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This guy is the Margaret Bourke-White of our generation. Simply astounding photography

Einstein’s Camera

A Whirlwind WordPress Year

If I said 2013 hadn’t been a landmark year in my life I’d be lying. I’d also be lying if I said that there weren’t a great number of dear friends and colleagues who brought brightness to my life along the way.

I had the opportunity to visit many new places, meet a lot of new and old friends, and try a lot of new things this year. I’ve opted to take a chronological approach in describing them, which is fitting since the greatest contributing factor to the entire year happened at the beginning.

So here we go, prepare yourselves for some epic name-dropping,

JANUARY

In January, I traveled to sunny Chandler, AZ to attend WordCamp Phoenix for the first time. And boy was that really fantastic. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy myself there, but I also met a few people for the first time (in person and otherwise), looking at you Aaron Campbell, Karen Arnold, Mike Schroder, Chris Lema, Sé Reed, Dre Armeda, Brad Parbs, Erick Hitter, and many many others.

santanThank you Natalie MacLees and Suzette Franck for the wonderful lunch conversations, and for all of the above people — including my friend Kris Lagraff from Denver — for the awesome conversation and libations at none other than the great SanTan Brewery. It was at SanTan that I began my craft beer-logging journey on Untappd — in which I’ve logged 69 unique beers so far since then!

It was also at WordCamp Phoenix that I first met my now-boss Jake Goldman, and 10up colleagues Eric Mann and Taylor Dewey. Jake had just given what I’d consider to be one of the most original WordCamp talks I’ve ever heard, entitled The Core (IA) of WordPress Core, a talk about WordPress’ data model. Worth the watch if you have time.

Anyway, I’d seen a few tweets go out that 10up was hiring and at the time I considered them to be slightly above my pay-grade. Jake later told me he “knew I was selling myself short” and to look him up if I was serious about exploring a position. Turns out I did!

FEBRUARY / MARCH

10up-iconIn February, I interviewed at 10up and did a trial project, and by the time March rolled around, I’d started working part-time as a 10up Web Engineer.

Jake generously structured my job responsibilities as such that 10up would donate a sizable chunk of my time to contributing back to the WordPress core project — something I’d been doing for a while up to that point, and it was important to be able to continue.

APRIL

10up-dev-summitIn April, I moved to working full-time at 10up, and was shortly-after invited to participate in a 3-day 10up developer summit in Portland. It was both an exciting and eye-opening experience for me, and also my first visit to Portland!

I learned so much about scalable JavaScript from Carl Danley and Eric Mann, about building a consistent local workflow with VVV from Jeremy Felt, preprocessors from Tammy Hart, Christopher Cochran, and Kelly Dwan, and a host of other topics and teachers. I also had a great opportunity to meet a bunch of my coworkers in person for the first time. The food trucks, the rain, and Deschutes Brewery pretty much sealed the deal for me on Portland.

Probably one of the greatest benefits I’ve realized working at 10up is the willingness for the leadership to embrace change and to encourage personal growth. I’ve learned more about building scalable WordPress this year than ever before. I’ve also had the opportunity to leverage new APIs and incrementally improve my skillset along the way. It sounds like a great place to work, and it is. If this kind of job interests you and you want to work with the smartest people in the business, 10up is hiring!

MAY

beachpress2

In May, I had an opportunity to take part in the first-ever BeachPress, which was graciously organized by Justin Sainton. It was also my second, albeit short visit to Portland since April. I opted to use BeachPress as a replacement for WordCamp Seattle (sorry Grant) because of the limited funds I had at the time.

beachpress

I mean, come on, 3 days in a beach house on the Oregon coast with a bunch of really smart developer types, scotch, Cards Against Humanity and a beach to walk on? Can’t beat that. Good times were had all around, and some friends were made along the way. Here’s looking at you Grant Landram, Mollie Ruiz-Hopper, Tanner Moushey, Flynn O’Connor, Alex Mills, Justin, Jaffe Worley, Ben Lobaugh, Daniel Bachhuber, Joey Kudish, and others I’m probably forgetting (sorry!).

