The Powers of Money and Community

I’ve been looking at the draft of this since April, 2015. I’m going to take Jorbin’s advice and just press publish so that it’s no longer a draft. Most of this observation is informed by my perceptions of structure inside the university when providing a central service. It’s still interesting.

We provide an excellent base service for groups inside the university. We build features to extend this base service. Most built features are available to everyone.

We invite everyone to join our community. Open labs every Friday, a Slack group for use throughout the week.

Groups paying us to extend the base service tend not to join the community discussion—or not frequently.

Groups without dedicated funding have participated regularly.

Both groups, for the most part, have their concerns and requests addressed. Groups with funding can demand timelines. Groups involved in the community are frequently vocal and pleasant.

Balancing the concerns of each leads to useful features for all.

The difficult group is the one without funding that does not join the community. Our base setup is easy, but prioritizing feature requests is near impossible when juggled alongside the previous two groups. This group quickly becomes an outlier for our workflow.

How do you convince that group to join the community?

 

 

Specific focuses and vague goals for 2017

Hello from 2017! I’m sticking with the title from last year because I like the idea of focuses rather than trying to define specific objectives when the year has barely started.

Reading.

My love of reading books has officially returned, and I’m now always on the lookout for things to explore. I set a goal of 26 books in my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge, an average of one every two weeks. It’d be great if I beat that!

I’m starting off the year in the middle of Neuromancer, so that should be done soon. I have a handful of non-fiction books that I’m excited about. After reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s excellent Aurora from last year, I want to go through the Mars Trilogy.

A couple days ago I poked at Moby Dick, which I’ve never made it through, so that could be an interesting one for the year. I was already surprised by some of the material in the opening pages—”GRAND CONTESTED ELECTION FOR THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES”.

Joyce is still interesting, and if I feel like going crazy I’ll probably try Finnegans Wake again. There’s also Dubliners, which should be more approachable.

And other random things. The bookshelves at home are full of things that haven’t been read. 📚

Writing.

This will always be a focus. I preach sharing your work to everyone I talk to at WSU, but I don’t necessarily practice it so well myself. I’d like to spend more time stopping to explain some of the stuff I’ve done so that I remember and so that others may find it useful. This will also be important as part of our work at WSU to help ensure long term health of the community we’re building.

Learning.

I’m going to focus on learning computer science a bit more. I pick up plenty of things here and there during the development process every day, but it would be fun to go back and explore some of the history and some of the basics from the beginning.

The two books that I’m starting with are Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and Foundations of Computer Science (C Edition). We’ll see where those take me, I’m already loving the beginning of SICP.

I also like the idea of being more familiar with cryptography. I got Bruce Shneier’s Applied Cryptography a while ago, but never really started past the first few pages. It should be fun to get past the first few chapters.

Aside: I’ll toss in a recommendation here for The Code Book, which is very approachable and an excellent introduction to the history of cryptography.

Speaking.

I’m not sure speaking will be a focus in 2017, but this is where one of my more specific goals exists. I’d like to find a new topic I’m passionate about and develop a talk around it. Once I have that, then I’ll be focused on speaking again.

Open Source

I should probably cover this as a separate blog post.

In general, open source will be a focus for me in 2017. I still believe open source is one of the most important things we have and it is worth the time we give it.

Most of my open source time is spent contributing to WordPress. I don’t expect this will change much, though I want to make sure I’m spending enough time thinking about and working on other things as well.

I had some inspiring conversations last year, as well as the opportunity to visit the open source lab at Oregon State University. It’d be great to turn some of those conversations into action. At the very least, it’d be great to continue having those conversations.

That’s a super vague way of saying “I don’t really know what I’m going to do, but open source is great everyone, let’s do more of it!” 😎

Washington State University

4 years in July! Whoa.

We’re still doing good work. I want to make sure that we make progress early this year on a couple things:

  • Have the best solution for monitoring web accessibility on all university sites.
  • Syndicate content throughout the university.
  • Give everyone a place to share their work with open registration for students, faculty, and staff. Free websites!

I’d feel a little weird making it through 4 years without at least having 2 of those 3 in a very good place. I think we’re close enough to say that.

Beyond those specific goals, my focus should be on documenting and sharing our work.

Activity.

I decided that focusing on “exercise” wasn’t really any fun. I want to focus on being active in 2017.

We got snowshoes a few days ago and I’m super excited about that. I’d like to spend almost every weekend between now and the end of snow season exploring snowshoeing possibilities.

Once spring comes, and maybe even before then, I’d like to spend many weekends hiking, camping, exploring, and just getting the hell away from the computer.

