Project Mint

Project Mint – the project to write a bid to bring WordCamp Europe to Manchester, UK.


At the 2018 WordCamp Manchester social, there had been umms and arrs about applying for WordCamp Europe to come to WordPress co-founder’s – Mike Little‘s home town.

I had personally applied before but it went to Seville that year. Many people didn’t realise I had applied previously. We knew Brexit was a possibility. We did the maths and estimated when we suspected for things to really take affect if it really happened.

Then Steph Walker looked me in the eye and said “If you lead, I’ll join the organising team.”

Others joined Steph’s comment and by the end of the evening I had caved and declared I was going to apply to bring WordCamp Europe to Manchester and invited anyone who wanted to join in the fun to join me.

Unfortunately, we never did win the WordCamp Europe 2020 bid. Our friends in Porto won it. It was a moment of sadness and relief. We all had high hopes but we also knew that we had gained a lot of time back.

Some of the bidders discussed what we wanted to do about the application. We had poured a lot of time looking up local history and information. We didn’t want it to all go to waste, or get lost.

We hope that it will inspire you to visit one of the home towns of WordPress.

More importantly – if you are thinking about applying to host WordCamp Europe in Manchester, we hope by sharing it, it will help you with your application.

We wish you luck future bidders! 🙌


Props to the Co-bidders

Thank you to the following people who all were co-bidders with me.

Some of you went searching and reading up on history of the city, we all love so much. Some of you did research into costs and practicalities of staying and running an event like WordCamp Europe in Manchester.

One thing you all did was keep me calm and had my back when my machine was having kernel panics every 3 minutes. I couldn’t have done this without you all.

I hope we get to do something in the future. 🤗

The co-bidders in first name order:

Thank you!


Feature image photo by Fraser Cottrell on Unsplash

Convincing the world to care about their website health

This talk was built for WordCamp Dublin.

Explaining to clients that website maintenance is important is often met with resistance. Although maintenance is important, it often is confusing.

Jenny will be sharing with us her experience of changing the conversation to be more accessible to everyone.

She will share her experience of demysifying why site health checks are important, how to empower users to want to upgrade and what the WordPress community and developers can to make health checks more accessible for all.

This talk is part of our focus for Digital Citizenship Week, which coincides with WordCamp Dublin.

WordCamp Dublin 2019

Resources

I recommend the post WordCamp Nordic : Getting Ready for PHP7.2 which has a bunch of resources for people who are looking to make sure their code is ready for more modern versions of PHP.

In this talk, I mention IRISSCON, and in particular Dr Jessica Barker’s talk The Human Nature of Cyber Security which can be found on YouTube.

Nearly all the talks from IRISSCON were really useful so if you have a moment, do check out the IRISSCON youtube channel and playlists.

WordCamp Nordic : Getting Ready for PHP7.2

Do you have a zombie PHP on your site?

Today I gave a 12 minute lightning talk about getting ready for PHP7.2 in Helsinki for WordCamp Nordic.

I always upload my slides to SpeakerDeck but I have realised that the slides resources are not clickable.

So I’ve linked all the resources from links are listed below.


Slides

Resources

Starting a conversation at a conference

I’ve been asked a few times how to start a conversation with people. It’s not easy or always natural or something you want to be in the mood for so I’ve compiled some stuff i share with people when i give talks. 

Make sure you eat well and stay hydrated!

Make sure we’re fuelled up and not hangry.If I’m hungry i’ll be in a bad mood, starting conversations with people only makes peopel dislike me. I can usually solve this with food and a cup of tea.

Assign yourself the Greeter role.

Toastmasters have this role called a Greeter at their meetups. When it’s a designated role that you are assigned, it helps me give myself permission to talk to other people.

The Greeter's role is to welcome everyone to the club meeting, particularly visitors and people who are new. Making everyone feel welcome at our club is important, as this may be the start of their journey.
Toastmaster’s definition of the  Greeter’s Role 


Tweet out you want to meet new people.

It might seem wierd, but many people attend events on their own and are looking to meet new people. Use the Hashtag of the event and tweet out that you want to meet new people and would love to talk to people about partiulcar topic.Include a picture of what you are wearing  so people know what you look like and can find you.

Start a conversation.

Starting a conversation isnt easy. Having conversation starter questions helps. Here is a bunch of questions I frequently ask:

  • Have you travelled far?
  • What kind do you do with WordPress?
  • What session are you planning?
  • Been to any interesting sessions?
  • What did you think of the topic?
  • How did you get started with WordPress?
  • Comment on the weather.

Engage Pac-Man rule

If you haven’t heard about the pac-man rule, then read more about it  on Eric’s blog post about it.The it tries to solve the problem of allowing new people to join conversations, by giving people explicit permission to join groups.

The rule is:

When standing as a group of people, always leave room for 1 person to join your group.

More memorably, stand like Pac-Man!

The new person, who has been given permission to join your group, will gather up the courage, and join you! Another important point, the group should now readjust to leave another space for a new person.

