After day one of WordCamp, we were looking forward to another fun and informative day at the conference. But getting there turned out to be quite the adventure!
When we parked in front of my brother-in-law’s condo the night before, we saw signs all up and down the streets notifying us that the road would be closed the following day for a marathon from 6 AM to 12 PM, and any cars parked there after 6 AM would be towed. So, we just set the alarm a little earlier, and Jai went out there at 5:45 AM to move the car. When he walked outside, he saw that the whole street was completely empty; all of the cars had been towed except for one, which a tow truck was in the process of hauling away. Jai ran over to the tow truck and flagged them down so that he could find out what was happening. The tow truck driver was a little sheepish and told Jai that they had been instructed by the police to “Get an early start” on towing the cars – they had towed everyone half an hour before they were supposed to, and despite the fact that we had all complied with the sign!
The tow truck driver told Jai to get in, and he would take him to where they had moved the car. As it turns out, they had hauled the car down the street and parked it in a random private parking lot. Once there, a police officer confirmed the situation with Jai, and let him know that no one had been ticketed – obviously, they couldn’t do that since they were the ones who had violated the sign, not us! – and that he could just leave the car there and pick it up in a couple of hours with no worries about ticketing or any further problems. Jai walked back to the condo, told me what happened, and we finished getting ready.
Once we went outside, we were in for another surprise. All roads were closed as far as the eye could see, and the marathon had already begun – we couldn’t even cross the street to get to the parking lot where our car had been moved, because there were too many runners. Even if we did, there was no way to move it; we were completely blocked in by the race. There were no police or anyone around who could explain what was going on or what we could do: We were trapped!
Did I mention that this all happened at 8 AM before we even had a cup of coffee?
Finally, we decided to walk back to the condo and dropped of a key with a note for Jai’s brother explaining what had happened and asking if he could move our car after the race was over, since we would be at WordCamp until that evening. We were worried that the car would be impounded after the race if we left it in the private lot, even though we had no way of moving it whatsoever. We decided that we would have to a take a cab to get to WordCamp, but we had no idea where they would even be able to pick us up with all the streets closed. We decided to walk back to the car so that we could grab a notepad that we had left in there, and then we would try to walk to an open street so we could hail a taxi.
When we got to the parking lot, we finally saw a police officer that we could talk to. We explained the situation, and she said that we actually could get out – she directed us to drive in the wrong lane and under caution tape so that we could make our escape. She directed us to go down a specific street to meet up with an open road, and when we got there, it was blocked off by “Road closed” signs. However, a woman standing nearby (presumably a volunteer for the marathon) said, “Need to get through?” and lifted the signs up so we could drive through and get to the only open road. Needless to say, it felt like we needed to know a secret handshake just to get out of the parking lot!
It took us quite a bit of driving to make it to WordCamp because so many streets were closed, but we eventually got there. We were half an hour late at this point, but we weren’t the only ones – as we approached WebTrends, we saw people literally running into the building! Fortunately, we hadn’t missed anything; none of the sessions had started yet, and we even had time to get a cup of coffee and sit down with a bagel before things got underway. PHEW!
“Measure Twice, Blog Once” workshop about blog analytics – click here to view the slides from the panel.
After our crazy morning, we settled in for the day’s sessions. I attended “Measure Twice, Blog Once” by Adam Ware, while Jai went to “WordPress: The Designer’s CMS” by Chelsea Otakan. Next up was “Town Hall With Matt Mullenweg“, the founding developer of WordPress, followed by “Blogs and Social Media – Food Cart Success Story” by Brett Burmeister of Food Carts Portland and “SWAN DIVE! …into the Best WordPress of your Life” by Mark Jaquith.
Afterwards, it was time for lunch – this time, we had deli sandwiches, chips, hummus, and veggies. During the lunch break, they handed out another round of door prizes and took a moment to talk about some of the sponsors of the convention. One of these sponsors was the Cheez Burger Network, who presented a short slide show about CheezCap, the “Cheezburger Custom Administration Panel” which they developed for WordPress. Decked in a FAIL Blog t-shirt, the Cheez Burger employee then showed us slides of some funny LOL Cats from I Can Has Cheezburger – every conference should have a presentation like this!
Click the thumbnails to see the LOLCats full size!
Afterwards, we listened to a tongue-in-cheek presentation from Wikipedia employee Steven Walling, titled “It’s a Trap! The Top Five Reasons to Avoid WordPress at All Costs”, followed by “WordPress for Artists” by Cory Huff of TheAbundantArtist.com. Later in the afternoon, they set out yet another snack of delicious chocolates from Yummy Box Lunches.
Reason Number Five to Avoid WordPress: You are using “Anything That Requires a Buttload of Plugins”
Jai and I headed to different rooms for the last three panels: I attended “New and Exciting Ways to Organize Your WordPress Powered Website” by Michael Fields, “Using the Apture Plugin to Tell Interactive Stories” by Michelle Anderson of The Miracle in July, and “5 Tips for Better Search Engine Optimization with WordPress” by Mark McLaren; meanwhile, Jai attended “WP Clients: Plugging Clients into their WP Site” by Amanda Blum, “WordPress and Github? Not as crazy as you think!” by John Metta, and “Building Child Themes: The smart way to develop WordPress themes” by Aaron Jorbin.
Photos from the “New and Exciting Ways to Organize Your WordPress Powered Website” panel
Photos from the “5 Tips for Better Search Engine Optimization with WordPress” panel – click here to view the slides from the presentation.
I was impressed by WordCamp. I thought the conference was well done, and I was pleasantly surprised by all of the food and drinks that were included. The technical panels which Jai attended provided us with some valuable information – you may remember that when we began transferring my blogs over to WordPress, we encountered errors with the Blogger importer and a huge number of comments from the old site did not come through. We could not find any information about this problem anywhere, so those comments are still missing. Well, we finally found out what happened! At the “How to Support WordPress” panel, Sheri Bigelow talked about some of the major support issues that WordPress has encountered in its history: One notable instance was when Blogger made changes to its importer tool at the end of April 2010; which is the exact same time that I was moving my sites over! It took them some time to work out a solution, but Ms. Bigelow says that it has since been resolved and provided a link to the patch – click here to access it. Now that we know what the issue was and have a fix for it, we should be able to retrieve all the old comments that didn’t transfer over – that alone made it worth attending WordCamp Portland!
Jai on the Webtrends balcony
Yours truly – recognize the suit?
In addition to these panels, we also enjoyed talking to other bloggers, developers, and designers who attended. We met so many great people at WordCamp – I thought I’d link up to everyone I met that I have a card for, so you can check out their websites:
Amy O’Bryant of SnoValleyScene, a new blog devoted to everything that Snoqualmie Valley, Washington has to offer – another good one for my local readers!
Maria Webster of dotFiveOne – Geekspace for Women, a blog celebrating what geeky women are doing;
Toby McKes, developer at the Cheez Burger Network who wins the prize for “Best business card”!
Mandi Ellefson, owner of Cocoon Design;
Michelle Samuel of Tinker Friendly Design, who creates logos and websites for her clients;
Andrea Jardine of BeKnown graphic & web design;
Jake Becker, a plugin developer who runs WatchCount.com;
Anne McCallister, a professional organizer who owns Inside The Box Organizing;
Karen Groves, a fellow British expat and owner of Groves Design;
Robert Adrian and Brandon Laws of Xenium HR;
and Michael Fields, who presented the “New and Exciting Ways to Organize Your WordPress Powered Website” panel and displays his artwork on Art.Mfields.org.
Thanks to everyone who organized WordCamp PDX 2010 – we look forward to attending next year!