DrupalCon DC

(Written yesterday) I'm somewhere over western Alberta right now, on my way back home after spending a week in Washington DC for my second Drupalcon.  Just finished listening to DaveO's latest Postcards from Gravelley Beach, and an episode of White Coat, Black Art, and am onto some Radio 3 now.  Steve M. and (the other) Boris from 80Elements (who we share office space with) are on my flight too - we parted ways with Steve K and Katherine in Toronto, as they had a slightly later flight out than us.  It's fun traveling with people.  It's actually really fun traveling with people who are acquaintances, it only takes a few days for an acquaintance to turn into a new friend.

The conference itself was really great.  Different than last year, when I knew fewer people, and when everything seemed a lot more intense.  Intense because it was more new, but also because I was more of a stress case then.  This year I felt a lot more relaxed.

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I went to some really interesting sessions - my favorites (so far, I still have many to watch on video) certainly reflect my PM brain.  At the top of my list are Addi's Documentation talk [video], Angie's session on what's coming up in Drupal 7 [video], the QA talk [video], and Konstantin's session on What's new in web development [video].  The PM BOF was pretty cool too - definitely some conversations to continue online.

I have to also give props to Adrian, who's session on Aegir [video] was extremely well attended and excited people a lot, and also to Audrey who was on a panel about SOLR search [video] and schooled me on distributed search it while she was prepping for the session.  Also, Konstantin, who's a star after, count 'em, FOUR sessions definitely gets an honourable mention for being on the forefront of a lot of cool web technology stuff. (See this page for all posted videos.)

I would say something about Boris' RDF talk [video], but it was at 9am and I slept through it...  I've heard that James Walker's Why I hate Drupal [video] was quite good (also at 9am), though I have yet to watch it.  Oh, and I have to add that meeting Courtney from Floatleft, was great - I think she'll be a joy to work with (again) hopefully in the not too distant future.

The only "party" I went to was on Thursday night.  Poor Katherine had to twist my and Audrey's arms to get us out, but I am so glad she did, as I had a great time!  It was at this odd hipster biker bar, and the most excellent live music.  We stayed through a couple groups - both great.  The event is a regular one Cakes and Kisses held the first Thursday of every month at Asylum in DC, and apparently it was the most well attended one they'd had.  It was a lot of fun... I may have to dig up some more stuff about the groups for another post.

Also a major highlight was the Sprint day on Saturday.  I spent the day at the Documentation Sprint, which was actually great fun.  With some help from Matthew O'Malley, Bruno de Bondt, and Andy Laken, I took on cleaning up and integrating comments on the Troubleshooting page for the WSOD (White Screen of Death).  I didn't really realize what I was getting myself into, as it was quite a mess.  But it's a page that I'm pretty sure gets a lot of use, so I feel like it was a worthy project - I am going to finish rolling in the rest of the comments at some point in the next week or so, and then will have to find someone to review it for technical accuracy before giving it the stamp of approval.

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Big thumbs up for all the Doc Sprint "cat herders" and of course to Addi who is full of awesome for being the lead editor and organizer of all things Drupal documentation.  Which reminds me, congrats to Addi on getting one of the Knight Foundation grants!  Some of her grant will fund her being able to travel and do Doc Sprints at DrupalCamps in other cities, so if you think documentation is fun, you should contact her and get her to come hang out!

Aside from the conference, DC was a really fun city to spend a week.  Katherine, Audrey, and I stayed in a basement apartment in one of the old row houses in the Dupont Circle area.  We weren't sure about it the first night, but it ended up being the perfect place to stay - good proximity to the Con, and just a really great little neighbourhood.  Especially with the freakish weather, which started off as a snowstorm the day we arrived, and ended with 3 days of 20C+ weather, it was lovely sitting outside the last couple days and enjoying some fresh air.

Saturday night after the sprint, a bunch of us went out for dinner on one of the patios near our place, and just chilled.  Olly from Squamish was out for the week and made it for dinner before heading out yesterday back home.  Scott and Sam, and Rok and Allan from NowPublic were also there.  Finally Boris, and Audrey and Katherine rounded out the bunch.  Steve K. was sleeping at our place, still recovering from the food poisoning/flu he'd gotten the night before, poor guy!

After that, some of us walked over to the Whitehouse.  By then I was thoroughly exhausted and we headed home for the night.

Sunday we had a final day for sightseeing, and Boris, Katherine, Steve and I went over to Lincoln Memorial, and the Korean and Vietnam war memorials, and took lots of pictures.  After walking around in the crazy heat and humidity, and after a long week, we were all tuckered out and went back to our place and laid low for the rest of the afternoon, mostly computering.  I sat out on the stoop for a while reading in the 20 degree weather, which was really lovely.

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Lovely is really the word to describe the week.  Lovely people, a lovely neighbourhood, (mostly) lovely weather...  And even though I felt crappy a couple days, I had a lovely time.  I certainly feel more like I've had a holiday than been at a web development conference, but I guess that's partly the beauty of Drupal.  With that, I should say a ginormous thank-you to the people at Dev Seed, and all the volunteers in DC who made the Con such a success.

All my best photos from the week and the full set are on Flickr.  Hope to see everyone in September, I'll do my darndest to make it!  Till next time...