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August 31, 2007

rethinking protests

Next week, the whole APEC circus comes to (Sydney) town. I've seen estimates of over 100 million dollars (well over in fact) being spent on security - which to tell the truth is little if anything more than anti protest (that is anti free speech) tactics.

Gaols have been cleared to make way for 1000 potential arrests (people serving weekend detention may stay away for the weekend - think about that - hundreds of actual criminals serving gaol time may remain unincarcerated to leave space for possible unruly protesters.) A large area of Sydney has literally been walled off (5km of 2.8m high fencing), and whole areas outside this cordoned off from their customary use for decades for security purposes, so that the wives and girlfriends of visiting leaders may have lunch in a restaurant.

And constantly there has been talk of how violence will not be tolerated, how water cannon (a lasting image of apartheid South Africa) are on the ready to tackle any unrest.

Now, last time there was a significant protest of this kind in Australia is was against violence, violence which has taken tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives, the Iraq war, protests that drew hundreds of thousands across Australia, with little if any unrest at all.

The irony of that.

Well, I have a suggestion as to how best to protest this time round.

Don't turn up.

Leave the streets empty, silent as the so many graves of Iraq. Shame a government that has spent hundreds of millions on an exercise in embarrassing self aggrandisement, by literally, and pointedly ignoring the whole exercise.
Let the police in their riot uniforms stand facing empty streets. Let the skies thunder with fighter jets and black hawke helicopters echoing thorug the empty empty canyons of Sydney - nothing would more infuriate a government yearning for the relevance of civil unrest (see, our opponents are violent and unruly, they seek to destabilise our free country, blah blah effing blah)
I'm not sure whether there are active organisers for any protest planned, but please consider a day out in the sun far from the centre of Sydney - a huge free concert at say homebush bay. An affirmation of our belief in peace, the quiet enjoyment of this earth, the power of life over death, and family, friends and society over a coercive, self important state. I am sure a roster of the biggest stars in the country would play for little if nothing at the last moment.
And I am sure thousands would donate money to make it happen in no time.

Those of us old enough to remember the rise and rise of Reagan and Thatcher remember the sense that their nasty ilk had inherited the earth, but we are here, and they are long gone. Let's not be defined by others, but define ourselves.

So let's forget the old dispensations of marching and chanting and banners. Let's affirm our lives, and life on a beautiful early spring day. Like Aboriginal elders famously a decade ago, let's turn our back on those we have no respect for, not march to their tune.

C'mon, you know it makes sense.

August 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

August 29, 2007

McFarlane Prize nominations and Web Directions Discount close this Friday at midight

Quick note on two upcoming events.

Discount pricing for Web Directions South ending

If you work in the web industry, you've got until Friday at midnight to get tickets to the event of the year here in Sydney for just $895.

Remember too - it's ok to register now and pay later - it's just that our magic robots will go in there at midnight on the 30th, and even we can't stop them :), so hop to it.

McFarlane Prize nominations closing

Nominations for the McFarlane Prize also close this Friday at midnight. For more details see the site.

Still plenty of time to get your entries in for this prestigious award, but be sure to do so before midnight Friday.

August 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 24, 2007

What kind of a world?

What kind of a world do we live in where whole suburbs are shut down because the WAGs of a few purportedly elected public servants (you know, the folks who in theory work for us) want to have lunch in a restaurant?

Get a grip.

If the world is so insecure, frankly, you aren't doing your jobs properly.

Silly.

August 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 23, 2007

Social networking in the physical world

One of the really fundamental reasons why we do web directions is to get people together. Nothing beats talkign to someone, sharing a coffee, or a drink, or dinner, sharing your experiences with someone who does similar things to you, shares imilar interests.
But breaing the ice can be really hard. What have you got in common? Do you use the same tools, work in a similar industry, come from the same city? All of the things that we have in common we need to find out about one another.

I think one reason why online social networking works so well is that peopel can find those things out about one another, or advertise those kinds of things about themselves easily. So right away, you knwo somethings you have in common.

