This post will be constantly updated as 2018 progresses.

Last year was the first time I spoke at any event outside of Singapore, and it was quite a whirlwind experience. I absolutely LOVED every minute of it, and did a recap of the Mozilla Developer Asia Roadshow where I met a lot of amazing and interesting people. So why not do it again for 2018?

My strategy for submitting call-for-proposals (CFPs) is: I have none. I try to submit whenever I see an open call, and hope for the best. I actually expect rejection most of the time because, let’s be honest, it’s a numbers game. Organisers receive hundreds, probably thousands of applications, and it’s so hard to narrow it down to just a handful.

So whenever I get the rare, “Congratulations, your talk has been accepted” reply, I don’t think twice and just say yes (let’s ignore the fact I don’t think much in general). Because I feel like if I don’t say yes now, I will NEVER get the opportunity ever again.

I wrote a little bit about this last year after a conversation with my good friend, Aysha, that opportunities for speakers from Southeast-Asia aren’t exactly falling out of the sky. And I can’t put into words how appreciative I am to the various conference organisers for giving me the chance to speak at their events.

Which brings us to my conference schedule for 2018. We’ve established that I don’t think very much before making decisions, which explains exactly how I ended up an exciting month of June (and possibly September). I’m not complaining though, because I’m having the time of my life. 😎


🇸🇬 @ Talk.CSS max-content

We can look at Talk.CSS max-content either as an expanded meet-up or a mini-conference, two sides of the same oreo. This was the first time Talk.CSS sold tickets because we were flying in a speaker from Australia, giving out some swag and putting up some semblance of promotional material.

Okay, it was 2 banners, stop judging.

Although this year’s format for JSConf.Asia involved folding in all the CSS talks into the 3-day extravaganza, we still wanted a sort of CSS-themed event, so by the power of relationships (mostly those of my co-organiser, Chris Lienert), we managed to get 2 fabulous speakers all the way from Australia, Mandy Michael and Andy Clarke.

Still amazed we managed to pull it off
Talk.CSS max-content edition

I closed the event with my first sort-of non-technical talk, which was basically a love letter to the web. But overall, it was a surprisingly successful event. Full write-up here.

🇸🇬 @ JSConf.Asia 2018

Ah, the conference that started it all. I first attended CSSConf.Asia in 2014, and it was such an experience. I hadn’t started speaking yet, but the thought of being on stage did cross my mind. This is my fourth year being involved with CSSConf.Asia/JSConf.Asia in some capacity, and I hope this streak continues on.

First conference talk of 2018! This is the talk that sent me around the world, it’s about vertical writing on the web. I’m very grateful that a number of conference organisers decided to pick it up and let me do this talk in front of audiences around the world.

Doing this talk in front of a “home” crowd felt a bit special, though. As usual, before the talk, I’m on conference duty, manning the T-shirt booth but somehow ended up surrounded with boxes of bottled water.

water.js?
JSConf.Asia swag booth

It’s a known fact that I don’t adult in general, but sometimes there are exceptions, like when I have to go on stage. Because even I, have standards. I think I got a few double-takes when walking back into the theatre, like “wait, wasn’t that the angry t-shirt booth lady?” (there’s a story to the ‘angry’ bit, ask me about it, if you like). 🤷

Costume change after lunch
On stage at JSConf.Asia

This being the second time I’ve ever been on stage at the Capitol Theatre, I already knew what it would feel like. The spotlight made it nearly impossible to see the audience, and I found this rather amusing because it felt like I was talking to myself. 🤣

I was told I looked professional, which is hilarious, but I have since decided to call my on-stage apparel choices “Cinderella mode”, because it only lasts all of 3 seconds before I revert to “Pumpkin mode”, which is what all my friends see all the time. See exhibit below:

Aren't all workshops run from the floor?
On the floor at JSConf.Asia

Let me explain what’s going on. Long story short, the projector was so blur we had to replace it with a huge TV instead. Unfortunately, cable lengths were not sufficient, and rather than do a lot of furniture shifting, I decided that shifting myself would be the most efficient thing to do. To the floor! Also, I’m all of 5 years old and when I see a nice carpet, I must sit on it. Sans shoes.

Making the photographer's job difficult
After the photographer found me on the floor

I was informed by my fellow workshop facilitators that the event photographer was perplexed for a while because all he could hear was my disembodied voice, however, he could not see where I was at all.

