The JSConf.eu conference and my visit to Berlin

About a week and a half ago, I had the pleasure of speaking at JSConf.eu!

Background

Inspired by JSConf in the US, Jan Lehnardt, Malte Ubl and Holger Blank, decided to organize JSConf.eu. They gathered a stunning line-up of speakers, and I’m just happy I got to be one too!

My travel there

I got to the Arlanda airport in Stockholm in good time, had already checked in and got through security pretty quickly. Checked the board for my gate, and saw that it was just a couple of hundred meters away. Everything under control (or so I thought). As always when waiting for a flight, I wandered around, looking in shops, buying a couple of bottles of water.

About half an hour before my flight was due to take off, I walked to my gate, 10 C. When I got there, there was no attendant, but just a door to go through. On the other side of the door, the only sign I could see was “Exit”. Ok, that couldn’t be right. Looking the other way, there was an elevator, so I got in and rode it to the bottom floor.

I ended up in something that felt like an aquarium, down on ground level looking out a huge window at the airplanes being packed and tanked. There was a door, but needless to say, it was locked. All I could see was one enormous button, with a label saying that I should press it to get a transfer to Terminal 2 (I was in Terminal 5, from where virtually all international flights go). I pushed the button, a circle lit up around it, and nothing happened. It said that the transfer bus would take ten minutes, tops, to show up – no bus did.

Looking at the time now, with 25 minutes to take-off, I was starting to get worried. I decided to run up the flights of stairs next to me, and find someone to talk to. It basically went like this:

– How do I get to Terminal 2 the fastest way?
– Terminal 2? Take the transfer bus.
– But no bus is coming, and my plan leaves in 25 minutes!
– Oh.
– Can you you check where the transfer bus is?
She called, on an intercom, no less, the transfer bus department, but, surprisingly enough, they knew nothing about transfer buses…

– There must be another way to get there, right?
– Well, you could go out through customs again, run to Terminal 2, go through their own set of security, and run to the gate. But it’s pretty far, so I’m not sure you will make it in time.
– Ok, I’ll have to try at least. Can you please call them the gate and let them know I will be late?
– No, sorry, there’s no way for us to contact the gate.
WTF?! Really? No way? Highly convinced they could contact them, there was no time for an argument.
– Forget it, I’ll run then.

Running with my cabin bag on wheels (most of the time, just one of them touching the ground and the other in mid-air), and my overstuffed backpack with computer and lots of other things, I first got through customs and then onwards on my journey to Terminal 2. And let me tell you, Terminal 2 is far away from Terminal 5 at Arlanda. I don’t know how many doors and long empty corridors I ran through, but I was all drenched in sweat and gasping for air. Every time I felt I wouldn’t make it, I just pushed a little harder – I just had to.

Five minutes before take-off I got to security at Terminal 2, where they forced me to leave my water bottles I had bought at the other waiting area, which in theory is correct of them, but it still bothered me at that time, because they’re both behind security checks. Screw the bottles, I was going to make it, no matter what. Through security, I found my gate and got onboard the plane just in time.

And let me tell you, in the time of a certain flu going around, it is not a good thing to get on the plane, drenched in sweat with a nervous stare – on top of that, I also started coughing from the panic run. Oh well, no one was leaning over to my seat, at least, I can tell you that…

Once in Berlin I was sitting waiting around for Remy Sharp to show up with his flight from Copenhagen. Interestingly, I flew with Air Berlin, and was there even before time, I think, while Remy flew with the Scandinavian SAS and was late…

As soon as he had arrived, we got in a cab and went to the hotel. My hotel room looked really nice, although there was this hint of a smell of sewage, and the windows had been left opened. Not a good sign…

A picture of the surroundings close to the hotel I was staying at

Friday night dinner

I was really looking forward to Friday night, because it meant time to meet up with my good Danish friend Morgan Roderick, who is now living and working (contracting) for Nokia in Berlin (ironically, he lives in Sweden otherwise, but only places we have met is abroad). Morgan met up with me and Remy close to the subway station near our hotel, and he took us to a great Asian restaurant, which had all kinds of interesting dishes.

