Saturday, November 15, 2008

BarCamp Sydney: Best way to start off a life in Sydney?

So, I just arrived in Sydney 4 days ago, on a fateful Tuesday morning. Since then, I've moved into an apartment with a fellow Googler), learned how to hang laundry out to dry, hung out with the Sys-Ops crew in the office until 3 am after getting kicked out of the Bungalow8 bar, and today, participated in BarCamp Sydney.

BarCamp Sydney started off with a debate about rolling your own CMS versus modifying a pre-existing one, which is really the eternal debate about rolling your own anything versus using pre-existing anythings, so it triggered a lot of discussion and a counter-session later. This was a good indication of the sessions to come: a technical topic with an opinionated audience.

Some of the most heated debates were during the HCI talk about user interfaces (I'm personally convinced that there's no such thing as one good universal interface - there's just a thing as a consistent experience and well trained users), and during the final discussion about CleanFeed, a proposed internet censorship ("filtering") system in Australia. And then, of course, a few of us engaged in the obligatory JQuery versus JavaScript debate in the hallway (fyi: JQuery lost).

The least technical session was also the one that went on the longest - "Mind Hacking." A professional stage hypnotist came to demonstrate how easily people can be suggested things via marketing and advertising, and she attempted to prove it through stage hypnosis. I desperately wanted to be hypnotized, with the hopes of obliviously quacking like a chicken on stage, so I was one of the 6 volunteers in chairs at the front of the room. Unfortunately, it appears that I'm too immature or rebellious to be hypnotized - every time I was meant to fall into a deep sleep, I ended up in a fit of giggles. It certainly didn't help when an enterprising man in the audience yelled "Take it off!"... ;)

I myself gave two different sessions during the day. The first was a code walkthrough of a simple App Engine app, showing off the various features of GAE (and I might have thrown in a few <blink> tags). You can download that code in a ZIP, or just read through it in the "Getting Started" documentation.

The second was a brief description of HTML5 with as many demos as I could fit in 20 minutes (just got through video and forms), and it was based on the talk I gave at FOSSmy last weekend. You can see the slides here, and download the demos here. Both talks seemed to go well, and I got a few compliments on presentation style after. As far as I've figured out, my presentation style is high energy plus demo plus explanation (= keep them awake, wow them, teach them).

After all the talks, we all enjoyed free drinks in a bar just for us, and then a bunch of us went to dinner at a nearby Italian place. There, I experienced the amazingness that is oysters+bacon and oyster+cheese. Omg, I never thought to put oysters plus melty cheese and white sauce together, but it is a cheesy seafood heaven in your mouth. We finished the meal by drawing naughty doodles on the tablemat and surrounding them with HTML tags (my use of <table> tags was finally justified).

I must admit; my motivations in attending BarCamp Sydney were twofold: 1) find an excuse to talk about Google/web technology, and 2) find some friends. Someone at the after-party actually told me (drunkenly) "I'd like to be your friend", and I replied honestly, "well, actually, I don't have any yet, so that'd be great". He was kinda taken aback, but hey, it's the truth. And I actually think maybe I did make a couple friends today, and I'm thrilled about that. I'm hoping that today will be a precursor to much fun + geeky times in Sydney, and I thank all of you who welcomed me here today :)

All pics here were taken by Halans, one of the unorganizers of the conference.


Unknown said...

For some reason I feel uncomfortable making statements like "I'd like to be your friend" in person so instead I tweet reminders to myself to take note of your polished presentation style.

But for the record, I'd also like to be your friend. Again, t'was a pleasure.

seph said...

Sometimes I miss going to a new city and needing to make new friends. I've lived here for so long that I've nearly forgotten what thats like. Every time I do it I end up with different results; and thats really nice.

Aaron Spence said...

Sounds like a fantastic introduction to Sydney, with a barcamp & all.

We're having a Barcamp here on the Gold Coast next weekend if you want to fly up :)

It is a much smaller affair than the Sydney event.

If you do make it up this way sometime, I'd be more than happy to show you around.

Aaron Spence said...

LOL, I don't expect you'll be jetting up to the Gold Coast any time soon... but I should at least provide accurate & useful info.

ie the Barcamp is actually 2 weeks away 29th November, not 'next weekend' and here is the site link:

Thanks, Aaron.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Pamela! Bruno (Brazilian Flash-designer) here! =) I left you a message on twitter also.

Having fun in Syd so far? Lets chat sometime! (Gtalk), (MSN) and (my 'a little out dated since I got here in Syd' portfolio). Cheers!

JayJay said...

Welcome to Sydney!
Hope Sydney made a good first impression, you certainly did...
Keep an eye out for Web Standards Group meetings, and WebBlast on December 12, the end-of-year party!