Written by Todd Woodward, Joomla! COT

The second annual JoomlaDay Florida was held this past weekend in Tampa, FL at the Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City Campus. The event expanded from one day to two, with some speakers from all walks of the Joomla! community. It was at last year’s JoomlaDay that I decided to become a Joomla! volunteer. Jason Nickerson and members of the Tampa Bay JUG, plus other Joomlers and some amazing sponsors like Hivelocity, Joomlashack, and JoomlaXTC combine to make this a fun and educational event.

Ybor City is a historic section of Tampa, located just northeast of downtown. It was founded in the 1880s by Vicente Martinez-Ybor and other cigar manufacturers and was populated by thousands of immigrants, mainly from Cuba, Spain, and Italy. In its day, workers in Ybor City's cigar factories rolled hundreds of millions of cigars annually. Today Ybor City is home to a branch campus for HCC, as well as shops, entertainment, great food, and fun nightlife.

The day started with a keynote from event organizer Jason Nickerson, emceed by Robert Parker. The morning breakout sessions covered eCommerce, SEO, A/B testing, using the Gantry framework, site design, business operations, and coding tips.

Lunch included a local favorite: Cuban sandwiches from the La Segunda Bakery. After lunch, John Rampton presented the afternoon keynote. He has been a keynote speaker at JoomlaDay Minnesota for the past two years, John's session on leveraging your influence online was an instant hit with the attendees.
The afternoon sessions included information on an Ask the Experts session and roundtable discussions on a variety of topics in a speed dating format, where the moderators moved from group to group.

The next morning I supervised the first Joomla! Administrator Exam in the southeastern US. It was my first event as a Joomla! exam supervisor, but in my day job as owner of Creative People Consulting I conduct Microsoft and Adobe certification prep classes, so I’m familiar with administering certification exams. I gave a brief presentation the day before the exam explaining how the Joomla! 3 Certification Exam works, areas that are covered on the exam, and where to get information at certification.joomla.org to help get that last bit of exam preparation before exam day.

We installed Safe Exam Browser on the college’s machines in the lab rather than allowing students to use their devices. It made for a more consistent experience for the students, and they were able to use a faster-hardwired network. Getting those machines installed wasn’t simple, but the Safe Exam Browser ran flawlessly on them. I have to give a big thank you to Robert Parker for help in making the lab run right, and sincere gratitude to Sam Suresh for his guidance and advice in getting the lab ready for our exam candidates.

I want to take a moment to congratulate our newest Joomla! 3 Certified Administrators: Jim Bain and Matt Schwartz. Jim travelled all the way from Charlottesville, Virginia, and Matt made his way down Interstate 75 from Atlanta, Georgia. Either way, it is always worth the trip to head to Florida in February for JoomlaDay!

Image Credits: Jason Nickerson