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Experiences Freelancing

Gutenberg day 4 – New things

Today was a my first day in my new office space. Since becoming fully self employed at the beginning of 2016 I've been working mostly from home on a day to day basis. This has led to a few frustrating moments, although based on what I've seen I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this.
In order to try and find better focus on my work and more of a separation of work and home life, I'm sharing an office space about 10 minutes from where I stay. It works out pretty well, except for a minor hiccup today which meant I lost about an hour of my day. The upside however is that I am less inclined to take my laptop out when I get home and I'm therefore less inclined to work after hours. Part of me still feels like I haven't done enough today but I'm hopeful that as I get used to the new setup I'll become more productive with the time that I do have for work. 
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Experiences

Gutenberg day 3 – Blogging every day is hard!

Who knew? I often come up with ideas and jump into them without thinking. This has been both a blessing and curse over the past 40 years of my life. This idea to blog every day for September using Gutenberg was probably just as mad, as by the time I get to the end of the day I tend to forget to blog. So now it's 23:30 and I'm trying to get my obligatory post in before I got to bed. Perhaps I need to have a plan for this? In any case, this little personal discovery has led me to today's blog post, so at least I've managed to fulfill my quota.
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Experiences

Gutenberg – Day 2

This is probably going to be the shortest post I've ever written. I have nothing to say but I promised I would write a blog post per day for September using Gutenberg. This is that post for today.
Three's company
So here is a photo of myself, my wife Pamela and my son Ethan from about 3 years ago, this was (as far as I remember) the day we found out Luke was on his way. How much has changed since then…
Categories
Development Experiences WordPress

A month with Gutenberg

If you are in any way involved with WordPress and unless you've been living under a rock you're aware of the new Gutenberg editor that is currently in development. Gutenberg is what Matt and many other WordPress developers see as the future of WordPress. However, as with most new things, it's not been met with universal praise, with some even going so far as to review poorly, strange given that it is very clearly marked as a 'beta' product. Something that Matt and others have asked for is for user feedback. I've mostly stayed away from testing Gutenberg as I don't often have a lot of time for blogging lately. However, seeing as September is spring month in South Africa I've decided to try a little experiment. From today and for the rest of September I will attempt to write one blog post a day using Gutenberg. I am hoping that this will a) give me some time to test out the new editor and b) force me to write something every day. My ultimate goal is to try and both give useful feedback back to the Gutenberg team as well as start a pattern of blogging daily. Are you currently using Gutenberg? Let me know in the comments what your opinion of it is, by the end of the month I should be able to have worked with it enough to have formed my own.
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Experiences Freelancing WordPress

2017 WordPress resolutions – mid year check in.

Late last year I wrote down my 2017 WordPress resolutions. These were the goals I set myself (for better or worse) that I would like to achieve this year.

As we’re just over halfway through the year I thought it might be interesting to take a look back and see if I’ve made any headway on any of these items and whether I need to make some drastic changes for the next six months.

A more stable work environment.

If I think about it I have not yet quite achieved the ratio I had set out to, but there is some good news. I can’t remember when last I worked past 23:00 and I’ve even had some weeks where I didn’t have to catch up in the evenings at all. I have not yet been able to carve out time for plugin development though, so that is something I want to work on more. I can still be doing better with my project estimation so I’m constantly evolving that process.

5 for the future.

To be honest this has worked out, but in ways that I never could have imagined. Due to an unexpected set of circumstances I am the lead organiser for WordCamp Cape Town this year. I am enjoying this tremendously as I am really looking forward to putting together an even that could change someone else’s life as it did mine in 2015. I also recently joined the WordPress community team as a Community Deputy, meaning that currently I assist with vetting new WordPress meetup groups as well as hold Meetup orientations.

I still want to start contributing to WordPress Core as well as Calypso, the WordPress.com product, so I am looking forward to the the newly announced New Contributors meeting. I’ve also started learning React in order to look at contributing to Calypso.

REST API powered plugin

This one is still coming, as I’ve decided to build it using React for the admin sections (similar to Jetpack) so I need to finish my React fundamentals course first.

