At the opening remarks of That Conference 2018, Clark Sell asked every attendee to post a short video of what community means to them. Here’s my contribution!
Yesterday began day one of 90 that I’ll be taking as a sabbatical from work.
Every five years at Automattic we’re given an awesome gift of a paid sabbatical – something I’ve never dreamt possible in our current age. The word “sabbatical” is heavily laden with teaching references. Even dictionaries reference education in its definition:
sabbatical | səˈbadək(ə)l |
a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked: she’s away on sabbatical | he requested permission to take a sabbatical in Istanbul | he took a three-month sabbatical from his job as CEO of a family business.
What am I planning on doing with this time I have? A whole lot of nothing. Well, not really, but I’m keeping my plans simple.
- Spend time with the parental units. Learn a bunch of recipes from my mom that I want to know how to make.
- Get close to riding 100mi in one day on my bicycle.
- Build something with wood or metal like a chair, shed, etc.
- Read a bunch.
Ninety days will go by super quick. Here’s to making each day last.
Since November of last year (roughly) I’ve noticed that the Plex Media Server app doesn’t ever show that there are updates available. I’ve manually reinstalled the latest server copy several times and it still hasn’t updated automatically. I found a solution that resolves this.
On macOS you have to delete a preference key for the last time the server was updated. A borked version got released which had a higher numerical value causing the server to never find an update.
1. Quit the Plex Media Server app by clicking on the icon in the menu bar and clicking Quit.
2. Open Terminal.app in Applications, Utilities.
3. Optionally first check to see if you have a value stored for that key by typing:
defaults read ~/Library/Preferences/com.plexapp.plexmediaserver ButlerTaskUpdateVersionSkipped
and hit enter.
4. Next delete the key by typing:
defaults delete ~/Library/Preferences/com.plexapp.plexmediaserver ButlerTaskUpdateVersionSkipped
and hit enter.
5. Re-launch Plex Media Server.
Your Plex Media Server should now properly indicate when an update is available.
A coworker referred me to this recent TED talk about how China is changing how commerce happens. Not only does it involve the ecommerce sales experience but all the way through the supply chain to how products are designed. This definitely has opened my mind to how mobile devices can be involved in a consumer’s shopping experience.
I bought my brother an Instant Pot for Christmas. If you’ve never heard of them before they’re a fancy electronically-controlled pressure cooker. You can cook many different things in it and they even have a Bluetooth model. I’ve wanted one for a while but never could justify getting it – so my brother got to be the guinea pig. He absolutely loves it so I was motivated to finally get one myself.
I picked one of the easiest things to make in the pot for our first meal – beef stew. I followed this recipe from the Instant Pot site:
- 2 pounds beef stew meat
- Stew Seasoning of your choice, amount adjusted for 2 pounds of meat, McCormick Stew seasoning was used as seasoning by original creator of this recipe, two packets were used.
- 4 cups Water
- 5 potatoes chopped
- 1 cup carrot chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 4 stalks celery chopped
- 1 cup green beans raw
I took the easy route for the seasonings and picked up a packet of the McCormick Beef Stew Seasoning Mix. The instructions call for putting the beef, seasoning, and water into the cooker for 45 minutes. Then you’re supposed to release the pressure quickly, add the veggies in, and cook for another 10 minutes.
This is where things went a little wrong.
There are two ways to release the pressure in an Instant Pot. Quick release and natural method. Natural method means you let the pot cool down with time and the lock will open – naturally. For recipes requiring several steps or a more rapid stop in the cooking process, quick release is your solution. Quick release is a special valve on top of the lid that blows the steam out super quickly (and loudly). I read the instructions for the Instant Pot and understood cooking things with a lot of starch, like rice, can cause foaming inside. Using the quick release with starchy foods isn’t recommended because it’ll turn into a hot mess. Literally, a hot mess.
I didn’t realize that the first ingredient in the McCormick’s packets was corn starch. Refer back to my comment about starchy foods. Yup, you’ve guessed it – I had a hot mess. Imagine hot steam then beef fat and water spraying everywhere over the kitchen. I threw a towel over the spout to contain it.
Lesson learned: be aware of all ingredients of your meal before cooking it!
At the end of October I bought a pair of Merrell Bare Access Flex. Absolutely loved the shoes from the first run. I instantly became a fan of the zero drop shoe style which is closer to running barefoot.
After only about 80mi / 130km of running, I started to notice some tearing forming on the outside of both shoes near that darker rubberized swoosh.
Turns out I’m not the only one experiencing these problems. I saw the reviews before I bought the shoe but I didn’t want to believe them. I still didn’t want to believe it. How could a shoe that felt so great start to fall apart so quickly? I had already put 300mi / 500km on my last pair of Nike running shoes so this seemed awful.
I did what the Merrell customer service team suggested to do on many of those reviews – contact them. I sent them a picture of the damage, details of the purchase, and an explanation as to what was happening. They got back to me shortly after and asked for me to select three alternatives to this shoe from their site and another picture of the damage. After about a week I got a notice back saying they would be replacing the shoes with my first choice but I’d need to cut the tongues out of the shoes and send them a picture to prove their destruction.
I replied back asking if it were possible to destroy them after receiving the new pair – my old running shoes really were in a bad shape and I didn’t want to use them. After another week of no reply I sucked it up, cut the tongues out, and sent them the picture.
