I am sitting in first class ( surprise upgrade! ) drinking a 12 year Glenlivet Scotch ( oh the free perks! ) and using the in-flight Gogo wireless service ( first time. it is neat ) to write this post recapping the 2012 Las Vegas WordCamp.
The first supper
I had the honor to once again be asked to speak at one of these marvelous events and to represent the freshmuse brand. Friday evening I met the gang at the speaker/sponsor dinner. This is always one of my favorite parts of the event because it is like coming home to a big family reunion. The WordPress community is very close-knit, but always open for new friends. I love seeing the people that I communicate with on a daily basis through forums, chat rooms and such. Dinner was at Famous Daves, my favorite restaurant. The food was fabulous and I ate several times what I should have.
The big day
Saturday morning started off way too early. I was still barely coming out of my self induced food coma when I found the complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel. BEST continental breakfast I have ever had! I filled up what small space in my intestines had been created overnight with delicious goodies and was in danger of slipping into another food coma before we got to the venue.
And of course I could not resist Chris Hawkins superb cookies!
The main event
Now to the meat and potatos ( pun intended ) of the event. John Hawkins ( @vegasgeek ) started the day off with a bang during his welcome speech.
The first session I attended was WordPress on Amazon Web Services from Start to Finish by Michael Bastos. The title was really the session too. Michael led us on a very thorough step by step journey into the abyss that is Amazon Web Services. It was a pretty deep technical talk, and more than one person said it was way over their heads, but I walked away feeling prepared to take on AWS.
The second session was WordPress WebApps by Taylor Jasko. Taylor is a young kid on fire with a huge passion for all things web development, particularly pushing the limits of WordPress. In watching him I could see myself at that age, full of fire and vinegar, yet not quite fully grasping all the details. No fault of his own, it simply comes with experience. I was highly impressed with the knowledge he has already gained. Keep an eye on Taylor, he is a sharp kid and is going to be going places. He may be the next Bill G…err, I guess it is Zuckerberg these days. The second thing that blew me away was that people 2 and 3x Taylor’s age were listening to him in rapt attention, and the room was full of attendees. It is a pretty rare gift indeed to be part of a community that encourages and inspires creativity and engagement at such a young age. WordPress for the win!
Lunch was amazing. I was still full from dinner the previous night and breakfast, but the lunch food was so good that I squished it into every nook and cranny left inside me until it threatened to get violent and kick its way back out. I went back several times throughout the day though, whenever I felt a bit more room was available, it was sooo good.
After lunch Josh Harrison spoke on Plugging into Plugins. His talk was about building plugins that contain their own custom hooks, actions and filters. This is a subject that I have been passionate about this year. I was even prepping a talk of my own for the WordPress Seattle folks when another dev, Allen Snook, stepped up and gave one. Both were fantastic talks. Josh’s talk sparked a lot of great conversation amongst the devs about good ways to implement custom hooks. This seems to be the year of the API, wp-cli, and custom hooks and I am loving it. I am looking forward to the next year of plugin releases. I only see the great devs around me delivering even better products.
I spoke after Josh on Interacting with External APIs. I chose this talk because every WordCamp I have attended has has a talk on APIs and they all have sucked ( sorry if I attended yours :S ). The other presentations I have seen have been technically good, but have not at all looked at WordPress and how to utilize the powerful HTTP and Transient APIs that are in core to build powerhouse API clients. My talk aimed to bridge that gap. I thought it went rather well, and I received several very nice compliments afterward.
After the break Tony Perez gave a security talk, WordPress Security – Dealing With Today’s Hacks. Tony is my favorite speaker to listen to. It does not matter what he talks about, Tony can give is pizazz and pop. I would place a large bet that he could speak about watching grass grow and the audience would be on the edge of their seat hanging on to his every word the entire time. He is that good. Tony talked about some of the ways to detect a hacked site, then he went through a live example of hacking into a WordPress website. Some Gangnam music was blasted through the speakers, Tony danced around on stage while commands were running to crack logins, and he was able to successfully login and setup a remote execution file before the song finished. Everyone in the audience sat in stunned, shocked silence. Tony took a slightly stern tone while showing everyone how that hack could have been prevented with some very simple security precautions. I think everyone was in panic mode thinking of all their clients sites suddenly being defaced. Eventually Tony’s jovial style brought everyone back to the typical rolling laughter. Love that guy!
Grant Landram of freshmuse presented on Can Haz Business? Tips to Grow & Strengthen Your WP Biz. Grant presented on the same topic at 2012 WordCamp Portland to smashing success. Matt Mullenweg called his presentation out as a shining example. Grant delivered another killer talk at WordCamp Las Vegas.
The final presentation of the day I attended was by Mike Schoeder, or Shredder titled Manage WordPress with Awesome using wp-cli. Not only was the title and content of his talk awesome, Shredder himself is quite the awesome dude. I met Shredder during a brief stint where I lived in Orange County, at the Orange County WordPress Meetup and we very quickly became friends. wp-cli has gained a lot of momentum this year. I have seen other talks on wp-cli and they have been pretty low level and technical, often frightening off potential users. Shredder took a complicated topic and made is so easy it seemed like childs play. He even went through a couple examples of how wp-cli can be extended to include your own commands, and how WordPress plugins can even include custom commands specifically geared towards wp-cli users.
All in all it was a fantastic day. For all you people that did not make it out your surely missed a great event! Hope to see you next year.
Next weekend Grant Landram and I will be speaking at WordCamp Vancouver, along with Shredder, I hope to see some of you there!