I honestly had no idea why anyone would sign up for my workshop, but thankfully the attendees were sufficiently interested in CSS Grid to disregard my unorthodox approach. I’ll try to be more adult in my next workshop. Maybe.

🌐 @ Mozilla Tech Briefing

This was the first time I ever did a talk over video conference, and it was quite fun. Because I had some bits of live coding on the presentation, my slides were full screen on my computer, and I couldn’t see the other participants on the video call, which was interesting.

But this was also memorable because not long after, I officially joined the Mozilla TechSpeakers initiative, which made it easier to explain my relationship with Mozilla. As previously, it was, how should we put this, complicated. 🤷

🇸🇬 @ GitHub Constellation

This year was the first time GitHub Constellation ran in Singapore. I had heard plans for this the year before but somehow it didn’t come through. I was connected to the organiser of this event by Mozilla and had been asked to speak about CSS layout, which is just up my alley.

The only thing was that the event took place at a rooftop bar kind of setting, which was a great location for networking but the acoustics of the place was a bit tricky for an event involving a bunch of talks. It also wasn’t really set up for talks, it was more of a live band performance stage thing. So there was no way to display both slides and speaker notes.

Good thing this was a subject I could talk for hours on end, not so good is that without speaker notes, I’m not as tight with time. So I sort of breezed through the final few slides, but it was a cool experience all around.

🇺🇸 @ Smashing Conference SF 2018

Being invited to speak at Smashing Conf was such a wonderful opportunity, and it was my first time speaking to a predominantly American audience. But being on the Mozilla Developer Roadshow the year before meant that I was already familiar with Vitaly Friedman (who I seem to bump into all the time 😁) and Markus Seyfferth.

And because it was in San Francisco, I got also arrange to meet a number of people whom I’d only ever interacted with online. My broke ass found that accommodation in San Francisco was unacceptably exorbitant, so on a whim, I decided to pop down to San Diego for 3 nights before heading up to Mountain View to visit the Mozilla office.

Hello, San Diego!
Hillcrest, San Diego

I still think that was a great decision, because San Diego was a lovely city. I got to meet Saron, creator of CodeNewbie and such an inspirational and driven woman. That was one of the most fun conversations I’ve ever had, and I really hope to meet her again. Some day.

I museum a lot, even back home in Singapore. So I couldn’t possibly find myself in Mountain View without visiting the Computer History Museum, and it was every bit as good as I imagined (if not better). Some people like going to Disneyland, and feel all sorts of excited and happy when they do. We-ll, it was the same for me at the Computer History Museum.

Can one spend a full day at the Computer History Museum? Yes, definitely.
Computer History Museum exhibit

Normally, you’d get through a museum in a couple hours, right? But I was there almost from opening time till closing time. There was so much to see! Including an original Interface Message Processor (IMP), just like what I’d read in Where wizards stay up late.

Mozilla's Mountain View Campus
Mozilla office at Mountain View

The Mozilla office visit was super fun, even though I dropped in on a Friday afternoon, when it was much quieter than usual, but Havi Hoffman, whom I had met in December at the Mozilla All-Hands showed me around and introduced me to the Mozillians around the office.

AND we got to play with VR ducks!

All the ducks!
Ducks in VR with A-frame

Finally, it was time to get serious. The team at Smashing really know how to do a conference, and the line-up was stellar. I got to meet Rachel Andrew again, and a lot of new friends doing cool stuff. Had nice long conversations with Joe Leech and Mike Rithmuller. And I met the lady who campaigned for and created the dumpling emoji, Lu Yiying!

Another highlight was meeting Robin Rendle in person while I was in San Franciso and he gave me the best recommendation to visit the Letterform Archive, best advice ever.

I could have lived there…
Collection at the Letterpress Archive

🇺🇦 @ You Gotta Love Frontend Kyiv

YGLF Kyiv marked the start of my ridiculous summer conference schedule. Ridiculous because instead of remaining in Europe, I ping-ponged back and forth between Singapore and the various European cities. Yes, many friends have given me advice on how to avoid such a situation in future. 🤣

So apparently, this was the first time the team in Kyiv organised a conference, but honestly, you’d never have known because the entire conference was so well-run. I was really well taken care of as a speaker, and that line-up was amazing. I learned so much in the short span of 2 days.

