PressNomics 2019: The value of conversation with the right people in the hot Arizona sun.

I had never been to The Old Pueblo before this trip. If United Airlines had anything to say about it, I would still not have. Long story short, 2 cancelled flights, a missed connection and an overnight stay in Denver, which you can read further about over on my new personal/tech-tinkering blog Once I got to Tucson I realized I had only booked a room for one night, but thankfully my status and points get me into the overflow hotel for the event. Pretty quickly, the quality of the setting informed me that I was at no WordCamp, but rather at the gathering of the best and brightest business minds in the WordPress space. I was at PressNomics 6, 2019.

Food and Fun


I arrived on Wednesday just in time for lunch. I joined a wonderful crowd of folks going to one of the ‘official’ restaurants that was expecting a lunch crowd from the event, Wild Garlic. A bit pricey, they had a very friendly and competent staff. Only one real vegan item on the menu, but I left completely stuffed on deliciously prepared quinoa and veggies.

After the day of intense sessions ended we gathered in the courtyard for a happy hour reception with drink tickets and a few appetizers. Pretty soon a full meal was called for and I joined a few folks at the on property The Terraza Garden Patio and Lounge. Eventually a few nightcaps at my hotel with some of other conference folks staying there and I ended day one. No tweets exist of these parts.


Breakfast was at the all too fancy The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa where my status got me free vouchers for the meal all week. I have never had more bland avocado toast to be honest, but the coffee was great!
Over at the venue we had iced tea, coffee and teas to keep us hydraded and awake. There were also afternoon snacks. Really solid options but at the price point, I would have been sad it it had been any lesser quality.

For lunch, I found out from my old vegan brother Josh who has family in the area that one of his favorite vegan joints in the world was a few miles away. We gathered a plat based foods enthusiastic crowd and headed to Lovin’ Spoonfuls which not only had an amazing selection and just astonishingly well prepared food, it was also very reasonably priced! If all vegan places delivered such value perhaps meat based chains would quickly go out of business around them.

After a day full of informative sessions a group of us explored one the culinary marvels of Tucson, Culinary Dropout. Imagine someone taking a car dealership worth of property and making a massive restaurant out of it with ping pong tables, cornhole and an entirely different lounge/restaurant inside of it. The kitchen has windows from chest level to the ceiling and we could see exactly how each bit of food was carefully and quickly prepared. They only had one vegan dish on the menu, but it was so well spiced and balanced that it made up for the lack of choice quite well. Also they had great funny named drinks. Thanks to the generosity of James Law for the meal! It is not the only Culinary Dropout in the country and here is a tweet from another one from a previous PressNomics.

After dinner we headed back to the Hacienda del Sol for a little light live music and drink tickets with a full bar. My favorite part of the whole party was the moment when out host, the awesome Mr. Strebel granted me a near god like power when he commanded the bartender to ‘give this man any drinks he wants’ before walking away to find where he had left the extra drink tickets. I went home and to bed earlier than you might expect as the day was long and the next day was an adventure awaiting me.


After another breakfast at the hotel, I joined a group of folks to go explore Kartchner Caverns. I have not been in a cave in many years and it is always humbling to think about geologic time, where a few hundred thousands years is a blink of an eye. Helps put some things in perspective in all reality. Unfortunately no cameras are allowed in the caves so I have no first hand source for you.

After a very full morning of bussing to and exploring the magnificent natural beauty of the caverns, we went to the place that reportedly invented the Chimichanga, El Charro. They had a full on vegan section of the menu and the margaritas were very good. I ate way too many chips with salsa, but it was a wonderful time. This capped off a really wonderful event. While the evening had a couple more drinks with folk at the hotel, our tale more or less ends here.

One last giant thank you to Jay and Keanan for the ride to the airport. As I am self funding these trips now, every little bit of help helps a lot.


Due to the nature of the event, which does not record sessions to make everything a ‘had to be there’ type of experience, I am not going to release my full private notes here like I do on almost all the other posts. The schedule is indeed public, so no secrets there and I want to record some reactiond for myself in the future that might seem cryptic if you are reading along and not me. If you want to see what any of it looked like, I am not including the normal tweet proof of sessions as I typically do, but the twitter stream is also not private.

The Ethics of Open Source.
Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Every once in a while you get to witness something truly historic within a space. THe more I think on Mor10’s words the more I questions a number of things I am doing with my life. After meeting Richard Stallman I have been questioning quite a number of things about my belief in OSS. Morten answered a few of them directly and I now feel less conflicted about some of the choices I have been pondering. I know that is vague, but hearing from someone who has helped train over 1,000,000 people on WordPress say some stuff out loud that needed said was enlightening enough to be worth the whole trip for me.

WP Community.
Rian Kinney

I felt like I was watching a court case based episode of a documentary series on A&E. I mean that in a very surreal sort of way. The emotions ran very high and the sessions went a bit long and I don’t want to reveal much more specific details of the talk here. If this had been positioned anywhere other than right after Morten’s talk I am not sure it would have been as much of a gut punch, but since it did follow Morten’s talk I can say this was the most emotionally charged thing I have maybe every participated in semi-publicly. Keeping an eye on her twitter will be a good activity moving ahead is all I am going to say to close this out.

Security Blunders.
Robert Rowley

Security is hard and we must keep updated to stay safe. The single biggest takeaway from this ‘real life lessons learned’ talk was ‘never trust user input and never, and I mean never, unserialize something unless you have used a hash check to make sure you were the one to serialize it. Other than that, read your dang PHP salmon colored warnings more closely, they exists to keep us all safe.

Tax/Retirement Planning.
Jon Bickerton

I learned a lot about taxes for earnings brackets I aspire to. Also, leveraging property as a business owner is a good idea if you have a lot of money to defer. The truth is you can not get out of paying your share of taxes, so don’t attempt that. You can and should defer your money as long as possible to avoid the tax penalty up front. Good solid advice and several people said that they learned a new tax strategy to investigate with their tax consultants.

Personal Journeys and Mental Health.
Brooke Siem

New name for me and it turns out it is because she is not really a WordPress user. Her story is one of identity and needing to quit the medications she had been assigned as a child as she grew up to get any sense of her own identity and to find a reason to keep living. Moving from a mindset of awaiting death to one of squeezing every moment from the life you have left, she inspired us all to think about the days and hours we have of our own. I have some thinking to do about some of what she said. I can say I am very grateful to all the support of everyone who has helped me get to this point in my life and I am looking forward to thanking each of you in person, hopefully soon.

Stories from the inside.
Maura Teal
Jeff Matson

Did you know that invented WordPress Managed Hosting? Did you know they help enterprise customers with infrastructure and DevOps in amazing ways? Did you know they have a new serverless offering called NorthStack that greatly simplifies deploying just about anything for almost no cost and then is metered like Netlify, but promises to be way simpler? If you did you could have skipped this session. But in all seriousness Maura and Jeff did a great job of giving us the inside scoop of why they love doing what they do. Beyond anything related they really did an amazing job of sharing their passion for tech and the community they belong to. I kid a bit here, but they encouraged us all that tech might change but serving clients is always going to be central to any stack.

Wrapping Up

The biggest benefit of PressNomics is not the food or fun or even the sessions I don’t think. It is the benefit of getting to talk about serious business issues and questions with very successful folks also there to learn from other successful folks. Getting to pitch my ideas around Process Digital Consulting and sharpen what those offerings even are helped me evolve certain things faster than pretty much any other methodology I can think of. Sure, the parties are legendary and the whole attitude is at once completely relaxed and overwhelmingly invigorating, but the space they creat for valuable conversations is second to none. As of the time of writing this, I am not certain what my future in the space looks like to be honest. But one thing I know for sure, I am going to be buying the tickets as soon as they go on sale for PressNomics 7, 2020.

WordCamp Las Vegas 2019: Where 103 degrees does not feel as hot in the desert and having a WordCamp in a casino

As I landed in Sin City I tried really hard to recall the last time I was there. It had to be more than a decade ago and in some ways the “Marriage Capital of the World” had certainly changed, as I flew in I was kind of astonished how large the dessert town had expanded and how much construction was happening. In other ways though, it was exactly as I remembered it and I had deja vu more than a few times. In one way, it was specifically identical, insofar as my luck not being good while there. Let’s leave that last statement as the only comment about gambling I need to make in this post. After all, I was there not for a crazy weekend of debauchery, but was there for a weekend of community and learning at WordCamp Las Vegas 2019

Food and Fun


Friday night kicked off as soon as I landed, as I went straight to the speaker/sponsor dinner held at Famous Dave’s. While I am not a huge fan of their menu, which is 90%+ meat based at the moment, though they do have plans to add Beyond Meat to the menu this year, but not yet at this location. I still got my fill of corn, fries and various assorted veggies. It was great to hang out with so many folks I had not seen in a while and meet some net folks there as well.

Afterward, legendary good time planner Mike Demo introduced us to the largest tiki bar in the world by taking us to the Golden Tiki. It was a fun night of flaming drinks and good conversations. It seems most drinks taste better when they come to the table on fire.


We were greeted with convention coffee and a tea assortment at the lovely yet aging Plaza Hotel and Casino where the event was happening. It was OK coffee, right in the middle of the pack and nothing to note further on it. We also had branded bottled water, which I always find amusing for some reason. Like am I going to do more business with this hotel because their name is on the water bottle?

Lunch was boxed lunch sandwiched and wraps. I want to specially say a huge thank you to the organizers who made it easy on the folks with dietary needs to have a filling and quality lunch. Part my lunch was a little salad in a cup which was just enough and the cup let me shake the dressing thoroughly throughout.

The after party was in the same venue but outside by the pool. This is the hotel pool and a number of folks, including myself assumed we would have a private party there. Instead we got to share with the other hotel guests and that made for an interesting experience. Still a good time and I actually got to soak in the hot tub for a bit while the thermometer on a building across the way told us the temperature was 104F and dropping as the evening wre on.

While the drinks at the party were great, I ended up needing a meal at some point. Did you know that White Castle has an Impossible Burger slider? I got to introduce some people to it.


We tried to get some singing done, but the way Cat’s Meow ran things unless you paid a $30 line cut fee, you would be eternally bumped down the list. It really does not help that between every single singer the staff did a song and tried their best to manufacture a party atmosphere which you can see in the photos. I guess some people like that experience but after a coulpe hours of always being 5th or 6th in line and getting a little sick of the staff singing, some of us bailed without singing. At least they had buy one get one free well drinks.


More coffee and the exact same lunch were on tap for Sunday during the event. Afterward, one of my favorite firebrands in the world Beth Livingston and I took to the skys above Fremont Street to zipline all the way way down the 5 block stretch thanks to the Slotzilla Zip Line experience. It was terrifying and amazing and gave me a glimpse into what Superman might feel like with people staring up at a person flying through the air. It was the best bet I made the whole trip. Since I could not use my phone on the ride here is a tweet of someone who did


Opening Remarks

Backward Compatibility is Good for WordPress, Not Mental Health
Bridget Willard

Bridget is my friend and we were in the trenches together heading the WordPress Community Marketing Team for almost 2 years. Almost that long ago she pitched me the idea of a talk on mental health and I have been encouraging her to give that talk ever since. I am very glad she did. I have a ton of self doubt and I do find myself being self deprecating a lot. It was startling to realize how much of that I have actually been believing lately. I am grateful that I got to support Bridget here, but in all reality he supports me emotionally as a friend far more than I can write.

Raw Notes:
Been in the space for a while
supportive amazing women
but people with issues
1 and 0s do what you expect
people don’t
What are worthiness issues
Friend’s therapist told her to work on worthiness issues
what does that even mean?
like backwards compatibility
clicked for her friend then
We talk about mental health a lot, but we need some breaking changes
Believes negative things about herself
we are way harder on ourselves than we are to our friends
why does self-talk matter
Self talk is insidious
it changes the things we choose in our lives
do we make friends easily or figure they’ll hate is anyway?
Do we make self-deprecating jokes?
Do we try better jobs? Better clients?
Do we self isolate?
Are we brave in our relationships? willing to trust someone?
are we vulnerable to someone? maybe a therapist, but trust someone
Listen to Corey Miller, Don’t see everything underneath
How do we make breaking changes
have to find the bugs, they are not features
Find someone to talk about it wiht
recognize the patterns in word choice
practice self awareness
write: “I am” statements
what are you goot at?
What do people say about you?
Who do you want to be?
Write it down

Lucky 7: Don’t Do Anything Until You Hear This WordPress Presentation
Joe A Simpson Jr

Joe has one of my favorite origin stories for a WordCamp organizer. Basically, my super short version of his tale is “Joe got tired of driving to LA for meetups, started his own and it got so successful that he did a WordCamp within the first 2 years of starting it.” Joe also has lived the life of a developer who had to learn on his own and lean on community to get unstuck at times. As a result, his wisdom is some of the richest of any speaker I can name. Though this talk was basics for beginners kind of feel, it was chock full of great nuggets and reminders of best practices for folks at any stage of that WordPress life.

Raw Notes:
Luck be a widget tonight!
First visit to vegas like you getting into WP for the first time
it can be overwhelming
Today, he is our welcoming party for WP
2 years ago he got tired of driving 2 hours for a meetup
started his own
they had own WordCamp already
started about 10 years ago, inherited Headway theme blog
WP has come a long way since then
they had budget fortunately
moves to VIP, got to go to summits
everyone helped him when he was new
issue 1
“I bought too much hosting up front..”
there are so many hosting companies
buy small and level up
what kind of traffic do you expect
are you selling products
is site speed important
will mutliple
“Why doesn’t my theme look like the demo?”
“how do I add a thing to a theme?”
page builder maybe?
“A11y makes me angry”
he got punched in his shoulder once at a meetup about a11y
be advocate for a11y
NFL colorrush example
colorblind and SEO
color should not be only way to ID content
Awwwared wining site failes basic contrast checker
free tools from webaim
chrome color contrast analyszer
test tab useage and no mouse
Start with an a11y theme
“Can’t I google a theme to do all this for me?”
redising his brother’s website
Hymaze from somewhere on Google
unmaintainable mess
“I’m still waiting on my client to send me website content”
so many tools to help you write more efficiently
Grammerly – typo and rich text
“This is too basic, I want more advanced..”
get involved
look for events in your community
libraries for free
quick hits
two-step uthentication
Strong passwowrds
Royalty free images
avoid cowboy coding – don’t work directly on your live site

What you thought you knew about WordPress security! (With real hacked site stories)
Rob Marlbrough

You can not learn enough about security. I don’t care if you think you are an expert, attending security talks are always a good decision. Hearing some of the anecdotes from Rob’s work over the years make you realize not every takes security seriously, which makes it super important that anyone working professionally as a web developer or site owner does.

Raw Notes:
care about passwords
they can read table prefix, so not a good path anymore
Real total cost of a hacked webstite
Cost of a hack repair does not include
cost of reputation
shareholder distrust
GDPR lawsuites, CC protection services
Cost of wasted digital as spend FB/Insta ads
cost of wasted tv/radio/print ads
cost of email or other sign ups
cost of memberships sales
Security befoe getting to your website
Network security WAF, at the ISP level, at the data center level
Server securty at the host level
Often hear, I can’t control these things” Yes you can!, you ca change webhosts
prepaid $3/m for 3 years? so what!, still worth changing hosts, one hack site could comst more than 3+ years of cheap hosting
Strong passwords
don’t rely on obvious solutions
Block IP based on behaviour, nimber of failed logins, guessing usernames, looping through known URLs
2factor authentication!
Update daily!
security patches are relased daily
hackers are alerted daily to vulnerbility
get free SSL cert for many a reason, SEO, http/2
behind a network scanning/filtering sytem
choose a web host that protects networks and servers
don’t shoose a host based on affiliates only
WordFence is great, install on all sites you manage
Securi: free plugin scans site
reinstalls pugins from repo in bulk
backups can be worthless
no protection is site is deleted from their servers!
Dialy and Off Server and Tested or Worthless!
hourly or continous backup for ecommerce/membership sites
UpdraftPlus: reliable and free plugin
Jetpack and Vaultpress, Backup BUddy and many other quality plugins out there
Free services for WP website maintenance
Free can be expensive, time consuming, stress-filled
Advanced Automatic Updates plugin email alerts failures
Music lessons website hacked
redirected random visitors 1 out of 10 or so, redirected to porn website
vulnerable cross scripting plugin
recovery: backups for 90 days – still infected
search/replace DB tables to remove injected JS, patched the plugin

She Said, He Said: Hackers’ Guide To Coding
Shelby Sapusek
Jim Raffel

I met Shelby and Jim at the speaker dinner and I knew immediately that I wanted to see their talk. They are the definition of seasoned WordPress site builders. I think between the two of them the have encountered just about every weird situation WP can throw at a person and they were happy to share that battle hardened know how with everyone. There is a chasm between the typical WordPress user and the developer who lives in the terminal and code editor. This talk is a step toward the latter for folks who find they cant do all they need to with off the shelf GUI tools, but also which of those tools can solve some of the tricky problems.

Raw Notes:
Partners for a while
why is coding or hacking necessary?
Our compnay has grown and taking on more complex
Are we coders? If not, are we hackers?
If you have written any HTML, you are a coder
Hackers – negative connotation
Black hat
White hat
Grey Hat – looking for a payout
Programmer – compent cook
caution with coding
always back things up
staging sites
css, PHP, etc, file copies
Consider how changes will impact other parts of the site
Document all changes
safety first
work with minimal number of frameworks, (genesis)
Logo and header change example
inspector – old was firebug
customizer additional CSS
theme editor but DANGER!
what to edit and where
Tools within customizer
Custom HTML widget
Additional CSS under Customize, often underlooked
diff tool
Elementor Plugin
drag and drop editor
design pallete pro
Google Maps
Responsive Slider

Inclusive Content Strategy
AmyJune Hineline

This is not the first time I have seen AmyJune speak but I can’t recall seeing her speak at a WordCamp before. I have known her for a while now from my work in the Drupal community and I always look forward to hanging out with her. She has a lot better technical chops than she lets on, but her focus is on the human side of things for the most part, which is the skillset she is shared in her talk. We can’t overthink being kind and accessible to our fellow humans and just hearing the best practices out loud push us all in the right direction. Let’s all use more people positive language!

