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.