WordCamp Phoenix

Header photo credit: Alan Stark

Have I mentioned recently that I work with WordPress rather a lot? Well I do. I really really do.

Not only are pretty much all of my sites powered by WordPress (either .com or .org), but I am also gainfully employed by Automattic, the folks who run WordPress.com and are the publishers of the insanely-popular twin plugins Jetpack and Akismet as well as several other awesome tools like Simplenote and Cloudup.

More rambling below the jump.

Flexibility is NICE

I don’t mean the bendy kinds. I wouldn’t know what those were if they walked up and punched me in the face.

No, I mean the sort which allow you to do what you need to when you need to do it.

You see, my kid, Mal, was the first kid born in AZ in 2013. I would say that is some sort of PII (personally identifiable information) which should never be shared, but there were news articles written about it. He’s never going to be able to use his birthday as a secure method of password retrieval, that’s for sure! But the other down side is that he’s never going to get very good birthday parties. He’s always going to be out of school and the like. And as a guy with a late December birthday, I feel his pain.

More rambling below the jump.

A Day in the Life of an Automattician

As you (probably) know, I am an Automattician . . . I’m a Happiness Engineer for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, VaultPress, Akismet, Cloudup, and a whole host of other amazing products.

Over the coming weeks you are probably going to see a bunch of other employees posting a blow-by-blow of what we do throughout our day. We have a really unique setup; we are completely distributed as a company meaning we all work from home for most of the year (at least one week we all get together for a Grand Meetup, and we also travel to conferences, which you’ll see pictures of throughout this blog).

A couple of notes:

  • I have very long days. I generally work 7am to 6pm, but only from Sunday through Wednesday. This was so that I could take time to site-see more when I was traveling through Europe with my family, but I’ve kept up with it because I really like the schedule.
  • If you get through the entire day you’ll read about a pretty massive mistake I made. With some companies a person could get fired for what I did. Not here. The mistake was made, it was corrected, we fixed how the problem COULD get made, and we moved on. Call it a win.
  • I work in our Community department. Everything is fully public facing. Some queues are just questions asked directly by users (termed “staff answers”), some are questions which are curated by Volunteers (who are AMAZING) and passed on to us when necessary (called “modlook”).

Thus begins the day of Sunday, 5 October 2014:

My son, Malcolm, wakes up and starts screaming his fool head off. My brother-in-law’s band had a concert last night so my wife, Kendra, and I didn’t get to bed until pretty late. Though I usually get up with him on days that I work, she was sweet enough to get up with him today. Faith in the institution of marriage: restored.

Alarm goes off and it’s time to get up for work. I brush my teeth and grab my laptop. Work emails are loading by 7:04.

New emails have been read (there aren’t many since I stayed on top of things for once this weekend) and I start going through the older emails/P2s which I flagged from earlier in my weekend for follow up. This takes a bit longer since we’ve got quite a few things going on these days.

Start catching up on Slack backscroll. This also takes a LONG. WHILE.

Finally able to start in on FRs (Feedback Received, any replies to tickets which we’ve already done). I don’t have any tickets in our older legacy system, Kayako, but I have about a dozen tickets in our newer ticket review program, TQR. We always tackle responses as quickly as possible so that even if our users had to wait a little while to get their first response, they won’t have to wait any longer than necessary to get things fully managed.

Malcolm goes down for his nap. Yay!

Wrote out an entire HG Ticket and write as I was about to submit it, I went to get a final piece of information buried in the user Report Card and answered my own question. Was incredibly relieved that I didn’t waste anyone’s time but my own!

Starting in on new tickets. Modlook and Staff Answers are in the 130s and 90s respectively. Even if the queue wasn’t higher, I’d be doing Modlook as the tickets are frequently older (a user will post a question in the forum and we don’t necessarily find it immediately. Plus tickets continue to get modlooked over the weekend, even on Sundays). Oldest tickets today were originally created well over 2 weeks ago, as an example.

My family has a family-wide breakfast every two weeks on a weekend day. No matter what my wife says, these breakfasts were MY IDEA! 😉 We weren’t able to do it yesterday, and so it’s being held today. Breakfast is ready and I now have 3 toddlers trying to press keys on my laptop. Time for a break for some family time and some delicious brunch! 🙂

Foooood commmaaaa. Back to tickets, energy drink in hand. Please see this recipe for super-amazing biscuits n’ gravy casserole which currently has the other half of my BFF necklace.

