Can't make a Drupal camp? Kevin Thull has you covered! Kevin donates his time recording sessions at most North American Drupal camps. I find out why, and what food to bribe him with.

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This Episode's Guest

Kevin Thull

Kevin Thull

Kevin is a freelance Drupal architect, recorder of DrupalCamp sessions (organizer of the Drupal Recording Initiative), and former winner of the Aaron Winborn Award.

Transcript

Transcript

Chris:
Today, I'm going behind the screens from DrupalCon Seattle with Kevin Thull.
Kevin:
Hello.
Chris:
How is your DrupalCon going so far, Kevin?
Kevin:
It's great. We just did the community summit. This is the first time I've ever been able to go to the community summit, so it was a really wonderful, wonderful experience.
Chris:
So tell us a little bit about what you do with Drupal. How are you involved with the project?
Kevin:
So, for actual work, I am a freelance front end developer. Community-wise, I help run MidCamp in Chicago every March. Then I also go around most of North America and record all the sessions at all the camps.
Chris:
You record all the sessions at all the camps.
Kevin:
I mean most of them, a lot of them, North America only.
Chris:
That sounds like a lot of work. So you do Drupal as your job, that's where you make your money. Is the session recording just a passion project, a labor of love or do you get reimbursed for any of that?
Kevin:
I get reimbursed for travel expenses. I also have launched a new, the unofficial Drupal recording initiative is on open collective so that people can contribute to that. But it's how I ... I don't manage any modules. I don't have any projects. I don't commit code. So I'm committing this resource. This is my community contribution.
Chris:
That's excellent. I like that. It's helpful for people to know that it's, even though Drupal is a software project, it's ... You don't have to know code, you don't have to write code or maintain modules to participate. Everyone's got their own way of doing things. How much of your time does that take up to manage these recordings and process this?
Kevin:
It's literally the time at camp. I also make sure to always post all the videos either before I leave camp or the next day so that way I'm done with it. But it's like 15 minutes of chaos during session breaks and then setup and breakdown time.
Chris:
So all the equipment you've purchased yourself.
Kevin:
Yeah. Purchased then has either been refunded or reimbursed through camps or other company contributions. Lullabot contributed a kit recently. So yeah.
Chris:
That's wonderful. So you've got a lot of support from the community to help you record all of these sessions, all of this information and sharing this happening at camps all across North America can be redistributed through, I'm assuming mainly on YouTube.
Kevin:
Well, originally it was on all the camp YouTube channels, but Debug Academy recently built Drupal.TV. So now we have all of the videos from all of the camps and cons that we know about are also then pulled down to Drupal.TV so that you have one place to go.
Chris:
That's amazing.
Kevin:
That just launched January 1st this year.
Chris:
Yeah. I hadn't heard about that. So Drupal.TV. If you happen to miss a camp, if Kevin was there recording them, then all that stuff is uploaded. You can go watch them there. That's amazing.
Kevin:
Yeah. Currently at least, I don't know about all the video kind of on Drupal.TV, but I know I've captured roughly 1,500 videos so far.
Chris:
Wow.
Kevin:
Yeah.
Chris:
Well, what made you start doing this? Why is this something that you do?
Kevin:
When I first got into Drupal about a decade ago, I watched videos from camps on archive.org, right? So when I got involved in my first camp as a organizer, this was a suburban Chicago camp, it was a default that we were going to record the sessions. It also helped that I had experience with that from my old job. We did a marketing conference for a thousand people. So yeah, it was basically like it was a passion project for me to make sure that we could record the sessions since that's one of the ways that I learned. I figured other people would probably learn from that too. So it's evolved over the years with the advent of Slack. More people know how to get in touch with me and so that's why I do so many. Yeah.
Chris:
