WordCamp Birmingham 2009

Just got back from Wordcamp Birmingham. I have to say was one of the best events I’ve attended in years. It was a 2 day event but I was only able to attend the first day on Saturday September 26th.  The venue for day one was a place called the Innovation Depot in downtown Birmingham. ..an incubator for startup companies. Sessions got underway around 9am with 2 tracks, one advanced and one “non” advanced I suppose. Although new to wordpress I tended to stick mostly with sessions in the advanced track as they seemed to match my interests.

Twitter hash tag is #wcbhm09 if you want to check out tweets for the event.

The first session was “Jumping into WordPress Plugin Programming” by @Dougal, one of the original WordPress core developers.

One of my favorate sessions of the day was “WordPress and Your Brand” by Sara Cannon. Sara’s presentation included a lot of useful information on branding, selecting a theme, and useful plugins.

Next up was “Essential SEO and Analytics for WordPress” by Jeremy Flint. Jeremy’s session was packed with tips for SEO performance.

One of the most useful aspects from all the presentations I attended on Saturday was advice on which WordPress plugins to use. There are so many from which to choose it’s good to now have a list of the most essential and know all these WordPress experts are using them too.

Lunch was outstanding with tons of BBQ (leftovers were available for the remainder of the day) and the highlight, Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress. During lunch Matt led a town hall style meeting opening up the floor to any and all questions regarding WordPress.

Afternoon sessions I attended were “Beyond the Blog: Setting up a Full Dynamic site with WordPress” by Mitch Canter, “Plugins to Die For” by Tammy Hart, and “Design Your First WordPress Theme in Minutes” by Brett Bumeter.

All of the afternoon sessions I attended were really packed with useful information to jumpstart my WordPress efforts. However my favorite was Brett’s session which highlighted a tool for theme development called Artisteer, which I’ve already purchased and used to create my first theme…and like Brett said in his presentation it only took a few minutes.

The final session of the day deserves special mention. It was an example of the power of blogging (using WordPress of course) to create political change and express free ideas in spite of opposition by repressive governments. A young woman, Esra’a El Shafei, from the middle east who operates the website, mideastyouth.com, spoke to us about her efforts to promote understanding and knowledge of government repression especially against freedoms of speech in that region of the World.

All in all Wordcamp Birmingham was awesome and I’m already looking forward to next year.

I should also mention the hotel where my wife and I stayed was a great experience. An old renovated hotel in downtown Birmingham called theThe Redmont Hotel. This place had great atmosphere, friendly helpful staff, two bars, and affordable prices. And if you’re in Birmingham sometime looking for a place to eat I can recommend J Clyde, located in Birmingham’s historic 5 Points South Entertainment District, a laid back tavern and ale house my wife and I greatly enjoyed visiting Saturday evening.

The First Drupal Camp Atlanta Was a Hit!

The first Drupal Camp held in Atlanta at Kennesaw State University was awesome. Even though the rain in Atlanta hadn’t stopped for 11 days the turn out was still pretty good with approximately 200 attendees. Thanks to all the great sponsors this was a free event. I won’t list them as you can see who they are on the main event website.

The keynote by Addison Berry was very interesting. Addison is the new Drupal Documentation Lead and a proven expert on how to get involved in the Drupal community. Her basic message was “just do it” and there’s always someone who knows less than you.

The first session I attended was also my fav  of the day. Sheena Donnelly presented “From PSD to Drupal – An Introduction to Theme Development.” Her session was perfect for a Drupal noob like me.

I also enjoyed Mike Schinkel’s session on setting up a Drupal Development Environment in Windows but I don’t have a link to his slides.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the entire day as I had a granddaughter arriving that day…well technically early Sunday morning.  Which all went very well 🙂