Folks, it’s been two weeks since WPCampus 2019 and we’re still so tired. So tired that Jen and Brian forgot to introduce themselves and forgot to say any of the stuff we’re supposed to say at the end of the episode. WPCampus 2019 was fun, informative, and exhausting. Some day we’ll recover.
In this episode of the WPCampus Podcast, 2019 speaker and conference volunteer co-coordinator Maryann Reissig joins Jen McFarland and Brian DeConinck for a particularly unorganized discussion of some of our favorite moments from the event.
Mentioned in this episode:
- The WPCampus 2019 schedule (videos coming soon!)
- Free Geek
- “Automating your QA with visual regression testing” with Andrew Taylor
- “Mapping with accessibility in mind” with Gabriel Nagmay
- “How to make your data processors love you” with Maryann Reissig
- “How do I wrangle this UX thing?” with Robin Smail
- “Write right: 10 common content writing mistakes and how to avoid them” with Donna Talarico
- “An introduction to information security and why you should care” with Paul Gilzow
- “Let’s talk accessibility” panel discussion
Jen: Okay. We're recording.
Brian: It says I have to give you my consent. This is new.
Jen: Nice. Do you consent?
Brian: I've given you my consent. Are we actually recording now?
Maryann: I mean, as far as I know, we're...
Brian: Welcome to the WPCampus podcast. Welcome to the WPCampus podcast, the podcast for those who use WordPress in higher education.
Jen: We are experts in our field. That is not podcasting.
Brian: No, podcasting, we're not experts at all. This is the WPCampus podcast. I think that's the third time I've said that, and this is our first episode after WPCampus 2019, and we're all still a little sleepy.
Jen: Yeah. Okay. That's true. Yes. I mean there's no reason for it. It's been like a week and a half, but thank you.
Maryann: The fog is beginning to clear.
Brian: That's right.
Jen: Hey, that's Maryann, everybody. Maryann is our guest this week. Welcome. Maryann Reissig. Did I say that right?
Jen: Yes! Some of you who are avid listeners and have excellent memories, might remember that I referenced Maryann once before and incorrectly referenced her institution of higher education where she works. So, to correct this issue, we're going to ask Maryann our guest questions. Maryann, are you ready?
Maryann: I'm ready, yes.
Jen: Cool. All right. Where do you work?
Maryann: I work at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.
Jen: Yeah. I think I said you worked at Rochester College or something.
Maryann: Oh, okay. Yeah.
Jen: I made it up.
Maryann: Nice try.
Maryann: You're good.
Jen: What is your official job title?
Maryann: My official job title is Senior Programmer Analyst for Web Technologies.
Jen: Ooh, that sounds good. That has a lot of big words in it.
Jen: What do you actually do?
Maryann: What do I actually do? I actually do some of that. I do some web programming, web technologies, but...
Maryann: Right. I also run, I'm also admin of a bunch of other things like our SSO system and some other, borderline, are they really web applications? Yeah.
Jen: Congratulations on your responsibilities.
Maryann: Thank you. Thank you.
Jen: What did you get your degree in?
Maryann: I got my degree in Italian.
Jen: I did not see that coming.
Maryann: Yeah. And actually, I had a double major in computer applications, but my first major was Italian.
Jen: Okay. I need to hear some Italian.
Maryann: No, It's really long time ago. So my Italian is super rusty.
Jen: I'm so disappointed.
Maryann: Okay. So my husband's favorite phrase in Italian, and it's terrible, is "La porta è fatta di zuppa". And it means, "The door is made of soup." And it cracks everybody up when he says that. I don't know where he learned it, but he says that all the time, and it's hilarious.
Jen: Well the door is made of soup is objectively a funny statement.
Maryann: And What school did you go to to get this wonderful degree?
Maryann: I went to the University of Notre Dame.
Jen: Oh, cool. Okay. So Notre Dame is the fighting Irish?
Maryann: It is, yes.
Jen: Excellent. We have, for our friends at home, revised our final question. Some of you might recall that in the past we have asked, "Who would win in a fight, your college mascot or eduwapuu?" In an effort to tone down the violence on our program, we are going to swap that for, "Who is cuter, your college mascot or eduwapuu?
Maryann: Well, I'm pretty sure eduwapuu's going to win this one, because you know it's that little leprechaun guy.
