Weeknotes: Happy Birthday, Lanyrd

A super-busy week punctuated by our birthday party and three varied and interesting conferences down by the sea at the Brighton Digital Festival.

We celebrated our first birthday on Wednesday in appropriate style at Souk, a Moroccan restaurant in London. If you didn't already know the story, Lanyrd was launched by myself and Simon three months in to our honeymoon from Casablanca in Morocco. It's been quite a year! A roller-coaster of emotions (and not nearly enough sleep) leading from a side-project to a full blown company, via Y Combinator in Silicon Valley.

Team Lanyrd at our first birthday party

Birthday party out of the way, we headed down to sunny Brighton for Friday's dConstruct (a homecoming of sorts, this was the conference we timed our original launch for last year), then the Brighton Mini Maker Faire and Update 2011.

dConstruct is a Brighton institution — now on its 7th year, I've been to all but one of them (and we were in Casablanca launching Lanyrd that year, which is a pretty good excuse). It's been fascinating seeing the conference evolve over the years in to an event that really challenges the audience. We were proud to sponsor the event this year, and it was wonderful to see everyone wearing super-fashionable Lanyrd lanyards.

My personal highlight this year was Matthew Sheret's sonic screwdriver, adapted to control his slide deck. Half way through the presentation several apparently corrupted slides caused the audience to intake breath with empathy... only for Matthew to stand back and with a blast of the sonic screwdriver "fix" said slides and continue seamlessly with the talk.

Matthew Sheret and his sonic screwdriver

The Brighton Mini Maker Faire, organised by Build Brighton, took place during the day on Saturday. It pulled a huge and varied crowd of geeks, hackers, makers and a large number of passing families, Brighton being a popular weekend destination. The remote control Dalek roaming the streets outside probably helped there as well.

I wish we could have stayed for longer. The event was buzzing with creativity, and displayed a fabulously British hacker mentality. We were particularly excited by the National Museum of Computing's area, with a bank of working BBC Micros and a selection of laminated BASIC programs ready to be typed in. A blast from the past for me, since a BBC at school was my first ever programming experience. It was a real joy watching a new generation of children discover programming in the same way that I did. I was especially proud of Simon who helped a young girl debug her programme.

BBC BASIC hacking

I'm writing this on the train home from Update 2011, a truly spectacular performance of an event arranged by Aral Balkan and a keen team of volunteers. Aral took "conference as an experience" to a whole new level, and imprinted it with his own special brand of magic. Another event we were proud to sponsor.

The conference dinner the night before was a genuine banquet, held at the Brighton Royal Pavilion in the dazzling dragon-infested dining room of King George the IV. Guinea Fowl, a live harpist and a decorative pineapple tower on every table. It's hard to think of a better venue for a banquet.

The banquet hall

The conference itself continued in the same spectacular fashion. Within the first fifteen minutes Aral had opened with his own unforgettable rendition of "Let the Sunshine In" (with a live band), and performed a death scene having been "shot" by the first speaker.

The selection of excellent talks were interspersed with live music performances from a variety of novel and creative acts. Live video mixing from Ithaca Audio, a Kinect-powered set by Jonathan Hammond and Brighton's very own 100 Robots with an interactive iPhone supported rock act.

The Brighton Digital Festival continues all month, and I highly recommend you check it out — Flash on the Beach and Seb's Creative JavaScript workshop in particular.


Time 11:56pm

Date 5th September 2011


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