One Year with Automattic

Well, it’s that time.

One year ago today, I started full time at Automattic.

Best. Job. Ever.

I get to work with some of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever known, all of whom, in addition to co-workers, I am proud to call my friends.

I get to contribute to open source software, and still have free time in the evenings for my family.

Each team meetup, company-wide meetup, and WordCamp I attend feels more like a family reunion than a work function.

I have the privilege of leading the team that develops Jetpack, and the ability to improve the workflow and capabilities of millions of users, every day.

For all this, to all my colleagues friends at Automattic and in the WordPress community at large, thank you.

And by the way, we’re hiring.

The ABC’s of Travel for Techies

Always Be Charging.  A mantra that I held to long before I heard it codified in a catchy A-B-C slogan.

For me, it’s about efficiency.  If I’m sitting near a power outlet, and I have a cord handy, there’s not much of a reason to not plug in.  It’s there, I’m there, let’s top off.

Think about it this way — how often do you hit the critical low battery light on your devices when traveling, and think “Gah, life would be so much easier, if only I had an extra (10 minutes|20 minutes|hour) of battery life!” — well, you can!  Just charge, even when you don’t need it.

Sure, it’s a minor inconvenience to be tethered to an outlet instead of milling about with your phone, but even that can be negated with a travel battery.  The Anker Astro line has some terrific models to pick up, normally for under $50.  With a single Micro-USB cable, I can charge my tablet, my phone, my Karma wifi hotspot, and even HP’s Chromebook 11.

In the end, it’s a hedge.  Will it be needed?  Not every time, no.  But is the minor inconvenience of charging better than a major inconvenience of your battery dying on you?  Well, that’s up to you.


Decisions are never easy.

Even if it’s an entirely trivial matter, it’s still forcing you to do something.

And goshdarnit, I’m lazy.

I also prefer front-loading effort when possible. Ounce of prevention, pound of cure, stitch in time saving nine, and all that.

And I respect other people’s time as much as I value my own. So when I build something, I try to avoid decision points whenever possible. This results in the loss of options occasionally, but I believe a smoother user flow.

Now, occasionally power-users will want to modify functionality. Adding a decision point for all users for the sake of the minority is silly, especially when power-users can leverage other methods — filters, actions, functionality plugins that extend the first plugin — to accomplish their goals.

To each according to their needs. Typical users need a simple, smooth, classy interface. Power users need to get under the hood. Why try to make something that doesn’t work well for either by trying to serve both?

The best middle ground I’ve been able to come up with is offering a secondary ‘under the hood’ plugin that exposes a lot of filters as options. Keep it canonical and clean, but present all the options.

Ideal? Not really. Workable? Probably.

My Dopp Kit

Dopp Kits are wonderful things, and I highly encourage anyone who does much traveling to look into putting one together.  It easily saves me an hour or more on each trip — both on the front-end of collecting everything, as well as scrounging for anything I’ve forgotten once I arrive at my destination!

So here’s what I’ve got:


It’s served me well thus far, but what do you think? Am I missing anything critical?

Day One: Couch to 5k

I’m finally doing it.  I’ve meant to for a while.

This morning I started week 1 day 1 of the Couch to 5k plan.  I’ve been doing weights regularly for nearly two years now, but have been a bit lax on the aerobic side of looking after myself.

So on my way into the coworking space, I stopped at the gym, cranked up the headphones, and started running.  I’m playing around with an app right now — RunDouble — that you select the program, and it pings you at the right intervals.  My soundtrack for the run today was the album “Bad Blood” by Bastille.

Figuring Couch to 5k is a 9-week program, I’ll probably be trying to find a 5k to do some time in June or July.  As I’ve got my Daughter’s birthday, WordCamp Chicago, a family trip to Vermont, and WordCamp Seattle the four weekends in June, I’ll probably be aiming for July — which is looking much more clear.

Any suggestions for a 5k to do in the Lancaster PA area?

Reign Soundtrack

So, it’s no great secret that my taste in TV shows isn’t always the classiest. I pick fun shows that happen to catch my interest, often just to be mocked for it by my wife.

One of the shows I picked up this season is the CW’s Reign. It’s very akin to The Tudors and its ilk, but with less nudity, cursing, and safer to watch around the baby. After all, it’s on a broadcast channel.

My favorite thing about it so far is actually the soundtrack. So I’ve started compiling the songs into a Google Music playlist (I’ve given up on Spotify a bit ago).

Here it is:

Very acoustic-folk sort of ambiance. I really dig it, and you might too!

Here’s the sources I normally gather the track lists for each episode from:

Developing with Jetpack – WordCamp Boston

Here’s my slides from WordCamp Boston

Developing with Jetpack – WCBoston