Category Archives: speaking

FiTC Edmonton Done

The 2nd year of FiTC Edmonton is over and I have to say, I really enjoyed myself. Grant and Bobi Skinner are excellent hosts. Although it was a quiet event, it was a single-track event, giving the attendees the opportunity to see every speaker, an impossible task in a multi-track event.

Once again, I co-opted my session time with some moviesinhaiku. My main session was Things I learned in Preschool and concentrated on self-management and being an effective team player. It could possibly come across as “touchy-feely” but I like to think that these topics are atypical at conferences like FiTC. The moviesinhaiku part was extremely well-received. I can’t get over how gratifying it is to have people applaud my little project. Thank you all. I am humbled by your complements.

I was asked if I’d be putting my slides online and at first I just sort of stood there thinking about it. My slides are pretty bereft of copy. I try to distill any message a slide has to a maximum of three points and I think my slides don’t make much sense without me speaking to them. So put me in the “undecided” camp as to whether or not I’ll put my slides up.

Another person asked if I brought prints with me to sell because they would definitely buy one if I did. This is where I need to admit I’m a terrible salesman. It did occur to me to bring some prints to sell but I feel mildly ill at the idea of saying “and I brought prints to sell if you want one.”

So my response is this: if you don’t like the idea of using your credit card or Paypal, but want to buy a print, email me and we’ll work out an email transfer or something. I give prints away at conferences to attendees because I think you guys deserve a gift for sitting all day in uncomfortable seats watching people like me. There’s also a part of me that knows conference organizers might not like me “hawking my wares” at their venue and I don’t blame them.

Many thanks for Shawn Pucknell of FiTC for asking me to come to Edmonton and making it possible, once again, for me to get totally nervous in front of an audience. Thanks also to Grant Skinner, who’s generosity in allowing me and a few others to shack up at his home while he and his amazing wife, Bobi, played host to us. There continues a huge support network in this community I call home and I am privileged and honoured by being a part of it. I don’t have any upcoming speaking commitments for 2011 so this may have been it for me in the public lens. Who knows?

If it is, 2010 was an awesome ride.

Flash on the Beach 2010

This was my second year speaking at Flash on the Beach. For six years, John Davey has consistently put on a great conference. His three days of speakers, pitches, networking and inspiration are a huge draw and I spend them in a heady mix of nerves and excitement.

The speakers
I’ve been told point blank that I’m fortunate to be a speaker. So true. I am truly lucky that organizers trust my mouth to fill seats. I get a ringside seat to the genius that is the other speakers. In no way can I be compared to the likes of Grant Skinner, Robert Hodgin or Stefan Sagmeister. I look up to these guys. The fact that I get a microphone and pace on stage too means nothing compared to having a quiet chat with some of my oldest (read: longest) heros. Some of whom I also count as close friends.

Something that is missing from the normal conference experience that I think John Davey has well grasped is the speakers are people; they typically don’t like talking about themselves and have the same insecurities as everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, speakers love talking about their work. Because they love their work. A speaker is a speaker because they are inspired by what they do. Their inspiration is our inspiration when they speak. Seeing Mario Klingemann get excited about a discovery is like watching a kid open a present on Christmas morning. It’s that kind of excitement that drives audience members to go out and “TRY”. But I digress. Get a speaker one on one with an attendee and that’s why you go to Flash on the Beach. At least in my experience. Nothing is better to me than speaking directly with attendees.

Flash on the beach is the one conference where you will see speakers lining the first few rows in session. We are as turned on by what other speakers say as the average conference-goer. It’s a testament to the quality of speakers at Flash on the Beach, myself notwithstanding. I see more sessions at Flash on the Beach than at any other conference and apologize to the speakers who’s session I might miss; I’m looking at you, Seb Lee-Delisle, Hoss Gifford, Brendan Dawes and Ralph Hauwert

My name-dropping is officially exhausted.

My Session
My official session was titled The Art of [Mis]Communication. However, after presenting at Flashbelt in June, I fine-tuned it and renamed it to Things I Learned in Preschool. I have been freelancing for a year and have unofficially become the child-shuttle due to proximity to preschool and kindergarten. In the last year, I have observed behaviour lessons and punishment that we as adults could truly learn from. So I made an effort to dial back the corp speak and dial up the kid speak. Hopefully those that attended my session understood what I hoping to get at.

