Cross Pollination: kiwifoo08

Last year I wrote an extensive post about the inaugural KiwiFoo Camp and having returned from kiwifoo08 last weekend here we go again!

Modelled on Tim O'Reilly's Foo Camp, Baa Camp is:

  • By and for interesting technologists and scientists, and the business people who work with them,
  • Limited in size,
  • Scheduled over a weekend,
  • A melting-pot of different technology, nationality, and sanity.
  • Strictly invitation only,
  • Free-form—talks are scheduled once everyone's on site.

Kiwifoo is organised by Nat Torkington and Russell Brown and they create the invite list which results in an interesting mix of 150 people.

Quote of the weekend:

"Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity."

This years attendees were noticeably more kiwi based with less international guests.

Nat opened foo on Friday evening with a comment that we didn't get last year which said and I'm paraphrasing "What goes in foo stays in foo... unless you contact the person you write about first". He went further than this stating the intention was to ensure people felt comfortable sharing things that were not NDA and remained open and honest... the intention here is to stop stone walling and spinning the company line all the time.

Mauricio picked up on this in his blog where he posted...

"The conversations around here are not NDA, but it's a matter of principle to only disclose things if you ask and receive a positive response."

That said there is plenty of stuff out there to comment on (see the list I compiled below) and I'm still going to do a post about the event.

John Ballinger hacked together a web schedule for the event using the iPhone css so I can safely assume that the session names of what was presented are at least public.

Also given the "political nature" of certain content I made sure I steered clear of certain sessions. What good could possibly have come from me attending B1?

Given this context the best way to experience kiwifoo08 is through pictures...

Glen Barnes also did a great video mash-up of the event.

All this said I do have responses, opinions and feedback that I would like to share...

Ross Howard (Shift Auckland's new creative director) nominated Robert O'Callahan and I to a WWF smackdown session on the IE8 meta tag. This session clashed with my JavaScript Silverlight free CDN session so I had to make a call whether to switch focus and do the browser session instead which I did. People were expecting blood but that isn't exactly what they got. The more I talk with Robert at events the more respect I have for the work that he does. Although we disagree on some points I find Robert's commitment to progression of the web to be applauded. All in all in this session we had numerous view points that aligned albeit coming from different sides of the fence.

I must say now that I don't have much inside knowledge beyond what has already been written online about IE8 so my goal with this session was to have an open conversation about the problems that exist for web developers and potentially provide feedback back to the IE team based on ideas coming out of it.

First of all take a look at the body language in the session... interesting...



Photo Credits Matt Buchanan

Photo Credit Chris Shiflett - Now that's what I call a freaky glance!

I noticed that Robert O'Callahan posted about the session (he arrived Sat so he missed Nat's new check first post rule) and I thought I'd first comment on a few points that Robert wrote about "what I said" .

Robert wrote - "Most of the Web developers were pretty upset about the idea, more so than me actually"

Disagree, after the session I talked to many who attended and they were all very positive about the discussion... Regan from throng even sought me out specifically to commend me on "fronting" and holding the conversation.

Robert wrote - "I asked whether IE8 has an IE6 mode; the answer was no"

What I referred to here was Chris Wilson's comment that “Standards mode” remains the same as IE7, and compatible with current content."

Robert wrote: I asked Nigel if IE8 will support any new CSS features. He said no, it's just CSS 2.1. That shocked me; I guess we'll have to wait and see.

We are not commenting on actual feature set of IE8 yet. Here I referenced a comment that Chris stated at MIX when this story broke. Chris said that the new IE8 rendering engine is focused primarily on ensuring IE8 is compliant with CSS 2.1 layout standards. I also said that there may be work going on within the team implementing some CSS3 features that I’m not aware of but we’ll just have to wait and see what comes out in the beta.

Through conversations afterwards one thing that became clear to many that I talked to is that Microsoft's view to support backwards compatibility for at least 10 years is vastly different to Mozilla's 6 month support policy once a new version is shipped. A question raised during the session... Will Mozilla remain this agile if broad enterprise adoption of FF occurs? Robert's answer absolutely! 

We heard from attendees that work with large web aps inside of the enterprise space where the browser (and OS) versions are locked for years and web aps must just work. There was a great example of someone embedding the Gecko engine as a plug-in inside IE6 because the IT department refused to update due to breaking changes in Enterprise web aps encounter by moving to IE7. I pitched in with a comment regarding dominant players like Siebel, Oracle and SAP that delivered web based systems and how we worked with them when we released new browser versions but didn't set the schedules on their update cycles. When breaking changes occur caused by fixing previous bugs regardless of the browser vendor work is still required for web sites to support (this was specifically amplified by our IE hiatus).