Restarting 1/2 of the current soundtrack of my life: Tangled. Can’t handle Cars today.

Tangled is over. Kendra is up from her nap (she hasn’t been feeling well), and they are playing games which supposedly do not distract me. The fact that I’m recording this fact here shows how successful they are. Goal of said game seems to involve a competition to see who can be more OCD in the arrangement of toys according to colour, size, and shape. I don’t know which of the two I should be more worried about.

Modlook is down to 100 and 5 days.

SHIT. I apparently took down the entirety of WordPress.com by setting it to Private when I was trying to set one of my test blogs to private. It was private for 48 minutes. Doing my best not to hyperventalate. .com is already back up and the way this occurred has apparently happened to several others, but it was really nice not being one of them.

Posted to WHTA to let everyone know what happened about setting .com to private, just in case there is any fallout. Thus far there doesn’t seem to be any.

Back to work! Needed a break after . . . all of that . . . Tons of support from everyone, and I feel much less like a great big idiot. 🙂

An early finish today. Mostly because a toddler is currently insisting that it is HIS turn to play with the keyboard instead of me.

So there you have it! A day in the life. And because this is a photography blog first and foremost and always, here is a photo of Automatticians not working TOO hard at our most recent Grand Meetup!

GM - Working Hard.Originally published in MightyPrettyPhotos.com.


Back on the Chain Gang

Or Third Shift.  Whatever.

Yes, yes, you heard correctly, I once again have found myself confined to the lightless realms of third shift.  What did I do to earn myself this punishment, you ask?  Nothing bad!  I swear!

In fact, I guess you could say in a way that I asked for it.  I applied to be a Lead for my department.  While I’ve held that position title before at GD, it was on the floor and was just a stepping stone on the road to being a Supervisor, in this department (where there are no actual Supervisors), it actually fills that role.

SO, I once again find myself in a situation wherein I am responsible for the productivity of others and am answering questions, etc.  It’s interesting, that’s for certain.  It is taking me a bit of time to get used to making decisions for others again (as opposed to only having to be answerable to myself, which was nice).

I will also tell you for free that I’m not adjusting as well to third shift again as I usually do.  At first I thought that it was just that I had spent so little time on First and I had been so burned out that I wasn’t truly RESTED, but now I’m concerned that there may be a health issue or something.  I’m actually manning up and facing my White Coat Syndrome and will be going to the doctor tomorrow morning after work to get some tests run so that I can establish what the hell (if anything) is wrong with me.  Wish me luck.

And that’s pretty much all I’ve got.  Sorry it took so long to write and I do not at all promise to write more frequently, since nobody reads this anyway.


Holy first shift, Batman!

Yealp. That’s right. I, against all my better judgement, am on my final week as a light, darkness inhabiting, caffeine swilling, graveyard shift worker. Starting on Sunday I will be changing shifts from effectively Tuesday through Saturday, Late to Early; to Sunday through Thursday, Early to Mid.

This is not something I’m really cut out for generally, but let’s be honest here . . . it’s time. I’ve been on third shift for well over a year now THIS time around (I’ve even done it before), and while me being on this shift has happily not prevented me from advancing (twice now), I still feel like I’m not exactly under the nose of my bosses. I’m also not learning as much as I know I could be if I was in a busier shift.

Plus there’s the whole “no longer sleeping thing.” Yeah, it’s getting ugly. Just today I considered calling in late just to sleep some more, since I didn’t manage to get to sleep until ENTIRELY too late. This would of course have been bad, because we at least TRY to be responsible adults around here. By we of course I mean the Royal “we” because I have naturally gone THAT insane. Naturally.

At this point I’m just rambling, so I’ll say farewell. Wish me luck on my voyage with that acursed Day Star.


And. I. Am. BACK!

So you may have noticed that I was gone.

Oh. No? Not at all? Not even a little bit? Well that’s somewhat disappointing.

Well I’ve been gone for a while. Trust me on this. The reason? Well, the reasons have in fact been oh so many. One of the main ones is that I had found myself a really truly wonderful girlfriend who I enjoyed spending time with so much that I didn’t really feel like blogging all that much. Plus there’s the fact that her parents seemed to be a little on the overtly curious side in the “we’re going to stalk and/or hire a PI to investigate you” kind of way, and so not only did I not feel like blogging, the more observant among you may have noticed that my old blog was taken down.

