Matt Baya

What I Learned At Wordcamp This Summer: Nicole’s Takeaways

2014-boston-wordcamp-logoThere is always something to know… and even though I’ve been working in Wordpress since 2008, I am always blown away not only with the new technology coming out but new ways of using features that I’m already familiar with.

Wordcamp Boston took place at one of MIT’s state of the art buildings and there were about 300 of us on hand to drink coffee and learn what we could from each other. The fact they had 8 sessions (!) in one day I was a little worried about but 45 minutes each was somehow manageable and fun.

We not only attended the after party but also the after-after party where we got to hang out with cool ‘celebrities’ like Sam Hotchkiss, creator of BruteProtect and a rep from Sucuri, a service we’ve used and loved. (A rep from GoDaddy was there too, apparently his sister makes GREAT fondant, and he took the elephant shooting jokes we made about a former GoDaddy exec  in stride!)

Here’s what we learned:

Accessibility is key.
It was fun to meet Jordan Quintal who has a firm that specializes in accessible sites for the disabled. As one of the 1 billion people worldwide who has a disability, Jordan talked about features I just thought were pretty, like mouseover color changes, and how you can test your site’s accessibility level. Bonus is these tools give specific improvements you can make on your own website. You can see his presentation (from a previous conference) here: Jordan’s Presentation about Accessibility (Video)

Us as mad scientists at Wordcamp.Live tweeting is still awesome.
Because of Twitter, not only did we get some of the talking points and ideas of other talks going on at the same time (I literally can’t be in two places at the same time after all!) but it also connected us with some cool people, including Myrna, head of Good Egg Marketing who we hope to collaborate with on some future projects.

Seeing Matt Baya should happen more than once a year.
The fact that the picture with this blog post is the only picture of Kassie and I at this conference is a little sad. And super sad we didn’t get one with Matt. But as usual he blew our minds, this time introducing us to Yik Yack.

My favorite talk of the whole conference was David Hickox’s talk about Designing for Content. Really great overview and actually got me excited about sexy topics like line spacing and h5 tags!

Overall, great job Wordcamp organizers on a smooth conference with a nice range of presenters. Let’s do it again next year!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Why Everyone Needs A Matt

If you are lucky, you have some days where you can feel like a rock star at your job. And to balance out this feeling, other days you will really mess up. Most days, I have both these feelings, and today was no exception.

The great thing about my line of work is no one dies if I mess up. Bonus is there is literally (usually) an ‘undo’ button. The bad thing is because everyone thinks the internet is easy and instant, people think that you can fix an internet-based problem in five minutes.

Over the years, I’ve had several mentors who have ‘taught me to fish’, the most important being Matt Baya. When I want to use my charm to get out of coding or otherwise exhibit not-confident-in-my abilities behavior, Matt calls me out.

More importantly then making sure I am and act confident, Matt has been able to reframe my thinking, give me just enough information, and let myself try to get unstuck. He does all this over chat hundreds of miles away.

Matt has taught me a lot about not just fixing my own problems (forcing myself to learn new things) but also how to let other people help me. Here are a few things I’ve learned in the past five years with Matt:

1) Give it time (ideally sleep).
Sometimes, when you are completely frustrated by something, walk away. I royally screwed something up yesterday afternoon and looking at it at 8:30 AM after sleeping, having breakfast, and walking my dog, it was solved by 9 AM. Worried about something being messed up overnight? Remember, no one is going to die. Unless you are a surgeon or something, in which case, get enough sleep!

2) You are not who you were in high school/college/last year.
For years, because the crappiest grade I ever got in college was computer programming, I have stayed away from coding. Matt has pointed out several times that I am no longer in college. And he’s right. Point is, don’t let who you think you are limit what you can do. Because you aren’t even that person anymore really.

3) Backup.
This is to say, do whatever you can to minimize loss. When you bake something tricky, you may measure your ingredients to be precise. If you are going to do something crazy on a website, you back up. It’s a lesson I relearn at least once a year.

