WordCamp Vancouver 2008 Live Blog

April 30th, 2008 @ 1:55pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I had toTonight’s WordCamp Vancouver has received the stamp of approval by the WordPress overlords and has been listed on WordCamp Central, the official WordCamp site.

WordPress is build on PHP and a backend MySQL database. In plain English it’s what millions of people (including Miss604.com) use as a blogging and content management system. Here’s the official description: “WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.” [WordPress.org]

I’ll be liveblogging everything except my own session of course, you can find the rundown of the topics and speakers here.

Note: The Network Hub is a great place for meetings and such but I’m afraid it’s way too tiny for the abundance of WordPress newbies, gurus and enthusiasts who expect to attend tonight. Make sure you show up early to grab a spot as I’m certain it will be ‘standing room only’ within a few minutes.

Update: Live blog to begin around 5:00pm PT on this post/at this URL.

Update: Rastin is doing an introduction and thanking the sponsors (big thanks to Automattic) NOTE the after Camp drinks are taking place at FLUX Bistro in Gastown (no longer Steamworks). This place is getting packed, with folks sitting on the floor in front of the presentation area it truly is like a camp fire.

Update: First up is Jeff Kee from Synchronous a company the specializes in custom WordPress theming. He’ll be covering: custom templates, custom front pages, php/html, template tags, plugins, and modifying widget.php source. What a mouthful! Glad he’s covering these things, I tinker with templates and themes on a daily basis and it’s really helpful for those who want to go beyond the standard WP themes that are available.

TazzuWordCamp - Jeff KeeJeff just made an important note: the front page of your WordPress site does not necessarily have to be your blog page. This is customizable in your Dashboard > Options >Reading. You could have a welcome screen then a page called “blog” that your posts will be published to.

He also touches on loops, custom templates and call tags. Although this may be over the heads of some of those in the room (especially if you’re just on WordPress.com) I think this is important information. Folks need to know that you can pretty much do anything in terms of customizing your WordPress site.

Plugins are great because anyone is free to create and mix with the functionalities of WordPress. You can add design elements or simply make your blogging life easier with the usage of plugins (… especially spam-blocking ones like Akismet). Jeff also mentioned the cforms plugin, which I also use, it’s really intuitive and customizable. I realize I’m saying the word “customize” a lot but it just fits.

Update: Monica Hamburg is up next and she’ll be addressing some basics of blogging: how to write those interesting posts, then how to use social media to promote them. She’s listing off various blogs that she likes as they all have personality, humour, and the authors are specialists in their fields ie. MyNameisKate.ca.

Keep in mind, the web is visual, break posts into shorter paragraphs and remember the short attention span generation. Basically, make things easy to read, truncate longer posts or have a series of posts, “check back next week for the next installment”. Tip: RSS feed or a “subscribe now” button should be clearly visible. Tip: Use categories! People can search for these elements and it’s also a good indicator of what the post would be about (not to mention the added SEO). Tip: Irresistible titles! Be specific, be engaging, grab people with your first line… which is always the title. Sample: “where are my pants?”. I can’t capture all of the hilarious examples that Monica is listing off but I’ve been giggling for the last 3 minutes.

Remember supply and demand when it comes to post content. Create a conversation, leave it open to comments, have a voice and allow others to have a voice. Example: NetChick’s ability to get dozens of comments on a blog post because she states her piece, informs, creates content etc. and then opens the floor for discussion. Also, remember to comment tactfully note: CommentLuv adds a link to the commenter’s latest post on their own site. Use Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon etc. to promote your entries – make your posts “bookmark..able”.

Update: I’m up next folks! (Raul has some notes on my talk here)

Here are some of the plugins I mentioned in my talk:
Flickr Photo Album: As seen in my screencast – easily insert your Flickr photos (any size and with links) into your blog post.
Flickr RSS: Displays a badge of your Flickr photos on your site. You can chose to display only certain tags, most recent, and chose the number of thumbnails to display. This also works with Duane and Dale’s WPtouch plugin.
Add Quicktags: Add custom “quick tags” that will appear when you’re composing a post ie. one that will insert the div tags, line breaks, or template links back to Flickr photos. You will have to code the properties for the div tags in your CSS (regarding alignment and caption properties etc.)

