WordCamp Europe 2019: Spending the longest day of the year during the briefest week I can recall

A red ball with 8 bit star pattern with the words WordCamp Europe 201920-22 June, Berlin Germany

For all the times I have been to Europe, I have never actually been to the Federal Republic of Germany before. I have bounced through their airports but I have never before left those transfer points. This time though, I finally got my passport stamped as I arrived on one of the hottest days of the end of Spring in Berlin. While I was a bit of a melty mess and was hammered with a jet lag fueled exhaustion, I was overcome with a simple joy of experiencing a new city and the excitement of getting to see my international WordPress community I so rarely see in person at WordCamp Europe 2019!

Food and Fun

Monday

Monday evening after I arrived I took a nap, then went exploring around Berlin a bit to try to sync my system to the UTC+2 timezone. I was staying very near Checkpoint Charlie. After soaking up a little Berliner history I met up with some chums from the WP world to have a brief walking tour of the area where we listened to live music and had refreshments at Cafe Cinema. It felt like a very authentic way to begin my week of German adventures.

Tuesday

When you are in a new place, I firmly believe the best way to experience the location is by foot. Having the morning to myself I had the chance to walk to the Brandenburg Gate, The Reichstag and a good number of other places that showed up as points of interest on Google maps. Unfortunately the Bauhaus museum was under construction but I did get to have lunch with the fantastic Carl Alexander, experiencing the best vegan doner kebab I think could be possible at Vegan Bio Snackbar 1 by Attila Hildmann.

After all that walking, I had to return to the hotel to restore myself. But I was not there for too long, since so many people started to arrive for the congress. I am pretty outspoken about my choice to only eat plant based meals, so when the offer came in from Rich Hill at momos – organic veggie dumplings, how could I say no? They were delicious, as was the company that evening.

With so many invitations coming in I felt an appearance at the unofficial pre-camp networking experience was mandated. It was a happy ending to a very hot summer day.

Wednesday

I want to give a huge thank you and praise to the one and only David Needham, just one of the best humans alive. He arranged a bicycle foodie tour of Berlin for a few of us via Fat Tire tours, which I am pretty sure is not related to the beer. We learned about the history of the city and saw some amazing architecture as we rode around the town, enjoying first a hipster new school food hall, then some excellent Turkish cuisine finishing with traditional German meal. That last stop had my favorite sauerkraut I have ever had in my whole life and I plan to attempt to replicate it.

WCKaraoke

In 2017 I organized a small get together in Paris where I invited all who I could communicate with that we would be singing some karaoke at a brand new establishment, and frankly the only one I could find that was big enough to host a larger than small party. A fair number showed up at
Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke
and I was super happy with how it turned out overall. In 2019 I was invited to large venue where many people gathered and I had absolutely nothing to do with the planning. I can not tell you how amazing the feeling felt to see so many people joyfully raising their voices, as well as a few glasses, in harmony along with me. My pride in being part of such a community overwhelms me as I write this.

Thursday

Contrib Day!

Relocated at my new hotel, where the event was also being held, I had a breakfast of bread, jams, fruit and coffee, which I would repeat the remaining days I woke up in Germany. Nothing grand therein, so no more shall be said, except for the espresso was loads better than the conference coffee. The nicest thing I can say about the conference coffee, aside from not paying for it, was in the previous sentence, so I shall refrain from mentioning it again as well. There was however free sparkling water throughout the day. Lunch was, for me, bulgur salad, fruit and bread. In a modern, hip Berlin, with a soaring vegan culture, folks ho choose not to involve animals in our cuisine were to find the Estrel catering was not on the forefront of it’s surroundings. It was a sign of things to come.

Before we found our ways to various evening activities, several of us gathered for a much hyped Poke bowl at MALOA Poke Bowl
. It delivered on every facet and I give many thanks to Toby for encouraging me to visit.
Loma???

Speaker/Sponsor Dinner

As I was not selected to speak, I attended this event as solely a sponsor, which is something I have not done in a while. The party venue itself, an event spaced called Stralauer Allee 2, was quite lovely but they lacked my favorite beverage, vodka mixed with soda water, so I indulged in a very fruity beer. So fruity in fact that the Russian bartender told me he admired how I could drink a ladies beer with such confidence as I ordered the second one. There technically was a vegan option but I was still full form our delightful dinner, so I can’t report further on the food. The view was astoundingly good, right by the Molecule Man statue, which I had learned about during the bike tour.

Friday

Lunch on the first day of the conference gave me a salad in a cup and a bit of bread. Later on I had to retreat to my room to fetch some mixed nuts for enough calories to power my time at the Pantheon booth. Never got ‘hangry’ this time around though, which I can only assume was because the jet lag short circuited that part of my synaptic response network.

