My Full Frontal ’09 escapades – The JavaScript conference

I’m (almost) just back from Full Frontal 09, and man, did I have a good time! 🙂

Conference takes

First of all, I have to say that I genuinely believe that Full Frontal 09 was absolutely fantastic! As I kept on telling people afterwards, all of the other speakers really stepped up and delivered, and everyone made fantastic performances. I feel very privileged to get to share this experience with everyone there, and honored to have been a part of this line-up and first time around for this event.

A picture of me during my presentation

Picture by Danny Hope

What made it so good?

Asides from the speakers really doing a god job, I think factors like an absolutely awesome crowd – laughing, interacting, being on board for every detail – together with being in a cinema with oh-so-comfortable chairs really contributed it. Also, having just one track kept everyone a lot more focused on what was currently being presented, and also resulting in less running in doors etc. For speakers, it’s great to get this focus, and for attendees they know what they will be about to see, and won’t hesitate about missing out on some other presentation.

Only thing missing, I’d say, was some sort of joint lunch so everyone could mingle and talk about the morning’s presentations and network in general.

Speakers’ dinner and pre-party

The speakers were invited to a dinner the night before the conference at the restaurant In Vino Veritas in Brighton, and I thought it was a really nice evening with great food! All speakers bar Stuart Langridge were there (because he was flying in Friday morning), plus Remy Sharp, Julie Sharp and Natalie Downe.

After the dinner, we joined the pre-party/pub crawl, and met some quite nice people! For instance, fellow Swede Peter Svensson, Liz Warner and also Mike de Boer and Lieke Arends of

After the last pub closing, some of us – Chris Heilmann, Mike de Boer, Lieke and Peter Svensson – decided to go down to the sea-front and, by chance, the Doughnut. I got an idea to walk all the way out on the pier and look at the water, when a couple of exceedingly high waves came in and totally sprayed me with water. Dried most of it off, but still felt like the sticky floor of a movie theater on the way back to the hotel, with a salty taste haunting me…

The conference and talks

A picture of me and Chris Heilmann just before the conference started

Picture by Danny Hope

Christian HeilmannFrontloaded and zipped up – do loose types sink ships? (slides on SlideShare)
Christian opened the day in a splendid manner, talking about the potential with JavaScript, and made the important move of pointing out that most problems and security issues aren’t actually because of JavaScript at all.
Robert Nyman – JavaScript: From Birth to Closure (slides on SlideShare)
I think my presentation about JavaScript history and then more advanced topics went really well! I was relaxed and excited about talking, and was in a really good state of mind + the fantastic crowd really helped in making me enjoying it! Sure, some parts could always be better, but overall I was quite pleased.
Peter-Paul KochW3C Widgets (slides on SlideShare)
As most of know, PPK must have some kind of sadistic streak in him with his endless testing of web browsers, and in this case, mobile phones and their web browsing capabilities. Great tests, although at the time, it really scares me about doing more focused development for mobile web sites.
Stuart Langridge – New things that HTML5 provides to JavaScript hackers
Due to a late lunch, I missed the beginning of Stuart’s talk, but managed to see the latter half. He gave a good introduction to the cool things you can know do in most web browsers, and also inspired about working with the open technologies, as opposed to closed-in solutions like Silverlight and Flash (which he compared to the Death Star in Star Wars).
Todd KlootsMore accessible user interfaces with ARIA (slides in a ZIP file)
Todd was talking about using ARIA in ways to improve the accessibility of a web user interface, and also talked about the very important fact that most assistive devices do have JavaScript enabled, and that we need to think more about keyboard navigation options in web pages.
Jake ArchibaldOptimising where it hurts (slides on SlideShare)
Jake was absolutely awesome! I love humor in presentations, which he had aplenty, and he also complemented it with very interesting facts about performance. Something he also brought up was questioning things most people seem to take for granted, but shouldn’t – everyone should test themselves to see how things actually work. Amongst all great presentations, Jake stole the day in my eyes.
Simon Willison – Surprise presentation (Simon’s blog post about his talk)
Simon got really inspired by Node.js, and just three days before the conference, he decided to do a completely other talk. It was an impressive demonstration in using virtually no slides, moving around in virtual desktops, terminal and web browser windows.

