2014 Goals

Better late than never…

I had sketched out some goals I wanted to accomplish this year. I normally don’t bother because follow through on goals never ends up as expected. I figured maybe if I do a recap at the end of the year it’ll highlight points I failed at and how I can do things better. In either case, here’s the short list:

On the personal side I’d like to be more active. I tend to be active in the summer with yard work and tending to the garden. It’s nice to get that movement but it’s never consistent. I’ve gained a few pounds over the past 5 or so years and am nearing the top of the “good” area of the BMI scale for my height. The plan is to do some regular exercise (2-3 days/wk) as well as find ways to change up my diet and hopefully lose 20-30lbs near the end of the year. Current weight is around 165-170lbs and I’d like to get back to something more healthier around 135-145lbs.

I’d like to also book and schedule the honeymoon cruise that we’ve already had to cancel one or two times. Now that the kids are older it’ll be easier to get away for a week without them.

Lastly for personal goals, I’d like to make a habit of eating out with my wife, without the kids, at least one night per month. This shouldn’t be too hard to do, we managed 4-6 times last year. Consistency will make this easily attainable.

On the business side of things I have an internal sales figure I’d like to hit. Will report on that at the end of the year.

I’d like to get to at least 6 WordCamps this year, with 1 of them being international. 

I’d like to blog more regularly– I plan to offer some video tips and posts on workflows, etc. This will be implemented once I re-launch a new design of my business site. I’d like to shoot for 1-2 posts per week for the tips feature and as-needed on regular blog posts. Focus will be on content, not frequency.

Lastly, I’d like to find a way to contribute 1 day per week to WordPress core development, plugins, or other non-paying open source work. This will take some time to get worked into my schedule, but as long as I’m consistently doing it on a weekly basis by the end of the year and it’s sustainable (i.e. I don’t feel like it’s a chore always finding a spot for it on my schedule) I’ll consider this goal met.

Choosing a Web Host for a Project Should be Like Pairing Wine

Think about it– 

You walk into a fancy bistro for dinner. The chef has crafted a wonderful three course meal for his guests this evening. He’s carefully picked ingredients that compliment each other and make three wonderful dishes. Along with those dishes, he’s paired a wonderful wine selection. You eat your meal. It was delicious.

When doing web projects for clients, your role should be similar to that of a chef. It is your responsibility to pick the ingredients (plugins, themes, code) to make the dish (project) come together. But it doesn’t end there, they need a fine wine (hosting) to compliment it.

Looking at things this way gives a good illustration of all the pieces involved to launching a successful web project. Hosting should be paired depending on the scale of project you’re doing. You wouldn’t pair a light white wine with beef entree; the beef would overpower the wine. Likewise, you wouldn’t pair a heavy red wine with a delicate fish entree.

More often than not, I see hosting mis-paired for web projects though. With more and more specialized/niche hosts appearing it’s key to remember everything isn’t one size fits all. A host with a great cache setup might be good for content driven sites where the site is for the most part read-only. That doesn’t really work when you have a lot of moving parts like dealing with sessions (e-commerce) or geolocation.

Knowing how to pair projects with hosting will save you the pain of developing an awesome project for a client then falling flat on your face when rolling it live. I’ve learned those lessons before– the hard way.

Guilt and Control

Guilt, much like fear, is a controlling factor. Guilt and fear should motivate you instead of control you.

Remember, freedom is the power to choose right over wrong. By allowing an outside force to control your decisions, you are giving up your freedom to choose. Once you give up your freedom to choose you are no longer a free person.

Positive not negative. Right not wrong. Freedom not control.

Remember that.

(Note: I’m referring to the feeling of guilt, not the act of being guilty.)

What Drove Me to Git on the Command Line

This past Wednesday I had a chance to to my first #WDSLunch. Something we’re trying over at WebDevStudios– a brief session of hanging out and learning something new with team members. I presented a topic about Git on the command line.

I’ve been doing a lot of Git lately, and about 2 months ago, finally switched to Git exclusively on the command line. After showing off some of my workflows and answering some questions I had a revelation about why I had switched. It’s just easier.

Sure there are tools, like Tower, and SourceTree that help you do Git tasks in a GUI, but they cost you time and effort. That was a big thing to me. Eliminating time and effort, in most cases, boosts productivity.

When I used Tower, I was constantly adding repos. I needed to touch something temporarily, I’d add it in Tower. I’d do some stuff, make some commits, and then what? Sometimes the repo would stick around and sometimes I’d delete it. After a few months of usage, I had a ton of repos listed in the GUI. Some were active projects, some were old projects, and some were temporary repos that had since been deleted. It was a mess.

