Notes

A Day with Shopify in Melbourne 2017

A Koala bear I shot during my stay in Melbourne

Arrived back from Melbourne yesterday, where I took photos at A Day with Shopify in Melbourne. I had a fabulous week in Australia and a great time meeting people I know and I got to know. A great end to a great year with wonderful people all around.

See my set of A Day with Shopify in Melbourne

The New Smashing Adventure Including Memberships and More

Screenshot of Smashing Magazine’s new website
Smashing Magazine launched their completely new design, having worked on it for more than 18 months

When I met Vitaly Friedman for the first time really, I was on a road trip with him to the New Adventures Conference in Nottingham. I can’t remember if we met before, or if that was really the first time, but this definitely was a time, where we got to know each other, being locked into a car for two or three days with five people. We had very intense discussions and I remember, that we chatted a lot about ideas we had and much, much more.

Later in 2011, I ran my very first beyond tellerrand in Düsseldorf and Vitaly was a speaker. That lead to Vitaly and me starting Smashing Conference in 2012 and me being the chair of the Smashing Magazine supervisory board nowadays. So yes, there is a strong connection and I admire Vitaly’s passion for what he does – though it can be difficult sometimes to be passionated as he is :D

Smashing Magazine Redesign and Relaunch

Though I haven’t been part of the whole redesign process, I have been at a couple of meetings, where we worked on it, sat down with Markus and Vitaly quite some time to brain storm many things and come up with new ideas or suggestions. I have seen how much attention to detail the whole process was having and how many times things have been changed to improve things or the user. Not only when it came to design or usability decisions, but also when it came to responsibilities for certain tasks after the relaunch or content-decisions concerning new features of the website. Andy Clark started working on the redesign and later Dan Mall took over. Many other people where were involved and the whole site is not yet finished, but very usable already. A lot of people criticised the usage of red as main color, so Smashing listened and added an option to switch to white for example. There are many hidden features, little details and cats to be found. Play around with the new website and report bugs or suggest new things on GitHub or via email.

Memberships

Smashing Magazine always was a place, were content had the main focus. But a Magazine like Smashing needs to also earn some money to be sustainable. Up until now ads were one thing to do this, even though people behind Smashing Magazine never were huge fans of ads at all. Of course, there are books and the Smashing Library and when starting Smashing Conference, another source of income was established, but certainly – as you ever ran an event – none that is anything like a money making machine. So, how could a Magazine make money to pay their authors, their team and everybody involved, but move aways from showing ads to their readers?

Many meetings, emptying brains over paper and digital note taking apps, finally Smashing Membership is here. I remember sitting at a coffee shop (it was a cocktail bar actually) with Markus and Vitaly, brain storming about which tiers should be created for members, how they could be packaged to be attractive and how to make it a no-brainer to become a Smashing Member. Discussing all this, the main subject we always came back to was, to get the existing Smashing community to actually become a real community with real benefits of being a member and feeling like being part of Smashing more than just paying for the content. It is hard to explain, but I am sure, and I actually know, that Vitaly and the rest of Smashing Magazine are working hard on making this happening. Creating a membership experience within the whole Smashing ecosystem.

The new design – Ugly? Good? Bad? Unusable? Great Usability?

Surely like with everything that is new and were people, for years, are used to a way something is, a new design of the website you always read and loved to visit is something crazy. You first impression is either Wow … great! or the complete opposite with Fucking hell! What is this?!. And I certainly understand this. But what if, instead of puking a quickly written ”That sucks” into the comments or on Twitter, you give it some time, let it rest, and then make a constructive about it? Make way more sense and might even change something into a direction you like. Right?

Don’t forget also, that this is just a start of a new website and it is not printed or set in stone, which means, things change over time. This new website certainly is far from being perfect and reading preferences are always a matter of taste. As is the reception of design. People responsible for this website worked damn hard on this and they want to make it a good experience and joyful. And with constructive critics you can actually help improving, what is not perfect yet. I myself have to say I do like the approach of it, I like the courage in trying something different and not do yet another standard website, where everybody is complaining about the website, looking all the same with no fun and joy anymore.

Therefore, I’ll give it a try. I use it, make notes of what I think is not good or what I personally don’t like and give these to Smashing. I am sure they gonna listen and check every single suggestion and comment of you.

I am using a duospace font now in iA Writer

Image showing the difference between monospace and duospace font
The difference is gentle, but makes a difference. Monospace vs duospace font

I am using iA Writer for all my writing since years now. I love it. It does what it has to do, it gives me the chance to focus on writing and I run my website with Kirby, where I use Markdown for my texts, which iA Write supports as well.

