Conferences, etc.

360|Flex and MO Adobe Camp aftermath

Attending 2 conferences in 1 week is plenty, let alone speaking at both, and on different topics. Phew.

At 360|Flex I spoke on Logical Design for Developers – Design isn’t a 4 letter word, and At the Adobe Camp in Columbia MO, it was on Flash Catalyst. I have my slides up online of course, but also had some links I wanted to share with people who attended the sessions.

Flash Catalyst:

and the Design for Developers one is here:

So below are some random notes I took while creating the slides, and the slides themselves are here —

Why design? Something that isn’t logical -at – all; empathy. Designers try and put themselves in the shoes of the user. Trying to understand how they think, how they navigate a site or an application for instance, thus the UX designer. Which is why we’ll be talking about the logistics of design, the rules, but this is an important fact we need to keep in mind.

Avoid graphical applications, except ones you are already familiar with. On twitter I see tons of devs curse Photoshop. I almost never hear them talking about Fireworks however. I know more devs who use that than anything else, which is why we’ll be using it for the majority of what we do today. If you can design with code, do so. There is nothing wrong without that, just remember some of the rules we’ll talk about here.

Play it safe. Follow the logic of design, make it usable

5 major areas

Design is just a process with rules, patterns and conventions

Acronyms – UI – UX
UI is what the user sees and controls,
UX is what the user feels (wait times, steps in a process, shifts in attention

It is important to understand the audience, who will consume the data. What do they expect?

If you aren’t sure which to pick, maybe white. grey and a color, or black and a color.

Great icons are a must – tons out there. bitbox, etc.

Selecting imagery can be tricky but here are a few suggestions that will point you in the right direction…
•    Avoid animation.
•    Choose images with a strong foreground element.
•    Compress your imagery but not too much!
•    Use faces, people are naturally drawn to them.
•    Avoid clipart illustrations

eyedropper for color — keep colors minimal — an all grey web page/ application can be interesting if a splash of color is thrown in.

We know when something is attractive, it is the Why we don’t always understand

Google vs Yahoo or MSN

Create an inspiration folder, just like you probably do for devs you admire

Rules for what not to do, and what to do — line height! Let your users read your text.
If we were talking we, I’d tell you 1.4 – 2.0 ems depending on your text hight of course.

Rules of thumb. column width – 2 alphabets wide

2 – 3 TOPS for type faces on a page/application/site

San serif looks better on the web for any body copy, Georgia works great as a header — why people hate flash sites. Good looking enough, but a very short loop guitar lick and just repeats. Obviously they want you to turn it off. I get the idea, I am at a music site. The grunge type for the navigate  just doesn’t make sense. Neither does all the tape, and the fact it is a notebook, which makes me believe it was a bought Flash site.

Type faces:

Generous spacing
Personal Choice (You just like it)
Plan your hierarchy
What have others done?
Avoid Anachronisms
Avoid trite correlations
•    Don’t use Papyrus just because your topic is “ancient” in some way, especially if it’s about Ancient Egypt. (Better yet, don’t use Papyrus at all)
•    Don’t use Comic Sans just because your topic is humorous. (Better yet, don’t use Comic Sans at all)
•    Don’t use Lithos just because your topic is about Greek restaurants.
•    Don’t use Futura just because your topic deals with “the future”.
Stick with the classics

Golden Ratio
Fibonacci number
A Fibonacci spiral created by drawing arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in the Fibonacci tiling; this one uses squares of sizes 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and 34; see Golden spiral

The ratio of 3:5 (or 5:3) is special to professional designers. This ratio is known as the Golden Proportion

More links

Geeky design sites
Color theory is a lot like math – harmony, complementary (blue and orange), monochromatic, tetrad,
Additive, subtractive primaries, split complementary

Hope that helps someone.