I’ve always been a fan of the command line so I tended to be doing things in it at some point during the day. Why not manage my Git repos there too? I mean, when you do Git on the command line, things are just “there.” There’s no GUI to set things up in, nothing to manage. If you’re in a directory that’s a Git repo, you’re good to go.

One thing that helped facilitate this was switching my shell to ZSH + Oh My ZSH + Agnoster. It makes things easier because it highlights when you’re in a repo, and it’s current status. This certainly isn’t the only setup like this, but it’s what I’m using.

Now I can just do Git. No need to open a fancy GUI just to add a repo so I can manage it. This alone has changed how I work, and even more importantly, how I think about version control.

2013 BBQ

It’s that time again– we’re just a few weeks away from my annual BBQ.  This year it’ll be on Saturday August 3rd.

Festivities will begin around 3pm and food will be served around 4:30-5pm. If the weather is decent and not oppressively hot, we’ll have a bonfire around dusk.

Now for the finer details–

What I’ll be providing:

  • Meat: Pulled pork, ribs, chicken
  • Plates, plasticware, cups, napkins
  • Ice, bottled water

What you’ll need to bring:

  • A side, desert, chips, iced tea, soda, etc.
  • It’s BYOB so bring an adult beverage of your choice if you wish.
  • Chairs. I have a bunch of tables and chairs, but if you have folding camp chairs, you may want to throw some in your car just in case.
  • We’ll probably set up a sprinkler for the kids, so bathing suits/towels if you want.

Please leave a note in the comments with how many people and what you’re bringing and I’ll update a list here so others know what’s already taken care of.

Thanks and looking forward to seeing everyone in a few weeks! ~Ryan

Address:
114 N York St
Etters, PA 17319
 

Update with RSVP list and what people are bringing:

RSVP – 41 total

  • Misc friends/neighbors – 18
  • Aaron B
  • Jayvie + 1
  • Travis T
  • Brad & April
  • Jason C + wife, kids
  • Aaron & Lindsay
  • Doug + Stewart clan
  • LJ
  • Dustin & Nicole
  • Michael & Steve
  • Camden + 1

Food

  • Mac and cheese

 

Linode Hacked? Who can fill in the missing details?

I’m seeing mixed information online that Linode may have been hacked. The biggest collection of comments seems to be on the hacker news post. There are quite a few there saying they got new credit cards recently or have had suspicious charges.

I got a letter from my bank last early last month telling me I’d have a new card by March 25th. I got a new credit card by that date as well as a separate mailing for a PIN reset. The mailing from my bank did not mention which merchant triggered the card replacement.

I didn’t get the email from Linode until after I had a new card, which leads me to wonder if they’re related or merely a poorly timed coincidence.  This post leads me to believe that it happened only 2 weeks ago, which is funny because I actually updated my Linode account to the new card a few days after the 1st. If it did in fact happen 2 weeks ago they would have had my old credit card number that was on file and already canceled by my bank.

Since Linode seems to be short on details at the moment I was hoping to aggregate some info regarding who’s a customer and was sent new cards from their bank recently. I haven’t noticed anything suspicious on my statements like some others noted.

Unfortunately there’s not a lot of clarity on what’s going on and Linode has been quiet since their email on Friday. I’d venture to say it’s a mix of truth and lies at this point.

This comment highlights the fact of how incompetent Linode staff would have to be. To me it’s a bit far fetched.

These guys are looking totally incompetent at this point.

If you believe this Ryan guy, credit cards stored on the same server as the key to decrypt them, Lish passwords stored in plain text, they’ve known for some time and lied about what actually happened and now they’re saying “we won’t do anything about it” via email?

“You are of course free to take any steps you deem prudent or necessary to ensure the integrity of your online presence.”

Unbelievable.

Edit: not to mention they “made a deal” with the hacker not to tell anyone? What the hell?

WordPress theme for Colloquy

I got bored the other week and created a WordPress styled theme for the Colloquy IRC client. It uses the standard WordPress colors and includes a nice WordPress logo in the background.

There are two variations of it– WordPress, and WordPress Busy. The only difference is that the latter hides events (join, part, nick, etc), which I find very useful for very busy rooms. Hence the name. ;)

Colloquy WordPress Theme

To install download the zip file containing the styles and image, unzip and drag the variants folder into ~/Library/Application Support/Colloquy/Styles/

From there you should be able to activate the style in Colloquy from Style > Standard > WordPress / WordPress Busy

Updated Theme

In sticking with the busy developer mantra of “I’m too busy to update my own site’s theme” I did what I usually do and update to the the latest WordPress default theme. Now featuring TwentyTwelve instead of TwentyEleven.

