A Master Thesis: A Woman in Tech Public Speaking Dress Code

On Twitter Linda Lawton asked the question

So as a woman in tech public speaking. What is the dress code? Do you go janes and a nerdy t-shirt? or all dolled up and making a point that you are a woman who knows her stuff? or something in the middle?


I responded with my usual bluntness of:

Wear what ever the fuck you want, but remember to find a place for the lapel battery pack. […]

Me on Twitter

and ended up with me writing a rather hastly put togetehr list of things to consider. I still stand by my original point.

There are things to consider and it is 100% up to you how you take this advice. Over time, you will work out what works and doesn’t work for you. Nothing written here is set in stone. I probably forgot a bunch too.

My list of things to keep in mind:

  • You will need to be on stage, in front a bunch of semi strangers, being comfortable is one thing, dressing to have confidence is another. You can have both. You should demand nothing else but both.
  • People sometimes use their time in front of peopel to make a statement, what ever that may be. You can choose to do that as long as it doesn’t break any event COC rules.
  • Bright lights can make a top see through, so underwear colour choices are real. Try watching previous videos of the stage you will be at to get a feeling for how the space is set up.
  • If you have to travel, consider how much effort it is to iron. The effort to iron once you get somewhere, for me, is too much.
  • Think about the spacing and angle between the stage and the first row of chairs. Short dresses will become shorter in particular angles.
  • The weather indoors and outdoors of a venue can be completely different. Add a number of bodies in the track and the rooms can get stuffy. Layers are your friends. I’m best friends with my red cardigan.
  • Some people will judge you for not shaving your legs/armpits, most won’t. This is not because you are a woman in tech public speaking. This is society norms being dicks with people’s heads. Ignorance is bliss. Anyone who questions you on your personal choices of shaving can simply fuck off.
  • Wear footwear that make you happy. What ever outfit you want to wear, you should put it on yourself and have a smile on your face. If it doesn’t find something else. For some people it means wearing heels, others its boots, and others its flip flops.

    For me, my true happy point is barefoot. I’ve twisted my ankle enough times to not give a shit about my feet being exposed. Its the lease likely way that I will twist my ankle on stage
  • Jewlery – If you decide to wear earrings, then be mindful of how much noise they make. If they make any noise, the lapel mic will pick it all up every time you move your head or arms. It is the worse.

    The AV people will probably ask you to take them out if they look even slightly jangly.

    Bypass the pain and pick non-jangly earrings and braclets etc.

    In fact, i would go as far as no braclets for me because well, i’ll end up playing with them and knowing my luck one will just fly off into someone’s face. hehe.
  • Have pockets. Not the shitty pockets that you can’t put anything in. A pocket that actually can carry stuff in.

    Getting your favourite outfit to have proper pockets is worth every penny!

    I have a dress which can hold my mobile phone, packet of tissues, a bottle of water, the lapel battery pack and my clicker in two pockets.

    If you are adding pockets:
    • Be mindful of the material of the clothes vs the amount of weight you can shove in the pockets. There is no point of making big pockets if the material can’t withstand the weight from all the rubbish that we end up filling it with. We don’t want to ruin your clothes.
    • Add zips to close the pockets. That way if you fancy jumping up and down on the stage for what ever reason ( yes I’ve done this ) nothing will fall out of them.
    • Some clothes don’t suit adding pockets too which is annoying and it will end up ruining the shape of the dress on you. I have a skirt this happened to. I am forever sad.
  • Know where the bathroom is. I have a weak bladder. Clearing my bladder before the talk is real. Have underwear that can withstand a leak or two too if you end up laughing along too hard with the audiance. This shit is real for women. There is no shame in it.
  • I can end up drinking some water and pouring water down my top. Not done this on stage yet, but it will happen one day. It happens enough at home. So I avoid tops that will look horrific if slightly wet. This all boils down to admitting how clumsey i am at life and mitigating as many of these so I am comprehensiable on stage.
  • Jeans are great. I’m just too forgetful about packing a belt.
  • Shirts and me are not friends. I wish we were. I always find to have a boob hole and the button sometimes pop. Imagine that on stage? If you don’t have that problem please tell me how you fix it. I wish i could be friends with shirts. Then again, they need ironing and that’s effort I rarely bother with.
  • Bright light and makeup. I am not a makeup person really. I went through a phrase of wearing makeup when i went on stage. I admire anyone who can do makeup and not worry all day long about having it smuge. More recently I’ve settled to barely makeup. This is really just chapstick and face powder.

