Brand-new presentations to be written in web technologies, eg with Vadim’s cross-browser Shower
Become a better scripter
After last year’s heroic lost cause of attempting to prevent people using the term “HTML5″ for everything, this year I shall be putting my finger in the dyke of everyone shouting for joy when a vendor uses first-mover advantage or market dominance to attempt vendor lockin
Learn to love Git. This one may prove tricky.
Diet – lose 10 kilos. This is closely related to…
Get my next karate belt, and train at least once a week.
Read more classic literature (I have 200 unread books on my shelves)
Take a photo every day
Play rhythm guitar in a band
Learn to play the bass guitar part to The Beatles “Rain” as well as this bloke does.
Regular readers will be familiar with my unique blend of misanthropy and parsimony, and will no doubt blame that for the fact that no festive card from me has dropped through their letterbox, especially if you’ve sent me one (thank you for that).
But they’d be wrong. It just seems to me a little wasteful to transport bits of paper to faraway towns or distant countries (half of our family is overseas) just to send you pre-printed religiously-based greetings which then go in a landfill.
So I don’t send cards. Instead, I donate what I’d usually spend on paper and postage to a charidee where it does good instead of polluting the place.
So, your Xmas card this year is a small part of a donation to Medecins Sans Frontieres which is “an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters.”
For Father’s Day, my daughter painted a picture of me riding a unicorn, with Turkish dancing girl attendant. I’m killing two goose-stepping Nazis with a “lazor gun” below a caption reading “with the power of HTML5″.
It’s going on the door of my newly-decorated office.
My second SxSW is over, and all I have are some photos, fewer memories than I have photos, and an aircon throat.
I have mixed feeling about South By Southwest. There’s the torrent of emails they send you for months leading up to the event, requiring you to register to their different systems. Once there, I get little time to meet new people and little time to spend with old friends because the conference is too big.
I get pretty nervy for my talk, which this year went well (slides). I usually include a lot of humour but our American friends have a very different sense of humour than Brits, so I play safe and also add liberal quantities of what I call useful information, as SxSW has more than its fair share of circle-jerking panels heavy in “inspiration” but devoid of content. The trick seems to have paid off; I had a full house in Ballroom C and a hundred people lined up outside in case other people left.
The best thing about SxSW is meeting our users. Our PR folks kitted us out with a huge giant rotating Opera O, so it was easy to find our booth and, once there, developers and consumers asked us everything from how to edit a speed dial on a BlackBerry to how to do remote debugging with Opera Dragonfly, We had comfy chairs at the booth, too, leading to a steady stream of visitors from Our New Best Friends, such as chums from Adobe, Microsoft and Google.
I met a penguin
two Slappas (for those who don’t know, a Slapper is a woman of easy virtue, so making two booth babes wander around with t-shirts marked “Slappa” is unfortunate)
Down at my Dad’s house, I found some old cassettes of demos I made in the early 90s. So bad luck, blog watchers; expect to find the tech content of this blog spoiled with hissy wow-and-fluttery vanity posts.
Anyway, here’s one of the favourite songs I wrote during that period. I was obsessed with TS Eliot’s poem Marina, a monologue inspired by Shakespeare’s Pericles. So I ripped that off, nicked a line or two from The Waste Land, pinched a bit of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and, while the literary store detective was looking the other way, ran off with a bit of Dylan Thomas too.
It’s a 4-track demo, hastily recorded in order to test out the harmonies swirling in my head, and the cassette suffers from being in a cupboard for 20 years, but maybe you’ll like it.
I’m a ship becalmed after stormy seas.
You’ve been silver and green;
I love you best now for your clarity.
You sing to me in sharpened keys.
You bring me emeralds and harmonies.
I will be here for you if you’ll be here for me
Sometimes, the tide turns
and everything becomes monochrome.
Your wet hair dries in the warm sea breeze.
Lie still and dream
Of the mountains – there you feel free.
Sail across still memories
Under sleep where all the waters meet.
This music crept upon the water to me
I’m a machine
Powered by your electricity.
You ebb and flow with melody;
You bring me emeralds and energy.
