Archive for the ‘conferences’ Category

Adobe MAX 2010 review

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I’m forcing myself to do this “post-Adobe MAX 2010″ post. It’s been nearly a month so I think I can safely judge history. Here’s the summary of what you’ll find below:

  • Adobe really did get their act together and come up with a clear message… basically “the truth will prevail; we have some cool shit that solves real-world problems”
  • The social aspect of the conference was great despite a less than ideal venue (it’s not BAD) and un-arguably, the worst MAX Bash ever. Let’s hope 2011 is the LAST time it’s in LA (or at least at this venue).

I’ve broken things down into: content, format, and fun.
The day 1 keynote (traditionally more general audience and investor focused) was super clear. It basically was Adobe saying: Look, we have the shit. You want to print industry to survive—we can do it. You want high performance 3D stuff (and don’t want to do it today with Unity3D or that other 3D thing we had in 1999 called Director—though they didn’t mention either) we have it coming in Flash Player. You want to see some cool stuff on phones? It’s here now. And, wow, you want AIR at a low level… check out Blackberry Playbook (that is NEAT!!!). It was a nice mix of what’s coming (which I always take with a grain of salt) and what’s here and now. And, like I say, it was clear. No vague references to stuff that they think will change—just a super clear message: multi-screen. Or, as us programmers see it—both an opportunity and a total pain to do layout stuff. Still, there’s lots of opportunities—both now and coming soon.
The day 2 keynote was great. I heard a lot of people griping that it was a lot of fluff and not enough content. True: if they had just showed a PowerPoint presentation they could have covered all the same details. But instead, the Adobe folks exercised their creativity… they invested in the creative industries to which they sell… and they really focused on showing developers how they could make MONEY. I think they’ve always tried this in very indirect ways. Now it’s like “see, do this and that and I think we’ll all make money!” The whole Adobe app store (called something else but I tuned it out) was the weakest offering. Basically the pitch was “you know how there’s sooo many app stores? What can you do? Hey, we know… use OUR app store aggregator thingy.” Yeah, my favorite part of all that was that you can sign up today… then next year (when I imagine they’ll modify it to become whatever it will become… because it sure ain’t ready now) you can get a FREE account for 1 year. To what? I’m not saying the thing (whatever it is) isn’t going to be awesome but, man, make it clear or wait till it’s ready.
The only criticism I’d have for the day 2 keynote is they could have made it more clear what things are possible now… which are new things… and which are “coming soon”. My biggest fear is someone will listen too much to those complaining about the format and next year they won’t be nearly as creative.
Finally, free stuff. It’s not like it was my idea or that I’m super bright (though I did create this poster months ago). I do wonder if the givers of devices might have been better off to just say “if you want one, ask us” vs. “you’re getting one, take it”. But still, I know for me it has influenced one real project and at least one personal project.

The venue was better than the venue for MAX 2007 in Chicago… that was just nuts (so big and spread out). But, still, I can’t stand this LA venue. I hadn’t even realized there was a hotel right on site (I swear it wasn’t there last year). I don’t really mind the bus ride THAT much (seeing how I got to practice my Handbills Delivered act)… but still, it’s lame. Ultimately, that venue is still too spread out. Compare it to the Moscone South—basically just two hallways. Personally, I go to MAX for social reasons and LA is just too spread out. The pavilion was ok though. And, really, I liked the conference as a whole—so I’m just pointing out what could be improved.

As always, MAX was a load of fun.
I didn’t bother with any pranks this year—see 2008. This year I had a performance “Handbills Delivered” (see my earlier post containing a video). Perhaps most amusing was my interactions with security guards—such as this one with the hotel security: hotel_security.mp3 (I was just practicing at this point and the audience was told ahead of time what I was doing—they agreed etc.) What’s amazing is that apparently I’m just so convincing… even at this point when I was not very good at it!
Anyway, I did learn to become aware of my surroundings and ask/warn in advance of doing my thing. Warning to those in various large cities around the world: In 2011 I’ll be appearing several times…on the street etc. Watch for details.
As previously mentioned the party was really lame. They had some band that is popular with the kids—but it was on a PARKING GARAGE! Compare this to the location of past years’ parties:
– Salt Lake Olympics skating rink
–Disney’s California Adventure
–Universal Studios
–de Young Museum AND the science museum (wow, try to top that party!)
I don’t mean to complain—I mean the “LA Live” thing last year wasn’t terrible… but standing around on a parking garage just wasn’t great.

