When you're responsible for technology, sometimes it can become all too... tactical. You begin to quickly get to "the solution" place and by the time you're reading this, we've already arrived at the end and are just waiting for you to get here. It's an engineering trap. Forgetting you're creative. Forgetting that you have a spark, or a natural curiosity; a desire to create things, build stuff. Sometimes you simply forget to come up for air and look around and smell the proverbial flowers. So one of the first things I did when I took over Creative Technology, Database, and Analytics for JWT was work very hard to focus on the idea, "sure, you're a developer, I get it... you're an engineer, but you build stuff... you're inherently creative and you work in a creative environment... embrace that shit". I wanted my gang to enjoy using the right side of their brains. So I offered them up a little somethin' somethin' to get their creative juices flowing: I would buy anyone who wanted to sign up a Raspberry Pi and Arduino and let them do anything they wanted. Client related, not client related, fun, experimental, new... whatever they wanted. The only catch was, you had to come back in 90 days and give a presentation on your project. You had to tell us what your big idea was, what inspired you, and how you did it... oh, and you had to demo your project. Five teams signed up. I was impressed right off the bat that it wasn't individuals that signed up, but that my offer spawned several conversations among like-minded, organic groups (who, I might add, didn't normally work together... so there's that!) that evolved into formal ideas. There was a demonstration of Raspberry Pi running Xbox Media Center (XBMC), the open source Home Theater Software. A terrific idea involving geo-fencing/mapping, and outdoor location. One of my lead developers put together a demo/presentation of a larger idea for a "Holiday Card" that could potentially bridge the gap between two remote locations in a fun, engaging, and ultimately very impressive manner (that one I kept in my back pocket. As soon as I saw the idea I just told everyone in the room, "okay, we're building THAT one this Christmas... you watch"). An iPhone powered paintball gun that was one of the highlights of the demonstration and created such an active discussion in the room, that it went from "An iPhone Powered Paintball Gun" to a "Twitter Powered T-Shirt Cannon" in less than five minutes. Finally, one of the engineers on my team who's perhaps the quietest person I've ever met (he literally sits all the way in the back corner of the office) decided to take my offer of gratis computer power, marry it with a couple of hundred dollars worth of hardware and create a Microsoft Kinect powered, wi-fi enabled, remote controlled car. The beauty of this idea was that you didn't even need to be in the same room as the car. The car contained all the computational power and network capability, and using node.js, was able to maintain a connection to a remote server that was coordinating the motion and movement. Theoretically, you could control a remote-controlled car on the other side of the world using just your body. Crazy shit, right? I relish my technology leadership role, but too often it can become mired in the tactical. The "throw it over the fence and build it" that sort of naturally occurs in these environments with their deadlines and requirements. It's not bad. It's the job. It's just that sometimes it's nice to stop and smell the roses.
7:24 AM Today should be a really good day. We've got another Keynote, the always great "Sneak Peeks" session later this evening, and of course, tonight's the "Max Event". Tonight we're getting a concert and a party featuring "The Bravery". I can't wait for that, love the album and I love, love, love "Time Won't Let Me Go", so I'm really looking forward to tonight. So it's going to be a long day/night. Today's Keynote will also be available live at max.adobe.com/online, so you can watch along. I've heard that today's Keynote is going to be pretty big, and there was an obvious absence (at least for me) of developer content. No Ben Forta, No ColdFusion, No Flex, and only a brief mention of codename "Edge". So I'm hopeful that today will have more code, less Martha Stewart (don't get me wrong, Martha's not all bad, but I'm not into grouse). My sessions today are going to be really terrific and I'm especially looking forward to the one titled, "The Future of Advertising". I mean, with a title like that, how could you not be curious? Well, my first session begins in about an hour, and I've got a nice walk ahead of me, so I'm gonna go get ready and head downstairs. More coming! 8:23 AM Whoa. Why didn't anyone tell me Starbucks' "Perfect Oatmeal" was so... well... perfect? They give you a little pack of brown sugar (more than I would ever use), a great little pack of dried fruit (they even tell you how many calories... I love that!), it's a perfect portion, and dammit, it's delicious! I've been getting beaten over the head and robbed at the hotel just to get a bowl of oatmeal. To hell with that, I'm eating Starbucks from now on. Sitting in "Using Web Fonts Now" eating my oatmeal. Here's the description from my schedule:
