2013 WordCamp Chicago wrap up

July 6, 2013

Note: sans photos. Have not had time to get them uploaded yet….

This post is coming a week after the 2013 WordCamp Chicago officially ended, but for me it was an entire week of WordPress goodness.

I had not visited Chicago before so when I was chosen to speak at this years WordCamp I jumped at the opportunity to meet a new part of the community, and hang out with a friend who had been bugging me to visit for a few years.

Friday night was the typical speaker dinner, with a twist. I have been to most of the west coast WordCamps and generally know the majority of the speakers. This night I walked in and had no idea who anyone was! Luckily people were wearing name badges with their twitter handles on them, and I slowly began to recognize some people I have chatted with on twitter, but had not met in real life. There are great people on this side of the continent :).

Saturday came and I have to say Aaron Holbrook and his team did a fantastic job organizing and running the conference. Even having just completed running the Seattle WordCamp a couple weeks ago I could not detect any bumps in the road. If they were there the team handled them nicely. I got acquainted with a lot of great new people, and was even told I had picked up another stalker. my session went swimmingly, and as always I learned a few new things from attendees to incorporate into future sessions.

Sunday continued another great set of sessions. All the speakers did a great job, and the town hall by Matt Mullenweg was insightful and entertaining.

Monday morning I started my new job with Automattic. Two full days of whirlwind training. My brain was exhausted each evening! The first month at Automattic all new employees work support and it is incredibly addictive. I found myself checking support requests until I could barely keep my eyes open at night.

I have a confession to make. I have an addiction. No matter where I go I cannot stop being a community organizers. Prior to the end of WordCamp on Sunday I had already setup a co-working session for Wednesday. Michelle Schulp helped find a nice coffee shop called Dollop Coffee & Tea to work from. We had a great time. I think seven people showed, which is not bad for a seat of the pants event that requires people to leave their offices.

That night was also a Meetup. It was setup like a Q&A help session. I always enjoy learning what sorts of projects people in the community are working on. And for any older people reading this, have hope! A 71 year old man was in attendance ( he also came to the co-working session ). He sold the company he spent most of his life building this year and was looking for a new hobby. Not from a computer background at all ( he sold tents! ) he had decided to give WordPress a whirl. At 71 years old I taught him how to connect to his production database, run some exports, and then import and manipulate that data on his local development machine. And he did all the driving! I explained the steps to him.

Speaking of older people in the Chicago community, I was very impressed by the wide range of diversity at the conference. Both among the attendees and speakers. And I am pretty sure that except for in the developer room itself there were consistently more women around than men.

Thursday was the fourth of July. I worked half the day before doing any festivities. Answering support tickets is addicting! Richie and I spent the day with Tom Kepler ( WordPress member ) and his family. I was introduced to Tom via email by the amazing Doug Mahugh, whom I had the pleasure of working with at Microsoft, before joining Automattic. Tom and his family were great to hang out with. We started at his house for a BBQ and eventually migrated to the Lake Michigan beach to enjoy a fireworks show.

Ah Friday. What a great day that was! Friday was the day I had dedicated to Richie as our day on the town. A day to really hang out and get to know the city. A couple hours after noon we hopped on the train and headed downtown. Michelle and Chris Schulp met us at the aquarium around 3pm. Since before I was born there has always been a fish tank in my house. It has been a personal goal of mine to visit aquariums in every place I visit. The Chicago aquarium did not disappoint. There were a bunch of great exhibits. I was most excited about the Beluga whales but unfortunately was not able to get a good picture. The majority of the exhibits ( at least that we saw. The place closed before we saw it all! ) contained freshwater fish, of which most if the varieties I have owned at some point in the past.

After the aquarium we took the water taxi along the front of the city and I snapped some nice shots.

Exiting the taxi we fought the crowd for dinner and eventually made our way to the architecture boat tour. This tour goes down the river the city is built around. The tour was fabulous. The director had a deep rich knowledge of not only which buildings were which, but also the history and architectural details of each.

Today, Saturday I was once again sucked into ticket land for a few hours in the morning. After answering several requests Richie and I headed off to the movie theatre to relax before the flight. We saw Despicable Me 2, which had me laughing the entire show. Highly recommend seeing it.

Now I sit here on the airplane tapping out this post on the screen of my iPad. First time I have typed this much and it is surprisingly fast, accurate, and enjoyable for being small, having no feedback, and being the first generation iPad sold.

Thank you to the dozens of people who helped make my first trip to Chicago an enjoyable one! I am looking forward to my next visit.

Now I am going to switch over to a Star Trek episode. See up you all again on the ground!

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