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My thoughts on CoderFaire Nashville ’12

Dear Reader,

CoderFaire NashvilleThis past weekend (August 25-26, 2102) my self, the Lovely and Talented Kathy, and my friend Jacques Woodcock, hosted a two day “developer centric” event in Nashville called CoderFaire Nashville ’12. CoderFaire Nashville ’12 stands out among all of the projects I’ve put together in one important way. This was the first time I put together a team to build the project instead of doing it myself. I learned a lot putting on CoderFaire Nashville ’12 but this is the one most important lesson I took away.

You can’t do it alone, you have to have friends

I’ve been doing little ventures for a long time. None of my ventures went very far though. They were always “side hustles”. It has taken me until this point in my life to realize I can’t grow an idea as big as I want to on my own, I have to have help. CoderFaire Nashville ’12 was the first time I actively sought out a team to help. So, in the order of appearance, here are the friends of mine that worked tirelessly, supported the me, and took my little idea and grew into something that was successful beyond my wildest dreams.

  • Kathy EvansEICC
    The Lovely and Talented KathyEven those of you who know me don’t realize what a pain in the ass I really am. Some of you have an idea but it’s only a small glimpse of the reality. Sometimes it seems like I have a new idea for a business every weekend. My darling wife Kathy is really the only person on Earth who has had to suffer through all of them. She helps me see my ideas in the harsh light of reality. That isn’t to say that she dismisses them all – or even any of them. She helps me talk them through and sort the wheat from the chaff.

    As the first person I told about CoderFaire Nashville ’12, she is the first person who could have shot it down. Instead, she recognized the passion I had for the idea – and for helping developers – and encouraged me to pursue it.

  • Scott GordonVaco
    Scott Gordon at the Vaco Chill LoungeThe second person I told about CoderFaire Nashville was Scott Gordon. If you are in the Nashville tech scene, you know Scott. If not, he stands with only one other recruiter that I will talk to on a regular basis. Scott, more than any other recruiter I know, understands how to talk to a developer without insulting them.

    I knew I needed some seed money to get CoderFaire Nashville ’12 off the ground. I also knew that if I didn’t think this through, CoderFaire Nashville could become a feeding frenzy for local recruiters, nobody wanted that. Vaco, through Scott Gordon, caught the vision of what could be at a local coffee shop one morning. I didn’t even make it through my entire presentation before he said “We’re in, how much do you need?”. Now I am not a good salesperson and Scott is not an easy man to convince to part with money. Thankfully though, Scott saw the possibilites early on. Because fo their vision, we made Vaco the only recruiting company at CoderFaire Nashville ’12. Thanks to Scott – and of course my friend Alex Nadell – developers were treated with respect by the recruiters, and not as marks, targets, or just chum in the water.

  • Keith CaseyTwilio
    Keith CaseyThe third person I shared the idea of CoderFaire Nashville ’12 with was my good friend and business partner Keith Casey. Keith is a Developer Evangelist for Twilio. That’s not entirely true. Keith Casey is the P.T. Barnum of Developer Evangelists.

    Where most companies, setup a booth at a conference and hope people drop by; Keith sets up a playground for developers and only sells when people pause playing long enough to ask “So, what does twilio do?” At a recent conference we both attended, I hear another vendor tell him “The only traffic we’ve gotten today are the ones we’ve picked off the edge of your crowd.” Keith is just all kinds of awesome.

    Keith has run, and attended hacking events all over the US. He knows what developers like and because he’s a good friend, Keith will tell me if an idea sucks. I already knew that Vaco was in and they were going to sponsor the lounge area. I already knew that I wasn’t going to allow marketing booths, I wanted something useful for developers, I wanted the Lab. What I wanted from Keith was ideas on how to make this useful to companies like Twilio. Companies that sponsor events like this. Companies like Twilio don’t lay out money because they like events, they do it because they know that at certain types of events, they can get the attention of developers. I wanted CoderFaire Nashville ’12 to be the kind of event that these companies wanted to be a part of. Keith listend, and then added the one ingredient that we didn’t have, the Hack Day.

