WordCamp Atlanta 2019 – My Review

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!

David v3.1.0

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!

Where Have I Been?!?

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!

2019 Blog Focus – Sharing Tips and Resources

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!

How I Pack for Travel to WordCamps and Conferences

What’s in my Bag, 2018 Edition

I’ve seen plenty of these types of posts, and can understand the popularity, since I end up comparing everything that I have to the people posting, trying to see where I can improve my travel or everyday carry gear. 

Most recently, Matt Mullenweg did his annual “What’s in my Bag” post, and since I was preparing to go to php[World] to give a workshop on WordPress theme development, as well as have my third conversation in a week around Ethics on the Web, I thought I’d document my packing, since I try to be organized for each trip that I take.

Matt and many of the others that document their packing showcase more of the things that they use as heavy travelers, including a heavy focus on quality of goods. While I like things that work and don’t break, I also don’t travel nearly as much and can get by with a bit less overall. My list is a bit less “here are the best headphones that you can get” and more “here’s what I pack for those few times that I use wired headphones”.

Before I start the list, I want to thank SiteGround for helping to sponsor some of my travel as one of their WordPress Ambassadors. I use them for most of my hosting, and if you are interested in giving them a try I can answer questions that you may have. I also have a discount that you can get for discounted WordPress hosting, and full disclosure, it’s an affiliate link as well.

Now that I’m at it, a few of the products linked below go to Amazon, which are also affiliate links. I wouldn’t push anyone to buy things that I don’t use, and as you see below, even necessarily buy anything if what you have already works for you.


A numbered picture of items that I pack for trips
  1. Electronics Bag – I think this originally came with a tent to hold stakes and ropes. Hopefully that tent can still secure itself to the ground without this handy canvas bag that I put electronics in.
  2. Jetpack Bags – These are little nylon bags that I got at some WordCamp or another where Jetpack sponsored and gave these away. Next time they have them I’m grabbing a few more since they’ve been great for holding together little items. My only complaint is that the zipper opens toward the loop, making it easier to open than close them.
  3. Kobo Aura Edition 2 – OverDrive and Pocket sync directly to this e-reader, giving it a leg up over the Kindle for me. I’m trying out a tablet again right now, but this is the majority of my entertainment in down-time while traveling.
  4. USB C Battery Pack – The one that I bought is no longer available on Amazon, but the linked one is cheaper and higher rated, so bonus for you! I am trying to use USB C for all devices where possible now, but this charger has USB A as well. I have a beefier charger that can add even more power to my laptop, but I rarely use it and this is smaller.
  5. USB Hub – Two USB C ports, four USB A, 60W total, 45W USB C meaning it can charge my laptop and all other devices. Saves carrying multiple chargers around.
  6. Cable for USB Hub
  7. Chromecast – For the few hotels/AirBnBs that this actually works it makes it a lot easier to stream videos.
  8. Business Cards – I was gifted this wallet/bottle opener by an Automattician at a WordCamp and I feel bad that I can’t remember the URL to the store.
  9. Field Notes – When buying these small notebooks I go for the Expedition Field Notes, since they are waterproof and tear proof. Enough sponsors give them as conference swag now that I don’t think I’ll have to buy one for quite a while 😄
  10. Fisher Space Pen – I hate having to search for a pen, and having to try to scribble it to life when I find one. One of these stays in my pocket at all times and can always produce a steady flow of ink.
  11. Mini Router – This is a newer addition so I can’t say how great it is or not, but appears to work so far. A tiny, programmable router/repeater that can use ethernet, wifi, or a tethered phone to provide a secure wifi network with OpenVPN on the go. Bonus for regular travelers with multiple devices is that you no longer need to keep entering new networks once you have the network that you setup saved. Can be powered via battery pack.
  12. USB C Hub – Hub to turn USB C port of many modern laptops into a pass through charger, HDMI, USB A, and SD/Micro SD reader.
  13. USB C to 3.5mm headphone jack, since I don’t rely on bluetooth headphones when traveling much.
  14. WordCamp Orlando and FixUpFox stickers because who doesn’t love giving away swag?
  15. Wapuu pins from WordCamp Orlando 2018 thanks to wapu.us also to gift nerdy conference folks.
  16. Ethernet cable for router on the off chance I have access somewhere.
  17. USB A to micro cable
  18. Longer USB A to micro cable
  19. Raw Wallet with ID and credit cards. I prefer minimalist wallets to avoid having to carry too much and fit it in my pocket.
  20. Some cash stored in bag instead of wallet for my paranoia of losing one or the other.
  21. Gum for plane pressure changes and banishing coffee breath.
  22. Nail clippers because I have a bad chewing habit that I’m trying to break.
  23. Microfiber cleaning cloth – The cloth that comes with a Macbook has been the best to get smudges off of devices and my glasses. I ended up buying a pack of similar ones since the freebies just end up smearing it around.
  24. Spare glasses from Eye Buy Direct. These have a blue-screen coating for us screen starers, though they’re a little tight on my temples. The non-coated pair that I wear daily I paid around $7 for, including shipping, and I think they look nice. Never going to get caught up in another store selling plastic frames for hundreds of dollars then not honoring their warranty when they break.
  25. USB C cable for device charging
  26. USB C to USB A 3.0 adapter since not everything has caught up yet.
  27. Headphones that came with some iDevice or another, so they can skip and pause songs on my Android phone but not control volume. I haven’t found an Android specific pair cheap enough to offset the handful of times I ever use these.
  28. USB flash drives, including a USB A/C combo drive with some dev tools preloaded for when I give WordPress workshops and someone doesn’t have a development environment setup yet.
  29. Whatever meds I’m currently taking in a little pill pack plus aspirin since I’m supposed to not be taking #30.
  30. Some ibuprofen that is basically for others since I’m trying to stop taking any.
  31. When the microfiber cloth isn’t enough, these wet wipes clean screens and lenses well.
  32. A few bandages for my clumsy self.
  33. Hand sanitizer that has way too strong of a scent but is tiny.
  34. A snack because I am pretty much always snacking 🍫

