Warning: this post is long. That is all. Updated: Changed the post title from “Thoughts on BlogOrlando 2007” since
I’ll likely do I’ve written a separate post with thoughts. This is more of a recap and the title now says so.
First Some Background
Last year was the inaugural year for BlogOrlando. Josh had a name and I had the domain name so he asked if he could use it. Of course, I obliged and told him that if he needed help I could do anything from programming to printing agendas, to taking out the trash.
I ended up compiling the registration list into an Excel spreadsheet that Jeremy used for making the badges which was great fun. Really, just ask him 🙂 I and my coworkers at the time manned the registration desk.
Last year, we had about 90 people show up which was great. The sessions were all rockin’ and Chris Heuer gave a great closing session about The Importance of Social Media. Go read that link–now–it is that good. I’ll wait…
This year, Josh asked me to whip up some DB/PHP code to make the online registration a bit more high-tech. This made getting the info out much easier but due to either a lack of sleep or too many beers, I messed up when entering the t-shirt sized in the DB and instead of XL and XXL they ended up being XXL and XXXL. This wasn’t the case with the signup form since I had neglected to tie it into the DB (bad developer, no coffee!). Josh didn’t catch it when he went to order the shirts so if you signed up for an XL or XXL you got one size larger. So, you have me to thank for your new tent.
Thursday at Universal Studios
About 95 people signed up for this event and about 30-something showed up. As a result, we had more Universal Dollars per person than the $10 we were expecting. A group of us pooled ours together with some additional from an anonymous source and went to the bar across from Margaritaville (since M’ville was closed for a private party) and managed to eat and drink a good chunk of it pretty quickly. After that, we went to Pat O’Brien’s and finished off the rest, adding a nice tip for our server. Turns out our server knew of Alex from his Sprit Airlines blog post (small world). The look on Alex’s face when she said she had read that post was priceless.
I had the t-shirts, drink tix, and schedules with me so I showed up about 7:30 which was way too early after the margaritas the night before. A quick coffee fix helped and I meandered around trying to help people find registration and stood around being otherwise useless for a bit.
After Shel Israel‘s keynote, I made my way down to the basement where the tech track was taking place. Josh asked me to be the track leader which means I had the job of making sure everything ran on time, gave the session leaders a heads-up when their time was nearly up and making sure everything kept moving. I did a horrible job on the timing at first since we got started a bit late and I wasn’t sure if we were sticking to the schedule or still taking our alloted time.
Blogging Basics Session
This was the first session in the tech track and the one I was leading. We covered most of the topics that I had outlined and the discussion was moving along pretty nicely for most of it. I hit one topic that fell flat (which I don’t recall) so we moved on. Other than that, I think it went pretty well but considering my vantagepoint maybe that is wishful thinking 🙂
For those that attended, here’s my ma.gnolia links to some of the sites we talked about and some we didn’t get a chance to discuss (blogging tips sites). Also, if you have any feedback for me, please leave a comment.
Blogging Tools Session
Judson Colllier let this session which was very lively, packed with questions, and could have gone on for hours if we had the time. One of the older attendees joked with me asking if they had to let Judson out of high school to come talk to us. While I don’t think they meant anything by it, I was tempted to tell them to be careful since he may be their boss in the next couple years 🙂
Mark Jaquith, one of the contributing devlopers on the WordPress project gave us some info on what’s coming in WordPress 2.4, what’s new in 2.3 and answered a slew of questions about what WordPress can do and why someone should use it. Many of the attendees already used either wordpress.com or hosted their own WordPress install. I think a few people using other platforms were very interested in checking out switching to WordPress.
By noon, I really needed food and Urban Flats hit the spot.
Design On a Dime Session
How do you design a site if you don’t have the resources of the pros? Jeremy Harrington showed us some tools and shared his thoughts on how to get a professional look without spending a lot of dough. Check out his ma.gnolia bookmarks for plenty of links and also his blog for some free icons. This was a hard topic to keep unconference-y since most of the attendees were novices looking for info but I think Jeremy did a good job of engaging the group where it made sense and soliciting input throughout.
John Rife gave a great and funny video intro on videoblogging and then went through a brief tutorial on some popular videoblogs and some videoblogging tools. There was some great discussion about cameras, video hosting sites, and other topics that kept this moving right until the end. This was another session that could have gone on longer due to most of the attendees being relatively new to the topic.
Ryan Price showed the crowd what podcasts are, how to create them, and how to find/download them–all while recording his session for a podcast. Another topic the crowd was very interested in and there was plenty of discussion on the technology as well as how to use them for personal and business use. If you attended this session, check out Ryan’s follow up post and give him your feedback.
Mark joined us again to talk about search engine optimization. He did a good job of sticking to the core, whitehat SEO topics. There were a few people in the crowd with some good depth of experience here so the the discussion was pretty lively and involved at times. I had to try to cut the questions off a couple times before we could finally end this one.
Chris Heuer once again delivered the closing session. He talked about how business is becoming personal again and what that means for social media and business interactions with customers and employees. He closed by asking how many people take time to reflect every day/week/month/etc. on what they have done and what they want to do. Some good feedback from the audience, especially the guy show said that he does all the time with a 6 year old asking him constantly what he’s doing.
Happy Hour at Slingapour’s
I walked into Slingapour’s just in time to beat the rain, talked with a few people, and had a beer. Unfortunately, that’s all I had time for since I had to get home to dinner and get some sleep for the 15K the next morning. As it turns out I skipped the 15K since I still wasn’t feeling 100% after feeling like I was getting sick on Wed. Still, I’m glad I didn’t drink too much or stay out late since I’m sure I feel better for it now.
If you’re still with me, I thank you.
BlogOrlando 2007 rocked! Josh and the other organizers did a great job of getting everything and everyone ready for an event that at least trippled in size from last year. I didn’t attend any sessions other than the tech track, but from the feedback I heard that day/night and the blog posts I’ve seen since then, I think all the sessions were all good.
I’m looking forward to 2008 already.