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10 Lessons from 4 Years Working Remotely at Automattic

Originally posted on When I Have Time by Sara Rosso:

4 years ago today I started working full-time for Automattic.

Four years seems like a lifetime, but it’s a pretty short time in my work history, but it’s been the most life-changing for me. I’ve had years where I spent 40+% of my year away from my home base (with only two weeks off), and I told you how I almost stopped myself from applying and sabotaging my own success. Working at Automattic and working in a distributed team has changed how I will look at work and being productive for the rest of my life.

I wanted to share some of my own reflections, lessons, and scenes of working for a startup with an entirely distributed team for the past four years, in no particular order. Some may say Automattic is no longer a startup, though we just raised more funding, but 4 years ago when there were only…

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Evolving the Customizer

Ryan Boren:

Sounds good to me.

Originally posted on WiebePress:

The Customizer is great. I’ve been working in and around it to offer site customization features to our WordPress.com users since it launched with 3.41, coinciding with when I joined Automattic on Team Custom. We’ve especially used it to build great tools as part of the Custom Design upgrade, but as we’ve pushed the boundaries of what awesomeness we can unlock for our users, certain aspects of the Customizer have started to create roadblocks for us. Some of these are addressable, and some probably aren’t.

Mobile

The Customizer doesn’t work on a phone/small screen. Anyone who thinks this isn’t a dealbreaker is just wrong. The UI was designed for the desktop web. This could possibly be addressed in core, but it will require a pretty fundamental rethinking of the interface.

Performance

The Customizer can get really slow. This is partly because of its two-requests-to-load model: one for the

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Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did.

Originally posted on Pearls Before Swine:

Bill Watterson is the Bigfoot of cartooning.

He is legendary. He is reclusive. And like Bigfoot, there is really only one photo of him in existence. 

Few in the cartooning world have ever spoken to him. Even fewer have ever met him.

In fact, legend has it that when Steven Spielberg called to see if he wanted to make a movie, Bill wouldn’t even take the call.

So it was with little hope of success that I set out to try and meet him last April.

I was traveling through Cleveland on a book tour, and I knew that he lived somewhere in the area. I also knew that he was working with Washington Post cartoonist Nick Galifianakis on a book about Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson’s art.

So I took a shot and wrote to Nick. And Nick in turn wrote to Watterson.

And the meeting…

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Prosecutors and Pot Brownies

As prosecutors we are bound by what the law is, not what the law should be or could be.

Bullshit. You as a human always have the option of not throwing a teenager in jail for hash oil you can buy off of retail endcaps in Colorado and from lots of regular folks living in Round Rock, TX. Prosecutors have a lot of discretion. Invoke your humanity and use it.

WilCo DA Releases Statement On Pot Brownie Case – keyetv.com Austin News, Weather, Traffic KEYE-TV Austin – Top Stories.

Instead of smearing Jacob’s name all over the place, I wish journalists would take the criminal justice system to task and pour some sunlight on the people that took a busybody neighbor’s complaint and turned it into a jail sentence for baking brownies that many of us would like to be eating right now because they sound really good.

http://www.williamson-county.org/CountyDepartments/DistrictAttorney/DistrictAttorneyStaff/tabid/686/language/en-US/Default.aspx

 

Meet Sulfur — a Media Manager App Built in JavaScript

Ryan Boren:

I love these specialty flow apps being built on the WordPress.com JSON REST API. An API is in the works for core WordPress. I’ve been cajoling people to build a “Hello Gallery” [1] webapp on both APIs that multi-select uploads straight into a gallery post with an optional title. That’s it. Anyone?

1: Like Hello Dolly, this is not just a WP webapp, it symbolizes the hope and enthusiasm of an entire generation . ;-)

Originally posted on Developer Resources:

Since Automattic is a distributed company and a lot of us work from home, we hold meetups to get face-to-face interaction. The whole company meets up once a year and individual teams get together more often. One component of those meetups is a “meetup project” that we all work on together.

The team I lead — “Team I/O*” — just finished a lovely week in Reykjavik, Iceland. Our team is responsible for partnerships and our APIs.

We spent the first day releasing better JavaScript support for our APIs. After that we decided to make an example app, mainly focusing on the new CORS support and implicit OAuth system.

We decided to build a media manager purely in the browser. We picked a codename and Sulfur was born.

Update: Check out the live demo!

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 5.18.13 PM

Sulfur is an app built using Backbone, Underscore.js, Plupload, jQuery, MomentJS

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Web hosts, a word on upload_max_filesize and post_max_size

From WordPress installs hosted at various places, I’ve tried to upload a modest 48 second video shot on a Nexus 5. This is what I usually see:

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 8.32.16 AM

Can upload_max_filesize and post_max_size be set to accommodate a one minute video shot on a modern phone, at the very least?

And, WordPress, let’s make this message less of a dead end. It’s frustrating as hell to do something as natural as upload a short video and get this red-stained too bad.