So You Want to be a Happiness Engineer, Huh?

So You Want to be a Happiness Engineer, Huh?

Since joining Automattic (and to the annoyance of some people, I’m sure) I tend to go on about how much I enjoy my job and the company itself. I’ve often been asked what it takes and what you need to know to get the job. Especially since I called people to join me in my last post, I thought I would put together my thoughts and some resources which I can point people to or they can hopefully find through searching online as well.

I’m going to go a bit further and not only talk about what you need to do to get the job, but what I think you need to be successful in the Happiness Engineer role at Automattic. Please note that there are a lot of points here and you don’t have to be an expert in all of them to apply, but having a good understanding from a combination of them would be good.

Personal Traits

These are the some of the main things you need to have to be successful in the Happiness Engineer role at Automattic. This isn’t exhaustive and is mostly my opinion, but if you are confident that these things describe you, even if you don’t have the technical skills yet you could certainly do well in this role.

The ability and desire to learn

The first line in our Automattic creed is “I will never stop learning”. It’s one of the things I love most about this role. If you are doing this and find yourself being bored or not learning new things, chances are you’re doing something wrong 🙂 Not only is there just so much to know but our products are always changing and new features being added, or new products being released. We also have a wide variety of products outside of WordPress.com which you find yourself to learn if you ever do get to a point where your learning is slowing down.

Flexibility,  be open to change

This goes along with having the ability and desire to learn: you need to be open to change. At Automattic if there is one thing you can count on is that things are going to change and grow. Changes can be the product we support, how much support we offer for certain parts, or the way we interact with our users. You’ll have to have the ability to roll with these changes, embrace them and learn what you can to work with them.

The desire to help people

This doesn’t have to be specific to WordPress or the Internet, but if you find yourself being happy when you are helping others that is a good sign. In this role you are going to spend the vast majority of your time either helping our users, or helping fellow colleagues.

Empathy

As part of helping people being able to have empathy for them and their situation could be the most important trait you have. If you are able to see things from the other persons perspective you can relate to how they are feeling and show them you want to help them find a resolution when ever possible. Even if there isn’t a solution we can offer, having empathy will help you explain that in a way the person you are helping may be able to accept.

Self motivated

Working in a distributed way, or remotely, the way Automattic does requires in itself that you are self motivated. One of the questions I’ve heard before is, how do you not just watch Netflix all day? If you aren’t self  motivated it would be very easy to sleep in, get up watch some Netflix, go run some errands, and before you know it the day is done and you haven’t done much work.

This is especially relevant at Automattic because each employee is given a lot of flexibility when it comes to schedules and where and how they work. We trust that people will do the work. Given that we are working to provide top notch support to all our users there has to be some organization so you plan your time in advance and communicate that with others. But it is really on you to show up and keep yourself motivated to do the work.

Attention to detail

We are fast moving in support and want to give the best customer experience we can for each user we interact with. Having attention for the details will be a necessity for this. As you can see in the technical skills below there are a lot of moving parts and that doesn’t include areas like billing inquiries where we help as well. Being able to quickly pick out the important details in what the customer tells us, or checking all relevant places in the account before taking an action, will make you much more efficient and cause a lot less headaches in the end.


If you feel that these things describe you but you just don’t have the technical background or knowledge to support something like WordPress or people building websites or growing their online business, have no fear. I’m confident you’ll be able to learn the technical skills needed if you want.

This next section I’ll touch on some of the main technical related skills that you will use as a Happiness Engineer. You’ll need to know these things and be able to explain some of the complex concepts and tasks to users who may not have that same level of technical knowledge. Included with the skills I’ll share resources and activities you can do to help you learn everything right from your computer for little to no money.

It will take time and work especially if you aren’t familiar with the web and how it works, but if you put in the time and effort it is certainly achievable.

Technical Skills

One of the main building blocks for skills you will need is an understanding of websites in general. How they are made, how they live on the internet. WordPress is software that people can use to build and manage their websites. A lot of this technology comes down to HTML and CSS. To me knowing how these languages are used to build websites is the first step.