Team dinner

One of my favorite people to take me to interesting finds is Mr. Chris Teitzel. He showed up and did not disappoint in Germany, by taking us to Fes Turkish BBQ. I was at first very worried that the vegan options were too limited, but by the end of the meal I was apologizing for having showed any doubt. The mezze platters of amazing house made fresh hummus, peppers, salad and other small dishes delighted my taste buds while some of our colleagues ate meat grilled in the center of the table. The host was super gracious and entertained us several times with his stories about his travels after he found out were we all from various places around the world. One note about German food which was fully illuminated by this meal is that, at least in Berlin, “spicy” is like a 4 out of 10 vs a US spice level, which is already mild vs Thai and Indian spice levels. The Raki was spot on though!

Saturday

Things slightly improved for me at lunch on the final day of the conference and I had hummus finger sandwiches to supplement my salad, which came in a wrap this time around. As I have always said, I am not one to complain about hummus, so I will leave it at that.

WPVegan

Having worked up a heck of an appetite, I was super happy to find the best rated vegan burger in all of the city was just a short walk from the hotel. So I invited everyone I could. We had tofu and seitan prepared in wonderful arrangements influenced by various regions of the world. Though there were fabulous house made condiments and local craft beers, my favorite regional treats were a surprisingly sweet digestif KR23. The sweetest thing about the meal though was the company of my WordCamp companions.

After party

We gathered for one last part of the event, maybe the most anticipated part of whole camp the 1980’s themed after party! Everyone that got in during the first wave got 2 free drink tickets, then they ran out of wrist bands and tickets. Wave two got in but did not get drink tickets. Third wave drank in the Estrel beer garden while the rest of us danced and then danced some more.

Sessions

The art of networking
Francesca Marano

Now, you might be wondering why on earth I went to a talk aimed at people new to WordCamps and networking in general. The actual reason is pretty simple, I wanted the chance to write about it, which might sound pretty convoluted upon the first read trough. You see, one of my greatest joys in being part of the community is helping new folks find their way and I want to help promote those ideals. Francesca did an amazing job and I can now write with confidence that this is a must see talk for people going to any kind of event.

Raw Notes:
Meeting each other is super important
meeting time
challenge to gather 3 business cards by tomorrow and find her at the booth the talk about the experience
Why WP ecosystem special
We are creatives
no mater what role
Informal space
We have the common language as English in WP
Professional event still, even with flip flops and tee shirts
We are multicultural
many races and sexes and political beliefs
always
Mindset
the idea of talk came form colleague mentioning Francesca was a ‘natural’ at networking
it does not
it is not natural
it takes work and skill building
Even if you are introvert, you are here now!
make the most of it
very important to meet new people
Be concise and don’t mumble
that might not sound nice, but important
Preparation is very important
Learn how to best pitch your business
learn about the event itself
Learn about the ecosystem
no need to become an encyclopedia, but know the background
be able to talk about the space intelligently
informal so just here to learn it is fine
Business Cards – turn informal encounters into business opportunities
Approach people
by chance – very common and easy here
Semi-planned
Pre-planned
And you are???
Ask about them
help them introduce yourself
we don’t always speak same language
Hi (their name)
repeat the name of the person and remember it
it does not work for her
but if it works for you, go for it
but next time if you don’t remember it, it is fine to ask again
your face gives you away if you are faking it
‘sorry, I know we met, remind me of your name.’ – good way to start conversation
ice breaker
not interrogating them, it is you are interested in them
Where you from?
is this your first WordCamp?
How are you enjoying the conference?
What was your favorite talk?
then go in for the kill
So, what do you do for a living?
find business opportunities
Even if not of interest, be polite and kind
Don’t monopolize the conversation
The golden Ticket
their email/ contact info and a knowledge of how you can work together
Her story for her first WordCamp
Philly
asked to dinner
did her research and had a good chat
semi-planned interaction
“We heard about you”
she later was approached about working for SiteGround
she is here on behalf of them
so many possibilities present themselves
try it! It is all good!
Go get those business cards
let’s network!

Matt on WordPress
Matt Mullenweg

Matt did a great job of telling us the state of the project from his perspective, which is the point of the talk. I think his intended audience is folks not as plugged into the world of WordPress as I might be, since there were no major revelations in the talk itself. I don’t take notes of Q&A, but there were some great ones and one kinda insane one you can likely read about elsewhere.