Year 2 for D2W conference

I put on my first conference this year. It almost didn’t happen. I had a lot of people against me, although not sure why. Aren’t you suppose to be happy for and support your friends? It was also people like Hallmark, and Garmin who didn’t want to send their people to a first year conference. Their loss, for sure. I could still almost cry remembering how amazing the content was for the conference. I have a lot of amazing friends, but the combination of designer and developer at the conference was incredible. I beam every time I see the speakers talking to each other on twitter. Designers and developers talking… who knew I’d be so emotional at that. Every session seemed to compliment each other. The attendees were in rapt attention and followed the speakers out of the room. Have rarely seen that at conferences.

So we are doing it again this year. We had 3 tracks this year, designer, developer and hybrid. Instead of hybrid for D2W v2, we’ll be changing it to mobile. I work for Sprint now, so it seemed only fitting to add mobile to the line up. It is still about workflow, and that will continue to be the unifying factor for the entire conference. Doug Winnie, James Polanco and Aaron Pedersen wrote a book about workflow called Adobe Flash Platform from Start to Finish. Doug and I had been of the same mind about workflow when I first met him at a Community Summit. Then I introduced myself to him again at Adobe MAX 3 years ago. Luckily Scott Fegette was there to solidify I wasn’t a stalker, and Doug and I became friends. Now the 4 of us put on D2WPodcast together and they all spoke at the first D2W with Doug as the keynote speaker. It certainly wasn’t a coincidence Doug was the keynote speaker with workflow being his passion.

This year we already have a great lineup of speakers. As today is the last day for submissions, I expect things to change a bit but here is a sampling. Returning speakers: Doug Winnie, James Polanco, Aaron Pedersen, JP Revel,  Andy Matthews, Paul Trani, Vince Vaughan (no not the actor), Tom Green,  Chad Udell, Ben Stucki, Chris Griffith, Kevin Stohlmeyer, Rob Huddleston, John Farrar. New speakers to D2W: David Ortinau, Jim Babbage, Rob Rusher, Kai Koenig (who is coming the furthest, New Zealand), Michele Yaiser, Justin Seeley, Dave Hogue, Steve Withington, Sean Schroeder (with our sponsor MuraCMS), Elad Elrom and more to come. I have accepted a few more, but haven’t added them to the Lanyard site yet. I am hoping for a return of Pariah Burke but haven’t solidified the detail of that yet. If he does return, he’ll be doing a day long class.

Which brings me to what we are doing different this year. We will be doing pre-conference hands-on classes. The thing about workflow is it is hard to talk about it in 60 minutes. So we have also extended our sessions to 90 minutes, and have added another room. We’ve got such great content, that we’ll be doing some sessions online only also. We’ll still have the sessions live and recorded for the normal sessions, but adding more as well.

Now, we are still looking for sponsors. For me, that is probably my most difficult task. I am not good at asking for money, but I really want it to be mutually beneficial for both of us. I need sponsors, but sponsors that the attendees will want to visit and be interested in their product. O’Reilly and Peachpit always come though. Balsamiq gave us several licenses of their wireframing product and that is the perfect example of something attendees would be excited about. What would a workflow conference be with wireframing tools.

The cost has been increased a bit more also. Well, we have that much more going on, so I had to increase the cost to offset the increase in cost to put it on. It is still cheaper than most conferences, and where else do you get this kind of content… no where. I am really looking forward to 2011 and D2W version 2.

Adobe MAX 2010

Yet another MAX. Phew. Exhausting, but SO much fun. It seems like it was harder to recover this year, than previous years, but it was worth it.

I made a mistake in when I was coming out to MAX this year, and seems someone else did also. I was able to remedy my error by planning a trip to Sequoia National Park/Forest with a friend, which is way better hanging out in downtown LA for a few days. We both got there on the 21st and drove to Bakersfield since it was about half way between. We spent the night and drove up to Sequoia bright and early the next morning. From the moment we got into the park, we could see the fog up higher and was hoping it might burn off. Still, the scenery was amazing and I was already taking dozens of pictures before we had really even set much of a foot into the area. Thank goodness for digital.

