Support Rotation

At Automattic, after being hired, your first two weeks on the job is working with our Happiness teams to directly support customers. For engineers or designers, it gives you a taste of who we’re building this for. For other roles, it is a reminder that we’re all contributing toward the success of our customers in their mission to publish, to sell, to teach, or whathaveyou.

After that, we take a week a year in some form—a fully week, five days spread out over the year, whatever works for your team—to go back to Happiness to work with our customers directly again.

I spent my first five years at Automattic within Happiness so I had a lot of interaction directly with our customers, but after swimming over to the engineering side 100%, it is time again for my annual support rotation.

For a lot of non-Happiness folks, the idea of jumping back into direct support can be a bit scary. Happiness folks have to know everything about the product. Engineers just need to know their portion and lightly keep up with what other teams are doing. Customers come up with the most bizarre issues sometimes and you can’t just say “wow, that’s messed up.”

In actuality, the Happiness teams at Automattic are extremely supportive folks to their non-Happiness teammates who join them during the rotations. Happiness Engineers are helpful and supportive to the folks contacting us, but internally, they are also some of the most selfless, helpful folks in the company.

If you’re a customer of or Jetpack, feel free to reach out and say hello. We usually hear from the folks having problems, but if you want to write in just to say everything is working fine, that’s okay too. 😀

I Don’t Think I’m Going To Go Anymore

Except, I do like my job. I’m just not going to go back for awhile.

I’ve been really lucky to work at a place that wants employees to be well-rounded people. Between reasonable work goals and unlimited vacation time (still got to get the work done), I’ve been able to be do good work without overworking.

But, there’s more to life than regular vacations. They offer some great paternity leave options and every five years, a three-month sabbatical to really unplug and recharge.

I’ve been at Automattic for nearly six years now, so time to take some time. I’m about to log out and I think I’m not going to go back to work. Well, not until September at least.

Have a wonderful summer! Details soon…

Knock Knock WHOIS There?

You can still have fun while being corporate and while doing legal processes. One thing that brings me joy at work is to hear of the names we come up for entities.

There’s Automattic, of course, named after Matt. We have a few subsidiaries in other countries to help streamline employment matters for Automatticians in those countries. Aut O’Mattic in Ireland, Automattoque in Canada, Ministry of Automattic in the UK, Ausomattic in Australia, and so on.

There are a couple more I really enjoy: Knock Knock Whois There, LLC and Knock Knock Whois Not There, LLC.

Knock Knock Whois There is the .blog registry, the company that “owns” the rights to .blog. KKWT will coordinate with domain registrars who will actually sell the domain names to regular folks like you and me.

The second, Knock Knock Whois Not There, LLC is our private registration provider, a company that will proxy for you when registering for a domain name so you can keep your personal information private.

For the less-techy, “whois” is an old computing term for looking up, literally, who is the person behind the user name or domains name.

Our team names are, of course, pretty random and full of backstories, but those are internal names How many people know or care that I was on the “Aurora” team? Or that our sister team that we coordinate with is “Zen”. Or that an interteam squad between the two exists called “Dash” representing the dash from A-Z? Oh, you care? You’re probably the only one. 😝 I’m now the lead of the Earth team, which is one of four “elemental” teams that work together (Earth, Air, Fire, Water).

I really appreciate that we can have fun with external, official legal names. So, often, these things are the realm of groups of people trying to either sound so bland that no one will notice, or full of random buzz words, or something else boring.

Drinking Dublin🍻

I walked, I ate, and yes, I drank while in Dublin.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Guinness is the name of the game in Dublin. The drink of the Republic is everywhere. We visited the Guinness Brewery Storehouse.

When deciding where to go in Dublin, I really wanted to see the famous St. James Gate Brewery. And I did.

That’s the sum of the view of the brewery from the Storehouse, the public half-amusement park, half-immersive-ad experience. I’ve never been to a macrobrewery and the scale they must operate in blows my mind, but it makes sense that for all of the people that visit, they can’t really provide any meaningful access that wouldn’t impact production.

This is a Guinness Disneyland. Fully-immersive exhibits with every sight, sound, and smell perfectly crafted to fill your mind with nothing else beyond how incredibly specific and particular they are to make Guinness the best beer on the planet.

They have an exhibit where you smell vapors of the different elements of beer, followed by a tasting session.

Two things made me laugh while at the Storehouse. First, the coffee shop. Second, I could order a Budweiser.

The Storehouse is one of the taller buildings in that part of Dublin—huge—on one floor, they had a workshop on how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. I must confess that I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Of course, there’s plenty of drink there. They have a few different varieties and I ended up alone for a few minutes. I found my way to a bar inside that sold flights and eventually most of the meetup it seemed found me.

A friend and coworker, Ryan, shot some beautiful pictures while there as well.

