Speaker Interview: Cody Landefeld

Today we’re talking with Cody Landefeld, Senior web strategist and founder at modeeffect. Modeeffect helps technology companies & non-profits build powerful web solutions on WordPress.

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What should we know about you that you haven’t included in your brief, third-person, professional biography?

I am a husband and father of 3.  I enjoy music, sports, and comics.  I started dabbling in WordPress around 2007 because all other CMS options at the time were awful.  Was a fan of WordPress and was pleasantly surprised to find it was and is suitable for most small business websites.

 

You’re on a desert island and your only hope of survival is launching a WooCommerce store, what’s your goto secret tactic?

Setup Stripe first thing so we can get the money we need to pay the rescue boat to come and get us!

 

Tell us a little more about Modeeffect.

codyL is a WordPress consultancy I started around 2005. In 2013 we re-branded to become Mode Effect. The name choice was nice so I didn’t appear to be such an ego maniac 😉

I moonlighted up until 2010 when I was able to fulfill the dream of focusing on our company full time. It’s been quite a journey. One of the things I am most excited about is leading and nurturing a team who can help our clients grow their business and reach their goals.

 

With so many e-commerce solutions — even within WordPress — why choose WooCommerce?

We’ve used other e-commerce systems such as Magento and even other solutions built on WordPress. We started using WooCommerce in 2013 due to it being the most useful and well built e-commerce system we had used for WordPress.

 

What have you learned about working with non-profits that you wouldn’t have known otherwise or was surprising to you?

How much they value their web presence. Non profits are fantastic organizations and certainly have their shares of challenges but they definitely are organized when it comes to funding a resource that’s important to their core funding and existence.

 


Cody’s talk at WordCamp Los Angeles, Build a WooCommerce store that can rival Amazon, will be in The Dunbar on Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 3:30pm.

WordCamp Los Angeles Overview and Schedule

WordCamp Los Angeles officially begins at 8:45 a.m., but plan to come early to grab swag, make some friends and help us stay on track. With more than 400 attendees, registration can take some time. We will be ready at 7:45a.m. on Saturday and Sunday to welcome you (with coffee) to WordCamp Los Angeles. Our venue remains at Cal State University Los Angeles, in the Golden Eagle Ballroom, located at 5151 State University Dr. in Los Angeles, CA.

Saturday Session Schedule

Once you arrive, you’ll note that we have planned two tracks, Lighthouse and Blue Whale, with classes scheduled on the hour all day on Saturday. Saturday is also the time for our special developer workshop series, known as Jam Sessions. Lunch on both days is scheduled from 12 to 1:30 p.m., giving you plenty of time to socialize! Closing remarks will be given at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and the After Party starts at 7 p.m. at Angel City Brewery, located at 216 Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. View Directions.

Sunday Session Schedule

Sunday’s schedule features two tracks. The Dunbar Track follows the same format as Saturday, with classes scheduled each hour on topics spanning website structure and tools to accessibility and eCommerce. The business track, Club Alabam, will be slightly different. Moderated by Steve Zehngut, this track is geared for those who run WordPress businesses and showcases 30 minute presentations on topics covering automation, scaling, project management and client/team interaction in WordPress companies. Following the tracks, WordCamp will conclude with closing remarks at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Review WordCamp Los Angeles schedule specifics to see the lineup of your favorite speakers.

Sarah Wefald Solves Problems and Likes to Knit

Start your week with Sarah Wefald in today’s speaker interview.

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Sarah Wefald came to Zeek the long way. She started out as a project manager at a major record label – the sort of job she had wanted since she had first thought it would be cool to work with musicians, a decision made back when she was president of her high school drama club. However, that dream was soon met with reality in the music industry: half the company worldwide was laid off after the label was purchased and privatized. Determined that her career would not be over at 23, she went back to school while working temp jobs to learn web development and design.

After finishing the program, Sarah started transitioning from her marketing career to more technical work within the music industry, handling social media and webmaster duties for bands. Finding Steve Zehngut’s WordPress meetup group in Orange County allowed her to take her knowledge of PHP and apply it to WordPress web development. As a result, she has created and launched dozens of websites for brands and small businesses on her own, and runs the OC WordPress Web Designer’s meetup at Zeek’s offices on the first Monday of each month. She has presented at WordCamp Los Angeles (2013 and 2014) and WordCamp Orange County (2014), and served on the organizing committee for WordCamp Orange County in 2015 and 2016. She’s very happy that Zeek has allowed her to unite her original love of project management with her enthusiasm for WordPress.

