Party vs. Coding… Adventures at Flash In The Can, Toronto

Flash In The Can

Although he may have stopped reminding me Pek (Pongpaet) has been wanting me to share my experience at Flash In The Can (FITC) Toronto, well I told him I would, but I’ve been stalling since I’ve had something in the works with Brendan Lee from Ribbit… but let me regress: (Events not in Chronological Order)
@the Keynote Richard Galvan from Adobe said all the presentations from the conference would be up on… I’m still waiting. FITC seems they will also put up video’s of all the talks on their site, which I’m guessing they’re still under production, so I eagerly await.

Reaching Out And Touching Someone:
On the second day of the conference, April 27th, I got a call from Brendan at around 11am, at this point I knew him for close to 24 hours, he tells me to meet him by the Ribbit booth, he needs some help with something in Papervision3D. Through my excitement I step out of Ralph Hauwert’s “Professionally Pushing Pixels” (sorry Ralph), and I find Brendan hunched over his MacBook Pro, intently typing away, takes a quick glance at me, then just tells me he’s trying to finish a demo so we can put it into Chuck’s (Charles Freedman) presentation at 4pm. Here begins our adventure in XP (Extreme Programming).

I look over his shoulder and he show’s me what he’s working with. Its a few blocks of Augmented Reality(AR) code in Flex Builder. Tells me the basic idea, and I’m immediately psyched! At this point I’m sitting on my knees on the conference floor, still looking over his shoulder catching any errors, while at the same time suggesting the best route of attack from my perspective. At some point we switch I start coding away, and he takes my role. We continue going; doing our floor to seat swap for about an hour, completely oblivious to the hordes of people passing by as they move from one session to the next. We hit up the hotel’s lobby restaurant/bar for lunch, and continue our adventures in XP as we inhale Bison Burgers (which were delicious). Unluckily we didn’t get to finish in time for Chuck’s presentation; but during Chuck’s presentation he mentioned Roundarch with his Merapi/Ribbit Demo, and gave many thanks to Adam Flater for helping him out with the Merapi code for his demo. Brendan and I decided we would come back to our demo at a later time.

(If you want to get to the butter of my story just hop over to Ribbit’s Blog)

The third and final day of the conference, Brendan walked up to me towards the end of the day and asked me if I wanted to finish polishing off the application, I of course said yes. We went up the executive lounge on the top floor of the Hilton, and having an amazing view of city, accompanied by an equally amazing sunset, we began to code. The whole time while hanging out with Brendan he excitedly spoke of his wife and kids, and said I should meet them, they’re super-cool. I figured it would be a great chance for me to get out to the west coast and catch some California sun, but technology one-upped me. She sent him a video-chat invitation on Skype. I found this truly amazing, technology once again connecting people in completely different corners of the world. I had seriously been considering flying out to the California (and still am) just so I could meet his family, and hang out with them, but I got to meet them online first. It was by chance, but getting to see his kids climb over his wife, and poke at the screen at this stranger standing next to their father was truly amazing. I said hello, and apologized to Brendan’s wife, Christine, for taking up all of Brendan’s time trying to pump out this idea. I walked away for some time so he could take some time with his Family. We took a break and had dinner after.

After dinner we met Chris Allen |CEO/Founder of| Infrared 5 and another friend Marsy Shattuck from Discovery Channel, and they wondered if we were going to the final FITC party that night? I had full intentions on going, Brendan I think was probably partied out, but I told them I would meet them there. Some time later Brendan and I were doing our little experiment with XP up in my hotel room, he was on his laptop, I was on mine both trying to solve different issues with the application; I looked at my watch and came to realize it was nearly 2AM, we’d spent the entire night coding! While everyone partied we coded, talk about dedication. We still didn’t get everything done that evening, so we figured it’d be best if we just collaborated on the project once we were back at our respective homes.

A week later we were back at it, this time using GotoMeeting. He was at home in San Francisco, I was in my apartment here in Chicago. We logged onto Goto, and started screen sharing, eventually taking over each other’s screens and coding while one of us took a break either to just watch, or in Brendan’s case got up and played with his kids. This experience was extraordinary, I can’t say that before this I’ve ever done XP with someone who wasn’t even in the same city as I was, but it was a fantastic learning experience. You can see the results here. Because of all of our efforts Brendan asked if I wanted to speak with him at a few upcoming conferences: 1. Flash on Tap (Boston) (Not confirmed, but in the works) 2: CAT(Creativity and Technology – New York)


Meeting People and Networking:
I met A LOT of people while at FITC! I found this to be one of the greatest benefits of the conference, put me in a room with a wide array of creative and intelligent people and I’m going to start talking. When I arrived at the Hilton on Saturday, April 25th, there were some workshops going on, the one that was of particular interest to me was one being held by Lee Fraser and Louis Marcoux of Autodesk. Louis is an expert in 3D Studio Max, while Lee is a Maya expert. I had a great chat with both of them about the 3D space in relation to the web, and more specifically with Flash. I was a little more drawn to Lee since my recent involvement with AwayBuilder and Away3D. AwayBuilder is an AS3 library for importing scene’s directly from Maya, then rendered in Flash through the Away3D Engine. The next day, I found Lee at his booth and got to show him a few more examples of what I meant, and gave him a few reason’s why Autodesk might want to jump into the Away3D ocean (although they already have wet their feet with Project Dragonfly). In return for talking code to Lee, he showed me some REALLY cool features of Maya, I had no idea I could be using. He really simplified Maya for me. Thanks Lee!

I then met with Michael Plank, FDT evangelist for PowerFlasher. I was meeting Michael for the first time, and we sat down and talked code, best practices and FDT for about an hour, or until the battery on my laptop died. I was meeting Michael since he would be giving Roundarch a presentation about FDT on Monday, May 4th. The really cool thing about this presentation is that he would be doing it from Germany, over GotoMeeting, talk about global telecommunications. (Fast Forward>>)The presentation was received very well, and although I’m already a religious user of FDT, we had a few conversions from the Flex world.

Apart from that there’s a lot of people who I want to write equally as lengthy descriptions of our experiences but I fear this blog post is getting a tad bit long. So not to belittle their importance I’m just gonna do it laundry list style:

I’m sure I missed a few people, not on purpose I swear! I definitely have to thank the organizers of FITC for putting on an amazing event. I’d like to thank all of the Speakers, even the ones I didn’t get to see, I know my post doesn’t say much about any of the talks, but I’m hoping the video’s for the conference come up, and you don’t have to get my second hand account; there were a lot of talks I would’ve loved to see and can’t wait to see when they’re finally online. Here’s a few tiny snapshots, see you again next year?