Yesterday, three years ago, I started my Happiness trial at Automattic.
Today I’m at the start of my third Automattic Grand Meetup.
Over the past three years I’ve visited the US and Canada twice, as well as Scotland and Portugal. I’ve given a talk at a WordCamp that inspired someone else to become a Happiness Engineer. I’ve learned stuff I never thought I would, and I’ve made hundreds of new friends from all around the world.
Thanks, Automattic, for letting me be part of making the web a better place!
As mentioned last time, I’ve been neglecting this site something terrible lately. So I can see only one course of action…
Continue reading “For the birds, mostly”
Four weeks ago I was on my way to a foreign country for the third time in one year. But no 28-hour flight to a different continent this time. Instead, just a quick hop across the border to our next-door neighbour, Zimbabwe. Along with a colleague from Cape Town I was representing Automattic and speaking at the first ever WordCamp Harare.
It was amazing. This was only my second-ever WordCamp – the first one being WordCamp Johannesburg a few weeks earlier – and my first time speaking at one, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I found were some of the friendliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
There were freelancers, people who work for big internet companies, computer studies students, and folk who just run WordPress websites for their companies, non-profits, or themselves. I was pleasantly surprised to meet several WordPress.com bloggers there as well. Everyone united by a love for WordPress, and it can empower them to make a difference in their own, and others’ lives.
As for my talk? I realised I’m out of practice with public speaking – I kept losing my place in my notes and forgetting to advance my slides, and felt glad when it was over. It didn’t help that due to another speaker not showing up and a couple going over their allotted time I wound up in the last slot of the day.
But I received nothing but positive feedback from the other WordCampers, so maybe it went better than I thought. (Or the WordPressers in Harare are just really nice people. I think it might be the latter 🙂 )
Actually, the thing that finally prompted me to write this post which I’ve been putting off for the past month, was a tweet yesterday that my talk is now up on WordPress.tv, so you can go watch it there if you want. It was mostly aimed at people there who built WordPress products – sites, themes, plugins – and spoke about how a little time educating your customers about their WordPress sites can save a lot of time in helping them fix things if they break later.
I didn’t take a camera with, but here’s a few pics I captured on my phone:
The obligatory view from 20000 feet
My hotel room looked out on Harare Garden’s – Harare’s Central Park
It’s not a real WordCamp without shirts…
…or swag 😀
And here I am, for the third time this year, waiting to board an international flight. I’ve flown more this year than my entire life to date.
Where am I off to this time?
I mentioned previously that WordPress is a community, and WordPressers love getting together, from informal meet ups to WordPress conferences, called WordCamps.
This weekend, Zimbabwean WordPressers are holding their first ever WordCamp in the capital, Harare, and a colleague and I are going up from South Africa to represent Automattic and give back to the community by presenting talks. Yes, I’ll be speaking at the WordCamp tomorrow.
Having worked as a teacher and a preacher I’m no stranger to public speaking, but I will admit to having quite a few butterflies fluttering about in my stomach. WordCamps are typically attended by developers, designers, experts in WordPress and everything online. And here I am, a blogger of four years, thinking I can teach them something.
It’s easy to think like that. But I’ve received so much encouragement and support from my colleagues while deciding whether to apply and while preparing my talk. And I’ll be speaking about something I love and know well: helping people with WordPress. So I’m sure it will go well.
I think the real reason is that I had to leave Squishy and the missus behind again. I swear it gets harder each time. I’m only gone two days this time instead of ten, and only 600 miles away instead of thousands and thousands, but I’m already missing them and I haven’t even boarded yet. I guess that’s how it will be leaving home from now on.
Anyway, wish me luck with my talk tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it went.
…and almost forgot again today. But yesterday was acutally a very significant day and I can’t have it pass without marking it.
Yesterday a year ago two things happened that changed my life beyond imagining. I started working at Automattic, and I found out that I was going to be a dad.
It’s a bit of a tradition at Automattic to blog about working here on one’s anniversary, but that will need to stand over for a later date when I have time to do it properly. But let me just say for now that it has been one heck of a ride so far. And it’s all about the people.
The magic of WordPress does not lie in the software, but in the community that surrounds it, and inside Automattic is only a small part of that community, but a very special one. Never before have I worked with a group of people that cares so deeply both about the work that they do and about each other (and I say that as someone who at one point worked for the church).
And being a dad? Earlier this evening I was scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone and came across this very true statement:
If parenting had a GPS, it would constantly be saying “Recalculating”
And aint that the truth!
Just when we think we’re figuring things out, Elizabeth goes and changes the tables on us. But every single moment has been worth it. Seeing her grow and develop has been such an incredible experience. She has the most joyous laugh and the sweetest little voice. And the way that she smiles when she sees me…
I’m pretty sure there isn’t much in this world I wouldn’t do for that little girl.
That’s it for now, but I’ll be writing some more on both of these soon!