 

 
What should we know about you that you haven’t included in your brief, third-person, professional biography?

That pretty much covers it, I think. I like my job and music and the usual stuff like hanging out with friends, and also fun. I guess you could include that I like to knit and crochet? Not terribly rock and roll, but it’s relaxing.

 

What is the most significant way your career in the music industry (which we are all totes jelly of, btw) prepared you for what you’re doing today?

It taught me how to explain technical things to non-technical people – a typical musician may have trouble figuring out Twitter, let alone WordPress. Breaking it all down into steps that actually have bearing in their daily life of keeping their fans engaged and informed was vital. I also learned how to deal with a lot of big personalities, both in business and in creative.

 

What was your favorite production from your high school drama club days?

Probably Jane Eyre. It was my first lead role, so of course I loved it, but it was a tough one. Jane had me onstage for 95% of the two-hour showtime, so for the 8 or so weeks of the production, I didn’t do anything but rehearse after school while everyone else who wasn’t in the scene we were running got to socialize. The more informal shows with our improv troupe were more loose and fun.

 

We’ve all had impossible clients, and stereotypes say musicians/bands are the worst. How do you approach difficult requests from your clients, like non-specific feature requests, plugins that don’t exist, features that are unnecessarily complex, and so on?

Believe it or not, musicians are among the easiest, because they just want you to handle it. They would rather focus on their craft, so you just have to get their (or, more likely, their manager’s) sign-off on the site structure and look and feel matching their album artwork, then go build however you need. The only problem is when you get someone that changes their mind a lot, but even then, it’s not that bad. They get it when you say “I can’t do this within the budget we have, so let’s save this feature for right now and come back to it.”

When we get non-specific or otherwise confusing requests from clients now, I try to back them away from the technological request and into the problem they’re trying to solve. I once spoke to someone who asked me for what would have been a massive multiple-week-long database restructuring, but when we talked about the problem they needed solved instead, it turns out all they needed was to have one default search radius adjusted. The job was done in less than an hour.

 

What’s the most rewarding part about running the OC WordPress meetup?

Giving back is the most rewarding part. I had some formal design and development training, but for the most part, I’m self-taught. I started going to Steve Zehngut’s general WordPress meetup 5 years ago to learn how to apply what I knew about PHP to this CMS I’d heard so much about. Not long after, I started going to OCWP dev night as well, even though I didn’t understand anything I heard. I just kept coming back and taking notes, and eventually I started making sites: first a stock theme, then a child theme, then a completely custom theme. I asked a lot of questions and got a lot of amazing answers. People were incredibly generous with their time and knowledge, and I tried to keep myself worthy of it by continually getting better at what I was doing, and then doing more of it. Being a meetup host myself is the perfect way to help ensure other people are able to learn the way I was.


Catch Sarah’s presentation, “Yes, and…”: Using improv comedy for project management success, at WordCamp Los Angeles 2016 in Club Alabam at 10:20 AM on Sunday, September 11, 2016 and again at 11:00 AM during the Morning Business Panel (Moderated by Steve Zehngut).

Making the Most Of WordCamp Los Angeles

It doesn’t matter whether you journey to WordCamp Los Angeles as an organizer, volunteer, attendee, speaker, or sponsor, you are sure to have some questions. You may be curious about the speaker schedule or after party location. Perhaps you are wondering if you’ll find a topic that matches your skill level or maybe you aren’t quite sure what to bring. Making the most of WordCamp Los Angeles requires only two components: a ticket and the desire to WordPress.

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What is WordCamp and What Should I Expect from WordCamp Los Angeles?

WordCamps are volunteer-run tech conferences built around the open source WordPress platform. These “camps” are created so you can dive into the world of WordPress, discussing and learning in a community. WordCamp Los Angeles allows designers, developers, business owners, artists, writers, SEO and IT consultants and those new to WordPress to gather and brainstorm how they can use WordPress more effectively. This event is created to provide you with a unique WordPress opportunity in Los Angeles. It’s your job to create an unforgettable experience!

How Can I Prepare? What Should I Bring?

