This past weekend I joined about 100 others for the first Wordcamp Victoria, a celebration and exploration of all things WordPress. Hats off to Paul Holmes and the other volunteers for organizing a fine gathering.
Now I am not a great joiner at the best of times, and when it comes to “camp” style gatherings I take my camping seriously, so I ended up pretty much hanging out in the “campout” room, a place for informal gatherings. Far from being a waste of time, for me this was the absolute best use of my time, allowing me to get into deep conversations, learn specific things I was particularly interested in, and forge new relationships. In particular, I was fortunate to spend most of the day next to Lloyd Budd, not only a fantastic ambassador for Automattic but a nearby neighbor in Victoria, and have some far ranging discussions with Chris Parsons, PhD-student Privacy Research extraordinaire. This on top of catching up with old friends too.
So, what did I learn? In no particular order:
How to stop targeted advertisers from tracking me so easily
Chris, fearless privacy warrior, pointed me to the Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-Out (TACO) plugin for Firefox as the absolute simplest way to cut down on all the tracking cookies from targeted advertisers. Nice!
Where to find additional Buddypress themes
http://www.buddydress.com/category/buddypress-themes/ – sometimes it’s as simple as “let me google that for you” – thanks Lloyd.
How to implement a twitter clone in your organization
Lloyd referred a few times to P2 (http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/p2) which I didn’t grok until I realized it was the next generation of the older Prologue theme. I look forward to trying this out (possibly in conjunction with feedwordpress to capture those existing twitter users, ahem) for BCcampus.
How to optimize images automatically for your wordpress blog
The Smush-IT plugin from my buddy Alex Dunae looks like it will do just the trick. Nice one Alex!
What to do if you are serious about needing to cache your wordpress site
Use Batcache. Nuff said.
Additional Ways to Slow Down the Blog Bot Armies
Our inimitable guest from the East Coast, whose name escapes me, swore by Sabre (simple anti-bot registration engine)
And a whole lot of cool ways to start WordPress themes
Including the bare-bones sandbox theme, artisteer, the wordpress theme generator, and for the designer but not programmer, psd2html, a service that takes a Photoshop site design and quickly turns it into a WordPress theme.
And finally, we did have an actual “camp” session at the end of the day around WPMU, and I am proud to report that higher ed did REPRESENT! There was much love from people in corporate site development for many of the heroes from higher ed (and of course wpmu.org/edublogs) for their pioneer working on WPMU. That made me really proud.
See – you CAN learn without a curriculum or organized program. Having a desire to learn, some specific things you are trying to learn, and the ability to listen when there are smart folks around willing to share is really all you need. ‘Til next time – SWL