So that's a great question. If there's somebody who is running a camp and would like to have their sessions recorded, but they don't have the equipment or the means to do it themself, they can get in touch with you and ask if you can come out and do it. How does that process work for you? Is it sort of just ad hoc or do you have ... Are you contract for hire?
Kevin:
It's very ad hoc. Generally, it's through Slack nowadays. Yeah, if I have an opening in my schedule, I'll generally do it. It's now $1,000 per camp, which pretty much covers my airfare and hotel. Extra resources are listed on open collective. That's going to help me either purchase new equipment or hopefully now then have money to offset travel to outside North America events because there are way more events globally than just North America.
Chris:
So scalability is, I imagine, very difficult. Do you have anybody else you're working with or are you looking to bring on help to expand this?
Kevin:
Yeah, that's my next step as part of the initiative is to find more me's out there that I can help train to use the equipment, to run them either regionally or just help like sometimes like GovCon for example, there's eight sessions per hour on two floors. It's tough for one person to do. So I've started voluntelling people, but I'm being more proactive about it, trying to actually train people so that we may be done, I can ship kits and then someone else can do it.
Chris:
So if there's anybody out there who's interested in participating in this, maybe they've got an AV background and they realize like-
Kevin:
No AV required, no AV background required.
Chris:
No AV required.
Kevin:
No, it's really simple to set up. It's really just an issue of troubleshooting whether or not if the connection doesn't work, there's a few things to try.
Chris:
So you've really got to boil down to a science now.
Kevin:
Just hit the big red button.
Chris:
That's amazing. Wow. All right. So yeah, anyone who's listening out there who wants to give back to the community, doesn't feel comfortable writing code or sharing what they're working on, they can get in touch with you and help to record sessions at local camps.
Kevin:
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. So like, and probably the next question is how would you get in touch with me to do that?
Chris:
Yeah, you read my mind or my script.
Kevin:
There you go. So I'm KThull on all the Slacks. So I'm on Drupal Slack. I'm on the Drupal Organizer Slack. MidCamp has a Slack. I'm Kevinjthull on Twitter. So, and I have a contact form on Drupal.org, right. So any way you can hit me, I'm happy to help. I'll, even like if I can't go, I've got equipment that I can basically you cover the cost of shipping and you can use it, send it back.
Chris:
Wow. What a service. That's so great that you would do something like that and it's helping so many people learn Drupal.
Kevin:
Yeah.
Chris:
We were just in the community summit, like you mentioned talking about teaching new people Drupal, bringing in developers who are trying to learn from the ground up. It's something that I think the community is really ... We're coming up against a wall almost of a lot of senior developers, not a lot of junior developers entering the market. So that being what we were talking about and that being said, what is one thing you think is going really well with the community right now and where's one area you think we could really stand to improve?
Kevin:
For sure where we could stand to improve is bringing new talent, junior developers, new excited humans into the mix, right? There's a lot of ... I've been around for 10 years now. People run out of steam. I don't, but people do. It's life. So that's definitely an area where we can improve. As for what we're doing really well, I don't know, so many, we're doing a lot of things well like the fact that we're very actively caring about inclusivity and diversity and making it sort of forefront in our conversations I think is a huge important step.
Kevin:
Also like tangent or related to that, people will kind of just randomly tell me like, "Thank you so much for what you're doing. It's great." But then even better they'll tell me like why. Like someone, I hadn't thought about it, but like these videos are an accessibility and inclusion bonus, right? Because if I don't have the wherewithal to travel to an event, I can still learn and I hadn't ... That blew my mind. I was like, "Wow."
Chris:
That's pretty great. Yeah. I hadn't thought about it from that aspect.
Kevin:
Right, yeah.
Chris:
So if you were, well, you said you were a freelancer, so let's just say you were told you can have an entire month off, fully paid to work on whatever you want to work on. What would you do with your time?