  • Dress for Comfort – Keep in mind that WordCamp Los Angeles is a professional networking event. Plan on polished, business casual and you’ll fit right in. If you have questions on your attire, reference the WordCamp Code of Conduct to refrain from causing offense. 
  • Bring a Buddy – Nervous about WordCamp? Arrange to meet a friend there or sign up with a friend. Watch the #WCLAX hashtag and reach out to those who post. Look for them when you arrive and grow your new connection in person. Too time consuming? Force yourself to meet 10 new people as soon as you arrive. In no time you’ll have more new friends than you can track!
  • Bring a Small Bag or Backpack – You’ll find a ton of swag at these events, plus you’ll need a place to put your water bottle, wallet, business cards, phone (for contact exchange and selfies), preferred tech device (tablets are less bulky) and backup power source.
  • Review the Attendee List – Read about the people who will be there. You may discover you use their products, read their blog, or have something else, such as a love for schnauzers in common. Check the list
  • Review the Schedule – Make note of your “must” and “maybe” sessions. Build time for “hallway track” into your schedule as this is an unofficial opportunity to collaborate on ideas with other attendees while sessions are in full swing. 
  • Use Social Media – Follow the WordCamp Twitter hashtag #WCLAX to see last minute changes, read about speakers and retweet what others post. Follow speakers so you can tag them as you mention their talks and share gratitude for their willingness to speak along with funny and helpful quotes. 
  • Plan on the After Party – WordCamp LAX just isn’t the same without it. Trust me, it’s a time investment you’ll want to make. You’ll find new friends and go deep in conversation (and possibly song) in a way that can’t happen between traditional sessions. It’s a time to let your hair down and enjoy being part of the WordPress community. Plus, the photo booth memories will remind you of the fun you had forever.
  • Come with Issues and Questions. Every WordCamp has a group of dedicated “expert” volunteers slated to help answer your needs. At WCLAX we call it the Happiness Bar and we guarantee to make you smile, even if we can’t find you a quick fix.

What’s It Really Like? How Can I Make the Most of It?

  • Be Early – Show your session speaker that you are interested by getting to class before it starts and sitting close to the front. Smile and help the speaker to feel at ease, knowing they can count on a friendly face in the crowd.
  • Open Yourself to Learning – Discover something new or build on what you already know. Take notes. Embrace track cross-over; being a dev doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy and learn from a session on business management or copywriting. The reverse is true, as well.
  • Note Taking vs. Scrambling to Keep Up – Take sparse memory-jarring notes and record your aha moments, the speaker’s contact info and any shared urls that seem interesting to you. Type up a few quotes if you’ll be writing a recap post. The key here is to capture the essence of the session and learn how you can enhance your current process.
  • Speak Loudly – Most speakers have time for questions, use this chance to go deeper. Taking notes makes it easier to ask a related question and stand out from the crowd.
  • Burst Bubbles – Reach out to those around you. You already know the tech crowd is filled with introverts (you may even be one). If you’re willing to take a chance and introduce yourself to your seatmates, you will find that you have a lot in common with most people in the room.
  • Connect Easily – This is your chance! If you have been wanting to meet a speaker, vendor, or another audience member, WordCamp Los Angeles is an ideal place to make small chat or seek clarification. Speakers often provide time for one-on-one conversation after their talks. Get in line or send a tweet letting the person know you’d like a few minutes of their time and then follow up. Bring your business cards, even if you think you won’t use them. You don’t want to be the one who is empty handed if the time to share arrives.
  • Discover New Tools – WordCamp talks are chock full of free recommended WordPress resources and  plugins. Chances are that anything mentioned has been well-vetted by those in attendance, so make a note to try it out and see if it’s a good fit for you.

I Love WordCamp Los Angeles – How Can I Share My Experience?

  • Share photos of you and your day, from selfies to swag! Be sure to tag the people and companies represented and share how you feel. Follow up with a blog post or capture moments of your day with a live or follow up video.
  • Express gratitude! People love to be thanked in social media and through the mail. Do what works for you, but remember that WordCamp Los Angeles has many sponsors, contributors, organizers and volunteers dedicated efforts on your behalf. Make their day by showing your appreciation. 
  • Keep track of who you met and solidify the interaction in social media or with a phone call or email referencing how you met in the weeks to follow WordCamp. Things and people transition pretty fast in Los Angeles and if too much time passes, you may be forgotten.
  • Make sure you meet the organizers while at WordCamp Los Angeles so you can thank them in the months that follow WordCamp Los Angeles. These people gave of their time, talents and energy to create an unforgettable weekend for you. Help them understand how they have made a difference in your life and share the value of the weekend with others who may benefit in years to follow. 

WordCamp Los Angeles - Making the Most of it!

Have more suggestions on making the most of your WordCamp Los Angeles experience? Comment below with tips and tricks you recommend so we can see you putting them into play on September 10-11, 2016.

Adam Bell

Get to know Adam Bell in today’s speaker interview.