In this section I’m going to include links to resources or courses offered online. Some of these are free resources you can view right away, some of them are courses offered through sites such as Lynda.com, udemy.com, and TeamTreehouse.com. These courses are ones you would need to buy. Some of the sites offer free trial periods which you can make use of, and the courses themselves are not crazy expensive. You could even find coupons by searching online in some cases.

HTML & CSS

Once again this is the basis of how websites are made including through WordPress. Most of this is controlled by WordPress itself or the theme you install. You’ll need to be able understand how these work to support users. We will often help users customize their sites by adding custom CSS code. Knowing how the site is structured with the HTML and being able to find the parts that need the changes applied and then writing the CSS code to do it is becoming an increasing part of role.

If you’ve never created a website or written HTML & CSS code this is the place to start. Like most of these skills there are numerous places online or books you can read to help you do this. I’ll list and go over a few here.

Introduction to HTML and CSS

This course offered on Treehouse is an ideal place to start. It will give you a good foundation and understanding of these fundamental parts of building websites.

This is a paid course on Treehouse where a membership is $25 per month, but the also offer a 7 day free trial as well.

View the course on Treehouse

Building your first website

This is a free guide I came across which seems to be a great starting point if you prefer to do most of your learning by reading. It is by Shay Howe and you can find it here http://learn.shayhowe.com/html-css/building-your-first-web-page/

Build your first website in 1 week

This is a crash course to take you through making your first website. It introduces you to HTML and CSS and shows how to work with work with the popular CSS framework Bootstrap. Some parts of this will likely be more advanced and you may not need to go all the way through but looks to have some good content. One bonus is that if you follow it through to the end you will end up with a site live on the internet.

View the course on Udemy

More HTML & CSS

There are three more courses on Lynda.com that go more into HTML and CSS.

WordPress

Once you have a good feel for HTML & CSS the next part will to learn what WordPress is and how it works. WordPress is a huge community project, and there are tremendous amounts of material and opportunities for learning out there. My advice is to get a good understanding of the basics and then use it and play with it.

Essential WordPress Training

This is a really good introduction course to teach you the ins and outs of WordPress and how it works. Going through this will give you a really good foundation to start with. From getting started and installing WordPress to writing posts with media. It will explain themes and how to customize the look of your site and how you can extend the functionality with plugins.

View the course on Lynda.com

WordPress.com Specific Information

The course above talks a bit about the differences between WordPress.com and self hosted versions of WordPress with the software available at WordPress.org. The lines are blurring between the two but knowing the different ways to use WordPress will be important. This page gives a good comparison between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

There are some great guides for WordPress.com specifically which you can go through as well.

Use WordPress

The best way to learn WordPress is to use it and play with it. WordPress.com is a great place to start. Create an account and site and play with it. You can use the free plan we offer and use it to create a site or blog. If you don’t want the world to see you can keep it private just for yourself.

Try out a bunch of the different themes. Look at the documentation and the demo versions and work to get them to look the same. This is some of the best practice you can do. Themes have different settings and ways to configure them but there is lots of commonality as well. Getting to know how they work and the different things they can do is extremely important.

Outside of WordPress.com it would be a great idea to setup a hosting account with another provider and and use it to install WordPress. You can find very cheap options, but install it and play with it. Install plugins and see what you can do. You can also use this site to play with some of the other skill areas we’ll go into next.

Domains & DNS

Domains and DNS are some of the most technical things we deal with, and they are at the core of how websites and the internet work. Happiness Engineers spend a lot of time helping users get their domains working properly. Their domain could be registered with one company while their website is hosted with us at WordPress.com, but their email setup with another provider. Working to make sure you have a good understanding of how these work together to make peoples sites and email work and point to the right places will make the job much easier.

How Domains & DNS Work

I’ve struggled to find ideal courses or tutorials for explaining how this all works in a way that is both useful, but not too technical for what we would really need to know. For that reason I’ve written up something using different material which should hopefully be useful.