    Honestly, I thought if any part of the event was going to fail, it was going to be the Hack Day; wow was I wrong!

  • Jacques Woodcock – Kite Web Consulting
    Jacques WoodcockFinally, I knew what I wanted to build, I knew I had enough many to get started and if I had to, enough room on my credit card to handle the rest. I also knew I needed a partner. I needed someone who could fill in where I lack. It had to be someone wih a strong enough ego to go up against mine and someone who I could work with. At BarCamp Nashville ’11, I had the privilege of working with Jacques Woodcock. (He is actually the reason I even got involved in BNC11) I saw Jacques work the sponsors of BCN11 like a master craftsman. He knew who to talk to, what to say, and how to get to a yes. Honestly, the man is a magician. I knew from the beginning that I wanted Jacques as my partner on CoderFaire Nashville ’12, but I wasn’t sure I was salesman enough to pitch it to him.

    Thankfully, in addition to being a wizard at showing sponsors the value of being involved in events, Jacques is a visionary. Like Kathy and I, Jacques saw what CoderFaire Nashville ’12 could be. He agreed to come on board as a partner. He did so much more than I asked him to do. Jacques went above and beyond to make sure that CoderFaire Nashville ’12 was a great time for the attendees and the sponsors.

    Jacques, thank you so much for taking my little idea and making it something I could never have dreamed of. You are a friend, and I am in your debt.

There are a lot more people that worked hard to make CoderFaire Nashville ’12 what it was. I fear that if I start naming people I will leave someone important out. I do want to say thank you though.

Thank you to everyone who volunteered your time – great or small – to make CoderFaire Nashville ’12 happen.

Thank you to each and every one of our sponsors, I singled two of them out in this post but honestly, every one of you is special and helped make this event awesome.

Thank you to the speakers who took the time to craft the sessions. I’ve put on a lot of events in my career but I’ve never been so proud of a schedule as I was of the CoderFaire Nashville ’12 schedule.

Thank you to the attendees. That you for showing up, thank you for listening to the speakers, thank you for engaging with our sponsors. Thank you for being the secret ingredient that made CoderFaire Nashville ’12 one of the best conferences I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending in any capacity.

Thank you to my friends. I say with all sincerity and humility, I couldn’t have done this without you.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

My Ink

Dear Reader,

Yes, I got a tattoo. This one is my own design because the lovely and talented Kathy (was was very supportive of me getting it) won’t color the design she did for me.

The design is one I’ve doodled in my Moleskin for a long time. More recently, I’ve been drawing it on my hand using a Sharpie. (A sharpietoo, if you will) I added the colors recently partly for my love of diving and partly because I bought a red sharpie.

Anyhow, for those that missed the tweet, yeah, I got my ink.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

tek09 Roundup

Dear Reader,

It’s been a while since I’ve done a conference roundup and even when I did them, I don’t think I posted them here. So, let’s correct both oversights at once and do a php|tek 09 roundup.

Unlike other roundups, I’m not going to describe in detail all the cool sessions I attended. In all honestly, I only attended 2 sessions start to finish, and they were both mine. I did manage to slip into Sara Golemon’s PHP 5.3:Hot or Not session and really enjoyed it. So of the sessions I wanted to go to but didn’t get to, which ones would I have attended? All of them! The schedule was packed with topics I wanted to learn more about. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked on some other things and didn’t get as much session time as I would have liked.

What I did on my vacation

Dear Reader,

The lovely and talented KathyFor the first time in five years, the lovely and talented Kathy and I took a much needed vacation. This time, we decided to drag along our two best friends, Rick and Kim.

Our ship docked in CozumelAs with our last vacation, we decided to cruise, at least for part of it. Unlike last time though, we chose to cruise to Mexico instead of Alaska. To Thursday afternoon, after a nice flight, we boarded the Royal Caribbean ship, “Enchantment of the Seas” in Ft. Lauderdale and set sail. The boat was nice but not as nice as the “Radiance of the Seas” that we sailed on in Alaska. Still it was a nice boat and we soon found our sea legs and started relaxing.

