WordCamp Reno-Tahoe Wrap-up

This morning I woke up early and hopped on a plane from Vegas and landed in Reno around 8:30. We quickly made our way to our hotel to drop of some bags and have a quick bite to eat before heading over to the Reynolds School of Journalism on the UNR campus to attend WordCamp Reno-Tahoe. As I sit in bed after an amazing day of learning, networking and even presenting, I wanted to write a quick post to recap the day while it's all fresh in my mind.

We arrived pretty early and took a couple seats in the back row. While we waited for Matt Mullenweg to arrive and give the keynote speech, we went around the room having each person stand up, say their name, twitter handle and one word that summed themselves up. This turned in to a pretty fun exercise. People threw out words like under-caffeinated, excited, confused, inspired, geek (that was me), but nothing got a better response than the girl who choose the word boobies.

You can't go wrong with boobies. Remember that.

With the San Francisco WordCamp just about a month away, Matt chose to switch up his normal routine of giving a “state of the word” speech and instead went with the 4 things you should be hip to. There seems to be some big things happening over at WordPress central as there are some big updates going out for WordPress MU, BuddyPress and the Twitter-esque theme, P2. Matt also announced that they recently gained control of the domain name WP.com. They haven't figured out exactly what to do with it yet and are taking suggestions. Yes, a URL shortening service has already been suggested. Matt also spoke about the fact that Geocities is going to be shut down by the end of the year, and let on that he has a Geocities page that somebody tweeted and you can see here.

Matt was using a very cool (though it has some bugs) presentation software called Prezi. The crowd seemed to like the swooshing of the pages as he went from slide to slide. I have to admit, I'll be checking it out next week, because it did look cool.

After Matt was done, half the people left the main room, which now became the development track room. Upstairs was the marketing track sessions. We hung out in the dev room most of the day. The first dev session was Enhancing WordPress with Custom Fields by Kyle Provost. I've used custom fields several times for different things, but usually they were the result of a theme or plugin I had installed. Thanks to Kyle I realize how I could use those myself in theme and/or plugin development.

Following Kyle was Colin Loretz. Colin pulled double-duty as the organizer of the event and also a presenter. His topic was called Creating Your First WordPress Plugin. Since I just recently wrote my own plugin, this was one of the sessions I was looking forward to most to see if there was anything I could pick up. The answer is, of course there was! Colin gave some great information that I plan on using to go and update my existing plugin to make it even more useful for users.

Next up was lunch. I have to say that I really liked the way they handled lunch. Simple, simple, simple. Set up was a table that had boxed lunches. Each contained a sandwich, chips, a cookie, an apple and a soda.


Most people picked a box and headed outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and do some socializing at the same time. I forgot to mention that it was in the low 40s when our plane landed this morning, and I didn't think to bring a jacket. Luckily, it warmed up nicely and it didn't become an issue. We spent our lunch outside chatting with Joseph Scott from Automattic who asked if I was on a West Coast tour of WordCamp events. This is, of course, because I saw him in Vegas, Denver and now Reno all within 90 days.


After lunch we went back to the development track room to hear Joseph Scott talk about WordPress Performance and Scalability. Not only was his speech interesting and informative, it is amazing to listen to a guy who is passionate and excited about the content he's presenting. When it comes to talking about servers, data centers, load balancers and memcache, I'm not sure there's a better suited person to deliver this speech than Joseph.

Following Joseph was Chelsea Otakan speaking about Creating WordPress Themes. While I'm certainly not a graphic designer, Chelsea gave some very good information about how the theme files themselves work and how WordPress works with them. I was definitely inspired to put together my own theme, if for no other reason than to say I've done it. You can find Chelsea's presentation and sample theme on her site. And, here's a shot of Chelsea taken from the back of the dev room.


After a short break it was time to head upstairs for the final two sessions of the day. But, before I get to that, I have to say the marketing track room was ridiculously cool. They call it the war room. There's a projector mounted on the ceiling pointing to a screen on the far end of the room. But, the room itself is taken over by a massive circular table. OK, I'm not doing it justice. Here's a photo instead.


Next to present was Jim Turner talking about Blogging For A Living. Jim presented at WordCamp Las Vegas, but I was so busy running around that I wasn't able to catch his presentation. It was nice to be able to sit and listen to the entire speech rather than 30 second chunks as I ran in and out of the room in Vegas. There is a lot of interest in earning money from blogging, and Jim is in the center of it when it comes to getting bloggers jobs.

Finishing off the day on the marketing track was me talking about Using WordPress as a CMS for Affiliate Marketing. As it was my first time presenting in this fashion, I have to say that I'm quite pleased with how it went. I had several people asking questions in the middle of my speech, which is perfectly fine with me as I'd much rather engage in a conversation rather than talking AT a group for 45 minutes.

My time “on stage” flew by. I remembered most of what I wanted to say and never felt nervous or uncomfortable. I am definitely looking forward to doing it again in the future.

After it was all over we headed back to the hotel to check in and then headed out to dinner with Jim Turner. Even better than hearing his presentation was being able to sit and talk logistics face-to-face for some projects that we have cooking together. I would have loved to have chatted for another couple hours, but the day was catching up to us all and it was time to say good night and head back to our hotels and get some rest.

It doesn't appear that the presentations today were recorded in any way. I brought my own recorder and will be writing up my presentation and posting it here in a day or so. If anybody else recorded any sessions, I would love it if you would leave a comment and point me to them.

Thanks again to Colin for inviting me to be a presenter at WordCamp Reno-Tahoe. I'm already looking forward to returning next year, even if it's just to attend.