    The chapstick to make sure my lips don’t stick together and are dry on stage.
    The face powder to mute some of the aweful shine i get from being in front of a bright light. Actors do this all day long, some simple translucent powder to mute the light a little bit on my forehead and that’s it.

The Lapel mic battery pack

The bane of my speaker exsistance. The only thing you really have to consider when picking outfits.

I have walked on stage with a big black jumper dress and a pair of leggings only to meet my joyful friend, the lapel battery pack. This above all else is something to think hard about.

If you go on stage, and there is a lapel mic. This is good. It means that you can keep your hands free and wave them around and use the clicker and gives you freedom of movement. It is your friend.

What isn’t your friend is the battery pack that the lapel mic always has. It usually has some crappy metal clip on the back and that needs to be attached to something.

Things I consider when dealing with where to put said battery pack

  • What ever I put the battery pack onto needs to not fuck my clothes up and stretch in it a wierd way. clipping it onto a flimsey t shirt is going to make it pull, and that isn’t always flattering.
  • Clipping it to your bra at front, top dependent, can mean having a wierd box shaped bungle on your chest. I don’t like it on me, i avoid.
  • Clipping it to your bra at the back means having bendy arms. I do not have bendy arms which means someone is going to help me with this. The likelyhood of there being a person i am comfortable to touch me so personally around ( remember we’re talking about random tech event ) at the exact moment I am getting mic-ed up is low. Do consider if you are willing to let a stranger help you.
  • Belts – Belts are great, but a belt and a battery pack – it depends. a fabric belt that you tie to yourself in a pretty bow might not withstand the weight and pull during the whole talk. A belt you use to keep your jeans up, that has a buckle is more likely. Get a belt hole puncher to punch a hole to make the belt fit better.
  • Pockets. I mentioend it before and i’ll mention it again. I love proper pockets. This my personal go to on all dresses since a belt doesn’t always make sense. And I’ve been known to plan to wear a belt and then forget because im ditsy as shit. Or i forget to pack one which i no better. See previous list for considerations of adding pockets to clothes.
  • Back of the top on the neck. That is great if you have a top that has a hem that can hold it’s shape. I happen to not have that option.

Once you have the battery pack clipped, then it’s a question of how to wire yourself.

  • From where ever, up your back, to the side you need the lapel mic to be on. I usually have a caridigan on top of my dress so i thread it between the cardigan and dress and over my shoulder to the correct side it needs to be on for the stage.

    Why over my shoulder rather than under my armpit? Because I have an amazing habit of catching wires and pulling on them accidently when i’m waving my arms around like a mad lady.
  • Where do you need the lapel mic to be on? The side that is closest to the centre of the stage. Why? Because when you turn your head to look at the screen behind you and keep talking, the mic will be in the right direction and you will keep talking into the mic instead of going quiet.

There’s probably more I’ve forgotten. I’ll update later.

There’s also a bunch of great responses and links from @LindaLawtonDK original tweet.

The reality is that some organiser has asked you to take the stage, whether than is a function room at pub for a local meetup or a big conference stage, the organisers asked you.

Wear what will help you enjoy your time, share your thoughts, at that event.

Thank you to Misty V. Decker‏ @MistyMVD for telling me I could write a master thesis on the subject and for Mother Of Code‏ @motherofcode telling me I should. Hope i did you both proud.

Karaoke Setup

Someone at work wanted to know how the Karaoke was set up at the company retreat so here it is:


Hardware Setup

You can also download the images as a PDF

Software used

We looked at various options and settled on Karafun. It has a offline mode which was reasonably priced and the library was big enough for the team.