Discover how you can finally use real fonts on the web. Broad browser support for CSS with @font-face brings a new era of web typography, but that's only the beginning. New technical hurdles, new font formats, and new licensing restrictions need to be considered. Come learn about the latest tools and techniques for navigating this landscape and for using web fonts to their fullest potential in your design and development projects.I know, sounds cool, right? Well, we're getting ready to begin, so I'll fill you in when I'm done. 10:02 AM Keynote Day 2. The Music is MUCH better today. There's buzz about today, but I don't know what the buzz is about. I'm hoping today is more "developer-centric". Yesterday was great. Set the tone for the conference, broadly focused, and very positive. I'd like today's Keynote to drill down a little bit more and go into a little more detail about Adobe's roadmap. As I sit here typing this, I suddenly realized I haven't heard the word, "ColdFusion" mentioned by anyone at the conference since I got here. That's not really hyperbole, that's just a pretty straightforward observation. I'm not sure how that leaves me feeling, but I'm hoping they do more than talk about it over the next hour or so. As an aside, the web-fonts session I just left was great. I still feel like a lot of what we're talking about, design-wise, isn't quite there yet in terms of audience (CSS3, HTML5, Webfonts and compatible browsers) but we're getting there, and I feel like it's a great time to be a developer-designer. There are a lot of tools out there enabling a much richer experience and they're rapidly gaining traction in ways I haven't seen in years. It's a great time to be a... well... whatever I am. 1:30 PM Well, the day two Keynote was pretty interesting. We started off talking about Adobe Customer Service. Apparently it's bad. Lots of talk about "Flash and HTML being friends" and how we can all share. There was even a Sesame Street Muppet Spoof featuring "Flash" and "HTML" as puppets who fought (but were really good friends). It was kind of to be expected. I mean the assault on the senses the last few months have definitely put Adobe on the defensive, and... well... it showed a little. A little overcompensation, a little bit defensive... but all worthwhile. It really is a big world, with a lot of screens and a lot of places to put your stamp on an experience. Adobe is well positioned for content creators, creative development, and overall development. It doesn't have to be Flash, and it's obvious Adobe sees that. 4:30 PM "The Future of Advertising" was good if only for the fact that hearing other people reinforce your ideas and philosophies is always nice. Lots of talk about collaboration, flattening the structure of your agency, partnering with the client, etc. If you've been in advertising for even 30 minutes, you're already keenly aware of the "change or die" mantra in advertising that's permeating all levels of the discourse. Agencies are in the midst of a serious revolution. A revolution in process, a revolution in execution, a revolution in accountability... all the while trying to eek out billing and revenues. It's a scary time for some, and exciting time for others. I'm glad I sat in on it. I did walk out thinking to myself, "okay, that's good, we're on the right track...". 6:30 PM Okay, I can't make it to the sneaks session. Yeah, yeah, I know, Spock is there... etc. But over the years, I've kinda grown tired of the Sneak Peeks. I realize it's a peek into new, cutting edge technologies, but my head can't go there. I've got enough "cutting edge" right here, thankyouverymuch. I think instead I'm going to rest here at the hotel, go downstairs and get something to eat right here without walking around or going anywhere, then come back upstairs and relax before I head over to the Bash. I'm old. I can't go, go, go with the energy of a teenager anymore, so I'm not even gonna try...lol.