Update: Okay hopefully I was somewhat informative – Duane is up next, mostly talking about his Brave New Code work and mobile blogging. If you haven’t heard about WPtouch yet, I suggest you check it out!

photo.jpgUpdate: After the quick break Kulpreet is up next talking about WordPress as a Content Management System. Custom field GUI, custom write panel, Enzyme and Get Custom and blogroll.

The custom fields option at the bottom of your post is often neglected but in the case of a plugin or mashup you can populate these fields to create grids or custom wording at the bottom of a post.

Here’s an example I can give – if you have Duane’s WordTwit app installed, look at the bottom of a published post and you’ll see: “has_been_twittered” which should equal “yes” if already published.

Kulpreet also addresses Custom Write Panels so you can select the type of post you’re writing ie. check write an event, write a review etc. and that post will be customized. Then for that post type, fields will appear that will help you fill in the information you’d like to supply for that type of post.

A plugin he also introduces is Enzyme, which allows you to include custom field posts and pages. You can take custom fields of one post and refer to them in another. So how do these custom fields appear in your post? Use another plugin called “Get Custom Fields” which you can get at Coffee2Code.

Update: When it comes to a blogroll, every entry in your blogroll contains specific information that you can pull from and call up using various customizations or plugins. Show the linked bloggers’ photos, latest posts, excerpts etc. just by using the fields available and the “get_bookmarks” string in the backend of your hosted WordPress site. I really didn’t know that you could do so much with custom fields.

Photos from the break with MostlyLisa and John Chow:

MostlyLisa and AllRebecca

John Chow and me at WordCamp

John Biehler also has photos up close-to-live on his Flickr.

Update: “Bloggers should just get over themselves,” okay kind of kidding but Bruce is now here to talk about the value of blogging – not necessarily monetary value but… first off, why do you blog? If you don’t have an audience can you really be called a writer? Bruce has views that are similar to Dave’s “F stats, make art.” He doesn’t write for stats or to please the numbers. Side note: he used to be a composition instructor at a university. Another side note: Bruce was recently converted to blogging and now admits, he’s addicted. “Writing is a skill like any other skill that you need to practice to be good at.”

Writing is a way to work with yourself and find your own thoughts and blogging is a fairly easy-to-use creative outlet. Enjoy it, just go out and write!

Update: I think Pete Quily just coined the term of the evening, “there’s a plugin for that”.

Update: Now there is an open discussion about the philosophies of blogging and commenting so just to tie that in – is anyone reading this live blog?

Update: Duane just discovered the WayBack machine, apparently his site in 2003 was duane.servebeer.com.

Update: John Chow is up next, “how many people think making money off blogging is evil?” while Bruce (the previous presenter) waves his hand in the air in jest. John started his blog in 2005 with a goal of part time blogging for full time money. He’s currently generating $30,000 a month off the blog. Yep, that’s a month. If you want to learn about making money off a blog, that’s his business. There are two elements to his blog, optimizing the ads and generating traffic, the two often work hand in hand. What about the content you ask? Well that just happens.

John now gets into Google Ads, something I still haven’t really figured out. Personally I don’t think after 1 year I’ve even reached the $100 mark. John gets $117 for every 1,000 page views. This is where he shows us Adsense Deluxe, a plugin that helps you optimize your d placements. John even brings up his copy cat’s site (JohnCow.com), which is a parody on him and he makes about $3,000/month.

WOW a great way to get people to purchase ads on your site is with the OLOPublishing plugin. It allows people to purchase an ad, upload a photo, you can approve it and bam, it’s up on your site. A key note is to monetize but do not compromise your content, you still need something read-worthy to get those visits and clicks. If you want to monetize your blog, advertising is NOT subtle – don’t tip toe through it, go all-in with ads to make money.