Sandy’s Beginners Guide to Domains & DNS

DNS, why it’s important and how it works

This gives a good easy way to consume an overview of what DNS is and how it works. Very worth while to read it. It doesn’t completely serve all our needs though.

View the article on the dyn.com blog

Managing DNS Essentials

This course can be overkill but it also covers the basics so could be beneficial. Especially if you sign up for a Lynda.com account for another one of the courses it wouldn’t hurt to go through this as well.

View the course on Lynda.com

Domain & DNS Practice Exercise

Like so much of these technical skills, playing with it and setting up different experiences will help put this together. Register a domain name, set up a hosting account with a different company and point it to the hosting account. This can be part of the playing with WordPress session above. Namecheap.com offers a relatively cheap shared hosting plan which allows multiple sites on the same account. From the domain name you register create a sub domain and create a second site on the account hosting account. Set up an email account through a completely different provider and update the DNS settings for the domain to direct it to that provider. There are free providers you can choose.

SEO

One of the main reasons people want to be online is to allow people to find their information. This could be a business site looking to sell things, or a personal blogger looking to share their thoughts with the world. You want people to come to your site and SEO or Search Engine Optimization is one of the main ways to do that. Knowing the basics of how this works and to give advice to users on how to build traffic to their site is important.

These two resources are great starting places to get the basics of how this is done.

eCommerce

One of Automattics big products is WooCommerce. This is the leading way to sell products online using WordPress. Having a good working knowledge of how this works will serve you well. As WordPress.com makes our Business Plan more flexible and attractive to businesses looking to setup this will become even more important.

WordPress eCommerce with WooCommerce

This is another course from Lynda.com which will give you the basics of how to setup an online store.

View course on Lynda.com

Learn WooCommerce

This is another course offered from udemy.com which also takes you through setting up an eCommerce site using WordPress and WooCommerce. It shows how to setup payment and shipping options, managing orders, and different WooCommerce extensions.

View course on udemy.com

WooCommerce Resources

WooCommerce directly offers a lot of documentation which will help you with the setup process and using WooCommerce to manage an online store.

Conclusion

This is a lot of information to take in and won’t be a short process. It will require dedication and a lot of work, but going through the resources here and experimenting and exploring WordPress can get you ready. I’ve seen people with the good traits at the start of this post but very limited in the technical skills go through material like this and learn what was needed to get hired and do well in the role.

Once you have a good understanding of these skills spending some time volunteering in the WordPress.com support forums will give you a good idea of the questions you’ll get in the role and even let you know if you think you’ll enjoy helping people in this manor and supporting WordPress. Once again, you don’t need to be an expert in all of these to apply, but having an understanding in a good selection of them will certainly help.

If you have questions, thoughts, or additional resources you think would be useful here please feel free to comment here, or contact me, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Post title is a shout out to Joe Burns who’s old site htmlgoodies.com helped teach me HTML back in 1999.

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Come Join Me!

Come Join Me!

Here’s a good summary to get you started, but then I’ll throw in my custom pitch below!

Want to be part of making the web a better place? Come work for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce. As a Happiness Engineer, you’ll work full-time from your home (with salary and benefits) to help people with their websites and blogs. It’s helpful to have some familiarity with HTML, CSS, and WordPress. Critical is a genuine desire to help people. Apply by following the directions on our Jobs page: https://automattic.com/work-with-us/happiness-engineer/

If you’ve read my blog before at all you’ll know that I love my job. I really learned about the internet when I started working in a call centre doing tech support for an internet service provider. From there I thought to myself why do these people want to be online? What are they doing on there? That led me to making websites which I eventually ended up doing as a career for a number of years. I loved it because I was helping people get online and promote themselves or their businesses. That led me to WordPress as I tried other options but this software became an awesome way to help them do it.

Now at Automattic I get to work for an amazing company and help people get online and make WordPress itself better. Our mission is to Democratize Publishing which to me is a noble goal. More about what we stand for can also be found in our creed. We are a distributed company, meaning everyone works from where ever they live. It wasn’t until a recent conversation I had with a friend talking about working remotely that I realized what a benefit that really is. I’m able to work with and talk to smart people from all over the world. We are a diverse group and I’m able to interact and learn from all these different perspectives.