My favorite part of a trip like that where we ended up going all the way up to 8200 feet, was how much the terrain changes along the way. So cool. Literally cool as well at 8200 feet. heh. The fog didn’t let up at all unfortunately. It was a mixed blessing really. Both my friend and myself are a bit afraid of heights, so you couldn’t see a thing other than a surreal, otherworldly mist that would often waft across the road in a very Stephen King-ish way.

Eventually we got to where the Sequoias were. More mist and very, very large trees later, we were both disappointed that our day was ending. We took a crazy amount of pictures of large trees it got to be funny. Without something beside them, it was hard to see the sheer scale of how extra large they are. Anyway, here are my pics on Flickr.

After a very long, wrong way decent from the mountains, we settled in for the evening to finish up our materials for our sessions. Couldn’t be done early, nope, couldn’t happen. When we retured to LA, that night we had a Community dinner. Last year we had about 15, so this year I planned early and had an invitation up online. We ended up with 34 people all together. It was a blast, but hard to visit with everyone. Nothing I love more than my community of Adobe peeps. To quote a commercial, priceless.

We had a horrible mix up with the rooms that still isn’t fixed, so I won’t go into that at the moment.

The conference itself was riddled with devices. Everyone received 2 free devices, and some of us got some more at a BlackBerry/RIM event. Mobile this, and mobile that. Tablet this, and tablet that. So many cool things going on it was crazy.

From the keynotes, to the Unconfrences, I’d say this was by far the best MAX I’ve attended. As usual, I was a TA, starting with Doug Winnie’s full day Actionscript 1:1 class. The Community Summit was going on at the same time, so I had to run down as often as I could. I hated missing most of the Summit. Nothing is more important than Community for me, but I had promised I’d help TA that class.

The evening event was ok. I am not a fan of that bowling alley as it is loud enough that it is hard to talk to everyone. I left early that night as I was presenting the next day, and had more work to do on my presentation. I was also a TA for, well, the entire conference, so I doubt I ever got more than 4-5 hours sleep the entire week.

I also spoke at the unconference for 360|Flex, on wireframing for RIA. Whoever was the speaker after me, was super rude. Not nice person at all. Wireframing never gets much love, and while the conference organizers keep choosing that, not that many people ever show up to listen. Maybe I need to change the title of the presentation to something else to get more people listening.

My sessions were ok, but of course could have gone better. I’ll write more about this topic later. For now, I am exhausted and not feeling that great, so more on this in another post.

St. Louis Flash Camp

I had the honor to be asked back to the St. Louis Flash Camp as speaker this year. Last year it was 1 room for a full day, this year it was 2 rooms for a full day. I did just 1 session this time, on yes, you guessed it, Flash Catalyst. About 3 people in the room even knew what it was. Sad, but that has been my experience lately.  I’ve done 3 demos on CS5 for the AIGA in different parts of the country lately, and I have found no one seems to even know what Flash Catalyst is, amazing.

There was a keynote by Paul Trani, Matthew Wallace presented, David Ortinau, Ben Stucki and many others. It was held as usual at the City Museum, which was a blast as Paul, Myra and myself explored after we presented. I even went up to the top to slide down the 10 story slide. There was no way however I was going all the way to the top for the Ferris Wheel. No way.

Anyway, both the conference and the time spent shopping and hanging out in St. Louis was fantastic. A great trip. Thanks to J.P. Revel (who also spoke at my conference) for inviting me yet again for such a wonderful experience.

The last CFUnited

The last CFUNITED. Wow, it seems a bit weird to see it written down on paper. It was even stranger being the last person to walk out of the conference area the last day. Very surreal.

So what was the last one like? Certainly no one was talking about whether ColdFusion was dead or not. Not once did I hear anyone talking about that, thank goodness. The conversations were about four things mostly. The first was of course, it being the last, then talk about community, then about the sessions and perhaps the future of conferences.

