Rick Hurst Web Developer in Bristol, UK


Category: skateboarding

What I did and didn’t do in 2010 and Plans for 2011

It would be rubbish to stop a tradition after only two years, so following on from my posts in 2009 and 2010, here is a retrospective for 2010 and my plans for 2011. I’m changing the format this time, by dividing into “achieved”, “carried over”, “ditched” and “new”.


  • Attend at least one web conference – I had an extremely busy year, so didn’t get to any of the generic web conferences, but couldn’t turn down the international Plone conference, as it was happening in my own city. Although it was specific to a particular open source web content management system, the talks contained enough generic web technology goodness to keep me geeked up to overflowing.
  • Get further than “hello world” with Django – Having collaborated on a django project, i’ve got further than this now, and i’m also using it for some tools used for managing data and assets for Kudos/ Lightplanet
  • Use and understand some technologies that i’ve been ignoring – I’m going to claim that as achieved, on the basis of the points above – i’ve learned plenty about Django, and python in general. This bullet point will always be carried over though, as there is always something new to learn.
  • More on-site freelancing for agencies – It’s always tricky finding a balance with this – I did a fair amount of on-site work, but it often got tricky trying to balance my ongoing client work, with the requirement to be on-site somewhere. I’m still open to this, but the other project work needs to take priority, and as such i’ve started renting a desk in a shared office again.
  • Keep Trading and survive the recession – No shortage of work again, so thanks to everyone who gave me work, but i’ll keep my fingers crossed and carry this one over again..

Carried Over

  • Launch a web app – so close on this one, but the manic run up to xmas and self-enforced work-free xmas holidays stopped me releasing my pet project, working title: Eat Static CMS. The name, some may have guessed is a tribute to a 90’s techno outfit, but also refers to the fact that the app uses text files rather than a database. It’s a basic blogging engine with niche appeal, I will make it available as a beta ASAP this year, as soon as i’ve tidied it up.
  • Relaunch Too Old To Skate – The site is still in limbo, and still reflects how little i’ve skated again, which once again I intend to change
  • Attend at least one BarCamp – the Bathcamp BarCamp clashed with Plone conference this year, so I didn’t go, but want to get to more grass-roots events this year.
  • Better Customer Service (By saying “No” sometimes) – I wanted to put this on the achieved list, but looking back I took on too much again towards the end of the year, and customer service suffered as a result, so once again i’ll try to find the balance in 2011


  • Get to grips with Plone 3 skinning – Plone has moved on and so have I, but this doesn’t mean i’ve given up on Plone, but I don’t plan to do any Plone 3 work. Plone 4 skinning/ theming is still on my list, but that’s a whole new technology, and a technology that can be used independently of Plone.
  • Put up a proper portfolio – I just can’t imagine having the time to do this – I think potential clients can find out whether I have the skills and experience they need by looking at this blog and my linked in profile. As i’m more of a programmer than a designer, a visual portfolio is less important to me. Maybe if I run out of work i’ll rethink this one?
  • Fix on a PHP framework – until someone (me?) builds a PHP framework that is basically identical to Django, with it’s production-ready admin forms and API as standard, i’ll just use whatever seems right at the time, or no framework at all.


  • Buy a new Bass Guitar and play the hell out of it – I horrified some of my older friends by selling my one remaining bass last year. I sold it as I had completely stopped playing, and having it hanging on the wall just seemed a waste. Most people i’ve befriended in the last 10 years don’t know I ever played. Playing bass in bands used to be an important part of my life – I’ve actually been playing bass for over 20 years and was once pretty good (if I say so myself!). I sense a mid-life crisis coming on in the next couple of years, so I need to get back in practice for when I inevitably decide to form another band!
  • More “work from anywhere” adventures – I spent 6 weeks touring in Europe with my wife and kid this summer, working from my laptop to earn money as I went. It was brilliant, so hopefully more of these adventures, the same or different in 2011
  • More blogging! – including some personal blogging. I think i’ll need to divide this site into “babble” and “techobabble” – not everyone who reads this site looking for a CSS hack will want to read my self-indulgent drivel and not everyone who reads the site wanting to know how I really feel about the experimental bass playing style of jaco pastorious wants to read about the new python module i’ve started using, so i’ll provide the opportunity to follow from both a techie and non-techie viewpoint, although it will all still be one blog. Looking back through the archives of this blog, i’ve been doing this over the years anyway, going through phases of techie and non-techie content.
archived comments

What about skating the s**t out of Kennington and drinking beers in London with your mate a bit more…?Henry Sanchez 2011-02-01 17:50:52

You know what I did last summer?

team rubber video shoot

Last summer I was freelancing for the lovely Team Rubber, when I overheard one of the film making dept say “Now we just need a skateboarder to skate the halfpipe..”. I immediately volunteered myself for the role. “Can you skate a halfpipe?” he asked. “Um.. yep, how high?”, I replied. “13 foot”. “..err.. (mumble)… can I come along and watch though?”.

