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 dwayne-mcdaniel.com. 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

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Sessions

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 Page.ly 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 Page.ly 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 Denver 2018: In which I learned a lot while preparing to teach something and I talked very fast

Somehow City of the Plains
feels relatively local to me, even though it is 2 full hours in the air to get to and from this high altitude city. Compared to placed like Belgrade or Boston that is basically no real travel time. There are also a lot of similarities between my part of California and that part of Colorado, with all the natural history and airport way outside the downtown area. I was not there for the great outdoors or to sneak into the Underground Music Festival. I got to return to this gem of the West to rejoice with my fellow WordPress community together in person at WordCamp Denver 2018

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

No WordCamp would be complete without the speakers, sponsors and organizers getting together for a little celebration for making the whole thing happen. We are all volunteers in this, even those of us who are paid by companies to represent those companies, we still are giving up our weekends and nights and mental energy to make sure the camps happen. It takes a lot of work to organize one of these things, so having a special event where we just celebrate that fact is always a positive experience. This time around we went up to Blackbird Public House for some pizza and craft beverages. Such a great time was had an a new hashtag was born!

Day 1

This camp has a notably later start time, with registration not even starting until 9:00 am, a full hour later than most camps. This meant I could sleep a touch longer and enjoy some coffee before I left the hotel. I gotta say this time around the percolated stuff the volunteers made was superior to the hotel coffee, not an often repeated feat. Candy and snacks flowed throughout the day, thanks in part to the GreenGeeks crew bringing more candy than is healthy for a conference 5 times the size of this one. Lunch was OK. Sandwiches and chips and such.

Sticker Giant’s World Record Sticker Ball

Sticker Giant not only supported this camp by donating lots of awesome stickers, which they do for many a camp, but this time they rolled out the big one! They hold the Guinness World Record for the Largest Ball of Stickers ever!. Coming into the environments at around 231lbs we got to add to it at the event in what was on the schedule as a Goofy Activity. People had a blast adding a whole new layer devoted to the WordPress space. It was a treat to get to help make a record even better.

Dinner and After Party

There has been a noticeable increase in the last couple years of plant based food fans or at least people willing to give it a whirl. Every time I have gone to Denver since making the switch myself, I have been encouraged to go to Watercourse Foods and now I know why. Some of the best prepared and thought through 100% vegan cuisine I have yet to experience. Some of us gathered for a pre-party meal to make sure we had a full stomach before heading to the after party and drinking the wonderful concoctions brewed up by the fine folks at Fermaentra Tap Room. Nothing against their beers, but the real star of their menu had to be the kombucha. Several folks who have never tried it before and folks like me who were so-so on the beverage, were utterly delighted by this bright, refreshing citrusy goodness that they poured. Good job for selecting this sopt and great job to the brewers! Just to not it down, an attempt at WCKaraoke was made over at Ogden Street South, but the evening got away from us before we could make a real collective go of it.

Day 2

The second day was all Workshops. A portion of the previous day’s attendees returned to learn things like SEO and WP-CLI (which I was teaching, more on that later). We were met with coffee and pretty great breakfast burritos, which is one of my favorite breakfast options. The vegan option had corn and mushrooms and I think broccoli. Lunch was pizza. One of the nice things about pizza is that unless you put cheese on it, it can easily be plant based. Unfortunately no tweets exist of either of these offerings I can find, so here is a generic picture of the day with a mention of the food.

Sessions

Opening remarks

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Loop?
Chris Reynolds

I’ll admit it. I have never understood The Loop for exactly the same reasons it took Chris so long to wrap his head around it: The name makes it sound like a magic black box. At some point with magic, you have to throw your hands in the air and just say “I can’t explain it, it just works.” We, however, are doing computer science! Chris’ slides were not just informative and broke down The Loop better than I have seen in a talk yet, but they were also hilarious. Using knock knock jokes to explain ‘if ( have_posts )’ will be burned into my memory forever. I can honestly say this was a talk that pulled me over a line of understanding and I will be forever grateful to Chris.

Raw Notes:
Issue is the loop make it sound like a magic black box
What is it?
codex definition. HUh?
wat?
If have posts : whole have posts : the_post
if ( have_posts())
knock knock, do you have posts?
simple conditional that returns if there are posts, 0 or 1
keep going while it returns true
what are we doing
the_post – sets up the current post
think through all ‘the’ functions
the_ID, the_title, ect
the_posts makes all those work
setup_postdata( $post );
what does it al mean?
the magic
DB interactions
/?s=whosis chris reynolds
SQL query
s post status publish
combine all these things
/?s=rynolds&post_type=wcb_speaker
query = new WP_Query([
‘s’ => ‘reynolds’;
code missing
]);
And even more combining and complex searches and refinements
arrays can even be passed in
((-MISSED SOME STUFF DUE TO EMAIL ACCOUNT HACKING ATTEMPT—All good now))
using queries
used query_posts
national park service different pats of the help center different parts of site
s3q.uswcden2018-searchform
take taxonomy term and add to the search form so only search in taxonomy
in this case Museum management
get_posts
difference between this and wp_query
get_post returns: big array of post objects
dump out a query, you get a whole bunch more stuff, array of post is way tat the bottom
it will tell you the SQL query it used to find the posts
you can debug the query itself
beneath that is array of post objects
doing the same things in general but
query_posts (don’t use it!)
set up the posts but does something
codex say don’t use it
it overrides the main query
manipulates the posts you are in, that is bad
Slides: s3q.uswcden2018-loop

The Basics of Building a WooCommerce Website
Jamie Schmid

I love hearing Jamie present. She presents a ton of data and I always walk away with new perspective on at least a few points. This talk met that expectation and I now know that you always, always, always want to have a backup payment processor already fully thought through from the start. I honestly went in with an attitude that “Paypal is good enough for me” and left saying, “Well, let’s make sure I test Stripe….”. Also her quick point on having a client walk you all the way through multiple packaging and shipping scenario is huge. As a small time online store owner, I would never have thought to make a plan for x items vs x+1 items but those shipping conditions matter and will cost a lot of time to figure out after the project is delivered.