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For the past two decades, Adam has run an independent web design / development and branding studio in the San Fernando Valley called dataTV (http://datatv.com/). Adam has worked with a wide variety of clients in the Entertainment, Hospitality and E-Commerce space including Ovation TV, Estrella TV, Ford Motor Company and Tender Greens. Adam has worked with WordPress since 2005 when he saw the potential for it to become more than just blogging software and a true Content Management System. In addition to running his own shop, Adam also manages the Los Angeles Adobe User Group (http://laadug.org/), which runs free monthly meetings across Southern California for people in the Creative Tech scene. This includes WordPress topics, on occasion.


What should we know about you that you haven’t included in your brief, third-person, professional biography?

Probably that I’m the only presenter ever in the history of WordCamp LA who ever migrated to Los Angeles from a natural disaster. In my case, Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In fact, the day I present, September 11, just so happens to be the 11th Anniversary of when I signed my first lease to officially live in LA-the city from migrating from LA-the state. Somehow I’m still here!

 

Your firm, dataTV, has been around for a little while, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry in the last 20 years?

Mobile. Limited CMS’ we’re already starting to occur 20 years ago, but who was thinking about designing for a phone? Almost nobody.

 

What did dataTV do in the face of this change that younger firms can learn from?

Always learn to adapt and stay ahead of the curve as much as you can. I started designing for mobile in 2003. On a Palm Treo. And I was doing a ton of Flash at the time. Sure I missed it, but other things took their place, so I simply worked at excelling at those.

 

What’s your ideal Tender Greens meal look like and why?

Hmmmm…. the pics of their ribs looked really good on Instagram lately but honestly, anything at TG works with a great local craft beer on one of their taps. Well, unless it’s a super hoppy IPA. Not a fan of those.

 

What’s one or two things about the development of the CulturePop that made it worthy of a WordCamp presentation?

The fact I was able to add features into the site without adding free or cheap plugins (not that there weren’t plugins) and having a client willing to allow me and my developers to incorporate custom code to make sure things work exactly the way they want. Also, the ability to try out newer ideas and concepts I hadn’t done on a WP site until that point.

 


Catch Adam’s presentation Anatomy of a Website: CulturePop at WordCamp Los Angeles at 10am in The Dunbar on Sunday, September 11, 2016.

Kitty Lusby on Tacos, Tacky Mugs, and Blogging

Get to know Kitty Lusby, a full-time professional blogger, in today’s speaker interview.

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Kitty moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in order to have 24-hour access to tacos. An entrepreneur since her teen years, Kitty’s blogging career finally launched in 2014 with a series of freelance gigs that eventually grew into a successful business. She began to make a name for herself as she built her clients’ brands along with their blogs, and that skill eventually led to a massive rebranding of her personal blog, which is now a resource for bloggers and business owners alike. Among her other attributes, she’s smart, funny, good looking, and single. She discusses all of this and more at KittyLusby.com.

 


What should we know about you that you haven’t included in your brief, third-person, professional biography?

My brief, third-person, professional biography is obviously near perfect, but I confess that I am a more complex and interesting person than one paragraph can manage to convey. What you should know is that I’ve written copy and blog posts for more than 10 separate industries, and in addition to being published on various blogs around the net, my work has appeared in magazines, short story compilations, and even form letters for collections agencies. Also, I have a pet rabbit named Buford, and I enjoy collecting tacky coffee mugs.

Kitty's tacky pirate mug

Kitty’s tacky pirate mug

 

You undoubtedly have had an innumerable amount of incredible tacos, but what is that one astounding taco you’re still chasing to this day?

The holy grail of tacos are taco cart tacos. You know, the kind where someone’s Mexican grandma makes a huge pot of tamales and the meat options include beef cheeks and tongues. One of my fondest taco memories, though, was a filet mignon taco with shiitake mushrooms at Tommy Bahamas. It was definitely NOT Mexican, but it was still a transcendent taco experience. They had it as a special once and I haven’t seen it on the menu since. Keep hope alive. They’ll eventually run that special again…right?

 

What unique blogging habits, if any, have you developed that most bloggers wouldn’t consider?

I refuse to wear pants while I work. Pants restrict the creative process. My blogging process involves planning things on paper, dancing around my living room, and occasionally taking naps. Lots of my blog post ideas come from online forums, too – if I see a lot of people asking the same question, or if I see a lot of people giving questionable answers to a certain question, I blog about it.

 

What are the benefits of becoming a “Kitty Elite” member?

I guess you’ll have to become Elite and find out.

 

What’s one small step can bloggers take today to start them on a journey towards owning and operating a profitable blog?