Raw Notes:
Verna Myers
diversity is being invited to the party, INclusion is being asked to dance
inclusive mean accessable
Visual needs
motor needs
auditory needs
cognitive needs
Meaningful Content
inclusion of all race, religion, contrie of origen
gnerder ID
and all thing
Ableist language
people with a disability vs the disabled
use people centric language
never lazy, crazy, retarded
Gender Nutral
Humankind not mankind
Folks vs guys or dudes
mansplaining is not gender neutral
enter the WYSIWYG
styling is for coders and designers not content authors
WYSIWYG should be for entering content
never for styling
use style guides or stylesheets
an a11y is goal
events a11y for everyone
families, neurodiversity
people who live with disabilities
avoid acronyms
numeronyms (a11y, i18n)
problematic to screen readers
screen reads can’t even deal most of the time
buffer and twiteriffic can make
use camel case

Accidental Business Owner: Now What?
Mike Demo

I already mentioned Mike earlier and his amazing organizational skills. He has many other skills as well, which I have not heard him talk about too much, as the only other talk from him I can find my notes for is his ‘Which Way Does Your Duck Face?’ talk. His general advice to get over yourself and go fill the need you see at a price point that just works is much needed in a world where speakers routinely talk about firing clients and rejecting work below a certain threshold. Both those world views can hold true but not for everyone. Mike has a great head on his shoulders and I am downright inspired by him, as well as dang proud to call him friend.

Raw Notes:
Mike was building CMS sites when his school told him no one was using
now in OSS
Epcot, spaceship earth
history of communication
like the web
democratize publishing, making the web and world better
free software as in freedom of speech
If you can dream it, you can do it (not actually Walt Disney)
used to sell timeshares
Fell in love with the community
loves the passion of the community
everyone wants to get to that next level
don’t have a vision of grandure when you are getting started
3 page websites
Accidental business owners: started to learn jus for fun, then built a site for family
plugin 15K active users, can’t kill it
day job as well that id getting in the way
just build without a plan
passion without a way to get there
make a plan for your clients before you start the work
goal of more sales, what does more mean?
clients hate launching websites
never selling single website contract again
“never have to make a new website again”
launching basic website with a large wishlist
goals vs wishlist, pick what is impactful
we are guessing as website designers
people think they know their clients
protect yourself and get the money you are owed
Step 1 get users
step 2 ??
step 3 profit
charge for every change
reprice per the reality that the client presents

How to Outshine Your Competition in Our Exploding WordPress Market
Beth Livingston

This is not the first time I have see Beth talk about this subject, but this is the best version of the ideas so far, as she has been refining it throughout this year of camps. The ideas she is helping people get on board with are in line with the writing I have been doing on my LinkedIn blog about impriving processed and project management theory. She is coming from a very practical standpoint on this subject, taking what works in the corporate world making the concepts easily digestable for all who sell services. Keep your eyes open for her content and check out her site for some awesome stuff right now.

Raw Notes:
millions of websites, hundreds of thousands of devs for WP
lot of copetition
Clients spent a lot onf costinvetment
some of timeline
almost none on solution
compoeting on price is a losing bet
unique value prop
not a call to action
not headline: subtitle
not an explanation ot your service
not an into to your business
communicates the unique value provided to your target customers
what you do well vs what our competition does for your clients
SEO is not a unique prop
What clients care about most
timeline – scope creep, delays
on time and i budget
What business problem will your solution solve
clint management plan
this defines who your ideal client is
ideal client avatar
who do you want to work with?
stop penalizing the client for not understanding how websites are built
help them understand consequences for not following process
have a change budget
define process and consequences for non compliance
use incremental acceptance
set acceptance criteria up front
font on the website
8 essential questions
–could not type fast enough here —
once you have answers to all those questions
give the clients the same list of questions to show the other guy

My talk

Bash is magic # No it’s not

I keep running out of time when giving this talk. There is just more content than time about this subject that just delights me to explain to folks. It is ike revealing t hidden secret club to the world where everyone was actually already invited and all are welcome. Introducing experienced command line users to tools like BackstopJS and behat is also a thrill and so far the comments I have recieved have ben overwhelmingly positive. I think I might need to do something else with this content moving ahead to reach a wider audience.

Building Successful Client Relationships in a Digital Age
Jodie Riccelli

I thought I had seen this talk before, but in a city where I was getting deja vu all over the place I was not sure. Checked my notes and sure enough I saw a similar version once before. However this did not hinder my enjoyment or the quality of content for me at all. It was awesome to be reminded that learning all our skills don’t need to have an immediate payoff, as sometimes it takes years and multiple opportunities before it all clicks. It was also a reminder that multitasking is not a good idea. I have been terrible at this, trying to do to many things all at once. I am actually inspired by this talk to find some more productive habits in the days and weeks ahead.

Raw Notes:
loves to learn
worked at a car wash
learned to detail cards
then upsell the customer
music promotion
she learned WP and GIMP to make artist websites
sales for a small agency in Philly
magical coming together of skills at that point
then moved to WebDev Studios
She is not everything though,
not a great speller, not the one with all the answers
paul barnwell
My students don’t know how to have a conversation
in a world of digital life is there any more important skill?
Don’t multitask, be present
record calls, take notes later
video or in person
close all the things
feather triangle string
segment the room
just moving through segments, want to engage with each group
breaking down the audience to connect with her
imagine you are holding feathers and need to move the feather to back wall
Triangles are the joints
string is your head, string out the top of your head
Choose your words wisely
this is why we are the bst vs this is how we can help
problem vs challenge
pick up the phone
zoom is my friend
saying ‘I don’t know’ is not just OK, it is essential
what measurable goal can we set
be authentic
remove qualifying word and phrases
thank you notes or cookies
principle of reciprocity
the psychology of persuasion
thank you notes increase registration
productivity rule
if task takes less than just 2 minutes, just do it now
say think you
file paper away
looking away for a minute “eye care chrome extension”
The four agreements

Wrapping Up

As I start wind down my life of constant travel to dozens of events per year, I am taking stock more and more of the opportunities that each and every one of those events has granted me. I suffer a but at seeing the trees but not the forrest. This trip put a few things in perspective for me and I could not be more grateful for the folks who have been there for me along the way. The biggest revelation to me is that I have spent so much time absorbing such a wide, wide range of subjects that the road ahead seems like it has way too many option for me. Picking one is going to take some more thorough thought than I have been giving it for the last few months. I have know idea what the future looks like but I am planning to plant some roots and figure out what that feels like before too much longer. This trip to Las Vegas might be my last for the foreseeable future but I hope to retain the friendships and connections I made at WordCamp Las Vegas!

WordCamp Minneapolis 2019: Seeing Friends In The North And A Good Time At The State Fair

The last time I visited Mini Apple was way back in 2018 for Twin Cities Drupal. I am a fan of this town for their progressive politics, growing vegan foodie culture and efficient public transportation. It is on my short list of places to possibly move one day. I landed at MSP early and got to see some old friends before I attended the reason I was really there, WordCamp Minneapolis 2019.

Food and Fun


Speaker Dinner

Though there was a day of training this year, which I was not part of, the event officially stated for my on Thursday evening, at the traditional Speak/Sponsor/Organizer/Volunteer dinner. It was great to see so many folks I know and to meet some new folks as well. We gathered at the The Trading Floor at Fueled Collective, which is in the old Grain Exchange. The Trading Floor is where, at one point, they actually bought and sold grain futures in Minneapolis, which is the seat of all things agricultural for the whole region. A beautiful building turned into a giant and bright co-working and event space. A few of us ended up at Tracey’s Saloon for a nightcap before getting ready for a busy next day at camp.


Coffee, tea and water awaited us there at the McNamara Alumni Center, the host venu. Coffee was good enough in my opinion, so I stuck with that for the duration. Lunch was upon us before we realized it and the vegan option, which was very filling included salad and a quinua dish. I will never complain about quinua if I can get enough of it, which some catering struggles with for some reason. This was serve yourself so I was pretty happy. Afternoon snack was a build your own granola bar, which was OK.


Being so close to one of my favorite vegan/vegetarian places, Hard Times Cafe I of course had to make an attempt to rally the WPVegans. There were a lot of cometing distractions and only a small but hearty bunch of us did succeed at getting some of the best vegan seitan in existence! We also played some Foodtown Throwdown, my current favorite game.

Some of us ended the night at Otter’s Saloon to attempt some karaoke, but sadly, we arrived too late to sing.


Saturday was a repeat of day one’s coffee and water service, but this time I had a bit of breakfast at the local vegan friendly craft cafe Simpls. Go support this place if you are in the area. The vegan breakfast sandwich was so good I am going to be craving it and trying to replicate it back home.

After Party

Lunch was provided as part of the after party, since it was a half day of sessions. We gathered over at Loring Pasta Bar & Restaurant for some craft drinks and a pasta lunch. Vegan options again were available, which were anchored with a pretty hearty and tasty spaghetti dish. The space itself is massive and has a claim to fame that Bob Dylan used to live there when he was a student in what is now their ‘Red Room.’ It was great to have so much space to mix and mingle and reflect on all we learned at the event.

Also, while not officially part of the camp I got to join a couple WordPress colleagues for a good time at the Minnesota State Fair later in the evening. It awesome to be part of the opening weekend and I even got to see Herman’s Hermits perform. Definitely worth the visit!


Opening Remarks

The Developer’s Spectrum – From Junior to Lead
Jeff Holland

Sometimes things that seem obvious are hard to define, like what does water taste like? Or what do you mean by Senior Develover vs Architect? Thankfully Jeff gave us a low down from his vantage point as someone with a lot of experience on a large team at USA Today. I found it pretty helpful to be able to put myself on the scale of somewhere between Junior and Mid Level based on what he shared, and depending on what we are talking about. If you are on a growing development team, or are just curious about it, this might help you navigate as well.

Who is on the team
The Junior
right out of bootcamp
very mallaeable
you can teach them ‘your way’
they are quick learners who work extra hard
spending hours outside of work hours to learn more
pair well with senior devs
experiences are somethign they look forward to
very risk averse
have to draw them out and comfortable with ‘I don’t know’
Process change is difficult
first time using Git, or Jira, or communication tools
lot of questions about ‘how you do things’
They identify with their code
they take it personally
need to help them to feel seperate from their code
stay blunt but explain things in code reviews, not much criticism
“Here is how you can do it”
and tell them don’t identify with your code
The Junior is fresh out of school or changing careers
Ambitious, ready to talk about new ideas
Solved something – have some sense of accomplishments
Apt to make mistakes
On;y address one solution to a problem
have to peer review with them
Unaware of edge cases, debug errors and not know what to test for
over confident quickly once they start seeing patterns
Errors lead to imposter syndrome
How do they get better?

  • They need to code
  • Study and Read, but they need to read code to see how others are doing things
  • Pair program
  • meetups – meeting others makes you feel less isolated
    How to scale?
    Improve your skills
    Learn new languages
    Learn to context switch
    Mid Level – The workhorse of your team
    Very competent in their domain
    industry, languages, problem sets, etc
    Reliable output of work
    Shiney new ting syndrome
    Over reliance on their favorite tool
    Focus on a piece of the puzzle (tunnel vision)
    How Midlevel grows
  • Try new things
  • Mentor
  • Take on Challenges
  • Speak or Write!
    Mid level Scale?
    Personal to team level
    The Senior!
    Able to take on new things
    Architecture over implementation
    future thinking
    They are patient
    knowledge know things
    wisdom, know when to apply that knowledge
    always discussion, don’t huddle them together
    The old way works fine
    can over engineer for business needs
    The Lead and the Architect
    the roles at the top
    Lead manages dev work and communicatio with other teams
    Hels build team member’s skills
    insulates and advocates for the team
    keep people out of meetings
    make wins visible outside of the team
    insulate team from problems
    Lead spends less time in code
    The architect manages the infrastructure
    Need to juggle the industry trends with org needs
    has to do it without working with all teams

My Talk

Bash is magic # No it’s not

I love this subject. There is no higher compliment to me than to have someone come up after a talk and say “You made Bash fun and a lot less scary.” Though one of me other favorite bits of feedback was from someone who uses the command line everyday saying they learned something new as well. Learning together is the heart of open source and I am so happy I get to share that learning experience with the community.

Automating Site Creation
Dan Flies

My notes for this are short because you should just go check out the code itself. I was introduced to Dan at the speaker dinner and I could tell immediately we had the same genreal passion for tech nerdery, which I mean as the highest compliment. People of our ilk like to tinker and find new, elegant ways to solve issues in general. His support of my talk, which was delivered right before his, was also encouraging to hear, as some of what he spoke about assumed oyu had a general understanding of Bash and how WP-CLI commands work. He is managing a lot of scale and watching a devops master explain the tips he has learned about error checking and speeding up the build process was just pure gold. If you are managing more than a handful of sites, this talk and his code might just change your life!

Like Bash there are good reasons to use it
need scripting
code at
Using PHP to run WPClI
Bash scripts got messy quickly
but all WP-CLI run in exec()
wp theme install, doing it locally
installing plugins like he does themes.
if theme is alreeady active check
using exit codes from is-active
activate and check if activated , then active plugin list
array[name => value]
key example in repo
adding pages managing widgets managing menus

Alternative datastores – When CPT, Taxonomies, Options and Object Meta aren’t enough
Gary Kovar

Ever since I saw {Felix Arntz’s talk at WordCamp Portland]( last year about the WordPress database structure, I have been more interested in talks about the subject. Most of the them are of the nature about how to work around the limitations inherent in the Post and related fields structures. I can foresee this being a future overhaul for WordPress, where we set out to fix the structure and make it much more tuned to getting individual Gutenberg blocks in and out of individual fields in the DB. For the time being, using alternative data stores when you can seems to be the prevailing path many are focusing on.

WP Storage
WP Stores Datain MySQL
WP has strongly Defined Models
one table per data type
SP does not do it that way
gets ugly quick
MySQL oversimplified
custom tables/views
list with the rest of tour WP Data
no extra config from host
allow you to store your data the way you intend to use it
Great for search
Super Fast Responsive ime
External Service
Eventually Consistent
can miss things in shards
Lightning fast
May not be persistant
key value pair
Location CPT with lat/lng Field
query slow
make a custom table
change where it looks up certain things
Geolocation – elastisearch
Task Runner
make the site run faster
Tsk runner redis
Add a key/value for each task
taskname plus uuid
multisite stuff
I want to post something to 1 site in Mltisite and how it on Other Sites

Keynote: Collaboration and Communication: Success in Community and Business
Cami Kaos

Cami is someone I consider an inspiration. Her no nonsense attitude toward pretty much everything I have ever dealt with her on is downright refreshing. AS a speaker she is witty and always has fantastic slides. As someone who is now working from home, as that is my office these days, I really appreciate her advice on work/life balance and just all the general tips she gave in this keynote. For sure a great one to check out if you are working from home as part of a distributed team.

Edd of a long day keynote
not 100% serious, going to tell jokes to entertain herself
Distributed work
found herself in a scary situation
been out of the workforce for a while and was getting a divorce
made a name as a mommy blogger and podcaster
didn’t want to disrupt being full time mom
wasn’t sure what skills to mark
customer management and retention
built on WP
co-working space in an accelerator for startups, next dae at pub with good wifi
other main contrib. in Denver
boss was out most of the time
she became a distributed employee
part of a movement
different kind of workforce
being normalized
WP is what she does and with tech makes sense to work form anywhere
Distributed school as well
distributed work has beed around for a while actually, with mail and telephone
distributed 201
strength and weaknesses of a DW
a bunch of her co-works and friends from working from home slide
working for a distributed team on a distributed project
the good
no brick and mortar
more convenient for employees
good for opening up to larger set of the best people
underrepresented groups and diversity are enabled by
very few people like to commute
removes the late for work part of the equation
additional me time or time for family
What about work life balance
more relaxed schedule
but have to be mindful, it is work to maintain work/life balance
The bad
most frequently
how do you know they are working if they are not at their desks all day
Communication is the way
call center productivity 13% increase when could work from home
increase was due to reduction of sick days.
Distributed or disturbed
time zones are a real thing
not a happy thing to work with
no great answer, just kinda sucks
The Ugly!
Not bathing for days
take care yourself
happy hour zoom
get a coworking desk
dedicated work space
alternate login on your computer
if you know you need social activity, schedule it
Going to gt coffee shop
morning ritual
if he has to relocate he does it once in the day
limit context switching
brick and mortar learn to work together
Distributed teams need to be built with intent
loss of sense of belonging is core of feeling isolated
mission statement that means something to you and building community to reflect it
78% of people she surveyed miss it
know how to have a workaround
Slack, WP, Google Docs and Zoom
In her survey other peple brought up
zendesk, helpscout
githb, basecamp, trello, telegram, twitter, instagram, FB, Mastodon, Asana, Calednly
All communication tools
social is important to follow along to other people’s lives
Distributed companies do well
Stakeholders, clear vision of company
Also compensation
benefits, insurance, money, retirements
hopefully find something you care about working on
Resources are self explanatory
working with a communication
easier in company than a project
when there is a meeting, P2
slack small conversation
digital breadcrumbs to get where you need
include everyone in the project, makes it more accessible in many ways
welcoming place
Passion Project
Better together, what can they learn from one another, projects and companies
Great ideas come from anywhere
next million $ idea
communication is key!

Code Organization and Optimization for Blazingly Fast Rest Applications
Pete Klein

I ran into Pete the day before his talk and the very idea of accessing data for specific use cases intrigued me. Ultimately, the CMS is just a fancy GUI to model and access a database, so changing how you access that data in a progressive, timesaving per cycle way makes a lot of sense. I really appreciated how straightforward he was with the limitations of this approach and how it is not a one size fits all situation, which is a trap many less experienced devs fall into as they chase the new shiny thing. If you are optimizing front end search or any anonymous content, Short Init is definitely worth exploring as a code pattern.

fast queries vs the RestAPI
Primer on the WP DB structure
guide on easy benchmarking
primer on $wpdb an MySQL in operator
what talk is not
Universally applicable
A step by step walkthrogh of Rest
user authentication
have anything to do with WP caching
Not a lecture, as questions
code examples setup
PHP Intellephense
An Example:
Travel Review App
Destination custom post type
feadured content
editor content
region taxonomy
Our Rating – post metadata
hotel link – post meta
Reviews Post Type
WP DB structure, been the same since 4.4.2
terms have term meta
our endpoint
— see slides, moved fast —
2 ways to implement
Short Init
measure speed
Apache Bench built in to mac
ab -n 100
science of waiting
update: 6 seconds before you lose all attention these days
navite = 343ms
short init = 58ms
quick comparison: default WP
Data access WP_Query
look at functional code
now the short init way
endpoints are stand alone files, not theme or plugin code
skips all the authentication and such
files start with
Require_once ../wp-load.php
All data access is done through $wpdb
ID’s as array indicies are used to return results
no WP_Query
no WP_Usr object
can’t be used for complex querys
good for frequently hit, unauthenticated queries that need to be fast
Featured Content
User Profiles
Anything on a homepage or first page of an app
Code Examples again
it’s a bucket
that holds data
has methods to fetch and access that data
just making it clean and reusable

Who Needs Themes When You have Blocksets
Wil Ranney

Having sidestepped actually using the current WordPress code editor, thanks to Markdown and WP-CLI, I have realized recently I am not up to speed with some of the current thinking about the direction blocks are generally headed. This talk gave a pretty compelling argument that we should be thinking about block collections as a different path to the same outcome Themes gives us today. It feels we are in an in between time, where blocks are not quite understood enough by the masses and are being imagined differently by the advanced camps. It will be interesting to watch the story of the editor unfold over the next few releases.