With activity will come exercise, just because.

Saying Yes.

I want to make sure I say yes to the right opportunities. This probably requires saying yes to a few of the wrong opportunities along the way. But I think I have a bad habit of avoiding some fun things just because it’s easier. If I do have that habit, then I want to be conscious of saying “yes” this year just to see what happens.

This might be freelance opportunities, career opportunities, travel opportunities, whatever. On December 31, there should be more “yes” than “no”.

And all of the other stuff that gets focused on.

Because why limit it to a list you thought of on January 1… Happy 2017, see y’all around!

Previously, 2016 and 2015.

 

2016 Reflection and Check-in

Every year I write one of these thinking that I’ll look at it throughout the next year as a guide to what I might want to be doing. Every year I write one of these and finally look back at the last one for the first time!

Oh well, it’s still fun for me to revisit see what was on my mind.

Reading was pretty great.

I originally set my Goodreads challenge at 15 books, then bumped it to 20 at some point. As of now, I’ve read 25 books this year with a chance of 26 by the end of the night. My hope for a split of 2/3 fiction was pretty close as I made it through 7 non-fiction books.

I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and loved it. It was so easy to read compared to Ulysses and there were many parts of the book that I dogeared due to great passages.

I finished the original Foundation Trilogy as I hoped. I liked how the trilogy just kept getting better throughout. So many crazy things to think about while reading about the Mule while Trump was winning an election in real life.

I started on Finnegans Wake but ran away quickly on page one. I was definitely not ready for that yet.

And I’ll repeat this from last year—If you read, you should add me as a friend on Goodreads! If you haven’t used Goodreads yet, here’s a good explainer.

“Learning” didn’t go as I expected.

I never really even started on conversational German, but that’s okay. Vienna was very welcoming in English.

I never really focused on learning JavaScript deeply, but that’s okay too. I did pick up a couple of computer science books that I’ve started to dig into and another on intellectual property and open source. So I’m always learning, but we’ll see about next year.

I did figure out a better front-end development workflow that doesn’t require Vagrant or WordPress, even without using the REST API or JavaScript. We’ll see where that ends up next year.

I kinda did some writing.

There wasn’t really a specific goal here, but I did take the time to stop and talk about my work several times throughout the year, so that’s good. I did a bunch of writing to document things at WSU that hadn’t yet been documented, so that’s good too.

I did less speaking.

Unless I’m forgetting something, I really only spoke a couple times this year and took my own advice from last year by really just focusing on one talk.

At WordCamp Europe in Vienna, I talked about multisite in the Leupold Museum, which was super cool. There was a great turnout and—even with an unexpected moment where my laptop dropped off the podium—things went really well.

At WordCamp Seattle, I talked about multisite and sat on a panel talking about contributing to WordPress. The talk went well and the panel was an absolute blast.

At WordCamp Vancouver, I didn’t really speak, but hung out in Ian‘s session on contributing to the WordPress meta team and helped troubleshoot a few local environment issues with VVV.

And at WordCamp US, I also didn’t really speak, but led a session for first time contributors to WordPress core that was a lot of fun.

But I still got some travel in.

I always feel like I’m forgetting something, but here goes…

  • London, UK in January for the A Day of Rest conference. I got there a day early and stayed a day late so that I had some time to hang out. The conference was great, the contributor day may have been the most productive I’ve ever been a part of, and I spent the final Saturday walking 15 miles around London! I even drank in a couple of Orwell’s favorite pubs. 🍺
  • Portland, OR briefly in February as part of a visit to WSU’s Vancouver, WA campus. Still enough time to have a couple good beers and visit Powell’s.
  • Vienna, Austria in June for 3 weeks (!) to enjoy Vienna with Michelle and for WordCamp Europe. Vienna is a great city and we had a lot of fun.
  • Whitefish, MT – Glacier National Park for a couple days in July on a whim to meet my parents who were staying there for a week or so. That park is very beautiful.
  • Vancouver, BC in August for WordCamp Vancouver. Yet another amazing brew fest planned by Flynn. Great time hanging out with the Vancouver group, a great bunch of people.
  • Ocean Shores, WA in September for a combo birthday/anniversary hangout. We had fun and walked quite a few miles on the beach. Don’t tell anyone, but Oregon’s coast is cooler.
  • Portland, OR in September for another quick visit to WSU Vancouver along with a side trip down to Corvalis to talk with Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab.
  • Seattle, WA in October for WordCamp Seattle.
  • Philadelphia, PA in November for WordCamp US week. I arrived a couple days early, but it was super rainy, so I didn’t get too much sight seeing in. Had a great time with everyone at WordCamp though.