Just publishing this now for my colleague but will come back to explain more about the software decisions and what we learnt from it.

I hate finances

I really hate dealing with finances. I’m a shit saver, my brother got that habit. I taught myself the spending habit which is fun, but not useful.

In the past few years Ive had a finance planning sheet. It ultimately is my way to check that my outgoings are not more than the incomings and what the difference is.

Since the turn of this year, I’ve yet to make one and on my holiday to Japan I spent at least a day in despair feeling like I was never going to see black again. It didn’t help that since November I’ve been on a bit of a spending spree and I didn’t keep myself in check.

Last night I ended up staying up till 2am building out a finance planning spreadsheet for myself. I’ve had one for a couple of years but since the new year kind of forgot. This morning I reviewed a plan I had considered making and started putting it into action. By doing this, I know how much crap i’m in and how long it’s going to take for me to get out of it.

I feel better because I know there is a way out.

I have made small but significant mindset changes to how I’m looking at this and I thought maybe by sharing it, it might spark ideas for others.

Current Setup

I wanted to do everything without creating new accounts or moving money around. It’s probably not the cheapest way to do things but I wanted to have consistency in my life.

I have:

  • 3 sources of money
    • HSBC – Income & DDs.
    • Monzo – Personal spending money
    • Savings account with some savings
  • 3 sources of debt
    • Amex – the spending spree card that makes me cry
    • Virgin – 0% interest, with a new kitchen spend on it.
    • HSBC Loan – money I borrowed for the kitchen refurb.

The plan I made today:

Photo by Zell on Unsplash
  • Worked out the fastest way to zero my Amex. It involves using all my savings now and 3 months of aggressive payments to get it to zero. Once its there, I can review whether I want to keep the card around.
  • Took my HSBC, Amex and Virgin cards out of my wallet and hidden them somewhere in the house. I’ve heard people making ice trays around their cards, which is pretty funny and a good idea. You need to wait for the ice to melt before being able to use the card. That isn’t for me anyway. If it being out fo the wallet will do.
  • Worked out how long I have the 0% interest ( 20 months ) and worked out how much I needed to pay to zero that card. Set the monthly payment to said figure.
  • Deleted all my old Monzo pots I was no longer using.
  • Created a Monzo pot called Emergency Fund, set the goal to be 3 months salary and also set it so round up transactions go into this pot too.
  • Used my financial spreadsheet to work out if I could afford to save 3 months salary in a year, and set the schedule payment to start in 3 months when I can do this.
    • By doing this, I’m making my emergency fund part of my expected outgoings I have to account for.
    • I also set the scheduled payments to go out on the 1st of the month.
  • Create a Monzo pot called Car Maintenance. This is because every March my car needs a full service, MOT, road tax and insurance paying out. This is the first year of me owning my own car in a long while and I forgot to save up for it. Not next year!
    • Worked out how much it costs me, added a bit on top and just rounded it up so I got a figure of £1200 a year.
    • Put a fun garage picture on the pot.
    • Scheduled payments of £100 to go into the pot every month.
    • Set a lock time so I can’t access the money till 14th February 2020. This will stop me from just dipping into the savings because I can.
  • In my financial spreadsheet, I added two new rows for the Emergency Fund and the Car Maintenance and set up a standing order from my HSBC incoming account to pay the Monzo account on the first of every month. Now I just won’t see that money.

Finally – and most importantly;

I have added a bunch of calendar reminders of key days.

  • when things should be zeroed
  • how much I’m meant to be paying
  • reminders of how many more months of 0% I have left

It’s not a pretty plan, but somehow I see the light and can see that come 2021, I can be debt free again and have some savings too!

Now the tricky part – sticking to it. 💪🤑

Money is tricky business, at least it is for me. It means no over spending for 2 years and it means working my ass off to never be here again.

I get sucked in to new dresses and earrings all the time, but I’m writing this on here to serve as a reminder, the financial stress is not worth it.

Good luck future Jenny.

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.