Twenty Seventeen theme

Sadly this won’t be happening this year, but I am getting a lot of experience using Twenty Seventeen on the WordCamp Cape Town site, so perhaps that counts?

WPHackerCast

This will also not be happening, however another podcast idea has revealed itself which is a much more exciting idea and one that will benefit way more people, so watch this space.

So, not to bad as far as I can see. I think I’m pretty close to completing at least 4 out of the 5 before the end of the year. I’ll check back in December and see how it went. How’s your year going? Any goals you’ve set that you’ve either achieved or are on your way to do so?

Categories
Experiences

Reflections on ‘me’, version 4.0

Today I reached a milestone in my life, what is otherwise known as the ‘big 4 0’. I turned 40.

It’s been a bit of a recurring joke in my household that I’ve been dreading the day, more so because I tended to make (half joking, half truthful) comments about the fact.

Now that the day has come and gone, if nothing else, I’m happy that it is here.

I’m not usually one to make a big deal out of my birthday (in fact for my 30th I pretty much hid away from everyone) but I’ve found that I’ve actually been quite happy to let people know that I’m turning 40 today.

Looking back at the last 10 years of my life I can’t help feel that I’ve accomplished quite a lot in a fairly short space of time. I got married, moved house, changed jobs, became self employed, sired two boys, opened my own martial arts club, discovered just about the best open source community out there (that’s you, WordPress peeps) learned a bunch of new skills and learned a whole bunch about myself along the way. That’s not to say things were plain sailing, but I can say with certainty that I definitely handle failure and misfortune better than I used to. I still have my bad days, but I don’t believe they are as intense or drawn out as they used to be.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a mid life crisis (although my wife might disagree) and I’m hopeful for the future in that I really do feel like I am where I am supposed to be right now, in order to take the next big steps for the next 10 years.

So roll on 50, I’m looking forward to looking back at another decade with a smile on my face.

For now, I’m just going to enjoy my Whisky and go play some Shadows or Mordor!

 

Categories
Experiences WordPress

WordCamp Cape Town 2017

So last year I blogged about my list of resolutions for the new year. As with most resolutions it was a long list of the things I want to do differently in the new year, with very little grounding in reality. Reading that post now I can’t help wonder how I thought I was going to manufacture all that extra time!

Two days ago I sat staring at all the Make Slack channels I had joined in the course of the year and the realisation dawned that I was trying to keep too many fingers in too many pies when it comes to contributing to WordPress.  It struck me that I had to choose one (or maybe two) avenues within which I want to contribute back to WordPress this year and focus my spare time on those.

What I didn’t realise then, but I do now, was that I had already made the decision of what to focus on this year, merely by my actions last year, things that had already been set in motion during 2016. Once I realised that, it was very easy to leave all the other channels and look ahead to my journey with WordPress in 2017 with renewed purpose.  That purpose, building the community.

Which leads me to the real point of this article, an announcement I’ve been sitting on for a few weeks now and one that I’m happy now share with the world. I’ve applied (and been accepted) as the organiser for WordCamp Cape Town this year. It is a role I didn’t expect to take on until 2018 but circumstances have sent this my way and I’m happy to take on the challenge.

I’ll be blogging about my experiences here, mostly to record the journey from my own perspective but hopefully to educate and inspire others to either join, start or become a part of their own WordCamp’s around the world.

So here’s looking forward to WordCamp Cape Town 2017. Hopefully I’ll meet you there and we can share a WordPress story, or even just a coffee.

Categories
Experiences WordPress

4 WordCamps in 4 Months

Last year at WordCamp I decided I would speak at the next one, this year I did just that. So when I heard that there would be 3 new WordCamps happening in Africa this year (one in Johannesburg, one in Nairobi and one in Harare) I decided on the spot I want to attend all three.

In deciding to do this I realised that, with my attendance of WordCamp Cape Town in September, I’d effectively be able to attend a total of 4 WordCamps in 4 months (Johannesburg in November and Nairobi and Harare in December). The downside (as always), finding the money to do it.

As a self employed developer finding $2000 – $3000 to cover flights, accommodation and general expenses for the three extra trips is not easy. As such I am reaching out to the greater community, in Africa and internationally, to assist me in my plan.

