LiveBlog: CyborgCamp

9:43am: Currently in the Forum at Cubespace, waiting for opening remarks on CyborgCamp, Amber Case (@caseorganic appears to be MC’ing.

9:50am: there are several extras for following what’s happening with CyborgCamp (#cyborgcamp): CyborgCamp, CyborgCamp LiveStream, Twitter Tracking.

Should definitely check out the sponsors at

10:00am: Still going through sponsors, each is getting a chance to get up and sort of give their spiel as to what they do. I’ve yet to see any that aren’t worth checking out.

Explanation of an unconference — a mixture of established presentations, and blocks of time where you can create breakout sessions — if you have something you want to discuss or present, just put it on a card, put it on the grid. The point is to make these conferences to work for you. There is no commitment as an attendee — go where you’re finding value; if something isn’t what you wanted, go somewhere else.

10:12am: Okay, starting to organize the unconferences and meeting back here in 30.
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WordCamPDX Wrap-Up

Skipped the after-party to wander home (I don’t drink, and today was long enough as it stands, otherwise would have joined the crew at the Green Dragon). Hoping to collect my thoughts on the day while they’re still fresh.

The short of it: it was a REALLY fantastic event, and I’m very glad I went (it would have been worth coming down from Seattle for were I still in Seattle, let me put it that way). As can be gathered from my previous post, there was a virtual wealth of information regarding blogging, and thats not even getting into the deluge of tweets on Twitter regarding it — at several points in the day, we were anywhere from the number one to the number three item in Twitter Trends, even beating out the political stuff the day after the debates. And the attendance was just 150 people(ish), so that should be saying something on just how much everyone was tweeting. I about doubled my Twitter Follows/Followers.

On the quibbles side of things, I’d say it’d be nice if it was broken into two shorter days rather than one PACKED day. More chance to socialize and network between peers, and it would also give the opportunity to provide a bit more tracking options for sessions (as it was, there were a few that ran opposite each other that a lot of people wanted to go to both of). That said, the price was unbeatable, the presenters and topics were interesting, and the location was excellent. Overall, if you’re going to have issues, having too many neat things packed into the time is a pretty nice problem to have.

A few mental notes to myself:

  • I promised to look into more effective ways to migrate or batch edit categories in MediaWiki (the wiki software the Codex uses)
  • The WordPress Codex needs more volunteers to help write tutorials and document features, especially with 2.7 right around the corner! This is something that is worth at least a portion of my time, even if it’s just taking a few hours a week to fix typos and grammar.
  • Unrelated to WordPress, worth looking into the Information School at Berkeley, as their graduate program sounds like potentially a good fit. Thanks for the tip about goes to the lovely @snelson, one of the numerous awesome people I got to meet today.

I feel like the event made me excited about being a blogger again, which is a great feeling. I’m excited to put some of what I learned about into practice to make my blogs better and more effective. Some of these include the plugins that got listed, and implementing OpenID support and finding other ways to foster communication on the blog. I’m excited to update to 2.7, and plan to pull a nightly for local testing to make sure my theme development doesn’t break. I’d like to finish my new theme and get it implemented on the site, and maybe (shock of shocks!) share it with the community in case someone else likes what I did! Which, I think, is the biggest takeaway from this event: it’s not about the tool you’re using, it’s about the community that uses it.

Liveblogging WordCamp Portland

8:33am: We’re all set up in the main conference room at CubeSpace, bagels and coffee in hand… slide on the project points out that if you want to search on twitter or flickr or anywhere, the hashtag to look for is #wordcampdx.

8:38am: Giveaways of random things, like a free copy of Blogging Tips

8:40am: “Compost Compost Compost!” (Eva explaining CubeSpace)

8:42am: Automatic sent us a bunch of buttons and stickers and tattoos (temporary tattoos). Tattoo contest for creative use (PG-13 please!) over the day.

8:43am: Random silly little WordPress video done to “When You Wish Upon a Star” — cheesy but cute. It’s sort of a list of bloggers and developers and such who’ve managed to be successful using wordpress.

8:48am: Random interviews with various WordPress users.