How WordPress is dropping PHP End of Life versions

I was writing the Site Health Check notes from the update meeting the group had at WCUS, and thought they might be useful for people outside the WordPress community too.

Some context

At the 2018 State of the Word, it was announced that WordPress was in the process of increasing the minimum supported version of PHP. This is great news as a PHP developer, but a task like this is not a simple feat.

Lots of work has been happening in the background for years. All the work has now allowed the project to be in a state where WordPress can drop PHP versions which already have EOL. The rest of this post will explain more about how the WordPress project is intending to roll this out.

Site Health Check Project review at WCUS 2018

The Site Health Check project is a collaborative multi-team project with a focus on encouraging better site maintenance.

This project benefits not just WordPress users, but also the surrounding PHP ecosystem as a whole. Our hope is that this will prompt a lot of PHP updates across the web.

It started as a project to focus efforts on getting users to update their hosting version of PHP from 5.2 to something where the End of Life has not already passed.

The project was initially called ServeHappy, homage to the BrowseHappy project which was a global tech effort to move away from Internet Explorer 6. The problem with the project name was that, when tested with users who did not know about the ins and outs of the project, the name was confusing and was not clear what the project’s intentions were.

The project is now known as the Site Health Check project. It encourages and hints to users that if they run a website, they should have a routine of checking and updating not just WordPress but underlying technologies that the site is built on. It also builds positive website ownership and habits.

The project is split into what can be considered 3 parts – changes to WordPress core itself, a site health check plugin and the site health check community support.

Upcoming changes to WordPress Core

The core-centric side of the project still reflects the Servehappy origins. This includes:

  • An information page on WordPress.org explaining the importance of updating PHP. The team has been working on improving the language used to benefit non technical people and have clear instructions of what to do if they find out their site is running an old version of PHP.
  • A dashboard notice that will inform users if their site is running on a PHP version that WordPress considers outdated and plans to drop support for in a future update.
    • The version shown in the dashboard is API-driven which means that WordPress leadership has a centralized “knob” to tune the PHP version distribution.
    • The dashboard includes a link to the previously mentioned information page on WordPress.org which has generic information on what the notice means and how to update PHP.

  • There will be an environment variable or a filter which allows hosting companies to modify the link to the “Update PHP” page on their servers so that it goes to something more relevant for their customers.
    • There are some concerns of security problems and abuse over the link redirection.

  • The team has been working on a feature to add white screen protection, which the hosting group felt was helpful and cool. The white screen protection catches any fatal errors that a PHP update might produce. From the front facing side of the website, the site will still be white screened, but with the protection in place, the user can still access the admin panel.

  • There was a discussion whether it would be better for the site to be slightly broken rather than completely broken, but the general consensus was that it is better to white screen because from the Core Team perspective, they cannot be sure of what the PHP error causes, and thus can’t be sure that all the information being shown is meant to be public.

    It is better to white screen the whole website but ensure that access to the admin panel is still accessible. Once logged in, there will be a general notification regarding the WSOD.

PHP minimum required headers


For a while, WordPress plugins have been able to set a minimum PHP required comment as part of the plugin header. To date it has not done anything but set the intention that the plugin author is able to declare what PHP minimum version they are willing to support.

Work is being done so that the Add New Plugin admin screen will show all plugins a user searches for, but will not be able to install any plugins that require a newer version of PHP without updating that first. Another task being worked on is blocking plugin updates if the newer version requires a higher version of PHP, same as it currently works if the update requires a higher version of WordPress.

This gives plugin authors better control of what PHP versions they are willing to support, and will hopefully encourage people to upgrade their version of PHP at the same time.

This change will allow plugin authors the choice to use more modern PHP functionality and syntax without worrying their plugin will break for the end user.


For themes, the Requires PHP header is not implemented yet, as they didn’t have the same readme.txt file up until recently: https://make.wordpress.org/themes/2018/10/25/october-23rd-theme-review-team-meeting-summary/

Now that new themes do have that requirement, there is an expectation that the header will be implemented as well in the foreseeable future. Here’s a ticket for that: https://meta.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/3718

Relevant Trac Tickets

The latter two trac tickets are currently slated for 5.1 as well, planned for February 21: https://make.wordpress.org/core/5-1/

The feature merge deadline is January 10 though, so it needs to be discussed at the next #core-php meeting whether making it into 5.1 is still feasible.