Secondly, I added in a half-session on my side project; Movies in Haiku. I have been engrossed in this little project for over six months and just had to co-opt my session with it. I apologize if anyone thought I should not have. In my defence, I gave away an entire set of prints, cleverly hidden under the seats by my wife, Elizabeth. Seeing a roomful of people bend over to look under their seat then some come up triumphantly with a print just made me smile. I felt like Willy Wonka. A little. Without the big hat. The prints are for sale on my Etsy shop.

Thank you so much to John, his family, his volunteers and staff for making my stay in Brighton and my Flash on the Beach experience one to remember!

Flashbelt, You’re Like a Fine Wine

You just keep getting better. In its seventh year, Flashbelt put on a great show. Dave Schroeder knows his conference and gathers together some of the best and most inspirational speakers in our community. And me. I was lucky enough to be invited to speak this year. I’d never been and now wish I’d taken some opportunity to check it out before.

I’m afraid I’ll miss something so I really want to keep this brief. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the three “headliners”; Jared Tarbell, Jared Ficklin and Jer Thorp. These three fellas are doing what can only be described as “jaw-dropping” work. If you haven’t heard of them… well… are you my mom? I mean, really, I can forgive my mom. Otherwise, and I’m having a hard time figuring it out, did you come here by accident? Like, you thought this was “when i thought she was 18 and barely legal”?

But I digress…

I am always so honoured to be included in such an august lineup. I mean, you have such visionaries as Mario Klingemann, Keith Peters, Ralph Hauwert, Andre Michelle and Joa Ebert who make such beauty out of code. Plus, amazing creators and educators like Filip Visnjic and Rob Bateman who I got a chance to speak with this conference.

It’s such a pleasure to be allowed to sit and chat with these folks. Personally I’d like to lock them in a relatively comfortable room and have them teach me stuff, but sitting with them and sharing stories is a close second. And then there are people like Stacey Mulcahy and Julian Dolce that welcome me with open arms whenever I return to Ottawa. Essentially, every time I see these people, it’s like a little reunion. Of course there are others and I hope no-one takes offence if I don’t mention them specifically. The work shown and the advice given can only be described as inspirational. Filip’s “If you already know the end, don’t do it. Be surprised” (I’m paraphrasing) kind of blew me away. Oh, and Jennifer Shiman announced the end of the 30 Second Bunny Theater. Waaaaaaaah!!!!

The attendees were amazing. Anyone who attended my talk seemed genuinely happy with my session and no-one at all punched me in the face. Success all ’round. Talking with the attendees afterward was a true pleasure as well. Lots of great questions and fantastic feedback.

The sponsors were incredible. The folks at Adobe continue to be major supporters of conferences like Flashbelt. They’re also some swell people to boot. I don’t envy the traveling they do. It was a real pleasure to meet Bruno and Stephen from SF and PowerFlasher.

I spent a fair amount with the guys from Influxis. It was a rare treat as I was able to find out more about them and how Influxis started. Quite a tale to hear and what a great bunch they are. In addition to being very supportive of the community, that is. You can hand out money and still be dicks, FYI. These guys are the exact opposite.

Lastly, I got hold of the Particle book put together by Kristin Henry of Galaxy Goo fame. Kristin was kind enough to invite me to participate so I have a page in this book! Self-interest aside, Galaxy Goo is a great organization and any chance to help it out I’ll take.

As best I could, I used Twitter accounts because these people have more to say than what is contained in an hour on stage.

Public Speaking

I am booked to speak at two events in the next few months; FlashBelt in Minneapolis and Flash on the Beach in Brighton, UK.

FlashBelt is first. As in five weeks away! I’m super stoked about speaking at FlashBelt as it’s in its seventh year and I really respect what Dave Schroeder has done with FlashBelt.

Next up is the awesome Flash on the Beach! I was invited to speak there for the first time last year and had such a blast! Fortunately John asked me back and I can’t even begin to say how much fun I have in Brighton.

At both events, I’ll be presenting my 2010 session.

The Art of (Mis)Communication

Consider your past projects. Tight timeline? An art director or a technical lead with a huge ego? A project manager that neglects to disclose specific details? While these things directly impact your project you’ll find, more often than not, they can be more easily dealt with when you provide and receive proper, effective communication.

Let’s delve into how we deal with the people we deal with. Let’s look at how we speak to the people we speak to. Ins and outs of conversation. Lengthy meetings that test everyone’s patience. Email forwarding and why a few minutes of editing can save hours of time. Setting alerts. The little things, the big things and everything in the middle. Nothing should be overlooked. Taken in perspective, every project starts with a 50/50 chance of success. It’s how we as a team communicate that pushes that ratio one way or the other.

