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London Wrap-Up

January 26, 2006

They say the jet lag’s easier going west than east. Either way, 8 hours is a heck of a time difference.

Parliament Buildings

I’m back and (mostly) recovered from a week in London, and boy was it ever great meeting all of you who came out to the Carson Workshop, or the Skillswap in Brighton, or the Geek Dinner back in London.

Though it was my first time in the city, due to various suggestions and other circumstances I won’t get into here, it seemed like a good time to pack the week with social events. The hallmark of a good trip is the quality of people you meet, and London had it in spades.

Without delving into the minutiae of each day, I’ve mentally blocked out the trip into a few distinct chunks of days, which went a little something like this.

Carson Workshops

Gore Hotel

Of course, the main reason for going in the first place was to run a one day workshop with Carson Systems. Ryan and Gillian are top notch event organizers, with their ability of taking care of the little details, and making their guests feel like royalty. Seriously. Check out that hotel suite. It was unbelievable.

The first two days were preparation, mainly toward re-adjusting my body clock. I ended up going in completely sleep-deprived anyway, of course. C’est la vie.

The workshop itself went pretty well, I thought. A full day is a long time to get up and talk, but in the spirit of “it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared” I actually managed to run into time constraints. Now that’s a first for me. Feedback has been quite positive so far, I think it was a good experience for everyone.

What impressed me most were the questions and comments that came up later in the day. The last hour or so was pure Q&A-style discussion, and questions being asked were reassuringly sophisticated and clued-in. It’s great when really smart people come out, I end up learning a bunch myself.

Brighton, Skillswap

Brighton Pier

Courtesy of Mssrs. Budd and Keith, I had a reason to go to Brighton on England’s south coast, and a place to stay when I got there.

Andy runs an event for the local new media community called SkillSwap, and tendered the invite to come down and talk to the local crew. Jeremy and the lovely Jessica have opened their home to my fellow countrymen in the past, and so I found myself the lucky recipient of a night chez J&J.

I think I’ll let Jeremy summarize the two days in Brighton, he’s already covered everything I’d have to say. Except for the Dave Shea/Dave Seah incident.

At some point Andy asked me if I had seen the “I Am Not Dave Shea” post. I had no idea what he was talking about, and during the SkillSwap, he loaded it up.

Now, I may be biased since it comes across as pretty complimentary, granted (thanks Dave). But the real point is, my god is that ever a clever piece of writing. I couldn’t resist commenting of course, and from what I read later, my UK IP address at the time was enough to flag it as a bogus comment. Whoops.


After Brighton, it was back up to London for a couple of days of playing the tourist. I managed to squeeze in lunch with Patrick Griffiths, but up until the geek dinner, it was non-stop sight-seeing. A brief list of what got crammed into two days:

Liecester & Trafalgar Square
Liecester Square The latter amid the Sunday morning bells from the nearby St. Martin’s-in-the-Field. Great time to go visit, wouldn’t want to live there.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
I walked in during the first half of a Sunday morning service. The choir was singing totally acoustically, and the way it bounced around the vaulted ceiling was breathtaking. This was the highlight of the day for me, even though they don’t allow photos/video.
The Tower of London
Tower Bridge After reading Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, it was an absolute must, despite the $30 CDN entrance fee. The place is steeped in history, and if you’re into that sort of thing, England’s crown jewels are stored there as well. (No pictures allowed of those either.)
Big Ben / Parliament Buildings
I didn’t bother going inside any, but managed to get some nice evening shots along the waterfront and a few poor daylight shots.
Westminster Abbey
Worth the £10 admission, for the ornate decor, for the historical significance, and for the incredibly high dead kings per square foot ratio. Though I was never quite sure who was buried there, and who was simply memorialized. Cromwell? Chaucer? Tennyson? Olivier? I suspect it’s a little of the former, but most of the latter. Again. No photos.
The British Museum
Rosette Stone The British Museum is an incredibly rich trove of world history, with artifacts from many important civilizations over the past 6000 years. Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, Chinese, Indian, and European to name a few. Anyone in the world can simply walk in and view this huge collection of mankind’s history without paying a cent. They’ve got the original Rosetta Stone, by the way. (I did the Tate Modern as well, which I didn’t enjoy nearly as much.)

There was much, much more, but those were the highlights.

Geek Dinner

And, finally, on my last night in town, I spent the evening with 60 or so of my new best friends. As alluded to earlier around these parts, Ian Forrester organized a superb Geek Dinner since I happened to be in town. Great times were had, beer was drunk, and I rambled on for a while about usability and Javascript and CSS and the like. There’s actually quite a good transcript out there, though it’s obviously not exact. Close enough for a crowded room with bad acoustics though.