A prerequisite for these changes is the WSOD protection that needs to be completed and committed by the deadline: https://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/44458

Join in

The group has weekly meetings on Mondays 16:00 UTC on in the #core-php channel of WordPress Slack.

GitHub: https://github.com/WordPress/servehappy

Site Health Check Plugin

The site health check plugin is a way for users to be able to see technical details of their website setup without going into the server side of things. It is useful to conducting top level investigation work without accessing the server directly.

The beta version of the plugin takes the best practices from the Hosting Team’s documentation and checks the server against that. This includes: WordPress version number, plugins and themes are up to date, PHP version number, if HTTPS is active across the whole site as well as a number of other things.

When Health Check gives notifications about upgrading things, it hands users off to plain English documentation to walk them through the process. For example: https://wordpress.org/support/update-php/. Notifications for plugins and themes being up to date are based on the version inside the plugin and theme repo. If a theme or plugin is not present in the repo, it will assume it is up to date and will not give an error.

Eventually, a lot of the Site Health Check plugin will be in core.

The Site Health Check Plugin uses a traffic light system to flag up the importance of a suggested change. The definition of critical vs non-critical update notifications is from a security perspective. If it is a security issue, it’s critical.

Early user testing with the community has shown that the plugin suffers from a lack of designer eye. During WCUS, we have had a designer volunteer to review the interface and give feedback.

This should help with the usability of the plugin and balance it between positive reinforcement of things that are set up as guided by best practices whilst not over-burdening people with extra technical information.

There is some useful documentation on how to use the Site Health Check Plugin: https://make.wordpress.org/support/handbook/appendix/troubleshooting-using-the-health-check/

Join in

– Github: https://github.com/wordpress/health-check

– WP.org : wordpress.org/plugins/health-check

Site Health Check Desks & Community Support

In-person support is invaluable. When a user is unsure of what to do, they can find in-person support at their local meetup and WordCamps. To omit any surprises, we can encourage our community to pre-warn and prepare as many people as possible.

The idea of Site Health Check desks has been tested in 3 different WordCamps and 1 meet-up with improvements and suggestions being fed back to the plugin and fliers.

Site Health Checks is an extension of the Happiness Bar, and by asking the simple question “Do you know what version of PHP your website is running?”, people either

  • Know & it is up to date – get a high-five. Thank them for keeping PHP up today and encourage them to keep up the good work. Pre-warn the next EOL of PHP Dates.
  • Know & it is out of date – highlight the EOL date has already passed and recommend they update their PHP version.
  • If they don’t know – check if they know how to check. If they do, suggest that they check and that they want it to be 7.2 or higher. 7.1 EOL is in a year.
  • If they don’t know, and don’t know how to check, invite them to sit down and the volunteers can help them check using the Site Health Check plugin. DO NOT scrape the site. They can end up being blocked off the servers.

Postcards were created with 5 core things to check. As well as printable table toppers. They are used as fliers for people to know where to download the site health check.

Meetup organisers have also shown an interest in running the site health check and promoting it at their meet-ups.

This is where much of the user testing of both the “Update PHP” information page and the Site Health Check plugin is happening.

Plugins and Themes Plans

Plugins and Themes served from WordPress.org can be automatically checked and updated to be compatible with 7.X. This is because there is access to the SVN where these plugins are being pushed from.

Ideally, plugin authors who have a plugin in the plugin repo will update their plugins to be compatible with PHP 7.X. There are already plugins such as the PHP Compatibility Checker which people can use to check how compatible their websites are with a version of PHP.

How are premium plugins and themes going to be handled?

The plugin team at WordPress.org can contact authors, but ultimately it is up to the plugin author to action the suggestions that are made from the WordPress.org team.

If there is no answer, or the author does not wish to fix errors, then this is a dead end.