Raw Notes:
Last year Gutes had not launched
the block editor
Widgets next, cause if you think about it just code blocks
Multilingual coming in stage 4
Released now, 20M sites
the block editor
kept the plugin going
default ships with quite a few blocks
bringing pre-existing widgets into blocks already
most recent post block
block grouping
nests of blocks
side by side, much easier
lot of work into nesting and columns
delicious little notices
snackbar popup
artefactgroup.com by humanmade
hurst4delegate.com
educationleadshome.org – ragtag
Grid Block
add on plugin makes easy blocks
CoBlocks
typography connector/divisor blocks
Gutenberg for Drupal
150K posts in Gutes published per day
preview of what is coming soon
Installing a Gutenberg block
JS only blocks loading in background
no loading screen
auto uninstall if not used
ties into a block directory
bring us a place to breath and play
like Lego blocks
Navigation blocks, inline
Atomic unit of a block can be reused everywhere
in usability tests, was confusing since things move around so fast
old way
lucky, tag soup, unlucky, breaks everything
Footnotes block coming
his favorite blogs
wakeupwhy
daringfireball
would love to see John come to WordPress
WYSIWYG direct manipulation makes alignment hard
working on resize and snap to grid
resize automattically
want to make it beautiful
we are really writing these features 2 or 3 times
for mobile app
devs are working fast but slower to replicate the desktop tooling experience
quick talk, wrapping up for more Q & A

The power of free
Brian Teeman

Founders of any project bring an engaging perspective to any session. The co-founder of a whole other CMS brought a perspective that echoed out that our differences are really only important from an implementation detail, as our underlying freedoms are, and should be, in lock step. I am going to start using his 5th freedom whenever I explain the GPL moving ahead.

Raw Notes:
Issue with the English Language
Free Software is a poor name choice
from the US
Free software is not about the price
it is about who controls the software and what you are allowed to do with it
Do you control your computer or does your computer control you?
Tracking on FB ads
Eyeballs are the most expensive thing to acquire
Big brother is watching
if you land in Heathrow and spend a week, there is camera tracking every step you take
Germany is different
it is hidden cameras
VSCode pings back with your IP and MAC, but does not tell you
needs to give you a choice to accept it, that is a type of freedom
4 freedoms
Freedom 0, use the code, how you want to use it
Freedom 1, study the code
easily see what is sent where
Freedom 2, share the code
not restricting how you share it
Freedom 3, improve the code
this is where we get involved
need all 4 freedoms to have it truly be free
means people we don’t know can invent things that we can’t imagine ourselves
@xrobau
Stallman, founder of OSS is and was a hippy
he say FLOSS software as a battle with Steve Ballmer
Steve also saw it as a fight
saw linux as a cancer
lock everyone in and restrict their freedom
free software rallys and parades, those have faded
was david vs goliath
up until ~1998
The internet happened, specifically the WWW
most people’s software was Free software
this changed the way everything worked
WP, Drupal, Joomla, let people control publishing really for the first time
software gave the freedom
now, we went from hippie to hipster
even he himself is no linger a hippie
now it is hip
it is cool to use WP
we don’t think about freedom, we just use it cause it is good
Microsoft went from “OSS is cancer” to the biggest supporter of projects
1000 PRs to updates chrome engine in first month
Bugs?
Freedom -1 (above 0)
Freedom to have community
person chops down tree, gets resource
then mills it down to add value
build furniture, makes it useful for others
issue is the forest gets destroyed
lose the resource, gets smaller and smaller
we go back to ‘let’s plant some trees’
becomes a circle not a line
take, use, improve, repeat
if you don’t do that, it will die like the forest
we are back at the Hippie again
there are some dangers
his personal opinions
F -1 – Is it free if there is no community?
Cloud computing
is it really free? Can we prove it? Can we see it.
Software as a Service?
you are locked out. No idea what the software does
owner of company might be a good guy but that is their definition of good guy, you don’t know
Closed Development, like Android
completely free to use and modify yourself
no way to give back, no Git repo
Restricted use
that is not a freedom
Are their barriers? Did you have to sign a contract to use or contribute?
No one looking at it if not in with your core people? you are stuck, is that free?
without community there is no real freedom, not FLOSS
Einstein – The mind is like a parachute, it works only when it is open
This is true for Software as well

Find that bug you made months ago with Git Bisect
David Needham

David is not just a great speaker, he is also an amazing teammate at Pantheon. His gentle nature and frequent kind words have been an inspiration to me for the last several years. I realized watching this talk that I kind of take it for granted how technically savvy David actually is, but hearing the murmurs of “woah, git can do that?!” and “What an amazing use of scripts” (two things I actually heard) put that into focus. This is a talk to for sure see once it is on WordPress.tv

