My experience at 2015 WordCamp Tampa

This past weekend was WordCamp Tampa which was again a raging success. Despite being underprepared for my talk, it went relatively well and I can’t wait to come back next year.

This past weekend, I attended and spoke at WordCamp Tampa. It was the second WordCamp Tampa and was my third time speaking at a WordCamp (after 2014 WordCamp Tampa and 2013 WordCamp Orlando).

The talks

The sessions were not a letdown this year. I’ve yet to be disappointed by what I learn at WordCamps. Even though I bought a ticket to attend in person, I also purchased a live streaming ticket, so that I could watch the sessions I missed after the event (you get access to the videos for 30 days after the event).

In particular, Shawn Hooper’s talk on using wp-cli (similar to his WordCamp Columbus talk) was fantastic and made me want to start using wp-cli straight away.

My own talk

This year, I submitted a talk on Creating Custom Sites with Post Types, Taxonomies and Meta, which was accepted. I knew for about 6 weeks that I needed to prepare my talk, but could just never muster the time to finish it off. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t finish my slides until 2 hours before the presentation and had no rehearsals. Continue reading “My experience at 2015 WordCamp Tampa”

Decisions, not options

WordPress developers have gotten away from making decisions, not options, resulting in settings pages bursting at the seams and users getting increasingly frustrated with not understanding how things work.

Decisions, not options is a philosophy fostered in core WordPress development. It can be found on the WordPress site in the section discussing the philosophy of how WordPress should be developed. This particular point reds:

When making decisions these are the users we consider first. A great example of this consideration is software options. Every time you give a user an option, you are asking them to make a decision. When a user doesn’t care or understand the option this ultimately leads to frustration. As developers we sometimes feel that providing options for everything is a good thing, you can never have too many choices, right? Ultimately these choices end up being technical ones, choices that the average end user has no interest in. It’s our duty as developers to make smart design decisions and avoid putting the weight of technical choices on our end users.

It’s meant to make WordPress as simple as possible for the masses for removing options where 80+% of people will choose one particular option. Filters and hooks should be used to accommodate the needs of others.

When developers adhere to this philosophy, their users are content with how simple and robust the product is. The burden of deciding how the plugin/theme should work should rest with the developer, not the end user.

It would be great to see a return to plugins without settings pages and themes without color pickers for every single element on the site. To developers I say “Man up and make some decisions, while allowing users to make options with hooks and filters”.

Why that simple task costs more than you think

Even if I know a web development task is going to take me less than 5 minutes to do, I’ll never quote less than 1 hour to complete any task because there’s so much overhead in even the simplest of tasks.

Some of the tasks that I’m often asked to do as a web developer are fairly menial and may only take a few minutes, but there’s a very good reason that you shouldn’t expect a bill for 5 minutes of my time. Continue reading “Why that simple task costs more than you think”

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

A Wait But Why article explains how millions of years of history have resulted in our current petrol-burning car situation and how Tesla is going to change the world with their dedication to seeing the rise of the far superior electric vehicle

This extremely in-depth article (it’s more like a short book) from Wait But Why is a fascinating and in-depth look at what energy is, where it comes from, how cars were invented, how far they have (or have not) come in the past century and the company that is trying to change the world.

Seriously, set aide an hour of your time and get ready to learn a thing or two about energy, the world, cars and the future. You won’t regret it.

Why is a flat rate tax such a bad idea?

I’ve never understood why people consider flat-rate tax to be such a bad idea. Seems about as equitable of a solution as you can get, but I suspect it’s a vote winner – penalise the few to the cheers of the many.

Tiered tax rates are very commonplace in most developed societies. However, I’ve never really understood why and I don’t know why flat rate taxes get laughed at whenever they’re proposed.

I get that those who earn more have more of a capacity to pay tax, but does that mean they should? I’m not so convinced. That idea is thrown around in the name of the fairness, but what could be more fair than everyone paying the same amount of tax for every dollar they earn?

After all, high-earners would still be paying much more because they’re earning much more. To me, a flat rate tax would simplify things and level the playing field. You just pay a set number of cents of every dollar you earn to the taxman: I really don’t understand why this is so lambasted when viewing it from a purely intellectual point of view (rather than getting angry that it might mean that you personally might be paying more tax).

