DrupalCamp New Jersey 2019 #

A few weeks ago, Adam and I rode a bus, a subway, and a train to attend DrupalCamp New Jersey, my first time attending this camp at Princeton University. It's an excellent, excellent camp, and I hope to attend for many years to come.

We arrived on Friday evening after a day of travel. Who knew that taking a bus to New York City, taking a brief subway ride to Penn Station, then hopping on the NJ Transit to Princeton would take all day? As soon as we checked into our hotel, we were ready to see some of our Drupal buddies! We ended up getting a beer and some food at a place called the Ivy Inn, where we conversed with our friends and drank tasty brews. It was a nice, low-key way to kick off the camp.

The camp started bright and early Saturday morning. We hitched a ride with a couple other Drupalists who were also staying in our hotel, and we chatted with a few more people before heading off to the day's sessions. Signs labeled all the session rooms, the sprint room, and signs even directed people to the restrooms. I loved all the signage!

The sessions#

It wouldn't be a camp without attending a couple sessions! I ended up attending four, spending the rest of my time in the sprint room working on fixing this blog. Let's just say I've learned a lot about ESLint over the last few weeks...

What’s new in WCAG 2.1 by Kara Gaulrapp#

A woman speaking in front of a group of people.

I want to learn more about ensuring the sites I work on are accessible, so this session on new things coming to WCAG 2.1 was right up my alley. Kara went over 17 new rules, including orientation, which means sites must be usable in both portrait and landscape, reflow, which means a website must be responsive without loss of content, and, my favorite, content on hover or focus, which means if a user triggers content, ensure that the content should be dismissed. A very excellent and informative session!

Accessibility: Making your websites more inclusive by Christine Hickey#

This session was also very informative and I loved the speaker's badass pink hair! She went over many different easy wins for making a website more accessible, including putting a background color on images so that if a user turns images off, the text and background still contrast well. She also discussed different accessibility tools such as WAVE and aXe. I'll be putting these tools to use for sure!

Drupal Coffee Exchange#

Coffee bags on a table in a conference room.

I belong to a little community called the Drupal Coffee Exchange, in which I'm paired with someone else and we send each other local coffee. At some conferences, real life coffee exchanges occur as well, and this camp was no exception. Sadly, I forgot to bring coffee to exchange, but Adam Bergstein (better known as nerdstein) bought a box of coffee from a local NJ coffeeshop to share with the participants. It was very tasty!

How to keep Drupal relevant in the Git-based and API-driven CMS era by Jesus Manuel Olivas#

A man speaking in front of a group of people.

I'm always a sucker for sessions that talk about Gatsby, so of course I attended this one! Jesus discussed using Boina, a Drupal 8 distribution that makes Drupal and Gatsby work together with very little effort. It looked pretty cool and if I ever wanted to play around with decoupled Drupal, I may reach for this.

The new Layout Builder: Unleash the Power! by Ted Bowman#

I hear a lot about Layout Builder, yet the concept never really made complete sense to me... until this session. Ted demonstrated the capabilites of Layout Builder, and seeing it live made me realize how easy building site-wide layouts and layout one-offs will be once this becomes stable in Drupal 8.7. Care has been given to make Layout Builder as accessible as possible, and the usability is a lot better than I thought I'd be as well. Even I might start using Layout Builder in Drupal projects once it lands!

After the sessions ended, we headed to a nearby building to enjoy some food and delicious beers while talking more about the day, and after that, I headed out with a few friends to enjoy brews at Triumph Brewing Company. I always enjoy local beers at a local brewpub, and this place did not disappoint! I particularly enjoyed their Winter Wonder, a winter warmer that felt great to drink on a cold winter night. It was a fantastic time.

On Sunday, we spent a few hours at the sprint day, working on a few Drupal issues. I fixed my blog issues and ate some delicious NJ pizza before we had to catch our train back to NYC, and then our bus back to Boston. We were psyched that the Super Bowl was going on while were on the bus back home, as the roads were empty and we got home earlier than expected! It's the only time I'll be happy about the Super Bowl.

All in all, I loved this camp. Excellent sessions, excellent company -- I really want to attend again next year. I'm also excited about a couple other conferences coming up this spring, including NERD Summit in western Mass... and DrupalCon Seattle in April! I'm excited about all the conferences I'll be attending this year, and I'm happy I added DrupalCamp New Jersey to my conference shelf.