The obvious step is to start blogging. If someone is really serious about blogging as a career, though, the step they should take right now is to start writing a business plan. It’s important to figure out how the money is going to be generated and do the appropriate research and planning.

 

Can you recommend any resources to help people accomplish this research and planning?

Blog monetization is always a hot topic, but there’s a ton of misinformation and misconceptions around good monetization habits. In a nutshell, most people who teach monetization or sell online training courses focus mainly on ways you can “rent” your audience’s attention to someone else’s business for a minuscule percentage of revenue. Affiliate marketing, adsense, and sponsored posts might seem like the easiest way to make money, but they’re neither easy nor smart if you want to build a career. Good monetization strategy comes from marketing your own widget to your own audience. Here’s a blog post that goes deeper into this: http://kittylusby.com/blog-monetization/

I’ll have a blogger-specific business plan resource available on my website in the next 30 days, but for now, I recommend that new blog entrepreneurs take a look at the Small Business Association’s guide to business plans. It’s fairly comprehensive, and startlingly impressive for a government resource: https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/write-your-business-plan


Head over to the Blue Whale at 1oam on Saturday, September 10 at WordCamp Los Angeles to catch Kitty’s presentation Going Pro – How To Make Your Blog Pay Your Bills.

Meet Speaker Jerret Farmer & Dummy Mike Puppet

Get to know Jerret Farmer, an individual with an eclectic employment history and a passion for WordPress.

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Jerret has been employed as a Producer, Project Manager, Software Architect, Programmer, 2D/3D Production Artist, Art Director, and Lead Technical Artist. He’s worked for Image Comics: Top Cow, Activision, and FOX studios. He has worked on licensed properties for Marvel, Universal, and Warner Brothers studios.

Currently, Jerret works as the Manager of Digital Innovations at CauseForce, overseeing the creation and maintenance of their main websites and multiple WordPress blogs.


I prefaced our interview by letting Jerrett know of my relative ignorance to the practice and art of ventriloquism.

Well, the good news is that we have that in common. Part of what makes the bit work is that I’m not a ventriloquist. I know how that sounds. You are correct in stating that these presentations tend to be on the dry side and I wanted to do something that really engaged the audience right up front and get them involved with the whole of the presentation.

My first swing at the bat was at WP OC and that worked really well. I only used the puppet at the very first and once I warmed up the audience I got into putting up a site. This time I’ve shaken off a bit of the fear and doubt of trying it and will do a lot more with the act.

Speaking without moving your lips and switching voices on the fly takes a lot of practice and relaxation. I don’t have a lot of time and public speaking is very scary so I think most of the humor comes from how bad I am at it.

 

 

What should we know about you that you haven’t included in your brief, third-person, professional biography?

I am in the witness protection program.

 

Introduce us to your dummy. Name, gender, hobbies, anything we should know that isn’t obvious?

Mike Puppet. He really, really likes Elvis. But that will probably be obvious.

Mike Puppet

Mike Puppet

 

How did you get started and involved with ventriloquism?

Once I have started, I’ll let you know.

 

What made you decide to put together a WordPress related presentation utilizing a dummy?

It was a suggestion from a co-worker. I really wasn’t sure if he was joking, but I thought it was a great way to engage an audience. That and Mr. Puppet insisted.

 

In a few words, and without giving away the big secret of your presentation, what’s one mistake you and Mike Puppet can help WordPress newcomers avoid?

Always put on security and backup software first. Not even a dummy runs a site without protection.

 

What security and backup software, if any, would you recommend beginners install before getting started?

I always install iThemes Security Pro and their backup software Backup Buddy. Those are the two first products I install.


Jerret Farmer and Mike Puppet will be at WordCamp Los Angeles in the WordPress by a Dummy.

Speaker Jacob Arriola on Flexbox and Changing Careers

In today’s speaker interview we talk to Jacob Arriola, a front-end developer from Los Angeles who spends most of his time working with Sass, JavaScript and building custom WordPress themes.

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Jacob works with Zeek Interactive and is always trying to learn new languages and frameworks to deliver rich and engaging UI experiences.


What should we know about you that you haven’t included in your brief, third-person, professional biography?

I discovered tech/programming/dev work while in business school. I originally wanted to get into Corporate Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions or Private Equity; however, I found a passion for web dev and made a big change after graduate school, despite getting an MBA.

I’m a late bloomer into tech. Didn’t start until I was ~ 35.

 

 

What’s the language or framework you’re currently most excited about and why?

