Episode 271  on July 16, 2018Behind the Screens

Behind the Screens with Elli Ludwigson

Elli Ludwigson fills us in on how a DrupalCon sprint day comes together and how you can participate, either as a mentor, sprinter, or planner. And, always put up some flowers to appease the neighbors.

Transcript

Chris:
On this episode I'm going behind the screens with Elli Ludwigson, and I see on your badge here at DrupalCon Nashville you're listed as self-employed web wrangler. Tell me a little bit about what that means and introduce yourself to everybody.
Elli:
Hello. I'm Elli, also known as EKL1773, my user name, which more people probably know that. Self-employed is not entirely accurate, but with Drupal, everything I do is volunteer. There's the core mentoring project and there's also another volunteer project I work on in D.C. called Hope One Source. That's my other Drupal project. All I'm doing for that is a little bit of migration right now. We've been trying to identify exactly how to get it from D7 to D8. It has been a real learning experience for me.
Chris:
You also mentioned that you worked with the sprints and here we are today, on Friday, at Sprint Day. How has that been going for you, and what was your role in helping with the sprints?
Elli:
Well, I signed up as communications lead, which became a little more mentor wrangling. So just trying to get everybody organized, and we were given a time slot in the community convos for a talk on mentoring, so I put together the whole team as a little panel discussion. How to run a sprint, basically, and there are all these different team roles and it's very much a team effort. Without all seven or eight or however many of us, it would not come together that well.
Chris:
I didn't realize there were that many people behind the scenes helping to organize just the people in the sprints. Like, the mentors of the sprints. How does that look behind the scenes? What actually goes into putting together that level of a Sprint Day?
Elli:
We get sign-ups several different ways. There is a sign-up on the DrupalCon website. You can always sign up at the table in the exhibitor's hall. Mostly we recruit similar mentors every year, and there's the Twitter account, too, so we try to get people roped in a variety of ways, and ideally, I think this time we had around 40 mentors actually sign up. And there's some attrition and some extras sign up during DrupalCon, but just communicating with all of them is pretty important. Keeping everybody in the loop outside of DrupalCon.
Chris:
How did that work this year? Did you get more or fewer than you were hoping for?
Elli:
Well, we can always use more mentors, really. I don't know if we had a target. I think DrupalCon Baltimore we had around 30 signed up, so this was more.
Chris:
And do you feel like there were enough mentors here to cover the tables, to cover all the new ... it looked like there were quite a few people in the first timer's, the set up sprint, where they were going on their IDEs and getting docker and DDev and everything set up. Do you think you had enough mentors who came out today?
Elli:
I think a really great balance is sort of three mentees to one mentor, so we could definitely use a few more mentors in there, and any sort of mentor is really helpful. It can just be onboarding people and getting them set up with the tools or introducing them to how to navigate the issue queue, or going more in depth on issues and really walking through, step by step.
Chris:
Even if somebody has never been through the issue queue themselves, they could still come and be a mentor because they know how to install Drupal or they've used the tools before and can help other people get their local host set up.
Elli:
Yeah, definitely. And we did have new tools this year so we needed extra help on that front. It's definitely easier than it used to be when everybody was on very different systems. I think our new set of tools is more unified and we don't have to be fussing with MAMP at length, which is nice.
Chris:
Yeah, standardizing using docker and DDev so everybody's got the same tools, they've got the same versions of everything. When they get their site up it all works and looks the same. That's a huge bonus. Mentors were always being pulled in different places, like, "I have this MAMP. I'm using that MAMP. I have this locally. I have that locally." That's been a pretty big win this Con.
Elli:
Definitely. And I think we have more sprints on documentation issues, too. Things that can be worked on without needing a local install.
Chris:
Yeah, and if there's anybody out there who would be interested in becoming a mentor, they would go through the website, let's say for the next DrupalCon, go through the website and sign up there, and then they show up at 9:00 on Friday for the sprints, and there's all the training and everything's provided there to get the mentors up to speed, or should they come somewhere else first?
Elli:
When you sign up on a DrupalCon or a camp website or wherever, that gets you signed up to our email list. We'll send out information before DrupalCon on all the events during the week. We usually have two mentor orientations and one novice issue triage session. The mentor orientations are during the week and we do them at two separate times, so anybody can hopefully attend. The schedule's very busy.