Speakers, organisers and duck!
Group photo with speakers and organisers after YGLF Kyiv

The format of the conference was really fun as well, with a mix of full-length talks and lightning talks, as well as 1-on-1 interviews with some of the speakers on the second day. And with Bruce Lawson doing the honours as MC, you can be assured of a good time. 😏

Grilled by the man himself
Interview with Bruce Lawson

Kyiv is definitely a city I want to come back and visit. There is still so much I hadn’t yet seen, and the food I definitely loved. My Airbnb was right next to the Toilet History Museum, and my host and her daughter also gave me a list of places to visit (which sadly I couldn’t cover them all).

It was great to catch up with familiar faces and meet new friends too, like fellow basketball-playing developer, Ben Gagyi, and V8 engineer, Benedikt Meurer. Just had to point out a tale of 2 Bens. 😌 Check out all the photos from the conference! Here are the Day 1 Photos, and these are the Day 2 Photos.

Even though I should have stayed put in Europe after this conference and made my way to Berlin from there, I went home to Singapore instead. Just in time to touch down back to Singapore and make it to the final game of our basketball season directly from the airport.

We won. 😎

Hillcrest Greys basketball team
2018 WNBL champions

🇩🇪 @ CSSConf.EU 2018

Being at CSSConf.EU and JSConf.EU was so surreal. It was truly an experience to remember. First of all, keep in mind that before 2018, I had never been to Europe before, much less attend a European conference. Berlin is a great city, and 5 days was definitely too short a trip. But back to how mind-blowing the conference was.

Audience at CSSConf.EU
View from the back of the hall at CSSConf.EU

First of all, so many people turning up just for CSS! And knowing that this number was probably going to be tripled (my best guess) for JSConf.EU? I just, no words. 🤯

I flew in to Berlin via London, and was actually on the same plane as Sareh Heidari, one of my favouritest people ever, but didn’t see her until we got off the plane! Soon after, I got to know Whitney Williams, and thus we formed an unofficial trio for the rest of the conference.

The three musketeers
Whitney, Sareh and I

One of the highlights at the conference was the wonderful Mozilla Arch, that sadly, due to fire safety regulations, wasn’t open for public to walk through. But it was still super cool, because anyone could program the Arch with a little bit of Rust code.

Meeting up with team Mozilla at any time in any place is always something I look forward to. I finally managed to meet Ola Gasidlo in person, who so kindly showed me around the Berlin office, and her talk about TCP/IP was one of my favourites. There were actual pancakes involved, nuff’ said.

While working on this CSSConf.EU talk in Kyiv, I suddenly got the idea to create “CSS trading cards”, making various layout techniques/properties into characters, like those players on baseball cards. I also decided to toss in a minor bit of live code into my slides (thank you content-editable), because, why not? Thankfully, the code worked as planned. 🙏

Check out all the conference photos plus the playlist for CSSConf.EU 2018 and JSConf.EU 2018.

Intermission: 🇭🇰 @ Webconf.asia 2018

If you read last year’s post, this conference might sound familiar. Yes, this was my first ever international talk (thank you, Charis Rooda for taking a chance on me). Charis gave me free entry to this year’s Webconf.asia, which was such a treat!

So this happened. Conference organisers, you have been warned…
Co-hosting Day 2 of Webconf.asia with Charis Rooda

On Day 2, Charis let me crash the stage and co-host with her, which was great fun for me (not sure what the audience thought 🤷). But that meant I got to introduce Monica Dinculescu and Val Head, 2 people I’ve fangirled over for a good long time 😍.

One of my hopes for the future is that there will be more web conferences in this part of the world too. Near future, not far future 🤞.

🇳🇱 @ CSS Day 2018

I was especially nervous for this talk for a number of reasons. It was a brand new talk, I hadn’t had that much time to work on it, and I was told the audience at CSS Day was very technical, so I was doubly worried that I would be telling them things they already knew.

The rare shot where I actually look decent. Credit to Drew McLellan.
On stage at CSS Day

Some of you may know me as that person who keeps extolling the virtues of reading CSS specifications, and I really do read them. But for this talk, I poured over them, going through the relevant ones with a fine-toothed comb. So in the process, I learned a whole lot about alignment that I didn’t know before.

But first, let’s talk about Amsterdam. Picturesque, I think, is an appropriate description of the city. After Kyiv and Berlin, I found that quite a number of people I know are based in Amsterdam as well.

