Sky Guide on the iPhone Is Awesome

It’s the beginning of August when the angle of the sun, color of the clouds, and my garden signal the end of Summer. These summer nights are the last in which I’ll be able to enjoy the night sky in comfortable weather conditions.

One application on my iPhone that’s helped me enjoy the night sky even more this summer is Sky Guide. Using this app on my iPhone, I’m able to look at the night sky in a new way. It shows constellations and the orientation of the night sky in real-time.

I’m able to see constellations of stars I didn’t know existed. It’s a fantastic app I recommend to anyone who owns an iPhone and enjoys looking at the night sky.

Train Watching at Night for the First Time

After I watched Terminator Genisys which isn’t as bad as people say it is, I drove to my train watching spot since it was close by. This is the first time I’ve watched trains at this spot at night.

Train in The Distance

Train in The Distance

It was a little hazy which allowed me to see trains coming from miles away thanks to their bright lights. I managed to see several trains, including the Capital Limited which is an Amtrak train that travels to Washington DC.

This was a surreal experience. It was 2:30AM, breezy, muggy, and I was one of the only people in the parking lot. Occasionally, a car would pass by, usually a cop doing their runs. At one point, I noticed a late night biker who seemed to be overjoyed with having the entire road to himself. He stopped by a tree to watch a train go by, then went on his way.

Train is Coming

Train is Coming

I felt relaxed, at peace, and content knowing it was only a matter of time before the next one flew by. To be honest, I don’t know what it is about watching trains go by that makes me feel relaxed. If I were to guess, I’d say it’s because of a few reasons.

Trains are always coming and going. I wonder what it’s like to be on the train, hitching a free ride to somewheresville. Then I think about the millions of dollars of freight these trains pull across the country. Everything from chemicals, lumber, grain, sand, and sometimes passengers. Trains invoke a sense of wonder for so many reasons. I think it’s the primary reason I enjoy watching them so much. The What Ifs. They’re also big heavy canvasses of artwork.

I don’t think I’d go as far to say this activity gives me a natural high. Rather, it gives me peace of mind and an opportunity to think deeply about things with the only interruptions being the trains that go by. I can’t wait for the next opportunity on a warm summer night to watch trains come and go without me.

I wrote this post because I want to remember that night. One of the few where I felt happy, content, and inspired.

WordPress as the First Step to Learning Other Technologies

When I initially got involved in the WordPress project, I didn’t know a thing about open source. For all I knew, open source meant that the software was free and of poor quality compared to a commercial solution.

Fast forward several years and I truly understand what open source means. People from all walks of life contributing there knowledge to further a software project. This can be in the form of code, support forums, translations, bug reports, and a number of other things.

These days, I don’t look at open source projects as junk. Instead, I see them as opportunities for people and generally, the software is decent. Open source has come a long way in my time. Most of the open source projects used to be hosted on SourceForge which isn’t the case anymore for a number of reasons. Instead, GitHub is where I see a lot of projects being hosted.

WordPress has given me the opportunity to learn about PHP, CSS, dependencies, and several other technical subjects. As many others have found out, WordPress is a gateway drug to technologies used on the web.

If you want to learn about CSS pre-processors, PHP, open source software development, PHP, CSS, jQuery, JavaScript, dependencies, backwards compatibility, and more, you could do a lot worse than getting involved with the WordPress project.

Everyone Has Their Demons

I don’t care who you are, the color of your skin, your gender, none of it matters. The fact of the matter is, that every human being has their demons. This could be alcoholism, addiction, violent tendencies, or anything else considered bad in human nature.

Maybe you think you don’t have any demons, you’re as pure as they come. Then, sometime, somewhere, you’re put into a position or situation where you don’t know how to act, yet the demon inside of you does.

It wakes up and it’s up to you to stop it before it ruins and controls your life. Everyone has at one point and time in their lives, realized, struggled with, and fought against a physical, emotional, or spiritual weakness, insecurity or trial.

As a distributed worker, you are responsible for your own actions. You’re also entitled to freedoms those in a cubicle can only dream of. Let me be one of the few to tell you that the struggles of some distributed workers are real.

The struggle to wake up at a decent time, the struggle not to take advantage of vices to get through the day, the struggle to fight through whatever obstacles are in front of you, the struggle not to give up, the struggle not to tell everyone to fuck off and push the power button on everything around you.

As a distributed worker, productivity, communication, everything required to get the job done is on your shoulders. For many, this is a welcome change of pace or perhaps is easy to adapt to. For others, it’s a painful transition even if it shouldn’t be.

If you struggle as a distributed or remote worker, I want you to know that you’re not alone. There are others fighting the same battle in different arenas all over the world. They’re trying to figure this shit out and make it work for their life style.

Don’t listen to your demons or fall into their desires. Continue to press forward to find a way to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Surround yourself with others who are fighting the same battle and give each other positive energy, encouragement, enlightenment, anything that will stop people from listening to their demons. It’s imperative that you don’t fall into the trap of following your demon’s ways as only bad things will result from it.

