Speaking Engagements WordCamp

WordCamp Vancouver 2013: Speaking and Moderating

WordCamp Vancouver is returning to our fair city on August 17th. For the past two years I have been one of the organizers, but this year I am going to attend as a speaker and moderator instead. It’ll be a nice change of pace for me and it gives me an opportunity to share some insights about how I work with WordPress with the Vancouver community. Very exciting.

Can WordPress Really Do That, Take 2 – my talk

The title of my talk is, quite cryptically, “Can WordPress Really Do That, Take 2”. This talk is a follow up of sorts to a talk I did at WordCamp Victoria 2012 and will be a full breakdown of the process of building an extremely complex site. Since the site is still being built I’m not going to reveal what it is or what it entailed here (you’ll have to come watch the talk to get that info), but what I will say is that the talk will involve insights into everything from design, information arcitecture, working with clients, working with designers, managing unusual assets, to setting up custom post types, adding custom data points, importing enormous databases, creating custom searches and loops, and beyond. What can I say? It’s a complicated project.

Can WordPress Really Do That, Take 2 is a talk targeted at anyone working with WordPress professionally – be that as a content manager, a site owner, a designer, a developer, or all of the above. And yes, WordPress really can do that.

Running a WordPress Development Business – moderating a panel

The organizers have been kind enough to ask me to moderate a panel on running a WordPress business. This is going to be an exciting discussion with lots of valuable takeaways for everyone. The panel consists of four well established WordPress developers from Vancouver and beyond and I’ll make sure we get a lively discussion going about everything from managing clients to getting paid to hiring minions and building great sites.

If you have any questions, topics, or other things you want me to bring into the discussion, let me know either in the comments below or by harassing me on Twitter or sending me a message. The whole point of a panel discussion is for the audience to learn something new, so your input and participation is essential.

Come join the fun!

As of this writing there are still tickets available so whether you are a seasoned pro or you’ve just started looking at WordPress you should go get your ticket and join the fun. This is the event for our community, so go get your fill of WordPress and meet lots of new people who share your interest in open source and web publishing!



Judging the App Pitch Vancouver 2013

Every now and again I get asked to participate in interesting events. The App Pitch which takes place in Vancouver on March 13, 2013 is no exception. I will be part of the 6 person panel that will be judging pitches for new Windows 8 apps from developers and students. Up for grabs is a $500 gift card and tickets to the upcoming Polyglot {Un}Conference. It’s all going down at Lauch Academy in downtown Vancouver.

From the official event description:

During Round 1 (The Round Robin Pitches), teams will be broken up into groups to take turns pitching their app in three minutes to the judges assigned to that group. As a group, the judges’ job is to select the Top Six Finalists to go to the Final Round and pitch in front of the entire audience. The judges will be basing their selection on the following criteria:

  1. The “Great At” Statement
  2. The App Design
  3. The Business Side a.k.a. Making Cake

The judges are Boris Mann, Tea Nicola, Kharis O’Connell, Richard Smith, Richard Campbell, and myself.

Considering the goal of the contest it should come as no surprise that The App Pitch is hosted by Microsoft Canada, and based on previous events hosted by said multi-national software corporation it’s going to be a fun night with plenty of surprises.

If you want to take part there are still tickets available. You can also get more info over at

To be honest if I wasn’t a judge I’d be pitching my own app at the event. But I’m a judge so that would be weird.

What are you waiting for? Come up with a pitch and join in!

Conversations with Mor10

Conversations with Mor10, Episode 4: WordCamp Vancouver 2012

WordPress wouldn’t exist without the WordPress community, and WordCamp is where the community comes out to play. Over the past two years I’ve had the honour of being a co-organizer of WordCamp Vancouver (WordCamp:Developers in 2011) and in that role I’ve met a lot of very interesting people.

WordCamp conferences focus the attention on leaders in the WordPress community, both local and international, but as any attendee will tell you, the attendees can be just as interesting. To put this to the test I geared up and interviewed random WordCamp Vancouver attendees for my podcast. It all started with a simple ice breaker: “Tell me a story about WordPress”. Click the player above to hear the results.

Events Windows 8

Windows 8 Hackathons throughout Canada this summer

Windows 8 HackathonWindows 8 is scheduled to be released in October this year and with it comes a whole new infrastructure for creating and publishing custom applications for Windows powered devices. If you want in on the fun, look no further than the Windows 8 Hackathons scheduled across Canada this summer:

From the souce:

“We are announcing our Windows 8 Hackathons coming up in August! Come to our App Building with Windows 8 Hackathons with your laptop/device/desktop with Windows 8 and the developer tools already installed and you will:

  • Spend 8 hours with other developers and designers learning about creating apps based on mini-scenarios from Microsoft evangelists as well as learn about the Windows Store.
  • Have plenty of time to work on your own apps and have folks there to help answer questions you may have. We will keep presentations short so that you have more time to work on your app.
  • Find out how you can get free guidance by one of our Microsoft engineers for your app who can help make sure you have built the best quality app and enable a smoother transition into the Windows Store.