If you’re not sold yet, I loved the company, the work, and the people so much that I encouraged the love of my life Jen to apply and go through the intense hiring process to join the company as well. I wouldn’t have done that if I had any doubts about this place.

Like any job there are always challenges and things which could be done better, but most is in our control to have input on fixing or directly working to fix it.

If this sounds like a company you’d enjoy working for and supporting some amazing people who use our products than help me in my personal mission to grow the number of Automatticians we have in Nova Scotia. Take a look at the map, we’re behind of many of the other Provinces, but we can catch up. If you’re interested you can still apply even if you don’t live here 😉

Reach out if you have questions or apply directly https://automattic.com/work-with-us/happiness-engineer/

Fundraising Advent Calendar

This year my daughter Caile inspired me. Throughout the year at her middle school they do exploratory’s. You have a choice of fun extracurricular activities to choose from. Some of them are crafts, art related, sports, all things things above an beyond the normal school day work. They last for a few weeks at a time and you get to choose from a number of options which are being offered. In November she started a new one called Tree of Hope. It was a fundraising option to help raise funds for a couple of local non-profits.

One of the organizations was The Chrysalis House Association. They are a local women and children’s shelter and outreach provider. A more full description can be found on their website.

Chrysalis House is a non-profit grassroots organization that provides shelter, support, counseling, advocacy, and outreach for abused women and their children. Services are available for women who have been psychologically, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abused. We work with individuals, organizations and businesses in our community to end violence against women. Chrysalis House is located in Kentville, Nova Scotia. We serve the communities of Kings, Annapolis, and Hants County. Public education and community development are also important elements of our Association.

They provide these services 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The work they do is incredibly hard and important. It is also near to my heart. Had it not been for welcoming friends who were willing and able to help us out, our family would have been seeking services from an organization like The Chrysalis House.

Last year I donated to a fun online campaign and the idea was one I knew I could do. After contacting the person who ran the one I had seen and getting some tips I went to work. The idea was an online advent calendar. Each day, from December 1st to December 24th, you reveal a prize which has been donated by a local business. Then by promoting on social media get people to donate. For every $5 they donate they receive an entry to win all 24 prizes at the end.

The idea started pretty late but thanks to WordPress, and it being open source, I was able to quickly get a site up an running to organize and run the fundraiser from. From WordPress.org I found the Hemingway theme to use and with the help of a few plugins and customization I was all set. Of course I installed Akismet and Jetpack which go on about every WordPress site I create, the other main one I used was The Event Calendar. It was probably overkill for what I needed, but it is so well documented I was pretty easily able to customize it up to do what I needed. Instead of displaying events I wanted to display a single post I publish, from a specific category, for each day of the fundraiser. This is truly the beauty of open source. I had access to the source code, could see how it worked, and was able to change things up to meet my needs. Most of the changes came by creating a custom month view for the calendar. If you want to check out the code you can see it here.

With the site ready I contacted a bunch of local businesses explaining the idea and showing them the site which was setup. One of the lessons I learned if I am to do this again is to not wait to so late to approach businesses. Things went really well and I had quite a few businesses commit to donating a prize so I started the campaign and started promoting it on Twitter and Facebook. It was pretty stressful though as when it first started I still didn’t have enough prizes for all the days. About a week in I reached out to some friends who have good connections to businesses and they were able to put me in touch with more people to get the final donations needed. It was stressful for a while thinking I may have to go out and buy some gift cards myself for some of the days. But our local community once again came through and we had over $1000 worth of prizes donated.

On Christmas Eve I closed donations. I had set a goal for $1000 to be raised and we came in at $1070! Once things were closed and I gathered up all the names I was able to go to the Chrysalis House and with their Executive Director and other staff members we choose our winner and sent them off an email notification. After fees from GoFundMe, who I used to take payments, we were left with $973.56. To make things a nice round number I wrote a cheque while there for $1000 even as a donation to the association. It was an awesome feeling and I felt very humble to have our local area help me run with this idea.