I tend to work on projects with a local working copy on my laptop of whatever it is i’m working on, so pre-empting the current meme of working away from the office, I offered to go along to the shoot, help out where I could, learn about the video shoot process and work the rest of the time from my laptop.

The video shoot was on an old air base in wiltshire. I arrived early in the morning and couldn’t figure out how to get on site, so I circled the perimeter trying out various back roads and possible routes in, occasionally encountering other car drivers, eyeing me up suspiciously as I loitered. I eventually spotted some of the crew arrive and unlock a gate, and sure enough most of the cars I had encountered earlier turned out to contain runners, directors and extras.

The ramp was already set up and I was dying to have a quick go on it, but then the heavens opened leaving the uncovered ramp to get soaked. I prayed that the weather would clear up, as the shoot would have to be postphoned or cancelled if the rain continued. Fortunately it cleared up soon after, and became a scorcher of a day so I went and swept the surface water off the ramp to help it dry out quicker.

I climbed onto one of the platforms just to see what it would be like to drop in, but being considerably higher (4.5ft higher specifically) than anything i’ve skated before, there was no chance of me giving it a go, at least dropping in from the top. I skated it from the bottom, pumping the transitions to gradually get higher and higher up the ramp, but looking back at the embarrassing video clip I persuaded someone to film on my camera, I can’t have gone any higher than halfway towards the top. Fortunately, the ramp owner, and UK vert legend Pete King arrived to provide the goods.

Pete King air

3d model of the halfpipe

The plan was to use the skater as a reference for a CGI character, so the CGI guys set up a makeshift studio in one of the hangars and created a 3d model of the ramp. Pete was dressing in a rather fetching grey one-piece (“chroma key” suit) with white tape to use for CGI reference. As you can see from the photos, he didn’t disappoint with the skating – pulling some massive airs for the camera. These photos are not modified – he was consistently getting airs that high, and landing them most of the day, despite the blazing sun and being asked to repeat the sequence over and over.

Hangar studio

As if hanging around on an air base watching a skateboarder dressed in a lycra suit wasn’t surreal enough, the actors, now dressed as american GI’s, were bought in to encourage and heckle Pete, sometimes while he was there, sometimes when he wasn’t.

more air

Then the chopper arrived. Ever wonder why insurance companies have a problem with media types? Luckily i’m a software developer, so *cough* no chance of my car getting hit by helicopter-related flying debris on a film shoot..*cough*. I made myself handy by securing a nearby gazebo with breeze blocks before it (and the helicopter) took off again.

I can’t say I got a massive amount of work done as planned. Working from the hangar and my mobile office (car, with leisure battery + 3g phone), there was no wifi on site and I could barely get a mobile signal good enough for data, but the main reason was there too much exciting stuff going on to concentrate. I skated the ramp anytime it wasn’t being used – you can’t stick a halfpipe in front of me then expect me to concentrate on python and javascript! Thanks to Team Rubber for a great day out!

mobile office

p.s. you can see the final video here.

new sweetcron/ codeigniter based site Too Old To skate

too old to skate

I’m pleased to say i’ve achieved another of my 2009 goals, by launching the (unfinished) new version of one of my personal projects Too Old To Skate. The main site is now running php/codeigniter based sweetcron, which is used to pull content in from the original wordpress, flickr, delicious, twitter, vimeo and a friends blogger based site. I have plenty more planned for the site, but little to no time to do it, so I thought i’d upload the site unfinished in the meantime to allow myself to do incremental updates, rather than be embarrased by a holding page.

Amongst the plans are:-

  • bring in the content (articles and photo galleries) from the now defunct plone(2) based DFR Skate zine – i’m thinking some sort of PHP/ codeigniter* front-end sucking in content (as XML/JSON or even plain HTML) from a Plone 3 site acting as a content server. Doing something like this with Plone has been on my mind for years! Maybe I should stick this in as a 2010 goal. Alternatively it may just end up as a skinned Plone 3 site on another subdomain – either would be good.
  • Skin the blog to fit in with the main site.
  • Other awesomeness – this is a non-commercial personal project and therefore my playground 😉

*Having now played with both codeigniter and cakephp, I think I prefer cake. However as sweetcron is codeigniter based it would be plain silly to be using cake on the same project.

new toy – casio elixim Z1050

I recently bought a new compact camera – a tiny casio elixim Z1050. Historically I have always been disappointed with the performance of compact digital cameras, mainly because of shutter lag. This one is much better, with only a tiny lag at 10 megapixels. Although one day i’d like to get a digital SLR, for now I just wanted a compact to carry with me to snap pictures I can use for web sites, and also to take a few skateboarding pictures. One feature that has proven to be excellent for the latter is the high-speed continuous mode with takes several shots a second at 2 megapixels, allowing me to grab a sequence (like below, or just take the best frame from several, to get the best action shot.)

rick hurst sequence taken by casio Z1050

Best frame – original pic is 2 megapixels – fine for snapshot prints and web stuff:-

rick hurst fs disaster on st george whippy bank

archived comments

I wish I was skateboarding there, that looks so fun.

sirjorge 2007-12-18 00:23:33