But I’m back. Alas this is not because I have reached an accord with said lovely lady’s parents, but instead because she and I have parted company. Those of you who run across this blog are probably already aware of this, but it wasn’t exactly my idea and I’m utterly heartbroken by the fact . . . but to be honest at this point I really should be getting used to it. Just time to put up some walls again, up the cynicism levels once more, and spend some time bitching online!

So LOTS has actually changed in the few months since I wrote, and I can’t really get in to all of it. At least not in the first entry. But suffice to say that I’m alive, I’m still gainfully employed, though erratically scheduled, and I greatly look forward to irritating you all with my Idle Ramblings once again, in a whole new and fresh blog environment (yes, yes, for the record I am once again moving venues. I’m shifting away from LiveJournal, which I’ve not made good use of for years, and have just installed a version of WordPress on my server. Possibly a bit dangerous, but I was getting EVER so irritated with LJ, so we just all have to deal, don’t we?).

Hope you are all well and I look forward to hearing from you soon . . .


So sleepy!

So I finished that training that I was working on. Mostly. I actually ended up having to go home early on Friday ill (thanks a lot, sweetie. The girlie passed on a little post-nasal thing she had. What a giver!). I then turned around and went back in at 8:30 on Saturday night and have worked through the weekend doing 11 hours shifts with one hour lunches. Let me tell you, it is rough. Not like work in the hot sun doing labour kind of rough, but still. And of course the fact that the closest thing I’ve had to a break has been going home early with a head cold doesn’t really help.

That said however, it’s all over now! I’m off of work until technically the 26th of June 19th of June (not so much with the math), though I may come in and do a day of work on the 15th. As I mentioned, I’ll be making my bi-annual pilgrimage to our neighbours to the north(east) for to deliver one Jaguar, visit with the Meggan, and pay truly ridiculous amounts of money to huff and puff around the Colorado Renaissance Festival. This year, a variation on the theme is that my good friend Michael Turney will be coming along and we will be dressing up as Archie and Reggie. Colorado will truly never know what hit them. Especially since we won’t be participants and so we will no longer have to PRETEND to be rich and drunk. We’ll just have to pretend to be rich!

That’s just about me for this one. I’m going to post this before I fall over asleep on my keyboard and I just end up posting a long line of bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb’s

Take care of yourselves (and each other),


I have been schooled to the fact that it has been a revolting amount of time since I’ve updated this thing, and seeing as it is the only forum which even resembles a semi-permanent record of my thoughts and what’s going on in my life (twitter isn’t exactly permanent, and I’ve not even been updating that recently), I really should be a good boy and stop letting, oh, two and a half freaking months pass between posts!

So, Things That Have Happened . . .

. . . Well, during the intervening months and a bit I have continued to work in the same position at GD and only just recently got a promotion BACK to where I was originally hired on (though this time I should be getting a pay hike as the position is now technically higher). I’m in fact currently working the day shift in order to get trained in a refresher course for the gig before heading back to third shift power (which is just lovely).

I have also during the intervening time begun dating a truly amazing young woman who I cherish. You know how gun shy I can be about jinxing things so I’m not gonna name names, and as usual there is drama involved (honestly who would I be if there wasn’t at least some drama involved in my life, both love and otherwise), but for this girl, I would happily put up with any amount of troubles! ***and it should be pointed out that this post was full of typos until she came back and nagged me to fix them. Is it bad that I’m totally turned on by dating an ultra-literate?!?***

Other than that, the Ash really does just abide. I’m leaving next week for a couple of days in Colorado as per usual around this time of year. After that, it’s right back to work where I’m gonna try to not get fired or do something REALLY crazy like, you know, work.

Take care everyone,

P.S. She keeps threatening to bite me. Should I be worried? Ow. See?

Random Stuff in Passing . . .

Random Stuff in Passing . . .

Well, I’m still alive. Those that follow me in Twitter are probably more aware of this than they are comfortable with as I update that on a frighteningly regular basis. What can I say? It’s a lot easier to “blog” when you’re limited to 140 characters. My life has been rather insane recently, and while there’s been very little that has been truly momentous that has occurred, there’s certainly been enough to keep me busy . . .

