~ 27 June 2006 ~
Towards the end of last week, Suzanne and I landed on U.S. soil, wrapping up a wonderful speaking/vacation trip to Europe. What a trip, literally and figuratively! The culture, the landscape, the people, the food…
Highlights from our stay in London:
- Dave Shea guides tours as well as he codes markup. We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and ran into him in the hotel lobby. He then took us on a tour of the city for the remainder of the day and did a fabulous job.
- At the speakers dinner the night before the conference, Molly Holzschlag pointed to Andy Clarke’s plate of Indian food and asked, “How would you mark that up?” I thought it was just unabashed geek speak until I heard Andy’s session. It all made complete sense after that.
- It seems we unintentionally targeted the non-designer crowd with our Good vs. Great Design panel. The feedback I’ve been privy to seems to indicate the developers enjoyed it, while the designers felt it was a bit too Graphic Design 101. All things considered, it seems the panel was enjoyed by most in attendance.
- Jon Hicks is a much better speaker than he leads one to believe. Join me in begging Jon to speak more often.
- I believe my mobile web presentation went over rather well. What seemed like the warmest round of applause I’ve ever received was given following the presentation. I’m not sure that was indicative of my material, but rather of the quality of the crowd. Slides won’t be available but much of the information will (I hope) in the coming weeks. And it was quite the pleasure speaking with developers from Opera and Nokia (among others) after the preso.
- I learned a thing or two about my speaking style this time around. I’ve discovered I spend too much time on the presentation and not enough time on the presentation. Makes total sense, no? Or put another way, too much time on the material and not enough time the way it’s delivered. Each has equal importance in producing a successful presentation, and I’ll be working on synchronizing the two before resuming speaking in the fall.
- I had a chance to witness CNN International first-hand. (I’ve been assuming all along, correctly or incorrectly, that it wasn’t available in the states.) The recent on-screen redesign is incredible. It’s a visual exercise in beautiful simplicity.
- On our final night in London I stumbled across an exemplary “Norman door”. If that doesn’t sound familiar, you must immediately slap some sense into yourself and grab a copy of The Design of Everyday Things.
The morning after the conference concluded we flew over to Switzerland and spent three days in Geneva, Gruyeres, and Interlaken. This was my second stay in Switzerland, with 15 years separating the two trips. My mother’s father is full Swiss, which in turn makes me one-quarter Swiss. Hence, we have close ties to the country. In fact, we still have relatives in the area.
Highlights from our stay in Switzerland:
- If you make only one trip to Europe in your lifetime, you absolutely, unequivocally must visit Switzerland. If these photos don’t convince you, I don’t know what will.
- I’m not sure why, but I photographed just about every door in the tiny town of Gruyeres. I shot one, then two, and then suddenly found myself capturing every door I could. I’ve uploaded the crème de la crème to Flickr.
- I’m a huge football (soccer) fan. I spent any chance I could watching the World Cup, available on at least 5 different channels and in 3 different languages, which puts U.S. coverage of the matches to shame.
- Speaking of Switzerland and football, I’d say we need to work on our PKs, kids.
Lastly, perhaps the most intriguing conversation I had was a short but poignant one with the owner of a a small shop in Gruyeres. It went a little something like this:
Elderly lady: “(something in French I didn’t understand)”
Me: “Je ne parle pas français.”
Lady: “Je ne parle pas anglais, mais parlo italiano.”
Me: “Hablo español.”
Lady: “Ah, hablo un poquito nada mas.”
There’s something eloquently beautiful about communication that transcends language barriers.
So cheers, au revoir, and adios for now, Europe. I hope it’s not long before we embrace once again.
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