WP Engine Gives WordCamp Portland Wings

We’re grateful to count WP Engine as one of our Bald Eagle sponsors this year. Without them and our other sponsors, we simply couldn’t make WordCamp Portland happen. They’re the hops in our microbrew, the hot glue in our crafty creation. Do stop by their table to say thanks and hello (in whatever order you prefer) on August 18.

WP Engine eats, sleeps, and dreams WordPress.  Using their fast, secure, and cutting-edge technology, WP Engine provides top of the line Managed WordPress hosting to tens of thousands of top domains globally, such as HTC, Foursquare, VMWare, Atlassian, Bonnaroo, and Soundcloud.  WP Engine is also active in the WordPress community; they’ve sponsored and attended more than 20 WordCamps in 2012.  WP Engine offers guaranteed hacker-proof security, and top-flight developer features, all hosted on infrastructure ready to scale. For support, WP Engine hires WordPress experts to troubleshoot problems, and websites running smoothly again.

Dev Day scheduled for Sunday, August 19th

The day after WordCamp, we’ll be holding a Dev Day. It’ll be from 12 to 6 pm at the US Bancorp Tower in downtown Portland.

“What’s a Dev Day, and why should I attend?” you might ask? Well, it’s an opportunity to explore code at many levels. We’ll have a few technical talks lined up, as well as plenty of space for you to collaborate with your peers. If you’re stuck on a plugin, need a code review, are looking for feedback on a difficult problem, or simply want to talk about the latest and greatest with WordPress, the Dev Day is your place to be.

If you think you’ll be there, we’d love to hear from you (we need a head count). Please leave a comment and let us know what you’d like to get out of the day.

A First-Timer Talks About WordCamp Portland 2011

Last year was the first WordCamp for Sara Tetreault of GoGingham.com; we asked her to tell us about her experience as a newcomer to WordCamp who had never participated in unconference before. Not only did Sara enjoy the event, but she ended up leading a session as part of a panel, and is now on WordPress.tv!

Last year, at WordCamp 2011, I attended my first WordCamp conference. It was also my first “unconference” style conference. Being someone who thrives on organization and scheduling (hey, I’m a mom, what do you expect?), I wasn’t sure what an unconference conference might look like. I was also fairly new to blogging and to the WordPress community. I’m always happy to learn from others and this conference gave me the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals as well as share what had been my experience and what I had already learned.

With launching my lifestyle blog, Go Gingham, and seeing first-hand how linking and marketing work, I was able to share my knowledge with folks who were just launching their blogs and getting started. The conference also gave me an opportunity to meet and connect in person with other local bloggers. This  inspired me to start a monthly, local blogger meet-up, based around our common interest – WordPress.

The best part about conferences is getting to meet and connect with folks in person. Sharing, collaborating, and helping one another really embodies WordPress and what these conferences are all about – regardless of the conference style.

Thanks to Sara for sharing your experience. I wonder what other first-time WordCamp attendees will be saying on August 19? We hope you join us next Saturday to meet, learn, and connect about WordPress!

Digital Trends Funds Wifi for WordCamp Portland

Digital Trends is a huge friend to the Portland WordPress community. They provide space for the monthly meetup in their office building, and have sponsored WordCamp Portland two years running. That’s, like, the open source community equivalent of letting us crash on their couch once a month AND lending us rent money!

Who are these awesome people, you wonder? Well, Digital Trends helps people make the most of the hi-tech lifestyle by providing sneak peeks, one-of-a-kind product reviews, editorials and technology news about trendsetting consumer products and services. By focusing on products that incorporate style along with cutting edge functionality, Digital Trends has become an indispensable resource for people who embrace the best of what technology can offer. Digital Trends is one of the fastest growing tech lifestyle sites on the web with more than 4 million monthly unique visitors world-wide.

This year, Digital Trends was able to pay for us to bring in wifi service to Norse Hall so that your WordCamp Portland experience can be more connected and robustly awesome. If you see them around, please say thanks! We’re so grateful for their support.


Robert, Kailey, and Grant: More Answers from More Speakers

A couple days ago we shared some WordPress insight from a few of our speakers. Today, we continue with three more:

Robert Wagner

Robert WagnerWhat’s your current relationship with WordPress?
I currently manage and/or write for about 26 WordPress sites, most of them self-hosted but a few at WordPress.com as well. I’m also in the middle of 5 different new WordPress-based projects for various clients. The last time I used anything else was 2008 and I did so very reluctantly.

What’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
My favorite WordPress project was the site I built for pdx.fm, my Internet radio and podcasting network. I used WordPress MU (back when it was still WordPress MU) to create about 70 separate blogs so that each podcast host had their own unique presence within our organization. Watching each host do different things with their respective blogs was quite a fun and enlightening experience.

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
I doubt that I’m unique when I say that I’ve more than once made the mistake of editing Twenty Ten without making a child theme first, only to have a WP update eliminate all my hard work. The runner up was when I installed a site with the admin password of “password” – it was hacked within about 3 minutes.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
I’m hoping to find new and better ways to blog via mobile devices and tablets, something I’ve been unable to do effectively myself so far. Also, I could stand to sit in on some design sessions, I feel rather rusty lately.

