A week after the one in Sheffield, I’m at Liverpool’s first BarCamp, this one sold out/released all 200 tickets they had available, held at the Novas Contemporary Urban Centre. It’s a great venue, which is a quite recent addition although I’d lived in Liverpool for years had never really noticed the building – a massive old warehouse.
I think one of the things I love about these events is that you never know exactly what you’ll get. There’s a loose structure and formula to them but because of the different set of people involved, each on has it’s own character. I caught Andy Brown’s session about starting up a business, which kind of solidified a few thoughts I already had and showed ways on really breaking your idea down and facing the realities of getting something off the ground. Phil‘s session on how to do presentations was great BarCamp fodder; many people either won’t've done a presentation before or not since school/university so getting the benefit of his experience and training is really useful.
As I’ve found recently, that the discussion sessions can be so much more interesting (to me), I thought I’d go that route this time with one called ‘The Good, The Band and The Fugly‘; going over why so many band’s websites are bad, what they get right/wrong, people’s experiences with their favourite band’s online, etc. It’s kind of research and because music and the web are areas I love being in and around. There was a lot of great feedback, which I’ll try and remember and maybe blog in more detail about later.
There were a couple of iPhone development talks, which actually complemented each other from Dave Verwer and Phil Stringer. Dave’s walked us through the process he went through designing/creating an app and actually getting it available in the App Store. What he showed is that the process can be broken down into simple bits and that Apple give a lot of guidelines to follow to assist that, mostly due to the fact that they want to ensure consistent user experience. It sounds like a pain to get your app accepted in the store but then also to realise that once you’re there, it isn’t a marketing tool, it’s just a delivery platform so you still need to do everything you would normally do to promote a product.
Phil’s session walked through his app Coffee Buzz, which isn’t yet in the App Store but explained about the development of the idea, what seems to work on these devices and pricing it. We got a glimpse into using the iPhone SDK, which actually didn’t seem that bad and has a decent iPhone emulator, so I’ll be checking out doing some of that in the future.
I was pleased to hang around till the end of the sessions to catch Cristiano‘s session on Facebook App development. I’ve been starting to get my head around this and start the basic old ‘Hello World’ app but hearing someone explain the process they go through, the elements you need to consider in terms of when and where your app appears and the interaction with your server was invaluable. It’s this kind of exchange of ideas and knowledge which I love about BarCamps; hearing his presentation and asking a few (sometimes stupid) questions just speeds up the process of getting into FB dev.
The evening party was sponsored by Microsoft, which is actually quite unusual as the guy representing them confessed. There is a little, not exactly animosity, towards MS in the wider geek/web development community, which he recognised and it was a good move to get down to grass roots and get involved in a community event like this. Hopefully we’ll see them do this more. Although everyone has a preference for OS, coding languages or development platfoms/tools, we need to recognise MS’s involvement and give them the time we would to any other company in this field. There were DVDs and marketing materials about Silverlight and the like available but that’s not what it was about and it was discrete. Good on you Microsoft – from a new Mac user too ;)
I missed the party catching up with old friends but there were still a decent number of people around for the Sunday programme, which was great to see. I unfortunately missed Rich Quick’s session about how to present yourself/get more work as an agency/freelancer, which sounded cool but I floated between sessions and had a natter with some people while making myself ill on too many sweets and fizzy drinks the sponsors had provided – mission accomplished there! I had to opt out of playing Werewolf, which apparently raged on for hours. It was good to see a few familiar faces and meet a few new ones, as always!
Liverpool has changed so much in the year or so since I left it and I admit that I miss it. What had started to feel small and village like has become so much more, not only physically with Liverpool One but in the fact that with the Biennial and Capital of Culture, there’s some energy in the place. I’ll be dropping back over more frequently ;)