Used to use Divi
Conversation at WCUS 2017
Divi is a theme, not a plugin
how would they use Gutes
layout packs
Limits of themes: static sections
each theme in WP treats this differently
4 different design systems
working on replacing widgets with blocks, but why stop there?
another limit: proprietary code
Another issue: Global Settings
customizer a good step, but aspect ratio change is hard
Most things we use themes for can be reduced to blocks and blocksets
group of blocks arranged in a way and stored together
reusable blocks
not in the main WP menu yet
export these blocksets as JSON
“Pages are wrapped inside themes, where blocks operate inside pages”
rarely do you see theme settings for single page
Page level theming is what we want
projects always get stuck on content
we don’t need a block repo, we need a blockset repo
New, better blocks
Gutes Blokcs – ultimate addons for Gutes
Stackable – gutes blocks
Page Builder Gute Blocks – coblocks
Kadence Blocks – Gutes page builder toolkit
Blocks Lab
Premium Blocks for Gutenberg
Gutes Bloks and Template Library by Otter
ACF Global blocks
Give some time to help make it better
One more case for blocksets and not just blocks
Wix, Weebly, Squarespace all have blocks
Like Divi a few dozen blocks and layouts
can’t compete with the community to make it happen

Gamify task management. Take your turn, strategize, and WIN!
Justin Foell

I kinda really love board games and I have been pretty focused in my other writings about process management and better workflows. So, to see a talk that I would actually like to give at some point was both validating and just downright inspiring. The term ‘gamification’ threw me off a bit but thinking about how games have rules and patterns that are identical to project management principles feels exactly right. I need to get my hands on that Kandan the board gameand that Project Management board game I discovered at NERDSummit this year.

Linux on his personal machine!
Gamify Taks Management for the win!
tasks and tickets, he uses them interchangeably
hates Candyland/Shoots And Ladders
all chance
let’s talk about strategy games
Jeremy Ward Board Game enthusiast and stickler for details
complex games
some could be considered punishable
Before we start, what is the goal
we have to cooperate and communicate
Pandemic game example
Can openly trade cards
good analogy
Victory points!
feature launch or a theme redesign
product launch
full site launch
make sure the goals are clear
also we have to know the roles
Project Manager (dealer)
Production Team (Devs and Designers)
The Client (the Driver)
project manager does board setup
this is not your out to say “that is the PM job”
everyone needs to know setup and rules
game example – complex
know what the standard information is
when managing tasks, flags, statusus, labels
a meaningful view of what is going on
Can we reduce complexity?
Setup is a big part of gaming
simple terms
an example in Jira
so customizable, can be cumbersome very quickly
if set up simply, it is one of the best solutions out there
Jura, Milestones are Epics
Theme Redesign
Customize Content
Backlog – adding tasks
potentially a long list of stuff
clever way of hiding the stuff you are not working on at the moment
try to hide the mountain of work below the fold
agile development – we will go through terms
Agaile sprints, just set amount of time, wek or 2 or a month
resonable amount of tasks completed in that time
typical gameplay on outside of the box, helps with planning
setup time not counted in there
take the tasks we want to and add to sprint
you get to set the rules of this game
might not hve sprints if just reactively doing tickets
kanban – timeboard
To Do
In Progress
invented by auto industry to make sure supply/demand was efficient and manage workforce
Pro tip, game called Kanban
once set up, default screen you see
addint another status with the + button
winemaking game with seasons
planting, growing, harvesting, vinting
phase moving from one place to another
just got to be aware of what is going to make this cumbersome
Take your turn
Order or flow of ticket as it moves from person to person
have to spell out which people and which roles will be doing wich actions
software example

  1. Client requests a feature
  2. Project manager enters ticker into Backlog
  3. Dev provides an estimate
  4. Client approves budget
  5. PM assigns dev based on workload(prints/ToDo)
  6. Dev does work (in progress)
  7. Lead dev revies work
  8. Client reviews the work and it gets deployed
  9. PM completes it
    Castle Panic game example
    Draw Cards (pick a task)
    Play Cards (do the work)
    Move the monsters (Hand it off)
    moving the tokens are fun
    Trello does this too
    jira owns Trello now
    Remember post-move actions
    last step should be reassigning it to the next person
    Do necessary documentation, tell people what you did
    links, screenshots
    Add/Remove label or a flag, etc
    Reassign it to the next person in line
    Who’s turn is it?
    Sometimes there is a lull cause people are masterminding a plan to win
    not asking who’s turn it is is bad
    asking it is right thing to do when in doubt
    it is important to know when it is your turn and what todo on your turn
    My CLient Refuses to use our Task Management System
    Coach them on the rules
    Remind them that it’s their project
    play the game for them (when they go to the bathroom), play fair and good
    Celebrate the wins
    Review tasks at the end of a milestone, let each dev or designer show off work
    Talk about what went well and what coule be improved (adjust the rules)
    Provide a peer-to-peer reward system
    peer to peer feedback better than top down
    Take our turn, Strategize and WIN!

Wrapping Up

I rarely have to say anything negative about a hotel experience but I need to get this pne off my chest. The Moxy Downtown Minneapolis was a terrible experience for me. Thursday night going into Friday the fire alarm went off at 1:30am and due to an alarm malfunction they could not turn it off on the floor I was on. I had to change rooms at 3:00am. My new room had very thin walls and for the next 2 nights I had some noisy neighbors. This all added up to the least sleep I have gotten on a roadtrip in recent memory. It might be a hip, kitschy vibe but my stay there was the opposite of why I want to stay at a hotel.

Other than the lack of sleep this was a fun trip. It was great to see everyone and I walked away not just learning some new cool stuff, but I also walked away excited other folks are as into process management and project management optimization as I have been recently. As my life changes and I am recognizing my frequenting of so many WordCamps might be winding down, it makes me appreciate every second I spend out on the road to support the community even more. I have no idea when or if I will every return to Minneapolis, but I look forward to that day. Maybe it will even be for WordCamp Minneapolis 2020.

While not part of the camp, this got published while I was there:

WordCamp for Publishers 2019: Warm Ohio nights and a lot of community socializing

I was born in the Buckeye state and it is not a place I visit too often. There is not a lot to draw me back and living on a coast and traveling as much as I have in recent years has given me few opportunities to come back. Last time I was in the Columbus area was way back in 2016 for WordCamp Dayton, which was before this blog existed. That trip was a game changer for me as I met Josepha there, learned what a happiness engineer did and really, for the first time, saw what WordPress Community was all about. That took me on a path of Developer Relations that saw me learning new skills almost daily. I got to share those skills and still learn more this time around in Columbus at WordCamp for Publishers 2019.

Food and Fun


The night before the event officially kicked off there was an opening reception at Arepazo Tapas Bar Grille. Various fried appetizers and meat on toothpicks options as well as communal beer pitchers and a few gallons of margaritas. Very proud to say that we didn’t let the margaritas go to waste and everyone at the end made sure we extracted the maximum value.

Afterward, some of us had a little more refreshment and fellowship.


Arriving at the venue, I found pretty reasonable coffee and tea as well as a small fridge of sodas and LaCroix and such. It kept us going for the morning. Lunch was a local food truck, Nazca Peruvian Eats. Very simple, but filling for me, vegan option of rice and beans and corn and olives. I did go back later for some plantains at the very end. Very tasty all around.

We got back together in the evening at Two Dollar Radio Headquarters for some really nice vegan cafe food, some drinks and some board games. I brought my new copy of Foodtown Throwdown and got to introduce several people to the ‘build you own food truck empire’ game. The cafe in all reality though is a bar/bookstore/book publisher run by the nicest people. For sure go and support them if you are ever in Columbus again.


Some of us did find our way to an Irish bar to catch their Karaoke night. We went to Cavan Irish Pub, home of the $2.50 well drink and $1 Jello shots. I had no Jello as that contains gelatin which is gross. Can’t find any tweets on this.


Coffee and tea and cold drinks awaited us again. This time for lunch we had fresh made pitas from the Pitabilities food truck. I had some tasty fries and a falafel sandwich. A single foodtruck did take a bit of time, so they extended the lunch period by 15 minutes.

After the last sessions were done and we went to drop our stuf off at the places we were staying, we regathered at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing for some pretty nice house made brews and I indulged in some spicy palomas. We did continue on after this but the twitter documentation is lacking so I will just leave it at that.


After the 2 gull days of sessions, the camp continues with a half day ‘mentoring’ experience. We arrived back at the venue and got the same coffee and drinks reception. Lunch was not originally part of the plan but the organizers made it happen last minute. I had an avocado poke bowl from Poke bowl from Viiza. Others had a variety of fish or chicken in theirs. Soon after lunch I had to split, ending my social times with the WordCamp folks this time around.


Opening Remarks:

Creating a Better Editorial Experience with Gutenberg
Jon Heller

I love any talk that gives a history lesson and this was a great one. Understanding where we come from is really one of the only ways to come to terms with what we have now. It is not like someone sat down one day and from scratch said “I need to make Visual Studio Code” it was a build of of other technologies and a desire to optimize and combine the best features to make a better experience than being dropped into Vim (not that there is anything wrong with that though). Embracing the now and not clinging to the past will make sure your clients are happy into the near future. Embracing the future though and thinking of what Gutenberg will become and starting to plan your work around that can make sure you not only survive into the future but evolve to best extract value from it.

Raw Notes:
Stop fighting your CMS
Same issues on all platforms
been doing this for a minute
on many platforms
coneLobster, NetBeans, Bluefish, HotDog,
had to know HTML to use
tough to do it in the early days
savage state
art history lesson
rough around the edges, but cobbled together what looks OK
days before CMS
table tags
bad name, good idea
evolves more,
arise of the CMS
hard to manage and hard to update
Elliot, Advanced Custom Fields
layout challenges and specific reusable fields consistently
freeform editors make it messy
data is not easily extractable
sort y price or filter is hard
ACF allows fields to be reusable
history of short codes and manual repeating ACF
content vs blocks
2 solutions ACF vs WYSIWYG
not idea editor experience
around this time, other players emerge, like Squarespace
Gutenberg emerged from that
as a large scale effort with a lot of weight to it by
skepticism, lot of fear of messing up your website
blowing up the site concern
plugin experience classic until 2022
legacy content just keeps existing

Beyond the Metabox: How Gutenberg Can Bring the Editorial Experience to Life
Kevin Fodness

Speaking of that future, this talk was a natural follow on and focused on the blocks themselves and how they can be leveraged for better developer experiences. Let’s face it, the ‘old way’ of metaboxes is kinda peicemeal and honestly clunky. While just as clunky to many as it stands right now, Gutenberg has the potential for so much more. The technical discussion of PluginSidebar should be of interest to anyone currently building WordPress.

Raw Notes:
Is a hotdog a sandwich? Is an editor a sandwich?
He is in charge of Alley’s JS practice
post types?
Pagebulders – universally terrible
Why are pagebuilders a bad idea – pic of dumpster fire
shortcodes are injectable
17 screens on metaboxes
that is how they edit content on a site
it works
it is just parsing it visually is hard
Gutenberg to solve this
WYSIWYG but other benefits
custom blocks, 1 half of the experience
use built in whenever possible
kitchen sink post to show how it works to clients
modify based on feedback from that
image block, can add on any other fields as needed
only custom once built in or extended blocks no longer solve issue
a lot of the room uses customized Gutenberg blocks
extend your own custom blocks like you extend the built in blocks
feed-driven block with live preview
block call backs,
two concerns
what editor view look like? what happens to save methods?
latest content from feed view, better editorial experience
background color, you can limit the color pallet
callout block example
something that was a short code, much easier to manage as a block
block editor in core, Gutenberg is the just the code name
posts that do or don’t support content
utility post type, template licked block saved to postmeta, includes CSV data uploader
no free form content area
no content area, no Gutenberg
make a custom block that uses the meta data marry with template locking
can’t move, reorder or change layout,
register per plugin, config specific for your site
metaboxes go into the PluginSidebar
break into sections
can see conditionally loaded by post type or other attribute
because ReactJS, respond before saving
supports all fields, including custom
good candidates: SEO (Meta title, description)
Open Graph Twitter Card text and images
Display options that affect the entire page
looking ahead
where is dev going?
next version, ability to extend Document sidebar
PluginSidebar will be used for Plugins
don’t be afraid of the future of Gutes
Not the Gutenpocalypse
Gutenberg Ramp

Top Cases in Internet Publishing
Lucia Walinchus

I got to play a federal judge for part of this talk. If I gave out most memorable experiences from a talk awards, this would be in the top slot. After role playing, and ruling differently than the actual judge did in that case, it was a bombardment of case titles and legal facts that were just fascinating to me. Privacy and data protections are great things to talk about and to get up to speed on how those cases are currently, as in still in courts right now, are playing out was tremendous. If you have even a passing interest in where case law stands today with internet issues, this can act as your primer.

Raw Notes:
Play a game, we are all fed judges
who wins in case of suit of clicked agreement for state x sue for state y
185 F.Supp.3d
in RE facebook biometric information privacy litigation
US District Court N.D. California. 9th circuit
choice of lau clauses are usually client favoring
internet publishing
wild west days now
two separate court systems
Federal and State
trial-> appellate->supreme
NY and TX are weirdos with their naming
common misconceptions, on;y state laws can be decided in state court
fed can rule on state laws
persuasive vs precedent
judge can listen to another district, but not necessarily
Appeals are retrials
Trial courts determine issues of material fact, but an appellate court can determine how the law applies
Rosenbach vs Six Flags 2019
Rivera v Google
Nimesh Patel v Facebook 18-15982 on youtube
liquidated damages provisions, $5K per violation
Sandman vs Washington Post
Court says reprinting Phillips’ opinion is not defamatory
Rorschach test
international law
Lord McAlpine trending? Innocent face
UK publishers are liable for republishing the libel of others
online journalism handbook – don’t publish when in doubt
Wright v Ver
Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v
solved longstanding conflict in the circuit courts, sided with the 10th and 11th circuits Now you have to get your copyright registered to sue.
takes months to do this, but you do have rights before you do
getting occasional copyright on your works
Rimini Street Inc. v. Oracle
Post “Blurred Lines” cases
Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry,
Led Zeppelin,
En Banc hearing
Kraftwerk – metal on metal case
Allen vs Cooper, can states be sued in federal court for copyright law violations
Case involves alleged copyright violations of footage from the excavation of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge (shipwreck on a sandbar) – cybersquatting
Domino’s vs Robles 18-1539 – visually impaired ADA violations
ADA online is still hard for the courts, unlike physical space, which is settled for the most part
sqoop, website for federal court case search
can follow cases and it will keep emailing you
prove you are a journalist and they give free subscription
Recap by free law project
rarely $15 a quarter minimum
CourtListen fro the further reading
The Content Trap (bharat anand)
Information Doesn’t Want to be Free (Cory Doctorow) – sign up!

Leveraging WordPress as a Digital Sports Publisher
Theresa Spencer

How do you build one of the most trafficked sports sites in the world? With WordPress of course! Theresa did a fantastic job of laying out the tool chain they rely on and how they leverage various components. While theory and the latest tech are always fun, I find the most practical lessons I hear come from the case studies of battle tested approaches and implementations. It also is preferable as a talk substance because there is no ‘greenfield’ assumption, like with a JAMstack site where you can assume you are starting fresh from at least some of the code base. Case studies are always showcases of Big Balls Of Mud which is always going to be predominate reality of any legacy system.

Raw Notes:
Business Stakeholder – map to project success
IMplementation : The product
custom features
primary category
category menus
video player embed button
Shortcodes- tv schedule @ content/ad partners
Plugins –
WP Content Options
Apple News
MostRecent Feed – Popular Posts
Featured Images
Add SEO Meta Tag
original written and video sports content
Broadcast network initiatives
Tools –
SP Content Options
Shortcodes. RSS
Publicize (jetpack)
Add SEO Meta Tags
Keywords and Google News Keywords
direct – apple news
AMP framework
Measurement: KPIs
agreed upon internally
Google Analytics as a way to measure
Pagevies vs users vs sessions
keyword analytics
top 5 views of sessions of AMP vs Apple News, etc
VIPgo and Multisite

Storytelling Essentials Every Content Creator, Developer, and Publisher Should Understand
Nathan B. Weller

I almost didn’t include this in my final report, as my notes cut off when he specifically asks us to stop typing and just follow along, since we would be going through a lot very fast. If you like Joseph Campbell “Heroes Journey” kind of stuff, you will love Nathan’s synthasis of it with several other story theories. I know I did. Too much to try to recap here, to just go watch the dang thing which is already on Youtube.

Raw Notes:
Learning opportunity, story editor
essential lessons he has learned about storytelling
preconceived ideas of what storytelling is
those relationships went poorly
first pat
crash coarse in storytelling theory
2nd part
He asked us to not take notes and just pay attention,
doing that.

“Newspack: Listen First, Develop Second,” a process of creating a custom news vertical for
Jefferson Rabb (Automattic)

I don’t need to run a news site online, not do I want to. But if I did, and I was picking a new platform to do it on, what I heard about Newspack in this talk would make me do a formal discovery and investigation. I love hearing about stable and meant to scale platforms. As it hasn’t launched public yet, I am very curious to hear what emerges from battle testing. Maybe next year we will hear that. I do love tha this is an attempt to lower the overhead of tech so ‘journalists can focus on journalism’!

Raw Notes:
Team lead at Newspack
small to medium news rooms
WordPress for News Rooms
Developed with Automattic, funded by Google and philanthropic
Charter Cohort of twelve publications
First sites launch in late September
Normalize, standardize, modernize editorial tooling
Why us? Tooling is what e know, this is where we can contribute
The rich WP ecosystem is blessing and curse
We can contribute by shrinking it down to manageable size
The Fear
NHR research ‘tech confidence’ is a large pain point
legacy solutions mean impossible to change
custom themes and plugin creation relies on dev resources
Rigid site structures make it difficult to experiment
Opinionated approach
not trying to play God
curated set of tools
opinions of design and even business
constantly evolving
Reducing complexity
General use tools can be complex and confusing
we can abstract complexity behind purpose driven UI
Visual Design
“One Theme”
belief that the visual delta between news sites is small
customize the visual features that express brand and personality
this will be an iterative approach
a bridge to Gutenberg
Unabashedly Gutenberg-forward
Conversion utility
Education as a feature
Show our customers the value of Gutenberg
Blocks-based homepage building
it is open source
it is for full time newsrooms
serious projects
positively change publishers relationship with their website
devote more time to journalism
clear a path for business experimentation
evolve with the community

“Managing Site Networks,” a spotlight in prioritizing and focusing for a collection of sites
Beth Davidz

This was a lightning talk but was jammed with a lot of really great information. Beth and I subscribe tot he same personal belief that organization and communication are the core to getting anything done, so naturally I agree very strongly with her message of personal Trello, controlling scope and having a firm time line in place. If you have been thinking ‘I gotta get more organized’ you can watch this little talk as a solid primer.

