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Icon Design Process - Smashing Conference Oxford 2014

It was my great pleasure to speak at Smashing Conference Oxford this week, in the guise of ‘The Mystery Speaker’. If you follow me on Twitter, this will explain my behaviour that week:


My talk was ‘The Icon Design Process’, a tour through creating your own iconsets, from starting brief to choosing the right deployment method – iconfonts or SVGs. So much has changed the last few months in regards to deployment methods, and I fully expect the techniques to go out of date in another few months time! Such is the way of the web.

I will be writing a longer, more comprehensive blog post soon, going into the various options for using SVG, and providing fallbacks as there are many useful methods. While I couldn’t go through all of them in my talk, I highlighted the one that I prefer at the moment, Grumpicon. Until then, please download the slides which includes notes and links!

Broken Spoke Bike Co-op

Ever since I got into cycling, I’ve been aware that I’ve enjoyed tinkering and fettling bikes as much as riding them. I’m never satisfied with stock bikes, and love to customise and try out different parts where I can. Like Arthur Weasley, I’m happiest in the shed.

So far, I’ve picked up what I can from manuals, guides on the internet and just trying things, but there are an awful lot of holes in my education. I also want to be able to setup and service my bikes as much as I can, which is where a new co-operative in Oxford called The Broken Spoke comes in.

The Co-op door

Setup in 2012 by Cassiope Sydoriak, Elle Smith and Will McCallum, and based in workshops that are part of the Oxford Story Museum , they have laudable aims:

  1. Teach bicycle maintenance classes that are fairly-priced, convenient, and accessible to everyone
  2. Bring people together to ride and repair bicycles
  3. Provide specific activities and training for vulnerable members of our community and those under-represented in cycling
  4. Create training, volunteer, and employment opportunities for a new generation of bicycle mechanics
  5. Support the growth of a “fix it, don’t throw it away” mentality within the cycling community
  6. Do business in a sustainable way that strengthens our community

I’ve now completed two bike workshops there and can highly recommend them! The first course was Wheel Building back in February (Flickr Set here), where we learned how to lace and true a wheel. Topics like dishing and spoke length were also covered, and after spending 2 hours trying to true a wheel, I appreciate the skill involved even more.

Hubs, spokes and nipples

It was hard work, but I’ve now been able to true the rear wheel ‘enough’. I went with Cyclox Chairman, James Styring who wrote about the experience for The Oxford Times. Tech geek? I’ll have words…

I then went back for a second course, the two-part External Mechanics Intensive (Wheels, Brakes, Chains and Gears) with chum Matt Hamm. In both courses, the workshop leaders were fantastic, and numbers are kept low so that there is enough one-on-one time. This means you can get specific instructions on your particular bike and its components, rather than just generic instructions. I’ve learnt a lot and keen to go back for more.

Matt and I removing sprockets

As well as the specific bike courses, they run an open workshop every Saturday from 12–6pm. You can come and use their extensive tool collection, and get advice and help from volunteer experts hanging around.

The co-op is a triumph!

Sorry, couldn’t resist a photo of my singlespeed outside the Pembroke Street entrance…

CSS Filters

I’ll be doing a 5 minute microslot on CSS filters at the next Oxford Geek Night on July 21st. CSS filters is the practice of linking to your stylesheets in different ways in order to control how different browsers and their versions get your CSS. It’s something I get quite a lot of questions about when people look at my source code, so I thought I’d explain it via a presentation! The OGN microslot is the ideal format for it.

If you live nearish to Oxford, and haven’t been to Geek Night yet, do come and see what you’re missing. It’s a free event (sponsored by local gents/superstars Torchbox) in the Jericho Tavern in Oxford. Beer, geek talk and socialising. What more do you need?

In other news – Family Hicks also waiting to hear about our house move date – what’s the betting that it becomes July 21st?! ;)

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The Hickensian is the journal of Jon Hicks, one half of the creative partnership Hicksdesign. Take a look at the work we do.

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Upcoming Talks

I sometimes pop up at conferences and waffle about design, icon creation in particular. Here's where I'll be next:

An Event Apart Chicago- "Icon Design Process" - 25-26th August 2014

Web Expo Guildford- "Icon Design Process" - 26th September 2014

Beyond Tellerrand Berlin – 3rd-5th November 2014

playlist

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