Freelancers: try{harder} Level Up, £600 off!

Newsflash: The price for freelance attendees of try{harder} – Level Up will now be £699.

How? The mentors originally agreed to do the conference for a nominal sum to cover expenses plus one day of pay, but in the interests of making try{harder} – Level Up accessible to more freelancers, we’re now running the conference on an expenses-only basis.

Although there’s only a week and a bit to go, we expect that at this price those last places will go fast – so, if you have an opening for the week of the 19th March and you don’t want to miss out, get in touch now. (Hell, make an opening for the week of the 19th!)

The winter try{harder} 2012 will be the first week of October, but at present there are no slots at that conference available – all of the original group from 2011 have said they’d like to keep their place in 2012. So this is the only opportunity for newcomers to experience try{harder} in 2012.

Should I really invest in flash-based learning, now?

If you’re thinking of shifting away from AS3 as your primary platform, Level Up couldn’t be more suitable:

Till Schneidereit (Swiftsuspenders) has been working in JavaScript for some time, and as he’s also now helping Mozilla to develop FireFox, he can blow your mind with the latest live-debugging / rapid-prototyping tools available for JS.

Plus, most of the mentor sessions are platform neutral, and many are geared towards our current development climate:

Till Schneidereit: Project Forensics
How to detect the clues that allow you to make changes in someone else’s codebase, fast.

Shaun Smith: Robotlegs 2
Architecting for extension.

Stray: Fluent code
Creating DSLs, fluent APIs, helpful builders and meta code, with examples in AS3, php, Ruby and JavaScript.

David Arno: You can be a polyglot too
How to efficiently analyse and adopt new programming languages.

Michal Wroblewski: Maximizing performance in mobile games
You’ll learn that optimizing performance on desktop and mobile require different strategies. Covering rendering options including the latest AIR SDK 3.2 possibilities and also which gaming frameworks will help you achieve this. Prepare for a ‘tricks&tips’ intensive presentation.

Robin Wilding: Maximising developer flow

Angela Relle: How useful are your user stories?

Bonus offer: Come to try{harder} – Level Up and get a free ticket to btplay

We’ve got one btplay conference ticket to give away to the next person to sign up for Level Up who wants to attend both.

The btplay conference: Play, Beyond Tellerand, is 25th – 26th April, 2012, in Cologne, Germany.

I’m speaking at the conference and also running an AI workshop on Building Intelligent Applications (Workshops are not included in the standard ticket we’re giving away).

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After flash: who are ‘we’ now?

First up – the most exciting news: we’ve managed to secure some sponsorship for try{harder} Level Up, that will reduce the price for freelancers (including those already signed up). If the cost is what was holding you back, get in touch – there’s only 10 days to go! More info coming very shortly – we’re just finalising details, but I’m taking names who are interested.

But that also brings me right to the point: describing try{harder} has become much more difficult since the Adobe ‘incident’ in November.

The original strap-line, “collaborative learning for flash-platform developers”, now feels like it weighs us down. That flash-platform is being eroded daily – we’re stuck in our very own 2D adventure game, and the ground is breaking up around us. Perhaps it’s on fire in some places… with particle effects and everything! Can’t do that in HTML5 can you? Oh… but… anyway…

We will always be flash developers

Regardless of what tech we’re building our projects in tomorrow, if you and I have both spent three, or five, or even ten years building projects that were anchored by whatever incarnation the flash player was in at the time, that experience changed us. Our brains have been physically moulded by that process. We can’t un-make those connections. Continue reading »

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“Building Intelligent Applications” workshop: to pair or not to pair?

I’m really excited to be speaking and giving a workshop at the Play / Beyond Tellerand conference in Cologne, April 24th – 27th. This conference used to be FFK, and I’m gob smacked to be among such a stellar list of speakers, and will no doubt be far too shy to speak to any of them (except Seb, who is equal parts digital-genius and teddy-bear).

My workshop is a deep exploration of the process of building smart systems that can solve complex problems. I like to think of the subject area as “Stop telling your software what to do!” Continue reading »

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try{harder} Level Up

try harder level-up, March 19th - 23rd

Are you ready to Level-Up?

March 19th-23rd: try{harder} Level Up is a conference with a difference:

  1. 5 days, 4 nights.
  2. 8 try{harder} mentors who took part in the original try{harder} and want to share it with…
  3. 8 new try{harder} participants who want to level-up.
  4. Everybody teaches, everybody learns.
try{harder} is a unique collaborative learning experience: everybody teaches one session, everybody learns in the other sessions. We also pair-programme, live, eat and create alongside our inspirational peers.

You can read more about how try{harder} came about here, or skip straight to the Level Up conference details.

Why this, and why now?

We actually decided to run try{harder} Level Up almost as soon as we’d returned from the original event in October. All 16 members of the original meeting wanted to commit to a repeat event in 2012, and we felt that it would be ideal to run it as a ‘closed’ group – we’d been changed by an incredibly rich experience and wanted to pick up from the same place next time.

But the experience also felt too valuable not to share. try{harder} was the best conference we’d been to. We’d learned more in those 4 days than at every other conference we’d ever attended, put together. Continue reading »

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Code as game design: fun++; frustration- -;

When you build an application or utility you are shaping a challenge for all the developers who ever interact with this code. For the rest of your team, for the future developers who maintain and extend the codebase, and for yourself – today, tomorrow, two years from now when you have no recollection of the code.

The challenge is akin to playing a game – and many of the rules of good game design apply just as well to your code base as the product of your compiled application.

A golden rule: ‘Guess what I’m thinking’ is not a fun game

But it is! I can hear some of you shouting. What about 20 Questions! What about ISpy! Yes, ok, they can be fun, given certain conditions: ISpy requires a small enough possibility space. It’s more fun in a car than a supermarket. 20 Questions (a beautiful binary search of the whole universe!) relies upon having an agent that can accurately tell you which pile of hay your needle resides in.

Without those constraints, ‘Guess what I’m thinking’ is just frustrating. Continue reading »

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