Flash on the Beach 2011

So I know this was a few weeks ago now, but I took a few weeks off afterwards to travel around Europe and now that I'm back I thought I'd put together a few little thoughts on the week.

As an Australian it's a long journey to Brighton, UK, and one that even with my passion for Flash could not be solely made for a 3 day conference. So with luck a few friends and I packed up and went off for a month to travel around France and Spain and I managed to work in the trip to Brighton for a few days.

The trip there was fraught with danger, so much so that my laptop had packed it in by the time I got to Brighton. A brand new MacBook Air mind you. I arrived late afternoon into Brighton and of course my first destination was the Apple store, can't survive a conference without a laptop. Thankfully it was a quick fix and I was in and out within 30 minutes. They were actually really helpful and even gave me a UK power adapter so I didn't have to use the converter I've had for years.

So I was back on track and went off to the Dome for registration.

The first day was lots of fun. Stray's talk about the brain was compelling, I went in expecting an update on my favourite framework, Robotlegs and walked away with a lesson in brain science. She had us playing memory games and doing basic maths and, Stray, I've since become a Pomodoro timer addict as well! 😉

Rob Bateman talked on Away3D and the integration with Stage3D. Eugene showed us some really amazing image pattern matching techniques that he's working on, using Alchemy and Apparat.

The day finished off with Jon Burgerman showing us how he ended up where he is, an artist with a fun, creative illustration style and interactive passion. A interesting trip along through the life of an illustrator. Even managed to score myself a little sticker of one of his characters.

The evening I met up with Neil who I worked with at Studio Moso in Melbourne and we went out for a few drinks. He's now working at Stink Digital in London and was great to meet some of the cool flash devs from there: Ian, Phil and Thomas.

But the highlight of the evening had to be meeting the Robotlegs creator, Shaun Smith (twitter). I fear I probably acted a little star struck and came across like an adoring idiot but I hope he understood. It had been a big day of meeting people who from Australia seem far distant and almost imaginary, but they are all real and down to earth people!

Day 2 started off a little slow (mainly because of the beer from the previous evening). I took my time getting to the conference so I could wander the streets of Brighton and discover some of the much talked about street art.

Seb-lee's presentation soon kicked my brain into gear. (Or perhaps it was all that coffee. They were giving it away for free!!) He showed us a really clever way of using the audience's mobile devices, controlled by a server to create a display, each device displaying a colour at a particular time. The thing I found really interesting was his idea to locate each device in the room. He sent each device an id and got the device to transmit it by flashing the screen colour (sort of like morse code) Then using a camera he analysed the camera feed for each id and attached it to the identified location. Such a great solution to what may have initially seemed a very complex problem.

Mike Chambers followed up with a break down of the expressive web, a site set up by Adobe to show the potential of HTML5 and CSS3.

More talks, before the evening finished in the required amount of one pound beers, i.e. lots.

Day 3, more coffee, more talks, I'm being brief on the talks as I think I got more out of the conference lunch breaks and evenings than the actual talks. One I would like to mention from the last day however is one by Jared Ficklin, "Visions from the man cave". This guy was great, showing off what fun can be had with a few pieces of electronics and a great idea. From the toilets that showed not only whether the toilet was occupied but if the occupant was sitting or standing, to large scale interactive music bit sampler, and of course, playing with smoke and fire!

So as the conference came to an end, and after a few of the Stink Digital boys and me had a huge buffet dinner, it was time for me to leave Brighton.

The conference was an amazing experience, something that we just don't have in Australia, and I don't think would work even if you managed to pull together the speaker list and venue locally. The amazing thing about this conference was the people that attend. The development community in close proximity, from London, France, Germany, Netherlands, and even Russia. It really is just mind blowing the number of highly qualified developers over there.

And as I say that I think about our local community and love that it is so small. We don't need a big conference to get together, just the pub on a Friday night. Either way, I've come back inspired, excited and full of ideas for the year to come.

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