I haven’t been doing a good job of recapping most of the WordCamps that I’ve been to. I did a recap of WordCamp Atlanta back in May, but since then I’ve been to Jacksonville and Montclair. I also have a few coming up, including Denver this weekend. My goal is to better do write-ups of things that I’ve learned at these events. Hopefully I can pass along some useful information to you, or at least remember the events better for future me.

With the number of WordCamps that I’ve gone to this year and the number still coming up, I’ve opted to make trips a bit shorter to better fit my schedule and budget. I’m immensely grateful to SiteGround for making it easier for me to attend WordCamps as an ambassador, not least because I am already a regular user of their hosting and services, and recommend them at our Meetups.

Travel

I flew into Boston on Friday and left Saturday evening after the full day of sessions. I did miss a few talks that I wanted to see on Sunday, which is even more disappointing considering the quality of the talks that I saw on Saturday. It was easily one of the best collections of talks I’ve attended at any event over the past few years.

WordCamp Boston 2019 venue

I started the morning off with a train ride from my hotel to Boston University, where the event was held. The transit that I used was pleasant and affordable, and it makes me wish that we had a more robust system in Orlando for public transit. While I know that I should use our bus system before complaining about it, the inconvenience is immense. I’m grateful that I don’t have to rely on it regularly. I have to make the decision to drive 15 minutes or take three buses over the course of 90 minutes (which leave only once per hour) to join my weekly blogging group, and that doesn’t include the mile of walking to get to and from those buses.

I arrived early with the intent on getting coffee and some pre-event work done. I was derailed by the coffee shop that I was going to opening an hour later than expected. I took the opportunity to take a walk through the neighborhood, sitting in a shaded park for a bit to just think and look at animals that we don’t get in Florida. Boston was going through a heat wave, which amounted to a pleasant autumn day in Florida.

Sessions

The first session that I attended was “The Future: Why the Open Web Matters”, delivered by Aaron Campbell. Aaron walked us through a bit of history of the web, some of the challenges that it faces, and what we can do about it. Considering that I was delivering a talk about IndieWeb later in the day, I knew I’d want to see what he had to say. After the talk I spent a bit of time chatting with him, where it became clear that even when a problem can be agreed upon, solutions aren’t quite so easy.

Aaron D. Campbell delivering his presentation "The Future: Why the Open Web Matters" at WordCamp Boston 2019
Aaron D. Campbell delivering his presentation “The Future: Why the Open Web Matters” at WordCamp Boston 2019

Following that talk, I went to see Kathy Zant deliver her presentation, “The Hacking Mindset: How Beating WordPress Hackers Taught Me to Overcome Obstacles & Innovate”. Kathy shared her experience getting started in security, some common mistakes that people make, and ways to fix them. She made a great point that WordPress is so large that you’re going to be regularly attacked just for using it on your site.

Kathy Zant delivering her presentation "The Hacking Mindset: How Beating WordPress Hackers Taught Me to Overcome Obstacles & Innovate" at WordCamp Boston 2019
Kathy Zant delivering her presentation “The Hacking Mindset: How Beating WordPress Hackers Taught Me to Overcome Obstacles & Innovate” at WordCamp Boston 2019

I also spent a bit of time at the Happiness Bar helping with website issues, as well as the hallway track of chatting with friends and sponsors. Some of my favorite conversations come from these moments where we have a chance to dig deeper than we do in online conversation. I do sometimes get deep into a conversation and realize that I’m missing a talk that I would otherwise have attended, but the memories and actionable advice that I get during these impromptu chats are just as important.

The final talk of the day stood out to me most. That was “The World-Wide Work”, delivered by Ethan Marcotte. He touched on some of the same topis that Aaron and I did, but focused even more about biases encoded into design, both intentional and unintentional. He similarly bemoaned the darkening of the web, and what he sees as a potential path forward. Ethan was unfortunately cut off near the end as he ran over time, but I would have loved to discuss the points that he brought up at length. Alas, I was unable to stick around for long or attend the trolley tour, as I flew out a few hours later.

Ethan Marcotte delivering his presentation "The World-Wide Work" at WordCamp Boston 2019
Ethan Marcotte delivering his presentation “The World-Wide Work” at WordCamp Boston 2019

My Presenation

Again, I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend so many events, meet new people, share ideas, and receive support for doing so from SiteGround. I try not to swoop into events just for my portions, and prefer to stay and interact for the full duration. It is nice to be able to spend the night in my own bed after giving a talk though.

