Walking in Chicago

One Year at Automattic

A little more than a year ago, I woke up to find this in my inbox:

Offer Letter Email

It was the morning before Tara and I were set to move down to Virginia, so the offer couldn’t have come at a better time. After taking a week to unpack our things and get settled in, I started full-time at Automattic, and haven’t looked back since. :)

Lots of my coworkers have written on this exact same topic, so I’ll keep my thoughts short and sweet.

Working at Automattic is a lot like joining a giant family that’s somehow full of nerdy people just like you.  Being so sprawled out can be a challenge, but when you get together, it’s a blast.

And the puns. Oh god, the puns.

Horrible Puns

What I like best about being at Automattic is that I’m not just a cog performing some strictly determined role. In fact, part of our company creed (yep, we have a creed) is: “I will never stop learning. I won’t just work on things that are assigned to me.”

That said, it’s not easy all the time. There’s days where you feel isolated from your coworkers, days where your motivation just isn’t there, and days where you realize that, if it weren’t for the UPS guy dropping off that book, you might’ve gone the entire day without actually speaking to another human being.

Inevitably though, one of your coworkers will do something to remind you just how “lucky” you are. Like, say, photoshopping your face onto a People magazine cover with some falcons:

Believe me, it’s better if you don’t ask.

So yeah, I love Automattic. :) Making the web a better place each and every day is a great feeling, and getting to do that with so many other awesome people just blows my mind.

Year two, here I come.

[Thanks to Stephen McLeod for the featured image photo!]

Cincinnati Map

DIY Giant Wall Map

Lately I have two things in abundance: time and empty walls.

The first is because Tara’s in DC for the summer. I’ve gone to visit on some weekends here and there, but for the most part, it’s just me and Oliver here in Harrisonburg. The empty wall space exists because our two roommates have since moved out of our apartment, which means one of their old rooms is now my office / man cave.

The first piece of furniture to go in was the desk:

After that, I also bought a bookshelf, a lamp, and a few other things that almost any room needs. The one thing that I am traditionally not so good at doing is decorating the walls. I set out to remedy that by following this guide to making a giant wall map on the cheap.

Getting all the materials was easy enough, and the guide does a pretty good job of showing you what to do. However, there’s a couple ways it could be improved.

First, it doesn’t mention that most hardware stores will cut the pickets for you. :) This worked out great for me, since we don’t have a saw, and even if we did, frankly I’m not too confident in my woodworking abilities. I think they maybe charge you $2 or something, but it’s totally worth it.

Second, watch how long the screws are! If you use 5/8″ screws like I did, sometimes the tip of the screw will end up poking out the other side of the picket. :( Use 1/2″ screws at the most.

Third, even after you have all the frame pieces attached using the L straps, the two shorter sides of the frame can still rotate laterally. The solution is to take four longer nails and hammer them at an angle, down through the corners of the top and bottom pickets and into the ends of the side pickets, like so:

Nails

This will stabilize the shorter pickets on the sides and prevent them from rotating. Just be careful as you’re hammering so that the nails don’t pop out of the front or back of the frame!

Lastly, the guide recommends that you stain the wood, but I ended up not doing this because the cedar smells so good on its own! No sense ruining that with some noxious chemicals. :)

More photos of my giant wall map are here.

Narwhal

Reddit Post Embedder

After trying out JavaScript over the past few months, lately I’ve been eager to do something a little less trivial and more in line with my WordPress-related job. With that in mind, a month or so back I began going through some basic PHP tutorials with the goal of eventually making a WordPress plugin.

Allow me to present the result: Reddit Post Embedder!

RPE is pretty simple; all it does is create a shortcode in which you can place a link to any reddit.com post. Using that link, it queries the reddit API for information and inserts an “embed” panel with some information about the (reddit) post into the (WordPress) post or page you’re using it on.

For example, a shortcode like this:

[reddit_embed]http://redd.it/25ig4h[/reddit_embed]

Would produce an embed panel that looks like this:

Reddit Post Embedder Example

Despite having worked on it sporadically for a while, there are still quite a few ways the plugin could be improved, so feel free to chip in if PHP is your thing. :)

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