Monday, October 22, 2012

RemixSouth: My Talk and My Favs

This weekend, I took a trip to Atlanta, GA to speak at RemixSouth, a conference about mobile, web, design, and startups.

My talk was on "When Mobile Web Browsers Attack!". It was all about the bugs that I encountered in the Android and iPhone Webkit browsers during my foray into PhoneGap hybrid web app development last year, and the weird workarounds I found. Most of my audience hadn't done much mobile web development, so it served as a warning for them of what to watch out for, and for those who had, it was more like group therapy. ☺

I also had the chance to attend others' talks. Some highlights were:

  • Responsive Web Workshop". Ben Callahan put on a 3-hour hands-on workshop about responsive web design. After linking the audience to a git repository, he walked through the very basics of responsive design, using CSS media queries, percentage width, and got attendees to try responsify-ing fixed width pages. He also reviewed the tools that make responsive design easier, like Suzy and Semantic Grid, and Media Query bookmarklet, and went over general guidelines for making sites more accessible across multiple devices and environments (e.g. try your website on a phone outdoors - can you actually read it?). He discussed their agency's website development process, like "content priority mocks", CSS-based prototyping, pricing, and testing. He finished with a review of popular responsive design patterns, like for nav bars and sidebar content. It was a great workshop, and I'm hoping that we can get him to give the workshop in SF sometime this year. I'd love to have our designers attend it.
  • "Eliminating Common jQuery Bugs". Elijah Manor gave a talk where he presented buggy jQuery code, challenged the audience to find the bug, and then walked through what was wrong, what the solution was, and ways to fix it. Most of the bugs were ones that I'm already familiar with, or never run into because I avoid things like jQuery animations, but I still learnt a good deal about jQuery's implementation idiosyncrasies. If you'd like to challenge yourself, try out the lab before you review the slides.
  • "CSS3 Animations". Josh Netherton gave an introduced to CSS3 animations. He finished with two Doctor Who related examples, an animated weeping angel and a really cool rotating, spinning Tardis that magically fades in. I still have no immediate plans for CSS3 animations in my everyday life, but it's sweet to see what they can be used for, when that day comes.
  • "Welcome to the Social". Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, gave a thought-provoking talk on apps and devices, and how apps and devices are eventually indistinguishable from one another - i.e. my Kindle is the same app as my Kindle reader app on my iPhone, just with slightly different hardware. He envisions a future where devices are "social" and know more about the other devices around them, so, for example, I might walk up to a digitally projected ad one day, my phone can connect to it, and then I can use the ad as my own canvas. Now, instead of an ad in my app, there's my app in the ad, and the ad<->app relationship is reversed. Really interesting stuff.

It was a fantastic conference, and it was great to meet the web community of Atlanta. Thanks to the organizers for inviting me out!

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