WordPress and Video Games – WordCamp Orlando 2014

As some of you may know, I had the pleasure of attending WordCamp Orlando this past weekend.  If you didn’t quite get it from the title, everything was classic video game themed. Being someone who loves classic games (but doesn’t have much time to play them) it was great to see all of the work that the organizers put into everything. Continue reading “WordPress and Video Games – WordCamp Orlando 2014”

Squashing the Misconceptions About WordPress

I have highly recommended WordPress for various different projects, and often times I am provided with a reason as to why they think WordPress may not be suitable for them.  Those who work with WordPress regularly, know that WordPress can be used to a multitude of projects and in most cases, is the best solution. Continue reading “Squashing the Misconceptions About WordPress”

WordPress In My Mind – WordCamp Raleigh 2014

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending WordCamp Raleigh where I represented InMotion Hosting as well as spoke on WordPress optimization.  As with all other WordCamps I have attended, there were incredible discussions and memorable relationships made all around.

Pre-WordCamp Gatherings

Being a speaker at WordCamp Raleigh, the first of many interactions with others was the speaker event on Friday.  Differing from the several others I have attended, the organizers decided it would be a great idea to have a sit-down, family-style dinner at Jimmy V’s Osteria.

At the dinner, I sat beside Will Haley and Allen Moore in which we had excellent discussions about our upcoming presentations, web hosting, and front end development.  Through these conversations, I felt an immediate need to learn a bit more front end development and I was able to provide a better inside look on various aspects of hosting.

After the dinner, we made our way over to The Oxford for a bit more relaxing and mingling before the main event on Saturday.  Of course, I always expect at least one person from WebDevStudios when I attend a WordCamp in which I met up with Justin Sternberg and discussed all of the great they’re doing for Microsoft, as well as the newest addition to AppPresser – Reactor.

The Main Event

WordCamp Raleigh took place in the engineering building of NC State University.  The venue was perfect for WordCamp presentations due to large lecture rooms.

Justin Sternberg gave an excellent presentation on CMB2 which will allow you to create custom metaboxes and fields with incredible ease.  If you use any custom fields on either the front end or back end, it is certainly worth looking into.

My favorite talk at WordCamp Raleigh was Allen Moore’s talk on work/life balance.  In this talk, Allen hit the nail right on the head with the endless struggle between working hard and having a life outside of work.  As someone who begins working immediately after rolling out of bed, continues late into the night, and make myself available at all hours, it was great to hear that I’m not the only one that struggles with a lack of social life outside of the WordPress community.  I certainly learned that while WordPress and InMotion Hosting have become a very large part of my life, I need to take a step back sometimes and get my face out of my computer, phone, or iPad.

My presentation at WordCamp Raleigh was titled “Stop Eating Resources and Optimize Your WordPress Site“.  Within my presentation, I was able to inform WordPress users on how to better optimize their site to increase server performance and visitor experience.  Everyone’s site has the opportunity to become faster than it already is, and I’m glad that I was able to help so many users hit the next level of site performance.

While at WordCamp Raleigh, I was also able to have some great conversations about hosting with Steve Mortiboy of SemperFi Web Design.  It seemed he was quite pleased with InMotion’s efforts to know what customers want, and catering to their needs in the most effective way possible.  It was certainly great to speak with someone who genuinely appreciated all of the efforts that InMotion and I make to provide a consistently pleasurable experience for everyone.

Overall Impressions

WordCamp Raleigh was an excellent experience.  I feel the organizers picked the perfect venue, and speakers were well selected.  I had some excellent conversations with highly skilled individuals, as well as some who are just starting out.  WordCamps are a great way for users, developers, and designers to all meet on even ground to help each other, and WordCamp Raleigh did exactly that

A big thanks goes out to all of the speakers, volunteers, and especially the organizers who have shed their blood, sweat, and tears to make WordCamp Raleigh an amazing experience.