Leaving room for new people when standing in a group is a physical way to show an inclusive and welcoming environment. It reduces the feeling of there being cliques, and allows people to integrate themselves into the community.

Eric Holscher

Break the Clique

It is habit that we all hang out. we’re comfortable with each other as a company as its less effort for us overall. Eric also wrote a post called Break the Clique.

The Community++ Rule [1]

The rule is:

For every year you have attended the event, you should try to meet that many new people each day.

An example makes it clear:If you have attended this event for three years, you should try to meet three new people each day.

Consider this your encouragement to do the Community++ Rule.

Eric Holscher

People are just people

People don’t always want to talk about work, or tech, they are people afterall, so ask a random question to break the ice.

Set yourself a challenge to meet X number of new people and find out if they prefer cats or dogs, if they are Team Tea or Team Coffee.

You’ve got this.

You at some point already met a bunch of new people. We are continually doing this and the event you are going to will be no different.

You’ve got this.

Have a personal favourite? 

If you have any tips or tricks on how you start conversations with people, please share them. I would love to know how others cope with meeting new people. 

Stage Fright

Last week I did the opening keynote for PHPUK.

It’s not the first time I have keynoted, but it is the first opening keynote.

Do I get scared?

Many people since have asked if I get scared or stage fright beforehand.

Yes, i get scared.

It doesn’t matter if I am standing in front of a user group or a conference hall full of people, I will always get stage fright. It is usually the worse the last hour before I’m due on.

My brain runs through various issues:

  • What if i am too negative?
  • What if I forget the bridging phrase / point?
  • What if I am too monotone?
  • What if I have no colour of variety in my voice?
  • What if people fall asleep?
  • What if I mispronouce someone’s name?
  • What if there is a spelling mistake I missed?
  • What if my ankle gives way on stage?
  • What if I have a wardrobe malfunction?
  • What if I am too bossy?
  • What if my laptop breaks?
  • What if I drink some water and spill it on my laptop?

So on and so forth.

I don’t think these worries have gotten better or worse over time. The most I can do is control as much of it as possible.

Someone once told me that

No one wakes up wanting to see you fail.

This is open source community. From everything I have experienced in the last 8 years in this community, people are always cheering you on to do your best and are cheering you on to be your best.

So as long as i try my best, do my best, I’m ok accepting that stage fright is part of the parcel for me.

Controlling Stage Fright

There are a few things i do to control my stage fright and not let it run a drift.

Hopefully this will help you:

  • Have a USB copy of the presentation  with font files and images in Keynote, PPX and PDF.
  • Have a public dropbox folder of the presentation  with font files and images in Keynote, PPX and PDF shared with the organisers, yourself, and a friend in the room.
  • Test out the wardrobe choice on a night out with friends. If it passes a fun night out with friends where you are more likely to be moving around, it will be fine on stage where you don’t move around so much.
  • Break new shoes in. I tend to go on a trip with new shoes and walk a lot to break them in.
  • Have backup batteries for your clicker in the bag
  • Go to tech test early.
  • Have a version of your slides with a white background and a version with a black background. Depending on how bad the projector is, you can switch colour contrast quickly.
  • Have versions both in 16:9 and 4:3 because seriously the effort v the stress isn’t worth it.
  • Do not change slides on the day unless you REALLY have to. People will not miss one extra meme.
  • Set a run-though date with friends a week a head of time to :
    1. Force me to have a draft version of my talk  “ready”
    2. Give you feedback where it doesn’t flow and help you tweak the talk.
    3. Remember to write down the feedback
  • Video your practise runs. It means you can go back and write down that cool phrase you just made up which helped bridge two parts together as speaker notes.
  • Practise in front of people who don’t care about the content is useful. I found they tend to concentrate on your speaker style and point out things that are nothing related to the content.
  • Ask someone you trust and knows the subject to review the content.
  • Always leave a caveat and be honest if you are uncertain about data.
  • If my talk is in the morning, I have a super big dinner the night before. I know I will not stomach anything in the morning so i just eat ahead of time. Also I carry snack bars so I can eat straight after I come off stage.
  • Turn off the air con in the hotel room, and wrap that neck up! I find air cons dry out my voice and my voice breaks easily if its cold so i wear a scarf to stop that from happening. Airplane air cons are just as bad.
  • Know where the bathroom is so you can do a last minute bathroom run.  Nothing like drinking lots of tea to warm up the voice and then needing the bathroom 🤭
  • Whether you submitted to a CFP or got a invite, the organizers of the event are the people who curated the schedule so trust them. They thought your talk was interesting enough to put on stage.
  • Have a playlist of your favourite tunes and stick your headphones on and forget the world. I find that I have far too much adrenaline before i go on stage so if I can, I spend a bit of time before my talk where I  stick in my headphones and listen to a playlist I have saved offline.  I find I only really get through the first 5 songs at most so make sure the first song is one that ground you! This is my go to  playlist:
  • The talk is only going to be [ Insert session time amount here ]. In a year/ life time that is going to equate to a very insignificant amount of your time.
  • We’re not performing heart surgery.
  • You’ve got this.