Seems to me that it’s just a political tool to appeal to the masses while still pulling in as much tax revenue as is needed.

Saying no to good job opportunities

When a job opportunity is just perfect for you, it’s hard to turn down. But when it means giving up what matters most to you, you have no other option but to say no

I was recently presented with a job opportunity that was hard to pass up. It would have meant venturing into my preferred career (WordPress) full-time, taking an increase in pay, working from home and more. But I had to turn it down.

During the interview with the owner of the company, we started discussing the logistics of a trial which we both wanted to move ahead with. The looming arrival of Jack caused me to note that at any given time, I would be away from my desk for two weeks and I unapologetically would not be checking email or working as I enjoyed my paternity leave with my family.

That commitment to my core values acted as an excellent guide when considering this job offer. All along the way, everything lined up with what meant the most to me and it was only for that reason that I continued to pursue it. Continue reading “Saying no to good job opportunities”

Why $15/hr for fast food workers just doesn’t make sense

Flipping burgers for the same wage as a teacher is silly. Jobs are paid in line with their value and this is low-value work, so instead of complaining about your job, aim higher if you want that comfortable wage.

I haven’t paid attention to this “news story” where fast food workers in the US are demanding $15/hr for the work they do, but an opinion piece from Matt Walsh (Fast Food Workers: You Don’t Deserve $15 an Hour to Flip Burgers, and That’s OK) caught my eye on Facebook and I proceeded to read through his thought process.

Matt’s thoughtfully crafted article is an excellent rebuttal to the orders of fast food workers. Jobs are paid commensurate with their implicit value and as Matt elegantly puts it:

So, real talk: Your job isn’t worth 15 bucks an hour. Sure, as a human being, you’re priceless. As a child of God, you’re precious, a work of art, a freaking miracle. But your job wrapping hamburgers in foil and putting them in paper bags — that has a price tag, and the price tag ain’t anywhere close to the one our economy and society puts on teachers and mechanics.

Continue reading “Why $15/hr for fast food workers just doesn’t make sense”

The importance of a contingency

HGTV drives me batty with the way they go into projects having spent every penny of the budget without leaving a contingency. This is simply irresponsible.

My wife loves her some HGTV. Home & Garden TV makes home makeovers, renovations and purchasing look easier than putting up a shelf in the garage.

As an engineer, I’m used to putting cost opinions for large construction projects together. It would be considered foolish to not include a contingency in your cost opinion: you may start off with a 30-40% contingency during preliminary design and reduce it to 10-15% when design is complete.

The contingency accounts for the unknowns. It’s not a safety net if something goes wrong; it’s a fund to cover the things that will come up that aren’t specifically accounted for in the design. Continue reading “The importance of a contingency”

The burden of debt

The temptation of debt at a young age is a little too inviting for many people, myself included. Looking back, I wish i hadn’t bothered taking on any of that debt.

It all started when I went to university. During Freshers’ Week, several events are put on to acclimatise you to life at your university and student life in general and some of the many vendors at the events included banks and credit card companies trying to sell you on student bank accounts and student credit cards.

It’s a little too tempting. A credit card / loan designed just for me and my needs as a student? It can’t hurt to sign up. I’ll just pay off the balance every month.

It really is a slippery slope. When I went to university my fees were paid for because my family had a low income so I only needed money to live. Given that I was living at home and had a job, I didn’t really need the student loan that was available to me, but again, everyone else was doing it and who would turn down a loan that doesn’t accrue interest until you leave university, has an interest rate equivalent to the inflation rate (a few percent) and only gets paid back once you’re earning a moderate wage? Continue reading “The burden of debt”

Early retirement

I’m definitely planning on retiring early. For me that means no more full-time work after age 50. Had I planned earlier that would be age 40 instead. Still, you need to start planning some day and today is the best day for that.

What does early retirement mean to you? Retiring at 60?

55?

40?

Retiring at 40 (or earlier) really isn’t all that impossible, especially if you set your sights on it early on in life.

I was prompted to write this little piece by a piece I read on BBC Capital about retiring early. With some diligence, tough decisions and very intentional frugal living, those with a decent job could save a good amount of money. Continue reading “Early retirement”