Braille Neue – Braille for everyone

Illustration showing how Braille and type turn into Braille Neue

I really like how easy it gets with Braille Neue to ready Braille. Especially for sighted people. I mean yes, the idea to combine Braille with a typeface is not new, but I somehow like the aesthetics of this approach and that it is not only planned to be for latin alphabets, but also for Japanese fonts.

Hobby No. 215 B

Photo showing an old package of fishing equipment

I remembered this gem in my basement a while ago and always wanted to shoot it for @purveyors_of_packaging as I love their packaging shots and encourage you to follow them. Now I simply shot it with my phone. Got this fishing equipment many, many years ago from my uncle (RIP), when I was twelve or so. Still working, still beautiful.

Links for Purveyors of Packaging

If you don’t want it to be negative, change it

I recently stumbled over another blog post, where someone was complaining about Twitter and how negative this platform, or better, its users nowadays are. And I don’t mean people like Mike Monteiro, who is complaining about the people behind Twitter, for a reason. And I also agree, that more and more people use Twitter to simply chuck up their bad experiences/day/thoughts … you name it.

If you now decide to leave Twitter as a platform, as you can’t stand it anymore, that is fine. I myself have to say, that I still use it a lot. On one hand it still helps me with my business a lot. I announce, advertise and discuss my event related things on @btconf. On the other hand I chat and stay in touch with friends at @marcthiele. I like the way of thinking about and using it, like I learned when learning about the IndieWeb movement. But I still like to use it.

If you don’t leave Twitter, why not starting to focus on the positive. Try not to post all your negative crap, but every time something positive happens to you or something where you think it might help or motivate other people you go and broadcast that.

I think if we are not satisfied with something and how it is, we are the ones who have to change it, if it is of interest for us. Again: if it is not, you are right, when you maybe better simply leave it. But, please, do this then instead of adding to the negative noise.

Events are not Dead

Mid January I have read an interesting post on the website of Marco Arment called ”The end of the conference era” and even though Marco is referring to small Apple-ish developer-ish conferences, I left the tab open, as I wanted to write my thoughts on this concerning web conferences or web events, like I prefer to call it.

Marco mentions a few interesting aspects, why he thinks that those smaller events are at their end. One reason he mentions is cost as one factor, why people would not attend anymore, where I think, if you keep prices affordable, there is still room for travel, accommodation and even food. This, though, is surely very subjective, as allocating a budget for events in a company is very different depending on where you work. Two weeks ago I had an apprentice from an agency writing me, asking for discounts. I first wrote back and explained how the ticket price is calculated in my case, to show, where the money goes to. But furthermore I had a look at her agencies website and only saw big names on the client list. My question was, if her boss would not have any money/budget planned for events for their employees. Sadly they had not, even with their size of agency. I have seen really good examples, where the value of attending events is very clear for the company. sipgate for example have a wall, where employees can add the event they want to attend at and, I think, up to a certain budget, it does not matter even, were this is (I will check again, how this exactly works for them and also bring photos, as I really like how they dealt with it). I agree, though, that there are events out there charging way too much for what you get (where others charging quite some money also really package a great deal with a lot for the money they charge).

Marco also says

It’s getting increasingly difficult for organizers to sell tickets, in part because it’s hard to get big-name speakers without the budget to pay them much (which would significantly drive up ticket costs, which exacerbates other problems), but also because conferences now have much bigger competition in connecting people to their colleagues or audiences.

Though I agree, that competition got harder as more and more events pop up weekly, I don’t agree with what he says about big-name speakers. Sure: big-name speakers is a matter of definition again. Maybe he thinks of bigger names than I do, but I furthermore think, that the content and finding new talent is more important than having big names on your list. Yes, I do also think of course, that a good mix of well-known speakers and new findings is always the best recipe.

As said before, he maybe refers to other events for a different target audience, but talks about fixing conferences when he says

I don’t know how to fix conferences, but the first place I’d start on that whiteboard is by getting rid of all of the talks, then trying to find different ways to bring people together — and far more of them than before.

