This time last week marked the end of Flash on the Beach as we know it. The end of what I have always considered the best fucking conference I've ever attended. John Davey who organises it, always pours his heart and soul into it along with his wife and team of volunteers and it shows. FOTB has a special place in my heart for various reasons.
I remember sitting at my desk, working at a startup in Norway talking to some friends over IM who had just come back from the first one in 2006 ranting and raving about how amazing it had been. I decided then and there that I was going to the one next year even if it meant taking some vacation time because this was obviously something I had to experience for myself.
So in 2007 I flew over in November and stayed at a very simple bed and breakfast in Kemptown where I could marvel at the rainbow flags. Thanks to my good friend Chris Pelsor I managed to meet pretty much everybody who I had followed through the years, via their blogs and work. These were "rockstars", people who's work amazed me and yet, at the end of the day were just people. People like you and I, most of them awesome, some of them extremely shy. I think that was my biggest take away from the conference and something FOTB gets right every time. There is so much mingling between attendees and speakers that it sort of becomes this one collective mass of people who enjoy making cool shit. How can that not be fun.
Most importantly though had it not been for FOTB I would've probably never have come over to Brighton and fallen in love with the city. I would have not come over the following years, gotten to know a certain someone better only to eventually fall head over heels in love and leave everything behind to move to this very city and set up shop here.
So for that reason alone I owe John and FOTB a huge amount of thanks. It may not have been the main reason but it certainly was a catalyst to changing my life. Damn.
But this year was different in one way. I was speaking.
When I was asked at the end of last year I said fuck yes, and then had several months of getting to grips with that idea. I haven't done an enormous amount of speaking - mostly user group sessions, a Flash Camp in Lisbon (which was ridiculous amounts of fun) and a remote session for a one-day conference in Ottawa. But FOTB was special and therefore the goal was simple - don't fuck it up.
The week before I would have been nervous but Niqui, Matt and I were still working on finishing this year's conference guide, a web app you can play with at fotb.me. How we built that is another blog post.
The only problem was my slot. I was speaking on Wednesday, right before lunch. This meant I couldn't really enjoy myself fully on Monday and Tuesday as I couldn't properly relax. No biggy, but hey. I was probably the only person who woke up Wednesday morning without a massive hangover so I guess I win :)
I feel that the session itself went well. I got some great feedback and was actually amazed at all the people that showed up. Being up against the JAM session, and Lee Brimelow from Adobe who stole the show at the Keynote I was expecting the room to be empty. Especially with the JAM session being described as:
"Rest assured, whatever we ask them, it will be hot! This is a session you need to put on your personal scheduler so that you don't miss it!"
I did consider changing this and Lee's description to "Probably shit. Don't bother going."
Alas, the Pavilion Theatre (the little of the three venues) was actually half full. I was super impressed and if you were there, thank you :) There were several friends in the audience which only made it easier. The lighting guy made them all disappear too - in retrospect I think seeing people's faces might have been better. This was a smaller crowd than Lisbon for sure, but it was still FOTB. Don't fuck it up.
My favourite piece of feedback was from Neil Keith Young:
I then went into the Pavillion Theatre to see Paulo Fierro talk about his development of iPhone applications. His talk about developing and releasing an application through the app store was fantastic. He talked through his development of a Boris Bikes iPhone application for the Norwegian market and discussed the pit falls and also the excitement generated from building the application. Truly inspirational stuff and something that I would really love to look at, even if not from an Objective C application then from a html 5 website standpoint.
I owe this man a beer.
Anyways, enough about me. I wish I had gotten to see more sessions but I missed everything on Monday except the last two because I was in a state of panic going over my slides. I say going over, I mean recreating them because they original ones weren't good enough. Takes alot longer than you think.
My favourite sessions were Lee's bit of the keynote (hilarious), Jon Burgerman (who could happily leave painting for standup), Joel Gethin Lewis (who is actually helping people through technology. amazing), Remy Sharp (who got sung happy birthday twice! bet the W3C don't do that shit), Cyriak Harris (madman doing live AfterEffects'ing), Jared Ficklin (smoke machines mean instant win) and Josh Davis (who scares the shit out of me).
There are so many I would have loved to have seen but hopefully the videos will make it online sometime soon. Another highlight was the debauchery that happened at MyHotel. Less so than previous years, but still tons of fun. The Zacapa... mmm. The speaker discount didn't hurt either :)
Anyways, another year, another awesome FOTB. I'm really looking forward to what next year brings and hopefully once again see all of these wonderful friends who live in interesting places all over the world descend upon our little village once more, for whatever the new FOTB becomes.