brat­ing our anniver­sary and see­ing some friends, although not as many as we’d like. Next week­end is Bar­Camp Van­cou­ver, which looks like it will be 200 peo­ple try­ing to jam into the space for 100 at Work­space. After that… well, it would be nice to get away for a week­end before win­ter hits.

Aside from need­ing some sleep and not being used to hav­ing less time for things like…blogging, for one thing, life is good. But to some of my friends, fam­i­ly and fel­low blog­gers, it’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I can’t find the time to check in. At least not do that and sleep.

I’m going to go ahead an post this short entry because (sur­prise!) I don’t have time to write a longer one.