What seas, what shores,
what great rocks?
Sieze what’s yours;
What grey rocks?
What islands? What water laps at the bow?
The sea’s daughter, you ebb and you flow;
The sea’s daughter, in emerald green;
The sea’s daughter, my Aquamarine.
Lie still, be calm, and dream.
O my daughter.
A decade later, my wife had a dream of a baby girl swimming to her through water so took a pregnancy testing kit the same day. 8 months later, our daughter was born. We named her Marina.
I’ve travelled to Sweden, Poland, Japan and Australia and met many fabulous people. Special shout outs go to my fellow HTML5 Doctor Oli Studholme, whom I met for the first time last month and who shares the mantle of Nicest Guy On The Planet with Roger Hudson, who organised and guided Steve Faulkner and me for our Australian tour, and who has a fascinating store of traveller’s tales from his days in the movies; he was a scriptwriter for the legendary Aussie soap The Young Doctors (here’s a photo of one his original scripts) and now works in accessibility. From screenwriters to screenreaders; what a career trajectory!
Personally I’ll be glad to see the end of 2010. My Dad had heart surgery. I got sick. My two much-loved grandmothers died; they were both very old, and died without pain and without lingering which is the way to do it, but it’s odd not buying those Xmas presents this year. Tragically, a friend’s baby daughter died.
Regular readers might recall that I don’t send Christmas cards: polluting the planet to transport someone else’s pre-prepared greetings to be stuffed in a landfill seems like a bad way to spend my money, so I give donation to a charity instead. This year, that charity is Amnesty International because we need freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom from cruelty.
In the UK our government wishes to censor the Internet. In France, the home of chic, they have laws telling women what they can wear and, flushed with the success of that, the government has taken to rounding up members of an ethnic group for resettlement in the East.
Meanwhile, the junta that illegally controls Burma had a pretend election that – surprise! – they won again. Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, languishes in a Chinese jail as a political prisoner. Mad people in the USA are calling for the extra-judicial murder of Julian Assange over Wikileaks. Iran, jealous over the publicity that Sudan got for its superb theocratic misogyny video, sentenced Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to death by stoning although she was acquitted of any crimes. In Malawi, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were sentence to 14 years in prison for being gay and showing no remorse about it.
So instead of sending a card to you, I’m sending some cash to Amnesty; please consider doing the same for me.
I’m very much enjoying Aus. It feels like England done right: good weather, laid-back attitude and fabulous hot-pants (not me, obviously). The only downside is the vast pantheon of comically venomous creatures that lurk round every corner. In Canberra I was even warned about evil swooping magpies.
The tour so far has been great; sell-out crowds and really, really clued-up (“cluey”) attendees and great people like Russ Weakley, Ruth Ellison who I’ve long admired but never met.
The flight from Canberra to Melbourne yesterday was somewhat fraught; we took off two hours late due to what was variously reported as “mechanical trouble”, “bad weather in Melbourne” and “a catering mishap that was particularly unpleasant”. (At least it wasn’t exploding engines.) On arrival the doors wouldn’t open and the fuselage rocked as the ground staff attempted to bash the doors open with the airbridge. We arrived at the venue with only minutes to spare.
Now I’m having a weekend (shifted forward by a day as I fly to Perth on Sunday morning) in Melbourne with my old and dear friend Pippa. We’ve already seen a park full of flying foxes and are off to see Kangawallabats at the zoo tomorrow. Tonight I’m cooking us pork stirfry noodles and gyoza and there is a case of beer to drink.
My paternal grandmother died two weeks ago, after 90 healthy years. She fell and broke her hip; a week after a hip replacement operation, she was short of breath, had a heart attack and never awoke.
This is the tribute I read at the funeral service.
My Nan was born in a pub in Sunderland in 1920 (see photo of her aged 4, in 1924). Her parents, Jim and Polly Walker then moved to nearby Ryhope to help run her grandfather’s pub, The Prince of Wales, on her mother’s side of the family. These were the days where an extended family was the norm…for instance Elsie’s father had 9 siblings who all lived locally and were in tune with all the various family triumphs and tragedies.