Jen: Well he's kind of cute.
Maryann: He is kind of cute, but he's more like, he's always in the stance, you know, so he's more fierce. So I'm going with Wapuu this time.
Jen: Yes, he's always ready to fight.
Brian: [crosstalk 00:04:06] very pointy wrists, it seems like.
Maryann: [crosstalk 00:04:10] the hand, right?
Jen: It's probably good that we've abandoned the fight question, because I feel like the fighting Irish one is kind of like built-in answer. It's not even fun anymore.
Maryann: Right, right.
Jen: Okay. So eduwapuu definitely cuter, that's one for Wapuu. Okay. So we should probably talk about the conference now.
Jen: I'm going to ask both of you. Brian, I'll start with you. I want to know what your favorite session or sessions were, but I'm going to start by asking what was your favorite thing about the conference?
Brian: I mean, I think it's always wonderful to see all those wonderful people at WPCampus and the...
Jen: It's just, because we're sitting right here, you don't have to...
Brian: Butt even separate from the conference that from the, from the actual sessions in the conference, just talking to people who do what you do, and you don't have to explain what it is that you do, to them. I mean, that saves 15 minutes out of the conversation right there. Then you can get into the real meat of like, "How do you solve this problem?" "What do you do for that?" Things like that. This year at WPCampus was also a particular treat for me and also for Jen, because there were seven people from NC state in Portland, Oregon. I don't know why we all decided to fly across the country, but that's the most people we've had from NC state at WPCampus and some of the people...
Jen: For any conference. I mean, except for maybe like...
Maryann: No, that's really awesome.
Brian: And it was an opportunity... Since we're a big school, it was an opportunity to talk to people that we just don't really interact with very often. And it's possible we might have a couple of collaborative projects come out of this, which is, It's strange and funny that it takes a conference on the other side of the country to get us talking to each other.
Brian: But it's great that it happened.
Jen: 2,900 miles for a retreat is a little excessive.
Maryann: And those NC state people, I know you guys, but those guys, they were great. I really enjoyed hanging out with them.
Jen: Well see, we're really cool. People should come down here more.
Brian: And, if you want to be a web application developer, the people down the hall from our group are hiring right now.
Jen: There you go. I don't know how well your job title reconfigures into web application programmer, but I think...
Brian: Or if you want to relocate to Raleigh, North Carolina.
Jen: It had some of the same words.
Maryann: Some of the same words. Right, right.
Jen: No, I think it's the same. Yeah. All right. So Brian, quit pulling punches. What were your favorite sessions?
Brian: I probably shouldn't say my session, right? My Lightning Talk. That's pretty narcissistic isn't it?
Jen: Yes, it's a 100% narcissist. That is the definition of narcissistic.
Brian: I enjoyed giving it. That was a lot of fun. Okay.
Brian: What was my favorite actual actual session? There were a few sessions that I only sort of listened to through the wall from the registration desk, since I was sitting at the registration desk. But one of those was, let's see, I'm looking at the schedule right now. The Automating Your QA With Visual Regression Testing.
Jen: I was in the room for that, so I heard more than you did and yeah, I took a lot of notes for that.
Brian: There was just a very useful session for us. That's something we've been talking about wanting to do, testing. You know, one of those things that seems important. And also...
Jen: I should say that our last podcast was actually with Steve Persch from Pantheon, talking about regression testing. So if that's of interest to you, you should go back and listen to our last podcast if you haven't already.
Brian: I also, similar deal, listening through the wall, and Gabe was Mapping With Accessibility In Mind. Which he won the the best speaker, speaker for this year. So great talk all around. And then, I don't know, just a lot of really good content in other sessions that I'm not thinking to mention. Maryann, I didn't go to your talk but I'm sure it was great.
Maryann: Well thank you.
Jen: Yeah. Yours, Maryann, is one of many that I want to go back and watch the videos for. Maryann spoke about gravity forums. Do you want to plug your session a little bit for people who want to watch it?
Maryann: Yeah, sure. I talked about automating data, getting data out of your gravity forms and how you can automate it, and how you can get the proper data format that you need by using the API. I just talked about my key study and what I've learned. But what was really cool about it, is that after the session, on Twitter, the main developer for gravity forms actually gave us a whole bunch of information on some of the questions that we had during the session. So I was like, "That was worth it." Just their getting that information from from them directly, which is really cool. So there's some really fun stuff I can dive into now.