Space is limited but the event is FREE!”

For more info go to

Speaking Engagements

Deep Dive into WordPress – a one day intensive at SFU with Mor10

Deep Dive into WordPress with Morten Rand-HendriksenWant to take control over your WordPress site or maybe just start one? Want to share your writing, photography, ideas, recipes or something else with the world but don’t know how? Deep Dive into WordPress – a one day intensive I’m hosting at SFU on August 12, 2012 is designed to give WordPress virgins a solid footing and those already familiar with the application new insights into what the application can do to make you and your content more visible on the web.

Follow this link to reserve your seat!

The Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing is hosting a series of Digital Media Workshops over the summer and they approached me to create one on WordPress. I am hard at work refining the program which will be a primer touching on all important aspects of the application, from setup, security and SEO, to how to create and publish better content and integrate your site with social networks to get the word out.

If you have a WordPress site or want to have one, this is the class you need to take.

Head on over to the CCSP website for the full writeup, information and signup

Theme Weekend

Theme Weekend #1: Come Together, Right Now, Over Themes

Open source is all about collaborative coding, but more often than not that coding happens in isolation, the contributors only connecting via bursts of zeros and ones over global networks. And though this works quite well, it does little to establish true relationships and encourage conversation, idea exchange and innovation. For that to happen physical proximity and face-to-face interaction is required. What was needed was a meeting place, an agora where like-minded people could come together over a common goal. This is how Theme Weekend came to be.

Check out all my photos from Theme Weekend on Flickr.

The Inception

I’ve been talking about it ever since the idea popped into my head around January 2012. It was based on the same lofty “built it and they will come” principle that the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon came from, and with the first event completed it is clear that principle is still sound.

Theme Weekend attendees
The inception of Theme Weekend came from three things: My own experiences working with designers and developers, conversations with members of the Vancouver WordPress community, and requests from members of the Vancouver WordPress Meetup of hosting hands-on classes and events: The interaction point between designer and developer is a much joked talked about area of frequent conflict. The simplistic view is that this is because the two sides have different ideals and goals and don’t understand each other, but my feeling is it’s because they don’t speak the same language and don’t have the experience of working together necessary for that common language to establish itself. Speaking to members of my own community I realized the only real interaction that takes place between these two groups is through clients or emails. There is no common meeting point where they can work together in a non-competitive or non-task oriented environment. In addition we’ve gotten frequent requests from both designers and developers to host hands-on events that focus on “actually building something”. Combine these three observations and the answer is clear: Theme Weekend is long overdue.

The First Theme Weekend

The Theme Weekend Class Photo
In early June I announced I was looking for some collaborators to pull off the first edition of Theme Weekend and Joachim Kudish and Pauline Lai immediately voiced interest. Joined by my trusted partner in crime Angela the four of us worked out the practical aspects of how to organize the event, nailed down a venue, got a sponsorship from the WordPress Foundation and started promoting the event.

It didn’t take long to get the 20 seats filled, and on Saturday the 20 participants along with our three volunteer “floating experts” Catherine Winters, Christine Rondeau, and Andrew Ozz and the organizing team set up at Vancouver co-working mecca The Network Hub for two days of WordPress geekery. For a full recap of what transpired, check out Joachim’s post.

This was just the beginning

Theme Weekend attendees
Anyone who knows me knows that my ideas are always huge, all encompassing and intended to expand and evolve. Theme Weekend is no different. From the original idea – get some WordPress designers and developers together to build themes over a weekend – the idea quickly evolved to something more akin to a targeted Open Source creating event . Theme Weekend will be an event template that can be used to host events around anything and everything open source all around the world.

The first key component of Theme Weekend is the “theme” part: Each weekend has to have a specific goal in mind, clearly defined and curated. The first installation was about creating general WordPress themes. The next one will likely be about creating free WordPress themes for a specific pre-defined audience or even a specific organization or cause. But Theme Weekend doesn’t have to be about creating WordPress themes. It can be about creating Drupal templates, or Joomla templates, or WordPress plugins, or Orchard whatevers. The point is to bring people together to create something while learning from each other. And I believe giving these people a specific target to work towards makes that process far more effective.

The second key component of Theme Weekend is to ensure what is created at the event continues to evolve after the event. For that we landed on the use of GitHub as a repository for all the projects. This proved to be a bigger hurdle than we anticipated due to the unfamiliar nature for most of the concept of version control, but this is a hurdle I think can be overcome with good documentation and careful planning. By using a version control system and publishing everything in public on the web, the team members themselves and others interested can continue working on the projects long after the event is over. And as Theme Weekend becomes more prevalent we’ll see a burgeoning archive of crowd-created open source projects appear on the web for the world to use and contribute to.