My slides for my presentation, “WordPress and the IndieWeb: Why You Should Own Your Voice”, are available here: WordPress and the IndieWeb: Why You Should Own Your Voice. I welcome conversation about that here, via Mastodon, or on Twitter.

Let’s work together to make the web a more open, equitable place for everyone!

I’ve been attending WordCamp Atlanta since 2013, and it’s been one of my favorite annual WordCamp events. It is larger than WordCamp Orlando, with an average of 600 attendees to our 350, but it rarely feels large with the sensible layout of the venue and separation of spaces. Everything is in one building across two floors, and all of the rooms are near each other.

The ease of getting around, and the proximity of hundreds of WordPress people without a feeling of claustrophobia makes it an ideal setting for conversations. We call the space between sponsor tables and session rooms the “Hallway Track”, since it can be a valuable session space itself. I can talk with friends that I see a handful of times per year, or find out what other companies in the space are up to.

WordCamp Atlanta 2019 Sponsor Area

WordCamp Orlando 2019 is coming on 23-25 August!
Our call for speakers is open, and tickets go on sale soon. Learn more at orlando.wordcamp.org

My Workshop – Building a Plugin

Recently I’ve been having success at events teaching attendees how to build their own plugins and themes. I was under a new constraint this time, of offering my plugin workshop in a 50 minute time-slot as a lecture, where it’s been a two to three hour workshop in the past. Treating it as a lecture meant no hands on, one-on-one help, but it let me present the information at a comfortable speed.

The questions that I got, both immediately following my session and throughout the weekend, indicated that I was able to help some of the attendees. I was told by three separate people that they attended the getting started workshop the day before, and my lecture put that information in place for them in an understandable way.

I’m not always confident when I give presentations, as listening to myself drone on for more than a few minutes feels excessive to me, and I can only imagine what others think. Having thoughtful followups made me feel that I provided value.

Code for my workshop can be found on my Github.

Sessions

WordCamps are a great place to learn more about WordPress, but also to learn about related topics, such as SEO and marketing, running a business, or developing applications. We hold a unique position in tech in that our tool serves users at all ends of the technical spectrum. The lower barrier of entry to starting your first WordPress site coupled with the flexibility and extensibility of the platform makes it an ideal way for people of various skills to interact on a common ground.

I only attended a handful of sessions other than my own, preferring to spend time in the Happiness Bar offering help, as well as the aforementioned conversation time. Here are a few of my highlights:

  • Getting confirmation from Tom McFarlin, a developer who I greatly respect, that WordPress can serve as an application foundation. I’ve wasted some time that I could have been working on a variety of projects wondering if I’m just trying to fit a peg into a WordPress shaped hole, forgetting that getting something done at all is better than an optimized nothing.
  • Being reminded by Adam Walker, co-owner of Sideways8, that routines, habits, and processes are key when it comes to managing your work life. I’m impressed with the number of projects that he handles while maintaining a balance that leans favorably toward family and personal life. Sometimes you just need to hear the same message in a new way or for the tenth time before it sinks in. I’m making some changes based on his presentation, which he shared on his site.
  • Getting some ideas on ways to automate my development workflow from Chris Wiegman, a personal friend and team lead at WP Engine. This is one of the places that I feel that I could improve most when it comes to my processes. Some of the tooling that Chris uses is beyond me currently, but I want to expand my toolset. Chris also shared his slides on his site.

The rest of the event

I got to hang out with lots of WordPress friends and meet a few new people this weekend. I try not to only talk to people that I already know, since that leaves out all of the people who would be good friends if I took the time to get to know them now. I also shared dinner, lunch, coffee breaks, and walks around town with fellow attendees.

The real value of these events for me is the personal connection, where I get to talk one-on-one with someone a step ahead of or behind me in the business and product building process. We’re all learning this as we go, and it’s good to be reminded that no one comes in with all of the knowledge, and no business starts fully-formed.

WordCamp Atlanta 2019 Tips and Tricks Boards

WordCamp Atlanta made these great boards for people to post tips and tricks around business, WordPress, and life. I wish I’d gotten a picture at the end of Sunday!

On the secondary value front, I won an IKEA gift card from the folks at GoDaddy Pro! I don’t usually enter contests at WordCamps, but I’m glad that I entered that one and was still in town during closing remarks. We’ve been talking about getting a new couch at home for a while, and this is the push to make that purchase happen.