Raw Notes:
How many sites?
will be cute cat
one more thing, more and more
can’t keep track of them
then you are crazy cat lady
prioritize and organize
get intel
get to know client
musts and expertise
audit, issues
what does client really want?
Tools and solutions
what’s _
priority, happen now
is a must, simple, hard, ghih impact
Project tracking tools
Post-it Notes
Google Docs
to deliver any project, there are three factors
Are you getting paid enough to do it?
Don’t control at least 1
Deadline, Scope Budget

Conquering Lighthouse to Provide a Better User Experience
Seth Alling

I didn’t honestly take the best notes for this one, but it was a fascinating talk. Again, it was a history, and not one I knew before the day. I actually distracted myself with checking out Google’s release notes and blog posts about the major initiatives while Seth was talking. Fast is good. Fast, good A11y, being a Progressive Web App with good SEO is better. Good thing the tooling is freely available in the browser mos of us use.

2008 DDG
2009, Bing and Google real-time search results
2010, Caffeine- faster search results
2011 Panda – drop low quality search results
12% of all search results affected
2012 penguin
Drop SEO Spam search results (penguin)
Added knowledge Graph
2013 More accurate search results (hummingbird)
largest code change since 2001
conversational search
2014 pigeon, better local search results
2016 Possum
2017 popup penalty
2018, Lighthouse comes out, mobile first
IS light
Trellis from Mediavine
makes progressive webapps out of the box
mobile first
quality theme is mandatory
3 second to get server load is terrible
good hosting is needed

Defining Fast: The Hardest Problem in Performance Engineering
Zack Tollman

Thinking about queues and how to measure things might seem like it would be a dry subject. Zack was anything but dry in his delivery and this was one of the more entertaining talks I have seen in a while. His lighthearted fonts and simple diagrams made the meat of some, what could have been very dry, technical analytics discussion. Again, my notes could be more thorough, but so many little things I had not thought through sent me looking up related articles to read later on things like Real User Monitoring (RUM) or how people are relating speed to business value. Really thought provoking stuff.

Potbelly Sandwiches
Menu Master,
their system
he hates lines
went one day after lunch rush
no ipad guy
8 minutes to get the sandwich
Load event misses animations and tracking pixels
visually ready
we are in the
Golden age of performance metrics
Too many metrics really
Tools are fantastic
Key h1 to load, visual readiness
First Meaningful Paint
First CPU Idle
Time to Interactive
Philip Walton
User centric performance metrics
Test frequency is important
2.1 million test in last month alone
RUM – Real User Monitoring
Variance is provided by this process
people bring their own variables
You have to look at the data now!
lots of ways to look at it, have to do the hard work
mean, median, average percentiles
standard deviations
do they need the raw data?
comparison data might be a better approach
business metric correlations
hard to pin a 1:1 speed = more $
Defining faster defines your performance culture

My Session

Making WP-CLI Your Own: Extending a command line tool for your own needs

After lunch I taught a workshop, really a follow up to the workshop I originally co-ran with Daniel Bachhuber in 2017 a WordCamp For Publishers in Denver. The first parts went really well, people followed along with the theory and when we tried extending a plugin, mostly people were able to play along and realize concepts. However, once we started to delve into the world of Packages, which require Composer to work as expected, then the whole thing kinda turned sideways. Still, the feedback I got from a few folks was that this was a game changer of a session and they see a lot of possibilities. I am going to count this one as a win even though it was not the best attended thing I have done.

Mentoring Day

Instead of a Contributor day sprint, the camp decided to try a Mentoring Day, where people could sign up to be mentored on a subject or mentor someone else on a subject of expertise. I signed up for a few and had a good conversation out it. Mostly though I think most people used it as co-working time and that was very pleasant as well. It is always good to be around others and the free coffee was bonus!

Wrapping Up

It was a very good time to be back on some nice summer nights in Ohio and make some new friends. To be honest though, now that I am trying to make it as a independent consultant, I think the biggest value for me was realizing that when you go to an event focusing on larger scale and much larger organization, with soem even being public companies, was to understand where I don’t fit. While I had the best time and love this community, now that I am no longer hocking a still pretty great hosting platform, I am not sure that this event was really something I would pursue in the future. I am very glad I did this time though. But I hope, very earnestly, to see each and every person I met and reconnected with again in my future travels. Who knows, the desire to go hang out wiht the amazing organizing team alone might override all other considerations and I might just head back to WordCamp for Publishers 2020, wherever it may be.

WordCamp Boston 2019: A new venture in an old town and seeing the Green Monster from the inside of Fenway

The Summer heat beat down as I landed one again at Logan International Airport. I had spent the previous few days in The Big Apple walking around and thinking about my life. To cut to it, I had parted company with my previous company very recently and had gone to the city that never sleeps to see some old friends and get my thoughts together. Very happy to say I did and I arrived in old Beantown with a fresh perspective, some new ideas and a new banner to march under, my own. So as the founder and CEO of Process Digital Consulting, I arrived to participate in the 10th anniversary celebration that was WordCamp Boston 2019

Food and Fun


Unlike most events there is not a speaker/sponsor dinner, there is a brunch, which I will get to later. Instead I enjoyed a very pleasant meal at the recently opened new location of Whole Heart Provisions. This place is everything I like about Chipotle burrito bowls but all plant based. Then a small gathering of us hug out at the exquisite Le Meridian hotel bar where a few of us where staying making for a relaxing and light evening of mellow comradery.


Boston always has a delightful breakfast spread of bagels, pastries and fruit to go with coffee. The coffee is consistently mild flavored and gets the job done. Lunchtime was bagged sandwiches and wraps. This year was pretty consistent with previous years experiences of veggie wraps, chips and an apple. The real food treat of the whole day was the afternoon snack with cupcakes, including a fee vegan ones, they brought in to celebrate 10 years of this event.

Trolley tour

This year we were in for a very special treat as those of us who registered early enough got to go on an open air tour of Boston on the Old Town Trolley Tour. It was hot out but we still had a great time seeing the sights and experiencing Beacon Hill and Boston Commons together.

After Party

The trolley tour dropped us off right in front of the after parry venue, once again this year as in the past at White Horse Tavern. We had a nice selection of pub food offerings and refreshments to beat the heat. I can’t find a single tweet with a pic from this year, which I think had something to do with the fact we all looked like we had melted a bit throughout the day, so here is a picture from a previous camp.


What camp experience would be complete without singing together. A group of us headed back to what has become my go-to spot in the area, Courtside, up in Cambridge. The tables are sticky and the staff a bit surly, but this place is dripping with authenticity and charm. At least I hope that is what was dripping from the walls, it was pretty hot. All joking aside, there are few things I enjoy more as a camper than singing with my fellow FOSS enthusiasts.


Speaker Brunch

WordCamp Boston’s second day starts at 11:30 and the speakers and organizers get us all together for a brunch meal. We returned to the newly renovated Tavern Allston this time around and I feasted on the potatoes and fruit like they were going to go extinct. A full gullet later we ventured over to make a second day of camp happen.

A light lunch

I want to give a very, very special shout out to one of the nicest and genuinely good hearted people in the world. Mr. John Eckman took time from his organizing duties to make sure us that only eat plant based foods had a good opportunity to get more in our stomachs than just carbs. He did a lunchtime run to grab us some Blaze Pizza featuring a spicy vegan chorizo. I hope to be nearly as kind and thoughtful to everyone I meet as he has been to me. The world could use a few more folks like that.


At the end of the event, I got an invitation from a true football (soccer to us Americans) fan, and another all around great guy, Rich Hill to go see his favorite team, Liverpool, play a ‘friendly’ match at Fenway Park. Seeing a football pitch, as they are called, bult up in one of the oldest baseball stadiums was a real treat! Could not be more grateful to have the experience and what a heck of a way to end my Boston adventure.


Opening Remarks

How does the web work?
Frank Corso

Do I know how the internet works? I would of course say yes, but after seeing this delightful and well researched talk by Frank, I can say without a doubt I can better tell you how it is put together! Demystifying technology is a super important step in the process of building tools and coming up with new ays to solve problems. This is a must see type of presentation for anyone who is new to working on the web and just needs a clearer high lever overview of what the internet really is.

Raw Notes:
Goal is to understand the Browser, DNS, Server, Back end process
page load process
1960 ARPA
Packet Switching
research into ARPANET
connecting different computers
IBM created the Generalized Markup Language
looks a lot like what we have today actually ith HTML
people realize all working on same kinda thing
need standard protocols
still in use today
Mailbox protocol preceded the SMPT protocol
then ARPANET grows
then other networks forming
TCP = transmission control protocol
IP – Internet Protocol
easier way to look up IP addresses
based on yellowpages
early browsers emerge
log into another computer and see data, not HTTP yet
SGML – standard generalized Markup Language
then Tim Berners-Lee
WWW Consortium
Browser Wars
WorldWideWeb first browser
Mosiac, Opera, IE
CSS in 1994 proposed as a way to stylize websites
Microsoft was on the side of CSS
one of the only times IE was ahead of the game
JS origins
originally called Mocha, created by Netscape
shipped in 1995
AMCA Script technically still, but we all just call it JavaScript
Most popular browsers image – see slides – from wikipedia
forked and called Safari
OK, enough history
What happens when a page loads?
Parts of a URL
HTTPS:// – Protocol
Staging. – Subdomain
example – domain
.com – Top Level Domain (TLD)
/about-us – path, route
?ID=32 – parameters
HTTP Requests
Looks up IP address via DNS
server gets request and sends back data
Get, Put, Post, Delete
Status Codes
1xx, 2xx, 3xx, 4xx, 5xx
200 – worked as expected, never notice these cause the thing just works
400 numbers, something you are sending is bad
500 numbers something wrong on the serve end
Domain Name System (DNS)
Browser, get the IP address, looks in cache first
if not cached, goes to Root Server
TLP Name Server
Domain Name Server
that gives the IP address to the browser and then connection continues
A record points to IP address
can do CNAME as well, send to this other address that also gets looked up
MX record setup
AAAA records – IPv6
Servers, gets the requests
Shared – shared resources on same computer, many sits
VPS – isolated processes on same server
Dedicated hosting – all yours, expensive but all the processing power you need
cloud hosting – network or cluster of servers managing things
Creating HTML –
Apache/nginx – see if any software is looking for such requests
PHP – the files to look at for the server to run
need a DB
MySQL/MariaDB most common
this could take a while to build a request
caching plugins kick in here
Displaying a webpage
Parse HTML
Building the page in HTML
Painting to the screen
Onload – tech term – this process says it is done loading, so other software can run their processes
Fully Loaded
Difference between TTFB and TTFP
most speed test stop at onload

Introduction to the WordPress Transients API
Topher DeRosia

Believe it or not, I have never sat through a talk about this critical part of WordPress before. Searching my own notes comes up with the term appearing a few times but mostly in relation to debugging and a couple high level overviews of WP mentions. Topher did an outstanding job of detailing what they were, how to use them and, most importantly, how to use them correctly! He also overviewed some of the tooling he uses like Query Monitor. Truly a fantastic talk for any developer trying to get better performance from the software.

Raw Notes:
Transients = caching
a very specific kind
Transient = lasting only a short time
you don’t get to decide how long it actually does last
caching data in transients caching 3rd party calls
how it work?
each transient has a name
when you need the data, check to see if it exists
if it does, use it
If not, generate the data and use it next time
Where are transients stored?
I don’t care, WP takes care of it
No really…
First WorPress looks for real, system level caching module like memcched, Redis, etc. hese are very very fast and much preferred
Failing that, transients are stored in the WP options table, yes a DB call, but a speedy one
You don’t have to do anything to set it up, it just does it
Meta queries are slow
code example
$ave_query = set_transient( $transient_name, $coaches_query, Hours_in_Seconds * 12 );
but what about changes?
how to invalidate?
set time to expire is one way
‘Delete Expired Transients’
‘Query Monitor’

The World-Wide Work
Ethan Marcotte

When I first saw Ethan on the schedule I honestly thought it was a misprint. I mean, after all this is one of the foremost thought leaders I quote the most often. He was not giving a keynote and had a talk at the end of day one. If you have never seen him present, it is a delight, as his design aesthetics are second to none and the way he ties up his conclusions with a nice bow is downright inspiring to me as a speaker. Unfortunately there was a bit o a technical issue here on a couple fronts. First, my laptop battery decided to completely die on me and second, he went over time to the point they pulled the plug on him and we missed his final point slide. A tragedy on both counts. There are a lot of recordings of him giving talks already online. I highly recommend taking the time to watch a few. It might just change your life

Raw Notes:
name comes from the sound of the flock moving
like a whisper over the air
Delighting in the small
dropcaps for instance
Firefox, chrome, safari all interpret this differently
looking under the hood
anatomy of a letter
ascender and descender
don’t need these for Dropcaps
since introduces span into markup, we can use before and after psudoselectos and negative margins
m, atthew issue
treat dropcap as a purely visual element
properly designed patterns does what we want
hard to think of ourselves as powerful
any sufficiently advanced neglect is indistinguishable from malice
Robert Moses
New York Parks Commission
Flushing Meadows Park, many other places, UN headquarters
Master BUilder of NY
also an avowed racist
contempt for people he thought were beneath him
many of his works were places out of reach from non-whites
he wanted to make sure buses could not pass under many bridges
Design can encode racist and classist biases
map of Cleveland
in pursuit of profits, makes under-served areas based on profits
this too is a kind of design
critical to us to
We have to look at design as an agent of power
amazon face recognition software
tested by ACLU which showed it was racists
Google and drone strikes
FB, UN Human Rights Watch
instrument of hate
Tim Berners-Lee was creating a tool for everyone
we can still celebrate that
Ursala franklin
The Real Word fo Technology – book
wish he read it sooner
1. Advocacy – excitement and promise
2. Adoption – Acceptance, growth and standardization
3. Institutionalization – economic consolidation and stagnation
The sewing machine introduction
this machine ends poverty
messaging soon became one of worker efficiency
classic division of labor
people always promised tech will free then in the end it always exploits them
same pattern happening now with Internet
the web foundation statement: empowered people by the web
Duplex framework for speaking humans and completing complex transactions
what happens to Jade’s job when we replace her with tech
Brenda Monyangi
produces training data, to train AI
labeling each element and tag manually
this is exploitation and by design
hiring low cost labor to do repetitive nature maximizes corporate profits
one example facebook
content moderation manual process
traumatic work by army of contractors
flagging content
automation created corners where exploited and replacing them
Netflix AVA best guess who wants to see what artwork
finding new ways to scale our resources
pattern library
personally he has dreamed of such a thing
now it is here and scary
batery dying 🙁

What does your brand look like in a voice first world?
Chip Edwards

I really had never considered the auditory world that is becoming the main way many people interact with devices as deeply as I now do after seeing this presentation. Chip layed out what I expected at first, how brands leverage sound bytes to brand and how common and brand critical that has become. But then he delved into the world of how the verbal world and the visual world contrast and many of his points were new ideas to me. So much so that I took poor notes as I researched things he was discussing. If you are trying to serve more people and in delightful ways. It is becoming standard and it is only evolving.

Raw Notes:
What is in a name?
Sight vs sound
domain names vs invocation names
whoever gets invocation name first will own it going forward
in visual world, page one is good enough
in verbal world you need to be THE answer
sonic brands
plays theme earcons from McDonalds, Samsung, Pepsi, and lastly Coca-cola
sonic branding is how you recognize them by ear
embedding in ads
been around a long time
now more popular then ever thanks to voice technology
auditory queues to let you know what is coming next
visuals very different from verbal world
Alt-Text is super vital
spelling is very important for screen readers!
example of all misspelled words you can still read but messes with screen reader
BRand should dictate your diction
consistent style that resonates with your audience
voice is a part of the recording process
a different voice per section
stml – tags for audio content

Nic Newman –
voice is the future
Number of Smart Speakers grew by 78% in last year
68% of SS users use it daily

My Session

Bash is magic # No it’s not

I delight each and every time I give this talk. I always run out of time and I always wish I could fit in one or two more points. Seeing the faces in the crowd go from slightly baffled by some of the points to understanding is the most pleasure a speaker can have doing this and I got to see that on a few faces this time around. Always grateful for the opportunity to share what I am learning. If you know anyone that needs help learning Bash, send them my way, I want to learn more and the way t learn the most the fastest is to teach it!

Wrapping Up

I do really like Boston, but the summer heat was a bit much. I had a lot on my mind and launching a new personal brand took a bit more mental effort than I had given it room for, hence this post arriving a day later than I normally push these out. I almost didn’t go this WordCamp and was not sure how I would be received as the guy who used to work for one of the sponsors. I am overjoyed to say that when I showed up, I was greeted with the same kindness and welcomeness that I now know would be there no matter what brand I showed up under. That really meant a lot and has put me on a positive path I am not sure I would be on otherwise. I do hope life moves in a way that I get to go back next year for the 11th anniversary edition of WordCamp Boston in 2020!

Design4Drupal 2019: The time I met Richard Stallman and he didn’t have change

I once again landed in The Athens of America and was met with much kinder weather than Europe had thrown at me. Boston, well particularly Cambridge, holds a lot of fond memories for me. being a mirrored reflection of my beloved San Francisco in many ways, it always sorts feels like home. Maybe that’s why it felt much less like a business trip and much more like a family reunion when I arrived at Design4Drupal 2019.

Food and Fun


I never fear being ‘stuck’ in my hotel when I to to events, and like normal, I immediately found my people. This time it was the whole development crew from Genuine who were just finishing up their get together. Some of us adjourned for further conversations and libations at The Automatic, which has the best selections of Mezcal I have seen East of the Mississippi.


Contributor sprint and trainings shared the same coffee, light pastries and lunch at the Stata Center. Lunch was pizza and salad with an OK vegan pizza pie for us lacto-intolerant folks. By the end of the day though, I was pretty hungry. Thankfully Kevin Thull had a heck of a plan ad we gorged ourselves on plant based diner food at Veggie Galaxy. We had a quick nightcap at The People’s Republik and got ready for the busy next day.


Coffee and pastries and tea awaited us Thursday and Friday morning. The tea was notable higher class and higher quality. Wish I had written down the name on the tin. Lunch was pre-boxed sandwiches and wraps. Whoever made my hummus wrap must have thought the goal was the spread it as thin as possible, as to be almost undetectable on the tortilla. The potato chips were good though.