Adobe MAX 2010 follow-up links and resource downloads

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Here are various updates and downloads to which I referred during the Adobe MAX 2010 conference this week.  Soon, I plan to have another post where I review things and include funny stories about the life of a traveling Handbill Delivery Device Salesman.

@phillip Puzzle Page winner:
After about 5 months and 3000 puzzle pages delivered (see “Puzzle Page Printed”), I finally did the drawing and Ian Topping won!  Congratulations and incase anyone (justifiably) feels like they want proof–here’s a clip I filmed in public after the drawing:

(download) Thinking in ActionScript Slides:
I did an authorized conventional break-out session for Adobe Max on Monday October 25th at 5pm.  Good time to get some Zss–which of course I don’t take offense to (like I would if it were one of my regular students).   I got the ratings from the evaluations (just the numbers–not the written comments).  The average was above 4/5!  That’s the best I’ve gotten so far at a MAX (people are usually brutal with me–which, I respect… though honestly it’s mainly the written comments that I value most… and I haven’t seen yet).  In any event–thanks for turning them in!  I had 87 people actually fill out the evaluation which is great.  Alas, I’m still not rated a “Max Master” like R Blank (who was quick to send me his evals to prove he retains this rating).

Anyway… here are two links:
A pdf of all the slides
An interactive .swf (though, you may not know which things are interactive–which is why I made the .pdf too)

Novelty “Reserved” Placecards
These were a lot of fun though some people didn’t realize how much fun… I ran out of all of them (except “in search of Director users”).  The “Jaded CF Programmers ONLY” (sic on the oxymoron) went the fastest… “Rejected CF Programmers ONLY” when second fastest.  But, anyway, just print the link below and cut them out–use card stock for a more effective joke.  Requires no comedic training and can be a load of fun.

Download the pdf of Novelty Reserved Placecards

Finally, in case you didn’t catch my act… or you saw one of the more-bad ones… here’s a “less bad” one that I recorded:
Also available at the handy url:

ActionScript Hero interview of my at Flash and the City

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Includes hints for @phillip’s Puzzle Page:

Flex Poster Boy

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

In getting ready for Flash and the City, I figured I might want to start using the Flex Framework as a way to simplify the complexity of ActionScript 3.  Little did I know that when printed at about 6 point font, the framework takes 24 square feet!

Adobe MAX 2009 (My session links)

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Here are links to my presentation recordings and promised downloads.  It’s also all listed at

AS3: Tastes Good and is Good for You Too!

session recording

session recording (tv.adobe) (and below)

whole thing (presentation, script, and downloads)

Just downloads

Video Production on the Cheap (FITC Unconference):

on youtube (in three parts)


Monday, September 28th, 2009

References FITC and Influxis

VIP Ticket Winners of #whymax contest (updated daily for 10 days)

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Having awarded the free admission ticket for my contest  now I begin awarding one VIP seating “voucher” meaning you get a reserved seat up close at the Adobe MAX keynotes!  For non-geeks this may seem uninteresting–but based on past MAXs this is really nice.

Reminder: Adobe employees may enter this  contest .  Also consider the fact that in past MAXs such employees were relegated to a closed-circuit feed (and I was once stopped because my badge was misprinted as an Adobe employee).