So, this year at Web Directions, we are going to try and do something to help with that first step - and anyone can help out with it.

At the conference, your name badge can also tell people about those things that are really important to you. And the best part is, you get to tell us what that is.

mikon ideas

Maybe it's your skills: CSS, HTML, Perl, PHP, Java, Flash, Ajax, Javascript etc etc etc
Or where you're from: NSW, Qld, Vic, WA?
Whether you follow league, rugby, AFL, soccer?
Maybe you're an early bird or a night owl? Clean desk or messy? Desktop or laptop? Coffee or tea?
Mac or Windows? Or Linux?
Are you loking for a job, or clients? Are you looking for a freelancer or employee?

This is a great use for Mikons

mikons on name badges

Design your own Mikon

This year at Web Directions South you even get to design your own: here's how it works.

Go along to the Mikons site and create an account.

Design a Mikon and tag it with wds07. Mikons.com has its own editor, or you can even upload an EPS.

Submit as many as you like, in fact I think the best ones will be those that cover off a set of options, such as "carnivore or vegetarian". Go here for Mikon ideas.

Just make sure you have the "share" option on the Mikon clicked.

And make sure you do it before midnight on Monday September 3.

The best 50 Mikons will be printed on a sticker set to go in the Web Directions South satchels for everyone to use on their name badges. Just like these ones from SXSW earlier this year:

The winners will also get a Mikons t shirt. And lots of cred. How cool is that?

Hop to it now: remember, entries close Monday September 3.

August 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2007

once more with the zealots, this time with feeling (or how WaSP ruined everything for everyone)

I posted this as a coment on Joe Hewitt's blog, but feel it needs its own home, so indulge me. Thsi is perhaps the first time I've seen the Web Standards Project atually blamed for the lack of standards development, but Joe is sure an innovative guy. I'm not sure whether to be sad, angry, or just nonplussed. Or maybe it's an elaborate joke?

That the iPhone is not like a return to the bad old days of "best viewed in" - is for the simple reason that the Web Standards Project, and many many individual web developers, as well as those associated with commercial and open source browser development worked really hard, at a time when it was barely heard of, to advocate for a standards based web - not the balkanized, anarchic web introduced orignially by Netscape, and then contributed to by browser and web developers alike for many years.

Frankly, to blame the web standards project for the lack of development of standards is flat out wrong Actualy, it's BS IMO. You can't rerun history, but with Netscape crashing and burning, and long before Mozilla, let alone Firefox put some pressure on Microsoft, IE had effectively a monopoly on web browsing. It's hard to see what else would have brought about the pretty stable, standards based web ecosystem we have today in the absence of the combined positive and critical pressure that this organization brought to bear on all browser developers, the evangelism of the values and value of these standards it undertook, along with with the countless hours many folks spent on newsgroups, mailing lists, developing web sites, and otherwise helping web developers learn CSS, valid HTML, accessibility and the like.

You've done pretty well out of the standards based web Joe - so be a bit more grateful to those who worked very hard, and frankly in many cases sacrified a lot to make it a reality.

To follow a second tangent, imagine that a lot of the WPF/Silveright (no criticism of these, BTW) had been pured back into IE, um I mean standards. Do you think we'd have the Firefox we do today? It barely does SVG, so would it be a first class web citizen trying to support a much more complex rich set of technologies? What about Opera? Even Safari. And whose to say that the development of these standards would have moved ahead more steadily than CSS3? I really need some convincing that the Web Standards Project caused all this.

As to the iPhone, Safari, AFAIC, does innovation right. They work within a stable framework of innovation, as the pain of the years of the version 4 and 5 browsers taught us - for example, the use of -webkit- prefixes for experimental CSS, and in implementing features like text-stroke, border-radius, and box-shadow which of their nature gracefully degrade.

Don't tell those folks who worked very hard to make the web what it is that they "don't even understand how standards come to be in the first place", or that they are blinded by dogma. Of course there are always those who will, but to lump all of those who support standards in with them, and then to suggest that it was the very people who most helped the web who effed it up, well, you are simply overreacting.

