Ten Lessons from Wordcamp UK 2009

I very much enjoyed Wordcamp UK in Cardiff at the weekend. It was a real pleasure meeting interesting and passionate people, turning Twitter IDs into real human beings, hearing some stunning stories about how WordPress has made a difference to organisations, and even meeting Matt in the Hat. I’m sure his hair will grow again after his Montreal experience!

Many thanks go to Tony and Hayley for organising such a packed and varied meeting.

I follow a habit to try to capture Ten Lessons from each conference I go to. I’m happy to share that with everyone:

  1. Although my experience of WordPress so far is in support of sites for my personal use and for small voluntary organisation, my day job is within a large organisation. I am therefore please to see that WordPress is maturing well beyond a personal blogging platform and is now a mature CMS solution. The WordPress Showcase displays a number of public sites using WordPress including some key examples from public sector, media and music.
  2. WordPress is now used in a lot of government sites, including No 10 and DFID bloggers. There has been a big takeup of specific commentable WordPress sites, such as Eliminating World Poverty, with some interesting work going on for DWP.

    After the recent reshuffle, a new website was created for the new BIS department in 72 hours at zero cash outlay, using RSS feeds to deliver content from existing sites.

    People to follow for WordPress in govt: Simon Dickson, Simon Wheatley, Mike Little.

  3. Enterprise CMS using WordPress:
    • WordPress can be used to deliver complex enterprise CMS solutions in a very short time frame. An excellent example was Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, developed in 6 weeks with one developer and one content creator. Credit to Kimb Jones.
    • The Role Scoper plugin can allow individual editors to see/edit only the posts that are relevant to them. This makes the application a lot more scalable with multiple section editors.
    • Good LDAP (Active Directory) integration is required to move WordPress to the next stage. Some plugins are available but need development to make them more enterprise-friendly.
    • For some, the biggest challenge is to introduce PHP and MySQL into organisations that otherwise depend on Microsoft.
    • What is WordPress in the enterprise for? Communication/content management/newsletters/blogs. WordPress is not an enterprise scale document repository and is not analogous to Sharepoint. We need to be careful not to position WordPress as the answer to everything; it obviously isn’t.
  4. I’m learning to develop my own themes. A good start seems to be Ian Stewart’s framework and template sites – Themeshaper.com.
  5. Some recommended plugins:
  6. Useful development tools mentioned during the weekend:
  7. Wordhackuk was a brilliant experience – the team delivered a new plugin in 3 hours that allows visibility of versions and plugins of multiple WordPress installs from a Unified Dashboard. The presentation captures the essence of this plugin/widget (although it’s not finished yet).
  8. The WordPress community is extremely supportive and helpful. This may be because the co-founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little are modest, unassuming and nice blokes. Something interesting can be achieved by co-operation.
  9. WordPress.tv is a great resource for WordPress training and knowledge transfer.
  10. Cardiff Bay is a great place to hold a weekend conference, buzzing on a Saturday night, but fortunately no strange paranormal happenings or blokes in RAF greatcoats.

Corrigan’s Mayfair

Corrigans Mayfair interior
We had a brilliant meal at Corrigan’s Mayfair recently.

Canapes – parmesan biscuits, olives stuffed with goats cheese

Cornish crab with dark jelly and melba toast.
Foie gras, rhubarb jelly and gingerbread.

Rabbit cutlet, spinach and garlic puree.
Pan-fried John Dory

“Cheese from our islands”

Hot banana bread, banana fritter, banana ice cream

The food had a strong focus on ingredients. The highlights of the evening were the crab, which was delicately fresh but combined with the deeper taste of the crab jelly; and the rabbit, where most of the edible bits of the rabbit (loin, cutlet, breast, liver, kidney) were cooked in different ways.

The restaurant has interesting decor, blue banquettes, crisp white linen, combined with dark glossy tiles and a wooden frieze with carved hunting scenes. The welcome was warm, with calm and attentive service.

Overall, a very contemporary feel. There were no fripperies such as amuses bouches or pre-desserts. All very in keeping with today’s more frugal feel.

I definitely want to return in the game season.

India and Bangladesh

Sunset at India Gate
I’m just back from a 9-day work trip to India and Bangladesh, spending time in both New Delhi and Dhaka.

This was my first trip to anywhere in South Asia. My immediate impressions were:

  • Both cities have an amazing energy – people are actively looking for the next big opportunity. They also have the confidence of being involved in a global economy. Although the dogs in Delhi seem to have a quiet life.
    Dhaka street scene
    Let sleeping dogs lie
  • Wealth and poverty are very close – one swish apartment building had a set of tin shacks at its base – probably the people who keep the apartments clean.
    Apartment block and slums side by side
  • The pace of development is astonishing – people I visited commented on the way that things have changed even over the past 2 years.

Both places definitely left a big impression. I’m hoping to get back, if possible. It will be fascinating to see how they change over the next few years.

See more pictures of Delhi and Dhaka on Flickr.

Bee Adams 1933-2009

Bee Adams wedding

My Mum, Bee Adams, passed away on Sunday after a short stay in hospital, and her funeral is tomorrow.

Olive Beatrice (Bee) Thompson was born in Larne in 1933, youngest of five children of Mary and William Thompson. They moved to Markethill (?late 1930s/early 1940s) where William was a police sergeant at Markethill RUC station. Bee always remembered her father sounding the air raid siren on top of the police station, and how Gosford was used to house German prisoners and American GIs.

Bee finished her schooling in Ballyclare, and enrolled as a trainee teacher in Stranmillis College. She met John Adams there, and they married in July 1958 and moved to Hamilton’s Bawn. She took up a teaching post at Salter’s Grange Primary School where John also worked. Bee spent most of her teaching life in Salter’s Grange, and saw several generations of children through their primary education. She retired in 1985 after approximately 30 years.

She had four sons. Unfortunately Derek (born 1964) had Downs Syndrome and sadly died at 18 months. This was a body-blow to Bee and John, a deep sadness that she never lost.

The Troubles also dominated Bee’s life, as John was a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment in a volatile part of Northern Ireland. Although many friends and colleagues were killed, the UDR also offered new horizons and opportunities, and the chance to meet many people from outside Northern Ireland. It is difficult to imagine the stress of those years, particularly for Bee who was affected by the uncertainty of waiting, wondering and worrying.

Unfortunately John died suddenly in 1997. Bee became ill in April 2004 and spent several months in hospital and Roxborough House, Moy. With the help of Premier Care, and particularly her carers Jennifer and Caroline, she was able to continue to live independently at home for over four years.