Once there, we met his British colleagues Toby and Andy, who were quite nice chaps, and after a while we were joined by one more of Morgan’s work friends, Magnus, who is from Sweden (and, of course, is very nice too). I really, thoroughly, enjoyed the evening, and it was the first time in quite some time that I actually felt relaxed. After a few hours of dinner, the Brits dropped of while the rest of us went into a cozy corner pub, with a funky interior (especially the bathroom!) and some weird music. Kind of gave the feel of being in Jackie Brown, or some other Tarantino movie.

A picture of the restaurant where we had dinner

After a fantastic evening, we got back to the hotel, and as is my usual fashion, I was doing some panic changes to my slide deck late into the night…

The conference, day 1

JSConf.eu was split up into two days, with lots of talks each day, and for the most of the time, dual tracks going on. Once I got there, I also managed to meet a number of fellow Swedes attending, where my friend Martin Lissmyr was one of them, and it is always nice to have Swedes around. For comfort and support, you know. :-)

Below are short takes on the sessions I managed to see.

Talks I attended

The Future of Web-Apps – Dion Almaer
Dion was supposed to give this talk with his compadre Ben Galbraith, but after Øredev, Ben got so sick that he actually had to cancel and go home to the US. I hope you are better now, Ben! Dion’s talk consisted of parts of the talk I saw Ben doing at Øredev, but also of other interesting things. I also, finally, got to see the wonderful Louis C.K. talk “Everythings Amazing & Nobody’s Happy”, which I had on my hard drive, but had failed to take the time to see. All in all, Dion did a great and inspiring keynote! I’m just sad that, both at Øredev and JSConf.eu, all I managed to do was say hi to Dion, but never talk.
CommonJS – JavaScript vs. Ruby, Python, Java, etc. – Kris Kowal
CommonJS is intended to “…building up the JavaScript ecosystem for web servers, desktop and command line apps and in the browser.” I think it’s great with such an initiative, but at the same time, it’s not a part of what I’m personally interested in, so I didn’t listen that intensely. From what I understood, though, the work with CommonJS is appreciated.
Building Desktop-Caliber Web Apps with Capuccino and Atlas – Francisco Tolmasky
This was a very interesting demo, and the things they are creating really seem awesome – some clever minds at work there. They also dropped the idea of using MHTML in Internet Explorer to serve everything in one HTTP request – quite cool! Part of me can’t help to wonder about all the generated code, though, but I haven’t had the time to check it out.
HTML5 JavaScript APIs – Remy Sharp
Remy was giving a talk about different APIs and cool features offered with HTML5 and surrounding technologies, and I think the options for developers were alluring – and if you were just paying attention, there was a lot of things covered in a short amount of time.
JavaScript – From Birth to Closure – Robert Nyman
Well, yes, naturally I was there – this was my talk. I realized during this talk that I’m not a professional speaker, at least not yet. Especially during the beginning of my talk, I let some details get to me that kind of threw my focus off (insignificant details I over-focused on, like weird position for me to stand at, it seemed like people weren’t getting my first couple of jokes etc). After a while I got a little bit better, but not as good as it felt at Øredev. Oh well, I hope I have learned something, and that people went away from my talk with at least something.
Extreme JavaScript Performance – Thomas Fuchs
Having done some performance testing with JavaScript and how web browsers react myself, I think it was a good talk with things to consider in the future for an optimal result.
ECMAScript – Douglas Crockford
Douglas gave a stunning talk about the history of ECMAScript, different twists and turns on the way, how IBM seem to be filled with just lawyers who focus on patents rather than offering something actually good etc. It was also about the future of ECMAScript, and how everyone will work together in small steps to make it better. Douglas is a fantastic story-teller, and it is mesmerizing sitting there listening to any of his talks – and this was the third talk this week for me seeing him!