JUNE

June brought together what I think may be the largest number of WordPress Docs team members ever in one place in Cincinnati. We constituted the delegation representing WordPress at the Open Help Conference and Sprints, boasting groups from other open source projects like RedHat and Mozilla, among others.

open-helpIt was there I had the profound opportunity to meet Jerry Bates, Kim Parsell, Siobhan McKeown, Maria Scarpello, Hanni Ross, Ryans Markel and Ray, Eric Amundson, and Mike Krapf for the first time in person. We accomplished a lot in those three days, which included devising a documentation roadmap for the WordPress core project, and assessing results from the recent Codex survey.

It was in Cincinnati that I really formed a bond with Kim Parsell. Kim is what I believe to be one of the most under-celebrated authorities on documentation in the WordPress project today, or any open source project for that matter. She’s also one of the most loyal, kind people I have the privilege of calling a friend and colleague. Our progress on the hook docs initiative today is a direct testament to Kim’s work ethic.

And as if Kim’s work on inline docs weren’t enough already, she’s is also the editor and chief author of the Core Contributor Handbook and has participated in any number of docs initiatives this year. Seriously, somebody should hire her to work on Docs full-time.</shameless-plug>

JULY

In July, 10up kindly sent me to WordCamp San Francisco, which as anyone who has been can tell you, is always a great time. It was actually in Matt’s annual State of the Word address that I discovered I’d been named a “Recent Rockstar” for my recent work on refreshing the menus UI in 3.6.

Photo by Sheri Bigelow.

Photo by Sheri Bigelow.

This was alongside my soon-to-be colleague and friend Adam Silverstein, who had done such phenomenal work on re-imagining the Revisions UI.

I should mention that my interest in the 3.6 menus initiative was less-so in the menus UI itself, and more-so in the opportunity to work alongside the force of nature that is Dave Martin. Not to mention the ability to see the transforming effect extensive user testing can have on developing a core feature first-hand. I found both to be extremely rewarding and enlightening.

It was also at WordCamp San Francisco that I had the opportunity to meet Sam Sidler, and 10up colleague Helen Hou-Sandi for the first time. Sam and Helen have both been great friends and resources to me on my work in core and otherwise this year. Thank you Helen for asking the “why” questions and Sam for the invigorating conversations.

AUGUST

August was punctuated by a third and several firsts. The third was my last visit to Portland this year (did I mention that I love visiting Portland?). The firsts included:

  • Visiting back-to-back WordCamps (Portland, then Vancouver)
  • Drinking (great) beer at a WordCamp lunch and (finally) meeting Konstantin Obenland at WordCamp Portland
  • Visiting and speaking at my first WordCamp in Vancouver!

vancouverAll told, I flew from Denver to Portland and spent five days there, took the train to Seattle and spent two days there, took a bus to Vancouver and spent three days there, then hitched a ride with Ben and Jaffe back to Seattle for a next-day flight back to Denver.

In the first Seattle leg, I had an opportunity to meet up with 10up colleague and friend Grant Landram, where he introduced me to the deliciousness that is the “Tat’strami” from Tat’s Deli. After a last-minute passport snafu in Seattle, I finally managed to board a midnight bus to Vancouver the night before WordCamp.

Personally, I think my first WordCamp talk went horribly, but thankfully, it didn’t make the cut for WordPress.tv. I do have to extend a heartfelt thanks to Christine Rondeau, however, for the kind introduction she gave me and to Joey, Flynn and Jill, who did such a fantastic job organizing WordCamp Vancouver.

I have to say, I think one of my fondest memories from the entire year is the day I spent with Joey, Jaffe, and Ben in Vancouver. Kayaking was a great adventure topped off by good friends and food carts. I think I still owe Joey about $20 for lunch, since Canadian ATMs apparently don’t like my credit cards. Joey needs a “buy me a beer” link *hint hint*.

I’m so glad I managed to finally get into the country and take part in those days and nights in Vancouver. It was an unforgettable experience.

I also need to extend a big thanks to Ben for the ride back over the border to Seattle with my contraband chocolate. And for letting me sleep on his couch. He has one hell of a media center set up in his apartment. Ask him about it sometime.

SEPTEMBER

filter_bigIn September, I was invited to speak at WordCamp Albuquerque (in place of Jake who had family obligations) and so I of course did a talk on Filters, entitled There’s A Filter for That.

It wasn’t long before that talk that I had started my ill-fated Filters of the Day series, closely followed by the inline hook docs initiative that began in 3.7 and has extended all the way to the present day.

It was actually about a week after WCABQ that I was nominated for core commit access for documentation — a task I was humbled to be offered and honored to take on. It’s an incredible responsibility to be given commit access for anything, whether that be a plugin used by a couple thousand people or an open source project used by millions.

I’d like to extend my thanks to Andrew Nacin, Helen, and Sergey Biryukov for their guidance on not making #blamedrew become a real thing these past few months. I hope Kim and I can wrap up the hook docs initiative in 3.9, and move on to other pressing inline docs improvements in core for 2014.

OCTOBER

10up-vegasOctober saw me in sunny Las Vegas for an unforgettable 10up company meetup. Thanks to Vasken’s good works, we all (or mostly all, sorry Pat :/) ended up in one place for a few days.

Fantastic team dinners were had, coding projects like Post Customizer were born, and many lasting friendships were formed. I also played blackjack in a casino for the first time and doubled my money, thanks to some table-side advice from Luke Woodward!

NOVEMBER

wcdenNovember finally brought WordCamp Denver to bear, the first WordCamp I’ve had the opportunity to co-organize. Boy was that more details to keep track of than I ever imagined. Much love goes out to anybody who organizes a WordCamp, and especially to Corrinda Campbell for taking WCDEN over the finish line!

It was at WCDEN that I had an opportunity to yet again meet some people in person for the first time, as well as make some great new friends. Sarah Pressler, Walter Breakell, Kevin McKernan, Christy Eller, and many others, here’s looking at you! This was also the first WordCamp I managed to convince my long-time friend Barbara Ford to attend. I’m glad she came.

DECEMBER — PRESENT

A big shoutout goes to Luke Woodward, for stepping me through so many JavaScript questions and for giving me a great many lessons on the finer points of closures and OOP patterns this month.

And so here we are in December at the close of another year. If you were counting, I visited or took part in 6 WordCamps and two conference-like events, visited 4+ new cities, and drank almost 70 different beers this year. Not bad. I’ve even got two 2014 goals in mind:

  1. Apply to speak at WordCamp Miami
  2. Apply to speak at or attend WordCamp New York

Other goals? Not sure yet, but it’s not like there’s an absence of opportunities. Which brings me to my conclusion.

After brain-dumping all of that, I want to leave you with a closing thought for 2013: Your life is what you make it, and if you put yourself out there, great things will happen. Here’s to another great year ahead!

WordPress.com premium needs a gift option

I just upgraded a friend’s WordPress.com blog to a year of the “premium” bundle.

This was made possible by my already being an admin on the site. It occurred to me at the time that it seemed like there were two things missing:

  1. The ability to arbitrarily “gift” premium to someone
  2. Ability to pay with Amazon payments

OK, so maybe that second one is a bit of a way off. I was totally sold on Amazon payments after using it just one time. It’s way easier than Paypal. I digress.

I sort of view the “giving” of this upgrade as the next-generation version of giving the annual Reader’s Digest subscription. Almost a yearly “Blogger’s Digest” subscription.

Something for WordPress.com to think about.

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