I’ll get to that list in a second. Let’s start with the beginning. At Dulles I ran into my friend, Ben Nadel. I saw the scar on the back of his head and knew it had to be him. Yup, Ben. So, things were off to a good start, I had already re-connected with one friend. I was on my way to meet Michael Evangelista and his lovely wife Avery for lunch, and Ben joined us. ( and

When we got to the hotel, we could see they were starting to set up for registration later that day. Of course we were all thinking what the conference would be like, and anxious to see old friends. As a matter of fact, someone asked me, who had never been to a CFUNITED before about that. He said, “On line, I just see people talking about how anxious they are to see each other. Isn’t the content of the conference any good? Will I be disappointed?” Of course, I had to laugh. I told him that the content was a given, so we were concentrating on seeing each other.

Later that night, we had our community event. There has almost always been a User Group managers event, but since this was the last, and the first Liz Fredrick was on the community side and not running the conference, we had a reception for all the User Group Managers, and the Community Professionals as well. I have to say, as someone who prides their self on knowing the majority of the community, I did meet some new folks that night. It is always nice to see the community growing.

Wednesday morning was the keynote by Adobe. Adam Lehman and Terry Ryan were the main keynote speakers. I guess I missed Michael Smith talking as I was a few minutes late. Adam talked about the past CFUNITEDs and had some pics he apparently stole off of a few Flickr pages. I guess Steven Erat saw some tweet pics and was surprised to see some of his photos up on the screen. At least it was just for the keynote and no real harm done. I recognized the majority of the photos and reminisced about years past.

( and

Then it was on to the future of CF. Exciting stuff here. Terry showed his new tool to create extensions, and they also talked about how many open CF projects there are, and let me tell you, there are a lot. In the past year alone, there have been 153 new Open Source CFML projects, and 113 of them are on RiaForge alone. That is pretty impressive. There was so much talk about open source projects; no wonder there was no talk about CF dying! It is more than alive and well. I have to say that I am leaning more on the side of using the phrase CFML instead of just CF these days. It seems to me, to include both Adobe’s version (since they invented CFML) and open source projects.

Also during the keynote, Adam pointed out some amazing applications of CFML in the wild like It is a great example of how CFML is shaping the web. He talked about Frameworks and of course, had to bring up the documentation king, Luis Majano, who is such a nice guy for being that crazy smart. He did a demonstration, and there was another one by a member of the CF team. It was once of those keynotes where after you thought, we laughed, we cried, but in the end, we were sent on our way to the first sessions. (Adam Lehman pointed outt that I omitted the Adobe donation to Apache. To be honest, I took extensive notes, then later I had problems with my machine, and ended up pressing the power button to restart, and lost all my unsaved notes of the keynote)(

Charlie Arehart gave the 2nd day keynote, and it was on, of course Community. Charlie had a little fun with us in the beginning and brought some folks up on stage. He talked about his site and how it lists all, or as many as he knows about, links to almost anything you’d want to know about CFML. Open source projects, books, conferences (mine was listed, yay me), blogs, and even to other people who also have made lists like that. I am a hybrid, both a designer and a developer (to a degree) so I can honestly say that there is no other community that matches the passion the ColdFusion Community has. So much work goes into sharing with the community. The ColdFusion community is as strong as any I’ve seen, and they are only getting stronger.

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I tried to visit the sponsors portion of the conference because, as a conference organizer I understand they are needed. I have known Sean Corfield since 2006 and Mark Drew since 2008 (and finally got to know Gert this conference) and now that they are a part of Railo,  I invested more time this conference in really seeing what it is all about. They were pushing the consulting more this conference. What a dream team, seriously. I am impressed for sure, and will be looking into it in the future to use perhaps with Mura CMS. Too bad Epicenter didn’t make it. I don’t think most people understand how great Clark Valberg is at marketing and so much more. He is a powerhouse and more people should talk with them. At least Ben and Ryan were there to sport the shirt.

I personally had two sessions I was giving, so I was very specific about the sessions I attended. All-in-all, there weren’t as many folks there as I expected, this being the last. There are two levels of rooms, the bigger rooms being downstairs and the smaller rooms, upstairs. You also got a sense the lower tier sessions were upstairs as well. Makes sense, right?