First meme of the vacation The first meme of the trip came during dinner the first evening. Rick opened the butter dish to find that the gr in “grassland butter” was obscured leaving only “assland butter”. Those of you who know us know that it went downhill quickly from there.

Pinkbird and the Pinkbird shopKey West was our first port of call. We visited the Hemmingway house, did all the touristy things and then headed back to the ship because it was hot! The Hemmingway house was awesome, we had a great tour guide named Loren who made the tour very interesting.

That evening was the formal dining night on the ship so we all got dressed up and pretended we were adults for the evening. When it’s all said and done, I think we clean up pretty good. :)

RickRick and KimMe and my lovely wife.DSCN1450

The next port of call was Cozumel. For our excursion there we chose to see the Mayan ruins. Well, we thought that was the point of the excursion, it turned out to be an hour at the ruins, and a few sales pitches along the way. It was fun and entertaining though.
Stunning view...oh and there are ruins too.A dork in front of the fertility temple.Beauty and the fat guy.The lovely and talented Kathy

Since Cozumel is on an island, we had to take a ferry to the mainland to see the ruins. The ride over was a bit hairy because we sat inside, the water was real choppy and the guy one isle over lost his lunch. Luckily, they had passed out plastic baggies just for that purpose. The ride back was much better, we sat on the back deck and enjoyed the sun and spray. By the time we got back though, we were salt crusted. :)

The lovely and talented KathyThe next day was our only full day at sea. we mainly just wandered around and did a lot of nothing. We did play TV Tune Trivia and if Rick and Kim had bothered to show up on-time we would have actually won. We were one point away from winning and they knew the first tune. Alas, they opted to take a nap and got carried away.Pinkbird

That evening was probably the most fun evening of the cruise. We saw the “farewell” show in the theater, played the scavenger hunt game on the opposite end of the ship and then went back to the theater for some late-night comedy. Our bartender from dinner just happened to show up at each location to make sure that we were “enjoying ourselves”. We kinda “over enjoyed” ourselves that night.

That was it for the cruise. I don’t have pictures for the dive portion yet so I’ll save that for another day. No cruise is complete without towel animals though so here are the pictures of ours.
Towel Ant-eaterTowel MonkeyTowel ElephantTowel....something

Until next time,

My response to “Blogs Will Kill The Web Design Star”

Dear Reader,

My breakfast buddy Bill Seaver posted a real interesting post on his blog titled “Blogs Will Kill The Web Design Star”. I started a comment to it but it quickly grew into a post by itself. So before you read this, go visit Bill’s blog and read it. (and while you are surfing, don’t forget to drop by his podcast, The New Mediology and give it a listen.

My response:

Hi Bill!

I couldn’t agree with you more. The days of paying someone big bucks for a simple site are gone. I actually covered this on Sixty Second Tech a few weeks ago in the episode The Secret to Cheap and Easy Websites. WordPress makes a great simple blog and with the explosion of good, cheap/free skins, there’s really no reason for people to pay for simple web needs. I did get some flack over on iTunes on that episode because a listener considered my approach to the subject denigrating to web designers. :)

If your needs are more than WordPress can provide, Joomla is a great next step. It’s several order of magnitude larger and more complex than WordPress but it has a great plugin structure and like WordPress it has an active community.

BTW, my favorite WordPress theme site is I’ve used several of their themes as starting points for my projects.

Also, I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that the job title to have for the next five years is “App Skinner”. Wife 1.24, The Lovely and Talented Kathy who is a web designer has been able to successfully deploy several complex sites including an e-commerce site, without having to employ a programmer. This opens up new doors for the company she works for because instead of having to hire a programmer to write yet another shopping cart, she can deploy Joomla and spend her time concentrating on developing a look and feel that will set it apart from the competition.

Bill, thanks for the post, it was great.

Until next time,