Here it finally is, my big WordCamp Europe write up!
As you read here, I arrived in Sofia late Thursday evening. Smooth landing, picked up my luggage and jumped into a cab to my hotel. The room is quiet ok: a large double bed and a large bath tub. Nice.
On Friday morning I had breakfast at Starbucks (the hotel charged €10/day for breakfast and Sofia is so cheap you can get a lot more then breakfast for that) and wandered around town for a bit. It was raining quite hard and I quickly took shelter for some coffee. Through twitter I hooked up with Noel and the other guys from Human Made. We had a quick lunch before heading of to the pre-conference Paintball game that Noel had put together. I was on team UK for the afternoon and we played 3 matches plus a decider to determine our place in the final ranking. We had loads of fun and ended up in 3rd place (kicked was Swiss but though :)). After that we all got cabs back to the city and I went back to the hotel to shower and change. In the evening I had dinner & drinks with a Belgian and German friend I knew from last year at WordCamp London.
Saturday morning I was up bright and early, excited for the first conference day! I headed to my Starbucks-breakfast and went on the venue from there (which was just 200m away). The conference was held at the “National Palace of Culture” (or NDK ), built in 1981 and a ver impressive Sovjet looking building.
There were 2 halls where talks would take place: the main room on the 9th floor and small(er) room on the 7th. Sponsors, exhibitor and reception was on the 8th floor.
Remkus kicked things of in the main room with some announcements (wash your apples folks!) and then we were of! I’ll list some of the talks I attended and which I consider worth mentioning here.
Beyond the Code – Noel Tock
Noel talked about how we get stuck in “completing tasks” mode day in day out and how that can stop us from reaching our goals and making cool stuff. He then shared some of the tools and techniques he uses to combat this day to day drag. One of the things I’ve adopted in the meantime is collecting my ideas and thought in Trello.
Why sometimes happiness requires effort: depression in IT – Yana Petrova
Checking your work email on Sunday morning (and afternoon and evening), working late, stressing out about that one project (or 2 or 3) at work… We’ve all been there and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of this. Yana’s talk was a very personal and touching one, that hit close to home with a lot of people in the audience. Depression is a real thing and it’s something we don’t talk about, and that is very very wrong. On a related side-note, check out Geek Mental Help Week.
WordPress: Bringing Ideas to Life – Siobhan McKeown
Siobhan gave a wonderful talk about how WordPress brings ideas to life and how it helps people express themselves. She also talked about the core values behind WordPress, the GPL and the values it stands for:
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
- The freedom to redistribute.
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.
Inside Underscores – Konstantin Obenland
Last year at WordCamp London, I followed a workshop on the theme customiser by Konstantin and that was when I got into the whole themes thing. And I use _underscores as a base for all themes I (attempt to) build. Konstantin talked about why they (Automattic) created _underscores and where it’s going in the future. I really liked this talk, and it gave me a couple of ideas for new themes that I want to build in the coming months.
Professional WordPress – Chris Lema
First session on Sunday morning after the afterparty the night before and it showed, not a lot of people showed up for this one. And they sure missed out because Chris’ talk great. He’s a very experencied speaker and the talk itself was right on the money: about how we have to treat ourselves as professionals if we want to create a professional environment to work in. If there’s one talk you watch from this list, make it this one.
WordPress Security – It Starts With Posture – Tony Perez
After Chris came Tony on security. Very in-your-face and very-loud but that’s part of the talk and of Tony’s persona.
Nobody cares about security until things go wrong and when it comes to security, WordPress often gets a bad rep. Tony lined up some best practices and standards with which you can keep your WordPress install secure and clean.
Next Generation WordPress Hosting Stack – Mark Jaquith
The heading of this section in my notes was “Server fun with Mark” and that’s exactly what it was. Mark talked about different ways to host WordPress and how to get the best performance out of it. Spoiler: HHVM all the way. Right up my alley.
On Monday some of us headed over to the Siteground offices for the contributor day. By 10 everyone was there and Nacin kicked things of by introducing the teams and the people leading them. My original plan was to join Theme Review but I ended up staying with the Core group. Nacin then gave a short introduction to contributing to core and adding patches to Trac. Then everyone dove into the open tickets and started working through them. I added patches for a couple of tickets, 2 of which have been added to WordPress 4.1 so yay for that! 🙂 In the evening we headed into town for a last dinner. Afterwards most of us were beat so we said our farewells and headed back to our respective hotels.
My flight back was at 5pm Tuesday afternoon so I had the better part of the day left in Sofia. I slept in, packed my bags, checked out and headed into town. After some wandering around I landed at a coffee bar for a couple of hours. I ended up sharing a cab to the airport with a fellow conference attendee through Twitter. The airport was really calm, check-in en security went smooth and so did the flight back home.
I’m finishing this write-up nearly 6 weeks after the conference (I’m bad at finishing things) and I look back at it with lots of fond memories. Sofia is a great city and I’ll definitly visit it again. The conference itself was superb (big thank you to Tina, Petya and the rest of the team for making this all happen), the venue was amazing and impressive. A special shout-out to Siteground for hosting the contributor day and for being a sponsor. The talks this year were not very technical but more on the development phylosophy/inspiration side and I really liked that.
See you at WordCamp London in March 🙂