WordCamp Maine 2014 – WordPress and “lobstah”

WordCamp Maine 2014 header

I recently had the pleasure of visiting beautiful Portland, Maine for the first ever WordCamp Maine. Living in the city for so long and only traveling to large cities for WordCamps, I wasn’t sure of what to expect with a brand-new WordCamp out in the middle Maine. Well, to my surprise, it was an amazing trip full of wonderfully knowledgeable individuals who truly cared about WordPress as well as open source software.

Being a smaller WordCamp, I felt as if it was much easier to connect with people a lot closer than other WordCamps I have attended. If you have attended larger WordCamps in the past, you may have found that there are usually somewhat of common people that hang out together. Of course, absolutely anybody is welcome to walk up to whomever they want and strike up a conversation, but groups are sometimes formed that can discourage new folks in the community from talking to the big name “circuit speakers”. What I felt at WordCamp Maine was exactly the opposite of that.

Typically when I attend a WordCamp, I go with an agenda of who I want to speak with and the particular topic I want to discuss. At this smaller WordCamp, my approach was to wander up to absolutely anybody and strike up a conversation. From the very moment I arrived at the speaker/sponsor party to the very end of the day Saturday, I was constantly asking people what they did with WordPress and what they are currently working on. Sure, it may have been a bit strange to some for someone to randomly approach them and ask them about their work, but learning more about everyone’s jobs and upcoming projects was well worth it bit of creepiness I could have possibly portrayed.

The arrival

Not very often do I get the rare opportunity to arrive in a city with much time to explore. Typically, I fly in, get to a speaker dinner, get much less sleep than I should, attend the conference, run to the after party, then catch a flight home in the morning. When I had the opportunity to arrive in Portland on an early flight, I knew I had to make the best of it.

As I had not seen Chris Wiegman of iThemes Security since WordCamp Miami, and he was arriving a bit earlier as well, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to connect with him. After a few text messages back and forth, we took a short walk (that felt like an eternity uphill) to downtown Portland. There, we decided to grab a bit to eat and chat about WordPress, airplanes, and stray cats for several hours before we had to head over to the speaker/sponsor party. Walking the city of Portland was never on my bucket list, but it was certainly a pleasure.

The speaker/sponsor party

wordcamp-maine-jeff-and-chrisAt WordCamp Maine, I had the pleasure of being part of an incredible group of speakers, and bowling alongside them as well at Bayside Bowl. If bowling skills had a direct correlation to WordPress development/design skills, I think we would all be in some serious trouble.

The organizers had the right idea when they decided to encourage people to randomly bowl together so that everyone would be almost forced, in a sense, to talk to people whom they don’t know. It certainly broke the ice well and led to some great camaraderie between individuals who may even be business competition.

Overall, the speaker/sponsor party was a great success and I highly encourage other larger WordCamps to encourage conversation and teamwork from the very beginning just as well as WordCamp Maine did.

The main event

Just a quick walk from my hotel was WordCamp Maine, located at the Maine College of Art. I especially loved they layout of the WordCamp in which most would walk by the Happiness Bar and it was very open and inviting. As the majority of my memorable discussions occur at the Happiness Bar, that was my direct target.

At WordCamp Maine, the keynote was John Eckman of 10up, one of the largest WordPress development and design studios out there. In his keynote, John discussed his roots and the community spirit of the open source community, especially WordPress. It was quite possibly one of the best keynotes I have been to recently due to the direct connection I have with the WordPress community and its impact on me both personally and professionally. In some way, WordPress has shaped our lives and John did an excellent job in describing that feeling.

I spoke at my typical 3:00PM time slot on choosing a WordPress host. As it was a smaller WordCamp, it was a smaller crowd which was nice as I was able to read everyone a lot better and determine where more emphasis may need to be placed. I felt like the audience certainly learned how to better choose a host for their WordPress site in an unbiased manner.

After speaking, all speakers are highly encouraged to sit at the Happiness Bar for an hour to further discuss any topics that may have been left out. During that time, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Ackley who is heading up the Ecosite Competition which is an effort for developers to provide websites for eco-friendly organizations. We were able to have some great conversations about eco-friendly datacenters and helping the environment as developers as much as possible.