Jen: That's great.
Maryann: And other folks too in that. There was some really good questions, and the conversation at the end of it was really good.
Jen: That's great.
Brian: That's awesome. So you fly across the country to meet up with people from your own campus, and you fly across the country to interact on Twitter with people?
Maryann: I know, right? It's so funny.
Jen: He's off! So what other sessions did you enjoy and/or what was your favorite thing about the conference?
Maryann: Another one that I enjoyed was Robin's discussion on the UX. Just let me find it here. It's called, How Do I Wrangle This UX Thing? You guys should go check that out if you weren't in the room, when that comes out on video. It was really good. Her message was really good. I enjoyed it very much.
Jen: I was in on Robin and and Raeann and Brian talking about accessibility. And that was a really good conversation too. I mean that was kind of a bummer because I feel like the three of you could have talked for hours, and it would've been interesting. And so I was sad that I missed Robin's other presentation, but I also enjoyed, oh Geez. The other Lightning Talk that was content related. Whose name...
Brian: Oh, Donna.
Jen: Donna, thank you. I knew it started with a D.
Jen: Yes. Actually all three of the Lightning Talks... All four including the one with Free Geek were fantastic. The Lightning Talks were a lot of fun and that venue was great. Paul's always great to watch. He's super energetic. I think, I dunno how many slides he actually had in there, but it was like an impressive number. And for those of you who didn't make it to the conference or weren't aware, we boycotted or forgo, forgave, forgiven? We gave up some of our swag for this year in order...
Brian: Boycotted sounds a little more serious.
Jen: No, it's not.
Maryann: We had a... How about repurposed?
Jen: We repurposed some of our money to to raise money for Free Geek and they came out and spoke to us about their digital inclusion initiatives. And so if you didn't find out about that, I encourage you to look at the website or I think you can possibly still donate. Even if you can't donate through the conference page, you can just donate to Free Geek in general. They're a great organization and you can find out more on our website at onthewebsiteatwpcampus.org/donate I believe was the link.
Maryann: Yeah, and they're doing really fantastic work on the ground in Portland. Yeah, it's really great.
Jen: I wish that we'd had more time to go in and a tour their venue and help out, because you can also donate your time. So if are local to Portland or that area, I encourage you to check it out. It was a great organization. And for the record, we're definitely going to be doing that again next year when we host our conference. We'll be looking for a new organization to support, in beautiful New Orleans, Louisiana. Is that how we announced these things?
Maryann: Yeah, it's great.
Jen: It's going to be awesome.
Brian: So, yeah, I do have, I think everybody has concerns about New Orleans in the summer time, in the middle of July, but just as a group in the organizing committee for 2019, I've been really pushing and I think people are receptive to having the registration package when you get your lanyard also like a stick of deodorant and maybe like a fan or something like that. Just so that we can all enjoy the content.
Jen: Those little USB fans that you plug into your phone?
Brian: Yeah, something like that.
Maryann: Yeah, yeah. That's great.
Jen: Or just attach them to our computers and sit there. I mean, I assume there's air conditioning. I have been promised air conditioning if we stay in the dorms. Okay?
Maryann: I've been to New Orleans in June before and everywhere was air conditioned. I don't think there'll be a problem.
Jen: Okay. Well there's lots of cool stuff to do there, so I'm really enthusiastic about that. We'll be hosted hopefully by Tulane, is what it looks like. It's not completely a hundred percent confirmed, but that looks like it'll be our host venue, so that's amazing.
Maryann: I've never been to Tulane. That'll be awesome.
Jen: I've never been to New Orleans.
Maryann: Oh, really?
Jen: Yeah. No, I got no idea.
Jen: I mean, I'm not sure that July is the right time to start going, but you know, I still think it's a cool experience.
Maryann: I don't think you can go to New Orleans and not have a good time.
Jen: All right. I'm going to hold you to that.
Jen: Yeah. You better go and help me have a good time now.
Brian: Maryann, how many WPCampuses have you been to?
Maryann: I've been to all of them.
Brian: Have you been to all of them?