A big thanks to SiteGround!

Finally, I want to thank SiteGround yet again for helping to sponsor my trip. I realize that I haven’t yet written a post on the SiteGround Ambassador program, which is something that I’m going to fix now.

I met three members of the SiteGround team that I haven’t yet had the chance to meet, spent some time at their booth, and discussed SiteGround services several times during the event. It’s very easy to do when the conversation comes up from whoever I’m talking to with general interest, and I don’t even feel like I’m giving a sales pitch. That said, I’d do a sales pitch anyway, since I truly enjoy the service and level of support.

SiteGround team at WordCamp Atlanta 2019
The SiteGround team is always a great WordCamp addition!

I also got to chat with Francesca Marano, the WordPress Community Manager at SiteGround. We chat online regularly, but in person opens up new space for the kinds of conversations that don’t regularly come up online. Again, these events are a great way to catch up and form deeper connection with the people who help make this community worth sticking around for.

I greatly enjoyed WordCamp Atlanta 2019, and look forward to another fantastic event in 2020!

I’m happy to announce the release of David v3.1.0!

As with any minor version update, some new, backwards-compatible features have been included since the last minor release. Among these are:

New features are constantly being added, and original developments refined. The timeline for release this year looks promising. I’ll keep you up to date when further information is available.

Thank you all for making the latest release possible, and for your support through the ups and downs of prior release schedules!

I know that I made a commitment earlier this year to post code tips and resources most weekdays. I kind of indicated it there, but will make more clear that I intend to follow that commitment as best as I can, but know that some weeks I will just plain fall short.

This week and last have been two of those weeks already. I can use the excuse of having other projects that take precedence (I do), or that I’m writing in other places with more pressing deadlines (I am). But I did tell myself, and in that last post, all of you reading, that I would be posting more regularly. This week was also shot, and while I have plenty of half done posts, following through seems to be my issue.

Still, the other part of that commitment was that any progress on that goal was better than standing still. For some reason I find that when I take on larger challenges I end up getting more done than if I reduce the scope of those goals. I’ve heard that people who maintain more commitments are happier and more successful over all than people who don’t keep any. I often feel that I’d be liberated by dropping all commitments and starting fresh, but there’s a reason that I keep lists of “maybe someday” projects always nearby.

I can’t say that I’m more motivated now, or that I’m not concerned that this won’t happen again. I can say that though I’ve got a lot of self-imposed deadlines on my plate, I’m glad to be able to make time for this in the first place.

I’ll see you next week!

Back in May I did a little challenge where I tried publishing a new post every day, without a specific theme. While I barely scraped by in completing the month, I was able to keep a commitment to myself, one which a lot of bloggers try for: some form of consistency.

Kicking off the month of blogging challenge

That went alright, but it also felt like a chore at times. I focused so much on crafting the perfect posts last year that most of them came out far less than that. I also have plenty of posts here that are specifically about posting more, something not uncommon on personal blogs.

A New Goal for 2019

This year I’m going to get a bit more ambitious with my blogging goal. I’m going to focus on sharing more tips and resources.

I usually get to the point of thinking that anything technical or educational should go on a business blog, so that I can start pushing traffic there. While I still want to do that (the FixUpFox blog could certainly use some love this year), I don’t want it to get in the way of actually producing content.

Sharing knowledge has always been one of my favorite activities. Projects may come and go, but the ability to show someone the cool thing that I learned which could potentially save them hours or hundreds of dollars for their sites is always fulfilling.

In that spirit, I intend on sharing a small tip, code snippet, or cool resource on as many weekdays as I can manage this year. My goal is going to be every non-holiday weekday of the year, but even half of that goal would be a tremendous amount of new content on the site.

I’m not sure how well I’ll do, but I know that there’s more than enough content available to share. I’ll try to make the posts as concise as possible, without removing any important context for the tips that I share. I regularly search for how to do things while working, and it can be a challenge to find resources that both have the answer that I need, as well as an explanation on how and why to use it.

Blogging Accountability Group

One thing that I hope will help both myself and others is the blogging accountability group that I’m starting through the WordPress Orlando Meetup.

I’ve setup a page to signup on our site, as well as a channel in our Slack team so that participants can encourage one another, keep each other accountable, and offer advice whenever anyone has a question.

Join us if you want to make yourself blog more like me!