I’m lucky enough to be part of the Mozilla Tech Speakers program since the very beginning and it’s great to see how it grew over the years, and that there are so many super smart and talented people around the world participating. This year’s opportunity to meet some of them in person happened in Amsterdam this past weekend, on September 28-29th 2019.
I’ve arrived Friday evening and already met and talked with some friends in the Hotel Casa’s lobby where we all stayed.
A couple of hours later the WebXR NL casual get-together happened in the exact same lobby, during which Timmy Kokke was showing his Back to Space game submitted to the WebXR category of the js13kGames 2019 competition.
Next day started with a walk from the hotel to the venue for the weekend: Impact Hub. From the early morning to the noon we had a few plenary sessions with Joe Nash, Kristina Schneider, Havi Hoffman, and Ali Spivak. During that time we also had our headshots taken by a pro photographer one by one.
After lunch we split into two groups. First one (me included) was presenting lightning talks: Joe, Kristina, and Havi with the help from Jessica Rose and Jeremy Keith were our coaches giving feedback on the lightning talks. The second group took the workshops: Harald Kirchner was explaining Firefox DevTools and Andre Natal was showing Web Speech API.
We also had our group photo taken that day after all the activities. And yes, I had my custom made t-shirt with Firefox-Quantum-mech-turned-into-a-Tech-Speakers-robot on me.
If I talk, I talk gamedev. Of course it’s web related, usually cutting edge tech (PWA, WebXR recently), but this time I decided to go with the general look at the past, present, and the future of HTML5 game development.
I gave the first version of this lightning talk at the W3C workshop in Seattle, and in Amsterdam I had some extra material to add at the end of it, because two main issues we as devs currently have were already being addressed.
This is also the topic I’ll explore more in a full-length talk at the upcoming Web.br Conference in Sao Paulo that will happen in a month from now.
After all our lightning talks were over, and the second group finished workshops, we went directly for a boat cruise through Amsterdam’s canals. It was quite a long ride with unusual perspective on many interesting buildings in the city.
After that we went for dinner in the InStock restaurant, which is famous for getting their products rescued from places and organizations that would throw it away otherwise. The portions were small, but very tasty - you absolutely wouldn’t tell a difference between InStock and a “normal” cool, fancy restaurant. They also had their own beer brewed from… bread - I really enjoyed it.
We had fun talking about all the random stuff like our hobbies outside computers and such. After all we were already after our lightning talks, so we could chill a bit.
On the next day the activities for two groups were switched - ours took the workshops while the second one went for lightning talks.
First workshop led by Harald was fully packed with all the new additions and cool tricks you could do with Firefox DevTools, and it all was really impressive. I definitely need to dive deeper into the topic. Second workshop was about how to implement the Web Speech API onto a website.
After it all ended we had w few closing words from the staff and went for dinner - we could’ve picked between the burger place and the Turkish restaurant, and I went for more meat. We had really cool conversations again (like during every possible coffee or food break throughout the weekend), and ended up getting back to the hotel to have even more discussions about everything.
Monday was the day to wake up, go to the airport and return smoothly home. Well, “smoothly” didn’t work out quite well for me that day. You can skip the next few paragraphs if you’re not into random running and boarding wrong trains.
On my way from the Amsterdam’s city centre to the Schipol airport I ended up in… Utrecht. Yup, that totally different city about 50 kilometres south. It started with me looking up connections on Google Maps from Amsterdam Amstel station, which suggested I can take either one short stop with a train to Duivendrecht and change to a train to the airport, or a few stops with metro to Amsterdam Zuid and then switch to the same train to Schipol.
I bought my ticket in the yellow train ticket machine, and ended up waiting. The metro arrived, so I decided to board it, and left it a few minutes later at Amsterdam Zuid. Little did I know that with a train ticket in hand I can’t leave the platform I’m at to go on the one just next to it with trains, because the gate won’t let me out. And there weren’t any metro ticket machines (or those I learned later wheve you can “transfer” between metro and train), so I decided to get back one stop to Amsterdam RAI, but I couldn’t leave metro to board the train either, and metro wouldn’t take me to the airport.
So I decided to get back to Amsterdam Amstel and board the proper train. I waited a bit, seemed my option was delayed 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, but something looking like my go-to train arrived, I realized I’m already a little bit late on schedule and decided to board it. There were even two other people who jumped in with their baggage asking about the airport. I said I have no idea, but I hope we can just jump off at the next station. After all, it was suppose to be just one short stop, right? Well, turned out we boarded a direct train to Utrecht.
I was rushing through countryside to Utrecht and leaving my flight from Schipol in about 2 hours from that time. The train conductor that was suppose to check out tickets was super helpful though and told us about a direct train from Utrecht to Schipol airport that would leave within 1 minute from the time our current train arriving to the station.
It must’ve looked funny to see a random guy jumping off the train at platform 20-something, asking where’s the platform number 7 and running to the stairs and then through the whole station like maniac only to made it a few seconds before the train leaving the station. Fun fact: you CAN actually jump a few steps down at a time going down the stairs and don’t break a leg or die in the process if you’re lucky enough.
Someone I sat next to when I boarded the train was probably thinking I’m dying of asthma or something, but I made it. I was in Utrecht sightseeing the station for the whole 60 seconds! I should’ve bought a fridge magnet or a postcard, but, yeah, I didn’t have the time for that. Anyway, I arrived at Schipol and made it just in time to board the plane to Warsaw.
The whole event was perfectly executed, with brilliant participants, and we clearly enjoyed every little bit of time we had together. Great feedback from the coaches, cool conversations during breaks and at the dinner, content-packed workshops, extra attractions like the boat cruise, and overwhelming positivity.
I’m so happy I’m part of it all, and that the Tech Speakers program itself is constantly growing - both in quantity and quality!