Kevin:
Oh, I would probably ... I went to cooking school awhile back. I would probably go back and learn more about intricacies of maybe like cured meats or things of that nature, yeah.
Chris:
I was going to ask. Any particular cuisine that you would go after or anything in the kitchen that sparks your interest over anything else?
Kevin:
Yes, all of it.
Chris:
All of it? Nice. I like that. Cooking. I'm interested in that one. I would go for that too.
Kevin:
Yeah.
Chris:
What is the scariest part of Drupal for you?
Kevin:
The scariest part for me is wondering what the long-term health of the overall project is because this is my livelihood. So, and coming to events like this helps allay those fears because it's easy, like you get away from the community for a bit and it's like, "Ooh, I don't know. Is everybody still happy? Is it healthy?" Then you come here and it's like, oh yeah, it is. Yeah, so.
Chris:
I see what you mean though. We've come a long way in the last 10 years, but so has the ecosystem around Drupal, so yeah, what does that look like in the future and how do we weather those changes?
Kevin:
Absolutely. Yeah.
Chris:
All right. I've got a couple of fun ones now. Let's flip it around off of Drupal just a bit here. We're going to get back to the food questions. If you could have an endless supply of any food, what food would you pick?
Kevin:
Pizza.
Chris:
Just nonstop, every time you open the door, there's another pizza there.
Kevin:
I think so, yeah. There's always room for more pizza. I've been challenged with that. But yeah, there's always room for more pizza.
Chris:
You're a Chicago land area person, so Chicago or do you-
Kevin:
Yeah, probably not.
Chris:
Oh, oh.
Kevin:
Deep dishes is fine and all but it's, yeah, Chicago Pizza and my style is tavern style, which is sort of not quite thin crust but it's square cut, a round pizza cut in the nice small square pizzas. That's how I grew up. Tavern style all the way.
Chris:
There you go. So I'm a New York person so I go for the big flat rounds.
Kevin:
I like the New York slice. I do. Deep dish is more for tourists.
Chris:
Yeah. I could not get behind the deep dish style when I visited Chicago but that's just me. All right. Here's a fun one I haven't asked anybody yet. If you could choose two animals and merge them into one super pet, which two animals do you create your pet from?
Kevin:
Wow, that's a tough one. I mean cat is definitely part of the equation because I'm a cat person and then, oh probably some sort of a bird because who doesn't want a flying cat.
Chris:
I love it. Okay, we got to come up with a name for this thing. I'm sure somebody will correct me and send me--
Kevin:
The name is flying cat.
Chris:
Flying cat, all right. I'm in. All right, I'm going to do, this is one of my favorite ones. Let's play some rapid fire. Five questions, yes or no, this or that type of answers. Mountain lodge or beach hut.
Kevin:
Beach hut.
Chris:
ThunderCats or Voltron?
Kevin:
Voltron.
Chris:
Would you rather attend school at Hogwarts or have a wardrobe that opens to Narnia?
Kevin:
Hogwarts.
Chris:
Beer, wine, cocktail or none of the above?
Kevin:
Cocktail. Also, all of the above.
Chris:
Nice, nice. All right. If 100 hippos and 100 rhinos fought on a mixed terrain of land and water, which animal would win?
Kevin:
Ooh, the rhinos.
Chris:
Any particular reason why the rhinos win?
Kevin:
They have horns.
Chris:
I'll take it. So I like to wrap these episodes up with a little thanks and gratitude towards the people who have helped us along the way. Is there anybody who comes to mind you'd like to share a little gratitude with?
Kevin:
Yeah, way back when I was forming my, or getting into the community, Bob Snodgrass, he launched our local meetup in the suburbs of Chicago. If I had not gone to that because I'm, spoiler alert, I'm very shy. I'm an introvert. If I had not gone because I ... It was killing me to go to this meetup because I'm like, "Oh, I have to talk to humans about this thing." I did it and it was life changing. So yeah, Bob Snodgrass gets the win.
Chris:
Excellent. Kevin, thanks a lot for taking a few minutes today. I really appreciate it.
Kevin:
Thanks, Chris.

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About host Chris Albrecht

Chris Albrecht
His backend brings all the nerds to the code. Skilled in Drupal development and architecture, you can often find him running through the Colorado wilderness and hosting the Behind the Screens podcast.