Bacon 2012 - Specialmoves
Bacon is a two day, two track conference run by the lovely Ladies and Gentlemen at Mint Digital. It focuses on 'things developers love', to deliver a tech-led, all-encompassing event held at The Mermaid Centre, London.
I was lucky enough to be there to soak up the knowledge and, after an early morning injection of coffee and bacon sandwiches, that’s exactly what I did. As it turns out, I learnt quite a lot and as a bonus, found a use for my university-gifted, note-taking reflex.
Get Inspired, Make Stuff - Syd Lawrence
Syd Lawrence’s “Get Inspired, Make Stuff” aimed to provoke the notion that “play time” is not necessarily “wasted time”. Making time to play with technologies can be productive. Syd used a recent Flickr/Instagram mashup of his, http://instac.at, as an example. Created in roughly 4 hours on a Saturday evening, some may say it was a ridiculous waste of time, that is until 3 clients spotted the gem in various social networks and requested he made them a personalised version. Syd closed by reinforcing his ideology “Learn by doing, make awesome shit”. I couldn’t agree more.
Your browser needs you - Stuart Memo
Stuart gave a very loose, yet highly entertaining comparison of World War II and The Browser Wars. Dressed head to toe as a WW2 soldier, he announced that Internet Explorer was, you got it, Nazi Germany. Netscape was Poland, Firefox was Russia, Safari was England and that Chrome was the USA. With war raging on, Nazi Germany using Blitzkreig-likened assaults on Firefox’s frontlines by having their web browser come pre-installed on operating systems. Safari stepped up to force The Axis to fight on two fronts and ultimately won the Battle of Britain with advancements in technology - the reliability of it's Webkit Engine (Spitfires) and the inclusion of Google Search (Radar).
Not your daddy's CSS - Lea Verou
Lea delivered a great talk on CSS in the 4th Dimension. She focused heavily on CSS3 transitions and explained, in detail, how they function and why you should use them. Touching on the user experience of navigation, Lea said “Transitions are not just fluff, they serve a purpose. Instant hover transitions can be confusing to users.” After covering the basics, she delved into the expansions of transitions and keyframes. Mostly supported by Webkit, it allows developers to specify exact moments in time (either in percentile or by using 'from' and 'to' values) to queue a transition. She also demonstrated the possible animatable properties (http://leaverou.github.com/animatable) and her very useful CSS sandbox (http://dabblet.com).
HTML5 Takes Over the World - Phil Nash
Phil Nash, resident front-end developer from Mint, gave a very excited presentation on all of the features he is loving in HTML5, which included just about everything. He covered all the basics, about the spec, what it is, why it’s used and what other technologies come with the term. He also showed a rather nice demo of getUserMedia’s ability to hook into a user’s webcam, which included an infinite loop of Phil’s face on the projector. As well as HTML5, he also touched on the use of CSS3’s 3D capabilities to create a browser-based preview of http://foldable.me.
The Craft Beer Revolution - Jonny Bright
This one was from a rather funny lad who helped run the independent chain of brewers/pubs known as BrewDog. He ran us through the entertaining history of the organisation and its many challenges, from “those pesky Germans” in the battle to create the strongest beer known to man, being told off by the BBC for creating such strong beers, creating a rather delicious 0.5% ABV beer known as 'Nanny State' in response, freezing beer for 21 days to remove the water for a 32% ABV concentrated beer-spirit called 'Tactical Nuclear Penguin' and finally releasing an astonishing 55% ABV 'beer' known as 'The End of History'. And, of course, packaging the limited bottles inside dead squirrels and other roadkill. Rock and Roll!
Open Data & The Internet of 'Things' - Usman Haque
Usman Haque introduces his vision of 'The Internet of Things', a world where devices around the globe constantly transmit data on their environments to a public repository, freeing statistics on the world and its wellbeing from government bodies and opening it up to everybody. Not just that, but also creating a developer-friendly API for applications to be based on. Usman also guided us through some of his other projects, including Natural Fuse which only allows a device to be powered should you have enough plants offsetting it’s carbon emissions.
Developing Mobile Tools for Citizen Journalists - Chris Haseman
Chris Haseman is a developer at Tumblr and spoke about how we should be creating more efficient tools to publish breaking global news safely and without censorship. He highlights that a basic platform for citizen journalists comprises of 3 things: Somewhere to upload media, a place to publish and a certain level of anonymity. Chris broke the news that currently “the good guys” are technically advanced, with our open access internet and ability to publish to resources such as Wikileaks, but it will not last forever. Following this he presented an idea to instantly share media between devices, almost torrent-like media sharing, increasing the chances of publishing should anything hairy be going down. Referencing an issue where a bystander had to hide an SD card inside his mouth to stop US police officers from destroying evidence of an incident, Hasemen presented a few ideas for ‘just in case’ situations: Panic/Arrested button to upload data should you be compromised and a “Dead-man-switch” to send out a panic if a user check-in is missed.
Wombletech - Toby Kay
Toby Kay describes Wombletech as “making use of technology that we find”, based on the Wombles abilities to make use of recycled goods. We see it everyday, not everything can be improved, or more importantly, not everything should be reinvented. Scissors are a perfect example, the design is perfect and has not changed for hundreds of years. He also introduces the idea of “biomimicry” or copying design patterns found in nature. Finally, using current systems has benefited thousands of people in need of medical care thanks to Simon Berry using Coca-Cola’s supply lines to distribute medical supplies to countries in need. Find out more at http://colalife.org
Stories from a Music Fueled Distributed Streaming Bender - Zach Holman
The final Keynote at Bacon was from Zach Holman of Github, introducing their employee-driven office music solution known as “Play”. Play’s heart lies on a Mac Mini with iTunes and uses Airfoil to broadcast sound to a number of speaker setups around the studio and Nicecast to stream to any user wanting to listen in, either remotely or in-house. Play is typically controlled by speaking to Hubot which resides on their Campfire, allowing some rather entertaining commands such as “Hubot, play the good shit”. Github have expanded Play to connect to various places around their office, including a DJ booth to allow employees to play/record sets to play at a later date. For more information on Github’s Play check out: http://github.com/play/play
All in all I had a great time at Bacon 2012 and would definitely go again. Thank you to all of the speakers for doing some brilliant talks and also thank you to Mint for organising it all!
Adam is a Developer at Specialmoves where he might have accidently volunteered himself to become the chief note taker in the company.
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