BCN

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I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona for a team meetup this month. Amazingly, bits of Spanish from my long-ago university days somehow managed to re-emerge in my brain, ocasionally even forming sentence fragments that seemed to be at least partially understood. For various reasons, I didn’t take as many photos throughout the week as I’d planned, but during our last day, we played tourist and the camera came out in force as we explored two of Gaudí’s masterpieces, the Sagrada Família and Parc Güell.

 

 

Spotlight on Happiness Engineering

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If you’ve ever wanted to know more about what it’s like to work at Automattic or are curious about the role of a Happiness Engineer, check out this short video for a peek at what my workday is like. And if you’re a feline fan, watch for a brief cameo by my most camera-friendly cat, Finnegan.

I was honoured to be part of this Career Spotlights series for YES Montreal, an organization that provides resources and encouragement to English-speaking Montrealers looking to build a career in this city.

A GM in Canada

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This year I got to experience an Automattic Grand Meetup in my homeland for the first time. Granted, it took place in Whistler, British Columbia, 5000 km away from where I live, but it was still Canada! It was fun to watch nearly 500 of my colleagues encountering everything from poutine to the stunning Coast mountain range for the first time. They were even struck by small things I take for granted, like the ubiquitous Canuck politeness, in the form of “sorry” and “please” on signage.

The week was jam-packed, even more so than my last four Grand Meetups. (Has it really been five already? Seems impossible!) Highlights of the week include a class on WordPress plugin development taught by code wrangler Jennifer (I made something! And it’s on GitHub!); icebreakers and brainstorming with my theme division-mates; organizing an afternoon of painting for my colleagues, who blew me away with their creativity!); spotting a black bear (OMG!) munching on foliage by the side of the highway; swooping across mountaintops in the spectacular Peak to Peak gondola; and attending a thought-provoking workshop about diversity and inclusion by an outstanding facilitator, Y-Vonne Hutchison. And of course, countless chats with friends/co-workers from all over the world and a lot of good food. Oh, and I invented a cocktail that was one of three chosen to to be served at the closing party. (Automojitto! It was blue and yummy!)

As we’re a company full of bloggers, many of my colleagues have posted accounts of their week in Whistler as well. You can check out some of them under the #a8cgm tag on WordPress.com.

This year’s company photo was the most epic yet – check out my colleague Donncha’s account of how he pulled it off!

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Lighting the Forest

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A couple of hours east of Montreal lies a natural phenomenon called the Coaticook River Gorge. During the day, hikers cross its spectacular 169-metre suspension footbridge and picnic by the rushing river, itself a memorable treat. This time, we saw the area in a new light — or rather, dark. Foresta Lumina is a nighttime experience introduced to the forest by multimedia entertainment company Moment Factory, which used sound, video, and light to transform an already magnificent environment into something uniquely immersive. Here’s a taste.

Hands-on Child Theming

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A few months ago, the WordCamp Ottawa organizers asked if I’d turn my half-hour WordPress child-theming talk into a longer practical workshop. Always eager to spread the word about child themes, I agreed.

I wasn’t sure how the workshop would go, since there were a lot of unknowns: from how many people would show up and what their skill levels would be, to whether the Wifi would hold up and if I’d have too much material (or not enough) for the two-hour slot.

Fortunately it all worked out quite well, and with the help of a few excellent TAs (thank you again Shanta, Jonathan, and Rick!), a roomful of eager participants learned how to create a WordPress child theme last Sunday afternoon.

If you’re interested in exploring the world of child themes yourself, check out the theory behind them and learn when child themes are useful — then get your feet wet with the hands-on exercises.

Happy child theming!

Hey, LA

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I’ve been to Los Angeles a couple of times, but the most recent trip was over 20 years ago. On this visit, what struck me most was the disparity between rich and poor, highly privileged and not at all. Homeless people sleeping outside in a neighbourhood of multimillion-dollar beach homes. Expressive, colourful street art vs. sedate European treasures at the Getty Museum. Kids arriving at the art centre in a black smoke-spewing school bus that looked like something from the 1950s lining up alongside their preppy uniform-clad counterparts from a private school.

My recent trip was full of many contrasts like these, but since I’m usually too shy to take photos of strangers, all the images I have to offer are of inanimate objects. Here you go.

Hack Day? Yay!

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A couple of times a year at Automattic we have a “Hack Day,” during which some of us work on a project that might not be part of our regular day or duties.

This year I rather spontaneously decided to join my teammates David Kennedy and Laurel Fulford — with input from a couple of our colleagues — in working on a remake of ThemeShaper.com, our team’s public blog devoted to WordPress theming.

It was loads of fun, and I love the result. We plan to keep iterating, as they say, but I’m pretty pleased with what we were able to do in about a day and a half. Hooray for Hack Day!

Before

before screenshot - ThemeShaper.com

After

after screenshot - ThemeShaper.com