Almost in a Commercial

Back in February, I went with a handful of colleagues to Detroit to build websites for small businesses.

During the time we were there, a video production team was filming most aspects of the weekend.

I didn’t make it into one of the three commercial spots, but the side of my head is captured in this video at the 1:23 mark:

 

The three commercials can be found on design.blog.

A Gift from Work 

I am certainly blessed to work at a company like Automattic, where I get to spend my days working on helping people use WordPress/WooCommerce better. 

And if giving new dads three months leave for paternity wasn’t a big enough benefit, we got this package in the mail the other day for baby Kellen. 


Thanks Automattic! Can I get a WordPress tag blanket large enough to cover my 6’3″ body? 😉

What Does a WooCommerce Happiness Engineer Do?

This is a great recap by my colleague Zandy about what our typical work looks like in WooCommerce Support Engineer:

As I’ve mentioned before, my day-to-day customer-facing work right now is in Woo Happiness. While both Woo Happiness and WordPress.com Happiness are part of Automattic Happiness, they are incredibly different. I’ll pause here and explain a little bit. WordPress.com is the freely available blog and website platform; you can make a blog or website for […]

via What does Woo Happiness look like? — Revelry Reverie

A Day in the Life

This post is part of a series describing what Automatticians do on a daily basis. You can read more posts like this by following the tag #a8cday on WordPress.com and Twitter.

Here’s a look in at my “typical” day, even though every day changes, due to my wife’s work schedule and/or three year old daughter’s schedule.

Today is a bit different as I have to take my daughter to her Spanish Immersion preshool.

04:25 – Alarm goes off and I’ve got to get ready for the gym. Due to today’s schedule, the only time I’ll be able to get to Bomber’s Crossfit is at the 5am class.

05:55 – Workout over and I recorded two Personal Records (PRs) for the day, score!

06:10a – I’m back at home and have got to head to my office to record my WordPress podcast, Your Website Engineer. I normally record these shows on Tuesday morning, but I was out of town on Monday, so I’m a bit behind this week 🙂

06:45 – Podcast is recorded and published, time for a shower and get ready for the day.

07:30 – Shouts from our daughter come from an upstairs bedroom, she’s awake and ready to get up. For the next hour, she has breakfast and I unload dishwasher / pack her lunch and pack my computer up to head out of the house.

08:35 – We’re on the road towards school. It’s 22 minutes away and we are set for an on-time arrival.

09:10 – Set up shop at Whole Foods. It’s just minutes away from her school, has decent wifi, so it saves me an hour of driving home and back. I spend the first hour of work in “catch up mode.”

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My portable office at Whole Foods

A majority of my colleagues live in different states / countries and there is a lot that has happened since I was done with work yesterday afternoon.

I share my comments on a few internal discussion threads and reply to any outstanding messages in Slack. I read a few colleague’s #a8cday posts and remember I want to write one too.

Some days during this three hour window, I’ll work on tickets to our customers. Today, I’m focusing on everything that isn’t ticket work.

This includes picking items form my todo list that are critical to be finished today and following up on some bug requests.

11:50 – I’m packed up and heading back to pick my daughter up from school.

13:00 – Back in my home office ready to go. Our nanny was at our house when we arrived, so my daughter began playing with her.

My legs are sore from yesterday’s / this morning’s workout, so I opted for my standing desk. I open up our ticket queue, hit the play button, started my music with Brain.FM and begin to help our customers one random request at a time.

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Custom built standing desk, complete with LED lights and 27″ iMac Server

The first few are about configurating their shipping modules, then a few about products like Cart Add Ons and coupons not working right.

My usual goal is to get thru 10 tickets in an hour, which is super challenging since some of them can take 30 minutes to debug. My first hour I got thru 3.

Hour #2 was much more fruitful, as I made it thru 11 tickets. The topics ranged from setting up taxes, to verify my theme is working properly, to asking customers to deactivate all plugins except for WooCommerce to check for plugin conflicts.

Every ticket is a new challenge. Most of time, it’s for one of the 400 extensions I’ve never installed, so I have to install the plugin, read the documentation, then try to configure it. Then I have to determine whether or not the behavior is intended, or if it’s a bug.

15:30 – Got a ping from my team lead. Time for my weekly chat. We chat for about 30 minutes on Slack about things of the week, including my regular feedback to HR. Communication is super important to us as a company, so I’ll read everything that he writes before heading off to HR (It’s pretty much a bunch of “Dustin is Awesome” anyways, so it’s fun to read ;P )

16:10 – Almost a wrap for the day. Scan thru and delete files from my desktop (screenshots) and downloads folder (misc work files). Close down Slack, Brain.FM, move any action items from open browser tabs to OmniFocus, then close both Chrome and Safari.

