OneTab Link Hoarding

I have a confession to make; I’m a URL bookmark hoarder! Every Friday when I “sign off” for the week from work, I click the OneTab button in my Chrome extensions toolbar and save all the tabs I have open for “another time”. It’s rare that I actually go back and visit the tabs, but there have been times when it has saved me a lot of time. But most of the time it’s simply stockpiling lists of cool things I find online πŸ™‚

But how to make that useful?

Perhaps it’s not useful to me only…perhaps you who read my blog would find it useful? Maybe there’s something in there that is awesome…

So why not share it?

Should I start a simple newsletter, or maybe just post once a week?

I’m curious to hear your thoughts πŸ™‚

Designing a Wall of Code

At the end of September 2020 my sister Jennifer Pearce who is a Deputy Headteacher at Cooks Spinney Primary Academy and Nursery in the UK, reached out to me about designing a wall of code for the school’s computer centre. What they envisioned was a piece of code printed onto the walls of the computer centre, but that the code had some meaning behind it.

After thinking about it I realized that I could apply some core code concepts into the educational arena pretty easily. Schools have classes….Object Oriented code has classes….that’s a pretty good start!

Interestingly enough, one of the ideas that they put forth was the Code is Poetry example that permeates the WordPress project πŸ™‚ pretty cool to see how widespread that idea is now!

I fired up VS Code and put together a Github gist for the school to review. Once they were happy with it, I finalized it in VS Code with my editor styles in place – I’m using one of the default themes, dark+ (default dark) – and ported it into Figma.

Ultimately I think it came out fantastic! My sister was kind enough to take some photos and video for me of the finished product – hopefully one day I can go visit the school in person πŸ™‚ and I hope the children find it inspiring!

If anyone would like to use it, I’d appreciate that you give proper attribution and follow the GPL v2 principles if you fork/copy it.

I’d love to see what you come up with πŸ™‚ send me a link in the comments, twitter, or instagram!

The final JPG’s and PNG’s at 1x and 2x are below.

PDF download if that’s your preference πŸ™‚

Reading and listening more

I’ve been on my Automattic sabbatical since 1 November 2020, and I’m due back at work on 1 Feb 2021. It’s been extremely relaxing I’m happy to say, and this is actually the first day I’ve logged into my site since then!

Something I have been meaning to do this year is to make a list of useful and interesting media that I’ve consumed for others to find inspiration or ideas from.

To that end I’ve made a dedicated page here and you can find a link in the main navigation as well.

For clarity, there ARE ideas in some of these sources that I don’t agree with.

Please apply your own minds and evaluate them according to your own value systems and circumstances. I regularly read what some might call controversial media and ideas that conflict with my own. It’s good, in my view, to gain perspective from multiple viewpoints.

Enjoy!

Coffee Detox 2020 Retrospective

Today I finished my once yearly coffee detox process. I went to my favorite local coffee roastery for a Cortado, and I thought I’d share some thoughts from the process.

Water is your friend and I’m glad I stuck to my suggestions. I broke my alcohol rule a few times and that wasn’t a bad experience, it just made me think of having coffee more than I would have.

I also tricked my brain from wanting to do my usual coffee routine, by making coffee for someone else. Even though I didn’t drink it, I still “made coffee” which surprisingly helped. I will admit I encountered some waste on some days by tanking a single espresso shot and disposing of it πŸ™ I feel bad, but it actually helped me.

Avoiding soft drinks was a huge win, BUT, I did have more sugar than usual. I generally avoid high sugar foods, but for whatever reason I found myself gravitating towards chocolate. This I failed at on several days.

Once I got to the 25th, it was super easy to not drink coffee at all. By that point I had been drinking only decaf for 2 full weeks. The last week with no coffee at all was very easy.

Interestingly enough, yesterday was international coffee day πŸ˜€ I’ll probably continue to have a cup when I choose to.

I guess that’s the whole point of doing this once a year – intentional choice rather than “needing” to have a cup!

How I Detox from Coffee

In 2016 I realised just how serious my “dependence” on coffee had become. I was averaging the equivalent of 3 double espressos before lunch, and then continuing in the afternoon.

To be fair, I was drinking that in a Cortado, but still…that’s a lot. And like a lot of people, I typically wasn’t drinking nearly enough water.

So I did some research and decided to detox once a year from coffee.

The goal was to eliminate my long term dependance on coffee.

I’ve done this every year since then, and I find it helps me focus on other things, as it removes the coffee ritual as the central point of my morning.

My machine at home, decaf beans, and Rehydrat.

What exactly do I do?