Update: Sorry followers, we have about 10 minutes left but my battery power is at 13% so I might drop out here. Anything missed will be filled in later and Raul will be adding his note from my session. We’re all heading to Flux on Water Street in Gastown in about 20-30 minutes so if you’re in the area stop on by.

Update: In the spirit of knowledge sharing and giving a shout out, I have uploaded one of my first screencasts about Flickr to WordPress (FTW!) to the competitive video sharing site Strutta as a Game. Head over to upload your screencast WordPress demos or tips, join the game, get votes, and um just try to beat me.

Asian Heritage Month: Hockey Pioneer Larry Kwong

April 30th, 2008 @ 12:01pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s no secret that we have a strong and proud Asian Heritage in Vancouver, which is one of the reasons why May has been named Asian Heritage Month.

This acknowledges the long and rich history of Asian Canadians and their contributions to Canada. Canada’s cultural diversity strengthens the country socially, politically and economically in innumerable ways. Asian Heritage Month is an ideal occasion for all to celebrate the beauty and wisdom of various Asian cultures. Canadians are invited to take part in the festivities that commemorate the legacy of Asian Canadians and their many contributions which have helped Canada to become the multicultural and diverse nation it is today. [City of Vancouver]

Two years ago John and I met David Suzuki during the ExplorASIAN festivities and I’ll be posting a bit more about upcoming events around town.

The first installment of this month’s series (even though it’s still only April 30th) comes from a link sent to me over del.icio.us by our globe-trotting friend Henry Lee. It’s about the first Chinese-Canadian to play in the NHL: Larry Kwong.

Born in Vernon, BC, Kwong played for the Trail Smoke Eaters then when noticed by NHL scouts touring BC in the mid 1940s he was picked up by the New York Rovers.

Seizing the opportunity to play in New York, Kwong registered 19 goals and 37 points in 47 games with the Rovers in 1946-47. In the process, he helped the team nicknamed the Red Shirts win its first Eastern Hockey League title since the pre-World War II era…

…Kwong had been dominating with the Rovers that season and was averaging well over a point per game. This had already made him a popular figure among New York’s Chinese community and his call-up to the NHL made headlines, particularly in Western Canada where he was already something of a folk hero…

…Kwong would play his only game for a Rangers team that barely qualified for the 1948 Stanley Cup playoffs against an even weaker team at the Montreal Forum… …Kwong’s moment on the ice was brief and fleeting — not much longer than one minute — but it was also historic and remains noteworthy 60 years later. [New York Rangers Website]

As much as I’ve never liked the Rangers (mostly since 1994), this story reminds me of Moonlight Graham. Larry Kwong opened the door for countless players of Asian decent (and of any other ethnic background, really) and is remembered to this day as a valuable member of the Rangers alumni.

“His career might have lasted for only a New York minute, but Larry Kwong’s role in hockey history will never be forgotten.”

Update August 2010: Larry Kwong was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame this summer. I just found a Globe & Mail article via Gung Haggis Fat Choy.

NOFX and No Use For A Name Play the Commodore

April 29th, 2008 @ 11:51pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Okay, seriously, how come no one told me about this show? It’s happening in just under two weeks and I just stumbled upon it while browsing upcoming events at the Commodore.

What: NOFX with No Use For A Name and American Steel
When: May 9, 2008
Where: Commodore Ballroom

Hm, perhaps no one knew I liked these bands? I suppose that’s a viable excuse, however I was a teenager growing up in Surrey, frequenting skate parks and going to shows at Seylynn Hall and the Langley Civic Centre before I was old enough to get into those fancy downtown concert at places like The Starfish Room. I’ve been to my fair share of punk shows although unfortunately I think the last one I attended of the sort was Me First and the Gimme Gimmes in 2004 at Richards on Richards.