8:53am: Lorelle just came in dressed as a Fairy Blogmother. “Has no one’s lives have been changed by WordPress here? What the hell am I doing here?”
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Beautiful in PDX

It’s a beautiful day here in Portland — not too hot, not too humid, sunny but still with clouds in the sky (I have always been fan of a sky with texture), and a moderate breeze blowing through. This is pretty damn close to perfect in my view. Just got back from having lunch with my brother, with much coffee fueled discussion on a number of subjects that I won’t bother enumerating here. Suffice it to say, it was a good way to spend a few hours, and leaves me wanting to write a bit.

There are some things I simply don’t talk about on the blog, for a variety of reasons — you won’t see me discussing sex much, though I’ll freely admit I read several people who do. I try to keep the emotional baggage off the site as well (though they do happen from time to time). This is mostly because I fully realize that I’m a complete sap. I’m a hopeless romantic with an overdeveloped connection to the unrequited, and an underdeveloped sense of romantic objectivity. I’ve always been the moon-eyed lovelorn kid. I somehow doubt that’s going to change any time soon — I mean hell, I’m still beating myself up over a relationship that ended nearly two years ago, and still stuck on a girl I’ve not spoken to in a year and a half. (Working on moving on. Have a girlfriend again, and trying to let go of some of that baggage. Harder than it sounds.)

I COULD regale you with stories of emotionally charged dreams and idle thoughts and everything else, but frankly it just comes off as whiny, since it fails to affect any meaningful change in how I feel or my behavior — if it was remotely epiphanous and life-changing, perhaps I’d be less reluctant to share it. Sometimes some things strike a chord, though, and are worth sharing regardless. Case in point:

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love. (John Irving, by way of Melissa Gira, by way of Clayton Cubitt)

Delays and Excuses

“The best laid plans…” and all that. Apologies for the slow posting. For what it’s worth, the day before flying back to Portland, I came down with a hell of a cough that has been driving me bonkers ever since. At some point, I imagine it’ll go away, but in the meantime, it hasn’t exactly put me in a posting mood (after a string of coughing, most of the time all I really want to say is “fucking hell…”).

Despite the cough, I’ve been keeping busy the past week or two catching up on things that I’d let slide while gone for the month (finally did my taxes today, woo! …and yes, I did in fact file an extension when I realized my paperwork was in Portland and I was in DC, so no guff about procrastinating this time). I’ve also been spending a fair bit of time with my friend Jessica (not going to jinx it by trying to define it into a neatly compartmentalized relationship, but I will say I’ve been really enjoying her company, and leave any conclusions to be made to the reader).

I didn’t get the LaCie job, which is a shame, but I remain optimistic about finding a reasonable position somewhere in the Portland area (not that it’s a requirement, but it would be nice… I’m also applying elsewhere, just less so). I’ve also decided it’s time to try revising my resume again, to see if I can elicit more responses from my job hunting attempts.

Will get back to posting more regularly soon.

A Month of Couches

I gave up my apartment in Seattle on March 1st, moving most of my belongings into a storage unit, and the rest into my car. Put simply, I felt done with Seattle, and wanted to try elsewhere, but couldn’t really afford to continue to hemorrhage money on an apartment while I found job somewhere else. It’s something of a risky maneuver, but thankfully I do have friends and family who help, which mitigates the risk of it all nicely.

So, barring a week in Seattle helping my friend Anna move, I’ve spent most of the month crashing on my brother’s couch in Portland. His roommates are aware of my situation, and have been incredibly cool about it, though I still feel bad about imposing on them for so long. I’ve been sending out resumes, and interviewed for a position last week that I really hope I get, as it’s a position I think I would enjoy, for a company I really like (and whose products i use often). That would put me in Portland with a decent (not high pay, but comfortable enough) full time job, which sounds pretty damn idyllic right now. I run into more people in Portland who have made a conscious choice to be there, instead of being drawn for some ulterior motive (work, hipster cachet, relationships, etc), than anywhere else I’ve ever visited or been. That sort of attitude really shines through in the behavior and personality of the city.

Despite having interviewed for a job I am hopeful to get (and remain in the running for), delays in that process (they’re still looking at and interviewing candidates) have left me in a position where I’ll be flying out to DC to help with UberCon and hang out with a lot of the Avatar crew. I could be there for as much as a month (notably if I don’t get the job), though possibly less. We’ll see. In either case, it’ll be good seeing people (and anyone who wants to hang out, drop me a line).