  1. I pick a date to start. The 1st is easiest to remember πŸ™‚
  2. I finish the beans I have left, unless it’s a lot! No need to waste good coffee!
  3. I tone down how many coffees per day I have. I switch to 1 double espresso and then decaf if I want another cup.
  4. I do this until my regular beans are finished which for me was today (3rd) – and then I have a coffee from my local roaster once a day until the weekend.
  5. Get a good bag of decaf beans. I use Mexico beans from my local roaster.
  6. Drink a decent amount of water – at least 1 litre per day. I add Rehydrat, which in other countries is electrolytes. This helps with the headaches. I add 1 sachet to 500ml water, so 1-2 sachets per day.
  7. I keep drinking the decaf + water with electrolytes for about a week – this takes me to the 11th.
  8. When I feel I can wake up without immediately heading for the coffee machine, I then switch to a cup of decaf in late morning, continuing to drink lots of water.
  9. Keep going like that for another 2 weeks – this takes me to the 25th – and have a single cup of decaf if I want, or have a cup of green/peppermint tea instead. I like peppermint tea and it really chills me out.
  10. Last week of the month is no coffee at all. Total detox finishing on 2 October for me.

Some notes

  • This is not a checklist for everyone. It worked for me. Your body is probably quite different to mine!
  • Take the water consumption seriously. If you don’t hydrate you’ll likely feel the headache withdrawal pain way more intensely.
  • I tend to avoid coke/soft drinks as a substitute. This defeats the purpose…
  • I try not to drink a lot of alcohol. Withdrawal from coffee leads to “downer” type symptoms. Alcohol is a downer as well, so I’m more cautious here.
  • I drink Oat Milk in my coffee. Nut milk is also helpful.

Reintroducing Coffee

I do this pretty slowly. Probably a cup on the weekend, usually something light like a flat white, or a weak Americano. Smashing an espresso is not going to be fun πŸ™‚

Let me know your experiences, if it was worth it for you πŸ™‚

A not so routine, routine!

I recently wrote about my remote routines and there’s a line in there that is quite appropriate for this week πŸ™‚

Just take it day by day and make adjustments as you see fit.

So, with our governments recent changes to our lockdown levels, they have required teachers to start going back to work, even if they aren’t teaching classes yet. My wife is a teacher, and that means she’s no longer at home during the week until the afternoon.

That leaves me at home with my 2 young kids.

We’ve had to adapt our routine and this week is the first week of doing this, but it’s pretty tricky as this new routine so far relies heavily on my discipline. Here’s basically how it goes:

  • 6-7amΒ wake up, my wife goes to work.
  • 7-8amΒ kids wake up, I feed them, get them dressed.
  • 8amΒ Do my quiet time (if there’s quiet) and make coffee.
  • 9amΒ Let the kids play because…they’re kids.
  • 11am Teach my eldest and get her doing her school work
  • 12:30pm Lunch
  • 1:30pm Put my youngest down for her nap
  • 2pm-10pm Start work for the day. I’ll finish up at 10pm with a break for supper, cup of tea with my wife, and the kids bedtime. If I don’t have a hard stop at 10pm I won’t get enough sleep and the next day is utterly broken πŸ˜›

It’s not the best solution, but it’s a workable one until these lockdown restriction are over.

Quiet Time Musings

(This post is a bit rambling but I’m keeping it as I wrote it, as it’s more conversational or a reflection of my thought process)

I was doing my usual quiet time this morning, and I prayed through a passage in the book of Kings, 1 Kings 19:19-21 specifically. It’s about the call of Elisha by Elijah to follow him and become his successor.

This tied in quite nicely with something I’ve been reflecting on in my life by looking at all the things I’m trying to pursue both in my career and personally.

And I’ve been really bothered by some of them.

Interestingly enough, I also recently watched this video from Tim Ferriss about decision making:

I made some notes on this, but the main one that stuck with my was that this framework doesn’t factor in discernment from the Lord, which for me is the first and final checkbox – everything in between in just confirmation of the decision. Perhaps a post about that at a later stage…

But….I’m off on a tangent πŸ™‚

Getting back to Elisha.

He was working hard when he was called by Elijah. He left what he was doing – knowing what he was busy with – and went to follow Elijah. He then went back to wrap things up both personally and with his work, and removed any obstacles to moving forward – and in doing so blessed others with food.

That led me to jot down some questions I should be asking myself:

  1. What am I working on in my career and personally?
  2. Who/what am I holding on to?
  3. Who/what has called me?
  4. What obstacles do I need to get rid of?
  5. How can I bless others in each of the above actions?

Remote Routines

Let’s talk about morning routines for a few minutes in the life of a remote worker.

