Wordcamp

That Didn’t End Well!

October – here one minute and gone the next. I can remember sitting here at my keyboard on the first day of October, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Now I’m sitting here on the last day of October wondering what the heck happened? Where did October go? And all I can say is – well – that didn’t end well. 

It always sounds so easy. Just post a blog each day, for a month. What could go wrong? 

Life!

That’s what could go wrong – and it did! I knew I was in for a busy month; I just didn’t anticipate how busy it would get. The committee I’m on needed attention – a little more than usual – and WordCamp happened. Add to that a sick neighbour who needed assistance and you’ve got a whole lot of too-tired-to-write nights. 

Okay, WordCamp Brisbane 2018 was only one weekend – but it entailed a lot of planning. I live about one-hundred and thirty kms from Brisbane. At the very least it takes about one-and-a-half hours to drive there, but factor in road-works and heavy traffic – and you’ve got a more realistic time of close to two hours. Now that’s a little too far to drive to and from each day, so the first planning that had to be done was finding accommodation. With the first morning being a seven-thirty start, the accommodation was needed for Friday and Saturday nights.

The Options…

I looked at a few options, but because I was driving there, I had to find accommodation for my car as well. Has anyone found car-parking in the city that didn’t necessitate mortgaging the house to pay for it? The options weren’t too exciting:

  • Park on the other side of the river and drag luggage across the bridge (at least the parking is more affordable on the south side) 
  • Park in one of the parking stations in the city and be prepared for the hefty cost at the end of the two days (at least I’d be on the right side of the bridge)
  • Phone the hotel and see if they have parking and would it be affordable (I seriously doubted both)
Photo of Level 4 Row 1 of the Myer Centre Carpark
A photo of the carpark is a good reminder of where I left the car…

The last option won

I chose the Ibis Styles Hotel (right next to the Myer Centre) for two reasons:

  1. I have AccorPlus membership which gives me discounted accommodation; option of using my accumulated points; free WiFi; discounted food in the restaurant; priority check-in; 
  2. Location – the Hotel is: an easy walk to QUT (Queensland University of Technology), the venue for WordCamp; in the heart of the city; oh, and did I mention there is a Starbucks on the corner? Getting my morning coffee is not an option – it is a ‘survival-choice’. 
But first, coffee! 

A call to the Ibis Styles Hotel on Elizabeth Street cemented the deal. I could park in the Myer Centre carpark for $20 a day, as long as I remembered to have my ticket validated at check-out. Bargain!

Then there was the planning of what to pack for the weekend. I usually take three cases when I travel: one in case it is too hot; one in case it is too cold; and one in case it is just right. And then there is my technology bag, which usually weighs more than the other three put together. This time I had to economise. Even though the hotel is next door to the Myer Centre, I still had to drag my luggage from the carpark, through the shopping centre, out onto Elizabeth Street, and up to the door of the hotel. I ended up with one small bag for clothes and my usual large backpack for technology. It worked.

And WordCamp?

Two days of non-stop learning! Even though it meant more than two days away from writing (remember all the planning?), I figure it was a great investment in my blogging. What I learned that weekend will help me work faster and smarter – not harder.

WordCamp is all about using a WordPress website which is great for Blogging
Looking towards the path leading from Z Block at QUT
QUT – Z Block

So even though October has gone and the Ultimate Blog Challenge didn’t end well, I came through relatively unscathed – although exhausted – and a lot better off, knowledge-wise.

Life is a journey, and every moment taken for learning is a giant leap forward. 

Maureen Durney

So until we meet on another Ultimate Blog Challenge – this is me signing off. And now I’ll go back to just ‘blogging’. 

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
The July Ultimate Blog Challenge

The July Ultimate Blog Challenge

I can’t resist a challenge! – well, as long as the challenge fits within the reasonable limits of my comfort zone.  A recent email had the word ‘Challenge’ in it, so naturally it got my attention. The email was a call to action to sign up for the July Ultimate Blog Challenge. It sounded simple enough – write a blog each day for thirty-one days – so I signed up. But it’s the ‘each day’ bit where I usually come unravelled. I’ve been known to set all sorts of agendas to keep me on track, but my creative-train is easily derailed. It doesn’t take much: an invitation here, a slack day there, and before I know it – I’m panicking about a deadline.