We did have one major speaker issue. I was a bit jealous because I had two speakers bail on me for
my conference
at the last minute, and one no-show, so only one major issue seemed fantastic to me. Poor Shannon Hicks, of fame, came down with a super high fever and they wouldn’t let him on the plane. I think Shannon was too sick to contact anyone, and so they canceled his session that day, but as it was on solr, I was able to find Ray Camden, and at the last minute, and I mean that literally, did an impromptu Solr session. After I asked folks how it was, and they all said, for a Ray not to have prepared before-hand, it was a pretty good session. Not many slides, but a bit of code and some good tips and tricks.

Of course, I am not a CFML developer, I just play one on TV. OK, sorry, couldn’t resist. I am a CSS, UX/UI geek, but since I work with CFML developers and have to rummage around in the code, I understand the language to a degree. I put together, design-wise, FAQU (Fusion Authority Quarterly Update) since 2006 and you know, I actually read the majority of the articles. I even surprise myself sometimes with the knowledge I have picked up over the years thanks to that and that Judith and Michael Dinowitz made me come to my first CFUNITED that year. I guess you could say, the rest is history.

Of all the sessions, my favorite was done in a private showing after one of the days. There were several of us who had missed Christian Ready’s HTML 5 session, so he was kind enough to do it for us that night. About two hours later, we all had a much better understanding of HTML 5. Thanks Christian! Great info from him, as always.

Here are the sessions I either saw and liked, or heard how good they were, because either the content was awesome, or the speaker, and sometimes both. Charlie Arehart’s Hidden Gems talk. Sam Farmer’s CF one liners, Cache me if you can by Mike Brunt and the always amazing Dan Wilson. (I still like Dan even if he is an Apple hater.) Elliot Sprehn blew people away with how smart he was, but Elliot is a new speaker. His session was I bet you didn’t know you could do that with ColdFusion. The general consensus was, no, a lot of people did not indeed know you could do some of those things with ColdFusion. I heard even the Adobe engineers were furiously writing down things while looking at each other like, “Did you know that could be done?”. Of course, Pete Freitag always blows people away with his Writing Secure CFML, and he is just the nicest guy.

Really, there were some great speakers there. Luis Majano, Dan Wilson, Jim Priest, Jason Dean, Simon Free, Laura Arguello, Ezra parker, Gert Franz, Chaz Chumley, Sean Corfield, Selene Bainum, Bob Silverberg, Charlie Arehart, Brian Kotek (who was another one people kept talking about after the session), Jeff Coughlin and SO many others. I am not listing enough here, and I am sorry for that. It is a long list. One thing you are struck with at an event with a list of speakers like this, is there are a lot of crazy smart people under one roof, and that is pretty cool.

I had two sessions this year, CSS and the CMS, where the twitter peeps chose Mura for the CMS I’d talk about. I really came to love Mura CMS and got to know the Brinteractive guys a bit better in the process of preparing for the presentation. With their help, I really got a much better look into how it works, so thanks guys, and thanks for a stack of Mura CMS t-shirts for my User Group members. I also did a session on Flash Catalyst. It was suppose to be about preparing files to hand off to the developer, but no one in the room had seen Flash Catalyst before. Good thing I added the “What is FC” slides in while preparing for the session.

Of course, with the ending of this CFUNITED, we lose one of the bigger conferences. Some say this filled the first gap of beginner to intermediate level ColdFusion topics. I heard from an attendee that he didn’t think there were enough advanced sessions, while talking with Bob Silverberg who didn’t think there were going to be enough, was surprised how many advanced sessions he found. So that may mean that there were just too many tracks and some attendees were lost as to which session to choose.

I can say there was no Bootcamp sessions this year, and perhaps one could say there should also be a level attached to the session as well as the track it fits in. Tara and Cara (so much talk about the demise of Teratech and how the girls basically ran the conference for free, which explains SO much) did a decent job for the final CFUNITED. Could things have gone smoother? Well we are use to Liz and Nafisa, who did the conference for years, so sure, it could have been better. Did they do a good job considering? Absolutely. My personal hat off to them for tackling such a large conference. I don’t think folks realize just how much work goes into putting something like that on. So, good job girls!