I’ve been learning EmberJS over the past 6 months. It excites me because of empowering me to build very rich UIs that aren’t server dependent (ie click on something then wait for the server to get back to you via a page refresh). And because Zeek builds a lot of APIs with WordPress for native iOS apps, I’ve been testing on building web apps that are stand alone JS applications that use WordPress as its API/data store. So in essence, we could have WordPress provide data for both a native iOS app and a web application powered by EmberJS.

What was your flexbox “aha” moment?

Vertical/horizontal centering, for sure. I would always find some hacky way to vertically center items and it never felt quite right, especially with fluid layouts and things moving all over the place.

Are there any scenarios that come to mind when flexbox would not be an appropriate solution?

Not really! The flexbox module provides developers with a toolset, so it’s up to the developer and project to determine fits. Despite that, use-cases are endless!

What’s one flexbox gotcha that flexbox beginners should avoid?

Browser support, for sure – especially dealing with IE 10 and 11. Most of the gotchas happen there. Phillip Walton has put together a great repo on issues and workarounds: https://github.com/philipwalton/flexbugs


Jacob will be speaking at length about Flexbox at WordCamp Los Angeles in the Blue Whale on Saturday, September 10 at 3:30pm

Speaker Interview: Sallie Goetsch (rhymes with “sketch”)

Get to know Sallie Goetsch (rhymes with “sketch”) in today’s speaker interview.

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Sallie first got online in 1985, via the mainframe at Brown University. She founded an online journal in 1993 and built her first HTML website in 1994. Since discovering WordPress in 2005, she hasn’t looked back. Sallie became the organizer of the East Bay WordPress Meetup in Oakland, California, in 2009.

Sallie has produced WordPress videos for Peachpit Press, taught introductory WordPress classes for Mediabistro, and acted as Technical Reviewer for O’Reilly’s WordPress: The Missing Manual. She runs her WP Fangirl consulting and development business from her home in Oakley, which she shares with her husband and two cats.


What should we know about you that you haven’t included in your brief, third-person, professional biography?

Let’s see. I don’t think the bio mentions that the reason I first started publishing online was that I was a classicist specializing in Greek and Roman theater in modern performance. I learned Greek before I learned HTML, and I keep telling myself that if I could learn Greek, I can learn JavaScript. It’s not that human languages and computer languages are similar; the point is that I’ve mastered difficult things before. The electronic journal that I started in the ’90s is still around over at http://www.didaskalia.net, though I haven’t been involved with it for many years. I think having a humanities background helps me relate to clients. Also, I think building a website is probably more like producing a play than it is like creating a brochure.

 

We’re very obviously comparing apples to oranges here, or maybe apples to shoes, but now that you’ve studied both, do you consider learning Greek or PHP more difficult?

Human languages are much more complex than computer languages. In PHP there are three ways to write a conditional, and all of them are a combination of indicative and imperative. In classical Greek there are three present, three past, and three future conditional forms, in the indicative, subjunctive, and optative. Not to mention the fact that with Greek you start as if you were in first grade again, just learning the letters of the alphabet.

But as a counter to that, there’s the fact that you can speak a foreign language badly and be understood. Human languages have redundancy built into them and they also have humans to interpret them. If you use the wrong punctuation in an English sentence, pedants like me will be annoyed, but we’ll know what you meant. If you use the wrong punctuation in PHP, you get a fatal error. The computer doesn’t know what you mean unless you get it exactly right.

 

I absolutely love the idea of considering a website more akin to a play than to a brochure — code is poetry after all. Could you expand on this idea a bit?

Live theater involves complex interactions between the actors, who all have to work together in order for it to work. WordPress websites are the same: you have themes and plugins that have to work properly with WordPress core and each other in order to bring the site together as a whole. And plays are responsive: you have to adapt your production to the space that you’re working in. And neither would be complete without the audience.

 

Tell us about your cats: What are your their names, breeds, and personalities?

Their names are Bece and Kiki. They’re lynx points–what you get if you cross a tabby cat with a Siamese. Bece is president of Attention Seekers Anonymous, and you’ll find her stealing the show on WP-Tonic Live on Saturday mornings. I call Kiki “Velcro Kitty” because she climbs onto my shoulders and sticks there even if I get up and walk around. They were originally my mother’s cats, but she married a man with a spaniel that thought it was a pit bull, so my husband and I had to fly out to Cleveland and bring them back with us. Here’s a photo of the two as kittens, when they still lived with my mother, and one taken more recently.

Bece and Kiki

Bece and Kiki

 

What is WP Fangirl?

It’s actually the second name I chose for my WordPress business. The first one had “WordPress” in it, and Jen Mylo politely informed me that was a trademark violation, which I should have known. I am a huge fan of WordPress, so I ended up with WP Fangirl. I’m still trying to think of what the heck to do for a logo, though.