4) If you need someone smarter, there’s always someone who can help.
In this world of informational forums, search engines, and social networks, you are hardly even in a position where you have a problem and no one can help.

5) If you are asking someone to help, isolate the problem as much as you can. 
Rather than say ‘x isn’t working’, try to take the problem as far as you can. I’ll try to isolate the variables (Is it the server that’s causing the problem? The website theme the person is using?) I try to look up and implement any obvious solutions. Then I write a detailed summary of what the problem is, what I tried, and what I might have done to cause it. Trust me, if you can articulate the problem and what the solution isn’t, you are that much closer to what the solution is.

6) If you are smarter, teach the other person to fish.
Matt teaches me to fish, I teach Alice to fish, Alice teaches clients to fish… soon the world is full of fishermen. And we can all get together and come up with better ways to catch fish.

Matt says that someday I won’t need him anymore. I have a hard time ever seeing when that day will be. Because there are always new problems to solve and I hope as time goes on, I’m moving from mentee to colleague for Matt.

If I do this right, I know someday, I can be a Matt for somebody else.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Marketing Monday: El Conejo Corredor

I think I have most appreciated about writing this blog is that it’s connected me with so many cool people… and it allows me to keep in touch with far flung friends who (*gasp*) actually seem to read and enjoy it. One of those people is Matt Baya, a formerly local web developer I have become good friends with who moved to Massachusetts to take a new job.

‘You have to write about this taco truck’ he said. Based in Williamstown Massachusetts, he is surrounded by that college town vibe, much like I am here in Bar Harbor.

El Conejo Corredor was started by a couple Williams College graduates. They have a basic website up for general info/inquiries. These folks are proving that you don’t need to be in San Fran or Seattle to set up a food truck.

El Conejo's Twitter feed automatically posts to Facebook. And with slightly over 100 people following them on Twitter and 500ish following on Facebook, 600ish people can be reached with a single tweet.

El Conejo's Twitter feed automatically posts to Facebook. And with slightly over 100 people following them on Twitter and 500ish following on Facebook, 600ish people can be reached with a single tweet.

Since the El Conejo Corredor folks prefer Twitter, they have Twitter automatically post to their Facebook page:

Love Twitter but have people who prefer to follow you on Facebook? Connect your Twitter to your Facebook automatically!

Love Twitter but have people who prefer to follow you on Facebook? Connect your Twitter to your Facebook automatically!

What applications can you use to do this? Here are five from Mashable (with the first one listed being easiest): http://mashable.com/2009/05/25/twitter-to-facebook/

 

El Conjo's simple website. Note: Even if you use a 'free' website builder that comes with your web hosting, there will be a mark on your website (in this case, GoDaddy). One of the reasons to design your own site once business is good.

El Conjo's simple website. Note: Even if you use a 'free' website builder that comes with your web hosting, there will be a mark on your website (in this case, GoDaddy). One of the reasons to design your own site once business is good.

Now I know even some very established businesses who don’t have websites at all but being the ECC has no fixed location to take advantage of, they can get that fixed location, consistent, ‘we’re a business’ feeling from having a website that they keep up to date.

At the very least, having your own domain is one way of securing who you are businesswise. Here’s an article Matt and I wrote about having your own domain name awhile back with more fun reasons you should have a domain: http://downeastlearning.com/why-you-need-your-own-domain-name/ And if you are going to buy a domain, might as well stick something on it!

Just remember that that ‘free’ web page will always have some catch to it, like advertising for the person who’s letting you have it for ‘free’. (I say ‘free’ because you are paying for the domain name and web hosting already.) Note the GoDaddy logo lower right. Fine for now but not indefinitely.

So want to see this truck in action? Here’s a photo Matt sent me. Looks good, I’m jealous!

The food truck in action. And look left, note the signage about Facebook, Twitter, and website information.

The food truck in action. And look left, note the signage about Facebook, Twitter, and website information.

So if you find yourself in Williamstown Massachusetts or simply want to  know how a food truck in New England is using the web to sell more, check out El Conejo Corredor!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.