[update 10AM day 2: added the report of the post-event zombie darts to the recap, check it out!]
[It's 1:30AM as I'm typing this message before putting this blog live. Thank god for having live blogged most of the content during the presentation, because currently I just want to go to sleep (after just having rode my bicycle home from Zeist). One of the best parts of the recap is actually missing currently, which would be the post-event dinner and drinks. I will add these stories about Zombie Darts, exploding mint sigarettes and the social sharing of beer tomorrow after I had some sleep.]
This April, Joomla!Days Netherlands is celebrating it's 7th edition. This means the small country of Holland is currently leading the world in regards to the number of Joomla!Days held. This year the event is organized in Zeist, which is conveniently close to where we live.
The Dutch Joomla!Days of 2012 started early with a social event in the basement of the conference center Woudschoten in Zeist. After having just launched our latest Joomla template Alphara earlier that day, we headed off to the social event at around 9.30PM. The event was already in full swing when we got in, which means we could just step in to a conversation and have a nice chat along with a (free!) Palm beer. Topic of interest was (of course) mainly Joomla, but as I discussed with others as well, Joomla is only the glue that brings us together to such an event. The actual connection is much bigger, with more and more connections found when time passed on. Several beers and much more interesting conversations later, we decided to head home. Mental note to self for tomorrow: head over to that nice pool table in the basement and play some games.
The distance between where I live and the conference center is about 10 kilometers. Given that we're Dutch, we like to ride our bicycles. Therefore my colleague Robin Poort and I decide to cycle to the event. Of course, we could've take the normal paved road, but when Google Maps suggested a shorter route through a small forest that lays between my house and the conference location, we couldn't resist. Us taking the (both metaphorical and literal) road less traveled has led us across parts of the forest that actually lacked a path. While this meant it took us about twice as long to travel to where we wanted to be compared to using the paved road, it also meant we got to see nice scenery and I get to tell you this story. This road less traveled actually translates pretty well to the business environment. While the winding road might take you to places you didn't realize you wanted to visit, it also leads to discovering new opportunities you hadn't imagined when you had taking the paved road. But I digress.
In a stroopwafel laden presentation Paul told us about the current state of Joomla and where it's heading. Through stories and anecdotes he explained that Joomla is doing pretty well on the international CMS market (being second in usage statistics, behind only WordPress). While the content of the presentation was solid, the slides could use some more inspiration and creativity. My advice to you Paul (assuming he reads this of course): head over to Flickr, go to the Creative Commons section, and use the awesome Attribution License images to pimp up your presentations. Sharing in practice!
In this presentation David-Andrew from ChillCreations discussed several solutions that you can use to build an online webshop. Although other solutions were discussed, the main focus of the presentation was on Joomla components. What occurred to me most was that at this point in time, there isn't a silver bullet component that brings you everything you might want in a Joomla based webshop. According to David, one tool could lack a comprehensive dashboard, the other can create 'surprises' on your frontend, yet another has problems where 'most of the strings' are properly translated. I'd rather hope that one of those untranslated strings isn't the 'Buy now' button. It seems there is much work to be done before enterprises might turn to a Joomla based webshop solution in my opinion. In regards to the presentation a simple 40 minute private practice would've shown how much content fits in, knowing that would very likely have made a good presentation even better!
My colleague Robin gave a presentation on CSS3. Judging by the relatively low amount of peoples attending, this subject perhaps still sounds a bit scary and voodoo to them. As Robin explained, once CSS3 is used in moderation and applied with skill, it can tremendously enhance your website on modern browsers, while still giving a good user experience to users with older browsers. The techniques can therefore be valuable to both developers and implementors, which makes it something worth mastering.
At this presentation Johan spoke to us about solutions for deploying Joomla. What amazes me about presentations by Johan is that he always appears to be using tools and solutions that I have never heard of before. To me this highlights the value of conferences such as the Joomla!Days. Finding only one such solution or answer to a question you might have could save you minutes or even hours every week. Imagine the value in money, time and loss in stress you're saving week after week. It will easily surmount the monetary cost of visiting a conference, not even to mention the value you can obtain from personal connections and fun you can have. The money in the sock and creditcard were really cool props to show how an analogy between how our money has moved from sock to cloud, while our data is still on the move.
I'm typing the second part of this blog while attending this presentation by Brian Teeman. Interesting to see was how this very minute his expensive microphone he just showed us almost dropped to the ground. While other speakers might have temporarily lost their flow, Brian just inhaled once slowly and made a joke about it. As I've said before, such flexibility marks a great speaker. During the presentation Brian also showed us a cool 'hidden' feature in Joomla 2.5 which was to go to the Joomla Administrator > Module Manager > Admin Menu and change or remove the Help button from the main menu.
I'm really starting to get into this new 'live blogging' concept of typing while I'm attending the actual presentation! Perhaps others are pleased by the slow tempo of this presentation, from my perspective I would really like some more speed. But what amazes me most about this presentation up to this point is the amount of people voluntarily signing up for the 'free tips' mailing that Aartjan has offered. The envelop that is going round collecting business cards and email addresses is quickly being filled up by the audience. While I'm trying to minimize the amount of emails reaching my inbox, others are apparently willing to sign up for more emails in their inbox? Perhaps Aartjan is trying to show social proof in action? After all, if my neighbor gives up his email address, then there must be some value in it, so I might give it up as well. Exactly the type of mental shortcut Kahneman (which Aarjan referenced) and social proof expert Robert Cialdini are talking about in their respective works. All in all I can't help but wait for the final 'closing message', to address and explain some of the tactics used in this presentation, but maybe that's just me.
After the sessions were completed, we headed down to the basement of the conference center to relax. There (after playing some racks on the pool table) I struck up a conversation with one of the SiteGround girls. Lily told me about how SiteGround has recently turned into a traveling circus, visiting conference after conference to promote their product outside of Bulgary (where the company is apparently headquartered). At some point Lily (and her friend Tina) decided they wanted to have a smoke. Lily then went on to explain they had to look up a tutorial on Youtube to figure out how their sigarettes worked. As a non-smoker myself, I don't have a lot of experience with sigarettes, but the general concept seemed like it didn't need video tutorials to figure out. That was up until the point they started explaining about the 'mint bubble' that the tabacco companies have built into the sigarette. Amazing to see that people are apparently people still product developing sigarettes. Talking about product-developing fairly static things builds a pretty nice bridge towards the main subject of this paragraph: Zombie Darts. For anyone who thought the regular darts game was finished, think again. The developers at the SiteGround office have developed a new type of darts game, which involves hurting people, resurrection, turf wars, alliances, etc. It's like darts, on steroids. I don't have time to type out all the rules to the game, but what I do know for sure is that in two out of two games, ThemePartner people have beat the Siteground people at their own game! In an attempt to look up the details to the rules online on the website that they mentioned repeatedly, I went to Google ofcourse. To my sorrow, neither 'zombie darts' nor any variant of the name I could think up shows me the website they referenced.
Therefore I can conclude this blog with an advice to all Joomla!Days NL visitors (and in particular the Siteground girls and guys): visit my presentation about SEO (with a Super Mario theme!) in the Siteground hall at 15.30h, you won't regret it!