I’m someone who benefits greatly from structure. I do though perform really well under pressure, and I’m usually open to change, but I definitely feel I’m at my best when it comes to my work when I’m following a regular routine.

My preferred morning routine is:

  • 5am wakeup and read my bible/pray.
  • 6-7am kids wakeup, feed them, get them ready for school.
  • 7-9am school run/I run.
  • 9am coffee then work.

Where this has been failing massively is when I’ve been working late into the night – which has been a lot lately. There are a number of reasons why this has happened – some my fault, some because of the nature of timezones, some handling stressful circumstances.

The biggest problem with this has been that it’s knocked out my 5am wakeup and “quiet time” – and this really sucks πŸ™ because to be quite frank, I’m less of myself when I’m disconnected from my prayer life. Simply put, I’m not awesome to be around!

This often produces a snowball effect into the rest of the day. And you’d think that after remote working for 10 years I would have this down to an art?

Ha, you are sadly mistaken πŸ™‚

So why did I write this? In light of all the people heading into remote work with all this worry about COV-19, I thought I’d offer some perspective on heading into a much less structured work environment.

When I moved into remote work it was complex, but at least at Woo we had a slow descent into it over a long period of time so the change was less abrupt.

But also, if you do fail at your routine – don’t beat yourself up about it πŸ™‚ it will happen! Just take it day by day and make adjustments as you see fit.

If you feel like me, that the start of the day is super important – then do your best to keep that going! Whether it’s a prayerful start as in my case, medication of some kind, exercise, or simply making a coffee – you do the thing that gets you that first “win” for the day!

Keep iterating just like we do when making software πŸ™‚ It’s never perfect!

Also, if you are looking to get out of an office based environment and make the switch into remote work, we’re hiring!

My First WooTrip

There are some things about my time at Woo that I remember vividly; the many heated Fifa games, the conversation where we decided how to get WooCommerce launched (for another post), as well as the one time that Adii came up to me in the office and asked me

“would you like to go snowboarding?”

I thought he was joking πŸ˜€ He wasn’t….

Woo was small in 2010. Technically I was the 3rd full time employee, and even though there were a few part time employees as well, that brought the full time employee total to 6 – including the founders.

I don’t know who’s idea it was to go to Austria, but I was in!

The thing about this trip was it was the first real opportunity I had to get to know my coworkers. Up until then, I’d only spent time with Adii, Cobus, and Malan at the office. Mark and Magnus I’d only worked with online.

The trip is still one of my career highlights for a number of reasons…

  • It was my first international trip as an adult – I’ve travelled at least once a year outside of South Africa since 2013, so this was formative.
  • We were featured on Mashable.com which was a huge deal at the time. We were a case study for social media influence!
  • I got to work on a crazy innovative piece of software at the time – the Express iPhone app we had developed by a third party, and the tumblog themes/plugin which used the XML-RPC protocol to post from an iPhone app to WordPress. Waaaay ahead of its time. I’m still proud of this! The plugin has been downloaded 63,324 over the years, and the tumblog themes did pretty well too.
  • Some say the tumblog themes even influenced the introduction of post formats….We’ll never know….
  • I became acquainted with beer and JΓ€germeister properly πŸ˜€ AprΓ¨s ski….good times!
  • Most importantly though – I also built solid relationships with the other 5 guys.

This proved to be invaluable.

After the trip I recall Adii chatting to me about how important it was that I came on the trip because until that point, there wasn’t anyone full time that had been added to the team. Cobus and Malan were there from basically day 1 of Woo, so I was the “fresh” teammate who was the unknown factor to the existing culture.

Ultimately this is something I’ve seen over and over again as Woo grew, and has served me well at Automattic. Building relationships IRL with coworkers has probably been the single most important thing I’ve learned. Team meetups and grand meetups at Automattic are things I look forward to a lot for this very reason!

We didn’t do a lot of work on that trip to be honest. But to me it strengthened how we worked with each other when we got back home. It built deeper trust and a whole lot of camaraderie.

From snowball fights in the streets, falling many times on a snowboard, an extremely late night conversation about faith and evolution with Magnus πŸ™‚ to heated pool fun (here’s looking at you Mark!) and many many beers – it set the tone for the next few years for me – Woo was innovative, Woo was effective, and Woo was fun!

And yes that is a picture of Mark, Fox and I in our underwear in the snow…on Mashable.com…the crazy things we did πŸ˜€

Thanks to Mark, Magnus, Adii, Cobus, and Malan for the memories, and the photos. The good shots were most likely taken by Mark or Adii πŸ˜›