Wordcamp Dallas Day 01

The day started off with my alarm at 6 am. After meeting up with my brosephs Charles and Caleb at Starbucks we set off to the UTD campus for some early registration, an hour early to be precise. But I wanted to make sure we got great seats. Plus I was excited to meet some new people and hear from all the speakers.

Speaking of meeting new people, I had the pleasure of meeting Cali Lewis, from GeekBrief.tv. Cali started geekbrief.tv a few years ago with her husband to pursue her passion in new media. She was by far the best speaker at todays session. Her energy and passion for new media and building a community was very refreshing. Below are some of my notes over her presentation.

7 Rules for Building a Vibrant Community

What is it you want people to walk away from your blog with? Cali said that for geekbrief.tv it's a smile. I think for myself it would have to be a sense of belonging or that you learn something.

Rule #1 - Know thyself... Know they Blog! * This can take a while and plenty of practice to know yourself and what you have to say. I kind of feel like I'm still getting there, but am gaining traction.

Rule #2 - Start compelling conversation! * This is what I'm doing with chatcreative.com by attempting to bridge the gap for the design community, one step closer. This is what people like Aaron Irizarry, David and Marc Perel and others are doing with their blogs and videos.

Rule #3 - Be an asset! * Add value. Start a conversation. This pretty much ties in with the previous rule.

Rule #4 - Make Friends Not Fans! * We don't want to talk "at" our community, but rather talk "with" our community. Take Gary Vaynerchuck as the perfect example. Cali talks about meeting new media stars who treat their community as fans vs. friends. We don't need to separate ourselves as "unique" and "special" but just as ourselves... ordinary people who make mistakes. And when we have a great group of "friends" then they are much more forgiving when we make a mistake.

Listen to your community doesn't mean we have to change what we're doing.

Rule #5 - Show Appreciation! * Cali really hits the nail on the head about being responsive and thankful to everyone who connects with us. Setting up google alerts is a great way you can watch what people are saying about you, and then respond.

Rule #6 - Take Breaks! * This is something that I believe in whole-heartedly. Taking time to step away from the computer and get some fresh air, or whatever, is essential to regain focus. Take today for example, if we didn't have breaks every hour I would've gone crazy. There is only so long I can sit in front of a computer before I feel disconnected and burned out on ideas.

Rule #7 - Always Be Upgrading! * We all have to start somewhere. Don't be afraid to make those first steps. But also, don't get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over, especially if it isn't working. And remember, we can upgrade more than just our equipment. Think about your technique, whether in writing or designing or video blogging, and also the depth of your content. I always like to think there is room for improvement.

Some Last Words

I really enjoyed getting to meet some new people today and hear what they do. Among them were two really talented young men, 13 year-old Jackson Fall of livingdigitally.tv and 16 year-old Clay Griffiths who is working on a new theme called Headway. I was able to get a sneak peek at the theme on Friday night and have to say it's going to be a game changer for all other theme makers.

The first day of WordCamp Dallas 2009 ended on a high note at Sherlocks pub and grill with friends, both new and old, and a few beers. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and hearing from Matt Mullenweg.

Let's Be Honest

Today I wanted to let you guys know about the Dallas Wordcamp that will be going on next weekend (June 27 and June 28). Please register if you haven't already, there are going to be a ton of great door prizes and some great speakers. Matt Mullenweg will be speaking on Sunday afternoon about the state of WordPress as well as a Q&A session. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Also I touch on an all too common subject... being honest. More importantly about not being afraid to voice our honest professional opinion. We don't have to be a jerk to say how we really feel, but if we never speak up no one will know. There's no such thing as a mind reader.

Managing my client relationships is something I'm learning right now. And I have to say that I haven't always been the best at it. It's easy for me to be laid back and wait for them to contact me instead of being more proactive. But the more independent work I get the more I see how important it is to stay in touch with my clients and make sure their needs are being met. Putting just a little bit of extra effort in can go a long ways.

Please forgive the camera shaking. I was holding it by hand and didn't realize how sensitive it was. I need to use a tripod next time.

Links Mentioned

Caleb White - Thanks for lending me the Flip Mino camera Dallas WordCamp - Register now before it's too late Garth Humbert - Looking forward to meeting this guy

the house of steed

the steed household I'm really enjoying getting back in to illustrating and creating more iconographic images. This exercise of creating my house in a digital environment was both fun and challenging. Definitely fun because I got to pick my own subject without any restrictions or boundaries. The challenge was making it look realistic enough but still with that simplistic, minimal approach. Overall, I am really pleased with how it turned out and look forward to doing more work like this in the future.

The first time I saw the icon for CoHabitat (props to Jacob Morse) I was inspired. It is so fresh, so clean and full of hotness. The thing I like best about the icon is it's not an exact replication of the house it was created to symbolize, but rather a short synopsis. Kind of like comparing twitter to blogging or micro-machines to real cars.

CoHabitat Dallas

So I thought to myself; "self, why don't you try turning your house in to an elegant icon?" And so that's what I did.

