October 2 will remain etched in my memory.  Twas the day I met Matt Mullenweg, the Founder of Automattic and Developer of WordPress, the CMS that powers all my websites.  I have been a WordPress user for more than 7 years.  I started blogging with Typepad then I wanted more control over my site and moved to Moveable Type.  That was the time when blogging meant posting family pictures and writing about my trip here and abroad.  After the birth of lifediscourse.com, I decided that I needed to compartmentalize my website and decided on a niche and since I am very interested on personal finance, Pinoy Frugal Living was born.

Having started with Moveable Type, the move to WordPress was refreshing.  Easy installation via cPanel and config wise– one cannot go wrong.

I attended the Wordcamp Philippines 2010 because I wanted to learn more about WordPress as well as meet local bloggers.  It was sad that most of my veteran friends opted not to attend, but irregardless, I have met some of the biggest bloggers today like Winston Almendras of http://www.batangyagit.com, Maro of http://www.marocharim.com, Andrew dela Serna of http://www.alleba.com and fellow Odesk wonder, Gemma Baltazar of http://www.ladyprogrammer.com.

The trip to Manila was sponsored by clients so I had no trouble making the necessary arrangements to get there.  With the hopes of learning more on SEO, web optimization and Semantics on WordPress, I flew to Manila with high expectations.  I stayed at Kabayan Hotel as recommended by Irene the lady behind http://www.mindanaoan.com. The stay was not so bad and I was happy I decided to stay there since its so near the place of venue.

It was my first time to set foot on the College of St. Benilde.  The day of the Wordcamp started early for us since registration was scheduled at 8am.

Meeting Matt Mullenweg

The CDO group and I rode the LRT to get to College of St. Benilde.  It was early so the train was not packed unlike last night when I went to Kamuning to Bar 77 to meet my friends from UP.  When we got to the auditorium, everyone was a buzz since the man himself, Matt Mullenweg came in early to talk and mingle.  It was a delight to see this young boy from Texas.  I have been a huge admirer eversince I started using WordPress.

Approaching him for a quick chat and request for a snapshot was not very hard although Matt was clearly working on his Macbook almost the entire time he was there.

Breakaway Talk:  Advanced SEO, Optimizing Ads and Blog Flipping

Me during the SEO Session with Winston Almendras

Sad to say, the speaker slated for SEO never showed up.  To make it worse, he did not give the organizers enough time to find a replacement.  Fortunately, Winston Almendras of highly acclaimed Batang Yagit stepped in.  The discussion during the session was ok.  I was able to contribute my thoughts on SEO as a budding SEO Developer.  The interaction was great especially when people like Fracis Arbes of Kuaderdno ni Kiko was there to help out and share his own knowledge on SEO.  It was during this session when I met the youngest writer, and link builder I know– Kim Selorio.  Kim raised alot of questions during the session, which made the discussion livelier and interesting.

I honestly did not learn anything new during the session, but I was more than happier to share my SEO experience with the beginners. The Wordcamp is afterall about sharing experiences as WP users.

Breakaway Talk:  Semantics, Hits and Likes:  Semantics and Sentiment in WordPress

Kim- a 14 year old link builder, article writer and web designer

This session was interesting enough as Sylvan and I has always been into trends, statistics and yes, Google ranking.  As we continue to thrive and dominate our niche, tracking our web statistics has been one of the foreground of our success when it comes to link building and keeping our sites on the top 3.

This breakaway session was conducted by Marck Ronald Rimorin aka as Marocharim by the blogging community. He swore by WP-Stats– a plugin that spits out daily traffic reports on one’s WP site.  As a dedicated user of Google Analytics, Marck insisted that WP-Stats is enough to give its user an accurate report.  I highly doubt that, but he did challenge my belief and I have already instructed our Web Developer to install WP-Stats on our niche sites to enable us to compare our reports from Google Analytics.

For beginners, Maro taught us briefly how to analyze page popularity as well as how to be able to compare results in order to be able to find indications to improve one’s site.

Breakaway Talk: Optimizing WordPress Webserver Performance

This session was great because web performance backend wise is important to us.  Downtime is a lowdown, that’s why this session made more impression ton me than others.  I have been following Eric Malloy on Twitter and knew of him as an expat who runs a business in Manila.  What made his presentation compelling to me were his recommendations on how to optimize webservers for PHP. Basing his argument on how Apache is and how bad bounce rates are because of “bloated” WordPress because of the PHP and other factors like the CSS not to mention the scripts.  He showed us some samples and made recommendations.  Sliders on websites, including videos, huge image files are some of the cause of the slow loading sites.  Remember, page load is one of the factors when determining Google ranking.  Being a non-web developer or programmer, all these information were too much for me to grasp since I hardly to any PHP or MYSQL work on my WordPress sites.  Malloy recommended the use of NGINX (refer to slide #7)– a lighter, high performance web reverse proxy load balancer.  He recommended the use of Virtual Box, something I have never heard of til Wordcamp.

Malloy’s presentation was very interesting indeed, and I happily referred his recommendations to my Boss.

Matt Mullenweg-- the man behind WordPress and Automattic

Bottomline

The Wordcamp I finally understood was more like a networking event.  With huge sponsors like Woo Themes and Smart Telecoms, the Wordcamp was a huge success mainly because it continues to preserve that aim:  to promote WordPress not just for blogs but as a powerful CMS.

In the end, Matt Mullenweg took center stage to respond to questions about WordPress and Automattic.  I wished more people asked more technical questions other than “If you were given the chance to make a film about your life and WordPress, would you agree and why?”  His response was apt, “well, if there will be a film about me, I wouldn’t want it done while I am alive.”  Something like that…

Truth be told, I am happy to see and catch a glimpse of the man behind WordPress and Automattic.  Being a professional, I would have wanted more in depth presentations, but I guess that’s what webinars and other more focused seminars are for. Heck, I went to the Wordcamp to meet Matt!

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