Get a short URL from YOURLS in Zapier

With the incredible Code by Zapier app, getting a short URL for any URL you have is very easy using the API in YOURLS. I used this strategy to promote new content from my websites on social media using the item’s short URL.

I love automating things. For a few years now I’ve configured my site using Jetpack’s Publicize module in conjunction with Buffer to automatically post new content to my social networks. However, there’s a couple of limitations with that approach:

  1. Publicize seemingly won’t let you use the post’s short URL,
  2. You have little control over when these posts go out on social media.

With my new found love of Zapier, I sought to rectify both of these issues. Continue reading “Get a short URL from YOURLS in Zapier”

My unremarkable story of becoming a WordPress core contributor

My story of becoming a WordPress core contributor is a big deal for me but very insignificant to anyone else. Nonetheless, this is how it happened and why you can now rest in the knowledge that WordPress uses standard terminology for “front end” and “back end” and a WordPress post embed won’t cause an authentication dialog box to show up in certain situations. You’re welcome.

It has been a goal of mine to become a WordPress core contributor for a few years now. I’ve tried on a couple of occasions but made more of a concerted effort last year.

I was aware of the Good First Bugs list and started there at the onset of the WordPress 4.5 development cycle in January 2016. I opened each ticket to see whether a patch had been submitted. I found a couple where patches were not present and where not much in the way of changes were required in order to put forward a suitable patch, thus increasing my chances of putting forth an acceptable patch. Continue reading “My unremarkable story of becoming a WordPress core contributor”

Automate your life or business with Zapier

Zapier is in the business of connecting over 500 of the most popular online services by connecting triggers (such as new Stripe transactions or new Instagram posts) and creating actions from them (such as publishing tweets or entering transactions in QuickBooks) which can make predictable, repeatable business and personal tasks much easier by automating them.

It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of automation. I’ve previously discussed how to create items on your To Do list from form entries and how to automatically track all of your deliveries in an iPhone app. So when I decided to move my accounting to QuickBooks and employ my mother-in-law as my accountant to maintain my books, I sought to overhaul how my books were managed and to make the process as easy as possible for my new accountant.

This is where Zapier comes in. I had long known about Zapier since it was a fledgling service, aiming to join up the mountain of online services which provide and/or receive information but don’t necessarily speak directly to one another. For example, you might want to create a new tweet every time you posted a new image on Instagram or create a new message in Slack whenever you received an email matching a specific set of criteria, such as a new statement notification. Continue reading “Automate your life or business with Zapier”

A common sense approach to prosecutions

Putting people in jail, particularly if they are young, poor or a minority is the American standard for dealing with even the pettiest of crimes, which has a lifelong and devastating impact on these people’s lives. Adam Foss is taking a different approach by helping them out of their bad situations and creating contributing members of society out of them.

You’d be hard pushed to deny that there’s an issue with America’s justice system. Prisons are overloaded with young, petty, minority offenders and it’s costing us a lot of money. John Oliver has made a few videos now highlighting various issues within the system:

Continue reading “A common sense approach to prosecutions”

Don’t skydive for charity

On a recent episode of QI, Stephen Fry made a very interesting point that should have you rethinking doing a skydive for charity.

A study found that over the course of 5 years, 174 people injured themselves doing a skydive for charity. The total cost to the NHS from these injuries was £600,000 or about £3,450 per person. The average amount of money raised per person was just £30 so for each pound raised, it cost the NHS £13.75 (includes money raised by people who didn’t hurt themselves).

To add insult to injury, most of the skydives (70%) were raising money for services provided by the NHS, so as well-meaning as people may be, the skydives actually cost the NHS money instead of raising funds for it.

So, the moral of the story? Don’t do a skydive for charity.

Children, shopping and tantrums

No one likes being around a screaming child so what do you do when you’re out with your kids and they start having a tantrum? A recent story about such an event in the UK highlighted the issue for me so I thought I’d weigh in now that I have kids.