Target Dates

WordPress 5.1  ->  ServeHappy notice + White Screen of Death protector

WordPress 5.2 ->  Site Health Check plugin

Where hosting companies come into play

We would like hosting companies to go aggressively, pushing their communities forward before WordPress does.

We know that, as a hosting company, many of you will see the same issues come up during a PHP update. It would be useful to the rest of the group if any information of any PHP errors that are being seen repeatedly and information about which plugin or theme is causing it. It will allow the rest of the team to prioritise which plugins and themes need attention to be fixed across the whole community.

It will also help the support team if any solutions are found to be shared, so that they know what to be suggesting in the forums. We may be able to add notices before a PHP update into the health check which highlights problematic plugins.

Hosts with PHP lower than 5.6 may see some initial notifications before that date.

Hosting company teams are most likely to know other people working in the hosting sector. Above all else – get the word out.  Big hosts are represented well here, but as a community we are aware and worried about the smaller, independent hosters. Talk to your hosting friends. Let them know this is coming. Invite the small hosting companies to join the Hosting Team on WordPress.org for up to date information of what is upcoming and will be effecting hosters.

The more we can update in batches the less burden there is across the whole industry.

Where plugin and theme authors come into play

If plugin and theme authors ensure that their plugins have a PHP minimum version set in their required header, then their plugins and themes will be ready once the PHP requirement is being enforced.

Plugin and theme authors should also ensure that their plugins are compatible with PHP 7.X. Tools such as PHP Code Sniffer (PHPCS) or the PHP Compatibility Checker as mentioned above should help.

Where developers come into play

(This section is not in the original notes)

There are many different skill sets amongst developers. Knowledge sharing and supporting each other getting plugins, themes and custom code PHP 7+ compatible is important. There are many resources already out there from when the PHP community was moving to PHP7+ but many of those resources have not been shared with the WordPress community.

Sharing those resources once again would be a great help to the whole community. We can learn from what has come before.

Actions from the meeting

– Ensure there is communication with the hosting team regarding release date plans.

–  #core-php should be cross posting ServeHappy notes to the Hosting P2 as well.

– WordPress.hosting has been taken, unsure by who. It would be handy to have WordPress.hosting symlink to Hosting Team P2 to help getting other hosting companies to join the Hosting Team

– Recommend that Hosting Team check and sync up the Best Practices documentation.

– Can someone from the hosting team please review and ensure that Health Check plugin is checking against everything that exists in the “Hosting Best Practices” doc.

– Recommended to Health Check plugin to check out Lighthouse plugin UI.

– Write up more in-depth info for meetup and WordCamp organisers, have postcard and table toppers online so they can be shared and translated easily.


The effort to raise the minimum PHP version requirement of WordPress is a big cross- team effort. Big thanks to


The year I called it a day on a 12 year relationahip. What ever hopes, dreams and plans I had for 2018, they all came to a pretty conclusive stop as I moved around looking for somewhere to call home and trying to stay emotionally afloat. 

It’s times like that where letting life do its thing rather than trying to be in control of it all has been helpful. Its has meant that many intentions have gone unactioned and for everyone that has affected, I’m truly sorry. 

I took chances in my life I never thought I would and I’m glad I did. I’m really thankful for everyone’s patience, support and space when I needed it the most. 

I stopped talking to many people i consider friends. The lack of willingness on my part of wanting to talk about what happened was not something I wanted to do on repeat and I’m really grateful I have friends who understood all I wanted was a hug and to know I could talk to them when I wanted. I’m really sorry the downside has been that for many of my friends it has meant I have been pretty silent. 

I hope to do better this year. 

I ended the year with a house I’m now calling home, surrounded by a group of friends, playing monopoly, and drinking tea. 

2018, you started with hopes that came crashing down one night. But you taught me that sometimes things come to its natural end. I called it a day on one chapter and it allowed me to open up another.  You taught me dynamics in a relationship can change and from darkness, friendships can bloom.

Thanks for the reminder that I can stand on my own two feet.



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. 