Anyway, I’ll add one new one every day until all 10 are awarded:

Final update: 10th place mesh2325 (  )

29 September 9th place radleymarx ( )

28 September: 8th place  wadearnoldt8 ( )

25 September: 7th place brimelow ( )

24 September:
6th  abdulqabiz ( )

23 September:
5th  airdeck ( )
4th  flashbum ( )

21 September:
3rd place:  WeAreAjar  ( )

Tied for 1st and 2nd:


Free Ticket Finalists

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

For the contest, today I get to decide who wins the free pass!  Then, every new day I’ll award one VIP seat.  This means, if you don’t win today, you can still enter a new video up until I’m done giving out VIP seats (about 10 days from now).  (See contest details including the fact the VIP seat can only be used if you’re already in the conference.)

Anyway, I’ve narrowed down the finalists to my favorite 5.  Note, these are not my videos. And, note they are in reverse chronological order:






Lee’s Office Space

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Here we’re given a rare glimpse at Adobe evangelist Lee Brimelow actually working!

Portland Creative Conference 2009–it’s back!

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Having attended this year’s Portland Creative Conference I can confidently say, it’s back–really back.  For all I know, last year’s event was awesome too.  I attended the years 1995-2001 and always found it rejuvenating and inspiring.  (Sure, I could criticize things here and there–but it was a great conference and I was sad when it went away.)  This year’s event indicates there’s so much potential that I can’t imagine it’s not back for good.

I have lots of constructive criticism which I’ll save to the end–first, let me say a word or two about each of the presentations:

On Your Feet:
I tend to hate these “get up and mingle with your neighbor” things.  I didn’t hate this one, but –luckily–the later oyf stuff made up for the slightly uncomfortable morning presentation.  For instance, I LOVED the song (about The Artist’s Way) and the end-of-the-show recap/improv thing.  I am totally going to steal that somehow.

Dan Wieden: big message “you have to fail to learn”. I already knew this of course–but hearing it from him and hearing how it integrates into his agency was nice.  Plus, his comfort level presenting made it very personal. With humility, he both explained that he knows “everything’s changing” at the same time admitting that he doesn’t really know anything.  (Which was another message: you should come to work every day realizing there are game-changers that have taken place while you slept.)  I love the one question he got regarding where have they failed (and he brought up that Nike ad–I think it was Nike–where the woman out runs a crazed killer).

Jen Jako:
Inspiring and very sincere person–but, with all due respect, I have to say that she didn’t fully receive the message (that I personally believe is the point of the conference) that she should talk about how she finds creativity or gets unblocked.  It wasn’t a terrible presentation by any means and I think I learned something but it just didn’t reach me personally.

Flash Choir: I feel totally bad for them because they were probably scheduled (though not on the schedule) but they performed AFTER the scheduled noon break.  Their thing was cool.  But, when they went on to the second song I felt it was more a “flash hostage situation” than a “flash choir”.

Jerry Ketel:
Super effort and very good message but slightly rocky delivery.  He had some hilarious jokes but a huge flaw was that he (nor any presenter) seemed to be in control of the slides.  This affected the timing on his jokes.  Whatever–it wasn’t bad and you have to give him props for cross dressing!

Teresa Drilling: Go RIT Tigers!  She was awesome.  At first I was turned off by some of her biography stuff–sort of hard not to sound like you’re bragging when you have such a record as she does.  And, really, it’s nice to hear a bit about her background as I hadn’t done my homework.  Still, she got into some really great insights sharing what she does and how… and she focused on creativity.  Also, she did an excellent job explaining the time-shift you go into while animating.  (Something very similar to programming–as you program in such tiny steps–but something I’ve never seen explained so well.)  She was perhaps the best communicator–though, Larry Brooks has such a presence… –wait a second–this isn’t a competitive sport.

Emek: By far the most inspiring for me.  What’s interesting is my skills and specific interests aren’t even close to what he does–but still–wow!  I had never seen his work but that totally blew me away.  Then hearing about the process and his research was a great treat.  It was an excellent mix of showing his stuff, with his craft process, with his art process, plus stories about various projects.  It also enjoyed the satire in so much of his work.  And, I like the whole artifact aspect (300 prints per project).  Later I learned that Portland is a bit of a rock poster capital–that’s cool.  One interesting take-away for me was that I actually am into making posters too!  I have been handing out my newsletter for years… and more recently made a wanted poster and a handbill.  (I don’t think I’ll link to the handbill because my rule is I only hand it out in person.)