"Learn how to take a finished web design and turn it into CSS and HTML using Adobe Fireworks to optimize the images and generate the initial CSS and HTML pages, and then use Adobe Dreamweaver to refine and optimize the code. We'll cover essential techniques to control the page layout in the CSS, as well as hints and tips such as how to save time by generating CSS styles directly from the design and how to use placeholders for interactive elements and dynamic content.”Then I finish the day with, "Creating Interactive Rich Media Advertising Campaigns with Video":
"In this session you'll learn how video can be one of the most engaging components in Rich Media Advertising. We'll discuss how: use multiple videos in standard or HD format leveraging Dynamic Streaming; record your own video with a webcam and send it to email or a smartphone; post videos on Facebook; play a 3D multiplayer game using Papervision and Flash Media Interactive Server; and go mobile with your campaigns. We'll show examples of real rich media campaigns from top advertisers, discuss the technologies powering the creative, and try to dispel all the myths around the limitations of video ads.”So the next three hours or so should be really really fun. On to the first session! 7:30 PM So, as you can see... long day. Exhausted. Drained. Stuffed with horrible food (not badly prepared, or bad tasting. Actually really, really, really delicious food... just bad for you) and getting ready to buy Adobe Creative Suite CS5 Web Premium. Again, I don't really know what to think about all the Flash stuff. With everything going on between Apple, Android, Adobe and Flash, it's tough to make a call right now. AIR for TV looks really cool, and there are arguably a LOT of devices out there besides the iPad and the iPhone. I know because I actually spent a great deal of time today touching a lot of them. Then there's blackberry. Say what you want about RIM, there are a TON of people using Blackberries, and the audience is out there. The Playbook looks really good. I can't speak for the UI or touchscreen, because the single Playbook they had on display was behind glass, but the damn thing sure as hell exists, and it looks nice. So while I can't speak for the rest of the world, I do know that for a long time people lived and did business without Apple hardware, and there's an entrenched community that simply isn't going to vanish overnight. The Samsung people seem committed to Android and Flash/AIR, and I personally talked with representatives from a lot of companies, from TV to print manufacturers (have you seen the Lexmark printers with built in apps and CCD scanner/printers? They're hot... seriously cool) and they're sinking millions of dollars into products that integrate with Flash and Adobe AIR. There are literally hundreds of screens out there beyond the iOS world, and honestly, Flash is viable on pretty much all of them. That's my take-away today. All I know is, the next time someone says, "Flash is dead", I'm not going to be so quick to agree with them... that's all. The other thing that I took away today was this: I'm a died in the wool Dreamweaver user. You're going to have to pry my Dreamweaver from my cold, dead fingers. The things I saw today with HTML5/CSS3 integrating Fireworks and Dreamweaver and Photoshop for a robust development and design workflow leave me absolutely convinced that if you're a creative professional, and you're creating online interactive solutions for your clients, you owe it to both yourself and your clients to check out the production workflow that these products represent. Okay. That's all for today. I'm exhausted. I'm going to go use my Max discount and grab my copy of CS5. I'm hopeful that the bandwidth here at the hotel will accommodate me. I've got some "Bring your own laptop" (BYOL) sessions tomorrow, and the requirement for a couple of them are several of the CS5 Web Premium products (Flash Catalyst, Flash Builder) as well as the Android 2.2 SDK, and I've got to take some time tonight and make sure they're all installed before I go back tomorrow. More liveblogging tomorrow. Another Keynote, probably more big news (if the rumors I'm hearing are true, it's going to be another big day), and I'll have plenty more to write about. See you tomorrow!
The great thing about traveling east to west is that timeshift that makes you dead tired at 9PM because your body thinks it's midnight. So after a gruesome day of travel, (why didn't I remember that you can't recline in the last row of the airplane?) I was completely wiped out. I managed to head down to the LA Convention center, completely amazed at the sheer number of people, until someone next to me mentioned that they couldn't wait to see Shakira... then I realized I was walking at the Staples Center the night Shakira was playing Los Angeles. Yeah... pretty big crowd. Stopped in at Max, missed registration by about 15 minutes, and walked over to LA Live to grab dinner. One delicious steak later, I'm barely keeping my eyes open on the way back to the hotel. A great night of sleep later, including the wonderful experience of waking up 15 minutes before your alarm goes off, and I'm ready to go. Today is preconference day and I'm really looking forward to my class, "Creating Engaging Websites with Adobe Creative Suite Web Premium 5". I'm particularly hopeful that I'll get some exposure to application interoperability. I want to be able to go back to the beach and take with me a real good working knowledge of being able to integrate Fireworks, Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver into a efficient workflow. With so many different disciplines working on creating engaging interactive solutions for our clients at work, knowing that everyone in the process can contribute in a streamlined, efficient, flexible way only helps to create an environment where everyone wins. I like it when everyone wins. So here I sit, sucking down my second cup of African Kitamu this morning, I'm filled to the brim with nerd-excitement and looking forward to jumping in with both feet this morning. Now, let's head downstairs and see if this hotel will cook me up an omelet. I have a craving for egg whites and spinach...