Yesterday they released a new duospace font to be usable with iA Writer and while reading their release article about it, I caught myself thinking “It’s not much of a difference to the monospace font, is it?” and wasn’t sure, how this could be a big thing. I updated my iA Writer and – hell – it is a difference. I mean, if I show you a text with the monospace font, you close your eyes, I switch to duospace and you open your eyes, you maybe would say that nothing changed. But if you go into your preferences and change it back and forth, you can see and feel the difference.

If you want to know more details about what the story bhind this is and what has driven iA to work on it, read their detailed article about their new duospace font. It is available in the latest version of iA Writer and you can download it from GitHub.

10 years of CSSwizardry – congrats, Harry!

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When I brought this website back to life nearly exactly two years ago, I had thought about it a lot. I questioned myself and though, if anything I was writing would be read by anyone or is of the slightest interest. But Jeremy Keith and others have given me confidence and also a reason to write what I do from time to time here: I am writing it for myself and share it with whoever is interested to read it.

Therefore I know what it means, when someone continues to do this for 10 years, like Harry Roberts does. I am happy to read this as Harry turned into a really good friend during the past 4 or 5 year and I have the highest respect for what he did since he has spoken at beyond tellerrand in 2013.

Well done mate and on for another 10 years at least! … but wait … when your blog is 10 years old, did you start blogging in the age of 10 then?!

The many topics of beyond tellerrand in Munich

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Künstlerhaus Munich – the venue for the first btconf in Munich

I have about why I run beyond tellerrand in Munich in January 2018, about what drives me, why Munich and why January. In short it is, because I was looking at the German map and thought ”Hmm … there is Düsseldorf and Berlin, maybe I can also try to get beyond tellerrand to the south and have people in south Germany, Austria, Switzerland and maybe Italy look beyond the tellerrand. I have chosen January, because I loved attending the New Adventures Conference, when it took place for three years in Nottingham in January 2011–2013. I loved the idea of meeting interesting people at this event and kick off the year together right after those lazy days around Christmas. In the first year we rented a van and drove to Nottingham with 5 or 6 people in the van. I loved it!

Now I try to take this spirit, not only by inviting Colly, who ran New Adventures Conf, but also by trying to find a great mix of topics for you. Wanna have a look about what’s already announced? Ok, here we go:

The Internet of Natural Things

Simon Collison aka Colly, startet writing again a few months ago. And right when he announced this (and is working on a relaunch of his own website), I was asking him to come and speak and really like the general topic he is going to write and speak about this year.

I also love to make connections and, if possible, have a reason to invite someone next to being a great speaker with something to say. This connection here is clear, as I mentioned in my post on the beyond tellerrand blog: Simon was the head and heart behind New Adventures, which took place in January, which I loved so much.

Stop motion

When I was on my daily round on Instagram, I stumbled over lovely stop motion movies created by a woman from Egypt. Her name is dina Amin and I directly had to contact her. I asked, if she ever has spoken at events like mine and she said, she did in Egypt and was happy to have a look at what I was doing. We had a Skype chat and I explained the concept and we chatted about what she does. We had a lovely conversation and I highly recommend checking out dina’s Instagram and/or Vimeo account to see how beautiful her work is. Fingers crossed that everything with her visa will be easy!

Data Visualisation

I usually wait a some time until I invite people back to beyond tellerrand. Not because I don’t like to have those people back every time, but to make it more interesting for the attendees and to not always have the same faces on stage. If people come back, I ask them, if they have new content. I was sure Nadieh Bremer would not disappoint and I love the way she speaks about data visualisation. It is visually appealing, technically top level, presented in a charming way with beautiful slides – always worth watching her at any event.

Responsive Web Design

With the roots in the Web Community and having the Web still as main theme, beyond tellerrand of course wants to serve, who want to learn and hear about new things, best practices and tips and tricks from the field. Surely Vitaly Friedman is one of the best people you can get for this. Not only with his expertise as long time editor in chief of Smashing Magazine, but also with his many, many workshops and trainings he was running during the last couple of years. So, if you are interested in hearing about New Adventures in Responsive Web Design, be there. Furthermore, if you want to dive deeper, Vitaly is giving a full-day workshop on Monday 15th with the title Smart Responsive Interface Design Patterns.

Email

Email? What is interesting about email? you might think. I have to admit, if I’d not know Mark Robbins and his talks, I’d think the same. But he completely surprised me and taught me what an interesting topic that is. Technically and from a designer’s point of view. So if you wonder, what is possible with email, like building a fully functional shopping card into an email fro example, this is the talk that is going to be for you.