I can usually get the writing part done reasonably fast, but it’s the other bits that make the difference between meeting deadlines – and hearing them whoosh by.

The Support I Need

My websites are built on the WordPress platform, simply because the support from WordPress is phenomenal. WordPress Meetups and WordPress WordCamps are for learning new things, as well as getting answers to questions and solutions to problems. Meetups are held monthly in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, so I get two opportunities a month to learn something new.

WordCamp Brisbane 2017

WordCamps are less frequent, usually once a year in any city, and provide a weekend of learning. You have the opportunity to attend as many talks as you can comfortably fit in over two days. Everything from novice topics, to the highest level for developers, is covered at WordCamp. While costs might vary slighltly in some cities, I only paid $50 for the WordCamps I attended, and that covered admission, food, after-party, t.shirt and lots of swag (that’s tech talk for freebies – thank you WordPress!). Generous sponsors contribute to the cost of the event so that we can attend without breaking the bank – and they bring lots of swag too – (thank you sponsors!).

Smart-casual wear is fine for the After Party (WordCamp Brisbane 2017)

Getting your ducks in a row before you hit the ‘Publish’ button.

Okay, these are Canada Geese, but you get the picture, right?

The real value of Meetups and WordCamps is the networking. It’s the people you meet before and after each session that really makes the difference. The true value of networking, according to networking guru Sally Eberhardt, is the sharing of ideas and information. And I couldn’t agree more.

At WordCamp Sunshine Coast 2016, I met some other bloggers during one of the coffee breaks. One of them shared some valuable information about a Plugin that monitors the readability and the ‘find-ability’ of your website – (thanks Di Hill). I downloaded and have been using Yoast ever since. When I get the readability right, I get a green light, and another green light when I have all the right elements to make my site more ‘findable’. With WordPress websites, adding a Plugin or two is easy, but since I plugged-in Yoast, the days of writing a quick blog have ended. If I choose to ignore the suggestions, I can still write and publish a fast blog. When I follow the suggestions, it slows things down, but it is SO worth it. When you get all your ducks in a row, you get a green light. I love that green light!

I’ve been limbering up for long enough..

… now it’s time to get out on the track, and start sprinting.

My random blog posts have probably been a bit too random lately and need reining in a bit (okay – a lot!). While I was holidaying overseas earlier this year, I signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge for January. It seemed like a great idea at the time. Piece of cake, I thought; I have plenty to write about; I can do this. Then disaster struck. I broke my wrist and ended up in a full cast. The cast started at my shoulder and ended just above my fingers, with a quirky bend at the elbow. I couldn’t tie my hair back with one hand – it just can’t be done, but I managed to type – very s-l-o-w-l-y. So I wrote blogs for the challenge. I didn’t manage every day; in fact I didn’t even get half-way, but I gave it a good shot.

At the time, I was also negotiating with the Travel Insurance company to get me home for possible surgery. I’ve used the same company for years and now I know why. They organised amazing flights and took care of everything I would need for a very comfortable trip home. I managed to dodge the surgery, but that’s another story. It would have been great to have seen more of Seattle, but I will remember with fondness the people I met while I was there. It’s the people you meet that make the difference between a good trip, and a great trip.

So let the Ultimate Blog Challenge begin!

Hopefully I will make it through to the end of July with thirty-one new posts, all my ducks in a row, and have successfully completed the July Ultimate Blog Challenge. My floors might not get up-close-and-personal with the vacuum cleaner for the entire month, and I might be living on cheese and crackers, but (hopefully) I will have thirty-one new blog posts completed by the time July bids us farewell. And with the first day of the new month just one sleep away, well at least here in the Southern Hemisphere, I’m starting to panic already.

I can do this! I can do this! I (think) I can do this. And the only way to do it is roll my sleeves up, and start; so let the Ultimate Blog Challenge begin!

These are ducks! – but they’re not exactly in a row – yet.

Journey through the July Ultimate Blog Challenge with me: by subscribing to my Blog.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
Southbank, After WordCamp Brisbane 2017

Southbank, After WordCamp Brisbane 2017

When The Doors Closed on WordCamp Brisbane 2017 –  Southbank Beckoned!