Adam's awesome blue socks #

Since I've learned that Adam loves wearing handknit socks, I've fallen into a pattern of alternating between knitting a pair of socks for me and a pair of socks for him. I knit him a grand total of four pairs of socks last year, which is a grand feat (ha!) seeing as his feet are way bigger than mine. Thankfully he loves bright colors, so knitting socks for him is an activity my eyes look forward to.

I cast on these socks at the end of December, right before we flew to Canada to visit his parents for a week. I wanted an easy project to work on while I relaxed and enjoyed the cold Canadian winter, and these socks brought a bit of cheer to my evenings.

Blue hand-knit socks on the feet of the author's boyfriend.

The first sock knit up so quickly that it practically jumped out of my hands, but progress faltered on sock number two. As soon as the calendar flipped to 2019, I started thinking of all the other projects I wanted to knit in the new year, so Adam's socks stayed in the corner as I cast on new and exciting things. (Maybe you'll see those here sometime soon!) Nevertheless, I finished the socks a couple days ago and gave them to him at work the next day, and he proudly wore them around the office. I love that he loves handknits.


What color socks will I knit him next? Well, you'll just have to see! He bought four (yes, FOUR) skeins of sock yarn in Canada, so many more pairs of socks will be knit for him. I can't wait.

2018 good things list #

A beautifully arranged plate of sushi from Japan.
I ate sushi in Japan this year. Naturally, it was fantastic.

Last year, I started compiling a list of good things that happened throughout the year. I enjoyed coming up with good things last year, so I'm doing it again for 2018. Here are some good things from the year:

  • I traveled a bunch -- Portland, Oregon for the Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit; Fort Lauderdale for work; New Orleans for VueConf; and Japan (!!!), a trip high on my bucket list.
  • Naturally, the Japan trip gets its own bullet point! We spent nearly three weeks riding the bullet train across the southern part of the country, journeying to Fukuoka, Beppu, Osaka, Himeji, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Kanazawa, and Tokyo. We walked a lot and toured a ton of castles and gardens, and I of course ate some delicious food.
  • My relationship with Adam still rocks. It's been the easiest and hardest relationship I've ever experienced, but we have more fun times than not. We learned many things from each other, and I hope our relationship continues to grow in 2019.
  • I got into electronic music, mainly progressive trance of the Anjunabeats / Anjunadeep variety. I'm happy to be exploring a new to me genre of music and I'm glad to be excited about music again.
  • Speaking of music, I saw Smashing Pumpkins in concert, a show I've waited 20+ years to see. Billy, Jimmy, and James reunited to play a set consisting only of their pre-2000 hits, and damn, I was so psyched.
  • I also got to see Weird Al, Gabriel & Dresden, Opiuo, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (my 5th time seeing them!) in 2018.
  • We saw Hamilton in Boston, and while I'm not a fan of musicals, I loved this one. It was phenomenal.
  • I bought a bicycle and started riding it on various bike paths in eastern Massachusetts. I did a little bit of riding on the road, too, but I'm still getting used to it.
  • I played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time in 16 years. I'm playing a wood elf druid, which should surprise no one who played WoW or EQII with me back in the day. I love me a druid!
  • I started learning React and discovered Wes Bos' fantastic JavaScript courses. His ES6 course helped me FINALLY understand the newest JavaScript concepts and his React for Beginners course taught me the basics of React.
  • I moved my blog to Gatsby because static site generators are the best.
  • I knit a sweater that actually fits me.
  • I read a lot of books. I'm glad to be reading again.

NEDCamp 2018 #

A group of people pose for the NEDCamp group photo.
NEDCamp 2018 group photo! Can you spot my blue-haired self?

Last month I attended NEDCamp, one of my favorite local Drupal camps, and I had a fantastic time! I look forward to this conference every year so I can catch up with all my Drupal-ey friends and to learn new things. I'm fortunate to be in close proximity to such a great camp.

Camp Overview#

NEDCamp's been around since 2014, when the organizers of all the local New England camps decided to consolidate all their individual camps into one regional camp. It was held in Providence in both 2014 and 2015, Manchester, New Hampshire in 2016, and Worcester in 2017. 2018 brought the camp back to Providence, and this was my first time attending the camp in this city.