A couple of weeks ago, a story ran on BBC News about a woman who was asked to leave a John Lewis store in Manchester because her 16-month-old daughter was having a tantrum.

Previously, I felt disqualified to talk on such matters because I didn’t have kids but now as a parent of 2 I think I get to have my say.

Frankly, my position hasn’t much changed since before I had kids. If you have children, my first position if that you should avoid taking them anywhere where they can be disruptive in the first place. In general, Marti and I avoid going to restaurants with the kids unless we have a good degree of certainty that they’ll be well-behaved. Continue reading “Children, shopping and tantrums”

Wait But Why – inside the minds of procrastinators

Tim Urban from Wait But Why gives a TED talk that details what’s in the mind of a procrastinator that causes them to make such poor decisions sometimes. Spoiler alert: it involves monkeys and monsters.

I’ve been reading Wait But Why for a while now ever since stumbling upon Tim’s excruciatingly-long dissertation on how cars came to run on fossil fuels and despite the best efforts of the oil industry, electric cars can and will prevail.

A brief history of fossil fuels, climate, cars, batteries and Tesla

What is Wait But Why I hear you ask? It’s a website by a guy called Tim Urban who is an extreme procrastinator, like I can be. When something intrigues him, he researches it until he’s read all there is to read about that subject. Then he digests and regurgitates that information for us to consume. Continue reading “Wait But Why – inside the minds of procrastinators”

When did the news stop becoming the news?

I’d argue that most of what is called “news” these days is anything but. In fact, we could easily do away with 95% of the news and still have too much information. The American media is at the forefront of this trend and is making a mockery of the profession of journalism in the process.

A couple of years ago, the building that I work in installed televisions at the elevator landings. I’ve no idea why, but I guess they figure that people want to be constantly bombarded with news and media and the 15 seconds that we spend waiting for the lift is a perfect opportunity to cram in some utterly important information.

I never watch or consume American news. I very quickly grew tired of the talking heads, strongly biased views, selective withholding of stories and hype that became so overwhelming. Instead, both because I consider them to be (far) more neutral, reasonable and factual, and because I had an interest in continuing to follow British news after moving to the States, I rely heavily on the BBC for my news.

The thing that irks me the most about American news is that it’s just not news. To me, news is a factual, neutral reporting of events that are of importance to society. What most of us now know as news has devolved into highly-pointed delivery of largely irrelevant stories which have been spun into hyper-dramatic segments that don’t particularly focus on what happened and what its implications are, but rather create situations, possibilities, hypotheticals and outright lies that draw in the drama-hungry American audience. Continue reading “When did the news stop becoming the news?”

Raising boys vs girls: 9 months old

I have both a son and a daughter and in many respects, they are like night and day.

When Ellie was 9 months old, you could hear the winds of change: she was starting to scoot about and explore, but nothing was in danger.

With Jack, it’s less like the winds of change and more like a hurricane. Destruction threatens your house at any moment and when the hurricane and floodwaters come, anything that you treasure needs to be at least three feet off the ground to have the best chance of survival.

In fact, if possible, you should suspend everything in your house from the ceiling, creating a three-foot clear zone at the bottom where only items that you don’t mind seeing broken, consumed, torn, licked, thrown or destroyed should go.

A call for WordPress developers

I’m in a position now where there’s simply not enough hours in the day to complete all of the work that comes my way. If you can help, let me know and let’s see about working together.

I’m fortunate enough to have been working with WordPress for a number of years now and have built up a good client base to support my business.

However, add that substantial growth to having a wife and now, two young children and there’s simply not enough hours in the day. In order to keep serving my existing clients, responding to new requests and growing the business, I am needing to rely more and more on others to help me complete the work that comes my way.

I’m looking to build a pool of freelancers (not agencies) that are very proficient with WordPress whom I can send work out to. You can take as much or as little work as you want as your schedule will allow. Continue reading “A call for WordPress developers”