Shortly after I arrived home the winner contacted me back and I was able to go and deliver all 24 prizes to her. That was also a very rewarding part. Even though all the prizes and money were donated by others I had the privilege of feeling like Santa by delivering the money and prizes. What a whirlwind of a Christmas Eve! It made up for some of the stress involved not wondering if it would all come together in the end.

Though it is all over if you want to see the site and the list of prizes you can still see the site at https://calendar.ourvalley.ca

Presenting WordPress

One of the goals I’ve been working on is to try and get out of my comfort zone a bit and start doing some public speaking. Being up in front of people is not overly fun for me, but I do see the good of doing it.

One area where I can see me potentially able to help people is by talking about WordPress. By no means do I know everything about WordPress, but I do have a pretty strong understanding of how it works, and I help people use it as my job as a Happiness Engineer. So far I’ve done two presentations on the topic. One I wrote about before where I did a WordPress.com 101 for a university business class. Last night I did one at a local meetup for Refresh Annapolis Valley. WordPress is a pretty popular topic because there was likely more people out last night than I have seen before.

My idea was to give an intro to WordPress and show people the basics of getting started. While preparing I went through creating so many slides with screenshots and taking people through the process of setting up WordPress and then working with it. Near the end I scrapped most of it and decided to go against a lot of the advice I had received and do a live demo instead. It still feels like the right move to really give people a feel for how to work through the WordPress dashboard but almost immediately backfired on me.

The talk took place on the same university campus and the guest internet connection is pretty locked down so I couldn’t load one of the pages needed to do the demo because it ran on a different port which was blocked on the connection. Thankfully the organizer fired up the hot spot on his phone and I connected to it and went through.

My intention was to record my screen so I could share it after, but once up there nerves took over and  I completely forgot to start it.

12794840_1049876261720885_3154207334068637655_o

One of the things I mentioned in my talk was the mission of WordPress which is as follows:

To democratize publishing through Open Source, GPL software.

One of people who has given me the motivation to start presenting in public is a team mate Mahangu Weerasinghe. Each year our company gets together and one of the things we do is each person has to do a flash talk while there. It is just a short, up to four minutes, presentation on anything you would like. His inspired me greatly and today an article about his story was published that is both inspiring itself and goes to the mission of WordPress. I encourage you to give it a read. http://heropress.com/essays/breaking-the-silence/

I’m sharing my flash talk below which is certainly less inspirational, but it shows how nervous I am in front of people I think and was my first time up in front of a group of people in a long time.

WordPress Menus and PHP max_input_vars

Yesterday I spent a bit of time becoming better familiar with how WordPress menus work. Particularily how they are stored in the database and how PHP’s max_input_vars setting can come into play.

While helping a friend try to troubleshoot and figure out some performance issues on her WordPress site I also went in to add an item to the main menu of the site. That’s when things took a turn for the worse. The menu is fairly large and uses a theme which includes a mega menu. So already there were over 100 menu items added to the main menu, but only main items and then many that fall in fancy drop downs. That’s why when I added the item, pressed save, and only about 60 menu items were left when the page refreshed I was a little paniced.

As it turns out it also neglected to save the theme location for the menu which caused the theme to display the default menu which is just a list of all pages all as main headers. As you can imagine over 125 menu items filling the screen didn’t look the best on a live site. I tried setting up the menu again and adding in the missing menu items, but when I saved the same thing happened. It’s like it made it to a certain part in the menu and just stopped saving. After some research that’s exactly what happened.

Luckily there as been a lot written about with tips on how to fix it. But before I got there I was just focused on how to get the menu working again and have the site look right. I found that in working with the menu from the Customizer instead of in WP Admin I was able to get all the menus to save. The only problem was the mega menu that was built into the theme added a setting where you enabled the mega menu drop down but it was only in WP Admin, the setting wasn’t there in the Customizer.  This led me looking through the database to see how the menus were stored to see if I could enable the setting there.