Raw Notes:
– Best intro ever! So proud of him and so is the whole dang community
Who here makes mistakes? All hands
His Normandy Project film project
he volunteered as webmaster
subscribe to newsletter section
he did not build the site
one day subscribe link vanished
he started to investigate
3 hours later figured it out
but with git bisect he could have saved some time
git bisect bad HEAD
git bisect good 01-HASH
roughly six steps/guesses to finish it says
git bisect good on first guess
git bisect good
git bisect bad with each commit
eventually get to one commit
either good or bad
if 74 is good, it was 75
if 74 bad, then that is where first bad commit
shows who make commit
he had removed ‘unused’ plugins
git bisect reset
then revert and move on
process he went through would have saved him 3 hours
git bisect start bad good
git bisect start — path/to/files
will reduce number of options
git bisect skip
helpful to know that you can run local for faster results
can write test.sh
git bisect run test.sh
script looking for error code, run the test every time
can bootstrap WP to run a pass/fail test
like BackstopJS as well
git bisect run behat
Other situations where Git Bisect may be helpful
Inheriting a site
large project

WordPress through the bad guys’ glasses
Vladimír Smitka

There is now one other speaker in WordPress, aside from Norcross who inspires fear in me. I mean that as the highest possible complement. Vladimir went through things pretty quickly as this was a lighting talk, but his depth of practical information felt to my brain like I had taken a 90 minute workshop. If nothing else, I am going to strongly consider sanitizing my image EXIF data for any personal posts from here on out.

Raw Notes:
Sample site
No HTTPS
see headers, Server info
PHP 5.6
ftp username is easy to see
can guess passwords
extensive information by technical
without proper config, can see website traffic
output of php info
see server paths and versions
enough info on site
?author=1
rest API for MD5 hash of email
phishing or stuffing
leakprobe.net
spikelog
haveIbeenpwned?
can be in real trouble
ohno.fun
many other emails in the WP documents
wptavern
more than 45K comments with emails
black market emails
with git
if you publish .git folder
easy to find .git/logs/
another config issue
directory listings
can make backups publicly available
unmaintained DB endpoints
personal blog about cat from social media
exif metadata
with geolocation
be careful! smitka.me for more info Q/A

Getting involved

Automating your QA with visual regression testing
Andrew Taylor

I got to be a Teacher’s Assistant for this session and do one of my all time favorite activities, helping people figure things out! We were fighting some flaky, at times non existent, WiFi which caused all sorts of fun issues. Aside from the connectivity issues, I gotta say Andrew’s code was so spot on and flawless that there was very little real technical issues to deal with. I learned a few things, which is the real reward for being a TA and am very glad I got to be a part of it.

PLACEHOLDER TWEET ANDREW’S WORKSHOP

Contributor Day

The day before sessions kicked off we got together to contribute to the project of WordPress. I have changed teams since last time I was at WCEU and this year I joined my team at the WordPress.TV team, also known as WPTV. Some of us used the time to simply review and edit videos for publishing. Our incredible team lead Mauricio Gelves helped new people get set up and guided the day. All in all around 400 people gave back to the project in some way that day.

I had an incredible experience of how the community can evolve in a very positive light in many ways but I want to highlight two parts. First, I want to give a lot of props to Mauricio for working with me to find an awesome solution for standardizing the video processing workflow template. I can’t tell you how good it felt to be heard and see the impact of our collective efforts! Also of serious need of props is the fantastic Hannah Smith who joined our table in order to improve the process around subtitling to make it much easier for more people to subtitle things much faster. I am oh so excited about the future if we can keep improving things with such passion.

Get Involved Table Volunteering

One of my favorite ways I like to get involved in a project is being a cheerleader for getting more people involved in the project! I think this comes from my religious proselytizing childhood. For almost two hours I got to sit at the “Get Involved” table and helped about a half dozen people learn how they could start contributing. I have not written this next bit down before I realize as I am writing it, but my favorite way to help people find what team might be right for them is a single question. That question is “If I gave you a fresh, blank install of your favorite operating system, what would be the first thing you would do, aside form downloading Chrome or Firefox?”

The best part is there is no right answer to this, but the mental process everyone goes through is pretty revealing of how they think about problems and how to interact with technology. For example, if your first next step is to make sure your IDE is right and you have Git configured, Core might be a good fit. On the other hand, if downloading and playing with something you have been meaning to try sounds good, maybe testing is for you, at least to start your exploration of what the teams are all about. I also explain that there is no lock in. If you try a team and don’t find joy, like I was with editing documentation, you can keep on exploring because you might find something you really like to do in your free time, like currently editing videos in my case.

Get involved. It is our project! Ours to Hack and to Own

Wrapping Up

I sort of fell in love with Berlin while I was there. The heat did put me off at first, but the more time I spent in this city and the more culture I got to take in, the more amazing the whole place became to me. The real magic though came for me though from seeing the fruits of so many labors as they mature and ripen over the years. Seeing good people pushing for good things makes me hope they reap every bit of what they have sewn, which will make us a stronger community. Next year we will be in a country what will once again be a first for me, Portugal, so I can’t say I will for sure ever be back to Germany, but I hope I get to see Berlin again one day. Who knows, maybe I will take a side trip next when I return to the EU for WordCamp Europe 2020 in Porto Portugal!

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