FAIRE is “in season” which means that I’ve given over my weekends, such as they are (more on that in a moment) to dressing up in a variety of ever-escalatingly environmentally inappropriate clothing to entertain visitors to the Arizona Renaissance Festival. When I returned from grad school all that I really had from my old costumes was my much-worn kilt, which while warm, could be worn in such a way as to minimize the heat. Then came the velvet doublet. Then our new Entertainment Director decided my doublet needed sleeves. THEN I decided I wanted to try being a Musketeer. Do you KNOW what a Musketeer wears?!? THREE LAYERS OF BLACK VELVET!!! (Photos) In short, the heat has made me functionally retarded. But at least I’ve had company as my brain has been fried in the person of Michael, the giant ape standing there with me in those photos. He’s a very old friend, since pretty much my first year at Faire 15 or so years ago, and we happily split our time between wandering around complaining about these young whipper snappers who don’t do anything right and hitting on the female whipper snappers who don’t do anything right.

Hey, they’ve gotta learn the hard lessons somewhere. May as well be from us.

PHOTOGRAPHY has continued to be a passion and is becoming a possible revenue stream/future profession. I try not to think along those lines too much however. Doing what you love as a job always seems to translate into learning to hate what you love, so I’m kinda holding back. That said, I’ve continued to develop BlackHole Photography.com and have added gigs and gigs of photos to it, including some of a celebrity who I’d say at least classifies as B List ranking (Chris Noth of Sex in the City/Law and Order [IMDB]). This weekend I’ll be helping to photograph my cousin Adam’s wedding, which will be all new and exciting.

WORK has been, well, work. In a moment of likely ill-conceived impetuousness, I agreed to go back to 3rd shift. The department needed it for all sorts of reasons, and I rather wanted some peace and quiet and to be on a shift that wouldn’t have me jerked around all the freaking time. This was about a month ago and it is indeed what I got. I still have not entirely adjusted to the schedule, but that is at least partially because of Faire. Hopefully once the season is over and things settle down a bit I’ll be able to really get used to things and get my life back into something resembling order, even if it is at the opposite end of everyone else’s order.

And finally, my LOVE LIFE has pretty much been chaos. I’m not going to say anything more than that because, well, my grans read this stuff. Hi Bama, hi Gigi! The rest of you pervs can use your imagination.

And that’s just about me. At least all I can think of. Hope you’re all well and I’ll try to talk to you soon . . .


Long(ish) Time

Long(ish) Time

At least since I’ve made a proper blog post. I’ve been Twittering like a madman. It’s just entirely too easy to jot off a quick note about something I find amooozing and then boom, yer done. Alas, the lasting record of it is not there however. Which makes for a sad Ash. I do so like the last record. History geek coming out.

And SPEAKING of history geek, yes, the Arizona Renaissance Festival has once again taken over Arizona/my brain/my life. We just finished the second weekend and despite low turnout (this will be the year to go, folks!), it’s been a lot of fun. My costume has continued to grow and mutate. The blue doublet now has sleeves and I wear a very froufy white shirt along with my normal tights and my new Windwalker boots. In short, Lord Archibald “Archie” Agincourt, the Earl of Bath is even more of a fop than ever before. That said, I’ve only been Archie for two of the four days I’ve been out. The second day of the Faire, Michael and I went as the Musketeers Aramis and Porthos, respectively. While we didn’t have women exactly falling all over themselves to get to us, this may have been at least partly because there was no one there . . . the rain fell hard and fast that day and the air was cold. We were just fine however. Those black tabards with captain’s coats underneath — all in velvet — really do the job in keeping the heat in!

Then yesterday (was it two days ago now?) I was asked by our Entertainment Director to come out in my civvies (plain clothes) with Roxy to take photos of all the participants at the Faire (up to and including the Medieaval Baebes). I did so, and while it wasn’t nearly as much fun and easily just as exhausting, I still got quite a few decent pictures which I’ve already posted at BlackHole Photography in the AZ Rennies section. Enjoy, just don’t steal without giving credit. And REALLY don’t go making a profit on other people’s work/image. Not cool to me or them. There, that’s done. Moving on.

Last bit of news, really. I was in one of my boss’ office last week just talking and somehow the topic of my shift came up. Again. Then the topic of another rep’s shift came up. Turns out this rep, who I’ve known for a long while, has been really unhappy stuck on third shift and wants off. They asked me to take his spot as I get along with most people and I put up decent numbers. I thought about it for a while, but when it really comes down to it, while I’m not happy on third, this guy is actively unhappy there and if I can help him out, the least I could do is give the guy a reprieve . . .

So if you’re wondering why the weirdly rambling and very chatting posting, that’s why. It was my first day on third last night and I am . . . punchy, to say the least.

We do what we can.