The following goes over how menus are stored by default in a fresh install of WordPress 4.3.1, default theme Twenty Fifteen with a simple menu I created. Things were different on the site I was working on because of some extra settings which were added by the theme, but the main concepts stand.

Simple Menu

Menus have settings saved in a number of tables in the database. In this example I used the default database table prefix of wp_ so that’s how all tables are named. We’ll start in wp_terms which holds the name of the menu. You can see the name, the slug and the term_id which will come into play.

wp_terms Table

Here are most of the main settings you can choose for a menu item.

Menu Item Settings

Each menu item is saved in the wp_posts table with the post type set as nav_menu_item. There are more fields in this table by default, but I’m only showing the ones we’re really interested in for menu items.

wp_posts Table

A number of the settings are stored here for a menu and you can see how the settings in WP Admin map over to the fields in the database table. Depending on the type of menu item the post_name and post_title will hold different settings. The rest of the settings are stored in the wp_postmeta table. Here is an image for just one menu item. This combined with the wp_posts table tells us that the menu item with post_id 8 which is the second item in the menu is a post_type menu item and it points to a page with the post_id of 4 and it has no parent item so it is a main heading in the menu.

wp_postmeta Table

Here is a look at more settings for other menu items as well.

wp_postmeta Table

You can see the rest of the settings here and differnt types like custom links which have a url, and the sub menu items which have a parent id showing which item the fall under in the menu. If you look back to the image of the menu, and the settings image you can see them all shown here.

It was in the wp_postmeta table where there was an extra setting for each menu item that could either be set to active or blank. That specified if a main heading item in the menu should format itself as a mega menu. Finding this I was able to go in and set it manually by editing the database field needed so that the appropriate ones had the mega menu setting active.

The one other table that menus live in is the wp_term_relationships. It takes the term_id from the wp_terms field and ties each of the menu items id’s to show that they are part of that menu.

wp_term_relationships Table

Now that I had the menu working and looking the way it should I could spend the time to find out what was causing all the menu items to save. It really comes down to php settings. There is a setting called max_input_vars in PHP. On my hosting provider the default value of this is set to 1000. What this means is that when you submit a form to PHP to handle it will only process a maximum of 1000 form fields. Once it gets there it just ignores the remaining. If your hosting provider has the PHP security feature suhosin installed there would be an additional two settings called suhosin.post.max_vars and suhosin.request.max_vars as well which essentially do the same thing.

In the image above you can see that visibly each menu item has seven form fields associated with it. There are also some hidden form fields. If you look at the source code generated for a single menu item you can see there by default 13 form fields.

Menu Item Form Fields

That means to reach the maximum of 1000 input variables it would only take 77 menu items. That doesn’t even include the other form fields that make up the menu page. It took even less than that in the site I was working on as the theme added extra fields to each menu item as well. This also explains why I was able to save the menu using the Customizer because it was only showing a few fields for each menu item, so it was still below the max_input_vars setting.

As my test menu in this example only has a few items to test I set the max_input_vars to be 50 and then saved the menu. This was the result. It only saved 4 menu items, and you can see it no longer has the theme location setting saved below either.

Cut Off Menu

Now knowing what the problem is I knew how to fix it and what I did to cause it to stop working on my friends site. As part of the performance enhancements I was trying to do I changed her server to use PHP version 5.6 instead of version 5.5. The max_input _vars had been set to 5000 for version 5.5 but was a lower default for version 5.6 and I didn’t notice. So making this change fixed things so I could once again save the menu.

To make the change it is just a matter of editing the php.ini file that holds all the settings. For me the setting wasn’t in the file so I just added it with the value of 5000 that I wanted. If the line was there you can just edit the number to be higher.

php.ini

Depending on your host there might be other ways to change this through a control panel, or you may need to contact them directly. Running the phpinfo() function you can see what the value is currently set to as well as the location of the php.ini file is so you can edit it if you have access.

phpinfo

As I mentioned before there is quite a bit written about this where people have run into problems saving menus, but in my reading I didn’t see an explanation of what that max_input_vars setting really means and why what seems like a lower number of menu items might trip that limit even if it seems high. Since I dug into the database I figured I would include that in here as well. Hopefully this is helpful to someone if they run across it in the future.

