WordCamp Moscow 2016 Recap

WordCamp Moscow 2016

WordCamp Moscow 2016 was held this weekend in the amazing Digital October Center. Fourteen speakers from Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania, two tracks with great content on design, programming, blogging, business and of course SEO. Huge props to Dmitry Mayorov for taking on the lead organizer role and making the best out of it.

We had a little over 200 attendees this year, and the event was quite a success. 92% of the survey respondents said that the event was “great” or “good,” and only 8% said it was “okay” or “could be better.” Nobody said it was awful, so that’s a win.

A fair amount of new speakers applied this year, in fact, five of them never spoke at a WordCamp before. The overall survey results (speakers and their talks) were good. Not amazing, but good. We decided to divide up the two tracks by “anticipated popularity” this year, rather than by content, which I think worked out really well, although some attendees complained in the survey.

A small number of attendees didn’t like some of the talks because they were “too basic” or “too vague.” Well yeah, that happens.

The breaks were long, as usual, pizza for lunch, better-than-last-year coffee, fruits and snacks. We even had a lovely press wall this year, with the conference and sponsor logos, which attendees (and photographers) really enjoyed. The sponsors area was much more active this year, with all four of our platinum sponsors having their own table or booth.

The after-party was in a cafe/restaurant in the same building, where luckily this year we were able to negotiate a cheaper selection of beers, juices, waters and wines for our pre-order to fit our budget, so we didn’t run out as quickly as we did last year.

The Talk

Besides being on the WordCamp Moscow organizing team, I was also a speaker. My talk was about memory management in WordPress and why increasing the PHP memory limit is a bad idea. It was targeted at advanced users and developers, though beginner users were also happy to hear they shouldn’t get a more expensive server if their memory consumption averages around 90%.

The slides are available on SlideShare, the video will be up on WordPress.tv around September.

Again, thanks to Dmitry Mayorov, the WordCamp Moscow 2016 organizing team, all the speakers and volunteers, for making such a great event. I really hope that attendees from other cities and countries were inspired enough to create their own WordPress meetup group, and start working towards a WordCamp in their area.

WordCamp Russia 2015 Recap

We did it.

WordCamp Russia 2015

WordCamp Russia 2015 was held last weekend in the amazing Digital October Center in Moscow. Attendance didn’t change much from last year — we saw about 200 people in person, but a lot of them (~ 60%) were folks who never attended a WordCamp before.

The attendees survey showed great results, pretty much in line with last year and with what we expected overall. The pizza was good, the lounge music was praised, the presentations were terrific.

One thing that stood out was a gentleman, who for some reason decided that it was okay to jump up on stage during a presentation, and point out some (supposedly) mistakes that the speaker had made in their code. Awkward. I guess we’re going to have to hire a bouncer next year.

Here are some other things we learned this year:

  • Some communities don’t care about Wapuu and friends, they’d rather have a t-shirt with a W logo instead
  • If you’re playing music in the hallway during breaks and lunch, make sure you normalize all the tracks
  • Lights, shooting video and a projector don’t go well together, luckily inverting some slides helps
  • With two tracks available perhaps it’s a better idea to split presentations by popularity, rather than just user/dev
  • Launching a screen recording on the presenter’s laptop during their talk is a great idea, video production goes much faster

Big thanks to the organizing team, all the volunteers, speakers and sponsors who made WordCamp Russia a success!

Capture the Flag / OTA 2015

This past weekend I participated in my first Capture the Flag challenge which was hosted by Matt Hamilton (Eriner) and other folks of the OTA Team. It was an epic 72 hours. We teamed up with my brother and took 5th place.

During those 72 hours I learned a lot more than I knew about steganography, cryptography, filesystem superblocks, and even got to sharpen my math skills. I must admit I knew nothing (or maybe forgot everything) about calculus.

My favorite challenge was cracking an Enigma-encoded message. It turns out that the military version of this 1920s machine has over 158 quintillion (!) different ways to setup the initial key. My first blind attempt at bruteforcing it yielded only one million combinations in about 10 minutes. Yeah, good luck with that.

The Enigma Machine

Luckily there are much more effective algorithms to crack the message in fewer steps (yes, faster than the Turing Bombe), by relying on quadgram statistics, given that we know the language of the original message.

Thanks to the OTA Team for hosting this online event! If you’re looking to join such an event in the future, check out ctftime.org.

Stay Tuned for WordCamp Russia 2014

Last year we had a blast and this year we’re planning to have an even bigger one. WordCamp Russia 2014 will be held on August 9th in Moscow.

WordCamp Russia 2014

We have a line up of 14 speakers ready to deliver some WordPress awesomeness in two simultaneous tracks, at the popular Digital October conference center in Moscow.

Tickets are available at $20, which includes a full day of learning and networking, food, coffee breaks, after-party and of course swag. See you in Moscow!

jQuery Russia 2013

Last week I attended jQuery Russia 2013 which was held at Digital October (my favorite venue) in Moscow. The conference was organized by a local HR company called ITmozg and they’ve done a fairly good job.

jQuery Russia 2013

Dave Methvin, President of the jQuery Foundation, gave the opening keynote and a session on javascript and jQuery performance, which was really good. He called out Facebook for a pretty bad infinite scroll pattern, one that causes a forced layout on every scroll event.

He also mentioned that people often refer to jQuery being slow, and most of the time it’s not even jQuery’s fault:

This is not jQuery being slow, it’s that bad jQuery plugin.

Which sounds very familiar in the world of WordPress, themes and plugins. Dave also did a quick javascript profiling 101 using IE11 (which looks pretty amazing) and Chrome’s developer tools.

The other noteworthy session was Eric Mann’s about web sockets, and a pretty interesting Menehune library for jQuery.

Overall, the event was okay. Not great! But okay. I guess I was expecting more out of a $400 conference, stuffed with sponsors (including the stage), or maybe I’m just used to WordCamps :) Anyway, I met a bunch of folks, a few old friends. I didn’t stay for the after-party, but I’m pretty sure it was good.

Will I attend next year? Probably not.

WordPress Kitchen Ukraine 2013

Last week I attended WordPress Kitchen in Kiev, Ukraine – a little informal conference about all things WordPress. One whole day with around 70 attendees, 9 sessions and a great deal of fun.

WordPress Kitchen Ukraine 2013

I learned about WordPress Kitchen a few weeks before the event and immediately reached out to the organizing team to see what they were up to. The event was mostly organized by Pingbull, a web development agency scattered between Oslo, Stockholm and Kiev. They were all super friendly and nice.

The event was held in an anti-cafe called Besedniza. Nine sessions total, one in English, one in Ukrainian and the rest in Russian. The speakers were mostly developers, quite a few of them from Pingbull. They covered some interesting topics, most of which were directly related to WordPress, including a session about why one should not pick WordPress.

The after-party was at a bar nearby, with some food, lots of drinks, jokes, laughter and a boxing match between Klitschko and Povetkin — Klitschko obviously won.

This was my first time in Kiev and my first time in Ukraine. I stayed there for three days in quite a nice hotel called Alfavito. Walking around the streets felt a lot like Russia, especially Magnitogorsk – the city I lived in right before I moved to Moscow.

Huge thanks to everyone involved in making WordPress Kitchen happen. I hope to come back to Ukraine very soon for another WordPress event or two, hopefully leading up to the first WordCamp Ukraine in 2014.