What I learned at WordCamp Fraser Valley

Yesterday, Nov 20, I spent the day in Surrey – a suburb of Vancouver with a bad reputation – attending WordCamp Fraser Valley for the 2nd time. This was there 3rd year doing this event, but I missed the first one it seems.

The event had about 40 people in attendance I think, and they ranged from youngish (20s) up to pretty mature (grey hair, no guessing on their ages) and ran the gamut of experience from “I want to get a blog” to folks who have been making a living with WordPress for a long time.

I met some great people and added most of them to Twitter. It was funny to see several people taking notes on paper amid a sea of laptops. Our host/facilitator/organizer was Gary, who has organized all 3 of the WordCamps so far. Gary did a great job, even coming up with a decent presentation on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on the morning of WordCamp because one of the presenters had a family emergency.

I took nearly 7 pages of notes in OpenOffice (no paper for me) that I need to review. 4 of the presentations really taught me something.

  1. John Bollwitt‘s talk on how he implemented WordPress as an intranet solution for 4 local radio stations. John detailed how developing Floyd (their name for the intranet) really improved communication, community and documentation for the entire staff of 150+ people. Even the GM now has a personal, weekly blog he posts to. It became a way to share events and photos, as well as corporate documentation. He posted his presentation here: http://sixty4media.com/2010/11/20/using-wordpress-for-an-intranet/
  2. Danny Bradbury‘s talk on how to come up with ideas for blogging. It’s challenging, but as a professional journalist he needs to stay on top of current topics, track stories and sources and be ready with ideas. He presented a number of great sites he uses for research and tracking. His presentation is online here: http://prezi.com/evjtna9a9x6l/finding-your-bloggy-muse/
  3. Lynne Robson gave a great presentation on Child Themes for WordPress. Child themes were something I’d heard about, but never understood before. Now having seen Lynne’s presentation, I get why they’re so powerful. Short version – you can override styles and add functionality that aren’t in the parent theme. AND, if the parent theme is written properly, your functions can replace theirs, so you can improve on them. The upshot? If the owner updates the parent theme, you can safely upgrade without losing ANY of your customizations. Unless they change a style name.
  4. Leah Coss’s whirlwind and problem plagued session about Vlogging (video blogging) was amazing. The technical problems prevented us from seeing her PowerPoint, but she didn’t need it. At least for me, her points were clear and well made without the visuals. She did show us some good and bad examples on YouTube though. Yikes. I may yet start posting videos here.

Not to short change the other presenters, but these 4 really taught me something new. Tris Hussey, Kulpreet Singh and Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega all gave great talks, and inspired me in other ways, but I didn’t learn as much “new” information from them. Kulpreet’s talk has me wanting to look at eCommerce again. Something I both appreciate and hate him for doing. LOL.

Overall, it was a great day, full of interesting topics and interesting people. If you went, be sure to say hi. If you didn’t but are interested, be sure to check out other WordCamps, possibly in a city near you. I hope next year I don’t miss WordCamp Vancouver again.

3 thoughts on “What I learned at WordCamp Fraser Valley

  1. Pingback: New blog post: What I learned at WordCamp Fraser Valley http://www.jeffrose.ca/2010/11/what-i-learned-at-wordcamp-fraser-valley/ | All My Tweets

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