 

The Go-Giver

Recently I was recommended a short book to read called The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. Seeing as I was going to be spending some time on a plane I thought it would likely make a good choice as something to get through quickly while traveling.

The book is written in the form of a parable explaining five laws to stratospheric success. The tag line for the book is “A Little Story About A Powerful Business Idea”, but as far as I’m concerned it can be applied to life in general. It’s not a hard read, but very engaging and it really explains the principles in an easy to grasp and fun way. I won’t give away all the laws but, the main idea is that giving to people without the expectation of anything in return, as the secret to be hugely successful.

Even though I’ve seen some of these things hold true in small ways in my own life I would have still been a little skeptical. However by looking at the concepts and comparing them to Open Source, and WordPress in particular, you can see how it can be true. The whole concept of open source is just that, people contribute to a project because the believe in it or think it is important. In the case of WordPress the project itself, and many people, have become very successful. There is a large number of people who make their living using, building on, or supporting, WordPress. The results of the 2014 WordPress survey had over 7500 people making their living with it.

There are are many other parts of the book that relate as well, but I’ll leave it for you to read, but think value, and influence as a couple others. Even without this I’d recommend the book, I can see me reading it a few more times to really try and absorb it all and trying to live closer to concepts in it.

Jen has Started Blogging

Over the years I’ve tried a few times to get Jen to start blogging. Maybe if I had ever kept it up for a solid amount of time myself she would have been more inclined to start. Maybe this time I’ve kept with it long enough that she’s giving it a shot.

She’s still working on it but she has it looking good and has a few posts up. She is using it similar to I am as a type of journal to keep track of the things we do. I tend to throw in some other things every once in a while but if you end up following both our blogs you’ll certainly get some overlap. One of the great things about blogging though is that even writing about the same topic each person is different so you’ll get a different perspective.

So without anymore preamble her site is http://dreamofsummer.com take a look, give a follow.

First Halifax WordPress Meetup

Tonight I attended my first ever WordPress meetup. When I found out that Alison and Tara were organizing a meetup in Halifax I was very excited. Seeing co-workers going to meetups and WordCamps talking with others who are either passionate about, or wanting to know more and learn about WordPress had me a bit envious.

It was a really great evening, the first talk was about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. This is a complicated topic that has a fair amount of confusion around it and they did a great job at laying things out.

Over the years I’ve helped people in person to use WordPress but it was really neat tonight to get to engineer some happiness in person and I look forward to doing more of it in the future as well. I’m far from an outgoing person, but I found it really easy to talk to everyone tonight and can even see myself doing a talk at some point.

One of the highlights of the evening for me was when I introduced myself and my job title someone said, “that sounds made up.”

Thanks again to the organizers and everyone who came out. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again.

Battle of the W Logos

We have a bit of a debate going on in my house, which W logo is better? As anyone who knows me I might have a bit of an obsession going on with WordPress swag. There are an awful lot of things in my office and life that have the WordPress logo front and centre.

My wife on the other hand has had a crush on Donnie Walhberg since the New Kids on the Block came on the scene many years ago. So when their family opened the Walhburgers Restaurants she decided she needed to get a bit of their swag. That nostalgia is pretty hard to compete with.

So, don’t judge based on the model in the picture, that isn’t fair to me or WordPress, but which W logo is best? We bought the Walhburgers hat for her Father but she wouldn’t put it on for the picture 🙂

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WordPress Hat

My newest piece of WordPress swag arrived in the mail the other day, and I love it. 

I think this is my favourite one yet because I can wear it everyday. When I go out I almost always wear a hat. I have a couple I alternate but I haven’t worn any other one besides this since it got here. 

If you want one there are still some left at http://freedomzero.org/. Thanks Nick! It made it here crazy fast after I ordered and he threw in a Wapuu keychain.