Maryann: All of them. Yeah.
Jen: Brian, have you been to all of them?
Brian: I have also been to all of them.
Jen: Okay, yeah. I'm the slacker.
Maryann: So which one did you not go to?
Jen: Oh, I didn't go to the first two.
Jen: I didn't go to Sarasota or to Buffalo.
Maryann: Oh, okay.
Jen: And I really wanted to get to Buffalo. I don't remember what happened that year, but...
Brian: I think I remember what happened that year, just...
Jen: Shoot man. [inaudible 00:14:27]. But...
Brian: I think that year it's possible that you were on maternity leave?
Jen: Oh yeah. Is that the year where I had a baby like four seconds before that?
Maryann: [inaudible 00:14:37] maybe.
Jen: That was that year. That was that year.
Brian: That seems like something that you should remember is all I'm saying.
Maryann: That does seem like something you should remember.
Jen: It's my child...
Maryann: Right, right?
Jen: The arrival of my child. But forget that. Seriously. The locations have have been really interesting and it's kind of Nice. I'm glad that we made it all the way to the west coast, but I am excited to sort of be coming back central. And the conference is always so great. I hope this means that we'll be able to get some more folks out. I would love for all of my team to be there. We need more NC state people there, but it would be nice.
Maryann: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. And I think just just getting, just having that community come together like that is so beneficial. Because like Brian said, you can just sit down at a table and everybody instantly understands when you say something about your job and they're like, "Oh yeah." And everybody has a story. Everybody has a good, "Can you believe that?" Story.
Jen: Yeah. So you feel jazzed and excited?
Jen: You come back to the office and you're all like, I need to do all the things.
Maryann: Yeah. Yes. Yep.
Brian: I think it's also, now that we have started having on campus housing with WPCampus, life in the dorms... So the residence hall at Lewis and Clark was fine. Dorm life is not glamorous, but it was a lovely building. But I think it was this weird sort of college experience throwback where it's eight or nine at night and you run into somebody and you're like, "Oh hey, let's talk about this." That wouldn't happen if we were all in hotels and doing things separately and getting dinner separately. No. Is that enough to make up for sharing showers? I don't know. But I know your [inaudible 00:16:31] happens too Just being around people and having that sort of immersive experience and then not thinking about work for three days after the conference because I was just done with it.
Jen: Right. Except for... That's the haze, right? The haze that you bring back with you where you're like, "I have my conference hangover but then I'm also fighting it because I want to do 8 million things and then I immediately realized that like 7 million of them aren't remotely possible." That contributes to the haze and then it turns into a depression and that's where we are now. Is that where we are now?
Maryann: We'll come out of it eventually, I think.
Maryann: We'll come of the fog...
Jen: You'll find the 1 million...
Maryann: Right, right.
Jen: And you can implement and then you'll get all excited about it.
Maryann: Right, right. And I feel like came back and I was like, "Okay, I have to find my place again. Where I left off." And that, you know, the interruption of work is really, was on top of the conference hangover. It was really like, "Okay, where do I start?" So I had to... I went back and I had to make another to do list so I can get back into where I was. It's pretty funny, though.
Jen: Yeah. And we have our team meeting tomorrow which will no doubt include all of the things. I know Brian has at least a couple of posted notes worth of like, "Hey, we should be doing this." So that...
Brian: I still have stuff left over from WPCampus 2016 so...
Jen: Oh right, right. 2016. Dang, Brian. All right, well so again, 2020 we'll be in New Orleans, Louisiana. And we hope that folks will be able to join us. Brian and I will be returning to our more regularly scheduled topics in two weeks, although that's also our first week back to classes. So we'll see how quickly we get the podcast out in between people requesting a website five seconds before the first day of school.
Jen: But otherwise, I think that's it for now. Don't forget to always check out the website, WPCampus.org for the latest news and updates. And we should have videos coming from the conference soon.
Jen: What did I forget?
Maryann: If you want to get on the slack. On the WPCampus slack, if you want to volunteer for New Orleans, get on there.
Jen: Yeah. they're not too early.
Maryann: Get involved.
Brian: We'd love to have...
Maryann: Fill out the form on the get involved page.
Jen: We'd love to have your help.
Jen: Thanks everybody for listening. We'll see in a couple of weeks.