Walking Dublin 🏃

Last week, I was in Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪 for a meetup with the teams that support a variety of our plugins and services for self-hosted WordPress sites, like Jetpack, Akismet, VaultPress, Sensei, Gravatar, etc etc.

Usually, on meetups, I wake up extremely early, since I do at home, geek out doing random PRs or whatever, then join the rest of the crowd at a reasonable starting time. At home, I’ve started a regular routine of hitting the gym for an hour at 6:00 a.m. 🕕 and I didn’t want to slide backwards on losing weight between no gym 🏋, increased beer🍺 and food 🍟 consumption.

This time, I still woke up early, but kept the laptop in my bag. I packed up everything to trick myself into thinking I was going to go work somewhere and would just take a walk. I would end up hitting my daily goal of 10,000 steps usually by 9 a.m. when we would start as a group.

Dublin is incredibly walkable. We were in a StayCity “Serviced Apartments” complex right near the city centre and could easily hit plenty of things to keep us busy on foot. Except for a day-trip to the countryside for part of the team, we didn’t use any vehicles except for airport transit.

Thanks to Google’s reporting of every second of my day, you can see my walking journeys.

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Saturday, I racked up a personal record 32,000 steps per FitBit, but everything was close enough that I never felt that I was going that far. It was a really enjoyable experience.

For more pictures, Ryan Cowles took a some [better] ones.

Belize 🇧🇿

In February, I traveled to Belize to meet up with members of the Jetpack development team at Automattic. We worked on various things—outlining the next few versions, building out some enhanced debug/support tools—but also able to enjoy the beautiful Belizean coast.

Next up, recap of our Dublin meetup last week. P.S. We’re hiring.

Code is Poetry… and Warm!

The WordPress swag store added a couple of products yesterday. A Wapuu Christmas ornament and, my personal favorite, the “WordPress Ugly Holiday Sweatshirt“, which I don’t think is ugly at all.

This is not an ugly Christmas sweater. It's a sweatshirt.

This is not an ugly Christmas sweater. It’s a sweatshirt.

I’ve been eager to see this in production since Nick Hamze first teased it on his site in October and it is finally available to the masses. It is an amazing piece of clothing and the reaction on Twitter has been intense.

If you don’t follow Nick’s site and appreciate, on any level, swag, WordPress swag, Wapuu, Wapuu swag, then you’re just missing out on a thought leader.

Nick also runs the Unofficial Wapuu Fan Site and just published a great post on the origins of Wapuu.

The Power of WordPress.com

I’m guessing they just wanted a quick and easy way to make a functional and beautiful website, which is kind of the whole idea of WordPress.

Source: Amazon Silk on WP.com | Matt Mullenweg

Via Twitter, I stumbled upon this 2011 post from Matt sharing that the Amazon Silk Browser’s blog is hosted, for free or little cost on WordPress.com.

I have to admit it. Before starting with Automattic, I didn’t appreciate WordPress.com.

You have to choose one of their themes. You can’t install any plugins. You can’t fiddle with your theme’s functions.php file. You can’t even change CSS without paying for their $99/yr plan!

Why would anyone go with WordPress.com over a $10/month shared host?

It truly is the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to spin up a website.

Yes, there are limitations. It isn’t the wild west of shared hosts where anything goes until you overwhelm the server or the host shuts you down, but there is incredible power behind the scenes.

With your typical shared host, you are given space on one of their servers. One server. What happens when someone else on the server runs a bad script? If your post gets tweeted out by someone with a million followers?

Bad news bears.

WordPress.com is one massive multisite install of WordPress. The same core WordPress files run the whole shebang, from your neighbor’s secret cat blog to the largest VIP site. It is spread over I have no idea how many servers on a half-dozen or more datacenters around the world (with more seemingly always in the works).

When a server fails, which will happen, the infrastructure doesn’t miss a beat transitioning whatever traffic would suffer to another server. This is redundancy is available elsewhere, but normally for a pretty penny. It is something that all WordPress.com sites enjoy, no matter if you’re on the free level or have upgraded.