Before my talk, I was very happy to see my friend icaaq being there, and during lunch I also got the chance to meet my old friend Chris Mills, who I was meeting the second time this year!

A picture of me and Chris Mills

Picture by Chris Heilmann

The after-party

At the after-party, I got the pleasure of first having dinner at the same table as Michael Mahemoff (of books and Ajaxian fame). Then, my friend Jim O’Donnell had come down to Brighton just for the party, which was great! I also spent some considerable time talking to the very nice Sander Aarts and Wilfred Nas, and at least I got the chance to talk about a minute with Jeremy Keith.

Paul Downey also showed me his completely wonderful notes of the talks, and we spoke very briefly.

A picture of a page in Paul Downey's note book

Picture by Paul Downey

Just before she left the party, Henny Swahn came by to say hi, and said that she read my blog. Tired, confused (and any other attribute applicable), I thought she said she “read my book“, so I eagerly tried to convince her I haven’t written any book with repeating “no book, no book”. Sorry Henny, please don’t stop reading my blog! 🙂

After saying our good-byes to everyone, which took a long time, Chris Heilmann and I slowly made our way back to the hotel again.

People I never got to see

There were also a number of people I had hoped to meet, but unfortunately missed out on: Patrick H. Lauke, who got ill and missed the after-party, Dave Child, who had to go back to work after half the day, Andrea Giammarchi, who couldn’t make it to the event and Dan Webb, who was there, but I apparently just missed. Next time, guys!

Going home

Getting up fairly early morning, I was getting ready to take the train up to London, Victoria Station, and then on to Heathrow to catch my flight. I decided to leave Brighton 4 hours before my flight was due to take off to have good time and no stress.

It started in the ticket line in Brighton, which took some time, so I missed the “fast” train, and had to take the “slow” train instead. And boy, slow really meant SLOW! It stopped everywhere, and the hordes getting on at the Gatwick station with all their bags didn’t make it better; the train was completely packed. Once we finally reached Victoria Station, it took, I kid you not, 25 minutes just to get a ticket to the tube! Trying to get to the subway trains also proved to be harder than I thought: there were only two ticket entrances, and one of them was out of order, so there was a long line to get through. About three persons before I reached it, the other one went out of order too! So, literally no way to get in! Luckily I managed to climb it, and got the help from someone catching my suit case (yes, without stealing it).

Getting slightly stressed now, with a slow train and slow ticket sales for the tube, it felt good to at least be on the tube on the way to Heathrow. Or so I thought. Halfway there, there was an announcement that the tube train had broken down and that we had to get off (luckily at a station), and wait for the next train. People swearing, and me really starting to get worried. Called home to Fredrika to make sure what Terminal to go to at least, so I could save time on any potential mistake there.

Once we arrived at Heathrow, the long automatic walking thing (you know, like a horizontal escalator, sort of) was broken, so we all had to walk/run a pretty long distance. Then I reached an escalator, but it was broken too, so I had to run up the stairs. Totally panicking about missing my flight now, it really took me by surprise when check-in, baggage drop, boarding card check, security and then passport check altogether took 15 minutes. Go Heathrow!

Therefore, I took some time buying gifts for my children, wandering around, and buying a couple of chicken and bacon wraps and a couple of bottles of water, to have a quick lunch. Saw that I was to take off from gate 9, and according to the signs, it seemed to be close. So, I decided to have my lunch, and then 20 minutes before take-off, walk to my gate. Finished eating, just looked up and on the screens it read GATE CLOSING. NOOOO!!!!!! From panic, to having time, to missing the flight on the gate closing extremely early! This could not be happening!

Started to desperately run towards gate 1-9, according to the signs. Ran uphill, and suddenly only gate 3 and 5-7 were options. What? Managed to stop someone with a badge to ask where the hell gate 9 was, and got pointed back just the way I came. Ran down the small slope again, and there it was, no marking whatsoever and looked like a janitor’s closet. Being the last one, I managed to just board before they closed the gate…

It seems like this gate-closing business was in relation to the plane staff wanting to get home early, because when we landed in Stockholm it was 35 minutes before the scheduled arrival! Oh well, home sweet home. 🙂


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