Again: I think, that events are not broken. When I look at my beyond tellerrand events, I see 500 knowledge and inspiration hungry people at each edition. Attendees, which are hungry for new inspiration, different views and opinions on things, exchanging with other people and most importantly to spend time with all the other people at the event. I agree, when he says that talks are not the most important reason for attending an event, but I think they are part of it, as they set the spark for conversations in the breaks after the talks and in the evening, when the attendees meet for food and drinks.

I furthermore answer his following assumption with no

Or maybe we’ve already solved these problems with social networks, Slack groups, podcasts, and YouTube, and we just haven’t fully realized it yet.

I think anything online – even an online conference – will never be able to replace an event, where people meet face to face, have conversations, plan their next side project, speak about their latest findings or ask for help during a chat. For me, being with all the other people and the conversations that evolve from this is the real juice of attending events.

So, no, I don’t see the end of a conference era.

RIP Stephen Hawking

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Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

Stephen Hawking

Rest in Piece.

Conversation with Vasilis about Design, Quality and Positivity

Last week I had been in Amsterdam to meet friends and to attend FITC. When I tweeted about it, Vasilis van Gemert asked, if we should meet for a coffee. Of course I said yes, not only as Vasilis is a lovely bloke, but also as it is wonderful, if you have the chance to meet your friends when an opportunity is given.

When we sorted out where to meet, he asked me if I'd like to be a guest on his podcast, called The Good, The Bad, The Interesting. Now he released our conversation, which turned out to end in a nice chat about design, quality and positivity. Ignore the fakt, that I use the word “like” a lot and I think it is an episode worth the time listening to.

Thanks a lot Vasilis, for the lovely opportunity to be a guest in you podcast, even though very spontaneously.

Listen to The Good, The Bad, The Interesting with … well … me ;]

What Chris Says About My Little Event

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Christian Heilmann and I know each other for a long time. We have been at demo parties in the 90’s, he joined us for the Flashforum Konferenz about 10 years ago and he ha spoken at a couple of the beyond tellerrand events. After an event is over I ask a few people, also all the speakers, for a short quote about their experience at beyond tellerrand and with the audience, who usually is such a lovely group of people. Those short quotes go into the header of the beyond tellerrand website. After the last edition in Munich Chris sent me the following quote, which won’t fit in the header, but which I’ll use on the about page in a new section called ”What Other People Say”. And it was so nice and heart warming (for me at least) in one of these darker periods in someones life, that I really wanted to quickly also publish it here and say Thank you, Chris.

beyond tellerrand is a conference that stands on its own. There is no faceless group of people running it, but it is Marc Thiele’s show. He has an incredible knack to always find new and surprising speakers. This is a conference where what happens in between the talks and the networking amongst the attendees is as important as what happens on stage. Don’t be surprised if amongst the conference volunteers you find film makers and amazingly creative designers. I have yet to meet a grumpy person or a diva presenter at beyond tellerrand. It is always a joy to attend and I leave brimming with ideas what to do next. This is the kind of event I missed for a long time, back in the days when web conferences were still a several-month-wait-time affair. beyond tellerrand is a community without trying to be one and forcing you into a portal or a slack channel. People network because they can’t help themselves. As a speaker, you are treated top-notch but not overwhelmed and the demands the conference has for you are sensible and I for one am happy to give my best there. The quality of the video recordings is great, there are always transcripts and nothing beats a live DJ mixing each talk into a pumping tune right after it finished.

Speaking at Pop-Up Studio in Dortmund in March

The teaser image of Pop-Up Studio in March

During the last days Bastian Allgeier contacted me and asked, if I’d be interested to speak next to him in Dortmund at the Pop-Up Studio in March. I said yes and therefore I am speaking next to him about my project/work/passion … you name it.

Bastian himself is speaking about his main – and right now only – project as well: Kirby.

Each of the talks is going to be around 45 minutes long and held in German (one of the first talks ever, I give in German). The event is completely free and you are invited to join. Would be lovely to see you there.

dina Amin on Smashing TV

A screenshot of Smashing TV showing dina Amin’s date for the show – 27 February

One morning, between coffee, getting kids ready for school and kindergarten, I was doing my usual I stroll around in social media and my RSS feeds round, I stumbled over dina Amin’s Instagram account and followed her. I liked her work. A lot.

