How to have a great conference experience.

My table spot for the conference.

Nothing like a pen and a pad of paper to organize your thoughts

I just got back from “An Event Apart” in Atlanta. This is the second AEA that I’ve attended, the first being in New Orleans several years ago. If you’ve never attended An Event Apart, it’s a truly inspirational conference. Creatively merging design, development, and mixing them all in a tall glass of web standards, it’s really the one other conference, besides Adobe Max, that I feel is a legitimate, “must-attend” learning experience. It’s not for the feint of heart however, it’s a lot of information over a small amount of time. You’re exposed to an eclectic mix of speakers and topics ranging from high level design discussions to low level, technically challenging sessions like the nuts and bolts of CSS, or technical executions of cutting edge HTML5 solutions. It’s not like MAX, where you’re moving from venue to venue over the course of a couple of days, interspersed with keynotes and scoping the sponsor pavilions. You’re essentially in the same place for two straight days (three if, like us, you attended the additional “A Day Apart” session on devoted solely to “Content Strategy”).

Spending two days in the same room can sometimes try even the most patient observer, but the topics breeze by and the challenge instead becomes, “how do I make sure I’m taking this all in?”. Luckily, the brilliant guys and gals at AEA make the presentation slides available to attendees, and armed with an iPad, I quickly discovered the best way to keep up. Each day, before that day’s sessions, I would download all the presentations to my iPad and set it up at my spot, allowing me to keep up with the talking points on a provided pad of paper. Yep, good ol’ pen and paper worked better than anything I could come up with, and leaving my laptop up in the hotel room enabled me to really concentrate on what was being presented.

In fact, this worked so well I think I’m just gonna plan on attending future conferences armed with a moleskine  and a pencil.

Sleepless in Seattle… at Web Directions Unplugged.

I arrived in Seattle yesterday for “Web Directions Unplugged”, which begins in a couple hours. Thanks to an early flight and a time-zone shift, it’s 5:30 AM (which is roughly 2:30 AM East Coast Time) and I’m wide awake brewing single cups of Starbucks in my room and getting annoyed by the looping Sheraton Starwood promo on Channel 1.

Why do I always turn on the TV and just leave it on that stupid channel? I only realize it ten minutes later when I hear the words, “Vibrant Social Spaces” for the forty-fifth time.

Anyway, I’m here for a terrific mobile conference that really couldn’t come at a better time. I recently (this past week) upgraded to Adobe Creative Suite Web Premium 5.5 and, as I’ve said before, it’s the most significant upgrade to the product that I’ve ever seen. Integrating jQuery Mobile, PhoneGap, HTML5 and CSS3, this version facilitates the creation of Mobile Web Apps like no other product I’ve ever seen. So like I said, the conference is just absolutely the best conference at the most perfect time. Billing itself as, “two groundbreaking days of practical development and design presented by leading experts in the exploding field of HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript based mobile development” it’s going to be jam packed with terrific speakers, including a couple of speakers from Adobe. Greg Rewis will be speaking on “From Web to Mobile App in 60 seconds” featuring, what else, Dreamweaver CS 5.5, which I can’t wait to see.

The conference has three tracks that focus on three different aspects of mobile development. There’s a “Design Track” featuring content strategy, CSS3, UI prototyping, and touchscreen design (remember, it’s fat fingers, not tiny cursers!). The “Development Track” is going to take a look at maximizing speed and efficiency in your mobile app, HTML5 canvas, offline storage and geolocation. The last track is a “Platforms and Solutions Track” and focuses on the various mobile platforms, devices, and services. They’ll take a look at Android, iOS, and something called, “Blackberry”. Javascript frameworks and packaging technologies like jQuery Mobile and PhoneGap are also going to be featured as part of the Platforms and Solutions Track over the course of the next couple of days.

So like I said, it’s just an excellent conference that’s happening at a perfect time and I’m really excited to get started. I’m going to try and blog my thoughts about all of these technologies and platforms over the next couple of days. Rather than try to “liveblog” the event as one running post, I’m going to switch it up a bit and drop smaller posts about sessions and speakers as they inspire.

First, however, I wanna go get some breakfast. Damn it’s early.

Adobe Max 2010 – A peek inside my conference schedule.

As I mentioned last week, I’m attending the Adobe Max Conference this year in Los Angeles, and I’m really excited. As it gets closer and closer to Saturday, I’m gearing up to blog more and more, culminating in what’s essentially going to be a non-stop blog-tacular beginning on Saturday (the 23rd) and ending on Thursday (the 28th) of next week.

I plan on posting as much as I can in as many media formats as I can possibly squeeze into an already jam-packed schedule.

Speaking of schedule, I took the liberty of dropping my agenda below for you to check out. As you can see, it generally begins early enough, and runs continually through most days ending fairly late in the evening. It looks to be a couple of 12+ hour days with activities and sessions scheduled throughout most of my time out west. Now you can see why I get so excited about the conference and why I’m looking forward to it so much. It’s basically 24-hours-a-day immersion into all things Web/Interactive. If you do what I do for a living, and you do it where I do it, this is essentially the Super Bowl of Interactive Development.

Take a moment and give it a once over. If anything jumps out at you that you’d like to see me blog or write about specifically, by all means contact me directly and let me know what it is you’d like me to blog/video-blog about and I’ll make sure I give it the ol’ college try.

I’m really looking forward to trying my hand at video-blogging some of this stuff to try and get a more spontaneous-off-the-top-of-my-head reaction to the stuff I’ll see and do. Fingers crossed. If not, rest assured I’ll be writing until my hands fall off. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 24, 2010
9:00 am – 5:00 pm Creating Engaging Websites with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Web Premium
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Adobe Design Achievement Awards
Monday, October 25, 2010
9:30 am – 11:30 am General Session: Welcome to the Revolution
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Dreamweaver and HTML5 & Javascript Based Widgets
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm From Design to CSS and HTML with Fireworks and Dreamweaver
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Creating Interactive Rich Media Advertising Campaigns with Video
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Sponsor Welcome Reception
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm Meet the Teams
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
8:30 am – 9:30 am Using Web Fonts Now
10:00 am – 12:00 pm General Session: User Experience: The Next Generation
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm The Future of Advertising
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm Best Practices: Working with Flash Catalyst CS5 and Adobe Design Applications
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Sneak Peeks
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
8:30 am – 10:00 am AIR for Android: Discovering the Magic
11:00 am – 12:30 pm Designing with Fireworks
1:30 pm – 5:30 pm Adobe AIR Code Camp