August 22, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 21, 2007

XRAY 0.91a released

I've just updated XRAY to version 0.91a. I don't know what's with the numbering system either ;-)

This version now officially supports IE6+ on Windows, in addition to Webkit and Mozilla based browsers wherever they may roam.

Get it here

I also added info on borders widths, as these will impact the box model, and you can now use the arrow keys to move around the DOM - up to XRAY the parent element, down to XRAY the first child, left and right to XRAY sibling elements.

I also removed the dependency on the JQuery library, hopefully speeding things up too.

For future versions, I hope you won't need to change the bookmark again. For this version, I needed to make the change both to stop downloading JQuery, and because IE didn't like the approach I took.

Let me know what you think

john

August 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Announcing the free (as in speech and beer) Hatch Day 2007 - following Web Directions South

Conference are all about talking - and talking is great - we sketch out ideas, share insights, learn new concepts and techniques. But after the talk, we also have to walk.

So, this year we are introducing a new event as part of the web directions family. And it's free - not just for WD attendees but for all (though places are limited.)

For years, (I mean since last millenium) I've been keen to hold an event called "web hack" - a shameless rip of the sadly departed "MacHack" conferences.
Finally, this year we decided to hold just that event. But a bit of market research (ie asking our friends) told us that the term 'hack' was a bit scarey. So, as she usually does, Maxine had a great idea - let's make it a "hatch" day - an "extreme incubator" where great ideas are hatched.

Web Hatch is part unconference, part hack day, and part webjam (hatchers get to present their work at the end of the day at a special webjam), and it all wraps up in a party.

I got a couple of ideas I've been working on slowly for a while, so I might even do a project myself.

Like I said

  • it's free
  • anyone who wants to participate - but you do need to register

Hatch Day is a day of web creativity and idea sharing that falls somewhere between Barcamp and hard core coding weekends like RAILS Camp. Maybe you're a developer or group of developers with a project you're been wanting an excuse to get stuck into. Or perhaps you have expertise you'd like to share, a desire to help people really breathe life into a project.

Hatch Day is "The Extreme Incubator": the day on which you take a proto-project and

  1. really put some focussed work into it
  2. get some input from experts

turning it into at least the level of a presentable prototype by the end of the day, when there will be a Webjam.

So, what happens?

First of all, anyone who wants to contribute can come along, but numbers for this day are limited, so you need to register. You can register as

A project team
You can have as many or as few people in your team as you like, but we suggest somewhere between 3 and 5 people. Just let us know who you are, and give yourselves a name. Then put as much work into the project as you can before the day - the more you put in before the more you'll benefit from the intensity of Hatch Day.
A person in search of a team
If you would like to be part of one of the teams, give us some info about yourself and we'll see what we can do to hook you up. Even better, get in touch with one of the teams yourself.
A roving expert
Do you work in usability or interaction design? Are you a hard core backend or database type who'd be willing to help others solve some curly problems? Have you got experience in turning ideas into commercial realities? Of course, the coding is at the core of any project, but going from a nat idea to an actual product requires so much more than this. If you'd like to share your expertise and be a vital part of the incubator, we'd love you to register and come along.

Then just turn up at 10.00am on the day and go go go until the Webjam at 6.00pm, when you'll get to show us what you've been up to, and there'll be prizes and drinking and stuff.

But I'm not a hacker

All kinds of projects need all kinds off skills. It's not all hardcore Ruby on Rails and Ajax. Design and illustration skills, writing, front end design, photography, woodworking, hairdressing, whatever you love doing you'll find a way to use. There'll also be all kinds of things happening throughout the day, so there'll be plenty to keep you occupied.

OK, so what kinds of thing do people build?

Check out some of the projects at the Open Hack Day in 2006.

What will be provided?

We'll provide

  • a venue
  • a wifi network
  • lunch and refreshments
  • lots of experts to help you out with ideas, provide advice about everything from CSS to Javascript to Django and Rails

What does it cost?