Over at Elegant Marketplace I developed a really small plugin (that was released for free) which simply adds a ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ link at the end of every blog post. For the month of November I’ve changed the pricing model to a ‘choose your own price’ option, with a minimum of $2 and a suggested price of $5. Elegant Marketplace has kindly offered to give me the full proceeds of the sale of this plugin for the month of November, waiving the usual management fees I pay for my other products.

If I can get 600 people to buy this plugin I’ll be able to cover the costs of my trips. Even if you never use the plugin, or you could really write one your own, I’d appreciate your support in making this trip possible.

You can read more about the trip and how it came about in my Elegant Marketplace blog post or you can just go ahead and buy the plugin here.

Thanks.

Categories
Experiences WordPress

A friendly challenge to all WordCamp Cape Town 2016 Workshop Speakers

It’s Sunday morning 11 September and I am still coming off of the high that is WordCamp.

However, one thing makes me sad. Due to constraints the day 1 workshops were not filmed. While I do understand the logistics of this and why it was not possible, I gets me thinking that it would be amazing if there was some way to still capture this information for those who attended, or better yet, those who could not make it.

And then it hit me. We live in a digital age. There is nothing stopping each and every workshop speaker from taking an hour of our their day, recording their own session and uploading it to YouTube.

So, if you were a workshop speaker on day 1 of WordCamp, I challenge you to redo your workshop in the comfort of your home or office, record it and share it with the world. If your workshop was fairly seamless ( we’re looking at you Konstantin 😉 ) then it will be really easy. If, like me, there were things you could improve to help fit it into 1 hour, then make those changes and record your session.

I’m letting Steve and Danielle off the hook, I’m not sure they could record their talk and recreate the magic without an actual audience. 😉

I also already know Chris Muller is off the hook, as his team filmed his talk for him. So Chris, you are first up, upload the video, share it and inspire the rest of the community to record theirs.

You can expect mine by the end of the week!

Categories
Divi Experiences WordPress

WordCamp Cape Town – Day 1

So day one of Word Camp Cape Town is over. It was quite a whirlwind of a day, but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

My WordCamp experience actually started on Wednesday night, at the VIP dinner. Here I got to meet and chat with a bunch of folk from the local WordPress community who I had only ever ‘met’ online. It’s quite a thing to already have a relationship with someone and then only meet them in person for the first time (I wonder if this is how new Automattic employees feel at their first company meetup?) The vibe was great and I had some amazing discussions with some awesome people.

Today kicked off (after the obligatory 1 hour 20 minute drive from the outskirts of town) with my ‘Extending WordPress’ workshop. It went pretty well, there are some things I could have done better and some things that I nailed, but all in all I had good feedback. It’s always great hearing that people finally understood a specific concept because of your talk and one or two people mentioned that to me, which was amazing.

After that I sat in on Seagyn’s advanced talk on Continuous Integration, Unit Testing and Integration testing. I got to play with Travis-CI and I am excited to start implementing this knowledge into my development work flow

After lunch I decided to stay on the advanced developer track and thoroughly enjoyed Konstantin Obenland’s Settings API workshop. Being able to watch an expert at work is an amazing thing, and Konstantin ‘live coded’ his Settings API example with only one bug (which he fixed in record time) causing him a few moments of quiet contemplation. And I do really mean moments, in the time that it would have taken me to figure out the problem, he’d already figured out the problem and the solution. Amazing stuff.

The day ended with a really fun and interesting talk from Steve and Danielle. I really enjoyed the way that made the entire workshop interactive and interesting. I would have easily listened to a workshop on how to increase your site speed, but they presented it in such a way that they actually made me excited to just go and learn how to do it myself. Well done guys.

Other things that stood our where how many of the local Divi community were present, where ever we ran into each other the obvious topic of conversation was Divi 3.0. I even had the chance to speak to some non Divi users and discuss the theme and its merits with them. I am definitely looking forward to meeting all the Divi Users that are at WordCamp tomorrow at our unofficial Divi Meetup.

All in all day one was pretty special. What inspired me the most was  how full the three different tracks were, I’m looking forward to seeing and interacting with everyone in the single regular sessions track tomorrow