Museumbrug, Amsterdam
The bridge just before you get to the museum district

Like Razvan Caliman, creator of the CSS Shapes editor chrome extension, and now part of the Firefox Devtools team, the incredible Rachel Nabors, whom I first met at JSConf.EU, Stephanie Nemeth, whose Haute Codeture talk at JSConf.EU blew all of us away. I could go on.

And then, there are my typography friends, Roel Nieskens, who I’ve been chatting with regularly on Twitter and Slack prior to meeting, and Richard Rutter, who I only met properly for the first time at this conference. If you don’t know Roel, he has been crowned (by me) as winner of the best named project in the world award, for Wakamai Fondue.

Team NiceWebType at CSS Day
Roel, Richard and I

I had followed Richard for a while now, because, you know, web typography, so it was really nice to meet him in person and chat with him. I also bought the physical copy of Web Typography and he signed it for me!

While preparing for the talk, I figured, since I was going to be talking about box alignment, it would make sense to have a box illustration in my slides, right? We-ll, one box turned into five, and then before I knew it, there was a village of boxes all over the presentation. It just happened. 🤷

Box fam. #squad
Box village

It turns out, Boxy (naming things is hard, my friends) was pretty popular and Hidde (another friend based in Amsterdam, fellow Mozillian and great speaker) suggested making Boxy stickers. What an idea, what an idea…

One last dinner before going home
Rachel, Diego and I

Is doing 3 different talks within the span of a month a bad idea? Well, now that I’ve come out the other side relatively unscathed, I’ll say it’s hectic, but rewarding. Although I never really relaxed until this talk was over and I could take a breath without thinking about the next talk (at least for a little bit).

🇦🇺 @ Web Directions Code 2018

I stayed put for the month of July, but it’s time for another round on the conference circuit (that’s what I’m going to call all this travel in 2018). This time I’m travelling south, to the land Down Under for Web Directions Code.

If you’ve ever been to Singapore, you’ll know that we have hot and humid weather. ALL THE TIME. Jackets are worn in air-conditioned rooms, not outdoors. So call me weird but to be in Melbourne during winter was nice for me.

Don't think we'd get the same effect if the lights were green
Cool purple lights

There was a general consensus among the speakers that the purple lights, which were in line with the conference theme colours, made for really good photos. Not sure if it was planned or just a coincidence, but Code Leaders theme colour was green. Don’t think green lights would have had the same effect though. 🤷

Normally I have my talk cemented weeks before the actual conference, but I had a very busy July at work in addition to other commitments like TechLadies and basketball, so I found myself adding stuff to my slides just before I was due to go on stage. I don’t recommend this at all, but hey, life happens.

The Code audience was really warm and responsive, which made it very reassuring as a speaker. There were some issues because my laptop lost WiFi connection halfway through and I chose this once to use Can I use… embeds directly instead of screenshot-ing them like I normally did. Murphy’s Law.

Full house for both days with around 300 attendees
Captivated audience at Web Directions Code

But because I was going a mile a minute, I had time to ask the superb AV-in-charge to help me sort things out. And the show went on. The part I chose to add in the morning was a section about non-rectangular-ness on the web, with all the Beyoncé-related examples I could dig up at short notice.

Web Directions Code was a spectacular conference. Every talk was chock full of useful information and I met so many awesome people. I got to see Mandy Michael, Patima Tantiprasut and Phil Nash again. Patima’s keynote was stellar and I can’t wait to share it when the videos are released. Mandy (who is officially friend of Talk.CSS for eternity) was brilliant as usual, and her slides were super gorgeous.

Road Trip!
Mike, myself and Sara

After the event wrapped up, some of us stuck around for an extra day in Melbourne, and so Road Trip! It was Sara Soueidan, Mike Riethmuller and I along the Great Ocean Road. There were kangaroos, birds and the splendour of mother nature.

🇵🇭 @ Form Function Class 9

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🇪🇪 @ Refresh 2018

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🇫🇷 @ Tech Speakers Meetup

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🇯🇵 @ W3C Workshop on Digital Publication Layout and Presentation

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🇧🇾 @ CSS-Minsk-JS 2018

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🇬🇧 @ View Source 2018

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🇩🇪 @ beyond tellerrand 2018

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🇲🇾 @ deTECH Conference 2018

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