The Sessions#

I attended so many great sessions at NEDCamp this year. I know to expect great talks from local Drupalists each year, and this year was no different.

Dynamic Typography with Modern CSS and Variable Fonts by Jason Pamental#

I met Jason at either Design for Drupal Boston or Drupal Camp Western Mass back in 2011, and I've been following his talks about typography and variable fonts for years. It's been awesome to see the progression of variable fonts through the years, from when they were just a twinkle in the browser's eye, to now, when they can actually be used! Jason even used 'live' variable fonts in his slides, and the capabilities continue to blow my mind.

Jason Pamental gives his talk on variable fonts at NEDCamp 2018.
Jason rocking his variable fonts talk!

Configuration Management: A True Life Story by John Picozzi and Nathan Dentzau#

I recently changed jobs (surprise!), going back to the Drupal world I love so much. However, I haven't actually DONE any Drupal development for a year or so, so I needed to brush up on the basics. Enter John and Nathan's talk on configuration management. One of the things I love about Drupal 8 is the ability to import and export configuration, and since I felt a bit rusty with how to actually do this, I sat in on their session. I came away from it with renewed knowledge on best practices and how to use it. It was a great session!

An Overview of Static Site Generators for Drupalists by Brian Perry#

Obviously, I love static site generators, and Gatsby is my absolute favorite. Of course I had to attend Brian's session comparing three of them -- Jekyll, a SSG written in Ruby; Gatsby, a SSG written in React; and Tome, a SSG written in PHP using Drupal. Brian gave a basic overview of the three SSGs, giving positives and negatives for each. He clearly knew the most about Gatsby, which didn't bother me at all, because I always love hearing more about the SSG I dig the most.

Embedding a React app in a Drupal 8 site by Chris Wells#

Out of all the sessions I attended at NEDCamp, this was the session that excited me the most. I'm starting to enter the world of decoupled Drupal applications and the world of React, and Chris explained how he and his team at Redfin Solutions integrated a React app into a Drupal 8 site. This is the area of Drupal I want to explore more thoroughly because I love JavaScript and want to integrate that love into my other love, Drupal. It's a match made in heaven.

Chris Wells' session slides at NEDCamp 2018.
This talk rocked the house.

Nobody wants a website. They want results! by Dwayne McDaniel#

This session went way out of my comfort zone! Dwayne talked about sales goals and project management solutions when it comes to clients and websites. It's not a side I usually see, being a developer not really involved with the client process. It was interesting to hear Dwayne's perspective and to hear what the others in the room had to say about their experiences. I'm glad I sat in on his session so I could hear the opinions of people involved on the business side of things.

All in all, NEDCamp ruled. I learned new and interesting things from the excellent sessions I attended and I got to catch up with my local Drupal friends. If you are in the New England area and do Drupal development, you should be attending this camp. If you don't live in the New England area and do Drupal development, you STILL should be attending this camp. The quality of speakers and the friendliness of the local Drupal developers make this camp an excellent one to attend for everyone.

Blueberry socks #

For the past few years, I've focused my knitting on socks. I can easily throw my project in a backpack or purse, I don't need to carry a lot of yarn, and they don't make my hands break out in a sweat when I knit them in the summer. Plus, I get a functional article of clothing in the end and they keep my feet warm in the winter!

Thankfully, my boyfriend also likes hand-knit socks. I knit him his first pair last summer, and while they didn't quite fit him comfortably, he was a hand-knit sock convert. And yes, I now knit him socks that fit. Plus, he loves bright colors, so what's not to love?


Hand knit socks on a pair of feet.

The knitty-gritty (see what I did there?) details, for those of you who are knitters and want to know more:

  • Yarn: Knit Picks Hawthorne in Goose Hollow colorway
  • Needles: US size 0, 2mm
  • Pattern: A version of my tried and true toe-up sock pattern. I started with 36 stitches using Judy's Magic Cast-On and increased every other round until I reached 72 stitches, and then I knit in the round for about 5.5 inches. Then, I started increasing for the gusset until I reached 72 stitches on one of the needles. I turned the heel and then knit the heel by decreasing every round until I was back to 72 stitches again. I knit the leg and knit 20 rows of the cuff using k2tbl p2 ribbing, and cast off using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off.

I love how they turned out and he loves wearing them, so we're both pretty happy. Now, to cast on my next pair of socks...