Raw Notes:
Intro to WooCommerce talk, her first one
plan, things she ran into people were not expecting
also, general order of setting things up out of the box
Start with planning
Your product, types and attributes
your requirements, POS, billing, accounting
payment processing
shipping and tax
sitemap
products, not all products the same, what is different
Reqs, do they have brick and mortar? Need POS?
a surprise later is expensive
coming from etsy or Shopify or what?
can it be imported at all? is it easy, almost never.
Payment processing
check the requirements, do you need a backup (yes)
company PayPal, stripe, authorize.net, si this determined?
PCI compliance? this is hard for some hosts
Shipping and Tax.
ask the client to map the whole shipping process
figure out the rules with them
shipping rules, scenarios are import to walk through
Site Mapping, super important
terms and conditions
return policy, they absolutely need this
sizing chart
product pages
Now we get to Build it! If we have all the above info, this is ready to start
The Woo Wizard is actually really helpful to get going from scratch
demo time!
Jetpack and TaxJar
wants to drill into payment gateways
don’t process on your site if you can help it

My Website Is Live, Now What Do I Do With It?
Michele Butcher-Jones

Sometimes you wish someone would just sit you down and tell you what the deal is. Like, what you need to know to be successful and what mistakes you can easily avoid if you see warning signs. Michele did exactly this to a room full of freelancers and agency folk at camp. I love this kind of straight talk. No fluff, no ‘touchy feely’ sentiment, just solid advice, learned the hard way by successfully doing this stuff over a career. This is one of the talks I can point to when people ask me what makes FOSS different than other ways of going about software: We stand up and tell the world exactly how to do it better and never hide what we learned under a bushel. We gotta let it shine!

Raw Notes:
when you inherit a site, they are clueless a lot
Expect them not to know and have to explain these pieces
Hosting and FTP info
logging in for the first time
what plugins are there and why?
whats in the media folder
what is a post vs a page, people will ask!
What theme?
always use a child theme
‘it’s what makes it pretty’ when explaining to clueless client
blog
update the site as soon as information changes
security for your sites
update! Update! UPDATE!!!
security plugins
regular checkups
always make backups
off server backups
without doing this, you can(will) get hacked
lose traffic and interest if not updated

Keynote: Why Community is More Important than Networking
Angela Bowman

A Keynote at the end of the day? Yes, that is what they did and I applaud them for it! I love the idea that we can learn all day long and then, before we go our separate ways to get ready for the after party or back to our families, we can get in one place and be on the same page with one big, well presented idea. And boy howdy, was this well presented. Angela took us on a journey and I think illustrated to a lot of folks that no one is born and expert in WP, or anything else. We all learn from and are encouraged by the people around us, so let’s get to it and start encouraging more people. Let’s connect more. Let’s stop asking ‘what do you do?’ and start asking ‘what do you love?’. We have so much knowledge to share and so much to learn. Only together can we keep advancing and growing.

Raw Notes:
(I got in a little late thanks to cleaning up the sponsor booth)
her history, working with Nonprofits
learned some CSS
then learned about CSS
started on WP on v2.0
outside the box thinking
alone, didn’t know anyone else doing this
meetup group of graphic designers
pivoted her life
partners and supporters
possibilities grow so much more
learned dos and don’t together with Bethany Siegler
started teaching classes together to learn
first WordCamp in 2010
WP is bigger on the inside
her first talk soon thereafter
camps are not just about free shirts
also about stickers and such
people put a lot of hope into WordPress
got to learn from each other
build relationships, it is why we are here
don’t begin conversations with what do you do?
something different
asking what they do outside of their job
how can I help you vs what can you do to me
You never know how you are going to affect other people

My Sessions

Nobody wants a website. They want results!

I ended up talking really, really fast. Jamming the same amount of information into half the time it took me to give the same talk last time certainly interjected a lot of energy into the thing. It was fantastic to have a pretty big room reverberating that energy back to me. I loved all the feedback I got afterward and it was super awesome to meet so many new people. I hope I can give this talk a few more times before it evolves into another form. Thanks to all that came out!

WP-CLI – Don’t Fear The Command Line

Giving workshops is fun, but I would put it as a bigger challenge overall than a talk. Both definitely take preparation and time and a lot of mental energy, but in a general lecture style WordCamp session you rarely stop and help someone try to figure out to debug a composer issue. I hope people got a lot out of it and I was thrilled to do it, but wow, I sitting and writing this later the same day I delivered it, I think I need to put many hours into a revamp before I submitted for a 3 hour workshop on this subject again. I also thought that I might just require everyone to install Lando before we started so we would all have the same issues in the same environments. Still, very glad I got the opportunity to learn as much as I did while doing this and hope others found it useful as well.

Wrapping Up

Denver is an interesting town in a lot of ways to me, but the real joy is the community. Being a shorter camp and the fact that I was there solo meant I saw far fewer talks than I normally do, but wow, those hallways conversations that I did not take notes on for public consumption taught me a whole lot. Speaking to people about what they are passionate about and helping to further some of their thoughts around this market and various technology points. I always learn so much. I think that if WordCamp.org was an accredited university I would have a Masters by now.
I am already looking forward to the next time I get to go to Denver for any reason, and though it is a full year out I am already looking forward to an even bigger and better WordCamp Denver 2019!