The after party at Mead Hall, a short block from the venue and my hotel, was hopping with all sorts of folks from the area in their after work revelry, whilst the D4D crew had full run of the private upstairs area. We had fries, sliders, pretzels and a few other buffet served items. Breaking from my normal vodka and soda I tried a couple local beers, but found none worth noting here.


I am always super happy when my buddy J.D. Flynn is at an event. I am also very glad that he has taken the mantle of organizing DrupalKaraoke! He lead us to one of my favorite spots in old Cambridge town, Courtside, The King of Karaoke. We had a good time of it.


A repeat of the coffee and such. The coffee was not too bad, pretty average. Lunch was pizza for people who eat cheese and a pretty awesome and hearty salad with a spicy chipotle dressing for those of us that did not. Normally I would protest a salad as the lunch option, but the beans and corn and awesome tortilla strips made this eat like a proper meal and I am thankful for the hearty portions for greens.

After the last sessions finished, some of us who had the time gathered for one last communal meal. We had fantastic Korean BBQ at Koreana.

DrupalKaraoke Again

We had such a good night of Karaoke, that some of us thought, “why not again?”. So we go the gang back together for one more night at Courtside. It is always bittersweet to have to say the last goodbyes before turning in for the night. Singing together takes some of the sting away.


Contribution/Training day

Wednesday saw some people learning things like Intermediate To Advanced CSS For Practical Peoples to Drupal 8 Crash Course (For Content-Editors, Marketers, And Project Managers). I did my best to contribute to the event but local development setup issues against the dev branch 8.8.0 caused havoc in some interesting ways for me and I spent the day debugging things. Once I got up and running I was able to make a screenshot for another contributor’s request but was too flustered by the ongoing little issues I was seeing I didn’t get much else accomplished. Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes it eats you.

Opening Remarks

Great Drupal Websites Are Made Before The First Line of Code is Written
Chris O’Donnell
Mindy League

Organizing your own thoughts can be hard enough, so organizing the thoughts, wants, fears and concerns of an entire set of stakeholders and end users requires some serious effort. Fortunately there are some pretty well established patterns that we can leverage to make this easier on us all and with better results. I appreciated this session because it was based in real world practice and I got to see part of the reason why the Promet team is known for successful projects. Great info here for anyone trying to take on more enterprise deals.

Raw Notes:
Agile can’t save a bad idea
Developing strategies to make changes early
white boards are cheap ways to make changes
Why human centered design?
Greater client engagement
Early stakeholder alignment
deeper knowledge transfer
How they do it
Series of workshops
identify stakeholders
prioritize stakeholders
ID strengths, problems, opportunities in current system
Group or relate the above attributes
ID solutions to above challenges
Prioritize solutions
Set good ground rules get everyone on same page
Why it works?
Create empathy
validate assumptions
Create solutions for them
What it looks like
stakeholder meeting white board example
persona work
keeps us centered on who we are designing for
ask the clients to close the laptop and engage as people
put pencil to paper to express yourself
workshopping mode
Sticky notes
color coded
rose is a thorn bud
Backend, frontend, content grouping
good ideas from surprising sources
make sure all voices get heard
ideas can become equal and all carry same weight
we walked through live version of this using an online tool
lot of interesting ideas in short demo

How Drupal as a Service Can Save Our Livelihoods and our Lives
Benjamin Melançon

When I think ‘true spirit of Free/Libre Open Source Software’ Ben’s face jumps to mind every time. One of the friendliest folks I have met on my journey, I have always loved hearing him speak about his teams. His casual style of crediting everyone who contributed makes me want to aspire to do the same. Raising up everyone around you seems like the way we should be approaching working together. This talk gave me a lot to think about, as I am finding myself explaining what ‘Free’ in FLOSS means more and more. Knowing there are just a load of companies that are actually supporting ‘Free’ in the way the GPL suggests, gives a credibility many business folks certainly need to be able to wrap their minds around this rather modern idea.

Raw Notes:
understand how the future is services and what we can do about it
bombs in Yemen
people used to terrible consequences for war weapons
tech is not used to this defense style
furniture workers yesterday lead a walk out to stop homeland security from using their furniture
couchsurfing vs airbnb
pioneering from free and open source commercialized
faster and more trusted because of financial model
Harvard studying this how to benefit without contributing back
used to be frowned on to be paid to contribute
now obvious SaaS is going to need to be a thing that helps pay for this
Decline and fall of Drupal empire?
Weekly project usage over time is leveled off since 2015
not world on fire though
Concentrated vs distributed costs
concentrated care way more
The earth is not dying, it is being killed
Utah Phillips
US distribution of wealth
top 20% is 83% od all wealth
people at top agree they have too uch wealth for the most part
knowledge is not real power
organizations are power
Collective Courage book
Jessica gordon menehard?
business opp in
his proposed solution is LibreSaaS
many companies already are, new term though
back to meaning of Free software
people are not economically rational all the time
sometimes people do social good cause it needs done
not really a conscious movement
Discourse web forums
new hotness
ghost, sharetribe, wallbag, tendenci, cryptpad
commitchange, standardnotes, (writely)
and then there is WordPress
Unlike Discourse with a strong moral statement does not make any of these claims
Freedom to move to anywhere and hack as will, so not seemingly really open
it is an advantage but they don’t talk about the freedom from vendor lock in
Free to start, with 5 ways to grow
Whether you want to share your ideas, start a business, or run a store, you can do it all on
Salesforce is closed source, but they foster a community to configure
illusion of power and control
Drupal as a Service
cloud is just other people’s computers
collectively we can own those
power to collaborate and communicate the next level
history of failure attempting this
xxx (missed what he said), worked until updates killed it
Civispace, from Deanspace from Howard Dean campaign
tried to make a service, too high a price
technical prblems
Drupal Gardens for D7 was Acquia’s approach
became Acquia site factory
never thought as a small site builder never thought about D as a service was viable
successes are Sony and NBCUniversal
forms and multilingual because they needed to build them, contributed back
Drupal light and Drupal Enterprise distros and platform there
only open internal to the university
MIT runs one, but universally not liked, not really maintained and not functional
Drupal as LibraSaaS
Roundearth – mydropwizard – supporting old sites, this service is CRM + CMS nonprofit management solution in the cloud
Open Social – goalgorilla internal social networks for large non-profits
roomify – booking engines,, lot of cose outside of Drupal so other projects can use it
easy to get stated and no worry of hitting wall of what you can’t do
no path off a cliff, rug being pulled out
proprietary tech only really becomes profitable once it hits monopoly
OSS not victim of this
App store model and the like basically invented this model
Apple took idea and locked it down
and it is not Amazon Web Services.
that is un-free-software, selling anything they can as a locked down service
mongoDB example
Indie Web Camp
shared protocols
betterverse, mastadon

User Unfriendly: A practical guide to losing control
Miriam Suzanne

I was not sure what to expect out of this keynote. As someone without a design or front end background, I was not familiar with her work, just had heard the name a few times. I left the room a real fan of what Miriam is all about. The talk itself veered all over the place and I kept wondering where it was going to land. Thinking back on it, I like the approach and for sure walked away with some fresh ideas on how to think about design. It sort of reminds me of the talk from Kandace Brigleb back at WooConf 2017 with her line ‘It’s not “design a chair” its “create a way to suspend a person.”’

Raw Notes:
Started web Dev in 2006
Drupal 4.7
Oddbird with her brothers
from scratch
also susy (don’t use it now)
re imagined in Sass
nothing new, she is a core team member
2009 first commit, attributed to her brother
ensemble for theater
borrowing a lot foideas
can’t create results, create environments in which something might happen
letting go of the end result
our process Making things with people
conditions for Creation
making this for people
letting go of control
conditions for interactions
ideas => UX
performative turn(s)
re-framing makes it art
the lone genius myth
down with that sort of thing
riding sidesaddle
notes to box of note cards (performative turn)
her band uses text from novel in songs, same source material, different performative turn
then a play
source can become many things
We choose the medium
Theater = dance + words + architecture + lights +…
Web = Text + Media + interactions + Semantics
look at a website
templating, build step
browser picks it up
cool, but hard to read when turn text on the side
what is user friendly?
No one is an esdge case if everone is an edge case
a Queer theory
strange or peculiar
in 1800s a sexual insult
reclaimed in 1980’s and 90’s
a Big Tent movement
defined by their difference
different in ways that struggles and identities intersect
Normal is suspect too
who defined it and who benefits?
Normal embraces a power imbalance
skin toned bandage
names, that name never changes, this does not fit for many people
single real identity?
FB relies on this
no code switching ever
things that fit work ID vs personal ID
under and increasing pressure to monetize the data they store, FB looks for ways to limit difference across the site
used to have open text, now just pick pages you like, structured and trackable data
turns out algorithms are racist?
we don’t rally know our audience unless they are in the room
Empathy is not enough
listening > imagining
find people and ask them what users want
ask Different people
users are experts!
if I had asked people that they wanted, they would have said faster horses
Our job is to not just listen, but to ask why
UX 1 End Goals
2. existing Solutions
3 Points of failure
User blind spots
1. interface design
ask about problems, not solutions
works with art feedback as well
Always ask why
Look for root causes
Analyze patterns
common pain-points, related issues, etc
Recognize Personal Bias
when the problem is in act 5, the solution is often in act 1
sometimes you can solve a problem but focus on ohter part
Set meaningful Goals
click-though rates are not universal success
what goals are we setting and why are se setting them
Jon Tan, Durable Design
impact vs immersion
see once and POP vs something over the long term, spend time in
enacted vs emergent narrative
Mario vs Zelda
no one right way, just good to know they exist
Do I want to create work in which everyone feels the same, ir everyone feels differently
know your innovation budget
when can you turn things sideways
Test and Trust
the audience is smart enough too follow a non-linear knowledge
we invented the nav bar, cab ve replaced bow
Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users
All websites look the same, from no volume
It takes craft to set up circumstances that are simple and yet contain the ambiguities and the incongruity
What’s in a medium
Bed has a Mission
Web for all. Web in everything
braille reader and headphone screenreader
writing for different mediums at the smae time
different devices at same time
resilient by design
customizable by design
built into medium
by design user controlled
HtML and CSS are declarative, too many variables
That’s actually true, HTML developers work in a much harder problem space
design and ship content that infinite and undefined canvas
The fact we can control a paper page is really a limitation of that medium
John Allsopp 2000
broadly accessible
limited authorial control
awesome or frustrating
limited business control?
maybe I believe more in the open web than you controlling and tracking everyone
bootstrapping vs plug and play
Lori Emerson
the invention of user friend;y
open development
people are already pretty smart
Douglas Englebert
mother of all demos
how are we going to help experts for making bettert things
focuses on users as experts
Any barrier that exists between the use and some part of the system will eventually be a barrier to creative control
Susy came out of this idea
what if all the math tools n your hands
Susy was written in Sass, and used n Susy
same familiar language
Plug and PLay
it Just Works
more of a closed system of user friendly
what the Apple 2 is
identical, easy to use, low costs appliance, appliics=ion
instructions for invisible
Open vs Adaptable
it just depends
aesthetics didn’t make people wan to use a tool, but once tey found it usefull, then they wanted it prettier
humane by design
empowering, finite, inclusive
respectful, thoughtful, usable
Solve real problems, for real people. Using software using SW when it’s the best choice
Delegate and Present
balancing solo vs team Time – essential
2 modes of writing, word docs, vs Google docs
present context and trade offs
establish yourself as a teammate
she would get defensive from client feedback
always a tension
at beginning now explain context
Mind games always backfire
no tricking your client into right decision
Experimental is a process
research, gather, and create the materials
organize, outline the structure, ot impose one
then draft things
less theory, more practice
put options in front of users
the feedback loop
Ugly helps (isolate variables)
full mock ups are dangerous
Copy Transform Combine
Kirby Ferguson
encourage playfulness
‘spark and slip”
use all the tools
user friendly is meaningless because there is no opposite
unison, harmony, dissonance
look at different angles
elements of design
aspects of the web
open mode when pondering, closed mode then implementing it – John Cleese
iterate iterate iterate

Keynote day 2
Uncertainty Principles
Deborah Levinson

As Deborah started her talk, I thought for a moment that the whole talk would focus on structural misogyny. It is not that I am against such a talk, but I was wondering where she was going with all this in relation to the central ideas of Design which the event is named for. About the time I had that thought she dove into the MIT website history and started tying things together. I left the talk feeling this is one of the more useful keynote talks I have attended, since now I have a quick set of guidelines to ask as I am proposing new ideas and trying to elevate the community.

Raw Notes:
Impostor syndrome
harder for women, women self select our, self disqualify
structural misogyny
Women only apply for a job at 100% qualification
men at 60%
what is uncertainty
she set up a survey
Uncertainty prevents u from acting
Ends up with giant unorganized messes we are terrified of tackling
MIT homepage Jan 1999
all looked like ASCII art
14 links on the page
no department was allowed to be more important in the page
2018 huge redesign
47 links on the new page
this is what happens when you are afraid to confront people about how the page should work
also apathy playing into this
“we need this on the homepage” and you get tired of fighting
Other side
Overconfidence makes us arrogant and complacent
makes us feel the rules don’t apply to us
in accessibility
Web needs to be available to all of us
if you are someone like Target, $6M to federation of the blind
over 50 colleges were sued in 2018
2258 lawsuits in 2018
177% increase over 2017
‘too hard’ ‘don’t care’ are not good or acceptable reasons
what is worse, we prioritize profits over people and ethics
Youtube is an example of this
algorithm over everything else
internal the employees were flagging issues
far right videos and alt-right, created an internal vertical that showed how popular they were
each time they were told not to rock the boat
what if uncertainty is a good thing?
MIT building 10
everyone there general educational requirements
chem, maths, labs
they teach you certainty. The underpinnings of the system
what you have to know to study these things
Heisenberg uncertainty principal
if you are looking at a particle, you can know where it is, or how fast it is traveling, but not both at once
what if uncertainty is something to be hopeful about?
Steam example
in April after the Notre Dame fire, free giveaway of assassin’s creed Unity which featured rendered cathedral
uptick in sales
review mobs
trolls who hate a game
Stream reviewed off topic and review mobs
realized they had a question they did not answer
do positive review bombs exist?
are they off topic?
they analyzed the reviews
negative review bombs typically have low numbers of players to reviews
uptick in AC:U review stats matched patters of game that had gone on sale and received update
Look at review content
some referenced typical things
are they off topic
Step 3 , review off topic
had had not changed but context did
question are game better or worse after context changes
are the things positive but are they related?
Final verdict, who knows? And that’s OK
Lesson 1: UNcertainty can provide value, learned their definitions had limitations, and they had questions for explore
Lesson 2: research and analysis is iterative
lesson 3: transparency is awesome, share so we all learn
Uncertainty principles
1) ask questions
don’t be afraid to ask questions
Google, stack overflow, discussions with peers, spread the burden
review and summarize what you do know, when evaluate what questions need better answers
Schedules and budgets that leave time for research don’t make people lazy
they result in better products
2) hope for the best, plan for the worst.
risk matrix
legit fears of what could go wrong
identify what people are afraid of and find mitigation ahead of time
alleviates peers
plan for negative persona,
how to plan, ask yourself, who is this for
who does this help?
who does this harm?
who will use it for harm?
anotherlense from the airbnb design team
online flash cards for designers
balancing your bias – what are my lenses?
consider the opposite – who might disagree?
embrace a growth mindset – how can I learn for the future?
plan for iteration
3) sometimes you have to take a leap of faith
learning fills in gaps of uncertainty
Start small if you need to, clean up your invisible corner
if a leap of faith means you might have to rip out work later, that’s ok
lather, rinse, repeat
listen to your gut, gut instinct is powerful and often right
All we have are assumptions, but that’ all we ever have
4) build community, give back to it
get involved in a way people can see your work
speak at conferences
write a book
what a coffee and a chat with someone seeking mentorship
5) uncertainty is normal, don’t fear it; embrace it
Panic is an essential part of my process

So another client ruined their website. Here’s why it’s your fault.
Jessica Ito

I love any talk title that starts with the word “So.” I think this is because that is how people talk and how I have titled several things. While I don’t professionally design websites, I do sometimes actually build things and I know design is the one area I need the most help with. The simple, straightforward strategies that Jessica laid out, like not using images all the time if they don’t add value to the page, or simple sketching first can save many hours later, will stick with me for all my future work. Again, this talk was grounded in real world lessons learned and that makes it oh so much more valuable to me.

Raw Notes:
Easy to pout when the client messes up the site
and blame them
why are they messing it up?
Nobody wants a hot mess
1) the client does not know their site as well as you do?
2) your client isn’t thinking about content in terms of design?
3) Maybe they have an intern doing content entry?
but really the client did not have all know knoweldge and tools they needed for success
processes can seem like a lot of work but it works
conducting a content audit and invite your client to participate
noted if content was timely and actionable
manual audit, page by page
documents gave client insight into the ET way before even really got going
use Wireframes to check strategy
gives clients a frame of reference
example conversation
talked about news type, wireframe vs old design and why each part
showing taxonomy as menu shows value
Also use wires to explain
current vs wireframe side by side is important
page on the left
longform mapping to component page is hard
atomic is hard but right path
if creating a lot of content references ona site, break them down ‘Barney’ style
pulling in screenshots for visible reference
go slow
Benchmarks are great to get an understanding
The client (example)
a leading HR company that provided valuable resources to very busy HS pros
they sent over some goals
sent some
2 minutes on a site was all anyone would give them
you can take a lot of time to get right images
stock photos
get an understanting of clients imaging capabilities
how do you plan on sourcing your images
subscriptions to stock images?
Any guidelines?
anyone can produce on their end?
room for budget for pro images?
lesson learned
images didn’t add value to the components,
don’t always have to use an image
Run content entry in a way that is meaningful to your clients
Training is always neglected, smallest part of a budget
mismatching content on the wrong type of page means pain all around
manual recreation of the content
Walk them through in a visual way
explain why the site works the way it does
much happier customer
make a quick sketch to show the idea of the page
boxes and some labels is pretty much enough
don’t ask ‘is that OK’ because it is too easy to say yes and ignore learning
most people solidify learning by doing, invite clients to run the training
never one and done
never stop learning

Preventing Burnout
Michael Miles

I have been a fan of Mike Miles for a long while. Every time I get to sit through his sessions or just get to hang out with him for any small bit of time, I feel like it is always time well spent. This talk, appropriately at the last session of the last day, had me recognizing how exhausted I really do feel. But instead of just a pep talk, Mike laid out some real strategies on what the heck to do about it. I know I will be thinking on this pretty deeply as I plan ahead.

Raw Notes:
Last session of day 2
100% of room heard the term burnout
3 main types he will be talking about today
to understand why bad,
Dred – don’t want to get out of bed, just don’t wanna do it
Exhausted – you have many more things in your life than work, this affects that
Annoyed –
DEAD developers
Burnout has a domino effect
3 types of burnout
Worn-out – too much to do with too little time to get it done
Cause – root comes from a sense of disrespect
Working hard and not getting any recognition and just move on, never taking time to revel in your accomplishments
Treatment – Encouragement. Does not solve issue, but soothes issue
Prevention – Teamwork!
Retrospectives are important
annual as well as per project
2 – Frenetic – more and more and more and more….
Cause – mistrust – yourself or others, yourself is imposter syndrome
more you do the more I prove myself, but overladed is not good
‘I’ll just do it myself’ – robs the team
treatment – build a plan
prioritize. get rid of low priorities
figure out a plan for a later date or delegate
Prevention – Say no!
easy for a junior dev to say yes to anything that comes through desk
hard lesson to learn
3 – Underchallenged burnout
soooo boooooored
Cause – Emptiness, maybe 50th time doing it, not personally motivated
external sources, seasonal dips
Treatment – Take control
can you try something new?
ask for different type of work
Prevention – Set Goals
retrospectives – see how you are doing vs the goals
n) Burnout in general
Cause – Stress
Treatment – reboot
could be as simple as walking around the block
Prevent – learn how to ask for help
this is hard to do
we fear the impostor syndrome and being seen as weak
Recap: Burnout is bad
prevents you from being your best
has many forms and causes
burnout as soon as you recognize it
work towards preventing burnout from happening

My Talk

Making A Tour: Leveraging The Tour Module For A Better User Experience

Sometimes when I ma giving a talk I look out in the audience and see a number of people engaged with their computers and think to myself ‘I might have lost them.’ That for sure happened this time, but I had instructed folks that they could get the most from the presentation by playing along from their seats. When Q&A rolled around I was pleasantly surprised that the very people I had seen focusing the most on their machines were the people asking the deepest questions. I was delighted to be asked a few questions I didn’t know the answers to, so I got to learn with everyone else by experimenting with it live. There is so much to learn together, I am truly grateful for every opportunity I get to share what I know and find out what I do not yet know. That is the best way I have found to grow.

No pics exists of this session, so here is a Tour related tweet from the past.

Wrapping up

As I alluded to in the title of this post, I got to meet the one and only Richard Stallman. He likes us Drupal folks and wandered around the event a few times with a paper sign hung around his neck that read “Its not Free, It’s Open/Libre”. He was also selling his collection of essays and little stuffed gnu/wildebeest plush toys. I got one of each, which ran $50 total, of which all profits go to the Free Software Foundation. I had three $20 bills and looked at me and said, “Sorry, I don’t have change.” And in that moment, I realized that the man who is more responsible for be being on this career path in open source than almost any other individual I can name, and who is responsible for the licensing model of literally the internet at this point, is just this hippie looking guy who is still selling his books one at a time for cash. And that might be the greatest moment at any event I have ever participated in.

It will not be long before I am back in Boston. Just a few weeks this time around, as I return for WordCamp Boston. I do love the City of Notions and especially the deep feeling of connectedness to the birth of Free/Libre Open Source Software. I hope to make it back next year for the 12th annual installment of Design4Drupal!

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

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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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!


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.


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.


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
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
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
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 by humanmade – ragtag
Grid Block
add on plugin makes easy blocks
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
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
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
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

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
git bisect run
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
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
rest API for MD5 hash of email
phishing or stuffing
can be in real trouble
many other emails in the WP documents
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! 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.


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!

WordCamp Asheville 2019: A surprisingly small city and a good natured community experience

Every time I mentioned to anyone that I was going to go to ‘New Age Mecca’ everyone said the same thing: “They got a lot of breweries there.” And that is all I basically knew going in, as I have abandoned researching new places I am going for work things as the surprises give any trip a fun twist. So when I landed I expected row after row of brick buildings turned into places to brew some suds. Instead I found one of the most beautiful parts of the whole world where the people have a deeper sense of community than anywhere else I can remember being. I quickly came to realize why I had heard so much positive buzz about the event I was there for, a very Star Trek themed WordCamp Asheville 2019.

The first thing you notice is the mountains, which multiple people explained are the some of the oldest mountains in the world. Nothing snow capped here, just a rolling blueish-green forest canopy. Next thing I took note of was how much sections of town reminded me of places like Bethesda, Minneapolis, Portland and a few other cities. I guess every place I visit reminds of of everywhere else at this point, but everything already felt familiar in Asheville. I also learned that the reason Asheville exists might be because of the Biltmore Estate, which I didn’t get to see in person this trip.

Food and Fun


I got to town an evening early and had an amazing meal and evening at Rosetta’s Kitchen. I normally don’t like to use the words “best ever” but it would be very hard to beat their Tempeh Ruben sandwich. Also, I don’t even like kombucha but had to same a local one and wow, their dandelion root brew called “Earth” blew my mind. I later learned this is an employee owned co-op which is also well known as a place that deeply gives back to the neighborhood. Made my meal that much more delicious.


Speaker Dinner

breakfast and lunch were in the hotel and not worth a mention here. The Speaker dinner however was at Archetype Brewing which is right beside the Moog factory. I normally don’t drink beers but they had a delightful dark English medium bitter ale. There were really solid options for all dietary restrictions, like a tempeh, avocado and tomato sandwich. It is always so awesome to see the people you know and even better sometimes to meet people you don’t. In this case I even got to meet in person people I have known online for literally years. It was a real celebration.

Those of us still thirsty explored the city and found ourselves in one of the ‘private clubs’ where you pay a dollar to become a member so the bar can operate as a regular bar. If you are confused by that last sentence, I am as well. North Carolina has weird liquor laws. Anyhow, I had a wonderful time at the Golden Pineapple bar where we sampled locally made versions of Fernet and Malort. Amazing job Eda Rhyne distillery!


The conference coffee was wet and free. That is where my charitable description ends. There were also bacon, egg and cheese biscuits, and other options provided for a light breakfast.

Lunch was served in one of the University of North Carolina – Asheville. After WordCamp Raleigh I am now convinced North Carolina schools serve the best cafeteria food in the world. I also want to make a special call out to all the food at this camp as being inclusive and the dining hall experience really made this shine. Every possible allergy and preference was accounted for clearly and in a friendly way. It also all tasted great. There were also afternoon snacks of popcorn and chips.

After Party

The after party took place at Wedge Brewing Co. at Foundation which is a funky old railroad yard and set of warehouses turned into a hipster center of brewing, BBQ and art. All they serve is beer and wine and I indulged in a number of beers, which reminded me why I stopped as I left feeling like I had eaten several loaves of bread. Tasty bread and I am not complaining, but still several loaves. I also had a few too many of the vegan jalapeno poppers and mini veggie ‘quiches’. Again I did not go hungry and still had my dietary needs met. Afterwards we did find beverage options and fellowship in West Asheville, but I will let those stories be passed as a oral tradition.


More of the same coffee but this time a yogurt bar. I don’t eat the yogurt but I love the fruit and granola. Lunch was a repeat of the previous day’s events in the food court and just as tasty.


Opening Remarks:

2019 WordCamp Asheville Keynote.
Chris Lema

I have said it before, and I will repeat it here: Chris Lema is one of the best speakers on earth. It is a sheer delight to hear him speak and get insight from his experiences. I have missed seeing him at multiple camps now as I had been scheduled in the same time slots. This talk was just as I expected, full of wisdom and hard learned experiences, all served up with an accessable charm and grace that makes Chris, well, Chris.

Raw Notes:
Call in the middle of the night
for his dad
after dinner, had to go back to work
this was weird
couple days away
Low earth orbiting satellites
his dad worked for them telecommunication
launching in a country like Brazil
bought billboards and retails shops
meanwhile in Mexico
sat phone kicked in and
mixed up panels on sat and covered Mexico not Brazil
Can I tell you the five mistakes I’ll never forget
1. The time I hired Mr. Green
He recruited a guy from Microsoft
then gives him first assignment, fell down
quick win assignments
didn’t do that
then no show
sending flowers to his wife in hospital
I know what you’re doing
then background checked
never worked at previous employer
more data,
Lesson: Hire slowly, Fire fast!
mental gymnastics
2. The time that the client said yes way too quickly/
client was ambitious
normally charge $1K but now going to $5K
put the number out and was nervous
client didn’t flinch
too happy
didn’t realize many things until too late
no profit on that project
every other quote he took was 3X
even if he screwed it up, still hire other dev
Marinate in the problem space
Now he asks, tell me how you tried to solve this
sit in it and ask more questions
3. The time I built and sold my first company by 30
big milestone for him
sacrificed everything to sell this company
no confetti from the sky
no cameraman asking where he is going
just got up the next day
and just another day
no friends left other than the other people who sold the company
3 year lockout
ended up after all is done $30K for all that work
Lesson: Choose Wisely: Not every choice will pay off equally
changed the rest of his life
he realized he had to optimize for other things, not just the job
4. The time he stayed at a job too long because I didn’t create options
daughter is 13
wanted a boyfriend
she thought it would last forever
seems like that but no
He had a job early, was way too
We all have a “Best Used By” dates. Network and create options
automation comes for us all
all the investment in the how is not helpful
in the why is fantastic
if you have stopped learning, you have reached your best buy date
WordCamp attendees are in a good position ot learn new things
5. The time I paid attention to the comments on my blog
eventually we all get mean comments
slow to remove bad
once as a preacher made 100 house key copies
gave to congregation
permission granted to take anything from the fridge
just hit delete
don’t let people spray paint your walls
Always look at the big picture
Know that you’ll win and lose
You’ll get better over time
Play with people better than you
Can’t keep playing and not get better, can’t keep building to not get better
need to put in the time or energy
hired an entitled young lady
admin work at the house
house too cold for her
buy a jacket
She “does not learn by ___”, no matter what he asked her to learn
own if you don’t want to learn
but most people do want to learn
give your self space and time to learn
invest in yourself as a client
Persistence is a super power, available to all of you
instead of stepping up your game, shine a light
ask them enough questions, can brag on them as your new friend
promote others
call people out on what they are good for
don’t compete at camps, just elevate everyone
ask people for help
and help others
easy to forget to look behind us at people that
instead of joining the community
connect two others

So, You’re at a WordCamp – Now what?
Aida Correa

This was not my first WordCamp, so why did I go to a talk aimed squarely at first timers? Two main reasons. Firstly that this was the first time I had the chance to hear Aida speak and I love hearing new speakers. Secondly, I was honestly curious what Aida would say, she herself a fairly recent regular on the WordCamp scene. I was delighted by her perspective and enthusiasm about the events and the community! I am going to recommend this talk to anyone who is curious about what a WordCamp is all about once it gets up on

Raw Notes:
To be a very interactive class
ask questions as we go
how to live more creatively
She loves Wapuu
Wapuu is her boyfriend
actually Willian Jackson is, he introduced her to WordCamps
11 camps now
Why WC?
WC is for everyone!
From the clueless to the novice
you meet all kinds of people from all the countries all over the tworld
get to geek out
fun for family
and the schwag
networking possibilities are almost endless
meet people from all over
Carol Olinger, has her own wapuu with her doggies
Cathering Eqwali – the has passed on but her memory is strong
Karla Campos
Lucy from
Free or nearly free information
happiness bar
more you go the more ‘first to know’ opportunities
Gutenberg for example
inspiration is everywhere
Volunteering can even open more doors
It can build confidence
What to do while here?
1 – visit the sponsors
Bluehost called out as really cool people
this is not a paid commercial advertisements
Now sure what to post?
Post: favorite quote of the day and tag speaker
cool pics
ah ha moments
Introductions section of the day
we spent 5 minutes meeting each other
Keep posting throughout the day
how to build a starship
One part at a time
get speaker slides
highlight the most important info in your note
decide now how to us the into – personal or for your business
send out emails
follow up on leads/connections/affiliations
put your contacts with notes in your phone or wherever you keep contact info
networking possibilities are almost endless
she does start up websites
under a certain amount
all very simple websites
invite new contacts/friends to like or follow you
make sure to reciprocate
Consider collaborating in the future
Send a “It was nice to meer you letter/email”
Go to WordPress meetups in your city
If your city does not have one, start one
speak at a meetup
make plans to go to the next WordCamp
Most importantly
Apply to be a speaker!
no experience necessary
Talk about what you know
consider tag teaming with another speaker
Don’t forget to volunteer

SEO Eavesdropping: Spying on the Experts
Leah Quintal

SEO is one of those topics that can be so dry the audience members’ eyes glaze over early and stay that way until the next session starts. This talk, on the other hand, was full of valuable information and a clear set of examples that made it very clear how to go about approaching SEO. Those examples and the way she looked at their data made my brain finally, finally click on why content is king and the real lynchpin of SEO.

Raw Notes:
SEO refresher
SEO is one piece of your marketing efforts
how people find your website from search engine
people return to your site and that is where conversions happen
if people search for your brand, you have made it!
people don’t search this way mostly
traffic captured by pages and posts
“Best stat trek captain”
350 searches a month
rich search results
want to argue search result findings
click on link
see what page had content with this
450 searches a month
cat themed clothing
how they make money
land on page for purchase, maximize potential sales
‘free earrings’ ‘Fathers day sale’
Who are we spying on?
REI – ecommerce – one of most successful SEO campaigns ever
Meowingtons – ecommerce
Water use it Wisely – nonprofit
Finger lakes premier properties
personal finance blog
ahrefs tool for SEO and search
REI SEO Content Masters
3.1M keywords
7.6M visitors a month
89 Site Authority score
Top Folders
expert advice and co-op journal
521 keywords on pages on expert advice
Good content architecture makes it all possible
Sleeping pad, 12,000 searches per month
appears for 1669 keywords
optimizing for a topic
2nd in search results
REI sleeping pad page is for buying pads
links to ‘how to buy sleeping pages’
expert advice is lower but still on page 1
educational post gets double the traffic of the product section!
product searches are most often education-seeking searches first
Marathon Training
9500 visits a month on this one post
3500 different keywords
SEO spying is a great way to understand competitor’s position on it
You have to produce a LOT of content and see what rises to the top
how much time and energy are you able to spend
even 2 posts a month will add up over a year
then have the data to see what worked
if you have an REI budget, go for it
keep doing it
“how to clean climbing shoes”
Interlink to product pages and supporting posts from educational content
Becoming an authority is about building your brand
ahref tool let’s you do this snooping
its about shifting perspective on how content works
58K visitors a month
but of their traffic 1.2 is coming
cat puns
far down on first page
to get to blog go to footer
goal is to arrive on the main page from the blog, not promoting blog itself
search orange tabby cat
people ask a lot of questions about cats online
metadata is what appears in search results
use catchy titles, descriptions, and content anges to stand out in search results and earn more clicks
14 purrfect Puns for your Pun-Loving Valentine
Timelines matter
non-profit campaign
Water User it Wisely
30K keywords
33.1K Organic R+Traffic
100+ ways to conserve water
says to conserve
rainwater harvesting
water irrigation systems
great interlinking structure
mobile first
Make it Epic!
Content Grasshopper
Finger Lakes Premier Properties
3.8K keywords
3K organic traffic, 26 site authority score
blog accounts for 20% of site traffic
blog is sort of hidden on the site
not trying to promote it on the goal homepage
Dollar Sprout
262K keywords
776K visitors a month
personal finance
linking to pages that are important, but also categories
navigation matters
top post is on “work from home jobs”
one post with almost 100k online
Pay attention to content architecture
Write compelling metadata
update content
Make it epic
make it so!
Google Keyword Planner

Why doesn’t it do that, and all the other things WordPress actually does
John McCulley

I had talked to John at the speaker dinner and his passion and straightforward demeanor made me suspect that this talk was going to very practical and informative. I was glad I was correct on both counts. It is easy to get used to doing things the way we do them and forget that the user’s experience is going to be necessarily different than ours. I think anyone delivering real products to customers could benefit from a listen to this one. I also really appreciated the simple yet powerful encouragement to expend blocks of Gutenberg on our own. It is not that hard but it will take patience!

Raw Notes:
Being a bigger geek does not make a better dev
A good WP dev has three essential skills
use human words – Javascript is not a human word
ESP – body language
1. Simplify
De-clutter the interface
Move the custom fields up
Choose admin notices wisely
Actually use the dashboard widgets
Tip 2
Avoid Jargon
practice training people who do not know
if words are confusing, replace them in your vocabulary
tip 3
Do it in their space
Test on all browser? Opera? Old, old Safari
the site is not done when it is done, always making changes
don’t stand behind them
don’t touch them
don’t ask to drive, make sure their hands are on the mouse the whole time
screen options Menu
Make sure needed fields are exposed
you can modify CSS on these parts
Tip 5
Provide short screen casts
pro versions is not their site
using their site is better by a lot
cropping a featured image for the Trends page
a plugin that warns to crop
tip 6
Prepare, prepare, prepare
this is an important step!
got caught with a redirect loop on a site in front of 38 Marketing Managers
if debug to true then admin notices show up and clients freak about this
do this incognito behind their back
if statement to turn on only from Admin IP address
debug to console code,
Tip 7
Create an agenda
learned hard way, training group, 3 people for an hour
5 hours later they were still asking questions
bill by hour so need to scope hours
always ask what other training topics they want before the training
Tip 8
Do I use a page,post or custom post type?
whose blog did you read?
Terms at the end of training, defining terms
Pages – static
Posts – we will update
CPT – data sets
lawyer bios example
Tip 9
boom. done.
we don’t know if they got trained
run back over everything at the end
look for confusion
go back over things
re-educate and charge them more money
Tip 10
Sit still and be quiet
People will tell you what they need
selling opportunity
moving on to Gutenberg
and his never-ending struggle with page builders/editors
loves to hate things if don’t know what it is yet
Totally borrowed from Pantheon
If you are going to use it
this is not for fresh website tip
1. prepare, think about what the tool will do
staging site is the right approach
2. Design
can do functional great things
themes are not designed
3. Extend
painfully easy to extend
not super hard to learn JS
have to spend time with it
by extending it you can break it
unit tests and staging sites can make it work
can be a great thing if we make it great

Taking WordPress on the Road
Russell Fair

This was the only Lightning Talk I got to see in it’s entirety. There were three total in this session block and I was up third. Micah Wood was up first but I had some admin stuff to do during his talk, but I had also seen and noted that talk back at WordCamp Atlanta 2019. Russell took 2 years to work from the road and travel non-stop with his family all over the country. He had no slides in this valuable life lesson rich session but he played a slideshow of some of his trip on screen the whole time. I don’t think I have ever said ‘wow’ so much during a talk based on what was on the screen ever before.

