Altitude

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Update 2013/03/15: Audio is available! I went to Altitude last night. Got back in at 6am so that just proves it was a good night! It was based up at Spinnaker Tower, I had never been up the tower before and was amazed by the stunning view of Portsmouth (it was dark so there were lights everywhere). Enjoyed the night and wanted to keep a reminder so thought I would write a blog post (blame Jeremy Keith!).

The night started with a couple of drinks and getting to know people, before we moved up to the top for interviews with Robin Christopherson and Mike Kus. The interviewer was none other than Paul Boag, so it was extremely entertaining!

Robin

I have heard Robin's name and seen it around the web associated with accessibility, but I have never known anything about him or heard him speak. Wow. He had me on the edge of my seat, in just 15 or so minutes he was able to explain things such as problems we have had in the past, what we have already and what could happen in the future.

The biggest take-aways I got from Robin was:

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Most things that help disabled people the most are designed and developed to aide 'temporary disability' such as bluetooth phone through car speakers rather than designed purely for people with permanent disabilities. Apple products generally have amazing accessibility. We all know about Voice Over, but I had no idea that on iOS you can get audio feedback about how many faces are in frame if you are taking a photo etc. There are even apps that Robin uses to check if the lights are turned on or off. And that is not even counting Siri. Google Glass. We all love the idea, or most of us do, but Robin was extremely excited about it, the heads-up display is what we think of but he thinks of the audio feedback and a camera that is always looking where you are looking that can provide useful feedback. Wow. He even mentioned doing a Google Hangout or Skype if you need help from someone that can see what you are looking at!

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Mike

I know Mike fairly well, he is a great guy and incredible designer. However, I have never seen him speak. Really interesting! Most of us try to stick to a tight deadline and know exactly what we are doing Mike just jumps into it and works on it until it looks great. To most people, this makes no business sense but he wants every site to be his best, and it works.

Take-aways:

  • "The homepage is a benchmark for the style of a brand. I start with that."
  • Mike mentioned that he only quotes a client if he knows that he would want to do everything he can to make sure the project turns out as amazing as possible.
  • You don't ask if a car will work before you buy it, websites should be the same instead of 'form follows function', function should just be obvious and not part of the decision (Mike put it in better words!).

After a very quick GoSquared mention by CEO James Gill, we went down to the bottom for more drinks and to get to know everybody a bit better. Once we headed back up, it was time for Paul to interview Sarah Parmenter and Jeremy Keith.

Sarah

There were quite a few topics that Sarah spoke about, all equally important and all very interesting. I cannot do justice to everything she was talking about, but it got me thinking!

Take-aways:

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'Glorification of Busy' We all work far too much, most of us know this. Sarah mentioned that due to the way that most people in the industry just love our jobs, they are our hobbies as well, we don't work like other people do. We work all through the day and most of the night, often charging for just 8 hours. Sarah told us a story about how her late Mother didn't visit too much due to knowing how busy Sarah is. Just imagine how awful that must feel, knowing your friends and family think you have no time for them we all need to change I think, I know I certainly do! "Leave a buffer week each month, for projects that overrun and side projects" I need to do this, my weakness is projects overrunning (because like Mike, I try to focus on doing things right rather than quickly). Start talking to people (especially women) when at the bar, don't let anyone be on their own.

Jeremy

Wow. Everybody knows the name Jeremy Keith, but I have never met him before and had no idea what he is like. He dethroned Paul Boag from his Matrix chair and had some great witty comments. But even just content alone he was a bit like Sarah in that he had absolutely loads of things to talk about!

Take-aways:

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We are working on the web. The web has always been responsive. Whenever we used fixed widths in the past, that has been changing the way in which the web works. It is important to focus on designing and developing for the web rather than trying to mimic anything else. It was great to hear Jeremy say these things, since (as Edd Greer whispered in my ear) I have been saying the same things for years. Responsive design really annoyed me when it first came out since I was like "This is how it is anyway!" till I realised the differences between responsive and fluid. "In a responsive workflow, don't think about layout first. Focus on the atmosphere." Reminded me of a talk Andy Clarke gave last year I think it was. Content first is more aptly named use case approach, it isn't about having the content on the screen but rather have the activity that the user needs to be doing. Be that reading an article, tweeting or looking at photos. "Vendor prefixes and polyfills are a tax on the user", this was in answer to my question about Jeremy's opinion on using pollyfills for new elements such as .

We then went back down stairs and had an incredible night talking to people. I met some fantastic people that night, but most memorable of all was meeting Jeremy Keith. Not because of who is he his but because of the things he said. We spoken for ages about various things from advice for writing my book (turns out he is as useless as I am!) to archives of the early web and the Web History Community Group which we are both part of. The one thing that he stressed heavily though is that I should be blogging more. But not for you lot, he said that I should publish everything that I write for myself (like bug reports and notes) and publish. When I said that I rarely write posts due to lack of quality, he said to not care about quality and just throw it on a page. I decided I will listen to his advice!

Altitude was an incredible night, loved every minute of it! Massive big well done to Dan, Tom Paul and everybody else involved. Now onto Responsive Day Out tomorrow!