Nada, nix, nothing. That's right, it's free as in beer. Hmmm, come to think of it, there may even be free beer there as well. Just one more reason to come along.

The lowdown

When: 10am, Saturday September 29
Where: North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club - Map
Register
Read more

August 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 20, 2007

Reminder: McFarlane Prize - nominations close August 31

A quick reminder that the McFarlane Prize nominations close at the end of the month.

The Prize is open to any Australian web design and development teams or individuals. The only other requirement is that the site must have been launched or sigificantly updated between August 1 2006 and July 31 2007.

There is no cost to enter, and no requirement to attend the Web Directions conference (short listed finalists will of course be invited to the award session and following reception).

You may nominate your own site or sites, or a site or sites that has impressed you. Simply fill in the nomination form at the site.

Please spread the word - nominations have been coming in at an excellent rate, but love to see as many possible entrants and demonstrate the quality of Australian Web Design.

August 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 19, 2007

Past performance is no indicator of future success

An oft quoted maxim in the finance industry, I think it is also a hueristic we can apply to many other circumstances.

Now, in these paranoid says, I am rather loath to write anything on the issue of terror, because I still travel quite a bit both inside Australia and around the world, and it seems that you never know what you might say when and how can get misconstrued by someone somewhere, and you end up rather constrained in your travel movements.

But.

I can't help thinking about a number of recent incidents where folks have been detained and otherwise sanctioned for photographing buildings, and other public spaces (by the way, older readers like me will remember travellers tales, apocryphal or otherise, of those travelling to places like eastern europe, the Soviet Union, China, having their cameras confiscated, and worse, for photographing planes at airports and so on - typically these tales were told to underline the point that unlike our freedom loving countries, these states were so paranoid that they got hung up on tourist snaps.)

But where on earth could this rambling exegesis be going?

Has anyone seen photosynth? Now, as any more than casual reader knows, I am a geek, and cool technology excites me. This really is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Fullstop. It's almost impossible to adquately describe in words, so I suggest you take a look at this video - jump to about 5.40 to go or so (that's about 40% in) and just watch this.

Basically, it can take a photoset, like say from Flickr or Photobucket, and build a 3D model by analysing these photos and working out where they were taken and stitching them all together.

So, to have a 3D model of any prominent site, all you need is a photo set like those, and a copy of photsynth. And access to a computer and the net.
You don't need to visit the location, or take photos, or even go to that country.

So like much of the 'security' (5m high walls to keep APEC attendees in, no toothpaste on aircraft, Google Maps resolution of Satellite photos of Sydney suddenly becoming lower, and the like), that is supposed to keep us safe, curtailing the photography of public spaces is so much pantomime, impacting on our peaceful enjoyment of the short time alotted to us on this planet, diverting the energy and attention of those whose job it is to protect us, in what I won't argue at all are challenging times, away from genuinely threatening and dangerous behavior.

So, wait for the calls to ban services like flickr and applications like photosynth. They can't be too far off. 'All in the name of liberty'.

In the meantime, see the future of user generated content and crowd sourcing, and be inspired.

August 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

August 15, 2007

Web Directions student discounts

Are you a full time student? Do you know any full time students? If you are, or if you do, then hopefully you'll be interested in our student discounts for Web Directions and for the W3C's Special interest group day, running in conjunction with our workshops.

Places at the SIG day, featuring international and local experts working on current and future web standards like HTML5, CSS3, XForms, GRDDL, accessibility and more for full time students are just $60.
Places at the conference for full time students are just $195 (and that includes all the catering, reception, parties and showbag).

There'll be plenty of potential employers, mentors, opportunities for internships, as well as contacts to be made in the industry. You'll be able to get up to speed with current trends and developments in the industry, and get a headstart when it comes to finding work after you complete your studies (or even while you are continuing to do them).

To take advantage of these special offers, just visit our registration page and use the following promotional codes

For the conference, use WDS07-STUD

For the W3C SIG day, use WDS07-STUD-SIG

If you are an employer interested in offering internships, or employing graduates, please get in touch, and we'll help bring students and potential employers together.

August 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack