Professionalism & Kerning

kern | kərn
verb [with object]

  1. (usually as noun kerning) adjust the spacing between (letters or characters) in a piece of text to be printed.
    • make (letters) overlap.
  2. design (metal type) with a projecting part beyond the body or shank.


When I saw this poorly kerned sign in a doctor’s office I suddenly became less trustworthy of their ability to perform as medical professionals.

Today I Climbed a Mountain

I did something amazing today. I climbed a freaking mountain.

I’m at the Automattic annual Grand Meetup in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. I went on a hike with several of my coworkers up Blackcomb Ascent Trail. This was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I made it.

Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Distance: 8mi

Elevation Hiked: 3,900ft (1,200m)

What is Your Definition of Success in Life?

successful |səkˈsesfəl|
accomplishing an aim or purpose

How do you define success or if you’re successful in life? To some success is defined by their monetary reward or compensation. To others success is defined by the number of children they’ve raised. Success could also be defined simply as living a life you enjoy.

Most likely once you’ve defined what success is, you’re in a state of non-success. Success is something you still want to achieve. The problem with labeling yourself as not yet successful has the connotation though that you are the opposite of success – which is failure. This boolean expression is a logical falsehood. Humans are always striving to be successful at life or individual tasks. If you don’t reach your definition of success I’d rather re-evaluate the definition than give up and declare failure.

So if success is arbitrary or loosely defined, why bother defining it? Going through life without a goal or something to aim at can be hard to handle. I’m not suggesting we all develop a 20-year plan but at least consider what big things you want to accomplish in the next few months. When you’re sitting around the house bored or aimless your goals can provide some clarity.

Who cares about goals if you’re accountable only to yourself, right? Well, there’s the rub. Make yourself accountable. Tell someone your goals. Feel an obligation to follow through by getting someone else energized about these goals. While they’re not going to beat you over the head to reach the goals it’ll provide a sense of urgency or priority. This is one reason I used to love being in college – accountability.

Start off small if you haven’t ever considered what success means to you or if you’ve never set a goal before. Maybe that goal is to walk a mile over lunch or to volunteer for a social function. Whatever it is make the first goal something you know you can achieve with a reasonable amount of effort and time. Once you get in the groove of goal-setting, start setting longer-term goals and wider definitions of success.

Vicious Cycles – A Stop Animation Film

My brother recently sent me this video and reminded me how much we thought it was funny as kids. Turns out that film got me interested (for a while) in stop animation. I created a couple hours of stop animation shorts with my friends and brother. Too bad I don’t have that footage any more.

Vicious Cycles was created in 1967 by Chuck Menville. Its production value is simple by today’s standard but it still is hilarious.


Stop being a butthole about what tech you hate

I’m attending an awesome conference this week and I’ve been seeing a trend that I want to address.


On more than one occasion I’ve noticed people bad-mouthing a particular technology they’ve deemed as being inferior. Specifically I’m addressing the number of speakers and panelists bad-mouthing WordPress. On more than one occasion WordPress has been called (and I’m paraphrasing) crap and useless.


As a full-time mobile developer I do not develop on the PHP side of WordPress. I barely know how to create a plugin even after working four years at Automattic. I personally do not have a drive to learn WP dev beyond what I need to accomplish my job. Just because I don’t use WP directly and only the APIs doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for it and the entire community of developers and volunteers behind it.


Marginalizing an entire development community, especially at a polyglot tech conference, is a shitty move. Given that I work for Automattic and WordPress pays the bills it really hurts hearing someone call what you’re working on useless and irrelevant. I guess 28% of the web on WordPress isn’t really great (/sarcasm).


The reality is you’re not perfect. Your code is crap, just like mine, and everything we did in the past is never as good as what we’re working on now. We live in an ecosystem of technologies – learn to love everything that is tech. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the foundation of what’s considered legacy. Your perspective is ultimately skewed to what your personal experiences have been – understanding others have valid experiences as well makes our world more diverse and inclusive.

US Postal Service Scans & E-mails Your Incoming Mail Pieces

The United States Postal Service started a new service in April called “Informed Delivery” which promises to e-mail you images of the envelopes of today’s mail being delivered. You’ll know what important mail is waiting for you in your mailbox even if you’re not at home. You’ll also know if mail isn’t getting delivered to you properly and you can report it to the Post Office with a couple clicks.


I normally work at home. During the summer my husband and I also tend to work 2-3 days a week at our seasonal campground site a couple hours away. We put our mail on hold during those days to prevent a mailbox full of potential goodies to steal. Informed Delivery allows us to see the outside of any incoming mail, even during a mail hold. If something concerning comes in we may be able to respond by contacting the sender and finding out what’s in that envelope.

Our mail carrier is fantastic. She works five days a week and on the sixth day when someone fills in for her, our mail service is questionable. On more than one occasion our mail has been mis-delivered to a similarly numbered house a quarter mile away. The only times we had proof of this mis-delivery was when the item had a tracking number associated with it and we sort of knew the item was coming. I ended up friending the person at that address on Facebook so we could communicate when we received each other’s mail. With Informed Delivery I’ll know when I should be expecting a piece of mail and if it’s not in the mailbox, it could be in his.

Informed Delivery isn’t available in every area and I believe it’s considered a beta-testing program. See if it’s available in your area!

How Would You Define a True Leader?

Some words I use when I think of a true leader

I’ve been engaged with leadership coaches for several months as part of Automattic’s internal leadership training program. Having a coach has been mind-opening and an excellent option for leadership training in a completely remote work culture. One of the recent questions asked of me was in regards to what I felt a true leader is and what qualities they embody.

My Answer:

A true leader is someone that people look up to for direction, answers, and guidance when it comes to doing their jobs. They also know when to listen and ask for answers from the people they lead. Leaders are also visionaries in the sense they can find paths unfollowed to lead people to so they can exceed the potential they think they’re only capable of.

What’s your definition of a true leader?