16:30 – Done with work for the day.

Monday’s and Wednesday’s are normally a bit lighter on ticket work as I try really hard to get all the rest of my tasks done for the week on these days. Then I spend the rest of my working week heads down working on tickets.

My goal is to have 150 interactions with customers a week. Some weeks I can hit my goal in during the work week. Other weeks, like this one, I’ll spend less tickets each day, but then spend a few hours on Saturday morning responding to tickets before my family wakes up.

Does this sound like a work day would be perfect for you? Work with us!

Detroit Hackathon

Today and tomorrow  I’m in Detroit for a hackathan project where nine of us are going to be building websites for nine small businesses in the city. 

Today, we split into small teams and visited the shops to get a feel for the businesses and see what they are looking for in a website. 

And tomorrow the plan is to build the websites with a goal of completing them by the end of the day. 

I’ll post a link to LaDonna’s salon site tomorrow. 

Oh, and here’s my view from the hotel and I can see the bridge to Canada. 

Learning Git

Today I spent time going thru the Git Course on Codecademy.

Git is a way to version control your code as well as giving you the ability to easily share your code with your team.

I’ve been using Git as a version control system for my own personal projects, but never with a team.

In 2016, I want to help our developers out and write more code, so they don’t have to 🙂

Woo Ninja

This week, I became a Woo Ninja.

What does that actually mean?

The company I work for, Automattic recently bought the company WooThemes. As a part of expanding my knowledge about all the products we own, I’m doing a rotation with the WooThemes general support.

I expect to be fully challenged and learn a lot about the different WooThemes and the eLearning plugin Sensei. Supporting these users will be my new daily routine.

I love the fact that Automattic gives us the flexibility to voluntarily rotate to different teams so we don’t get burnt out with the daily grind of the same types of support requests day after day.

 

Dinner and a Movie

This week I’m in Austin, Texas spending a few days with my coworkers. On these trips we spend time working together and hanging out.

Tonight we went to the Alamo Drafthouse for dinner and a movie.

Yes, both dinner and a movie. The unique feature about this theater is that you can order food and it’s brought directly to your table. The seats are arranged like a regular movie theater, except each row of chairs has a table in front of it.

It was definitely a unique experience, but I don’t think I’m sold on eating while watching a movie.

It’s Dark
The lights were turned down low and it was nearly impossible to see your food. Perhaps I chose the wrong ‘movie food’ but I felt slightly challenged eating my salad.

You Miss Parts of the Movie
Every time I looked down to fill my fork with more food, I missed a few seconds of the movie. Had I ordered popcorn, I could have easily shoveled in the kernels without taking my eyes off the screen.

Takes Longer to Eat
Our orders were taken before the movie started and it probably took me 25 minutes to eat my salad, as I tried to take bites during the parts of the movie that didn’t have too much action.

ritz-interior2

Welcome to the Chaos

Exactly one year ago today, I started full-time at Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com.

It’s been a crazy ride, filled with travel, making new friends and learning a ton about WordPress.com; and I love every minute of it.

My official title is Happiness Engineer, which means I’m on the customer support team and help users figure out how to use WordPress to build their websites. I communicate almost exclusively with my team via text and even all of our training documents are stored in an online Field Guide. The initial page of our Field Guide says ‘Welcome to the Chaos.’ I smiled and thought, how chaotic could it really be?

With an outsiders perspective, it could seem like the way that we work doesn’t make sense and how could it possibly be productive. Our flexible schedules (which mine changes daily), to working with coworkers who live on different continents, to booking last minute travel to hangout with team mates have all become the new normal.

In the last year
– I’ve travelled to Las Vegas, San Fransisco, Barbados, Milwaukee, Dallas, Park City, Austin, and Ann Arbor for either team meetups or conferences which I spoke. Total distance travelled: 16,000+ miles.
– I’ve attended five WordCamps, in three different states and spoke at 3 of them.
– I’ve gained a new perspective on internet safety and I’m working to make all 400+ online profiles have unique passwords.
– I’ve helped thousands of users make their website better.
– I spent a three month rotation with the VaultPress team, helping users backup their self-hosted versions of WordPress.
– I’ve created and published 52 episodes of Your Website Engineer podcast. This is a passion project of mine and it keeps me plugged into the WordPress community.2014-06-25 14.09.01
– I’ve found dozens of bugs in our software and had them fixed (usually within minutes) by our amazing developers.
– I’ve acquired an entire wardrobe full of WordPress branded clothes and not sure why I still feel the need for ‘regular’ clothes, since I don’t leave the house (unless traveling) 90% of the work week.