Craft beer hasn’t escaped Dublin either. Galway Bay Brewery operates eleven different bars and brewpubs, of which we visited two. Their beers were pretty delicious and ran the entire range of styles. When you visit Dublin, you must try them.

Personally, I really enjoyed The Beer Market, a block down from Christchurch, that had good pub grub, Galway Bay Beers, and a fine selection of other beers too.

Beer Market

Beer Market

The Porterhouse, another brewery that also owns a few bars—is the only real way craft breweries found success in Dublin is by owner the establishments that serve?—had a great lineup and was another fun place to try beers.

While Dublin is a Guinness town, the brews from Galway Bay, The Porterhouse, and others available in Dublin were quite tasty.

Of course, there is more to Irish alcohol than beer. I’m not a whiskey drinker, but visited the Irish Whiskey Museum. It’s independent—not affiliated with any distillery—and presented a great historical tour of Irish whiskey, a fine selection during tasting, and we added on a very fun whiskey mixing class.

I fell in love with Dublin, even if only there for nine days, between the people, the culture, the sights, the walkability, the drinks, the churches. I look forward to creating a reason to go back.

Praying Dublin 🙏

Ireland is known as the motherland for a very sizable of the Catholic migration to America. The Catholic Church in Ireland is going through a time of transition, and rightfully so. Between actual abuses and difficulty remaining relevant in the day-to-day lives of the Irish, Catholicism is often only a cultural practice, not including a truly religious one. There are valid discussions happening on the Emerald Isle regarding the role of the church and public education.

That said, it is still a Catholic country and there is a special grace in being able to discover some sliver of the spirit of a place so rich. First, the churches are beautiful. Within the center of the city, at least, there are churches just about everywhere which would be amazing cathedrals by American standards. They were, generally, open most of the time, which does not happen that much stateside anymore.

First, I arrived on Sunday morning and wanted to make sure I had a chance to attend Mass. As soon as the taxi dropped me off, I dropped my suitcase at the front desk and hiked over to John’s Lane Church. Read More

Eating Dublin 🍴

While I did plenty of walking in Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪, I also ate and drank plenty. The city, as any urban hub does, had a variety of options, including more than a couple Tex-Mex/Mexican restaurants. I could not bring myself to try any Tex-Mex from Ireland though.

On Sunday morning, I was alone, just finished attending Mass, and in need of coffee. I found a lovely little coffee shop on Lord Edward Street called Bittersweet (all Flash site 😞, their Foursquare page). The baristas were nice, the space was cozy but still enough space to work. It is right on the main drag and opened at 7 am. On the weekend, I realized that many of the coffee places opened later and Bittersweet saved my day. My only complaint is the sandwiches take an unexpectedly long time to make.

For coffee and baked goods, there were some places close to us, in addition to Bittersweet, that were nice. The Queen of Tarts had a beautiful selection of baked goods. They were also pretty popular, so plan accordingly. A block away from our apartments, Caffé Comino was my day-to-day go to for a flat white on my morning walk.

We visited this fantastic Japanese restaurant, Yamamori Izakaya, which had an expansive menu, great service, and wonderful food.

We visited a few others places, including a lovely vegetarian place, Cornucopia.

In Ireland, though, you don’t think of coffee shops or sushi. You think of Irish food and Irish pubs. We tried plenty of them, including Brazen Head, which claims to the oldest pub in Ireland from 1198 and hosts a lovely story telling session, an Evening of Food, Folklore, and Fairies.

The Brazen Head, founded in 1198, claims to be Ireland's oldest pub.

The Brazen Head, founded in 1198, claims to be Ireland’s oldest pub.

Arthur’s Pub, across from St. Catherine’s on the way to Guinness from the city centre, is a nice pub playing Irish music, lacking TVs, with both traditional Irish favorites and even a salad or two—had to offset the rest of the food and beer from the week.

I tried to eat salads some...

I tried to eat salads some…

For breakfast one morning, we had a “Full Irish Breakfast” at O’Neill’s Pub, across from the Molly Malone statue. For O’Neill’s, the full breakfast included pork sausages, bacon, black and white pudding, grilled tomato, baked beans, mushrooms, fried egg, toast and jam, coffee, and a Dublin potato cake.

A little bit of everything with a Full Irish Breakfast.

A little bit of everything with a Full Irish Breakfast.

We had a nice dinner of boxty pancakes at the aptly named Boxty House. Jet lag hit me hard this night, so I barely made it through dinner without falling asleep and skipped out early to call it a night.

Gaelic Boxty Irish beef medallions in whiskey & mushroom cream sauce, wrapped in a traditional leitrim boxty pancake.

Gaelic Boxty
Irish beef medallions in whiskey & mushroom cream sauce, wrapped in a traditional leitrim boxty pancake.

We went to a pair of pubs owned by Galway Bay Brewing, Against the Grain and the Beer Market. The beers were top-notch with good pub food.

I even ended up with a hot dog.