Kailey Lampert

Kailey LampertWhat’s your current relationship with WordPress?
We get a long wonderfully. Big or small, WordPress is my go-to CMS for any site that I need to build, and with every site I come away with at least one awesome code snippet to add to my repository.

What’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
Slightly biased, I’m pretty proud of alfredthe.me.

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
Don’t forget to turn off privacy mode.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
Since I don’t like beer, I’m looking forward to learning new tricks. Anytime I can make my code better, I’m happy. And I guess meeting new people would be pretty cool too 😀

Grant Landram

What’s your current relationship with WordPress?
I own and operate FreshMuse, a small design and development shop that works exclusively with clients using WordPress as their CMS.

Grant LandramWhat’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
It’s hard to give an omniscient answer since so much of the web is built with WordPress, however the most recent tool that we use and love is http://wpremote.com, a FREE plugin/hosted service for monitoring and backing up all your WordPress installs.

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
How about a million? After enough years of working with WordPress it’s safe to say we’ve probably seen it all. One of the more learnable mistakes has been the continued struggle of theme lockin, and how it relates to client sites as they change over time. I hope to touch on this topic in my talk, but our general take away is to be very thoughtful in the planning stages of any project about what features may carry forward into the next generation of a site/product, and not arrogantly assuming that our build/design will last forever.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
I’m really looking forward to many of the other featured presentations, as well as sitting in on the un-conference portion of the event to see what sort of ideas the general audience is interested in. It’s also always fun to connect with other WordPressers that live elsewhere in the country that you chat with online regularly but seldom get to chat with face to face. See you all in PDX!

Unconferencing the Conference

Our unconference coordinator, Cami Kaos, explains:

This year’s WordCamp Portland has two unconference times in addition to the speakers we’ve chosen in advance.

What’s that? “Unconference, what?” you say? I suppose for some of you an unconference explanation may be in order, after all the first time I saw the term I was in bed browsing twitter on my laptop and thought, “An unconference? That could be anything. I’m unconferencing right now.”

But I was unconferencing by myself. It’s an entirely different experience when you’re surrounded by a couple hundred other conference-goers with interests that align with your own. So what exactly is an unconference?

It’s a meeting or conference driven by its participants. That means the conference organizers have to let go on the reins a bit so the attendees can decide what the sessions will be. For two of the time blocks (and in all of our available rooms) we’ll have unconference sessions instead of preordained speakers. What will the sessions be about? Anything. As long as it’s WordPress or blogging related. Development, design, content creation? It’s up to you because…

You give the talk. Or lead the discussion group. Or the workshop. Have something to say at WordCamp but didn’t get your talk submitted in time? It wasn’t selected? Just realized you have a burning WordPress idea you want to share with others? Well then you’re just the person to lead an unconference talk. Show up early with your talk or discussion in mind because…

An unconference isn’t unscheduled. By the time you arrive at WordCamp we’ll have an unconference board ready to go. First thing in the morning attendees will propose and select the sessions, with a little help from the unconference coordinator where needed. By the time the first talk of the day starts we’ll have everything arranged so attendees can keep all the sessions in mind while planning out their schedules for the day.

Between the carefully selected speakers, unconference sessions, and the camaraderie that always comes with WordCamp, I’m sure this year’s event will be one to remember. See you all soon!

Ben, Kiersi, and Shane: Three WordCamp Speakers Answer Our Questions

We posed some WordPress and WordCamp questions to our speakers. Here’s what Ben, Kiersi, and Shane had to say:

Ben Lobaugh

Q: What’s you current relationship with WordPress?
WordPress and I have been together since 2004. Back then it was just a blogging platform, but with 3.0 I started putting clients on it as a CMS. Today I work for one of the premier WordPress development shops in Seattle, FreshMuse. At FreshMuse I am Head of Development and get the privilege of overseeing great projects and interacting with one of the most fun open source communities out there. I also co-organize the Seattle WordPress Meetup and organize the Seattle WordPress Developer Meetup.

Ben LobaughWhat’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
There are so many things to chose from, but I think when I saw a project using WordPress as a central knowledge base for a niche industry I was most amazed. The site was editable by anyone whom the community deemed trustworthy enough to send a user invite to. All content creation was done on the front end and to top it all off an API was freely available to tap into the knowledge through JSON feeds.

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
Yes! So many! My favorite mistake was when I was the guru teaching a group of non-WordPress developers (some completely new to development actually) how to create their first plugin. It was a simple shortcode that added two numbers together. After painstakingly going through all the code from scratch, live on a projector, I popped over to the front end to show them how it worked. It did not work. I spent 10 minutes pouring over the code, unable to find any bugs. Finally one of the attendees asked if the plugin was enabled. Moral of the story is, enable your plugins!

