Thoughts on evo’11

I'm attending Evo 11Last week I went out to Utah for a conference titled “The Evolution of Women is Social Media” (evo’11). I attended to work at the WordPress Happiness Bar along with a couple of colleagues, Sheri and Krista, from Automattic.

First, I should explain what a Happiness Bar is in case you’ve never visited one. You know the Genius Bars in Apple stores? A Happiness Bar is the same idea, but we help people with their WordPress questions and problems. The name comes from the job title Happiness Engineer we use at Automattic for the people on our Support (Happiness) Team.

Ok, so back to the conference. As a single guy, I felt a bit out-of-place at the conference. There were women everywhere, many of them pregnant, many of them married with children. I was out of my comfort zone to say the least. Everyone was very friendly, extremely positive, and as helpful as you could ever want, but the bottom line is it’s not a conference designed for single guys. I don’t mean anything negative by that, but it’s a fact I felt I needed to include for completeness.

With that said, I had a really good time at the conference. We really felt the love for WordPress. Organizers, sponsors, speakers, and attendees made us feel so welcome and helped to make our jobs pretty easy. Some of the common comments I heard:

  • “We love WordPress!”
  • “I recently switched to WordPress and love it.”
  • “Sally (or insert name here), you should really switch to WordPress. Everyone’s using it for a reason.”

I’ve worked Happiness Bars at WordCamps and BlogWorld Expo where there’s a mix of bloggers and developers. From what I could tell at evo’11 the conference was mostly composed of bloggers, which was cool. We were able to connect with the women producing content. We transferred several blogs from Blogger over to WordPress, configured permalinks, and recommended many cool plugins. I hope we were able to help everyone that needed help.

The conference had some great swag, including free books and shoes. Breakfasts, snacks, and lunches were all great. Both of these things were possible because of an impressive list of sponsors such as Bush’s, McDonald’s, Pepperidge Farm, Johnson & Johnson, New Balance, Sesame Street, Southwest Airlines, Huggies, Kodak, Xbox 360, PBS, and many others.

The Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah was the home of evo’11. It’s a beautiful place. I stayed at the Sundial Lodge where my room was great. The resort sits in the middle of a mountain range so there are plenty of activities to do, especially if you like the outdoors.

I didn’t attend any of the sessions or workshops, but did get to sit in on the closing keynote by Me Ra Koh. She talked about some of her life experiences starting with a story of date rape, how she got through it, and is taking advantage of every moment she has in life. It was an inspiring story that reminded me of the opportunities I have that I should be taking more advantage of.

Adventure is the exploration of unknown territory.

Me Ra Koh

If there was one thing I’ll always remember about evo’11 it was the great sense of community I witnessed. It reminded be of the WordPress community in a lot of ways. I talked to women blogging about their families, travel, crafts, and hobbies. I talked to women managing social media for large companies. I talked to women writing about women. I talked to women from Utah, Michigan, and cities across the United States. All of these women seemed to know each other, which was unique for any conference I’ve attended. These women read each others blogs and helped each other out however they could. The conference felt like a meeting of hundreds of sisters.

If you are a women writing on the web, I would highly recommend attending next year. They’re already planning for 2012. If you want to find out more about the conference, check out, the @EvoConf Twitter account, or the #evoconf Twitter hashtag.

Jetpack to the Cloud

A very exciting launch from our team at Automattic. The sky is the limit on this.

Jetpack to the Cloud No one really gets the distinction between the two things called WordPress at first, the dot-com and the dot-org. On dot-com in just a few clicks you’re set up on a web-scale centralized platform that constantly gets new upgrades and features. And you never have to worry about it because it’s completely hassle-free and completely supported by our happiness team. On dot-org you sign up and host your blog with a hosting company and you get complete … Read More

via Jetpack

All Roads Lead to

I’ve wanted to get more use out of for a long time. Last week I decided to combine a bunch of domains and redirect them all here. The content from,,, and should all be available with the old URLs being redirected.

I’ve moved from a self-hosted install to I removed all the spammy ad links, ditched all of the plugins, and used CSS customizations with the Moo-Point skin for Sandbox as the design. I wanted to show what you can do with CSS. I’m showing different widgets for different areas of the site, made my own footer (which isn’t working in all browsers yet), and have more tweaks planned. It’s a work in progress.

An Automattic 6+ Months

Leaving my old job at SVSU to work for Automattic has been great. I haven’t had a single regret with my decision.

The company has changed a lot in the short time I’ve been there. The number of Automatticians has grown from less than 20 to over 30. We acquired BuddyPress and IntenseDebate. One of our main projects, contintues to see incredible growth, so we decided to provide 24/7 support.

My title is Happiness Engineer, which isn’t an ordinary job title. So what do I do on a daily basis? I provide support to users and people running the self-hosted version of WordPress. I work with our VIP hosting clients, such as Fox News, CNN, NFL, NY Times, and many others. We review their theme, plugins, and any content they want to import from a previous blog. I fix some of the minor bugs and theme issues on and submit patches to if the bug is a problem there as well. I train all new employees who are required to provide support for their first 3 weeks. In general, I try to do whatever I can to make our users happy.

The problems and questions from users are always changing. Everyday is different and comes with new challenges. This keeps work interesting. I can honestly say I’ve never been bored.

When I started working for Automattic, it took some time getting used to working from home, keeping track of all of our internal information, and doing all communication with my coworkers online. Once you get in the swing of things, you’d be surprised how well online communication works for a virtual company. Would I like to have more face to face contact with the people I work with? Of course. Would I like to go back to a 9-5 office job? Not a chance.

Believe it or not, I’ve only met 4 of the people I work with and I had just met 2 of them a couple of weeks ago at Blog World. Next week most of the company will be getting together in Breckenridge, CO for a week long offsite. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and putting a face to the online personalities I’ve come to know.

I came out to Toronto this weekend to attend my first WordCamp and had a great time. Interacting with people who share the same enthusiasm and passion for WordPress makes work more rewarding.

My life has had some exciting changes in the last 6 months with the new job. I’m looking forward to what the next 6 months bring.