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|
|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|
It's no secret I'm an Adobe Fan-boy. Wait... let's back up a little. I began using Allaire ColdFusion in 1995. At the time, there were no other server side languages that connected to databases (easily) and the whole "interacting with a database" thing was new, exciting, and I was right there on it like white on rice. Eventually Allaire was purchased by Macromedia, who had Director (which I was a huge fan of) and a new animation application based off a recent purchase, "Future Splash Animator". Of course, they changed the name to "Flash" and the rest was history. When ColdFusion was a baby, the IDE of choice was a program called "HomeSite". It... was... awesome. Seriously, it was like, the best IDE (at the time) bar none. But in 1997 Macromedia released Dreamweaver, and when they purchased Allaire in 2001, Homesite was put on the death-watch and soon ColdFusion development was folded into Dreamweaver, which was then given center-stage and promoted as the all around IDE champion. So I started using Dreamweaver early on, and initially it was a tough sell. I was so used to hand-coding in Homesite that the "Designer" view and WYSIWYG (which was rarely "WYG") was a bit off-putting to me. But over time, and over a couple of Macromedia Developer Conferences (Dev-Con), I warmed up and it became my g0-to IDE. Which was great, for about 10 years. Then the inevitability of time caught up to me and I was forced (recently) to take a long hard look at my development process. I decided to switch from the world of ColdFusion, MSSQL, and Windows, and go ahead and switch to a Mac Based environment for PHP and MySQL. I wanted to switch (back, I was a mac user before I went to college in the 90s for CompSci) for a while, and this gave me an opportunity to jump back into MacOS with a vengeance. Initially, I was focused on switching my IDE because I was interested in Eclipse, TextMate and a couple other tools that friends used and raved about. You'd think I was looking forward to jumping back into the world of "hand-coding" and honestly, I kinda was. I thought, "This will allow me to roll up my sleeves and jump into code, where I wanna be". But no matter how I set up my environment, nothing seemed as... well... efficient as setting up a site in Dreamweaver and rocking Split View. So I began to research people who were doing PHP development (with frameworks like Cake and Zend, which were a personal requirement. I wanted a good framework coming off of the relatively recent development of several ColdFusion MVC-based frameworks) and discovered there were actually some pretty decent resources for PHP/CSS3/HTML5/jQuery/AJAX development using Dreamweaver. After a slow summer of starts and stops, it felt like I had finally arrived at a place where I could have my cake and eat it too. I could develop in a fast, efficient, CSS/Design based tool and develop cutting edge, open-source web apps using languages that were heading in the direction I needed to be heading in. Working at an Ad Agency, I don't have the luxury really of dictating what language our clients legacy sites, apps, and hosting environments are and it's bad enough that we've shied away from aspx and .Net development, I certainly couldn't move forward in today's environment and not fully support development in PHP and MySQL. Especially once everyone caught the WordPress bug. I mean, that was it for me. Once we started to develop WordPress sites for clients who were looking for the flexibility of a CMS with the ease of a blogging platform, and the WordPress platform reached a mature version 3.0, I saw the writing on the wall. This was where we had to be, and I had to embrace the change or die like a dinosaur. Then Adobe went and released Dreamweaver CS5. I mean, seriously, built in CMS integration? Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress support? Extensions right out of the box for CSS3 and HTML5 with full code hinting? I was already a huge fan of developing CSS based layouts in Dreamweaver CS4, and the new features in CS5 just "took it up a notch". I was sold. I was in the right place, at the right time, and all the pieces I needed were falling nicely into place. Enter Max. I hadn't attended Max last year for the first time in (I think) over ten years. I believe the first Max I attended (at the time, Macromedia Dev-Con) was in 2000 at the Walt Disney Dolphin. Since then, every year I had made the annual nerd pilgrimage to Dreamweaver mecca to hone my skills. Now, with the release of CS5 it was time once again to look to the one place I can be guaranteed will fill my head with creative and executional inspiration. It took me all of about half an hour to convince my bosses that I needed to go, because over the years, they've seen directly how much benefit the company gets from sending its best and brightest to three days of wholly immersive experiences that overload the senses and fill the head with endless possibilities. I've attended a lot of conferences over the years and to this day, nothing even comes close. The mixture of developer, designer, creator, manager is like no other that I've seen. I work in a design-intensive world and have to regularly execute creative ideas with a team of people who don't all share my particular skill-set or passion for programming, and nothing else on earth could prepare me for that the way this conference always, and I do mean always, does. So am I excited? You tell me. I've got a brand new laptop, with a spanking new copy of CS5 on it, PHP loaded up, and more databases on it than you can shake a stick at. I've got my Android phone juiced up, and I've signed up for some Android developer sessions that should (hopefully) lead to great things. I still have high hopes for Android, having been one of the very first people to jump on that train two years ago when I purchased my G1 and recent developments in the world of mobile and Flash development have piqued my interest. I'm putting together my agenda, and going over some of the sessions I want to attend, but in the next couple of days I'll be sure and post my agenda for the trip. It's October 25-28, but I've gotten into an awesome, awesome pre-conference day of training that gets me to Los Angeles a couple days earlier, so I'll actually be there from the 23rd through the 28th. I'm going to blog extensively before, during and after, with as much photo and video content as I can produce in a hotel room at night, so look forward to a lot of in-depth coverage coming up. After missing the conference for a year, I believe the term you're looking for is "back with a vengeance". I can't wait. Los Angeles, here I come!