Raw Notes:
Lighting talk
never Start your talk with an apology
so he is starting with a joke
Why did the Jr. Dev quit?
after 2 years of work he still get a raise?
Apology is that if you have not seen these pics it is because he sucks at social media
camping hacks in general
All you need is 2 bard of Verizon 4G to push to Git
not good enough for anything else
learned how to monitor amps
DC-AC and then the TV sucks power
monitors with DC input, can hack to make them run off battery
deep cycle marine battery do not produce clean enough power for running a mac
1 amp from a raspberry pi
airplane mode from Norcross
when you don’t have internet, loading WP backend takes forever and does not work
go Master WP-CLI and your productivity will go 1000% higher
learn Bash as well
.bashrc file, move commands to auto run on the server side with different user accounts
much faster if bad wifi
Redundancy – lot of benefits
electricity, you need to have more than one power supply
backup devices
version control everything
Inspirational thoughts
lot of amazing stuff in the country, even more he hasn’t seen
go see it right now
we live in a time when this is possible
easy to get in a habit of not going and enjoying because we ‘have to much to do’

Dissecting a WordPress Plugin using the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Method
Russell Fair

This was a fantastic interactive experience and might be the most engaging workshop I have ever done. Each person had an identical bag of LEGO pieces and sat at a round table with about 5-6 other people with said bags. The rules were you had to participate to stay in the room, no one was allowed to just sit and watch. Then we followed prompts and built things individually and discussed the work. Then we built a prototype plugin out of LEGO collaboratively. The basic team building and communication potential of the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY system. I might even be calling on Russell in the future to lead such a thing with one of my teams.

My Talks

Learning Markdown: 20 minutes that will change your life

I originally conceived of my markdown talk as a lightning talk but have never delivered it as such. It was really fun to give it with a time constraint element. I heard many good reviews that people hadn’t thought of markdown in years, and in some cases ever. One attendee even admitted he had never known why README files ended in .md before my talk. It was pretty awesome to hear so many nice things about what might have been a dry subject.

Let’s learn Git. No more excuses.

I want each and every person with a computer (or access to one) to know Git basics. I am serious. The benefits of knowing it are overwhelming. Watching the light come on in someone’s head on what branching could mean for their local development was possibly the greatest moment of the weekend for me. I am very thankful for the chance to share my excitement about this fundamental building block of comuter science collaboration.

Wrapping Up

I came to Asheville without any real expectations other than there would be good beer. I leave Asheville wondering when I am going to be able to make it back. The people held a collective sense of pride and togetherness and diversity that I have not felt in too many other places in the world. It is a small town with a big, big heart. I want to go back to see the Biltmore Estate, tour the [Moog factory](Biltmore Estate,) and taste even more local beverage creations. At a minimum I hope that I can return for my second trip to the city for WordCamp Asheville 2020!

Stanford WebCamp 2019: A little kombucha and a whole lot of community doing good

There are exactly 3 events I try to make it to every year where I don’t have to get on an airplane. The first is me home camp, BADCamp. The second is the closet WordCamp to my house, in Sacramento. And the third is the one that let’s me list having lectured at arguably the most prestigious major university in California that is not part of the UC system. Visiting “The Farm” also is one of the rare chances I have to ride down the 280, amongst some of the prettiest backdrops of scenic foggy mountaintops I know about. As beautiful as the landscape is, the real joy for me was seeing so many amazing people and having so many great conversations at, what this time turned out to be the 10th anniversary edition of what was formerly known as Stanford DrupalCamp but is now: Stanford WebCamp 2019.

Food and Fun

Friday morning brought the coffee. It is also worth noting that on that morning the COHO Stanford Coffee House had pretty awesome vegan donuts. There was no provided lunch but plenty of options abounded in the student union, including a BBQ tofu from BBQ 101.

After the first full day of sessions we made our way across the Student Union to The Treehouse for en evening of fine craft beers, wines and a beautiful alcoholic version of kombucha, which was surprisingly refreshing. We also had some light snacks while there while we were catching up about life and such. It was honestly the best after party networking I have every been to at this event and it worth noting for this particular event that it went on until after 9:00pm!

Saturday was a repeat of Friday with coffee and buying my own lunch. For the record I at ate at The Treehouse again for this meal since they have a house made veggie burger. Quite good.


Opening Remarks

Dos and Don’ts of Data Visualization for the Web
Deirdre Moore

Visuals and visual design are historically areas where I struggle the most. I like long lists of data and being able to sift the information myself in fun ways to find patterns. I often forget other people are not as thrilled with having to dance with such scenarios as I am. Having said that I walked away from this session inspired to try to look into visualization more when I am presenting information. Many of the charts I say, especially the animated charting ideas gave me a new perspective on others think of data sets and gave me some awesome ideas for being better at reporting some of my findings moving ahead.

Raw Notes:
Dos and don’ts
present Complex information
if they are not visually presented
Anscombe’s Quartet
as raw data no real patterns
statistical analysis shows similarities
but when chart/map it, becomes obvious
patterns emerge in new ways
import, tidy, (transform, visualize, model) -> communicate
import ->TIDY (where you spend the most time)
Data Dos
Do make a title
put the point in the title
example of figurative map
pie charts
you don’t have a pie except for dessert
can’t tell what is what most of the time
do you use binary data? – good pie graph
Don’t distort the data with visualization
3d rarely helps
Bar Chart is the workhorse of charts
Avoid abbreviations when you can
Do you start your axis at zero
must for bar charts
Cut the Y-Axis
truncate on small movements and important
Small Multiples is good for outliers
stacked bar in small multiples good
good for whole numbers but don;t overuse this one
Chart Resource Demo
Visual Vocabulary from financial times website
story data visualization
On Fonts
legibility is the goal
avoid fancy fonts
horizontal text when possible
testers with low vision
Data viz on the web
an image with your viz
potential for user engagements
content must be
Do use Alt-Text!
be conside
don’t say it’s an image
link to machine readable file of the data
end with a full stop
Do Research color
color blindness colors
do use whitespace
interaction acceleration techniques
maps demo
mousing on to small dots
do tests for a11y
Test with screen reader
person with low-vision tester
viz interactivity responds to voice commands
run high contrast
use emulators
Make viz responsive
no control
Mobile First?
use analytics
what are people using
mobile then desktop and tablet smaller
the it puts it in a grid
Do you use interactivity?
massive benefits
Animations to draw eyes to data
different visuals draw eye
awesome examples of animation
Do you need it?
in some situations are mandatory
it’s like chili sauce
if too much it is all people remember, but a little goes a long way
do use it sparingly
use CSS for transitions instead of JS or API
Audit a DV Class
there are 43 results in the Stanford course catalog for ‘data visualization’
Library has pragmatic workshops if you are on campus
you have a lot of knowledgeable colleagues, connect and learn together
Visualizing out of the box
Necklace from england, air quality over time
bracelet temp in Australia and rain
kitting to show commute
knitting in city council
physical bar charts
spark conversations
playdoh – #DayDohViz
How to cook a turkey
UN says data viz is needed for a sustainable future

Modernizing the Editorial Experience of a Flagship Campus Site
Eric Guerin
Jayson Jaynes

There was so much data in the talk I could not do it justice with my notes. Case studies reveal more than the technical implementation details, they reveal the amazing journey that every project actually represents. From stakeholder motives to end user worries, the tale of how we got from there to here, Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 in this case, is just fascinating to me. I love the fact that they acknowledged that one of the pieces, twig templating, was actually a struggle to learn, but one worth undertaking since the end result served everyone so much better. I love to hear tales of teams doing the hard thing to do the better thing and would love for others to also love this too.

Raw Notes:
Looking in the mirror
what works, what does not?
rising to the top
hidden in plain view
look at ME!
UCSF has awesome photos, but were not leveraging enough
Dude, where’s my site
servicenow as defacto point of origin
APO feed to update a-z list
Drush to make api integration – full screenshots of your site
moved to
search and filter easily
being classy on a budget
design to the rescue
hired HUGE inc to help
content creators know best
editors wanted flexible layouts and easier media handling
Tear down the wall
24 content types to 9
increased taxonomy a bit for better data management
using the round in that square peg
use what you want, when you want it, and making it up when you can’t
Liberal media, not fake news
26,000 media files, needed better search
title search
classification taxonomies
more demo
adding in columns to give editor more control
Media important because many editors and so many high density images caused page weight to go crazy
inserting full size images
extensible now
the editors fought it at first and then a lot of education later, they got it
Reduce and Reuse
out of box vs custom code
Wanted D8 since d7 retirement coming
upgrade to newest version of Drupal
wanted to simplify
7 root had 31 custom UCSF modules
306 contrib and custom modules on top
15 preprocessors
but easier than you think to move to 8
config management was way easier!
building at a lightning pace
made use of Media in Core
by relying on Twig templates, cut the need for custom hooks
but still difficult to learn, weird syntaxes, dealing with render arrays was a challenge
Responsive image sets to reduce bandwidth and lazy loading
Old site
275 contrib modules
31 custom modules
15 theme hooks
144 contrib
10 Custom modules
10 theme hooks (much simpler too)
2 shakes and a sensible meal
out of box to the rescue with a little custom help
reducing complexity and relying on core
made the site earlier to maintain
reduced the barrier to entry
less code, less load!
old site, used Nodequeues a lot
wanted remove as much from DB as possible into display layer
panels, views, Nodequeues
much faster
themes are more semantic
alt-text is easier to access and enter
webforms can provide inline error messages
d7 – 44
d8 – 6
Contrast issues
lazy loading really helped with speed
caching really helped
can reduce JS dependencies
refactor and reduce font sets
CDN images
Optimize views queries

How Drupal Enabled UC Davis to Help Syrian Refugees Regain Their Freedom
Carson Black

Sometimes I am reminded just how much actual impact web development can have and I get overwhelmed a bit. I had no idea going into this talk the effect it would have on me though, as I have found myself talking about it every day since as an example of what good we can actually do with all out ones and zeros and machines talking to each other over fiberglass and copper. The lives of hundreds of people have been impacted for the better thanks to the work of Carson and his team. I never do this, but if there was every a non-profit to think about donating to it would be the Article 26 Backpack Excellence Fund. Knowing the souls that made this a reality makes me feel very strongly this is the good fight.

Raw Notes:
Refugees have bad experiences
many die
human rights
in a backpack, wherever you go
in practice, people are discriminated against
backpack project
people lose docs
education is key, transportable skill
many people are education but have no way to find job
safe place to store information
What is backpack
Webapp with compartments, way to store important docs online
allows curation and sharing
mobile friendly
The Drupal hammer
easy theming
file handling
highly extensible
Contrib modules:
Me redirect module
Role Assign
User Protect
Video Embed Field – user videos uploaded to site
Entity API
User protect
UCDavis project
GDPR Article 26 – privacy
Article 26 Backpack sharing
Article 26 Redirect
Article 26 Compliance
Article 26 Profile
GDPR includes right to be forgotten
Drupal can be hard to forget all the files and info all the time
custom module removes ALL the files in the system
Backpack Sharing Module
creates 2 entities
Share – represents shared backpack
Share Item – selected items related to a specific Share
Form Controllers
Authentication for anon users
Custom access control handler: anon can view private files
Demo shared backpack
Out of the box D8 Core made it possible
English first, then into Arabic and now Spanish
right to left switching of stylesheets
Consultancy Scrum – learned that at a Stanford DrupalCamp
clear SoW
User stories from empowered product owners
dedicated Ps
Automated testing
Docksal local dev
Pantheon hosting!
ID where client flexibility exists
Empowered Product Owner
Open communication between developers
Realistic evaluation of team member velocity
Opportunity to help others motivates
Hundreds of backpackers
international attention – NPR all the way to Dreis’ blog
on time!
On budget!
Dr. Watenpaugh awarded Centennial Medal from the Institute of International Education
The Future:
French and Persian translations coming
Phase 3 – compass
API first initiative
Third Party credential eval by AACRAO
Academic counseling
Job placement assistance

Google Analytics 201

I almost didn’t include this one in the final blog draft as I was distracted by something completely unrelated and my notes are spotty at best. I really do enjoy listening to Andrew speak and love his ideas around visualization. While I see a lot of talks about Google Analytics at WordCamps, it is not all the time I see them at Drupal events, which even with the name change, Stanford camp still was this year. One of these days I am going to have to implement GA for real and when that day rolls around I am going to find this in my notes and rewatch this presentation.

Raw Notes:
Remembering how he got here
to Stanford
and how we got here as a community
is important to seeing the future
I am not your Guru
he learned it all from Vadim
Driving change through data
Why do people want a website
to do a thing, download a thing, get info, buy a thing
Users, Sessions and Pageviews
trip to a mall
GA has no idea how long they are on your website from the last page
session duration is strange
user intent is hard
Goals help measure campaign success
Solutions gallery
Bounce rate
excluded from other time based metrics
Master view and filter view of same page
–distracted – notes missing —

Plan for Drupal 7/8 End of Life Now Before it’s too Late
Dan Harris

Dan’s time slot moved and the presentation got off to a later than planned start and there were technical issues along the way. Though my notes are brief, there was a lot of information shared and performing a web search with any sentence from my notes along with the word Drupal will provide much reading into some fascinating areas. Especially around JSON:API and Layout Builder. The opening quote though is something I will be quoting for a long while to come, at least until Drupal 9 actually comes out.

Raw Notes:
Drupal 9 in coming, it is like the winter but it is not going to suck
D9 timeframe
just D8 without deprecated code
Your D8 experience might be messy depending when built
CKEditor in 8.7 is so much better than it used to be
layout builder is amazing
Layout builder is the single biggest leap he has seen
Dreis demo from DrupalCon of Umami
JSON:API for decoupled/Headless
in core
Drupal Workspaces
editing workflow, staging built in
workflows module multilingual is awesome!

Six of One, Half-Dozen of the Other: Metrics for Your Devs and Ops
John Bickar

When someone talks about doing things at scale, I sometimes hear them talk about dozens or hundreds of sites. But when you hear 2000 sites, there is just more gravity to the situation. Especially when the person speaking is responsible for the health of those sites. Ultimately this talk about about understanding metrics beyond uptime to measure the health of sites and services. Pure gold here in terms of talking about scalable systems that could make the basis of a whole book.

Raw Notes:
Pictures of dogs!
he manages Stanford site platform 2000 sites
responsible for the health of the service
that echoed louder
Service metrics, fitbit example
maps the why and how of how to measure things
map to business objectives
how we know we are being successful
what he cares about
* Security
* stable
* performant
* scalability
* reach
* a11y
* Business Continuity
Service metrics
tracking week over week to see better or worse
metric month over month
target vs goal
uptime example
* Drupal security updates (quantity) (out of their control, but important)
* Drupal security updates (time to mitigate or patch)
last patch was 3.5 hours total for system
* SSL Labs Reports (quality, but cost benefit to improve? Is it worth it?)
* statuscake checks every 5 minutes for uptime
99.90% is good enough, not critical services
costs go up for every 9
* StatusCake again
Scalability and business continuity
no direct way
one example, moving from on prem to the cloud
99% there now
tracks how many personal sites
and number of group/dept sites on ACSF
growth per month
still an area to improve
a team of 17 people, what they all do?
5 devs
2 site builders
5 or 4 UX people
a Customer experience
number of PMs

Communication 1: Understanding How we Succeed or Fail
James Smith

If I wrote non-stop about how just genuinely nice James is as a human being for the next few weeks, it still would fail to explain how much admiration I have for the man. Early in my life as a public speaker, his encouragement meant the world and it still does. Part of why I think I like him as a human so much is how well he communicates and how much attention he pays to the process. We are indeed fortunate to have him share his process and thoughts on the communication cycle. If we can listen and acknowledge the noise that necessarily happens, we can overcome so many hurdles in our lives. While about communication I would argue this session was really about life skills and how to be better members of a civil society. If you are eager to hear what I am talking about, no need to wait, hear him on right now.

Raw Notes:
Communication skills
a conversation we need to have
1. Communication can be intentional or unintentional
2. it’s impossible not to communicate
communication is irreversible
is unrepeatable
minor differences, body language, etc are not reproducible exactly
reductionist view of communication
reduce to the simplest parts
Tool 1
What does a communication transaction look like
transactional model of communication from the 60’s
Sender/source -> receiver ->
encode -> channel of communication
decode -> receiver
<-feedback <- response
(Feedback loop)
fields of experience
things outside out knowledge or the receiver
don’t know how much they don’t know it
the real danger is the edge where they think they understand but they don’t
and then you don’t and miscommunication
7 edges of noise
Noise is unwanted signal
Internal = our thoughts
External = environment
Semantic = our reactions
can speak at 200 words per minute (max)
you can think at 2000 words per minute
every sense absorb data at 400Billion per second
can not be stopped
every second brain processes that to 2000 bits of information
brain models the wold around you all the time
noise can not be avoided because you create it yourself in your brain
words have usages not meanings
dictionary are histories not definitions
“That’s bad” or “That’s wicked”
Napkin at dinner – diaper in England
think about it, we live in a practicable lab all the time
testing things in low pressure often
We are meaning machines
your brain’s job is not to tell you what is, it’s job is to make rational model where you can be comfortable with the inputs
reference to experiences you have had
more meaning for yourself, something is ambiguous
client vs dev, hard to get them across that gap
back to the model, new picture
when you say you didn’t understand
they will raise voice, get louder
if you ask for the last 3 or 4 words, you get a different reaction
paraphrase and mirror
builds rapport, improve the communication loop
Communication rules
Responsibility is on the SPEAKER
when you can’t communicate, STOP!!!
This only guarantees that you will be ‘clear’, Not that will get what you “want”
2 – Best communication tool
7% of language is verbal
38% is tone
53% body language
Mehrabian is misquoted
that was research for English and how emotion is measured
this is not true for other languages
and varies a lot
can’t put hands over your ears and understand a lecture on physics for instance
but still super valuable
need engagement in communication process
the 7% reminds us to pay attention to other things
that’s right vs you’re right
we want to hear “that’s right”
that shows engagement
Take aways
active feedback loop
active listening
email phone in person 55/38/7
be aware of noise
be self-aware of ambiguous communication
know the communication rules

My Talks

Making A Tour: Leveraging The Tour Module For A Better User Experience

Sometimes you feel the whole room with you and know that what you are saying is a good thing to have said. That small room with the 25ish people there made me feel very welcome and very appreciated as I laid out a case for Tour as a better way to interact with any user that can use the navigation bar, which is any user it turns out. Imagine having a built in tutorial for every page on your Drupal 8 site. This is the reality that Tour module gives us. I feel so overwhelmingly happy to get to share this good news and to hear the potential use cases people come up with once they know the tool even exists. Special shout out to Kelly Albrecht who inspired me to do my own talk on the subject after his inspiring talk at Texas DrupalCamp 2018

Learning Markdown: 20 minutes that will change your life

As you might know, I write my blog in Markdown and I honestly don’t know why more people do not. I have the strange belief that it is pretty easy to learn a new thing like Markdown, which is just a shorthand for something I think we should all know, which is basic HTML. I say strange belief because while I am in fact confronted often with people who don’t like to learn anything new, I still cling to my belief that a better tomorrow is just around the bend if we just adopt some already existing but slightly tricky to learn technology. This talk is pretty close to my dissertation on this belief and I am proud to have good feedback from the few times I have been fortunate enough to give it. I also learned about in the process, a possible better route to editing github files which I am exploring deeper after having just learned about it.

