Some disjointed thoughts about Toronto and Flash in the Can.
I just got back from the better part of a week in Toronto for the annual ‘Flash in the Can’ conference. The most common reaction I got after mentioning that I’d be speaking at this particular conference was, naturally, why? I very rarely use Flash, and my topic was CSS-related anyway.
As I said while speaking, the best I could come up with was that I got invited as the ‘token CSS guy’. There were other non-Flash presentations though, some more creatively-inclined (with obvious relevance) and some more technically inclined (with slightly less obvious synergy). In that context, I think for both myself and the audience, the talk I did actually fit in.
What surprised me was the interest. For my 9am presentation, arguably the worst time slot of any conference, the room was surprisingly full. During Q&A at the end, some very thoughtful and considered questions came up. I could tell that many in the audience were experienced CSS users. Not quite what I was expecting.
Flash in the Can itself was a well-organized, smoothly run conference. I never did get a chance to meet and thank the organizers, so thanks for the invite Shawn.
I alternated my time between seeing a few other presentations and exploring Toronto. I managed to catch most of David Carson’s talk and a few minutes of Yugo Nakumura on the last day. It seemed that the presenters I specifically wanted to see were content to show their work, say a few words about their process, and end without having covered anything terribly profound.
The highlight of the talks I saw was James Patterson, a guy I’d never heard of before. When he started running through his work though, I immediately recognized his style. He’s done enough TV spots that you may too. While you could never call it pretty, it’s uniquely distinct in a grungy, ‘flawed beauty’ sense, and I found his creation process absolutely fascinating. He’s into automatically generating a final result from simple animation components. He starts on a very low, modular level and strings together a sampling from his huge library of previously rendered and animated pieces to create the final result. Quite an eye-opener.
It being my first time in the city (I’m surprisingly non well-travelled in my own country), I made a point of exploring Toronto. The first day or two were extremely disorienting. Almost every flight I’ve taken over the past three years has landed in the US. Deplaning from a 4.5 hour flight to a city that was still a part of Canada took some adjustment.
Yep, I did the CN Tower. The top observation deck is equivalent to 147 stories high, which (it’s claimed) makes it the highest one in the world. There’s a glass floor on one level which is about 110 stories high. Talk about a psychological barrier — I’m not afraid of heights, but walking on a clear floor that high up was extremely uncomfortable.
And finally, the people. What I most enjoy about going to conferences is the cool people I get to meet. After my presentation on Sunday morning, I shook hands with a guy who turned out to be Daniel Burka of SilverOrange (and Firefox logo) fame, and his former co-worker Geoffrey (sorry, I never did catch your last name.) Both were great guys with whom I ended up grabbing lunch and wandering the city.
And we did a dinner with the webstandards.to group. As bad with names as I am, I believe those present were Joe, Daniel, Suzanne, Mike, Brice, Joanna, Craig, and no doubt one or two others I’m missing. It was good to hear about a group across the country doing what I wish we had going here in Vancouver. It might be time to get moving on that…
Coming tomorrow: a discussion of Microsoft’s FITC presentation of Avalon (their new rendering system) and XAML (the code that goes along with it).