I’m a huge geek who likes to fiddle with things. I’m never going to move this site to WordPress.com—I just want to play with it too much. But the beer blog I help write along with a friend? My Daddyblog? Or the private collaboration sites using o2/P2? I can do quite a bit on WordPress.com without any worry.

One of the biggest blockers I’ve had with writing on this site is the desire to tweak it. “Oh, a new version of a plugin—let’s check it out.” “Hmm, it feels a little slow, let’s check five different speed tests.” “Let’s upgrade to PHP 7 and test it out against HHVM on my site.” Many times, I’ll sit down to write something and either come up with a project like that—which like many improvement projects, end up being quite a bit more work than I expected when I started. Or, I find a bug in a plugin and want to go report it. Or something that feels weird in WordPress itself (running “trunk”, that happens more often than 99.99% of people would experience).

By putting some of my creative outlets on WordPress.com, I freed myself to actually be creative more.

Screenshot of the WordPress.com logged-out homepage

Before I started working at Automattic, when a friend asked me to spin up a site for them, I would immediately jump through the hoops of setting up an account on one of my servers for them, install WP, get them the basic setup, and let them go to down. And then field the support requests and everything else.

Now, I take a bit of time to determine what their plans are with their site and discovered that, for many, WordPress.com is a better solution and actually scalable for me. 😄

I think when the pros and cons are considered a bit more, WordPress.com is more attractive than a lot of us geeks might have thought before. After all, with all of the cloud power of Amazon, they realized that WordPress.com was a better fit for them than anything in-house.

Let’s Encrypt!

Traditionally, getting an SSL certificate isn’t easy or cheap. SSL, or more accurately, SSL’s successor, TLS, is the underlying technology that encrypts web traffic. You’ve seen this as the https scheme on a URL and the padlock in your browser to let you know you’re securely browsing a website.

To set this up for your website, you used to (and still do on some hosts) need a dedicated IP address for the website, a fair amount of money, and jump through of hoops with the certificate authority (CA) issuing the certificate. There was, also, a lot of back and forth needing a certificate signing request (CSR) to send to the CA, then installing the real certificate when it was issued.

Let’s Encrypt aims to change that. The goal is a fully automated process where someone could type in a command on a server, wait a few seconds, and have a certificate issued and installed on their system.

It’s been in development for a while now and I’m proud to say that my employer, Automattic, is a Silver sponsor of the project. Yesterday, the opened for a public beta period. So, of course, I gave it a spin.

This site has had a certificate for some time, but I never pulled the trigger on enabling HTTPS on any of my other domains. I opted to try this on, perhaps, my greatest domain— kraft.beer.

Let’s jump in and get some HTTPS going. Read More

Future of Work and the Future Generation

My oldest daughter is six years old. For the last five years, I’ve either been a stay-at-home dad who did freelancing fully remote or working full-time for Automattic fully-remote.

When “Daddy goes to work”, it means one of two things. Either, I walk into my office off of the living space in our house or I fly away for a week for a team meetup, which happens about twice a year.

Recently, I went coworking at a local shop with five other Automatticians, so we changed up our morning routine. When I told her I was going to go work with my coworkers and would be dropping her off and picking her up from school, she was dumbfounded.

“You’re going to go somewhere to work with your coworkers? Why?”

As strange as it sounds, it wasn’t easy to provide an answer.

This led me to think. I grew up watching my Dad come home from work—he left for work usually before I woke up in the morning. During the day, he was gone and working. At night, he was home and was not working. He went to work all day every day. It set a tone for the work ethic I have now.

What will the children of Automatticians and other remote worker be like when they enter into the work force? Will they accept the typical working experience or will they balk at the assumption that work is done best from a central location? Will they struggle to enter the work force when they expect to be able to be at home for lunch every day, or available to step out of the office for five minutes to hold a baby like a generation ago people taking a smoke break.

If nothing else, we have about 15-20 years to make remote work more mainstream.