Kudos to Ian for putting on such a great evening, and everyone else for coming out and saying hi, though I didn’t get a chance to talk to even half of you. The room was absolutely packed, so maybe if we’d had another few hours…


A fantastic trip. One of the best I’ve done yet. As always, it’s the people that really make it, and without exception everyone I met in England was simply Good People. Now I can’t wait for @Media. In the interim, I’m pulling a Molly and jetting off again tomorrow for yet another event. Honestly, I have no idea how she does it.

January 26, 18h

Glad to hear you had a good time.

Adam Schilling says:
January 26, 22h

Hi Dave,

I was just wondering about your ‘Printable CEO paper-based productivity tool’…


Glad to hear you had a good trip.

Craig C. says:
January 26, 22h

Just finished the transcript and that is indeed the geekiest of geek dinners. I have this mental image of a pub filled with pasty bearded folks in black t-shirts, speaking entirely in acronyms and Simpsons references. Wish I’d been there, I would have fit right in!

Welcome back to Pacific time, Dave. See you on Monday.

Chris Korhonen says:
January 27, 01h

Glad you enjoyed your trip - didn’t realise you were doing something in Brighton - I travelled up from Brighton for the Carson Workshop event (which was brilliant!).

I think you have inspired me to get into the design side of things a bit more - rather than going straight in coding I have been looking at a photoshop mockup, considering typography for the past week!

Jonathan says:
January 27, 02h

Can’t believe you were here in Brighton and I missed it! Damnation…

Scott Hamilton says:
January 27, 03h

Hi Dave,

Glad you had a great trip -great meeting you and learning from you. See you for that pint you owe me next time you’re in London!


January 27, 03h

Was nice to have met you and had a chat. Your quite different from what I expected(in a good way), your very down to earth and chilled.

See you again at SXSW

January 27, 04h

Did you go up St. Paul’s Cathedral? The view from the top is brilliant.

Ethan says:
January 27, 06h

Damn, but that sounds like an epic trip; congrats on the successful workshop.

Man, I need to get back to the UK.

Paul Wib says:
January 27, 09h

“Liecester” - is that a typo or a joke? You know how us Londoners love laughing at non-natives pronouncing it “Lie-sester” ;)

FWIW it’s spelt Leicester and pronounced “Lester”. Counter-intuitive I know.

January 27, 09h

Dave, what a great post. As for how I do it - you stumbled on the secret. It’s the warm and wonderful people that make up the majority of our industry that keep me from truly going insane. And, there’s something about travel - seeing things new and old - that helps me realize that as important as the challenges in my own life might seem, that really it’s a complex world out there, and that makes my challenges seem quite small in the grand scheme of things.

I’m so glad you had a great time in London, a fantastic Geek Dinner (isn’t Ian the best host?) and a journey down to Brighton, which is a wonderful city.

Joe Clark once quipped that “everyone’s slept in Jessica and Jeremy’s bed but not together.”

That’s just proving more and more true as time goes on.

A toast to your success and happiness, always, from your favorite co-author and fellow world traveler!

January 28, 09h

‘Twas a pleasure having you stay, Dave. You paid for your keep in pizza sauce. Come back any time.

January 28, 14h

Dave, very nice to meet you on Monday night. I’m the astronomy guy from SE London who stuck around in the bar afterwards. Might see you at @media.

Drop us a line if you want a tour of the Royal Observatory next time you’re down here.

January 29, 03h

Thanks for the wonderful post Dave and comment Molly. I’m just glad everyone had a great time. Thank you again everyone who turned up and made it a great night.

Next time you guys are over in London let me know, would be great to do a geekdinner for you both together…

January 30, 12h

Holy suite… that’s sweet.

Laura says:
January 31, 01h

Hi Dave,

Thanks for a really enjoyable Carson Workshop, hopefully putting some of the things I learnt into practice now.

Also looking forward to you visiting Bristol on your next visit - I have a tour of Aardman lined up for you as requested ;)

Andy says:
February 01, 02h

The Carson’s Workshop was very useful, thanks Dave. Gave me the kick up the rear I needed to get going with my career change…

Enjoyed the *very* brief beer with you after the show, hope to catch you at @media.

I should point out I was disappointed not to pick up the book for the “best save” in the live CSS demo, looks like I’ll have to buy the damn thing now.

February 03, 07h

Dave, it was a pleasure. Enjoyed the skillswap which you gave. Look forward to hearing more at @media2006. BTW hope you enjoyed the beer!

February 03, 15h

Respect to you for having guts to go to London in winter. All that rain or snow. Too cold.

JaX says:
February 05, 03h

Hey I’m looking foreward to seeing you at @media 2006 =)

Narayan says:
February 05, 09h


I feel your pain. I just got back from a 4-week business trip to Germany, Israel, and India. It’s all one timezone to me now.

Is “Pulling a Molly” going to become an industry term?

Dave S. says:
February 06, 08h

“Is ‘Pulling a Molly’ going to become an industry term?”

I think there’s something to that….