These shoes had plenty of life left in them and it felt awful having to make them useless. But in the end they replied back shortly after and said my replacement shoes were on their way.
I just got the replacements today and already took them for a spin. The Merrell Trail Runner 4 shoes are very similar in design (zero drop, lightweight, flexible) but are a bit tougher since they’re made for trail running. They also seem to be a little more appropriate for colder weather.
Here’s to getting more than 80mi out of them!
This past weekend I attended WordCamp US 2017 in Nashville TN with over 1,000 other attendees. I don’t know the actual number, but it was a lot. This was the first WordCamp US I ever attended – so I didn’t know what to expect. I was given the honor to be able to speak to everyone in a session called “How Working Remote Saved My Life” based loosely on topics related to my favorite blog post.
In case you don’t know what WordCamp is, here’s the official definition from their site:
WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.
I arrived in Nashville on Thursday, registered early, and attended the volunteer & speaker appreciation social event. I’m a relatively new person to the community despite me having worked with Automattic & WordPress for nearly five years now. I took this opportunity not only to connect with the speakers but to meet people in the WordPress world.
WordCamp officially began on Friday. Most of the day I spent rehearsing my talk which was right after lunch. The organizers of the conference gave me the royal treatment, in my opinion. There was a dedicated quiet green room for speakers which allowed me to concentrate and de-stress about talking. They also provided both a handler and an emcee to make sure I got everything I needed and had a proper introduction to the crowd. Every session was also recorded and live streamed which made it easy to have friends and family watch me live. No pressure, of course. Lunch Friday was fantastic – the fried chicken was delicious. I attended a couple sessions in the afternoon but frankly my mind was spinning so much from finishing my talk that I don’t remember many details beyond the people I met.
Friday night I checked out the LGTBQ+Allies party at Suzy Wong’s House of Yum. We all got fancy pink hats with the rainbow Wapuu embroidered on them. The turn-out was great and because of the gracious sponsors the event was free.
Saturday’s day was a mix of attending sessions and volunteering at the swag store. I recommend volunteering to anyone wanting to get a chance to meet a lot of great people. The swag booth is a center of activity and in the afternoon we had enough traffic that warranted opening a second booth downstairs. The day ended with watching the State of the Word where Matt Mullenweg gave his thoughts on WordPress in 2017 and the roadmap to 2018. I somehow managed to score a front row seat. Later that evening the closing party started at the Adventure Science Center a little ways away. We were treated to an evening of nerdy fun including a tour of the night sky in the planetarium, zero-gravity rides, and many other exhibits. We had the run of the entire facility.
Sunday I participated in Contributor Day which is probably the most impactful piece of the entire weekend. On that day a large group of us co-worked and onboarded new contributors, knocked out high-value mini projects, and set the goals for the upcoming year. It was great working with so many smart and energetic people in the same room.
Some of my take-aways from the event:
- The organizers are legit professional people. The undertaking of such a large event is overwhelming and it looked flawless from my perspective.
- The venue, Music City Center, is breathtaking. We’re back there next year and I can’t wait to return.
- The $40 ticket included two days of the conference, contributor day, three lunches and plenty of snacks. I’ve never had so much value in one low ticket cost.
- Speaking was a joy. I felt very accommodated and that I was very much valued to offer my time as a speaker and contributor to the event.
- Nashville is a super awesome city.
And of course, here are some of my favorite pictures from my time in Nashville.
Jetpack is a plugin you can install on your WordPress site to give it super powers that WordPress.com sites have but still self-hosted on your own servers.
That Conference is an awesome community tech conference that I’ve blogged about before. I’ve spoken there a number of years and really enjoy the mix of people and personalities it brings. Plus it’s at a waterpark and families are not only welcome but integrated into the conference itself. I’ve seen some pretty smart children giving awesome talks!
The MacBook Pro with the custom Jetpack logo is part of my four year anniversary gift for working at Automattic. We get to pick any one of our product logos or the Automattic logo. Here’s to another four! Thanks, Automattic. 😉
Having an all-you-can-eat music service like Apple Music is fairly incompatible with how music is traditionally released. Releasing singles and then eventually full albums and then sometimes deluxe albums and then even remix albums causing a lot of confusion. I end up with tons of duplicates in my library which then skews the “randomness” of shuffle. Here’s the scenario:
- Hear a new song that you like and add it to you library. This song comes from the single.
- Listen to “radio” streams or curated playlists and hear the same song. That song is being sourced from album. You add it to your library again because you don’t really know if it’s in your library yet or not.
- Listen to your library in shuffle and keep hearing the same songs over and over again.
- Realize you’ve added five versions of the same song – several are identical versions.
The multiple versions of songs also creates confusion when individual albums are pulled from the service by the studio for whatever reason. I’m assuming most reasons relate to contract negotiations. I also hate when songs are pulled and then are no longer playable then we they do get added back they’re not always associated with what’s in your library.
I’m not sure what the answer is to solve this. Maybe a machine learning algorithm to help reduce the duplicates by predicting matches better (“this song is already in your library”)?
My leadership coach shared a quote with me today that I’m using to help develop a talk I’m doing about how working remote saved my life.
In general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy. Humans connect with humans. Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.
Quote taken from Robert Glover in