 

Okay, but aside from the name, what is the business of WP Fangirl?

I build WordPress websites for businesses and non-profits, with a focus on helping them achieve their goals. Most of my work is custom theme development and creating functionality to support content strategy.

 

What’s the strangest problem you’ve ever considered WordPress for or actually used WordPress to solve?

That’s a tough one. Most of the projects I’ve done were pretty well-suited to WordPress; I’m not likely to take a job on if it’s not within my area of expertise. The strangest thing I’ve seen recently is an HTML site that used to be a WordPress blog. The client’s IT staff actually created a system where content is written in Markdown and exported to HTML, and each of the HTML files is an index.html inside a series of folders that mimic the permalink structure from the previous WordPress install. It’s now my job to turn it back into WordPress, and the import hasn’t been a particularly smooth process.

 

When presented with a new project, is there any particular red flag or quality of the project that immediately makes you think “NOT WordPress!”?

It’s rare that it’s an immediate response, unless the prospect tells me they have a budget of $200. It’s more a matter of finding out what they really need and what they’re trying to accomplish, as well as what they’re willing to invest in a website in terms of time and effort. Some people don’t need or want everything WordPress has to offer. You can build a site that’s a single landing page with WordPress, but should you?


Get out to WordCamp Los Angeles 2016 and catch Sallie’s presentation, Is WordPress the Best Tool for This Job?, on Saturday, Septermber 10, at 1:30pm in the Blue Whale.

Speaker Interview: Kari Leigh Marucchi

Get to know Kari Leigh Marucchi in today’s speaker interview.

KariLeighMarucchi-wclax16

Kari, previously a co-founder and WordPress project manager at VeloMedia/Crowd Favorite, Kari Leigh’s been WordPress’g since 2009, and WordCamp’g since 2012. Since early 2015 she’s been contributing to the WordPress community by comprehensively photographing the WordCamp experience and the faces of WordPress at many handfuls of Camps. She teams with other photographers to collect still photography from Camps around the world, and around this effort has developed the WP Photo Project. Her project seeks ultimately to build the sibling to wordpress.tv, at wordpress.photo — a central archive of deeply-searchable WordCamp history still photography, making it available to serve those in the community and to commemorate and document the WordCamp culture they’ve inspired over the last decade-plus.


What should we know about you that you haven’t included in your brief, third-person, professional biography?

Los Angeles is my original home and I’m honored to have spoken at a Camp first in 2012 at WCLAX, and (for the first time having spoken at a Camp since then) to be speaking at WordCamp Los Angeles 2016.

 

I want to know more about contemporary photography but I don’t know where to get started. What one photographer should I be aware of and looking into that I don’t even know exists?

I believe one’s taste and individual talent is extremely subjective and I’d hesitate to make a blanket recommendation on specific photographer. Forgive me for turning the question on its head. If I’m asked for advice on developing as a photographer, I say the following.

Start with what you might think is your focus talent. I had thought for a long time that I might have a talent for event photography before I decided to do it full-time. Long ago I had fallen into it accidentally when I lived in Italy for a year. Still unable to speak Italian comfortably I tended to bring my camera to events and parties and hide behind it. I found that my event portraits and captured candid moments received above-the-average good feedback and many ended up using my work for profile avatars. So when I thought this might be what I should do it professionally and I saw that my technical skills weren’t supporting me in being able to capture what I see in my mind, I set about creating my own internship program. I had heard on a professional photographer’s podcast the advice to assign one’s self fifty assignments for a year, and I set about doing it.

Averaging once a week, I shot a different subject (or a subject with a different purpose or character) in a different style. This forced me, whether I’d found an example to mimic or I’d intended to match a vision I had in my mind, to acquire the equipment needed to produce the image, to learn the equipment, to learn the needed shooting technology, to practice working with people and light, and to learn the post-processing techniques required to produce the image I’d intended. This meant getting more deeply knowledgable about my machine and equipment, as well as the software I use. And then I got involved in shooting WordCamps and have shot eighteen at the time of this exchange.

I treat every event I shoot as an opportunity to practice and achieve a new level of capability. If you look at my portfolios of Camps, each one has a different general look to it. This is largely due to the location and the weather at the time, and those difference make every event a new challenge. The same settings don’t work for every Camp, nor for every room, nor for any one room as the light changes throughout the day if there are windows, or there are adjustments to the lights in the room throughout the day — which definitely happens. All of this forces me to understand better the science involved and to better the un-thinking use of my machine.