Why WordPress Maine was awesome

Firstly, no WordCamp can be a success without the organizers that give their lives to it, the volunteers who work hard to keep things running smoothly, the speakers for providing excellent subject matter, and the sponsors for footing the bill. A big thanks goes out to all of you for working so hard to make the very first WordCamp Maine such a success.

WordCamp Maine was a great approach towards bringing people together, regardless of their status within the community. I feel that the organizers worked especially hard to keep a large amount of diversity within the group. As WordCamp Maine grows, I hope to see those values continue through many successful years.

I had a great time speaking at WordCamp Maine and hope to see you all next year!

WordCamp Milwaukee 2014 – WordPress and Cows

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at WordCamp Milwaukee. I had the pleasure of having great discussions with both existing friends within the WordPress community, as well as meeting some great people.

The speaker/sponsor party

The speaker/sponsor party took place at the Brewhouse Inn & Suites on Friday night. I decided to take a walk there from my hotel room so that I could soak in a bit of Milwaukee on the way there but little did I know, the walk would be much more longer than expected.

Once I arrived outside the venue, I spotted plenty of familiar faces, including Dre Armeda and Lisa Sabin-Wilson. We had a few good conversations, and I was introduced to Marc Benzakein of ServerPress before making our way inside.

Finally inside the party, everyone was quite lively and ready to share information on various projects that we were working on or recently released. Inside, I found more familiar faces, such as Michelle Schulp, Dan Beil, and Syed Balkhi, as well as giant cheesehead hats and the most comfortable WordCamp Milwaukee sweatshirts I have ever worn (Seriously, these sweatshirts are amazing).

As the night went on, everyone had an incredible time. Towards the end of the night, I was able to speak with Sam Hotchkiss, who is the organizer of WordCamp Maine which I will be speaking at as well.

Sam and I shared a cab back to our hotel rooms in which we spoke briefly about his product BruteProtect which prevents brute force attacks against WordPress site using global cloud-based rules. It is certainly a quality product and can greatly prevent attacks which are rising on a daily basis.

Overall, the speaker/sponsor party was a great opportunity to have fun and enjoy ourselves before we get down to business at the main event.

Saturday at WordCamp Milwaukee

Rather than attend all of the talks, I decided to take more of a personal approach to WordCamp Milwaukee and focus on meeting plenty of new people. It was quite a success in which I simply sat down next to people and introduced myself. This approach allowed me to learn more about people I have never met before and their upcoming projects, as well as inform them about what I do and how it could benefit them.

Of course, no WordCamp can be complete without some sort of great food and WordCamp Milwaukee certainly delivered with bacon and fried cheese curds. I may have gained 5 pounds from it but there are no regrets whatsoever. It was absolutely delicious.

My presentation promptly commenced at 3:00PM and I was ready to get started. At this WordCamp, I chose to speak on WordPress optimization techniques to get faster speed and more performance out of an existing setup. I feel that the audience gained a significant amount of information from my talk and got a deeper look at site performance from a hosting perspective. For more information on my presentation, you may view my slides on SlideShare.

Post-WordCamp festivities

After WordCamp Milwaukee, even with all of the great bacon and cheese, I was absolutely starving. Thankfully, Syed Balkhi invited me to dinner with him, Nik V, and Chris Christoff. We made our way to Benihana for some great food and even better conversation. At dinner, I came to the realization in how close this community is, in that you can mention someone’s name that you may have never seen in person, but still know who they are and what they do. Even a 15 year old kid like Nik has an impact on the WordPress community and can add a great amount of value to it.

Of course, one of the best parts of any WordCamp is usually the after party. If there is someone that you have been wanting to meet or have a discussion with, the after part is the best way to site down, have a drink, and make great conversation. At the after party, I spoke to numerous people, both established in the community as well as just starting out. Every conversation with a hit. As always, WordCamp after parties as perfect to just relax and talk about anything that comes to mind with great people who all share a passion for WordPress.

Conclusion

Overall, WordCamp Milwaukee was an amazing experience that makes me wish I could have stayed just one more day to say the least. The entire weekend, I could just feel the passion coming from everyone there.

I want to thank all of the organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees with my deepest gratitude for making WordCamp Milwaukee an amazing event. I’ll see you all next year!