Regardless of my history, varying musical tastes, and my weakness for anything involving Fat Mike, I’m truly bummed that I found out about this so late in the game as the concert is sold out. However… stay tuned for a related announcement.

Stanley Park Domain Name Battle

April 29th, 2008 @ 2:31pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

We’ve all heard of people registering potentially popular domain names in the early ages of the internet, one in particular that comes to mind is Rogers Video, whose “dot com” was a place where you could see videos alright, but they were completely unrelated to the actual video rental chain… and not suitable for children. Then there’s Vancouver’s own Kevin Ham, who bought up domains that ended in “.cm” that would cover those inevitable typos.

However, when it comes to valuable cyber space real estate in Vancouver the Parks Board is not after someone who is using a domain for clicks and giggles, their target is StanleyPark.com as it is not currently in their possession:

Vancouver entrepreneur Gerry O’Neil owns something the Vancouver park board wants badly — the domain name www.stanleypark.com.

He bought it for a couple of hundred dollars in 1997, and two and a half years ago, the board sent him a letter asking him to turn it over. But he refused. [TheVancouverSun]

Photo credit: unwritten on Flickr

O’Neil (who also owns www.stanleyparktours.com) doesn’t seem to want to part with the domain any time soon, and who could blame him. I know I’ve scooped up some domains (albeit far less valuable) just for the sake of having them in case there was ever a need to build a site. What he has there is pretty much a gold mine in terms of tourism in this town and unfortunately it seems as though the Parks Board wants it so much, they’re willing to throw their weight around – according to the Vancouver Sun article:

Conflict over the domain name kicked into high gear in November 2005 when the park board sent O’Neil a letter asking him to relinquish control of www.stanleypark.com. The letter also noted his lease was up for renewal in 2008.

“This [domain-name issue] is consistent with our policy of registering all key domain names that specifically identify an important park site within the park board system,” the letter states.

“We are aware that your current licence agreement with the board expires on April 30, 2008, and that you will likely wish to negotiate a renewal term in the near future.” [TheVancouverSun]

What gets me is that I’ve done ten “WHOIS” lookups on popular and random park names in Vancouver and so far all I can see is that someone @vancouver.ca has grabbed www.queenelizabethpark.com. That’s 1 out of 10, for those playing along at home, and 30% of them were not owned by anyone. Also, in the Sun article it states someone else owns StanleyPark.ca, and to their knowledge the Parks Board is not currently pursuing the owner of that web space.

Still busted

Over the last few years I’ve had my problems with the Parks Board, from the lack of restoration in Stanley Park, to the preposterous idea of giant mechanized dinosaurs roaming the woods.

As a Vancouverite who enjoys all the Park has to offer and can see the benefit in horse-drawn tours (even over the exhaust-pumping trolleys) I sincerely hope they will renew this company’s lease. I can fully understand the appeal for the domain name, but I don’t blame O’Neil one bit for hanging on to it for dear life.

WordPress 2.5.1 Screencast Teaser for WordCamp Vancouver

April 29th, 2008 @ 12:07am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I just upgraded my WordPress to 2.5.1 and to celebrate as well as promote WordCamp Vancouver this week, I’ve recorded a quick little screencast.

This video has been edited for time on Flickr.
A full version it can be viewed on Viddler.

I just used my MacBook’s internal mic so I know some folks will be cringing at the audio quality (and the sound of my keyboard strokes) but hey, it’s more “organic” that way…. isn’t it?.

The super cool plugin in the video that John and I have been using for the last year or so is called “Flickr Photo Album“. This is the latest version and works beautifully with WP 2.5 and up. More to come at Wedneday’s WordCamp.

Vancouver Social Media Scene: WordCamp, DrupalCamp, NetSquared, Launch Party 4

April 28th, 2008 @ 1:40pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Hustling and bustling with all sorts of social media, web, and internetty activity Vancouver’s Social Media dance card is rather full for the month of May. Here’s what will be happening around town (and what will more than likely be live blogged).