At Some Point, I’d Like to Write a Book

At some point, I’d like to write a book or an eBook about my journey to and inside the WordPress ecosystem and the struggles I’ve tried to overcome by being paid to write about the project full-time. One thing I’m struggling with is deciding when the right time is to write the book.

I want it to be raw, uncensored, where I’m free to express my emotions the way I see fit. Considering this, now is not the time. Perhaps when my WordPress journey is complete or I move onto the next stage of my life. The caveat to this is that my next stage of life might be death. How do I write a book if I’m dead?

I should start writing chapters while I’m alive and save them as drafts in case something happens to me. That way, someone, somewhere, I hope will publish them. It would be a shame not to be able to see and read people’s reactions to the text.

Advice for Those Entering the WordPress Community

My name is Jeff Chandler and I’ve written about and have covered the open source WordPress project for 7-8 years. There is little difference between myself and those who have just entered the WordPress community. Just like any community of people, there are unwritten rules, things you must do to become well-known throughout the rest of the community. That’s just the way it is.

Unlike a lot of other people you may meet, I’m forgiving and willing to listen to your pitch and discover why it is you’ve chosen this path. However, if you decide to enter the WordPress community with guns blazing, be prepared to suffer the consequences. Like many other communities, there’s an inner, middle, and outer circle of influential people. Those who are closest to the WordPress project I feel are most influential.

If you enter the WordPress community these days with guns blazing, chances are that you’ll fail. The recipe for success is pretty simple. Sit outside the ring and observe how the WordPress community interacts for at least a year. There are nuances that people will have to understand and abide by, that’s just the way it is.

If you think you’re going to enter the world of WordPress and change the rules, you’re mistaken. Kudos if you think you’ll be able to radically change the direction things are heading, but it doesn’t work that way.

Learn how the WordPress community speaks, acts, views various opinions, and observe as well as follow the rules put into place before you enter the WordPress community.

It might sound like I don’t like those who show up unannounced and expect the world to change around them. How can anyone appreciate someone like that? If you enter the WordPress community, do your research, don’t act like you’re god.

Respect the decisions and guidelines that have been set forth before your time. If you disagree with them, use the appropriate channels but try not to fuck up things for everyone else.

Creativity Through Intoxication

I’m in my 30s and have been intoxicated to the point of realizing that my creativity has no roadblocks. Intoxication is one of those things that affects people differently based on their brain and chemical structure. Some people get angry when they’re drunk, some people are hilarious, while others are more relaxed and end up with a state of mind that is more creative, freed of whatever common sense roadblocks are in the way,

When I’m intoxicated, I am relaxed and the creative parts of my brain explode. I may not make complete sense but more often than not, I do. I find it odd that intoxication has the effect that it does on me. It lowers barriers, creates opportunities to be creative, and overall, just be more of a thinker without boundaries.

If you’re not familiar with the popular XKCD comic that highlights the Ballmer peak, I highly encourage you to check it out. This particular comic helped me understand how certain levels of intoxication can generate high levels of creativity and productivity. At the very least, it opened my eyes to why I feel the way I do when intoxicated.

It’s not a way of life I recommend, but it’s important to recognize how alcohol effects you both psychologically and chemically. I’m thankful that I’m not the type of person who goes into a rage when drunk. Instead, I’m relaxed, laid back, and can’t wait to go to sleep. That reminds me, where’s that soft cushion I can pass out on?

The WordPress Planets Aligned For One Day

Yesterday, May 27th 2015, was WordPress’ 12th birthday. On this special day, I had the chance to celebrate with the co-creator of WordPress himself, Matt Mullenweg who was interviewed on WordPress Weekly.

I’ve interviewed a lot of talented, smart people in the WordPress ecosystem over the years but my favorite guest is Matt Mullenweg. He has a sense of humor, is intelligent, and knows more than I might ever know about the internals of Automattic and WordPress.

I enjoy interviewing him because it gives me the opportunity to ask questions no one else may know the answer too. For instance, status updates on projects that didn’t see the light of day. Or, acquisition announcements that didn’t produce the intended results.

I take a lot of pride in every opportunity I get to interview Matt. While he appears on several different podcasts and shows throughout the course of a year, I think my show is one of the few, if not the only that gets deep into WordPress specific conversations.

I have no problem holding Matt accountable for things that were said that didn’t materialize. There are reasons for why it didn’t and I see my questions as opportunities for him to explain why. He knows what he’s getting into when he comes on my show and I can’t remember the last time or if he ever explicitly didn’t want to answer a question.

I appreciate learning new things when he’s on my show and he doesn’t disappoint. Depending on the show, interviewer, etc. his interviews about WordPress can vary widely. I take pride in the fact that I ask him questions that the community is asking and also call him out on certain things when I feel it’s necessary.

All of this to say that I hope you listen to my latest interview with Matt to learn about WooCommerce, WordPress, the REST API, and a variety of other topics. If you know someone else who routinely interviews Matt about WordPress and gets more information out of him than I do, please share it with me in the comments.