Accessibility

A topic that, if possible, I always want to cover at any of the beyond tellerrand events. I think it is extremely important and a topic we tend to forget easily about when being under time pressure, having to finish a project or when it comes to budget discussion. That is wrong and people like Marcy Sutton do a great job in reminding us about it. This time she is speaking about Radically Accessible Internet Applications and I am sure, I will be there to watch it.

Graphic Design

I myself have a background in graphic design and I am honoured about the fact, that I am able to invite some of my heroes to my own events. In November, at beyond tellerrand Berlin, I was so happy and delighted to have Paula Scher speaking. In 2015 Chip Kidd was my guest. Now I am happy to have Stefan Sagmeister back in the family. I love meeting with and chatting to Stefan, whenever I can and I love listening to his talks.

Performance

Harry Roberts is going to be the first person who has spoken at btconf in Düsseldorf, Berlin and Munich. When I invited him for the first time in 2013, he was only 22 and still employed. Quite some changes happened in his life since then and I am always completely sure that he is going to deliver a high quality talk. Next to a talk – most possibly about performance – he is giving a full-day workshop called Front-End Performance: Building Faster Websites which is already well booked … so don’t wait too long, if you want to attend his workshop.

Robotics and Future Technologies

If you ask me, where I met Carla Diana for the first time, I have to admit, I do not really remember, but I think it was at one of the Flash on The Beach events of my friend John Davey. I always wanted to invite her to come and speak and am happy, that she now is coming to the first edition in Munich. I love her little book Leo the Maker Prince, I want to be friends with Simon and Curi and I am looking forward to have a glimpse into the future with Carla.

SVG and CSS

I think there is one person you think of, when hearing those to terms together … SVG … CSS … correct: Sara Soueidan is back and the good news is, that we most probably don’t have to fight for her visa this time, as she already has one. I am going to make sure to cool her down before she goes on stage, so that she maybe speaks a bit slower, but you know, it is her excitement, her joy of speaking about what she loves to work with and therefore I am more than happy to have Saran back on stage at beyond tellerrand. Next to a talk, Sara packed a full-day workshop about SVG into her suitcase. Well booked already, but you can use the chance to learn about SVG from someone who really knows he shit. ;)

Kirby CMS

Bastian Allgeier, the mastermind behind Kirby, gave a full-day workshop in Berlin for everybody who wants to learn about Kirby or who is already experienced in Kirby. This workshop in Berlin was the one that was sold out first … just saying. Right now Bastian and his team are working on the new version of Kirby and I am sure, there is a lot of stuff that you want to hear about in Munich …

… and even more

If you look at this wide variety of topics, I ask you: is that cool? That is beyond tellerrand and I am totally looking forward to January already. There are even three more people I have to announce, which I will do soon, but if the above is not worth already attending, I don’t know what you are waiting for.

There are only 56 days left until the first edition in Munich takes place and other than in Düsseldorf or Berlin, where I can fit 500 people, the venue in Munich only holds up to 400 people. 270+ tickets are already gone. So don’t wait too long and reserve your seat.

See you there!

A Day with Shopify in Vancouver 2017

Vancouver view from Granville Island

Back from the tour with Shopify through New York and Vancouver. Working on beyond tellerrand in Berlin, but also had to finish my shots from the adws tour stop in Vancouver. My photos set of the Vancouver edition is available here.

See my set of A Day with Shopify in Vancouver

A Day with Shopify in New York City 2017

New York Skyline

I am on the road with my friends from Shopify, taking photos at their adws tour. An event series for the Shopify community, Shopify Partners and those who are interested in this. My photos set of the stop in New York is available here. Shopify ran this event in the lovely Greenpoint Loft in Williamsburg.

See my set of A Day with Shopify in New York City

Off to New York and Vancouver

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Sitting at the airport in Düsseldorf waiting for my flight to Frankfurt to connect to New York. Am in New York until Friday, before leaving for Vancouver until Tuesday. Reason for going is an event by my long time partners at Shopify called “A Day with Shopify”, which they started last year in Bristol and run in several cities around the world now. Looking forward to also use this chance to catch up with a few friends.

My photos of Reasons To 2017

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Light sign on stage of Reasons To

Reasons To, the design festival in Brighton, was a blast again. A fantastic line-up and such a diverse range of topics. Check what Chris Heilmann has written to get a more detailed wrap up.

I have taken a few photos to capture a bit of the atmosphere.