Earlier today, I spoke to the Coastal Organization Human Resources' September meeting about Social Media. My talk was titled, "Practical Social Media, Twitter for Human Resources". It was a great group and I had a terrific time. They had great questions, which is always makes for an awesome experience. I think more than a few of them left with some good ideas. I love speaking to groups, so I was super-excited when Dr. David Powers reached out and asked me if I'd be interested in speaking at a TEDx conference he was putting together for Myrtle Beach with the Chamber of Commerce. Was I? I couldn't even believe he had to ask. Of course I would! I'm a HUGE fan of the TED conferences. For those of you who live under a rock, TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design" and it's a world class conference, attracting world class talent to give the talk of their lives... in 18 minutes.
From their website: TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.TEDx is an independently organized TED event. David Powers and I met during my participation last year in the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Grand Strand program and became fast friends, initially bonding over our shared love of comics. He's a local leader and a real inspiration. When I signed up for, and was accepted, to LGS, I hadn't even met David, but he was the kind of person I was aspiring to be as a result of my participation in the program. So I know this will be a outstanding event, and I'm really proud to be a part of it. It's going to be held on October 21st, 2010 from 9 AM to noon, at the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. My topic, by the way, will be, "Technology Ubiquity: A Brief History of the Future". I'm going to talk about what kinds of technologies are rapidly becoming part of our everyday lives, and what effects this might have. We (David and I) kind brainstormed together and arrived at what I think will really be an inspiring 18 minutes. Check his site out and sign up! Seating is limited, so act soon. I look forward to hopefully seeing you there!
Just a heads up. I haven't seen ANY scenes from next week's "Entourage". I don't know any spoilers, I don't really know anything. I woke up really early this morning, and while I was making breakfast and reading emails, I turned on this weekend's episode of HBO's "Entourage". I've been sort of hot and cold on this series for the past couple of seasons. I don't really care about the whole Ari Gold storyline. Turtle's story isn't really compelling, and Eric's just a douche. I do, however, love Johnny Drama, and when Vincent decided to do that stunt a couple episodes back, and recently started taking Vicodin because of a back injury, my ears pricked up. I had a sense something deeper was going on here, and his subconscious path to self destruction (skydiving, dating porn stars, just generally edging his way to harder and harder living) started becoming... well... interesting. Then the final scene of this week's episode. For a brief second I thought, "is he dead?" then almost immediately went, "nah, they'd never kill him off". Then I started to think about it a little more as I ate breakfast, and the more I thought about it, the more the idea of killing him off really got to me. Think about it, we've followed this career from almost nothing beginnings, to superstardom, then back down again, and now back up to this place where we're currently watching the deal of his life being waved in front of him. $100 million dollars over the next 3 years (potentially). The biggest payday he's ever seen. The chance of a lifetime. Wouldn't it be tragic if this were how it all turned out? See? Tragic. Compelling. This would be bold storytelling. Brave, unexpected television. Exactly what's NOT on TV anyplace right now that I've seen. It would be a sobering reminder of the period this lifestyle puts on the sentence these kids write. The Lindsay Lohans, the Kim Kardashians, the vapid, exploited way in which lives are used up then spit out of the machine that everyone craves to be a part of. I think it'd be epic. Here's hoping they can't revive him.