WordCamp Grand Rapids

2012. The year in which our little WordPress group brought WordCamp to Grand Rapids. And it rocked. Due in large part to the energies of Brian Richards, a few co-coordinators, and a bunch of volunteers – WordCamp Grand Rapids was born. It a pretty big inaugural event.

Day 1 went really well, as speakers gave talks in 4 tracks (User, Community, Themer, and Dev). Speakers traveled to Grand Rapids from all over the country, and over 130 tickets sold by the time the event started.

Day 2 was really cool though I missed the morning session. Mark Jaquith and John James Jacoby led a really cool session on contributing to the WordPress core, and several patches were submitted! I also helped three different WordPress users learn about the platform during the “WordPress Study Hall,” and found out makes them tick.

The planning…

A strong subset of the WPGR monthly meetup got together to make a plan of attach for Saturday and Sunday. A lot of time went in, and it showed in how smoothly the event ran. I am also thankful to my employer, Steelcase, who supported the WordPress community by sponsoring the event.

The WordCamp Volunteer Crew
The WordCamp Volunteer Crew

And so it begins…

Grand Valley was a great venue, perfect for the number of people we had involved.

Welcome to WordCamp Grand Rapids, Hosted at GVSU
WordCamp Grand Rapids, Hosted at GVSU

The speakers…

What a lineup! Mark Jaquith, John James Jacoby, Brad Parbs, Benjamin Lotter, Kimanzi Constable, David Scott Tufts, Paul Kortman, and so on. I hopped from session to session capturing photos and tweeting on behalf of @WCGrandRapids, so I had the benefit of catching a lot of topics and yet I was unable to sit through any one talk. I look forward to catching up on the talks as they get posted to WordPress.tv.

Reid Peifer, of Modern Tribe, talks design patterns
Reid Peifer, of Modern Tribe, talks design patterns

The talk of the town…

Everyone really seemed to enjoy the event and the out-of-towners raved about Grand Rapids.

All the slides and speakers were covered in a more thorough recap over on WPCandy, so I won’t dive too deep. It always feels good to be a part of something new and truly helpful to a lot of people. It’s officially time to take down my “attending” badge, so I’ll immortalize it below. 🙂

I'm attending WordCamp Grand Rapids 2012!
**I attended!

Until WordCamp Grand Rapids 2013 then…

Help send us to Bulgaria!

To wheria, you ask? Nestled right there between Greece, Serbia, and Romania, of course! My wife and I are on the music team at our church, and we were asked to travel the Central and Eastern Europe Missions Enrichment Conference in September. It is an incredible opportunity to encourage and minister to missionaries who are working hard in Europe to spread the good news that Jesus offers. We will be leading music and doing our best to serve these who have dedicated their lives to serving overseas.

I’ll get to the point – we need your help, in 2 ways. We need prayer and we need $2000 dollars. Well, more like $1441 now. Small potatoes for a big God, right?

Find more details and give if you can at TheRumleyFamily.com. Thank you!

Bulgaria or Bust - Please Help!

Sprout Social, First Impressions

SproutSocial LogoI am experimenting with SproutSocial this week, and my overall reaction has been “wow, this is powerful.” It has great analytics capabilities, extensive monitoring tools, and the ability to schedule or queue posts. That last one, the Sprout Queue is pretty cool…it is built on the concepts started by BufferApp, and is a direct competitor to the new AutoSchedule from Hootsuite.

The reports and graphs are easy to read and digest, and scheduling these to email your manager at regular intervals will make you look like an awesome employee. 😉

Graphs and Analytics

One of the best features of Sprout is its ability to manage accounts as a team, assign tasks to team members, and add notes/contact info for your customers. A common problem I have experienced when using a shared password for a social account is that more than one person will respond to the same posts, or schedule a message for the same time as someone else. This platform smooths out the team workflow.

Another insanely cool feature is the ability to link to your Google Analytics account for your website. You can quickly see the impact of your social campaigns on your website traffic. Awesome!

Google Analytics + Social Graph

Pricing is amazingly affordable compared to other platforms I’ve seen quotes on, like Radian6 and Vocus, though I would still struggle to justify this cost for my personal brand and side business with so many good free tools out there. For a social media consultant, or small/medium/large business, I would definitely recommend this platform as a way to monitor your brand and engage your audience.

SproutSocial Pricing

There are also lots of free platforms for social media monitoring and management. How do you manage social media for your personal brand? As a team?

Shower Thinking

Forget whistling while you work, hit the showers! Several years ago now, I heard Tim Sanders speak on productivity and creativity. One point that stuck with me was that a chemical is released when you shower called DHEA that actually helps you think better. Haven’t some of your best ideas come while in the shower? This happens to me a lot. I often think to myself “I should capture that somehow!”

A Michigan company called AquaNotes has tried to capitalize on this concept with a water-proof notepad for those shower ideas! A little nerdy, but interesting…

AquaNotes

Rest and exercise are other great times to recharge the brain and generate good ideas. A good friend of mine keeps a notepad by his bed to capture ideas he often wakes up to in the middle of the night. Michael Hyatt and several others have argued the value of taking naps in the middle the day. I haven’t implemented this due to my tendency to take 2-hour naps vs. the recommended 20-30 minutes.

With all these great places to think, what should all that desk/cube time be used for?

Local Mac WordPress Development Environment

Imagine if…

Let me start this post with the disclaimer that I have not set up my perfect local WordPress development environment yet, partly due to a lack of know-how and partly due to the cobbler’s kids needing shoes. I recently switched from a 74lb Dell laptop to a sweet Macbook Air, and I thought I should take the opportunity to streamline the way I build WordPress sites and plugins locally. Ideally, I would have:

  • All local files linked via SVN to the latest stable release of WordPress (support for multiple versions of WordPress would be good practice as well)
  • A single copy of the WordPress software
  • A symlinked copy of each theme and plugin folder in another physical location (by project, presumably), that WordPress would recognize
  • A quick and easy way to swap out wp-config.php files to point at different sets of db tables
  • Support for WordPress networks
  • Ability to keep my code in sync between my computer and the production server

I am sure I would tire of this if I ever wanted to work on a couple of projects at once, but that is my ideal for now…can it be done?

Hair-pulling…

I’ve tried MAMP. I’ve tried XAMPP. I’ve even tried them with a LAMP. But I digress. All the server setup details get in my way of producing websites.

Current solution…

DesktopServer

I landed on DesktopServer after reading about it on WPMU.org, and quickly moved to the $49 paid version for WordPress multi-site support, better support options, and unlimited virtual hosts. The support was phenomenal when I needed it, BTW. One of the coolest features is the automatic creation of .dev domains, so I can work offline at http://lukerumley.dev and move code to production with ease.

I am currently swapping back and forth between Aptana Studio and Sublime Text as my code editor of choice, and there are pros/cons of each.

Have you found your local WordPress development happy place? Have any brave souls setup Nginx instead of Apache for local dev?