My first step was to get a rough sketch of my house from the perspective I wanted. Bing, Bang, Boom! Done. Then came the time consuming task of re-creating my drawing in illustrator. Maybe to some of you it comes easy, but I'm more of a Photoshop guy, so I'm still learning my way around the Illustrator playground. However, I knew I wanted this to be vector and working with the paths in Photoshop is just a pain in my ass. So I decided to stretch myself here and work outside my comfort zone.

I knew right off the bat I wanted to differentiate myself from the CoHabitat icon. I never like copying another persons work, but I do like being inspired by great artist. So I went with a more literal approach in my design. As you can see below, the illustration is almost an exact copy of my house. However, I didn't find it necessary to go overboard in detail as I like to keep things simple and clean.

To give it some depth I added shadows to the windows, bushes, garage door, overhang and my dogs. You may be wondering (or sickened) as to why there is only 1 and a half shown in the image, but I assure you it's all in good fun. My black lab, Samson, shown standing by the bushes is our super chill dog. He likes to just take it easy. And then we have Ben, who is shown cut in half by jumping outside of the image, probably chasing a cat, a squirrel or a bird. Ben is full of energy from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to bed. That's what I tried to illustrate here, that if he were able to live inside this image he would find something on my desktop or down in the dock (probably the twitter bird) to go chasing after.

The House of Steed

I also went ahead and created some custom wallpapers for your viewing pleasure. Please download them, share them and most of all I hope you love them.

iPhone ::: 1024x768 ::: 1280x800 ::: 1920x1200


I know I've always valued the importance of community but today really hit home.

Saturdays are usually a difficult day for me, one because I have nothing to do and two because I can think of a million things to do. (Note: When you own a home your "to-do" list never seems to end.) So I usually try to take it easy and have no plans made. That way I'm not committed to anyone or anything, making it easier to enjoy my weekend and be spontaneous.

However, within the past few months I've started to take a more active role in becoming involved in the design community in the greater Dallas area. I started with the Refresh Dallas monthly meetings, which are a great way to learn about new and interesting technologies. And just today I attended my first WordPress meetup group. I was nervous thinking about who I would meet and what kind of people actually attend these things. Not to mention that it started to feel like more of a burden the more I debated going. My thought pattern went something like this:

  • Will there be anyone I can relate too?
  • Am I going to show up and everyone just ignores me?
  • Did I put on too much cologne?
  • Am I overdressed?
  • Thanks TomTom for directions, now where is the damn deli?

My nerves were put to rest the moment I walked in the door of the restaurant, P.D. Johnson's, as I was waved over to the table and began to make my introductions. The next two hours were spent chatting about WordPress (obviously), twitter, dogs, Plurk, servers, Ping.fm, our failing economy, the new homeless, as well as enjoying what everyone else was talking about. The range of experience from everyone brought about a nice balance to the conversations. There are those who run multiple sites on multiple servers to those who are just learning about websites. It was great to see how everyone was treated with the same respect and no one was left out.

Now I just have to be patient for WordCamp Dallas 2009.

john mayer live

Tonight my wife and I have two tickets to see John Mayer here in Dallas. My exposure to the music of John Mayer came at a later time than everyone else in America. Of course I heard all the popular songs on the radio. I.E. - Your Body Is A Wonderland, Bigger Than My Body, etc., but I never really explored what else was there. Fast forward to 2004 when I first met my wife, the biggest John Mayer fan I know, and this is where I started to listen to what was behind all the glamorous pop music. Then when the John Mayer Trio came out, it caught me off guard with how amazing it was. I still love that version of Gravity far better than off Continuum.

Here is one of my favorite clips of John playing his guitar.

Mates of State

First I have to give a special thanks to the band for playing on my birthday in the city I live in. What could be better? Well I'll tell you ... I was able to meet Kori and Jason after the show and get my picture with the two of them. They are really down to earth, friendly people. My wife said as we were walking back to the car that she wishes they lived here so we could hang out.

As for the show, how can I put in words the feelings of singing along to the songs that have brought such joy into my life. I guess it's been about 4 years now since I first started listening to Mates of State. Their up-beat style helped me out through some tougher times while I was away in Japan in the military. They played a lot of stuff off the new album, Re-Arrange Us, and some old stuff. And they played my favorite song, goods (it's all in your head), so I was pretty stoked about that.

For the show I brought along my new Holga that my wonderful wife got me for my birthday. So I have two rolls that need developing now. But once I get those back and scanned in I'll post them here and on my flickr. I can't wait to see how they turn out.

Radiohead Polaroids

The sea of people eagerly waiting for the show to start. rh001

The view from walking towards the grass. I was hoping to get a better shot here but the sun drowned out all the foreground. I still like the silhouette of the ferris wheel in the background.


My wife and I keeping it cool before the show.


She's thinking - "What's that smell?"


My only visual record of the amazingness that is Radiohead performing live.



I meant to post these up last night, but after 4-5 beers with some friends I could only manage to get some sleep after they left. So I hope you enjoy. I wish I was closer and had better shots of Thom and the whole band, but this is my record of my experience with Radiohead. - Kyle