A picture of the Twitter fail whale at the conference

Saturday night dinner

After the talks on Saturday, me and the jQuery crew, meaning, John Resig, Brandon Aaron, Jörn Zaefferer and Remy Sharp went out for dinner, and ended up at, of all places, an Australian restaurant at Potsdam Plaza in Berlin. Having never been there before, Potsdam Plaza seemed to be a spectacular place, and in the middle of it, there was this huge thing built up for the movie 2012 with waterfalls and all. I tried to get the team to cave in and acknowledge DOMAssistant‘s superiority, but it didn’t really happen… :-)

A picture of Potsdam Plaza

Party time

The event party was maybe a 10 minutes cold walk from Potsdam Plaza, and in there Nokia were sponsoring all alcohol – it seemed to be appreciated. :-)
Also there, I got to meet David Zschille who I had met my first time in Berlin back in March this year, at a Mozilla event. Unfortunately, the music was a bit loud, so not many conversations were, well, fluent in there.

I shared a cab back to the hotel with my friend Tom Hughes-Croucher and Nicole Sullivan, and got back, well, not too late, I think.

The conference, day 2

A bit tired, I got up later, and luckily enough, I got to share a cab to the conference venue with Steve Souders and Douglas Crockford. As I have mentioned before, both these gentlemen have been highly influential to my work and evolvement as a web developer, and having first met them at Øredev and now in Berlin, it was almost half a week of me stalking them, constantly asking questions, desperately hoping that some genius would rub off on me. So, thanks for putting up with me, guys! :-)

Talks I attended

Loading JS – even caveman can do it – Kyle Simpson
Kyle has being doing some really great work with LABjs, to tend to the problem of JavaScript loading blocking a web page, parallel loading and similar things. Quite nice!
End to End JavaScript – From Server to Client – Tom Hughes-Croucher
Tom was giving a talk of JavaScript on the server, how to improve the results of calls done with YQL with JavaScript and other things. Interesting, although not really something I personally work with on a day-to-day basis.
OOCSS – Nicole Sullivan
Nicole has some really interesting ideas with improving CSS, and she has a lot of experience to back her claims. Overall, I think she has great thoughts, although I’m not really on board with all her takes. I plan to cover OOCSS – Object-Oriented CSS – in a future blog post.
Unittesting JavaScript with Evidence – Tobie Langel
Poor Tobie got off to a bad start with a presentation file/program that gave him some grief, and as a fellow presenter, I really felt with him. Once that was sorted out, though, he have an introduction to unit testing with the Evidence framework.
JavaScript in Browser Performance – Steve Souders
Steve gave a talk very similar to the one he gave at Øredev, but my impression is that he was more on fire here, and that the crowd seemed to be more onboard with what he was talking about. Always inspiring!

A picture of me and Morgan at the conference

Going home

Unfortunately I had to leave before the last talk by John Resig about testing JavaScript to catch my plane home. Proudly, I can say, I managed to have a casual talk in German with the cab driver for a full thirty minutes to the airport. :-)

JSConf.eu was great, I applaud the initiative, and I sure hope it will happen again next year!

Please also take a look at My pictures of JSConf.eu 2009 and Berlin.

Posted in Developing,JavaScript,Speaking,Technology,Travel |

4 Comments

  • David says:

    Yes, the music was loud, so my voice was a bit rough at the next day. But the talks still where nice :)

  • It was a very good conference, and very good to see you again Robert :-)

    Hopefully we can meet in Sweden one day :D

  • Robert Nyman says:

    David,

    Next time, more quite place so we can talk properly. :-)

    Morgan,

    Yes, great meeting again!

    Maybe Sweden in the future, if you get lured back here… :-)

  • [...] First out the door was Øredev, where I got to share the stage and then hassle (read: befriend) two of my major inspirations: Douglas Crockford and Steve Souders – The Øredev 2009 Conference adventure. Just three days later, the first instance of JSConf.eu took place in Berlin, and although I felt my own presentation was mediocre at best (I did much better at the other events), it was quite a good place to meet a lot of JavaScript people – The JSConf.eu conference and my visit to Berlin. [...]

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