Elli:
And then on Friday we really just gather in the beginning for a little pep talk and a review of exactly what we're planning for the day, and if there are any specific projects that can be tackled, that sort of thing.
Chris:
Great. The sprints sort of aside, how has been your DrupalCon altogether? How much time do you actually spend with Drupal through your job, and what did you hope to get out of DrupalCon Nashville, and did you get it?
Elli:
Well, I am here primarily to help out and mentor and get more people involved, so that's my primary goal. I think we did a pretty good job. There are a decent number of people. Personally, I did have a very good conference. I can never get to all the session I want to, but thank heavens I can watch them later.
Chris:
Was there any particular session that stood out to you?
Elli:
Well the one I really am looking forward to listening to is Nikki Stevens' Ethics. I forget exactly what she called it. Ethics of Software Development, something like that. Sounded really interesting. But then there are all the BOFs, too, and it's just a lot to do.
Elli:
I was also spending some time this DrupalCon going around and meeting folks who might be hiring a developer. I think I had a lot of really good conversations and got some insight, if nothing else.
Chris:
I think the conferences are great for that, just running into so many people, or meeting new people, and I always end up learning something or talking to people that I didn't expect to and getting so many great nuggets out of that. And it's not something you can plan for. You can plan for your sessions, you can make time to go to BOFs or come to a sprint. But there's so much that happens in the hallways or at the expo hall that is just so valuable.
Chris:
Drupal and the community stuff aside, if you were to wake up tomorrow and the internet was gone, what would you do with your time?
Elli:
Make my garden better. It's definitely gardening.
Chris:
What sort of stuff do you have in there? What would be the first thing to plant?
Elli:
Well, I went overboard this year, so I've got ... this year. That's every year. It's every year. My eggplants have actually come up this week while I was gone. I was very excited to receive a text with a picture of eggplant seedlings. But I've got tomatoes and peppers and zucchini and kale and all the herbs, and I actually planted some flowers this year, to please the neighbors, mostly. It's a front yard garden, too.
Chris:
Oh, wow. A lot of places don't allow that with HOA or covenant restrictions. You have a pretty liberal-
Elli:
We have a very liberal neighborhood.
Chris:
Yeah. Oh, fun. That's great.
Chris:
I almost forgot to ask this question. A little advice for somebody who's, well, it could be towards gardening, it could be towards DrupalCon. I'll let you take the pick. Dealer's choice here. A nugget that you would give to somebody as a little something they could tease out. Advice about whether they're on the fence about coming to DrupalCon or participating in the sprints, or something you learned recently about gardening.
Elli:
Oh, gosh. I think I will actually go with Drupal on this front. I would just say don't stop. It may seem really hard at various points and it might be kind of intimidating, but coming to DrupalCon and really being involved and meeting all these people is just completely worth it. I've made so many amazing connections over, this is my fourth DrupalCon, actually, and really kept up with the people in between. You don't see them for a year but you come back and you're still best friends. It's amazing. And the software's okay, too.
Chris:
Yeah, it is. I ran into somebody earlier who, he did a training for the company I worked at, oh my gosh, eight years ago, seven years ago, and I walked up to the bar and he was sitting there and we remembered. It's like you said, best friends again. He calls everybody here his Dru-pals. It's funny. There's people who live in my city in Denver who I only see at conferences and in camps. It's just, you pick right up. It's a really amazing feeling. That's great advice.
Chris:
Finally, is there somebody you would like to say thank you to or share some gratitude with who maybe gave you a boost when you needed it or an inspiring talk that you saw?
Elli:
Who don't I need to thank? Well, I was really grateful for a bit of support from the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion folks. I've been getting to know some of them a little better in person. I've seen them online, of course, but it's nice to actually meet. Actually, Matt Radcliffe has been a huge help putting together the slides for our community conversation and drafting all the text we wanted to talk about in 25 minutes with a panel of, like, 10. We put together an hour long presentation, probably, and then paired it back. He put in a ton of work and he's over there now, mentoring one on one.
Chris:
Nice. Very good. Well, Elli, thanks for taking a few minutes to stop and talk. I really enjoyed it.
Elli:
Thank you.
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