The main take away is the community is growing. We need more regional conferences to fill in where CFUNITED left off. cf.Objective() is now the only large ColdFusion-centric large conference left. There is a need for more “grow your own developer” User Group meetings and day conferences, as well as advanced information. A lot of good talks came out of this last event, and I already know of some new UGs that will start because of this, which is never a bad thing.

Of course there were evening events. Above I mentioned how passionate the community is about the CFML language. Well they are just as passionate about beer, and hanging out with each other. Socializing is every bit as important at these events as the actual content of the sessions. The Adobe pool party this year had jousting, but certainly not as popular as the Sumo wrestling last year. We had a lot of fun just hanging out in the bar together, or down by the fire pit. Outside you were often joined by wildlife and I am not talking about Jason Dean. (I am just teasing) There were tons of deer and many raccoons rummaging through the trash. The hotel gives out smore kits to take to the fire pit, and the leftovers make the raccoons very brave.

There were several of us speakers that ended up saying Saturday night. We hung out by the fire pit and became better friends. I already miss everyone, which is pretty typical for me. For me, reconnecting and meeting new friends is what the conference experience is about. We all talk online, but I can say from experience, you make the best connections face-to-face. I’ve made a lot of life-long friends by going to events like this, and this last CFUNITED was no exception. It was a surreal experience I won’t soon forget.

See more on my CFUNITED Flickr page and the general CFUNITED Flickr page.


This was my first year at NCDevCon, formally a different name. I had heard great things about it, and I was thrilled to be accepted to speak twice. It was a fantastic experience and again, I got to see many friends I don’t normally see. (Dave Powell, that means you!) The cool thing was it was at a textiles college, which meant it was recorded. Below are my recordings for my FLash Catalyst and Wireframing talks.


Flash and the City

I’ve submitted topics to multiple conferences this year. Flash and the City is one of those conferences. I love speaking at conferences, but my favorite part is seeing friends. I live in Kansas City, so in other words, a fly over State. It isn’t often enough I get to see my friends, so any time I get to is fantastic. Also, I had spent more time in NY this year than at home doing both the videos for Total Training in New York instead of at home because of my noisy house. Both times, I spent weeks in NY, but never going into the big city itself, so this was a treat.

Upon getting to the hotel, and catching up with Leif Wells, Aaron Pedersen and James Polanco, I realize the rooms look out over ground zero. It was a very sobering experience I can assure you. We check out our surroundings, see some other speakers for the event, and get some grub.

The next day was the conference. When we get there, there is a huge line of people lined up. They weren’t letting people inside however. A few of us offered to help. Actually, I think my words were, “You need help” but it was refused. There were several of us accustomed to being at conferences, and certainly know how things go. Or should go. We could have easily helped. Instead it was 9am and no one was in the doors yet, and not registered either. Geesh. Liz finally took control and told them to let everyone in and they could register them after the keynote.

Of course there had to continue to be a parody or comedy of errors, right? Yep. The tables set up were fairly rickety, and not much room, and the projector really wanted to be 800X600, but the keynote finally happened. Lots of good workflow stuff there. After the keynote, before everyone could register however, there was break dancing. Yep, break dancing. Then there was a video. People were starting to get restless. It was 20 minutes after they were suppose to be done and still no one was registered.

RiaRadio was there. They were set up in a bizarre dark room with equally bizarre abstract videos being played. At least there were couches in there. I think that is where I spent the majority of my time.

When it came time for my press, I was given the strangest introduction ever. I don’t even want to put it down on paper, but it was like I was being insulted. He made it out like I was forced upon him by Adobe. Nice.

All-in-all the weirdest conference I had been at, let alone where I had spoken. This was great though, because all last year I attended about 9 conferences where they all ran great. No hiccups, so I wanted to be prepared for my conference in June. I have to take private notes to make sure mine runs great. Onward to the next conference, NCDevCon run by my good friend, Dan Wilson. Can’t wait!