When you need to add something new to your life sometimes you have to take chances. When you are a retired computer person who has completely lost touch with your former rapidly changing industry, re-entry can feel like stepping off of a cliff.
But my new goal of using my career in computers to encourage other women to join the field required that I update my technical knowledge. Fortunately I stumbled across the Sacramento WordPress Word Camp. It had several advantages, it was close, it was inexpensive and I knew something about WordPress.
Still I was nervous. Few of the listed topics for the two day conference made any sense to me. After all, my knowledge of WordPress was limited to building a basic website. And based on what I’d been reading about the computer field, I was expecting the attendees to be mostly male and mostly millennials.
It’s not that I have anything against men or millennials but when you are a woman and too old to be part of the baby boomer generation, I was expecting to stand out like a sore thumb.
Was I pleasantly surprised!
When I showed up Saturday for day one of Word Camp Sacramento, I blended in nicely. The attendees and presenters were a very diverse group. There was gender diversity, age diversity and race diversity. Totally the opposite of what I was expecting.
The first presentation I attended was “Five Things You’ll Discover About Yourself As You Blog Consistently” by Chris Lema. Unbeknownst to me Chris is a well-known Word Press blogger and his excellent presentation solidified the “I belong here” feeling I was developing.
I wasn’t quite as comfortable with the next presentation. Jason Cooper’s intended audience for his talk on “Scaling WordPress with Load Testing” didn’t include me. But it started my list of things to google. And I had a context for those new words. I knew what load testing was. So I had some idea what Jason was talking about when he discussed H2Load and Apache Bench even if I didn’t know exactly what they did.
The rest of the two days was very similar. When Sallie Goetsch gave her presentation on “Falling in Love with Flexbox” I discovered the perfect modern example to use when describing the tools I built to support programmers back in the 1960s. I was expecting Mark Tilly’s presentation on “Building A Cloud Service Into Your Plugin” to be way over my head technically. And it was. But he talked about the process of building and testing an application that runs in multiple environments. It reinforced the idea that programming is a way of thinking. The tools and languages have changed, the problems to be different but how you approach them, hasn’t changed in fifty years.
So thank you to the crew headed by Jennifer Bourn who set up a great two days. And to the sponsors who kept the price to attend affordable. I learned a lot and had a great time. And my impression was that so did everyone else.
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