Wrapping up

While not the biggest of the events I attend, it might be the one with the biggest heart. The organizers of every camp care deeply and it is not any form of a competition, but to see the Stanford crew pull together so tightly and force-of-will this event to happen for the last 10 years, it’s the stuff the OSS community is made of. Every time I visit the amazing campus and get to lecture in those hallowed halls, I count myself lucky. I can’t wait to go next year for the 11th installment of Stanford WebCamp 2020!

WordCamp Atlanta 2019: A little rain, more humidity and a whole lot of community

I landed into a humid summer evening with a bright yellow sun trying to cook The Big Peach and all it’s inhabitants. This was the first trip where I needed neither coat or scarf the duration of the trip, though an umbrella might have come in handy at one point. It was the first time I had returned since 2017. At the airport I immediately ran into one Michelle Schulp and knew from that second on that this was going to be an awesome trip for WordCamp Atlanta 2019

Food and Fun

Thursday night

After settling in, I walked around a little bit enjoying the downtown bustle on a Thursday evening, arriving in town a day before Contributors Day and a day before the Speaker/Sponsor dinner. Twitter let me know that the fantastic and fabulous Francesca Marano was enjoying some very authentic fare at historic Pittypat’s Porch. I joined her for some catching up and swapping travel stories, since she is also one of the road warriors in the space.


Contributor day started at 11:00am so, no coffee to speak of yet, but they did indeed serve us lunch. This and every meal that followed had a whole separate vegan special line and menu that prominently featured kale. While you might have a slight recoil from that vegetable in general, these were very well made wraps that packed flavor and nutrition dense superfood into every bite. Cant find a tweet about these wraps and I forgot to take a picture, but they were green wraps full of kale, if you can imagine that.

Speaker dinner

After a day of contributing we gathered at, the appropriately named The Gathering Spot for an evening of food, drinks and some fun trivia and conversation at the traditional Speaker/Sponsor/Organizer/Volunteer dinner. Given there were 62 speakers at this event, this is one of the largest of such dinners. While less intimate it was great to catch up with so many amazing people. Vegan options were plated and brought to us and we didn’t even have to wait in the buffet line. The quinoa stuffed tomato with vegan cheeze was marvelous! We also played a game of trivia, borrowed from WC Miami and run by the same David Bisset from that same camp.

After the party, I was able to crash Mike Demo’s at the Tiki paradise, Trader Vics. It was a real treat to get to hang out with so many amazing people in a kitschy place with drinks and dishes they set on fire in front of you. It was a small but fun night that carried on for a small bit before bedtime came calling.


Coffee and yogurt and granola and fruit! Of note, the fruit game at this camp was just on point! The berries were fresh and oh so ripe. The coffee was OK. Lunchtime brought more kale wraps and a few nice sides like potatoes and more awesome fruit salad.

The after party found us yet again at back at The Gathering Spot. This time there were appetizers brought around by the dilligent staff and larger bar selection. I had a bourbon which is worth noting here called Gentry. Smooth with just the right amount of fire and smoke. The party was good for all ages as well with a charactercher artist, balloon artist and a roving magician doing all sorts of fun tricks to delight us party goers. The real magic for me was the laughter and genuine fun of meeting new people and sharing in the joy that is community togetherness.

After the party some of us gathered over at the Metro Cafe Diner for some WCKaroake. This venue is a mixed blessing of a place, being a diner, a bar and a karaoke joint all in one. Location is everything and the proximity to the, central to the event, Westin hotel made this a good choice. The food is fair to OK, the bar is alright and the karaoke DJ played a full song with its music video between every singer, which is kinda annoying, but the convenience factor of all three at once make it alight. The chance to hang out and talk with my fellow campers made it awesome though.


More coffee and yogurt and granola and fruit. Not sure why I have never really thought of granola and pineapple as a balanced flavor combo before, but I know I will be doing that more often moving ahead. Lunch featured a falafel wrap that I welcomed as a change from the kale I had been consuming the previous 2 days.

Before I left the event and having not eaten too heavy of a lunch, I ordered an early dinner from a local place I had read about in my plant based foods research of the area. Soul Vegetarian 2 markets something they call “kalebone” as a meat substitute and from my further digging, they seem to be unique in selling it. While the sandwich I had was just tremendously tasty, I would be hard pressed to tell you how kalebone differs from any other homemade seitan other than perhaps their spice choices, which I could not verify did or did not have kale. Still, for sure this place deserves future exploration when in the area.


Quick note, I only got to see a handful of talks over three days due to the volume of hallway conversations I had while staffing the Pantheon booth. My normal process of going in late to a session and returning as the Q and A starts was short circuited by many an awesome conversation I was glad to have. This is in no way a complaint, but an explanation of the number of the session notes present in this post.

Contributors Day

I do so like Contributor Days. Getting together with the community to make sure we keep making the WordPress project happen and moving forward is the highest honor I think we can participate in. Normally I would add this as a whole separate section but there were presentations on that Friday as part of the contribution efforts and I took notes.

I also will admit that I have been a little unsure what to do next as a contributor. Back at WCUS 2018 I quietly stepped down as a team rep from the Marketing team and have just had a deep desire to return to the team after my little hiatus. I do still love onboarding people and had helped with that a bit back at WordCamp Phoenix 2019, but I still didn’t feel compelled towards any other part of the project at the time.

Very fortunately for me, Stephen DeLorme stood up and made me realize how I could give back to the part I probably leverage the most,! I refer a lot of people to various talks on the many subjects I have taken notes on over the years. This includes my own. Doing a little work here and there seems to be right up my alley and will help us all get to see these amazing speakers and sessions a little quicker online.

Being a Model WordPress Contributor
Jonathan Desrosiers

It is strange that I never really compared my journey as a contributor to others’ path until this talk. Hearing how Jonathan went from a simple one line change to a lurker who occasionally did things put something in perspective for me that I have never really been able to articulate before. It was at WordCamp Atlanta 2017 that I first joined the Marketing team and just about a month later I was setting up and project managing the Trello board. A few short months later I was named co-rep lead of the team. I spent the better part of the next year and a few months doing my best to evolve that team, but never really understood what exactly I was doing. Having made a jump back down to occasional contributor I feel I am finally able to gather the perspective I need to make a healthier set of decisions moving ahead. I am rather eager to follow the processes in an established handbook of another team, like wptv, rather than help form them from the aether.

Raw Notes:
2013 first contribution
simple 1 line change
WC Providence
helped with a change but didn’t credit since didn’t directly touch code
Lurking in the bushes
getting a feel for community
see people knew from Trac and Slack
went into next phase, volunteering phase
raise hands to do things
mundane things at first, meeting summaries, accumulating research into blog posts
IE report
2017 Community Summit
honor to be there
Motivated to do more
recognized for contributions he had been doing
last year Bluehost hired him to be core contrib full time
Someone asked for him to become core contributor rights approved it last year
this year he is on the triage team, the lead
6,500 tickets in Trac
lot of issues, some are just misplaces core requests
it has led to so many opportunities
so many friends from contributing to Open Source
OSS Contributions transcend jobs
those contributions go with you wherever you go
What makes a great contributor?
be thorough as possible
over 1/3 of internet, can run in many combinations and code
Be patient
it takes a while sometimes
not everyone has English as first language
put yourself in other person’s shoes
Always be curious
always try to learn new things
Be empathetic
again, put yourself in their shoes
Understand timing
set realistic expectations
it is not because people don’t care or not important
but sometimes not in line with current project priorities
Understand the project priorities
You are not alone
there are others there even if not immediate respond
Assume good intent
people are not trying to be jerks
Master specific topics
this is valuable for the project
you can also become a “Generalist”
He focuses on Media component and multisite, but otherwise a generalist
go to
find a team
get on slack
observe, look at Trac tickets and learn how things work
2nd and 4th Wednesday in Core slack is a new contributor meeting
Jonathan is a moderator
Research – follow the process and see where ticket or code line was introduced
raise your hand to help
Good first bugs
lot of ticket reports for ‘first bug’ good way to get started
fluctuates week to week
Convince the boss that you should do this on company time
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
don;t feel alone and stuck, ask for help
Details, details, details. Be specific as possible
someone else has zero prior knowledge outside that ticket
save future research and duplicate work
Maintaining vs Contributing
Maintainers have long term stake in the project
Contributors drop in and out
not as time consuming as Maintaining
Have a Positive impact
just try to do good
further reading Nacin’s blog Overview
Stephen DeLorme

Until Stephen stood up and said something, I have never actually heard anyone from the TV project talk about it. Not really sure what that is and should likely be addressed as we continue to expand the number of talks given each year that need to be moderated, edited and uploaded. It turns out I already am set up contribute and it is easier, yet more ‘passive’ time consuming than I had imagined. “Passive time” is a term I use when I cook to indicate that the dish is just sitting in the oven. Exporting videos into the right format and size, as well as download and upload time is just as passive yet just as critical as that oven time.

Raw Notes:
Contributing to WP
What is
see talks from camps
So, who cares?
as an OSS project, discussion on the future of platform
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Opening Remark

My talk

Learning Markdown: 20 minutes that will change your life

This talk arose from my baffling complex talk about my proof of concept content pipeline and automated testing tool PostItNow. What I never really expected was the way this talk about a pretty low level but wildly useful idea would excite some people; and i could not be happier! The morning following my talk one attendee admitted he really had never learned HTML and this talk has made him understand that is something he needs to pursue. Another attendee came up as excited as I am when I discover a new tool I see a million uses for and showed off the fact he can take electronic notes by writing in a special notebook with reusable paper. I had never considered this before, but he proved to me how transportable the Markdown format is as he could easily transform his hand written words into gorgeous HTML with just a little copy/paste. I am going to be telling that story far into the future.

GDPR for Developers
Andrew Norcross

When Andrew described his talk when I asked him when he was speaking he kinda sheepishly said “well it is a boring subject and I kinda wish I was talking about something cooler.” This ran counter to literally everything I know about his talks and I dropped everything else to see this one. What followed was a chilling talk that left some attendees sounding shaken when we got to Q and A, and for good reasons. I personally walked away wondering what data I am collecting on this site from people leaving comments and my not at all optimized Google Analytics integration, only means anyone might be sharing their data with me on this website, would make me culpable to GDPR regulation and fines. I can only imagine what horror people with dozens of sites with contact forms and other visitor data collection tools on production sites that have thousands of global visitors. GDPR might sound boring on the surface, but the reality is the underlying principles it it is built on affect every one of our lives in a deep way.

Raw Notes:
He is not a lawyer
talk to council with your company for real legal advice
The word we care about is Data
Data is worth a lot of money to a lot of people
Any information that is related to or identifies a naturally identified person
about 25 years ago
in the early days
was all about connecting people
All companies say “trust us with your data”
that was a mistake
92% of people worry about their online privacy
31% of people understand how companies use and maintain their data
74% of people have limited their online activity int he last year due to privacy concerns
many Major brands have one thing in common
Data breaches
EU privacy and law work different
The user has rights about that site
Right to be informed if you have a data breech you must tell the people effected
right to data access
more or less on demand
in a human readable format
can’t be just a raw DB dump without explanation
has to be all of it
Right to be forgotten
quitting FB, it never goes away
at best you are leasing data
it never belonged to you anyway
James Lang
developer from VW
in prison
was building emissions
not the CEO, CTO or decision maker
not lead dev
not the ringleader
doing his job
building what we are asked to build is not good enough
so what about it?
In the US we define personal data slightly different
‘anything that pertains to me’ in the EU
health data
political opinions
racial origins
sex life
genetic data
location data
pseudonymized data
online identifiers
why that last one?
IP address
Mobile device IDs
MAC Addresses
user IDs
we hold all this in WP core for EVERY user
this applies to EVERYONE who does business with the EU
can avoid? maybe but no
Can’t ignore the law
Data controllers
you decide what gets collected, how it used and shared
Data processors. use that data
Privacy by design
privacy can’t be bolted on later
7 point dev methodology
data intensive process
has to outline what data and who has access
part of discovery
regulators can demand on demand
Need to know everything
what comes into that site
Privacy Impact Assessment
This is still evolving
voice data was added after initial passing
not going to loophole out of this
Is this actually enforced?
They do enforce it
France fined Google $57M for not complying
not the max they could charge
individual countries can come after you
Will they really notice me?
First company every fined was over 2018 summer data breech
did every step right, letter of the law
still got fined
Ignorance is not an excuse
It matters
you want your stuff secure
And he does not want Facebook to ever
know more about him than he does

Basic Principles of Software Architecture
Micah Wood

Micah’s Twitter handle is a very accurate one: wpscholar. I have never been disappointed when I hear him talk. The vast knowledge he has accumulated he is able to not just share, but truly teach to any audience is impressive. In this short session that literally flew by from my point of view gives an overview of the true meaning of so many best practices, I have no doubt a week’s worth of workshops could be created by simply providing slightly deeper examples of each principle.

Raw Notes:
Software dev lifecycle
But what do clients care about
will it work now and a month from now, in the future can others take care of it?
Time and costs affected be design and implementation and delivery process
design changes are cheap and easy
implementation phase, be more costly
Delivery – reworking things after delivery will take the most time and are guaranteed to cost a fortune
What makes a project effective
solves the problem
is easy to maintain
The equation of software design
D = (Vn + Vf)/ (Ei+Em)
From code simplicity
V = value
E = ease of maintaining
24% APR
technical debt can bankrupt your project
shortcuts in maintenance
Law of change
The Longer your program exists, the more likely that any part of it will have to change
Law of defect probability
The chance of introducing a defect is proportional to the size of the changes you make
Law of simplicity
The ease of maintenance is proportionate to the simplicity of it’s individual pieces
Easy to understand
easy to modify
easy to test
Self-Documenting Code
Use clear naming and small, specific functions
don’t get out of sync with inline comments, or the code starts lying to you
don’t use vague or abbreviated variables
be clear
Limit cognitive load
Consolidate logic and create clear boundaries
Limit code reviews to less than 200 lines of code
Repetition is the mother of learning
repetition is good while you are learning
“Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative, representation within a system” pragmatic programmer
Duplication of knowledge is a violation
duplication of code is NOT a violation
Knowledge includes data, business logic, algorithms
Code is Variables, code structures and function calls
Ambitious application before there is a duplication of knowledge leads to premature optimization
Ambitious application to code structures result in unnecessary coupling and complexity
You ain’t gonna need it
Single responsibility principle
a class or module should have one and only one reason to change
think functionality, logic and display
if coupled, changes cause issue for both
Open Closed Principle
software entities should be open for extension, but closed for modification
make sure easy way to extend the code
Clear boundaries
must protect classes instead of all public
Reuse/Release principle
Only components that are released through a tracking system can be effectively used
composer is a good solution for this
or npm
A good software architect will delay decisions for as long as possible
uncle bob martin
care about the core business logic first and foremost
the actual business core
resources slide (good stuff)

How to Control Scope Creep by Embracing Change
Beth Livingston

Sometimes in the course of doing so many events you encounter the same speakers multiple times in short bursts. Given my limited time available and more pressing priorities halting me from seeing all the sessions I wanted it might stick out as odd to go to this one when I had just seen Beth give a similar talk only a week prior at WordCamp Orange County 2019. If I take a giant step back, the number one thing I think makes great teams and great companies and honestly great anything involving multiple people is a straightforward process. Beth holds the same value dear. Of all the business or project management talks I have seen since I have started doing this, no other talks I have personally seen do so much to preach and glorify that virtue of a repeatable process. While Agile values “people over process”, I believe without a firm process no amount of conversations can ever give you results all parties truly want at the end of the day.

Raw Notes:
Scope creep is the villain
She got into WP during the extreme couponing era
.net first, but that developer got a girlfriend and quit
He gave her Joomla, she then found WP
What we going to learn?
What is scope creep
How projects creep
proof this works
how to embrace change
and the magic of the change budget
How does a WP project creep?
Lack of clarity
Beginning design and Development too early
Over promise
Gold plating
How it happens
at deliver “just add”
“I thought I told you”
Content late from clients
They swap out point of contact to not the subject matter expert
Common ways you create it in project
“Throwing something in because you think it is cool”
this is gold plating
“waste of money and time”
“That’s a small change, I’ll just do it for free for now”
“Change control process takes too long”
“We will start before we have all the needed parts”
Embrace change management
Define the job in detail
get the right people involved
estimate the time and costs
Break the Job down
Establish a change procedure
Agree on acceptance criteria
Educate the client
acknowledge change as inevitable
Abandon the crystal ball approach
Don’t just guess, have measurable way to do things
Position change as opportunity
Always position as phase 2
Establish and STICK TO a change management process
Put the client in charge of change
It is not their fault they don’t know
Discuss your management plan early
Be brutally honest about change
Suggest other options for content activities
Let them know that all projects do change
Don’t treat change like a penalty to the client
Positioning change as Opportunity
Phase 2 can be as big as needed
micro site for phase 1 is OK if they are in a hurry or don’t have much content
Stick to your established Change Process
Putting the client in charge of change
“Pad is Bad”
You can’t measure it
stop calling it a quote
it is an estimate
Elements of Good Change Control Process
Uses a change budget
Defines what continues a change
Identifies who can intimidate a change request
Establishes that all change requests are in writing
Specifies where the CR will be maintained
ID who approve/reject the CR
Specify how long a change approval or rejection should take
Clearly states what happens if the client does not respond
Specifies the billing
examples of her process
issues management is a whole related thing but separate

Wrapping Up

I walked away from WordCamp Atlanta slightly surprised by the depth of conversations I had while there, especially given the larger than normal volume I had. From the person new to WordPress who had not quite figured out what a post was exactly to the old hats that continue to talk about the importance of proper credential storage and dependency management, I enjoyed every second of every one of these conversations. I really hope everyone has something akin to this experience as they continue in the community and at future WordCamps.

I felt my time zipped by too fast and there is a lot to Atlanta I didn’t get to explore. While I do travel quite a bit I find that I don’t really experience my host cities deeply. But the real reason I am outside of my beloved San Francisco is to be part of the community that is open source. Walking around that first night and reviewing music venues and other attractions that were recommended, it all kinda seemed hollow knowing that I would be exploring those on my own. This felt especially true when the alternative is to feel like I am reuniting with the extended family that is this community in possibly less remarkable or acclaimed places. I know which one I will likely always prefer, not that they are mutually exclusive. Maybe in the future I will go on that ferris wheel remnant of the 1996 Olympics with some other campers when I, hopefully, return for WordCamp Atlanta 2020!