What: WordPress Camp Vancouver
When: Wednesday April 30th, from 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Where: The Network Hub
More Info: Facebook Event, Official Blog – I’ll be speaking about adding photos to your blog posts ie. captions, CSS tricks, plugins, Flickr usage etc.

Photo credit: Boris Mann on Flickr

What: NetSquared, Remixing the Web for Social Change
When: Tuesday May 6th, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Where: Workspace
More Info: Meetup Event, Facebook Event

What: DrupalCamp Vancouver, Vancouver’s first ever Drupal Camp
When: Friday May 9th at 10:00am running until Saturday May 10th at 5:00pm
Where: Workspace
More Info: Website, Facebook Event

Two of Vancouver’s Tech Women to Watch in 2008 at LPV3 although who are THEY watching?
Photo credit: Ianiv and Arieanna on Flickr

What: Launch Party Vancouver 4 (LPV4) – follow up to the super fun LPV3
When: Wednesday May 21st from 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Where: Republic, 958 Granville Street
More Info: Website, Facebook Event.

Metro Vancouver Park Series: Grandview Park

April 28th, 2008 @ 10:31am (PT) by Guest Author

The Park Series is still going strong with this next listing submitted and written by Raul.

Grandview Park

View Larger Map

How to get there on transit: 1657 Charles Street (@ Commercial Drive). You can get to Grandview Park on the bus (20 Victoria or 20 Downtown) or taking the Skytrain to either Commercial Drive station or Broadway station (both stations are within a few steps from each other).

Size: 0.89 Hectares (it sounds tiny, but this park really gets totally crowded!). Source: Vancouver Park Board.

Features: Sitting in one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Vancouver. Grandview Park is one of the landmarks for anyone who walks around Commercial Drive. Equipped with playground, an amazing view of the city and close to just about every business you may need, Grandview Park offers you and your family numerous activities.

Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

Grandview Park houses 3 tennis courts, and it is within walking distance from the Britannia Community Centre. It also features several family-oriented amenities, including a water/spray park and a field house, as well as playgrounds.

Photo credit: Raul on Flickr

History: “Originally the site of the Irish Fusiliers Drill Hall, it was purchased by the Department of Militia and Defense between 1911 and 1913. Following World War I the military’s needs changed and the site was abandoned. The area was leased to the City in 1929 and named for the Grandview neighbourhood. A memorial cairn was located on Grandview Park until its replacement by a new war memorial on November 11, 1959.” [Vancouver Parks Board website]

Notes: Grandview Park plays host to numerous events, including the Parade of Lost Souls, organized by the Public Dreams Society.

Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

Grandview Park is particularly family-oriented, as can be seen in the photo above.

Read more from Raul on his blog, and if you have a park you’d like to write about in the Metro Vancouver area, feel free to contact Miss604.com.

WPtouch Theme Preview, WordPress on the iPhone

April 28th, 2008 @ 12:18am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The good folks at Brave New Code, specifically Dale Mugford and Duane Storey (or “D Squared” as I have just this minute decided to call them) have been working on a theme for mobile viewing of your WordPress blog.

Here’s how it works:

  • Coming this Wednesday WPtouch will be released to the world
  • Head to BraveNewCode to download and install like you would any other WP plugin
  • In your dashboard, edit the plugin by going to Options > WPtouch
  • Select which pages you’d like to be added to your menu
  • Chose an icon for each page or upload your own
  • Grab an iPhone or iPod Touch and check out how hot your blog looks to mobile users
  • I’ve had a chance to poke around the beta version this evening, here’s a look at my site on the iPhone with WPtouch installed:

    photo.jpgWPtouch theme preview

    I have to say it’s pretty slick. Duane also got me to add a page called “Photos” which was then immediately populated with thumbnails of my recent Flickr photos. Keep an eye out for WPtouch this week and also check out Brave New Code cause these innovative guys are mighty good at what they do.

    Update: Brave New Code just launched! WPtouch is now available for your mobile WordPressing pleasure!