Later then I was checking her website and other sources to see, if she ever spoke at any events. I have seen that she gives workshops and thought, I simply ask her, if she wants to join my first beyond tellerrand event in Munich. Not only did this turn out into a great fit – topic wise and from being a wonderful human being – but it also created so many memorable moments. For her, me, the attendees and many of the other speakers (I could write a lot about this … wonderful memories).

A photo showing dina speaking in Munich
dina on stage in Munich – photo by Stefan Nitzsche

She gave a great talk about her work, about her work and being from Egypt, about her work and being from Egypt and being a woman. It turned out to be much more than what I thought of.

I love that she now is showing up at other events to talk about her work and herself. On February 27th she is guest on Smashing TV and I can highly recommend joining this live session. She has a great story to tell and if you are, by any means interested in stop motion and tinkering with the things you have or being excited to do and create something – drop in. Her actual topic on Smashing TV is ”The State Of (Web) Design In Egypt”.

And here comes a handy tip: as you can see on the screenshot above it is $49 to join for the day and dina’s session on Smashing TV. Do this: simply join the Smashing family and become a Smashing Member. For $5 you get access to all the Smashing TV episodes as well as many other things (not to forget that ads disappear from Smashing Magazine). And even if you cancel after a while, the $49 to attend this one episode at Smashing TV with dina mean 10 months of access to much more. But I see, I sound like I am selling it to you. ;)

What I really want to say: go and see what dina has to say (and – if you like – become a Smashing Member). And if you want to see dina live again, you can do this at the upcoming beyond tellerrand in Düsseldorf.

I am glad that my Mum did not listen to me

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When I moved out of my mother’s house, about 23 or 24 years ago, my mum asked me, if I would like to take my old school stuff or drawings I made when I was a child. I said I don’t need this stuff anymore, but today, I am happy and glad she did not listen to me.

When my mother died a little more than a month ago, I knew that the days where coming, when we had to empty and clear her flat. Since our two brothers are already gone it is mainly the job of my sister and me. And even though it was is very sad, to – in some way – erase someones life, someones trails off this earth, by having to throw away a lot of stuff, there are moments of laughter and lovely memories, I share with my sister. Today was one of the days, where we started to empty our mother’s cupboards and had to decide what to keep and what to give away. It was a long day and I have a very strange feeling after this day is over. I can’t really describe it, but it feels heavy aas if someone put a rock on both of my shoulders.

Of course there was a lot of stuff, where we asked us Why the hell did she keep this? For which case?, but there was one moment amongst a few today, where I though, that I was glad, that she did not listen to me and kept something.

A paper scroll with a lot of drawing from my friends as me when we were children

When I was a kid, some of my friends and I started drawing picture of knights and armies and ships and castles and so forth, that we decided to glue together piece by piece, so that it became a gigantic, big scroll with a lot of drawings. A continuous story, which we started about 1984 or 1983 and where one of the last drawings is dated to 1987. Short before I moved out of my mother’s house, we had a pipe burst in the cellar and the paper roll got wet. Not soaked, but wet enough, that I thought I ave to throw it away, which I told my mum to do, when I moved out. She never told me anything and from time to time I was thinking back to this long-time project of my friends and me, thinking, that it is sad that this personal piece of history was lost for me. I mean, I know that this might not mean anything to anyone, but for me this was a huge project as at leat 5 of my friends and me, we were working on it.

Today, after we decided to call it a day for today, we quickly checked our mother’s garage to see, what is left to do here and there it was: my roll of drawings. She did not listen to me and just kept this bloody thing – which I love her for. I guess, neither my kids not my wife really understand, what this means to me, but for me this is pure gold. This is my childhood and plain, unfiltered memories to so many wonderful days, I had when I was a little boy.

Thanks mum for not listening to me!

A paper scroll with a lot of drawing from my friends as me when we were children