And hey, I blogged about it! ;)

Speak of the Devil

I’ve had something bugging me for years. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember specific dates anymore. It all started when I was in high school. I think it was about 10th grade. Fall; so November 2000 perhaps.

It all started at a Hunter’s banquet at the church I went to at the time. A bunch of us were volunteers to help serve and bus tables.  A friend, Ethan Bennicoff, and I were working together most of the night and were having a fairly regular conversation– until it got really weird.

Through the process of conversation various people’s names came up– people we didn’t even know were at the event. Moments after we brought the name up in conversation we’d look up and see the person walking past. The first time it happened we gave each other a funny look and Ethan said “speak of the devil.” From there it only got worse. It happened at least 20 times that night, each time with us looking at each other and saying “speak of the devil.” Each time getting creepier and creepier.

For those that don’t know, or didn’t click the above link– “speak of the devil” is a short form of the idiom “speak of the devil and he shall appear.”

This continued through high school, happening fairly regularly. By the time I had graduated I think it had happened at least 50 times. We didn’t really keep count, but it was enough for it to be a running joke. We could talk about people and they would show up. (If only we could harness this when we needed somebody!)

It happened on and off over the years since even though I’ve had little interaction with Ethan other than my first wedding in 2005, and a friend’s wedding in 2007. Recently it’s begun to happen more frequently. Unfortunately in my old age of late 20’s I haven’t kept track.

Most recently this week it’s happened a few times. I was talking with a friend the other evening about the cost of Air Force One. I noted how it came up to my area and did touch and go practice at MDT on occasion. These practice sessions are always unscheduled so there’s no way I could have known. The next afternoon, guess what plane I saw circling around outside my window?

I laughed to myself and immediately went to tell another mutual friend that was in the know since the other person wasn’t online. No sooner did I tell the mutual friend, the other person signed on. This was all within a matter of two minutes. It was a double “speak of the devil” — and quite creepy at that.

Tonight after dinner I was talking with my wife and continuing a conversation from earlier in the day. A person’s name came up and not 30 seconds later my phone lit up– a twitter notification from that person. The tweet was not a reply, but a random question. The timing was a bit odd to say the least.

Maybe I’m reaching a bit with the whole online scenarios, but it still happens IRL too. Perhaps I should start a blog to log the occurrences. I don’t know. What do you think? 12 years later and it’s still happening and still freaking me out.

Closing Equal Employment Opportunity Loopholes

Mr. President, if you want to help fix unemployment in this country, and get good people that want to work back in jobs, how about we fix bullshit discrimination loopholes.

Under Equal Employment Opportunity laws, employers currently cannot discriminate based on:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Equal compensation
  • Genetic Information
  • National Origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Race/Color
  • Religion
  • Retaliation
  • Sex
  • Sexual Harassment

Lets add a few more to the list like lack of Facebook / online presence and credit history.

Apparently businesses have been asking potential job candidates to show them their Facebook pages that are password protected, or even going as far as to ask them for their password so they can log in as you and snoop on their own. This is a huge privacy issue… but employers get away with it. It’s akin to giving them the keys to your house and allowing them to snoop around. The job market is tough, if you tell them no, they’ll just find someone else who will gladly give up their privacy in an attempt to get a job.

On top of that, apparently they’re now determining eligibility based on whether you even have social accounts like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. If you don’t the assumption is that you have something to hide or are antisocial and you’re therefore a liability. This is ridiculously absurd and should never be a factor for general employment. Obviously if you’re going for a marketing job, showing knowledge of how to use Facebook, etc is likely a job requirement, but that’s where the line should be drawn.

I personally don’t have a Facebook account. Some people think that’s crazy which is fine– that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. I have no need for Facebook. For me I see it as a huge time waste. I’m on Twitter and that’s enough of a time drain as it is. I get out, go to WordCamps and other conferences, hang with friends, have large BBQs in my back yard. That’s quite far from being antisocial if you ask most people. And I lead quite a happy life without the drama of Facebook.

Credit is another touchy area and this one hits a bit closer to home. One of my neighbors has been unemployed for 2 years. Finally almost got hired last week– passed background checks, drug screening, and even had a start date. Then he was informed he failed a credit check. No job.

Credit is usually used as a measure of risk because someone with a lower score could be more desperate and could potentially steal from the company. While this is ok in some cases, it’s hard to not discriminiate. In the case of my neighbor, his credit was fine while previously employed, but being out of work takes its toll on not paying debts. That should be expected, especially in this economy, but should it be used as a factor in his eligibility? Probably not.

There are good job candidates all over that can’t get jobs because of how employers still find ways to discriminate against them. If we want to fix unemployment, here’s a good place to start. Help people that want to work be more likely to get jobs and get their lives back on track.

ramblings and more from ryan duff