All in all a valuable session and food for thought... also as a side note I think Opera Mobile 9.5 shows us that "low-end" devices could be the conversation piece of 2008 and the legacy of tomorrow (something that I discussed with Robert after the session). With Flash Lite, Silverlight Mobile and Java FX attempting to surpass/ support the mobile browser is this the next standards vs proprietary software battlefield? 

As a closing point Molly lands in New Zealand next week to speak at Webstock and I'm hoping to organise a Q&A in Welly with her (details here soon if we pull it off) similar to what we threw together in Melbourne last night. Given Molly's recent comments (Parental Advisory Recommend) and the fact that we (Microsoft New Zealand) are supporting her trip to NZ it should be fun, remember to throw your comments her way if you have anything to say and you want your views aired at Webstock next week.

Another session I really enjoyed was Juha and Erica's session on talking to the press. We discussed "media training" from both sides of the fence "classic!" Juha even challenged me to a role play LOL.

I met Chris Shiflett (Not the guy from foo fighters 🙂 last foo and this time round we had a number of great in-depth conversations (so much so that I hope to meet up in New York when I pass through in April). Chris' hosted a working session on UI confusion and implications of his friends SmugMug site which was very productive. Note to self getting lots of UX experts in a room ensures that everyone has an opinion!

Also Zef and Lulu's working UX session was interesting.

I had to laugh when John Ballinger's Mac wouldn't project for his AIR session and I had to lend him my Toshiba running Vista (oh how times have changed 😉

Miki's session was thought invoking and interactive, even if it did result in Rod Drury jumping in mid swing to plug in his laptop and show a Xero example (see him setting up below 😉

My favourite debate by far was Andre Pang's (great guy btw) session titled "First-class video on the web: the need for open standards, hyperlinked video and searchability. Plus juicy W3C/WHATWG gossip you don't know".  Put representatives from TVNZ in a room with myself, Robert O'Callahan and Adobe fanatic John Ballinger and you're bound to have fireworks... need I say more.

Best Web Community outcome was NZWC if you are posting on NZ web stuff tag it accordingly or

There was much side talk about Silverlight at kiwifoo with many people hearing about it for the first time. I did a number of impromptu demos and thought I'd share with you an email response that I got after the conference...

"Many thanks for the Silverlight demo. It's given me some ideas on a couple of UX challenges I was facing. Coupled with .Net, this is one powerful platform. In fact, the mind is buzzing with ideas now 🙂

Once I have some work done using it, I'd love to share it with you.

So, watch this space :)"

Links to other kiwifoo08 content...

Radio New Zealand Podcasts

The KiwiFoo blog roll that I've spotted so far...

P.S. Congrats to Lisa and Jeff for the computerworld article.

My leaving comment... good tequila don't leave home without it!

Tags: kiwifoo08, NZWC

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

Comments (8)
  1. Great write up, Nigel. Not got round to doing mine yet, but not sure I can add anything more to it!

    That last quote was from me by the way. 🙂 Silverlight does indeed look good!

  2. Great wrap up Nigel.

    From my POV the IE8 session was very positive and your contribution was valued by the attendees – I’m surprised anyone’s outtake would be otherwise.

    still a little concerned by your attitude to security via obscurity though… 😉

  3. Is there anywhere I can read a point by point

    comparison between silverlight and adobe flash ?

  4. nparker says:

    Thomas, in my defense my comment on prefering "secuirty by obscurity" was one I made in Chris’ SmugMug session and was in reference to how I deal with storing my high res photos on flickr using a second pro account which enforces obscurity but not security.

  5. Nikolai says:

    Nigel, next time on the way back from Redmond grab a bottle of this

    If you want some seriously good tequila…. =)

  6. nparker says:

    "web developer"

    There are a few comparisons out there comparing Silverlight to Flash but IMO it is very hard to do this without bias as the technologies and intentions for the platform are quite different.

    There is a good poster from MIX last year showing where we are heading with Silverlight (this will be updated next month when MIX rolls around again).

    It is worth adding that although a big part of Silverlight 1.0 is geared towards video (VC-1 HD) Silverlight 2.0 is an application platform with a cut down version of the .NET platform running on the client cross platform. This opens up new scenarios for web development that doesn’t have a Silverlight GUI at all. Think WCF (WS*) support on the client for secure web services

  7. Brenda says:

    Nice write-up Nigel.  One correction, the blog entry for me (Brenda L) should actually be


  8. nparker says:

    @Brenda updated…

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