If you’re in either locale, I invite you to come and enjoy my stress of standing on stage!

FiTC Made Me Fat. Again.

After finally getting back to the gym in March and actually making an effort, I was excited to see I could get back in shape. Then FiTC. Son of a… three days of sessions and four nights of catching up sets my exercise recovery back by a month at least.

I feel I can never do justice to my experiences at conferences. Primarily because it’s such a personal thing. Reconnecting with old friends, making new friends and generally existing in a good vibe. Mostly I lament not spending time with enough people, but you need to be judicious as there simply isn’t enough time. That being said, let’s see if I can rough it out.

Grant and Bobi showed up a little early and started my FiTC experience off right with a quiet brunch with Libs and Declan.

I attended or saw the most sessions ever on record for me at a FiTC. This can be attributed to Influxis streaming sessions live via fms. Therefore, some morning sessions that I’d most likely miss, I actually didn’t.

Keith Peters and “Programming Art” was totally inspirational. Keith’s work has always impressed me, but the variety of possibilities he showed in his talk were incredible. I honestly had no idea there were that many options.

The panel “From Solo to CEO” was pretty good. There can be issues when you have one extremely dominant personality in the panel which can lead to silence from the others, but it was moderated pretty well and I think most opinions were fairly evenly aired.

The session “The Apparat” and Joa Ebert. Joa has to be one of the smartest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Let’s face it, he is one impressive dude. His session was thoroughly confusing as I’m not at that level, but still inspiring.

“Storytelling: Absorbed, Obsessed and Immersed” well, what can I say here? The panel was chock-a-block with talent and interesting to say the least.

Thanks again to Influxis, I was able to catch Wes Grubbs speak. I met Wes a few years ago at Flash on the Beach and haven’t seen him since. Good talk, informative.

Stacey Mulcahy is a perennial favourite for her off-colour language and funny delivery. Her talk was interesting, to be sure.

The last session I sat in on was Mario Klingemann and I really can’t explain how much Mario inspires me. Just his easy way of speaking and nonchalance in the face of brilliant discoveries make me want to try harder.

Freelance. You know, I spent a number of years attempting to build a freelance career and had just put myself into a good spot when I decided to drop everything and get a “job job” as I like to call it. Now that I’m back in the freelance game, FiTC seemed like the perfect place to *shudder* network. What I don’t normally realize is just being a nice guy is sometimes networking. Opportunities presented themselves that I would never have thought possible. So yes, I am freelance and yes, I want to code the SHIT out of something for you.

Shawn Pucknell. Shawn’s been personally running FiTC and the flashinto flash user group for so long, it would be nothing without him. Kudos to him and his crew for another amazing show.

There were a number of situations that occurred on a personal level that once again reaffirms the word “community” to me with these people. The close ties I’ve made simply become tighter (ties that bind, donchaknow) and I wonder how I ever got so lucky. You know who you are, you magnificent bastards!

The next event I’ll see anyone at will be Flashbelt where I will be presenting my first session of the year.

Once again. FiTC, to quote John Grden, you \m/

10 Best Excuses – Common Sense, Explained

I received my feedback today from my session at Flash on the Beach.

There were some exceptions, but overall the feedback was very positive.

One comment struck me;
although he is a very inspiring person, and there were some real true facts in his seminar, had i expected more, some excuses everybody knows…

To be called “very inspiring” is something I’ve never heard before, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about. What this person ended with was “some excuses everybody knows…”

Something everyone knows is normally considered common sense. I think that’s why I chose to talk about it. Things that are common sense and things that should be common sense are night and day.

I don’t light my head on fire because common sense dictates that it will hurt, harm, scar and otherwise kill me. Common sense tells me if I choose to play a video game for eight hours straight, I won’t be actually working. Common sense also tells me if I am working on a project and start a new one, the original project will stop being worked on.

My talk and the excuses I explained occurred to me over a long period of time. I mentioned at the beginning that I have been a flash “guy” for over ten years. That’s ten years of ignoring work, focusing on one job over another, playing video games, not being inspired or being TOO inspired. The thing that matters is not necessarily whether or not everyone knows these things, the thing that matters is whether or not you’re solving your problems. My solutions weren’t going to work for everyone, either. They work for me. I still find myself a victim of my own head. But I’m working on it.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback! I really enjoyed reading the comments. Even the bad ones. To clarify;

  • I am NOT American. I’m Canadian.
  • I wasn’t hungover and never said I was. I said my voice was suffering due to flashonthebeach-itis. Otherwise known as, too much drinking, too much smoking, too much yelling and not enough sleep. But I was definitely not hungover for my session.
  • FOTB 2009 – My Presentation

    This will be the first of two blog posts; My presentation and then the conference experience.

