Getting Comfortable With Child Themes

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When I get excited about something to do with WordPress, my usual inclination is to create a presentation to share my enthusiasm with others. That’s what I did for child theming, a handy way of making changes to a pre-made theme for a self-hosted WordPress site – without losing all your tweaks the next time you update the theme to its latest version.

I’ve presented this talk at a couple of WordCamps, and the video from last year’s event in Montreal is now online. Curious about child themes? Check out the talk – about 35 minutes including audience questions – and slides below.

Hand Model

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When I was much younger, I used to bite my nails and cuticles. Perhaps from stress, possibly just a bad habit. Then one day for some inexplicable reason, I no longer felt the urge to bite my nails anymore, and I stopped.

Having messed-up hands as a kid, I never ever would have expected that one day a talented jewellery designer would ask me to model some rings for her new website.

And yet, it happened! My friend Rachel Dhawan needed some hand models, and a gathering of friends was the perfect opportunity to have some of us lend a hand – literally.

Here’s how it went down.

It was a fun experience… but I don’t think I’ll give up my day job.

The Techie Continuum

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When referring to myself over the years, I’ve always adamantly declared that despite whatever skills I might have,

“I’m not a techie.”

I didn’t study computer science and I’m not what I’d call a “hard-core programmer.”

And yet some might point out the obvious. I’ve been sharing WordPress knowledge in forums and at conferences ever since I started using it. I’m my family’s on-call tech support. I help folks with technical issues all day, every day, and even get paid to do it. I solve people’s WordPress problems, quash quandaries, clarify conundrums.

Even so, I still wouldn’t dream of referring to myself as an expert, guru, or ninja. (And let’s not even bring up “rock star” – just don’t go there.)

Due to a combination of low self-esteem, imposter syndrome, and, let’s face it, a severe case of Canadianitis, I’ve only recently come to truly believe that I may actually know some stuff. I now realize that everyone can be found somewhere on a techie continuum, and perhaps, just maybe, I’m somewhere toward the higher end of it.

No matter where you are on the techie continuum, chances are you know a bit more about something than someone else. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge with them. It feels good. It’s giving back. And maybe some day you’ll even start to feel confident that you know a few things.

Ninja

Not a ninja. Photo (cc) by Nick Harris

Perfectionism and Blogging

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Kathryn P.:

I shared some thoughts on the Press Publish blog about how perfectionism affects my blogging. The conversation it sparked reminded me that I’m not alone.

Originally posted on Press Publish:

Perfectionism is a tricky flaw to have. It makes me want to do everything perfectly – and doing a thorough and awesome job at something can bring on the accolades, which in turn makes me want to be just as perfectionistic the next time.

But striving for perfection is stressful. And sometimes it stops me from doing anything at all.

Take my blog, for example. After not even having a blog for many years – especially embarrassing considering my profession, first as a web designer building custom WordPress sites and later as a WordPress Happiness Engineer – I finally launched one in late 2013. But I’ve only published 26 posts since then! I want each entry to be special and memorable, whether it’s a gallery of images I’ve taken, a story I tell, or an experience I’ve had.

Other bloggers I follow talk about their kids, or their cats, or…

View original 45 more words

Press Publish Portland

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If you’re into WordPress, you’ve likely heard of WordCamps – grassroots events held around the world, with sessions aimed at developers, designers, and users of the WordPress open-source software. You may also have heard about tech-heavy WordPress conferences like LoopConf or business-focused ones like PressNomics.

Last week, a brand new WordPress event called Press Publish made its debut in Portland, Oregon, and I was lucky to be a part of it. An initiative of Automattic, the conference mixed advice and inspiration for bloggers with tips on making the most of WordPress. It was jam-packed with motivating talks, from speakers like Erick Prince-Heaggans, a travel blogger and photojournalist, and Ananda Leeke, a “yoga, creativity, and Internet geek,” both of whom I had the pleasure to chat with during the course of the event.

I loved being involved in Press Publish – from meeting WordPress users of all levels and helping them at the Happiness Bar, to bonding with my fellow Automatticians. Oh yeah, I also gave some talks and workshops! My short presentation Wild About Widgets was recorded, and the video should be out in a few weeks. I gave a workshop on using the WordPress Customizer with Sheri Bigelow and another on mastering menus and widgets. My colleague Michelle Langston and I ran an intro workshop on CSS, putting together a reference site and demo where we showed examples of how you can tweak your site with CSS to get it looking exactly how you want.

The next Press Publish is on April 18 in Phoenix. If you’re anywhere in the area I hope you’ll consider attending. I’d love to meet you!

I had a comment after my Hawaii post that there were no photos of me. I hope this one makes up for that. :) Thanks to Josh Root and Anne McCarthy for some of the pics.

Passionate About Plugins and Wild For Widgets

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The ability to add third-party plugins is one of the reasons folks may choose to have a self-hosted WordPress site. But with over 36,000 plugins in the official repository, selecting one can be overwhelming. My WordCamp Maui talk looks at what to consider when selecting a plugin, how to troubleshoot plugin issues, and where widgets fit into the mix. You can also watch the presentation at WordPress.tv or check out the slides.

Hawaii in February

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Earlier this month I took an extraordinary trip to Hawaii. The entire Automattic theme division met for its annual gathering on the island of Kauai – a meetup locale rather different from last year’s Charleston ice storm. I stayed on in Hawaii a bit longer, getting a few more days to enjoy this beautiful place.

As cliché as it may sound, Hawaii was simply magical. Sea turtles silently crawling up the shoreline on Poipu Beach, scenery as stunning as it gets, and an unforgettable helicopter ride around Kauai – including the waterfalls where the famous arrival scene from Jurassic Park was filmed. It rejuvenated my soul and provided sustenance to carry me through the rest of this vicious winter.

I can’t wait to go back some day.