So I can’t recommend more throwing oneself into the deep end of a forgiving pool, a lot of them actually, with self-assignments and volunteer work. Shoot. Keep shooting. Get better. And find and know what the through-line theme of the spirit of your work is. It started with what I want to see in event photography, so start with what you want to see in your chosen genre. I want to see people happy, confident, sharing, giving, and enjoying each other’s company — so that’s what I attract myself to, and that’s what I make sure I capture and publish.

 

You mention camp portfolios, where can we find those on the internet?

Since the project is about the portfolios that are eligible to have other photographers’ work in them and those are the Flickrs I build for each Camp I do, here’s WCLAX’s https://www.flickr.com/photos/wordcamplosangeles/albums.
And one more for fun, that also includes a few other photographers https://www.flickr.com/photos/wordcampminneapolis/albums.

 

What is the WP Photo Project?

The WP Photo Project is an investment in the vitality and bonding of the WordPress community with the production and publishing of still photography by many photographers at WordCamps worldwide. It seeks to honor the legacy of the community culture that’s has developed over the years, while giving back to those who contribute to the WordPress Project and supporting those who are starting to and continue to do business powered by WordPress.

In addition to the collection of photography, the project involves the promotion of the project itself, the development of best practices, and the build of a wordpress.photo proof-of-concept prototype. Currently in production, wp.photos will feature a highly-searchable archival repository of shareable, downloadable WordCamp photography that operates on the open source principle and the Creative Commons license, featuring Camp photos from all that wish to contribute in the spirit of the community.

 

Do you have any particularly memorable WordCamp photos or photo experiences?

I have to laugh because it’s of course my mission in every moment that I carry my camera at a Camp to create memorable photographs. I’d assert that if any one photo someone captures at a Camp is not of a memorable moment or a good still life of those things that make the Camp memorable, it should be discarded. But yeah, definitely some rise to the top in my mind. I see memorable moments happening all around me at Camps, which is why I’ve fallen head-over-heels for the experience and have been attempting to make shooting Camps a predominant part of my life. But I never am able to capture all that I see. Is my equipment ready for that moment with right lens and and set for the available light? Is my machine going to be as fast as my finger and my intention needs it to be?

At WordCamp U.S. I headed to the speaker/sponsor dinner rather exhausted from travel arrangement nightmares, and my head wasn’t where I needed it to be to manage the low-light situation I found myself in. I absolutely hate flash photography (at events) with a passion so I knew I wouldn’t get very many decent shots and for the most part just relaxed and enjoyed. But I kept my machine in my hand and I thought, I might get lucky, I might not. Right in front of me some new people arrived and friends were greeting each other. I love capturing hugs and the affection of friends, so I raised my camera and let my fingers set it as quickly as they could, knowing that I’d likely miss the shot. But boom. They weren’t facing me, these two very different heads that had come together in a darling side hug. If you know either of these two ladies, you’d have known exactly who they are even from behind, but it didn’t matter because it could be anybody. The shot said everything — the WordPress community is very diverse, and very friendly, and an incubator of friendships — and I got it.

 

 

Your contributions to WordPress appear to be primarily non-code related. What have you learned that could help others get started with their own non-programmatic contributions?

The most effective ways to start contributing to the WordPress community without contributing code is to volunteer at a WordCamp, and at local WordPress Meetups. It’s amazing and feels great how much I’ve been able to help just showing up to a Meetup and sitting with someone new to WordPress to talk them through their finding their way initially. At Camps, and especially Contributor Days, there are always talks and guidance about the diverse kinds of support needed by the WordPress Project and in the community. As a matter of fact, people who know no code at all can help by transcribing WordCamp talk video for wordpress.tv, and that kind of help can go a very long way.

 

Please tell us about your Coffee and Glass campaign

The Coffee & Glass fundraising campaign is simply a thank-you fund. I can’t count how many times at a Camp I’ve been asked by someone if they can pay me for my photographs of them. My shots taken at Camps are gifts back to the community, to all who attend and work at them that I’m able to capture well, so I say no thank you. But, if it’s clear they’d like to say thank you monetarily and offer a show of support for what I’m doing, I might say that yes, there is a way to buy me a cup of coffee or a drink or a lens (glass), or whatever feels good. No quid pro quo, but gosh it feels good when I get a notice of a new donation. And it really really helps, both functionally and spiritually.


Check out Kari’s talk at WordCamp Los Angeles 2016 where she’ll be presenting Still Photography & WordCamp Culture: Participating, Recording, Contributing.