It’s all been sort of surreal. As much as I’m aware of the need and stressed about finding a home and a job, I’m actually feeling pretty good and calm. Maybe it’s the Portland vibe, maybe it’s just that I’ve ALWAYS liked being a floater, but in either case, it’s a pretty good mindset to be in (way better than freaking out about it, at the very least). Largely thanks to Uri, I’ve already met more people in Portland than I ever knew in Seattle. Yes, I’m an introvert, so it’s hard for me to meet people in the first place, but I still think it really says something about the difference between Portland and Seattle.

Wherever You Go

I am simultaneously excited and scared shitless by the state of my life right now. I gave up my apartment, and moved out on the first, without having a job or a place to live lined up anywhere — while I thankfully have friends and family whose couches I am able to crash on for a while, I am effectively homeless, without the funds to rent an apartment. I don’t really know what I’m doing or where I’m going or even what the hell I’m thinking. I just know it’s time for a change.

For now, I’m in Portland, and have been crashing on my brother’s couch for the past few days. His roommates are friendly and nice, so there hasn’t been any complaints about it, but I know it’s not a viable position for more than, say, a week. Exactly what I’ll do next, I’m not entirely sure. It depends to some extent on what sort of work I find and when.

It’s exciting and freeing to have no real ties, able to end up anywhere, but to be that completely adrift is also incredibly frightening: I love to travel and wander, but it’s nice to know there’s somewhere that is ostensibly “home” when doing so, which isn’t something I really have going for me right now. (It’s also nice to have some cash set aside for such wandering, and it goes without saying that I don’t have that either.)

In other news, Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons and an essential lynchpin for so much of what the gaming industry and achieved since, passed away last night. Rest in peace, and my best wishes and condolences to his friends and family.

Urban Grind

Since I sort of have some free time on my hands and can job hunt just as easily crashed on a couch as I can at home, I took off for Portland yesterday, and am now hanging out with my brother. It’s been good: good company, good food, and good hangouts. We’re currently at a place called the Urban Grind, which is a rather expansive coffee house, with an interesting mix of industrial aesthetic (it’s in a reconditioned warehouse space), and “kid friendliness” (they have two rooms explicitly for the little tykes to go play, which I gotta say is pretty cool). It’s kind of empty at the moment (the evening on a Saturday), but the music is good (Radiohead’s new album at the moment), and they have a nice Rooibos-based chai that I’m on my second large cup of. The wireless is kinda corporate: two networks, one “free” but with the occasional web-redirect to an ad, or a “premium” (pay) network with a fatter pipe and no ads. I don’t mind clicking past an ad every once in a while, personally.

I promised to take Anna to the airport next week, otherwise I’d be sorely tempted to just keep couch surfing for a while. I really want to hit the road for a while, though I know I can’t really afford it, but the prospect of couch surfing in different towns, seeing if one appeals to me to move to or find a job in… well, it’s more than mildly appealing to me. A thought I’ve had (I don’t know how feasible it is), is to put in my month notice on my apartment, sell off as much as I can, put the rest in storage, and then go look for places to be. I’d need money for gas, and food, and I’d need to line up a few places to stay first before it starts to look realistic, but that’s not that much in the grand scheme of things. How long can I stretch that while I find work and the path I want to walk next?

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to get a more permanent (and livable) job with the game industry. In particular, a role as an associate producer sounds really appealing right now. It’s the primary focus of the positions I’m applying for (though not all). Of course, there’s a part of me that wants to just go do random other stuff for a while. Take some other job that covers the basics, but is in Hawaii, or Guam, or Japan, or somewhere in Europe. Learn to surf. Learn some more languages. Spend a few months to a year in a place, and then pick up and do something else (or even a similar thing) somewhere else. Does that provide stability, or savings, or a home? No, not really. That’s sort of alright, though, if it brings a sense of wonder and exploration with it. It’s not boring. It’s not a cubicle, it’s not 2.5 kids and two mortgages, it’s not the rat race, even if only for a little while.

The most satisfying moments in my life have been the times where I veered off the path and did my own thing.