Two things matter to me with what I pack: portability, and price. I agree that it’s worth it to buy quality, but I also think that the amount that I use some of these things makes it irresponsible for me to spend more to get the absolute best. If you remove the Kobo and cash from the above picture, I’m estimating under $200 for everything else, most of it getting use outside of travel too and purchased over time. I don’t want anyone overspending trying to put together the perfect travel gear, especially if you travel as often or less than I do, which is generally 6-10 times per year.

All of the above looks like a lot, but condenses pretty well into the electronics bag and the two Jetpack bags, minus the glasses and Kobo which I keep out. One of the Jetpack bags goes in the front pocket of my backpack with things like my wallet, notebook and pen, headphones, pills, and snack for easy access during travel. The rest goes into the main compartment with the electronics and clothing.

My carryon items packed into smaller bags

I listened to an episode of the WPMRR podcast yesterday where the hosts mentioned that dressing up for a WordCamp or developer conference if you don’t normally would make you stand out in not a good way. Thankfully those are what I travel to most, since t-shirt and jeans is my comfort zone.

A numbered picture of the clothing that I pack for trips

I generally pack for the number of days that I intend on traveling plus one. Since the trip that this was for was three days, that means that I packed four t-shirts, four pairs of underwear, and four pairs of socks (#2, #5, #6). I also knew that it would be cold, so I packed a heavier hoodie that I got from the Nintendo World store (#1), as well as a lighter SiteGround one (#4). Finally for clothing I brought a pair of comfortable shorts for lounging in the hotel room (#3).

Rounding out my bag are the items from the above list (#9, #11, #12, #13), an unnecessarily large bag of toiletries that I’ve since pared down (#10), my laptop and a sleeve since I’m giving a workshop (#7), and a SiteGround backpack that was ordered by someone who clearly travels a lot with a carry-on and wanted something useful, including compression straps, zipper covers, a padded back, and chest and waist straps.

I’ve been trying to travel without my laptop on trips where I am not doing workshops or code demonstrations to take a bit of time off of staring at the screen all day. I’ve begun to learn that it’s OK to let clients know if I’m out, and schedule around trips.

Admittedly, the bag is fairly full, thanks to the larger hoodie that I had to pack, but I can often leave that at home. All of the above totaled about 14.4 pounds, but the laptop and thick hoodie take up about 4.8 pounds, which means I could generally travel carrying a bag of 10 pounds or less.


I’m heading to WordCamp US next week in Nashville, and will be gone for a similar length of time. I’ll still have to pack the big hoodie, but may leave the laptop at home, since it’s doubtful I’ll even open it much with the schedule as packed as it is.

When I come back from a trip I notice how much of what I packed doesn’t get used at all. For this trip, as an example, I used maybe 60% of what I brought. Of course plenty of those things are of the “just in case” variety, but I am always finding things that don’t really get used and can be dropped or picked up where I travel if really needed.

So that’s my long post about what I pack for travel. What about you? Share a link to what you keep in your bag, whether for travel or every day use!