I burned out less this year.

It took me a few months into 2016 to realize how burnt out I was towards the end of 2015. I was then able to turn that into a conscious decision not to get burnt out this year—or to at least recognized when it was happening and to calm down a bit.

Thanks to that effort, the last few months of the year have been great and productive. I’m finishing with 1000 open ideas rather than wondering when it will feel normal. 🎉

I voted for Hillary.

And Trump won? Shit. 👎

WordPress!

We made multisite better! At least I think so.

As 2016 comes to a close, we have WP_Site, WP_Network, WP_Site_Query, and WP_Network_Query along with a handful of good decisions that we’ve made and documented in various ways. I’m pretty satisfied with the multisite stuff we got done, especially during the 4.6 release cycle. I’m really excited about the group of contributors that we have focused on multisite right now. I have a feeling that 2017 will be pretty sweet.

A fun memory that will be fun to look back on is the development of meta registration. A group of us spent the A Day of REST contributor day talking about the challenges of registering meta keys for inclusion with REST responses. The original GitHub issue is gone now (!), but it led to the creation of a ticket.

That ticket then became a hot topic during the 4.6 cycle once we decided it really was the time to get that included so that the REST API could have something to work with. I spent several mornings and nights hacking on our Airbnb couch in between walks around Vienna trying to get that in. Such a relief when we finally shipped it. 🙂

Washington State University

It’s been a great year for the web at WSU. We hired a second WordPress developer in March and have been able to make a lot of progress since. Some of it isn’t visible yet, but we’re ramped up to do some excellent things in 2017.

The numbers:

Numbers don’t really tell the full story, but they’re fun to look at.

Here’s an assortment of photographs that may represent 2016 for me.

I wonder why I haven’t done this before.

Okay, that’s enough.

Thanks for reading. Hope you had a great 2016 and see you next year!

Previous reflective posts: 20152014, 2013.

Specific focuses and vague goals for 2016

It’s funny how I’ve been looking forward more to writing this post than I was to writing my reflections on 2015. I guess it’s good to get some of that out of the way first to help focus more on what’s next.

I’ve adjusted last year’s self-reflection projection title a bit to better apply specificity and vagueness.

As 2016 progresses, I hope to revisit this post as a guide for what I thought I would enjoy doing as the year went on.

Reading.

I’m successfully falling in love with reading again. And now that I’m back on track I think I can get a bit more focused. I set a goal of 15 books in my 2016 Goodreads reading challenge. Here’s how I want that to break down.

2/3 should be fiction. 1/3 should be non-fiction.

I’d like to continue my Orwell streak. I rounded things out pretty well with some of his lesser known novels last year. Now it’s time to revisit my favorites, specifically Homage to Catalonia and 1984, and finally get to (finish?) The Road to Wigan Pier and Down and Out in Paris and London. Three of those count as non-fiction. Sweet!

I’m slightly more fascinated with James Joyce after finishing Ulysses. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man should be part of 2016.

I’d like to finish the original Foundation trilogy and I have Second Foundation waiting for me on the Kindle. The first took a bit and the second was better. If the story continues to be interesting I may find myself reading even more Asimov.

I’ll mention Hemingway because I finally read A Moveable Feast last year and want to dig in, but he’s a backup for the time being.

William Hertling’s Singularity series has been a ton of fun and I still need to finish the 4th, The Turing Exception. I’d like to explore more fiction along these lines if you have any suggestions!

As for non-fiction, I have a very specific list to start with:

I’m forcing myself to stop recommending myself books now. Time to read!

Learning.

In a similar vein, I’m starting to focus more on learning and how I can establish patterns for learning in my day to day life. Rather than attempting to adapt on the fly, I’d want to start being proactive.

In 2016…

A passable amount of German. We’re planning on being in Vienna for about a month in June around WordCamp Europe. I’d like to be prepared for some limited conversation. The time we spent in France and Spain in 2011 helped me realize how much I stumble in situations where English is not an option. While a large number of people in Vienna speak English, I’d rather attempt German more often than not.

JavaScript. Deeply. 😜

But seriously. I can sit down and hack at JavaScript. I can build things that rely on JavaScript. But I can’t give you a comparison of frameworks or really tell you why React seems like overkill and something like Ember might be better. And I’d like to.

One of my goals for WSU in 2016 is to establish a more friendly front-end development workflow for WordPress themes involving templates and a local environment requiring HTML, not PHP. The only way this really happens is if I start to know what I’m doing. 😉

And JavaScript, for now, is the future. There is a lot of fun to be had and I’d like to start digging in.

