Girl, Develop WordPress!

GDIIn the past year I’ve been getting involved with my local chapter of a wonderful organization called Girl Develop It. They host social/networking events as well as programming classes. At their Code & Coffee I have found help for a sticky Javascript problem, gotten career tips, and helped others learn more about open source software. I took their Git class a few months ago, and now I use it at work every day! So when they asked me to lead a class for GDI RDU I was honored and happy to help.

This weekend I will be teaching a class on advanced WordPress Theming. Fortunately, I am able to utilize the wonderful curriculum developed by Tracy Levesque. So after thoroughly reviewing and slightly updating the slides (and making sure all the software on my own site was up to date, oops) I am ready to go!

If you want to follow along, I’ve posted the presentation here.

A great day at WordCamp Raleigh

I usually enjoy small tech conferences, but I was still surprised at what a good experience I had at WordCamp Raleigh today. It started out on a great note when I checked in and learned that they had t-shirts in women’s sizes as well as the ubiquitous “unisex.” This really made me feel like I belonged, even though I only knew about a half-dozen people there.

Most of the sessions were either a little beyond my abilities or a little elementary for me, but I still got something out of every one. A few times I followed the unconference Rule of Two Feet and moved to a different session. I especially appreciated the speakers that shared URLs for their presentations at the start so that I could follow along easily from my tablet.

Here are some of the great talks I saw today:

  • After hearing about Angular so many times, I was excited to see Angling Angular presented by Will Haley. Not only was this really practical and informative, Will also ate his own dogfood by doing the presentation with a web app that he made with Angular. This was one of those talks that really stretched my knowledge, and was great for me as a front-end developer.
  • I’ll admit that I went to the session on SEO Strategy because there wasn’t anything else really catching my eye in that timeslot. But I actually found a few helpful tips and learned the rationales behind a lot of tactics that I already follow instinctively, like posting frequently, meaningfully linking within a site, and only using pay-per-click for short, time-sensitive campaigns. Most importantly, we learned to Keep Google Happy. 😉
  • I’ve gotten to know Melissa Eggleston recently though the local Girl Develop It meetup. Her talk was filled with interesting facts and actionable lessons about how users really interact with websites. I highly recommend checking out What We Know About Website Users.
  • I almost missed Dee Teal’s incredibly useful talk on WordPress Site Maintenance due to the overly cute session title “Responsible [digital] Home Ownership.” She covered many areas of site security that are really important and so often overlooked.
  • Even better was “Using Data to Power the User Experience” (another poorly-titled session) which was full of smart strategy and practical ways to take advantage of the tracking that Google Analytics is already doing for free.
  • CMB2: The Metabox Strikes Back was all about a tool that I will probably never use, but gave me good context for working with WordPress hooks, and was peppered with enjoyable Star Wars references.
  • The talk on optimizing site perfomance was close to my heart and covered familiar ground, having struggled with a complex Drupal site on Acquia’s servers for years when I worked at HASTAC. However, the presentation was actually only about optimizing server performance, which is something I would rather leave up to the sysadmins, and didn’t have any WordPress-specific advice.
  • Finally, I attended a demonstration of Roots, which is like a theme framework on steroids. This was another tool that I can’t see using any time soon, but learning about how it works provided a lot of insight into advanced theming issues, in which I am certainly very interested.

I’m looking forward to returning to Raleigh tomorrow for another fun day of learning with and from my fellow geeks.

UPDATE: None of the presenters I saw on the second day had made their slides available online, but they claim they are coming soon to the Wordcamp site. 

I upgraded

You’re looking at the latest and greatest version of the open source publishing platform WordPressversion 3.0, aka Thelonious. w00t!

The new default theme “Twenty Ten” is pretty nice, I might try it here, although I really like the theme I’m current using (called Fusion, very extensible). Here is a video tour for the geeks who want to know about WordPress 3.0:

WordPress upgrade = theme downgrade

Woah. I just upgraded WordPress (the software that runs this blog) and it broke my theme (the thing that makes it look like itself, with my lotus and colors, etc.). 🙁

So it’s going to look like something else for a little while until I find a new theme or fix my old one.