Larry Brooks: What’s amazing to me is I totally don’t remember meeting him when I interned at CMD in 1988 nor when I did contract work in the mid 90s.  I just think I would have remembered him as I’m pretty sure I met him.  He was an excellent communicator and I think he may have really found his calling by teaching people how to write.  I thought his message about how if you want to go pro with writing it’s equivalent to going pro in golf might be taken as a downer–like “give it up if you aren’t going to be the best” but I don’t think that was his point.  I really enjoyed it and think I learned a lot from his presentation… the big thing I can say is that no one could have been in that audience and not been listening to him.

Bill Oakley: I feel like a bit of a boob because I met him in advance of his presentation and didn’t recognize his name.  Not like I’d bow to him but I’d give him well deserved props and probably point him to my recent Simpsons/39th street parody.  But, as a presentation it was very very good. It was just shy of excellent for reasons I can’t really identify.  I think I learned a lot about his process but maybe not so much about “creativity”.  Maybe I’m nitpicking.  Maybe the intro montage of his work freaked me out too much as it didn’t have clear delineations between the different samples.

Conference overall: Like I said above: great job and great conference.  I think the biggest thing is how they seem to communicate to the speakers that the presentations should be about creativity and process–not “how to” or just showing off their work.  This aspect should continue.

So, for the constructive criticisms (in no particular order):

Make the presenters operate laptops directly… or, if they’re going to have an offstage assistant advancing the slides, do some major rehearsing.  As it was, it was awkward and affected timing and such–plus it messed up some of the presenters.  (Way more than if they had had to monkey with their own laptops.)

Get a real projector–is that the best the Newmark Theatre has to offer?  Geez–not to be a projector snob but that thing was dark.

Get a decent playback computer or figure out why the videos were lurching.  Not a huge issue compared to my other criticisms.

Find a system to communicate elapsed time to the presenters–like hold up a card that says “10″ when they have 10 minutes remaining.  In fact, you stayed on time pretty well–but it’s actually possible to stay on time perfectly.  I think returning to a two-day format would be better for this… plus you could include more networking time.

Consider moving to a weekday
.  I think it makes for a more professional crowd.  Not saying the crowd was a bunch of yahoos–but, especially if it’s going to be a one-day conference, I’d personally prefer a weekday.  Just my preference.

Lose the “no video recording” rule.  What’s up with that?  Don’t you know, it’s the you-tube-ic age? Please don’t explain how there’s copyright issues because unless someone shows up with a tripod and heavy duty video equipment it’s not like anyone’s going to steal anything.  I could go on–but the bottom line is that I know most speakers would like the exposure as should the conference itself.  Exposure that can only be achieved by a bunch of people posting clips of what happened.  In fact, I think it’s valid to question whether the whole event actually took place if there’s no video of it online 24 hours after the fact.  If there are truly some difficult issues that lead you to this policy please consider finding a nice alternative–I’m sure you can.

Consider a bigger auditorium if you need to resort to taping off special seats for the VIPs.  Geez–how many seats did you have taped off anyway?  Maybe a reminder that this is Portland is in order.

Finally, the following is hard to say, but maybe don’t have so many (in this case I think all) presenters from Portland.  The problem saying this is that none of the presenters this year were anything less than industry leading luminaries.  Seriously, they all deserved to be there.  But, still, I think it’s worth getting some perspective from outside Portland.  It turns out, if every year you could have the same quality lineup then I’d say don’t change it.  But, just as you shouldn’t require the speakers come from outside Portland, please don’t require they come from here.

Don’t anyone hate me for this or my other suggestions.  First off, most people know to say thank you for any sincere criticism… plus, I’ve been wrong–so I could be wrong on many of the points I made here.