One of the things I’m going to try to introduce to my daily workflow is spaced repetition through Anki. I’m expecting this to help mostly with memorizing frequent German words, though it would be interesting if I can apply it the right way to JavaScript as well.

Writing.

Still a goal! It feels good to be 650 words into something, I should do it more often. I have so much to share that fades away once I do something else instead. I should start sharing instead of doing something else.

Speaking.

I was surprised to look back and see that I spoke 4 times last year. I remember feeling burnt out half-way through the year and not wanting to apply or speak at all.

My talk at WordCamp Vancouver was invigorating, mostly because I didn’t have time to prepare as a fill-in and I made some modifications to a talk I had already given.

Until then I had focused a lot on never giving the same talk twice. I used the process of creating the talk as a way to dive deeply into the subject and learn something about it.

But it’s fun to talk about something you’re the expert on! And I want to focus more on that in 2016. I’ll probably submit the same talk to a few camps, and be less worried about missing out. And when I do give the talk the 3rd or 4th time, those kinks will be gone and we’ll all have a better time.

I have a few weeks left to apply for WordCamp Europe. I’ll cross my fingers for that, LoopConf 2, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and US. I’d love to hit Denver or Chicago, but we’ll see. Budgets!

WordPress

Make multisite better? 😘

But really. Some big stuff should be figured out this year.

WP_Site, WP_Site_Query, and WP_Network_Query to start.

In the process I’d like to become less afraid at taking a scythe to stuff that’s been there since the beginning and replacing it with some definition of expectations.

I want to adapt our configuration at WSU to use WP Multi Network instead so that we aren’t reinventing the wheel. Doing so should help make better decisions around the future of multi-network in WordPress core.

Oh, and I’d like to introduce a new site switcher.

Washington State University

It’s going to be 3 years in July! Big things are going to happen in these first 6 months. To start, we’ll have a new WordPress developer joining the team at some point in the next couple months!

This means I’ll have time to focus more on connecting big picture stuff:

  1. Content syndication throughout the University.
  2. Give everyone a place to share their work with open registration for students, faculty, and staff. Free websites!
  3. A better search experience for the University built on Elasticsearch.

In the process, I’d like to do a much better job for our team of defining how we work with the web at WSU. Now that we have a new WordPress developer coming on board, it will be especially helpful to have documentation to match.

I’d also like to do a much better job of talking about the work that we’re doing. Things like being HTTPS forward and embracing HTTP/2.0 immediately are pretty cool. Professors and labs that are inspired to share their work with WordPress are awesome.

These should be written about in better ways.

And other wonderful experiences.

Have a great 2016!

 

 

2015 Reflection and Check-in

2015 went by in a hurry, so much that I missed the usual day of reflection and am starting off 2016 with one instead. 🙂

Some notables.

I did better at reading.

The challenge of 25 books was too high, but 14 feels good. I’ll read more next year.

One of the reasons that I read more books over the last year is because I started focusing on it more. As of sometime in the last several months, our phones started spending the night elsewhere in the house. The lack of looping distractions before bed—Twitter, Slack, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Facebook—allows for much more focused reading time instead. Much more focused reading time makes for faster and more attuned reading.

All in all, a good decision.

That much more focused reading time finally allowed me to finish Ulysses after a 3 year struggle. And now that I’ve finished it once I’ll probably go back and try to read it again to understand. But not in 2016. 🙂

If you read, you should add me as a friend on Goodreads! If you haven’t used Goodreads yet, here’s a good explainer.

But not necessarily so great at writing.

I published 30 posts on jeremyfelt.com in 2015, compared to 26 in 2014. That’s not exactly what I had in mind last year when I wrote “An average of one thoughtful post a week wouldn’t be horrible.

But closer I guess. 🙂

We’re still in Pullman.

We moved in June from a rental house to apartment land. The transition has been nice in some ways, though the house was also pretty nice. We’re enjoying the area quite a bit and while we’re consistent in our back-and-forth about leaving or staying, we now tend to land on staying during most conversations. See also the part where moving is just a crappy experience.

We got rid of some stuff.

In the move from house to apartment, we were able to downsize a bunch of crap that had collected. I did finally get rid of that netbook from 2010 and those two laptops from 2008. How they managed to tag along this long is a disappointment.

I freelanced.

And actually met my goal of 100 hours even though I didn’t really get moving until June or July. I learned quite a bit about myself and some about working too much and getting burned out. I’m happy to have a steady and well paying job and I love contributing to open source software when I’m at home. I’m not entirely sure how freelance fits into that schedule yet, but I’m still working out the details. 2016 will probably be a bit more focused in how I apply freelance time.

