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.