Coming Soon:

To ensure that Theme Weekend spreads and evolves I am working on a website that will be hosted at On the website you’ll find a full and evolving rundown of how to host a Theme Weekend along with lists of upcoming Theme Weekends, archives of past Theme Weekends, and links to all Theme Weekend projects. The site will serve as a central hub for the even concept and will allow us to evolve the concept by letting you and others interested take part, organize, collaborate, improve and make the event into all it can be. We’ll start off with the lessons learned from the first event this past weekend and expand from there. And hopefully we’ll soon see Theme Weekends pop up elsewhere around the world bringing communities together to do what we all love to do: Create Open Source greatness just because we can.

Theme Weekend is powered by us, the Pink & Yellow Not For Profit Society, and is hosted in conjunction with whomever decides to organize an event. We provide the template, you use it to create something awesome.

Theme Weekend

Theme Weekend registration is live

Registration for the first ever Theme Weekend is now live. Head on over to and put your name in the hat to take part in this awesome (if I may say so myself) new event!

Theme Weekend, held on the weekend of June 30th and July 1st 2012, brings together 20 designers, developers and WordPress enthusiasts to build WordPress themes in a weekend.

The event takes place at The Network Hub in downtown Vancouver and costs $15 per person. All funds raised will be put towards food and beverages for participants.

The event has a simple set of parameters: On Saturday morning the participants will form groups that each will build a WordPress theme over the two days of the weekend. The themes will be hosted on GitHub and will be made available to the public. Throughout the event the groups can seek help from each other and from the floating pro developers and designers. The goal of Theme Weekend is simple: foster creativity and collaboration, team building and to learn from one another.

For a full writeup of Theme Weekend check out the original blog post.

News WordPress

Anny gets shortlisted for the Best Job in the World proving the power of social media

In preparation for WordCamp Whistler 09 I threw together a website for my sister-in-law Anny Chih to support her application for the Best Job in the World. Today she found out her application is one of the 50 shortlisted from close to 35,000 videos submitted. Of course this is mostly due to the video Angela and I made for her but it also shows that a sound social media strategy will pay off in the long run.

When we made the website we had three main goals in mind:

  1. Strong search engine presence (a.k.a. SEO a.k.a. Search Engine Optimization)
  2. Striking appearance – no matter what people say, having a website that looks good increases the chances of people actually visiting and reading what’s on it
  3. Harness the power of social media

Search Engine Optimization is Snake Oil – Just use WordPress and you’re good to go!

The first point was a simple one. As I’ve said before and will repeat here, using WordPress as the base for your site pretty much guarantees good and relevant SEO right out of the box. And when coupled with the All-In-One SEO Pack plugin it is a veritable SEO powerhouse. The goal was to get the site to the top of Google searches for “best job in the world” and “vancouver” and that was achieved with minimal effort. I have to stress here that we did not do any SEO tricks or link pimping or anything along those lines: The site ranking is solely based on good coding and well written copy.

Design with the target audience in mind and people will flock to your site

The second point is always where people get stuck. And I’m no exception. But fortunately for me Anny had a very specific look in mind and with that and some of her sketches as a base it wasn’t all that hard to come up with an overall look. You can read more about the design process in this earlier post. What’s important to note here is that the entire site design was built around quick load times, semantic code and easy editability. It was built on the Typograph core and uses clean text for all its functions. I also spent a lot of time organizing the layout in such a way that it would be easy to understand and navigate for the visitors. At the end I was so happy with the overall design that I used the root of it to design my newest project

Twitter – when used correctly – can be a powerful tool

The third and final point was my first real experiment with social media. I added a Twitter box to my sidebar a while ago and it has generated both interest and a lot of followers but I never really sat down and tried to use Twitter actively to gather interest for anything (basically because I never had anything I wanted to gather interest for). With the creation of Anny and I discussed ways to build interest for her site and her application and Twitter seemed an obvious addition. So with her handle @AnnyChih she started Tweeting actively, at first by mooching off my followers and then quickly expanding to other IslandReefJob applicants and so on and so forth. And in a week or so without any deliberate campaign to build numbers she had gained a high number of followers that were actually interested in what she had to say.

In addition Anny went beyond Twitter to interact with other applicants on sites dedicated to the job search and was able to build quite a following there as well. The trick on both Twitter, in forums and in blog comments was to present a mix of funny commentary, helpful advice and information. And by providing more than just blatant self promotion and random noise she built a solid following over just a few weeks.

Just how solid didn’t really become apparent to us until the news broke earlier today that she had been shortlisted. In a matter of minutes she was getting Tweets and comments of support from all over the place and TV and radio stations were calling her for interviews. In short order she was featured on CBCs The National, Virgin Radio’s The Rush, ABC Brisbane’s All-Day Breakfast and the Afternoon Buzz on Talk 1410AM largely because the Twitter community was able to get the word out.

So what should you get out of this long self-congratulating piece? That WordPress is a great place to start if you want your site to not only work but to get noticed, that by spending some time considering your target audience and designing your sites around them you can build a larger audience and that social media, when used correctly, can greatly enhance your brand and your reach.

Now go vote!

Finally I’d just like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Anny and ask instruct everyone to vote now and vote often (you can vote once per day from as many email addresses as you can get a hold of).