I bottled a beer.

Almost a no-brew year. I couldn’t even remember if I had brewed this year until I looked at my photo library. It appears I brewed my last on December 28th, 2014, which means I finished it in late January. So, I’m still a homebrewer, technically. I’ll get started on some small batch stuff soon.

Travel!

I should have known when I set a goal of visiting a new country last year that there would be no new country. Oh well. We had a blast anyway.

  • Silverton, OR in February for Zach and Jennifer’s wedding. We took advantage of being in the area and drove out to the coast for a day and night at Cannon Beach before heading home.
  • Seattle, WA in March for WordCamp Seattle where I didn’t speak but ended up on a panel at the last minute.
  • Las Vegas (and Henderson) in May for LoopConf (where I spoke) and some Vegas-ing.
  • Portland, OR in May for, get this, an Ikea trip. We basically arrived, ate, and went to Ikea.
  • Penticton, BC in June for a couple sunny days in gorgeous Canada wine country.
  • Seattle, WA in July for a night to catch the NoFilterShow, which starred several YouTube personalities.
  • Vancouver, BC in August for WordCamp Vancouver. I had a chance to visit the UBC campus and hangout with Richard and team after stopping by the massive (!) blue whale exhibit. And then of course a few days of beer touring from the ever so knowledgeable Flynn and friends. The Vancouver crowd is so great.
  • Glacier National Park for the first time in August! We only spent a couple days, and forest fires were blazing, but it was still such a gorgeous area. We’ll be back. There’s a great breakfast spot in Whitefish, MT and the Cheap Sleep Motel was shockingly pleasant. We then drove from Whitefish, MT to meet our friends in West Yellowstone for a couple days of hanging out in Yellowstone. It was Michelle’s first time and I hadn’t been there since 2004 or something. Such a fascinating place. And then! We drove from West Yellowstone to Bozeman for a nice last minute visit with my Aunt and Uncle for a couple days. We got in a couple great hikes and many great conversations. Lucky for us, we stumbled in with perfect timing to catch the local premiere of Meru including a nice Q+A afterward with Conrad Anker. You should see that movie.
  • In September, we drove off on another adventure. We stopped for a night near Devils Tower, hiked in the morning and then took off for Estes Park, CO. I’m not entirely sure why we stayed in Estes Park, but it was a fun reminder of one of the first trips Michelle and I took together (West!) from the Chicago area. We then kept going to Denver and to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. On the long way home we stopped in Glenwood Springs, CO for one night, spent an afternoon touching f’ing dinosaur bones in Dinosaur National Monument, and then relaxed for a couple days in Park City, UT, enjoying a really excellent hike in the process. On the (still going) continued long way home, we made a stop in Portland specifically for Vegan Beer Fest, at which we met Flynn! A lot of miles on that trip. 🙂
  • Made it back to Portland, OR a few weeks later for the reborn WordCamp Portland in October, where I spoke and had a great time being in Portland with everyone.
  • New York City for the first time right at the end of November for a WordPress core committer summit. I did not have time to sight see, but I did witness the existence of the Statue of Liberty at 3am from an Uber headed to my hotel from the airport. Sweet!
  • Philadelphia, PA for the first week of December for the WordPress community summit and first WordCamp US. That was an excellent, though draining week. Can’t wait for next year! 🙂

I found myself speaking.

I didn’t apply and/or didn’t get accepted much this year, but still ended up in a speaker role several times.

And of course, WordPress.

I’m still a fan, still a student, still plugging away, and still a committer. 🙂

We had what felt like a pretty consistent set of releases this year in 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4. No big surprises, everything on time for the most part.

And I now have a great memory of sitting down for lunch in the lodge next to Old Faithful with an Old Faithful beer and receiving a Twitter notification during a brief moment of cell service letting me know I had been given “permanent commit”. 🙂

I need to do a bigger mental regroup on what we accomplished in 2015 for the multisite component. We at least got WP_Network in, but there are several smaller wins as well. There’s a goal for 2016—better reflection!

Washington State University (#gocougs)

We’re still cruising! Right at the beginning of December, we hit 1000 hosted sites on our platform with just about 2000 users and 2 million page views per month.

These numbers are important because we still haven’t enabled open registration. Instead, a large number of institutional sites are in WordPress that could probably often be considered stagnant. This includes many that we thought would take years to be in.

Bonus highlight – we launched a brand new wsu.edu in March! Having that in WordPress has been amazing. Having it default to HTTPS on HTTP/2.0 makes me personally happy. 🙂

And that’s that.

There’s always more. See you in December!

Previous reflective posts: 2014, 2013.