That bittersweet moment, when you are tired enough to want to go home, but inspired enough to want more. A sad farewell to old and new friends and a promise to stay in touch. Only then did our thoughts stray to dinner, and Southbank beckoned. In search of a quick and easy meal, and to ensure the early night we’d promised ourselves, three of us headed across the bridge towards Southbank, on Sunday night.

Crossing the bridge towards Southbank

Looking back at the Treasury Casino from the bridge

The lights shimmering on the river made us forget about food…

….just long enough to capture the beauty of this part of the city.

The Brisbane Wheel gives a birds-eye-view of the city, especially beautiful at night

The shimmer of lights on the Brisbane River was spectacular

Southbank, Brisbane, is a vibrant hub of activity, even on a Sunday night. In search of food, of the quick and easy variety, the splendour of this waterfront corner of the city opened up. Pop-up markets, with a vast array of Asian food, had enticed a large crowd. You would have to wonder if the crowds at the Night Noodle Market were locals having an easy night, or out-of-towners, like us? Either way, the relaxed atmosphere held us captive, for a while. But in need of a quieter atmosphere, we walked on. There are more permanent restaurants along the streets of Southbank, and we found the perfect place. Quiet, warm, peaceful, and enough choices to satisfy all our priorities – even Vegetarian options for me.

The beauty of the Brisbane city night sky

Taking the long way back to the bridge gave us another spectacular light-show

Fed, weary, and in desperate need of rest, we made our way back to our respective hotels.

If Australia WordCamp 2018 doesn’t come soon enough, we’ll look to foreign shores to get our WordCamp fix. The WordPress family comes together at WordCamp, and we can’t wait to meet again.

and
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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments
WordCamp Is Nearly Here!!!

WordCamp Is Nearly Here!!!

WordCamp Is Just Over A Week Away!!!

22-23 July 2017

QUT Gardens Point Brisbane

I’m Attending WordCamp Brisbane 2017

The Countdown Is On!

Less than 2 weeks to go and I can hardly wait to get there!!!

  • transport is sorted
  • accommodation is booked
  • iPad and iPencil are fully charged
  • spare batteries – packed
  • camera – packed

Why is WordCamp exciting? Because WordCamp is a two-day conference filled with inspiring speakers, generous sponsors and lots of like-minded people, and because the cost of this amazing event is incredibly low! In fact, you won’t believe how low it is.

WordCamp is about WordPress, and WordPress is probably the easiest website building tool on the planet! WordPress has made the process so easy that even I could do it. You start by downloading the WordPress software script from WordPress.org, and you start building. You can have anything from a simple blog site  – to a money-making online business site. The choice is yours.

When I started on the journey of building a website in 2016, I booked myself into WordCamp Sunshine Coast (Queensland – Australia) for my first WordPress live experience. I was hoping to have a lot of questions answered over the two days – only to discover that I didn’t really have the questions clearly formulated – they were kind of swimming around in my head without any specific words attached. It’s kind of hard when you don’t know – what you don’t know. The one big question of ‘How do I Blog?’ was put on the backburner during the first few sessions at WordCamp, when I found out there are a lot more important things to learn before you get to the blogging stage. First I had to overcome my fear and just start building my sites and start my blog, even though I didn’t really know what I was doing. One of the outstanding presentations at the conference was a successful web designer who admitted her initial fear of building her first website, and how WordPress had helped her gain the confidence she needed to start building sites for others. I guessed the secret was to just roll your sleeves up, get in, and get it done, regardless of the fear.

WordCamp has its own cute Logo (Photo from 2016.sunshinecoast.wordcamp.org)

Why Would You Want To Go To WordCamp?

Because these days, it seems that everyone has a blog. And thousands of people read them! When we are looking for information about a specific topic, we type a word or phrase into our favourite search engine and Oila!, more information than you can poke the proverbial stick at. And somewhere in those search results, we’re sure to come across a blog.

Popular blogs include information about:

  • Shopping
  • Reviews – products/services
  • Travel – where to go/how to get there
  • Food – including cooking information/recipes/
  • ‘How To’ Guides
  • Money Making Ideas
  • DIY ideas
  • Fashion – what to wear/where to get it
  • Self Improvement
  • Health
  • Technology
  • Sports
  • Writing – fiction/non-fiction

Whatever it is that gets you fired up, you could be sharing it with the world, on your own website.