Overall, this has been one of the craziest years for me and then throw in having our first baby in March and it’s been a heck of a chaotic ride.

Sound like something you’d be interested in? Apply today we are always hiring.

Day in the Life of an Automattician

In an effort to get to know each other’s work days better, and to share publicly what it is like to work for a distributed company where most of us work from home, some of us at Automattic will be publishing “A Day in the Life” posts on our personal blogs throughout this week. The posts will be tagged #a8cday if you’d like to follow along.

5:30 – Head downstairs to my office with my water bottle to start the day.

Do I like getting up this early? Not really. But with an almost 7-month old baby in the house, it’s important to get my day started early.

Here's my desk set up, complete with LED under mounted lights.
Here’s my desk set up, complete with LED under mounted lights.

I’ve closed down most things from last night, so I open up the ticket queue. Before I dive into answering tickets, I open up Focus@Will. It’s an online service that plays word free music and gets me in the zone to work. I typically set the timer for 25 minutes and start working and that’s exactly what I did this morning.

Start answering tickets starting with the oldest. 13hrs old, 20 in the queue.

Normally there would would hundreds of support requests to attend to, but I’m on a rotation with the VaultPress Team. The VaultPress volume is less, but the tickets are much trickier and usually take much longer to resolve.

A few ticket examples from this morning:
– How can I cancel my account?
– My website isn’t backing up, PLEASE HELP!
– Is it possible to backup up multiple installations of WordPress on my server?

Over the course of 3 Focus@Will sessions, there are only 3 left in the queue.

7:00 – Moved to the dining room table. My wife is starting to get ready for work and I’m on baby listening duty.

Start reading internal posts (also referred to as P2 posts, based on P2 Theme) to catch up what’s been going on across the company since yesterday

Saw the notification about the new version of the Beta WordPress iOS app, so I install it / start to play with it and test out the new features. Cool new features on the horizon.

Download the App Here

25 minute block got me thru all my P2 posts

8:00 – Breakfast and play time with daughter. Anxiously wait for in home baby sitter to come so I can get back to work 🙂

9:00 – Grab my computer and head down to my office.

I pull up Codeschool.com to learn a bit of Javascript. Automattic allows us to spend time each week learning new skills. During the past year, I’ve refreshed my HTML/CSS skills and mastered improved my Sass skills. Now I’m digging into Javascript because it seems like everywhere I look, I’m seeing Javascript code.

Today’s lesson: loops. Focused on for and while loops and how to print text to a browser. I’m getting good with console.log("Print this out");

10:00 – Browse other a8cday posts to get inspiration / see how my colleagues are creating their blog posts.

10:30 – Back to the ticket queue. Sitting at 18 resolved posts right now

Second ticket in came from a colleague pointing out that a reminder email we send out is slightly outdated. After a brief chat on Slack (our internal communication tool) I posted to the VaultPress team’s P2 (our internal blog) to let our team know and for us to create a todo to get it fixed.

11:00 – Quick break to jump rope. 52 consecutive jumps and a few grapes as a snack. With all the traveling in the last 3 weeks (only been home 2 days), I’m slowly getting back into doing physical activity inside. I’ve found jump roping, pushups and pull-ups are great to do in batches when I need a break.

Keeping answering tickets in the queue. Finally get the queue back down to 5.

12:00 – Few errands and lunch.

2:00 – Back to it. This time at standing desk. Usually I spend more time at my standing desk, but I’m slowly getting back into it after being ‘lazy’ for a few weeks.

Pings from coworkers distract me from working on my WordPress Project.

I’m one of the go-to people when there is a WordPress.com podcasting question, so I chat about podcasting for awhile.

I realize that I have too much going on today to spend time on a project right now, so I move that block of time until tomorrow and spend more time answering tickets.

During this time, I continue to work for 25 minutes and break for 5 minutes. During the breaks, I refill my water bottle, do misc. tasks around the house, or jump rope. At one point, I got to 72 consecutive jumps 🙂

4:00 – One more read thru P2 posts and email and then tidy up my crazy ridiculous to do list and I’m wrapped up for the day.

Babysitter is leaving, so it’s time to go play with blocks and other toys.

That’s my day in a nutshell! My days vary based on the availability of our babysitter. Sound like something you’d enjoy? Apply today we’re always hiring.