The Long Road Home

This weekend, I wandered down to Portland for a barbecue my friend Dan and his lovely fiance Moonrise were holding down there. This was a remarkably good idea on several levels, not the least of which that I’d completely forgotten that my friend Jen was in Portland for the week, and that I’d promised to head down and hang out, so a quick IM later, she swung by and we chatted for many hours. The actual trip down was notable primarily for the fact that I was pulled over. It’s complete bullshit, and I will be fighting it tooth and nail if I have to.

Hey, don’t get me wrong, getting pulled over happens, and I don’t begrudge a ticket if they catch me dead to rights. I’ve literally had a check in the mail within the hour before. But this… this is worthy of my rage. First of all, I was going 65 in a 60 — whups, yep, I was speeding, a whole 5 miles over. He claims I was going 75 in a 60, which I am completely positive in saying I was NOT doing (mostly because I was frustrated at the traffic not going faster, so I was abundantly aware of my speed). I’ve had cops try to over-charge me before, and generally I’ll even begrudge that, though I’ll certainly bitch about it. BUT, he decided to also slap a $1000 fine on top of it, for “failing to pull to the right for an emergency vehicle.” It was markedly unsafe to pull over to the right, and since there was a 15 foot wide breakdown lane on my immediate left (and I’ve been pulled over on the left side in Washington before without issue), I pulled over immediately, but to the left. I feel fairly confident that the only reason he gave me this extra fine was because I a) was with out-of-state plates, and b) disagreed with him regarding my speed. I WILL be contesting this.

But, that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing about the trip home. Given that it was Memorial Day, I sort of assumed that it was going to take me many hours to get home, regardless of the route I took, so I opted to take a scenic route (long duration due to going out of my way, not because of traffic). I split off eastward at exit 21, and took 503 out towards Cougar, heading through the national forest on the east side of Mt St Helens (I’d post pics, but I’m at Zoka, and left my card reader at the apartment). 503 at some point became 25, and passed through Packwood, and still I kept on going. The roads out there are long and winding, with unbelievable views and no traffic, but you need to be careful that you don’t slip off the road: there are often no guardrails and no shoulder, just a steep drop down a thousand plus foot embankment to water or trees below. There were some lovely lots for sale out near Yale Lake, in 5 acre and 20 acre allotments that would probably do well as a spot for a hermit’s cabin or camp.

Continuing onward and up through one of the passes, I saw a man walking up the road, with no backpack or anything, just a machete strapped to his leg. I hadn’t passed a camp or even a pullout for a few miles, so I found this odd… a quarter mile later, I saw another solitary man, without equipment other than a machete. It was another 5 miles before I saw a logging trail leading off into the hills, with a crudely drawn chalk arrow pointing that direction… I don’t know what was going on, probably nothing, but it sorta weirded me out. It was interesting to see snow in the pass, as well, and kind of reassuring, as well: I was glad to see snowbanks available rather than a straight shot down the precipice, considering I had already been passing several spots where the embankment under the road had eroded away, the pavement sinking into oblivion and an orange cone warning off drivers.

By then it was rolling up on 9pm, and finally starting to be truly dark. The moon was a welcome addition. Unfortunately, 9pm means a lot of the gas stations out in that area are already closed for the night, and I noted that it was highly unlikely I’d have enough gas to finish the trip. I started putting the car in neutral and riding the brake down the passes, just to save gas (I was seeing a car perhaps once every 30 minutes). Eeked it out until I found a gas station that was actually open around 11. I tried cutting through Mt Rainier National Park, but the passes there are still closed due to snow, so I had to cut back a bit and take 410 instead. Heading up over Chinook Pass was impressive, with WALLS of snow, 8 feet high, on either side of the road, though the road itself was clear and in good shape. Coasting down that switchback was completely crazy, but immensely fun and refreshing (considering the night was stretching on, having something to refresh and excite you in your drive to keep you alert is a godsend… you will NOT fall asleep on these roads, there’s too much to pay attention to, all the time). Finally made it back into town a little before 2am, and then trundled off to bed.

Hell of a trip, great roads. It’d be nice to do it again with more of it in the daylight. Maybe once the passes in Rainier are actually open. (That reminds me, I need to renew my National Parks pass… hmm, it can wait a few paychecks, methinks.)