Framing the diversity problem as a inclusivity problem

In the tech industry, we often talk and complain about the lack of diversity in our communities and rightly so. We also understand that we need to improve diversity in our sector. 

Diversity –noun
– the condition or fact of being different or variedvariety
genetic/biological diversity
a wide diversity of opinion/ideas
– social studies Diversity is also the mixture of races and religions that make up a group of people.

Cambridge Dictionary

If we look at what diversity means, I’m not sure we can make a community of people more diverse. If we look at the word inclusive, we find ourselves with a word that is more in line with what we, or at least what I, want and with something actually actionable. 

Inclusive – adjective 
– ​including everything or all types of people : 
The governments want to reach a settlement that is as inclusive as possible.

Cambridge Dictionary

By reframing the problem, we have a chance to find a solution that gives us the outcome we want. By picking a different word to use, we enable ourselves to ask the question – how do we make an inclusive community?

If we were talking about inclusive code then we would know the answer.

Build an accessible community

The reframing allows us to have an actionable thing to do. The great thing is that by having something actionable, we are more likely to see the outcome we want – a more diverse community. 

One example of this is in regards of event tickets. If we say “we have X about of diversity tickets, we are saying we have tickets for people who are different. We remind the minority that they are different. Its not as if minorities need reminding of that fact.

When we choose to say “we have X about of inclusive tickets”, we are from the outset telling the reader that everyone is welcome to attend.

By switching the content to highlight inclusivity, people just might feel like they are welcome to become a part of industry and community. 

It’s going to be ok – thoughts on WordPress 5.0

Morning! 5.0 is set to launch today.

It’s the release of hard work across the community-vocal & non vocal. Thank you for that hard work regardless in what format.

It means we can stop debating when the release is which will at least curb my anxiety.

I hope it means we can move forward and ship other improvements that are not Gutenberg related.

An upside is that it means Gutenberg codebase will be less violatile, which means we know what we are getting.

Another upside is that this is not a security release which means it will not trigger WordPress’s auto update. Which means ( I don’t believe I’m saying this ) you don’t need to update to 5.0 straight away. Do it when you are ready and comfortable.😀

I suspect once the release is out, many people will be blogging and writing tutorials of how to do stuff as we learn together.

Let’s make a conscious effort to make our tutorial and blog code examples show off accessible code. You know we’re going to be copying it. 😜

I haven’t fully kept up to date with the progress of core, because i have faith in the team. They are not concerned so I’m not. The HM team will have 100 paper copies of our Gutenberg white paper at , find a HM team member for a copy.

This WordPress release is not where I would have liked to have seen it or what I would have hopedto have invluded, but my focus has been elsewhere and I wasn’t the release lead.

Once Gutenberg has been shipped and is out of the limelight, we can get back to shipping other things. E.g. the Site Health Check project, which means we can encourage everyone to understand and continually update their version up to 7.1 and above.

Also means all the privacy teams work can go back in and I heard the multisite team have a bunch of improvements too.

I’m really grateful we’ve all been vocal about our concerns and many of us are excited by the new editor but dissatisfied with some of the process around it. Whether that’s the accessibility, HTML markup, the moving target date, the communication, the long form experience etc. People will learn from it. I’ve seen improvements, and there’s room for more improvements.

I’m excited by and other projects people have spun from all this. I think choice is great ( as long as it’s an open source choice ) Our sites and our content is our digital memories and we need to own these things rather than giving ownership to others.Open source allows us to own our own content. And that’s what I care about. The choice of open source CMS is ours and I look forward to a more colourful future of choices!


Useful GitHub Features

Nearly everyone at work uses GitHub so I shared some neat GitHub features I had recently come across. This post is a edited version of that post.

Note that many of these features interlink with each other so if you are going to use any of these features do think carefully which order you do things otherwise you will be going back on yourself to update links etc.

If you have any questions feel free to ask questions here or on Twitter.


I just finished writing this and realise it’s rather long. Sorry!

I hope it’s useful to you. 🙏

Continue reading “Useful GitHub Features”