    This was the first time I’d been invited to speak by John Davey. It was my top-most priority to do a good job and not let him down. I chose what I thought was a subject useful to me, procrastination and how to steer away from it. I titled it “The 10 Best Excuses to NOT do Amazing Work”. Here’s the opening slide.

    The first three days I was there was really me freaking out about my preso and dry-running it repeatedly. Removing Slides, adding slides and removing them again. Hammering out exactly what I wanted to say because I didn’t want anyone to feel that their time was wasted.

    Josh Davis was kind enough to let me borrow his laptop. On wednesday, I transferred my files, tested it out and we had some laughs at the expense of my poor, beleaguered voice. Turns out three days of too much drinking, too much smoking, too much yelling and too little sleep wore out my throat.

    We headed over to Stacey Mulcahy’s talk Can play well with others and caught the last half. I’ve never seen Stacey speak and she really did a great job. Funny, engaging, comfortable and smart. Besides, a picture of a giant bottle of liquor on screen with a suggestion of “If all else fails, get drunk with them.” Thumbs up, Stacey.

    When it came my turn to get on stage, the fact that I was on stage for the first time in a year and a half hit me and I had the worst case of stage fright I’d ever encountered. Then as people sauntered in, it hit me “Fuck it. Too late.” So I felt myself relax slightly and I stepped off the stage to chat with my friends who decided to forgo Seb Lee-Delisle and Colin Moock, who were both presenting at the same time. The support these people gave me by coming to my talk was really appreciated. As the seats filled and I got back on stage, and time was creeping up on me, a volunteer came forward to let me know he was introducing me.

    The hour went quickly. The audience was top-notch; helpful, attentive and communicative. They laughed when I hoped they’d laugh and didn’t when I hoped they wouldn’t. So if you were in attendance at my presentation, you should know that a presenter feeds off their audience as much as an audience feeds off their presenter. Not in a creepy vampire way, but a buffet kind of way. No… wait… not like that, either. A good way. My throat held out and the applause was boisterous at the end.

    If you’re looking for the presentation, I’d used Keynote to build it, and exported the slides as jpegs. There are some fundamental things missing, but it is my presentation. You just click on each image and you’re off to the races.

    The response since has been gratifying, to say the least. I wasn’t really thinking that my own procrastination and excuses were universally understandable. It’s been a whilrwind of compliments and I’m truly pleased that y’all liked it.

    Next post, when I have time, will be thoughts on the everything that wasn’t above.

    News wheniwas19 styles

    It’s been over a month since my last post. Things are afoot, as they sometimes are.

  • I’ve left Organic to take the position of Director of Rich Media with henderson bas. Todd Fraser, a Senior Flash Developer at Organic came with me. Very cool.
  • I’ve joined the cool kids and started a Twitter account
  • I’m working on the site I’ve been talking about for the last almost 3 years. I’ve mentioned it a few times. I renamed the site because Camgasm might seem funny, it’s just not appropriate. Follow the development over Twitter
  • Not coincidentally, I am working on my presentation for FlashontheBeach in conjunction with building the site. “What? A presentation on how to get your work done, and you’re doing work?”, you ask. “Yeah, it’s silly, but true.”, I answer.
  • I am super happy to have a friends like John Breton. He has been instrumental in being my go to .NET and DB guy. Without him, I’d likely still be sitting around moping about how I can’t make Also, I lucked out that Jason Munger will be doing some tattoo designs for me. He’s a super-talented guy and I’m lucky to count him as a friend.

    Many thanks, John and Jason.

    Suffice it to say, there have been a lot of late nights and new challenges. I’m going to be looking for beta-testers sooner than later. If trying out something new appeals to you, let me know.

    Flash on the Beach Brighton '09

    I’ve blogged a couple of times about speaking at Flash on the Beach Brighton in September.

    Finally I took the time to fill out my session description.

    I’ve titled it The Ten Best Excuses to NOT do Amazing Work. Have you ever had an idea but found yourself unable to get started? Or, once you’ve started, unable to work on it? Or, once you’re working unable to finish?

    There are ways to get past these little stumbling blocks before they become huge hurdles. I have run into these roadblocks from hurdles from stumbling blocks. I look at these situations with suspicion and wonder how much is self-manufactured and how much is legitimately stopping me from getting my work done.

    Honestly, this title could end with just “work” as opposed to “amazing work”.

    Tickets are going fast!