Once you’ve downloaded the WordPress Software, you’ll need a quirky name for your new website. I found the domain name for my site from GoDaddy, one of the sponsors of WordCamp Brisbane 2017, but there are lots of sites offering domain names. You simply type in a quirky name for your site, and if it’s available, you can (usually) buy it for a really low annual fee (you certainly can with GoDaddy). Then, you need to find a hosting company, and there are plenty around at very affordable prices. The hosting company puts your site out there, on the Internet. That’s not very technical, but you know what I mean. It’s what makes your site ‘findable’ on the Internet. There’s not much sense in building a fabulous website if it just sits on your desktop and nobody ever sees it, right? Right! There are lots of hosting companies to choose from, including:

What Does Building A Website Have To Do With WordCamp?

Lots!
When you buy your ticket to WordCamp Brisbane 2017, you are buying access to two-days of top-notch speakers (professional and newbies) who are well-versed in website building and sharing their stories about how they’ve progressed through the WordPress journey – the trials, tribulations and successes. The most inspiring are the ones who had no experience before building their first website and who, through WordPress, have gone on to build a successful blog or online business. Your WordPress site can be as easy, or as customised, as you want it to be.

Over a coffee or lunch, you’ll be able to meet and mingle with the speakers and ask any of those questions you didn’t get a chance to ask in the sessions. You’ll also meet other attendees who are on the same web-building journey as you. Perhaps they have the same interests and can share tips and tricks to save you time and effort in your journey?

You just need an idea of what you want to create and the time to ‘play around’ with the site until you develop what you need. The support provided by WordPress will have you sharing your web-address with family and friends in no time. WordPress online training will help you get started, and then lead you down the road of web-development until you reach your destination – your very own website for your blog – or maybe an online business. You don’t have to know anything about Code (HTML, CSS etc.) to build a website with WordPress. There are plenty of Themes, Widgits, and Plug-Ins that are built in or easily accessible. But I guarantee it won’t be long before you are wanting to tweak your site with a few extra quirky bits. I’ve recently discovered the value of adding a little code here and there, and I’m loving it. When  you know a few basics, it makes the job a lot more fun.

When you start building a website in WordPress, you become part of an extended family. While most earthly families get together over lunch on Sundays, or the family bbq, the WordPress family gets together at WordCamp.

WordCamps are held around the world and provide support and encouragement at every level of your development, in all things ‘website’. From humble beginnings at the novice level, to the most accomplished web-design tools for professional web-designers; there really is something for everyone with WordCamp.

Speakers include:

Just Do It!
Presented by Robey Lawrence
Basically a story about how opportunities can open themselves up to you when you make the decision to overcome your fears and anxieties and ‘Just Do It!’.
Starting from the beginning of how he got into the WordPress centred career he’s in today, by punching his fears in the face and putting himself out there.

HOW TO MAKE GOOGLE LOVE YOUR WORDPRESS SITE
Presented by Kate Toon
In this presentation, Kate will tell you the tips, techniques and tactics that she uses to help make sites 100% Google lovable, including:
The impact of hosting and domain choice
Integral set up steps that boost SEO friendliness
My top 10 Plugins to improve SEO
Easy peasy content formatting
What to consider when offering on going SEO packages

Normally, a conference with such qualified and informative speakers would cost a fortune, but not at WordCamp. Value for money puts WordCamp way out in front.

The Total Cost of WordCamp is just $50!   

What you get for your $50 is:

  • access to two days of informative speakers
  • a t.shirt and lanyard
  • lunch on both days
  • lots of coffee
  • after-party (yes, that includes the Saturday night party!)
  • networking opportunities – you’ll be surprised at the people you’ll meet
  • the opportunity to ask lots of questions of both speakers and sponsors over a cuppa, or something stronger at the After Party

Getting your Swag at WordCamp

Photo from Brisbane WordCamp website

Oh, and there are usually give-aways by the sponsors who proudly put their support behind this fabulous event.

Now, There Are Only Three Things Left To Do:

      1. Download the Free WordPress Software
      2. Start building your website
      3. Get a ticket to a WordCamp near you

      At time of writing – tickets to WordCamp Brisbane 2017 have sold out, but watch the site for a possible release of more tickets – no guarantees – but you might be lucky.

      See you online and at WordCamp!

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 1 comment