First World Problems

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Yesterday at around 8:30 in the morning I started my trip to Seattle to attend the Microsoft Edge Web Summit. Right before I got on the train, I got notified, that my Air Berlin flight to New York, where I’d have to change planes, was cancelled (I booked this flight before they announced their insolvency). I upgraded my flight to business class as I have plenty of miles still with Air Berlin – god knows what that is worth these days or in the future. I called their hotline and they were able to get me on a British Airways flight that was leaving at the same time, but was getting me to Seattle earlier and was via London Heathrow. So I thought I was lucky in the end and would enjoy my upgraded flight with British Airways now.

I was waiting for my flight to LHR to depart at 10:50, but then they said, due to a technical check we’d have to wait another 20 minutes. Ok, I thought, 20 minutes is not bad, as I had a long layover at LHR anyways. My flight to Seattle was at 15:30 (16:30 my time in Düsseldorf). About 20 minutes after the announcement was made, the captain of the plane came out and spoke to us. She said, that a wheel got a cut, when they started in London and the tire had to be changed. The tire was changed already (quick, isn’t it?), but when the wheel burst, a small piece must have hit the wing of the plane and caused a dent on the wing. They now had to do paperworks to have an engineer look at the photos and give the ok that they could fly this plane with the dent.

About an hour and a half later she came out again and said, that the first engineer gave the ok, but they needed a second one to also review this to be on the safe side and this paper work always needs quite some time to be written and also read. By this time I still was sure to maybe catch my Seattle flight. I, though, checked the following flight at 14:00 for seats already. One seat was open in this one, as in the morning the first BA flight was cancelled due to bad weather. I had a bad feeling, but still hoped to catch my flight.

Some time later the captain came out again and said they would be ok to go – people applauded – but that the start would need about another 30 minutes to an hour. It was past 13:00 already (12:00 in the UK).

About 13:40 we finally started boarding and chances were small, that I catch my flight. The 14:00 landed in Düsseldorf already, but it was clear, that this machine would leave even after us and the one seat that was left before, was taken now anyways. Around 14:40 we finally took off. 13:40 in the UK and my flight was at 15:30. Usually a flight to LHR ist about 1 to 1,5 hours from DUS. So still: a very small chance I make it. I was discussing chances with the flight attendance, who was doing a fantastic job btw. and it was not looking good as this was one of the longer flights to LHR. We landed at 15:17 UK time and I was hoping that the Seattle flight maybe was delayed, as LHR often has delays. It was not. Bummer.

If I’d been 15 minutes earlier, I might have gotten my flight. But now I was stuck at LHR and went to the service desk. They had a few options, but none that would have gotten me in on the same day, so it was sure, I’d miss part of the Microsoft event. One flight leaving the same day but via Calgary > Vacouver (with a 6 hour layover in the night, no lounge would be open and no hotel, so I’d have to sleep somewhere in the waiting hall) > Seattle. I’d have arrived at 8:00 in the morning in Seattle to then rush to the event and I guess I’d have been crazy tired. Another options was to stay at LHR as BA would put me into a hotel and then to take a Virgin Atlantic flight at 13:20, which is the first direct connection to Seattle. That brings me in around 15:00 and I sadly miss more than half of the event, but at least I gonna make it and see Kyle and Chris and other people I’d like to meet. Another benefit is, that I never flew Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and also never the newer Dreamliner. So I am kind of looking forward to this. While writing this all, I am sitting in the Virgin Atlantic Club House lounge and am waiting for boarding.

I mean, yes, this was a lousy trip so far, but you know, seeing the positive things in this is what makes it better: the dent on the wind could have been not seen and maybe would have been too bad to fly and I prefer to better be safe than sorry, I have to say. I also am going to make a new flight experience maybe. But while sitting here and thinking this all through, I was thinking about my damn first world problem. I have seen on the tickets, how much the rebooking to BA and then to Virgin did cost – no idea if the airlines actually pay this, but that, I guess was the ticket prices that I’d have had to pay in case I really booked it. Also I have seen how crowded the lounges at DUS and BA’s lounge at LHR, as well as the Virgin Club Houser now are and I can just imagine how much money this all is. And then I felt bad.

I mean yes, I had a bad day, but that is nothing. All the money that is sitting here, the free food and drinks I got over the last two days: I do not actually need this. I am just stranded on a trip to Seattle and not suffering from not having anything to eat or even plain water to drink. I got vouchers for three meals in the hotel, visited three lounges. All with free food and drinks. And yes of course that is nice to enjoy. In the first place. But I can’t help, but feel bad about all this if I look at the world and how it is these days. So I am sorry to be lucky like this. I’d have to look at what I can do to help more, I think. We are doing small things already with my family, but there must be more that can be effectively done without having the small amounts of money we can donate without being deflagrated in bureaucratic things. I will definitely look into this.