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
I know several members of the Portland community, however I have never been to a WordCamp or Meetup in Portland. I am excited to come down and join the Portland community for this event. More than anything else I am excited about making new and stronger connections there and seeing how the Portland and Seattle groups can help mutually benefit each other.

Kiersi Burkhart

What’s your current relationship with WordPress?
Kiersi BurkhartI am a WordPress blogger, but I also handle all of my own webmaster duties. I like helping other budding bloggers install WordPress and I’ve done a bunch of customization on my theme.

What’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
Hmm. Can’t think of one off the top of my head–but I sure would like to see a WordPress plug-in that can port my “currently reading” list over from Goodreads. I’ve seen some authors do this manually and it’s a great idea.

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
Tag clouds. I think it works for certain kinds of blogs–tech journalism, perhaps–but for someone in a creative industry, including a tag cloud in your sidebar is just unnecessary clutter. Especially if you use a lot of tags, which I tend to do in order to improve my relationship with search engines. Opt for a list of categories, instead, which is more concise.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
Inspiration. Tips for others doing what I’m trying to do–write good headlines, bring in new readers, and keep those readers.

Shane Pearlman

What’s your current relationship with WordPress?
We’re pretty much an exclusive couple these days. I stopped dating other CMS’ around 2008. If I had to make a guess, 70-80% of our revenue comes from projects or products that are somehow affiliated with WordPress.

Shane PearlmanI’m on the team of a digital agency that has come to specialize in unique implementations of WordPress at scale. We get to work with really awesome brands like Gigaom, MTV, Make Magazine, Zillow, MIT and more. We’ve been contributing back to core and the .org plugin repo for years and have begun to convert those contributions into new streams of income. This year, premium plugins will make a noticeable fraction of our profits, which is really exciting!

What’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?

  • My mom creating content online without my help?
  • Rally a community to gather 200k just to tell someone who annoyed you to fuck off
  • Cross Posting across a huge MU network done right (ok maybe I haven’t seen it yet but I know it is possible)
  • Milward’s game engine
  • A live conference streaming platform to run 12 parallel session for a 5 day conference

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
Assuming we can do anything with WordPress. After all, we can. But that doesn’t mean we should. As my buddy Reid often says “Wow, that’s a really cool idea guys. Tell me again, who is going to use it and how it is going to make money?” I deeply believe in the community and contributing to the open source (we do a lot). When considering WordPress as a profession, be strategic with how you spend your time.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
I’d love to connect with premium themers who might be interested in collaborating on event themes. We know the demand exists.

Announcing Our Speakers

After processing a lot of speaker applications, I’m excited to announce that we have a great lineup of speakers for WordCamp Portland. We’ll share a bit more about these folks’ background and the details of their sessions as we get closer to the event, but here’s our list of session titles and speakers:

  • _doing_it_wrong: Improving Your Development Skills Through Examining Bad Practices – Zack Tollman
  • The Art & Science of Premium – Shane Pearlman
  • Blogging as a Platform: Making a Name For Yourself in Your Targeted Community – Kiersi Burkhart
  • Don’t Put That In Functions.php! (Or, How to Write A Basic Plugin) – Kailey Lampert
  • Frankenblog: Group Blogging with WordPress for Fun, Frustration, & Financial Gain – Robert Wagner
  • How to Blog Once a Day – Laura Kimball
  • How to Build a Professional WordPress Business – Grant Landram
  • How to Use WP-Cron – Ben Lobaugh
  • Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask – Eric Mann
  • Why we Click “Publish”: Advocating for User-Centricity through Interaction Design – Taylor Dewey
  • WordPress + E-Commerce = $$$ – Justin Sainton
  • WordPress Security 101 (and beyond) – Robert Rowley

In addition to these pre-planned sessions, we’ll have timeslots during the day available for unconference-style sessions to be organized by attendees on the day of the event. More information about the unconference will be shared as we get closer to WordCamp Portland.

You have already purchased your ticket, right?

About Those Speaking Proposals…

The WordCamp Portland organizing team got together this past week and made some hard decisions about who will (and won’t) be part of our lineup of featured speakers for this year’s event. We’re confirming things with our speakers and will be announcing the first set of speakers early this coming week, but here are some interesting stats about our speaker submissions this year:

  • 35 people proposed a total of 51 sessions
  • Of those 51 proposed sessions, 12 will be offered as our feature presentations
  • This means we had to turn down over 75% of the proposed sessions
  • 13 of the sessions (25%) were proposed by women
  • Of the 35 folks who submitted topics, about half (18) were from outside the Portland metro area.
  • Of the people selected in our initial round of speaker choices, about half are from outside the Portland metro area.
  • We asked potential speakers to identify the audience for their talks, offering them four choices. Of the 51 sessions, here’s how many times each choice was tagged for the potential audience (more than one audience could be identified per talk):
    • WordPress Beginners: 27
    • Experienced Bloggers: 19
    • Designers: 14
    • Developers: 29
  • Our program will be approximately 2/3 prescheduled sessions and 1/3 unconference sessions.