My Dad remembers Elsie telling how much she enjoyed her early childhood along with her 3 sisters and one brother – Jim (you’ll find that the name Jim, Jimmy or James crops up a lot in our family) – and even more so when her father took over his own pub the Canterbury Arms in Seaham Harbour, then a thriving mining village on the N.E. coast just south of Sunderland.
In 1934 her older sister, Peggy who was in service in a large house in Gloucester Road, London became ill and Elsie was sent to deputise for her until she recovered. Imagine it! A young girl of 14 in London by herself with a class of people she barely knew. She didn’t last; it was the first time she showed her mettle, rebelled against authority (she hated snobs) and had to be sent home.
When she was 17 she started nurses training at a local sanatorium devoted victims of TB which was then prevalent. Again her stroppy side took over and a kindly Matron advised her to quit nursing as she couldn’t respond to discipline or authority. Must run in the family!But as luck would have it, she met the Grant family who ran a local chemist shop. They became very fond of her and she enjoyed working with them. Her father was not so happy – she and her younger sister Tess were typical young women who loved dressing up, going dancing and, of course, meeting the boys. Many a time he was left pacing behind the front door because his ‘girls’ were still saying goodnight to their latest squeeze on the doorstep after 10pm. How brazen.
But then she met my granddad – another Jim – and started going steady. But war broke out in 1939 and she was sent to work in a munitions factory as part of the war effort. Strangely enough she was posted to a factory in Solihull in the W. Midlands which is only some 3 miles from where my own family and I now live.
Both Elsie and Jim were unhappy about their enforced separation and decided to marry. Jim was a miner at that time and in a reserved occupation. This meant Elsie could give up her war work and return home to take care of him and the household – doesn’t that sound strange these days?
Anyway they married in August 1941, scraped a home together only for it to be destroyed by a nearby bomb in 1942. In 1944 in another home, Elsie’s first son, Jeffrey, my father, was born on her own birthday, 6th June which was also the day of the Normandy D-Day landings. Two years later Colin followed on 21st April.
In the mid ’50’s my Grandpa was diagnosed with the miner’s curse – lung disease although it was only in the early 10% stage then. So bravely, they decided to up sticks and move down to Hampshire where Elsie’s younger sister Betty had gone in 1954 on her traitorous marriage to a Southerner!
A bold and yes, a brave one considering the times – but a good one as it turned out for them and for my dad and his brother, Colin. They grew to love the New Forest and other members of Elsie’s family made similar moves including her older sister Peggy and niece, Moira.
In the late 70’s Elsie and Jim were offered the chance to return ‘home’ to the N.E. and decided to take it. Not a good move – too much had changed, so after some 5 years and Jim’s early retirement at 62, they went back to Hampshire. They were happy there for the next couple of years until Jim had a sudden and fatal heart attack on my 17th birthday, a date I can’t ever forget.
It would be fair to say that a large part of Elsie died then as well. Although she maintained a cheerfulness and generosity in so many ways she was, I think, inwardly lonely but nonetheless grateful to have the supportive love of her sons and, further down the line her daughters in law, grandsons and their wives and, in the last eleven years, four beautiful great grandchildren, two of whom are called James and William – her own husband’s names.
Well Nan, We’ll all miss you but maybe you’ll be sitting somewhere snug right now with a glass of wine in one hand and a fag in the other. You often used to say “I think I’ll just have a little relax”. Well, now you can.
My family and I had 10 days in Hisarönü, near Fethiye where I used to live in the early 90s. The resort itself was as I remembered it: a depressing mass of restaurants offering “full English breakfasts with real pork sausage!” but the hotel had a swimming pool, the mountains gave some cooling breeze, and it was easy to get to Fethiye, Ölüdeniz or the melancholy beauty of the deserted Greek village, Kayaköy.
I tracked down my old friend Asiye, who taught me lots of Turkish in 1993, and who I hadn’t seen since the year 2000 when we bumped into each other, utterly by chance, in the street in Bangkok. (Her Fethiye clothing shop, Şaman, has the strapline “there are no coincidences”.)
I think we can safely say that in 17 years neither Asiye nor I have changed one jot. Then: