WordCamp St. Louis 2014

Here I am,  at the St. Louis airport several hours before my flight, hoping that the storm Titan doesn’t futz too much with my flight and reflecting on WordCamp St. Louis. First of all, I had a blast and was humbled to be there surrounded by some very smart people. It’s always neat to meet the people behind the twitter handles and IRC nicks of those I work with online. This trip started out bizarre and will end bizarre. This is the chronicle of my experience in St. Louis.

tl;dr WordCamp St. Louis was an amazing experience. I feel honored to speak and I learned a ton.

The arrival

It turns out that Konstantin Obenland and I had coincidentally booked the same flight to St. Louis which was super lucky. It was great to meet him in person and catch up on our various projects. When we left the airplane, we were immediately given Mardi Gras beads catching us by surprise. Sometimes, when you work remotely, you lose track of when major holidays are approaching. Both of us had forgotten completely about it.

We then headed for our hotels. My hotel was straight out of a Ron Burgundy daydream. I wish I had the foresight to bring a velvet smoking jacket. The greeter had a fake english accent. The furniture was old timey. The paintings followed you with their eyes. The rooms had names. First and last. There was even a bear.

The happy hour

The speaker happy hour was held at 4 hands brewery. We were given a gargantuan table that was filled with what felt like endless appetizers and beer. Meeting and chatting with the other speakers definitely helped quell my nerves.

Getting there

I woke up at 4:30 or 5 and was simply wired. I figured I might as well run through my talk and tweak my slides a bit while I was up. Hopefully my neighbors didn’t mind me projecting to an invisible audience. I then quickly got read to go and decided to walk to the campus. Wrong choice. Google maps said ten minutes.

Google Maps giving me terrible directions.

It would have been accurate if I could teleport. In reality, it was more like 40 minutes. Wah wah. I arrived on the Washing University campus a little later than I’d have liked via a nice lengthy scenic walk.

The WordCamp

I met dozens of super cool WordPress enthusiasts from all over and spent what little time I had chatting with a few people and then running to go see the room I would be presenting it. It was a pretty good-sized forum with pretty dang high-resolution projectors (as opposed to the usual 4 pixel wide variety). Then I ran back for the opening shebang. The energy in the main auditorium was electric. Everyone was clearly ready to get their learn on.

The presentation

My presentation was the first presentation in the Dev I track. I should also mention that this was my first presentation to a group of strangers in about a decade. Hehe. I actually left the room for a bit until it was about starting time to avoid psyching myself out. It was pretty packed.

Then I went back in and did my thing. After about five minutes, my nervousness was pretty much nonexistent and made it through with no noticeable hiccups. (At one point I threw the mic around a bit so, if you watch the video when it’s posted, sorry about the noise.)

The Q&A after was my favorite part I was met with a slew of excellent questions from all over the room.

Those of you who were there were a fantastic audience. Thank you for participating and for all of your excellent feedback.

Obenland has never seen the Wizard of Oz

Which is interesting because the name of his talk was “Options, and Transients, and Theme Mods, Oh My!” It wasn’t meant to be a reference to the movie. I will definitely be sifting through his slides later and gleaning what I can.

The Keynote

was wonderful. Carrie Dils’ presentation, “Spare a Square ,” was energetic, funny, and sent a powerful message. If you have the chance, watch it when it ends up on WordPress.tv.

The surprise panel

After Konstantin‘s awesome talk, we were both heading out the door (I was going to find a nook to take a quick cat nap) when Joshua Ray snagged us and asked if we would like to be in the developer panel starting in ten minutes. Panels are always super fun and we both opted in.

There was a minor seating snafu for the panel. The other panelists(?) got rolling high chairs. I improvised.

The panel went well and covered a pretty wide set of topics. Again, thanks to everyone who attended! Everyone involved learned something new.

WP-CLI + Epic Beard

Doug Stewart‘s talk on WP-CLI blew my mind. I now feel cheated knowing I could have been using it all this time. Again, definitely worth a watch when it hits WordPress.tv.

Post-WordCamp survey

Dinner?

With Rachel Baker at the wheel, two other members of 10UP, Konstantin, and I went on an expedition to find some delicious food. Remember, this is Mardi Gras. Whoops. The first place was already closed. It had run out of food. The second place had an enormous wait. Next. We ended up at a sports bar, eventually and had some pretty good food and drink. It was really cool to catch up with them and eventually compare high scores in Threes.

The party!

It was at a beautiful venue on the fourth floor (except for the bullet hole Mike Hansen pointed out in the window). There was snacks, laughter, and whiskey. Need I say more?

And now

I’m still waiting to see if I will be able to leave this city today. If not, I’m going to try that barbecue place again tomorrow. It smelled super good.

Thank you, organizers and contributors, for all the work you did making this happen. Thank you for inviting me to speak. Thank you, Automattic, for sending me out to speak. It was a very humbling experience. It was awesome to meet everyone there. I can’t wait for the next one!

Bonus nugget of joy:

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