Charting a Path for 2018

Planning the Trip on a Map

We're down to the last couple weeks of 2017 and this is my last post for the year. The holidays are a busy time for many people, and our family is no exception.

We have evaluations coming up this week for the junior sailors in our Navy Reserve unit. If it's anything like last time, that'll easily take 20+ hours over the next couple weeks. This is a big thing because it affects whether or not my sailors get advanced. That takes precedence over anything I'm doing just for fun, including development and support.

With all of this going on, I decided it would be a perfect time to take a break and reflect on 2017 and start charting my path for 2018. I go back and forth with what to work on and in what order, but I think I'm pretty close to a decision.

I'll write an update for January 1, 2018 once I get things planned. This is not to be confused with a New Year's resolution; I typically don't do those. If I have something I want to do, I start working on it and don't wait for the new year. Some of the things I'm going to be working on include:

  • Support: I've been doing some support this year, but not nearly as much as I would like. Although I'm shifting my primary focus to development, I also intend to get more involved with the WordPress.org support forums again.
  • Development: I'm going to hit development hard in 2018, but the problem is what to focus on. I want to learn JavaScript, SASS, and increase my level of HTML and CSS, and PHP.
  • Blogging: I intend to write on a more regular basis in the coming year.

They're a couple small changes I'm also making to the site, including some tweaks to the structure. My weekly updates will start up again in the new year.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I'll see you again on January 1, 2018!

Week in Review: November 20-26, 2017

Week in Review Header

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving for those of you that celebrate it! Thanksgiving is always a busy time of year. I work for a publishing company and last week some volunteers went in for a few hours late at night to get the Black Friday/Cyber Monday fliers in the newspaper; it was a three pound paper. Now it's back to regular IT work during the day.


Learning

WordPress/PHP

I'm semi-happy to say I didn't learn much in these first two videos and they were more of a refresher. Nothing against the courses by any means – they are great – but I knew enough prior to taking them I probably could have skipped them. I wanted to complete the entire Become a PHP Developer learning path on Lynda.com and these are part of it.

[Lynda.com] Finished HTML Essential Training by James Williamson.

[Lynda.com] Finished CSS Essential Training 1 by Christina Truong

[Lynda.com] Started JavaScript Essential Training by Morten Rand-Hendriksen

General/Tools

  • [Atom] atom-live-server Package
    This package performs a live reload of your web browser based on the changes you make/save in Atom. I've wanted to look at something like this for a while, but haven't had a chance. I learned about this in Morten Rand-Hendriksen's Lynda.com course, JavaScript Essential Training.

Projects

[Plugin] Hawaiian Howdy

Purpose: Hawaiian Howdy is a simple plugin that changes the "Howdy" text in the admin area to a Hawaiian greeting based on time of day. It can also wish you a Happy Aloha Friday. Both of these are options that can be turned on or off independently.
Progress: Although I didn't quite finish the plugin this week, I came very close. The code itself is done as of yesterday. The last thing I'm working on is the readme file, screenshots, and updating the plugin's page on my site. It took a while for this simple plugin, but I learned a lot. I will probably take a look at this again in the future and do a rebuild using classes/object-oriented programming.
GitHub Repo: https://github.com/geoffreyshilling/hawaiian-howdy


Podcast Pick(s) of the Week

I’m going to start sharing my top pick(s) next week. Between Thanksgiving and everything leading up to it, I missed a lot of podcasts this week.


Goals for This Week

  • [Event] WordCamp US: It's hard to believe it's WordCamp US time again! Even though this year was really busy and I wasn't able to make it to any other WordCamps, I do everything I can to not miss this one. The last two years it's been in Philadelphia, PA. It's in Nashville, TN this year and next year and my wife is even coming with me. I plan to write a post about the experience.
  • [Plugin] Hawaiian Howdy: I'll finish up the readme file, screenshots, and update the plugin's page.
  • [PHP] IZ Ipsum: The code on IZ Ipsum needs cleaned up. Although this is a non-WordPress project, I do want to rewrite the code so it conforms to the WordPress PHP standards.
  • [Website] GeoffreyShilling.com: I plan to make the site restructuring go live on January 1, 2018. I need to continue adding content and writing the text for the different pages. And I still need to take a picture of my mason jar full of mini-figs 🙂
  • [Learning] Lynda.com: This week I should finish up JavaScript Essential Training as part of the Become a PHP Developer learning path. Learning PHP is the next course in the path.

That's all for now. Aloha until next week!
Maybe I'll see you at WordCamp US!

Note: This post was written using Gutenberg.

New Feature: Weekly Progress Report (for November 13-19)

Weekly Progress Report

I’ve been narrowing my focus over the past few months and will continue to do so. The biggest change I’ve made is that I’ve decided to stop working on the #100DaysOfCode challenge just past the halfway point, at day 54.

I started making changes to have the rules fit me and how I was going to do it, and it was really getting pretty far from the initial challenge. And it's not like I need inspiration to keep going – if I have time to work on things, I do.

I was learning a lot, but felt obligated to code each day to get the challenge done. This was coming at the expense of learning why I was doing the things I was or how it actually worked.  That's not what I want.  Although I still have a certain amount of time scheduled each day for projects/development, I’m no longer worried about coding. Some days I’ve been able to code the entire time and others I’ve not written a single line while I learn how something new works. I'll be writing a separate post about why I think #100DaysOfCode is a great idea, but it’s just not for me.

I had written a weekly post in the past as an experiment, but I’m going to try that again with a little different format. Every week I’m going to write about the following items:

  • Projects: I have a number of projects I want to work on, including changing the “Howdy” text to a Hawaiian greeting, something to track my workouts (mostly running) for our Navy Reserve fitness test, a custom review post type for this site, a plugin to track my coffee consumption, and a restructuring of this site to launch January 1st (if not before). Every week I’ll share my progress and link to the code on GitHub, or other applicable location.
  • Learning: I’m a lifelong learner and I won’t ever have enough time to learn everything I would like. With that being said, I generally do some each week, if not every day. I have a premium subscription to Lynda.com and am always working on something there. I’ve also done some work on freeCodeCamp’s Front End Development Certification.
  • Gotchas: Sometimes you hit a wall when you’re working on something. Any time I run into issues I’ll share what happened and how I got around it.
  • Podcast Pick(s) of the Week: I listen to a lot of podcasts on a wide range of topics including WordPress, general development, organization, and productivity. I kept track of how many I listened to a couple weeks ago and it was almost 80. Although I feel many of them are beneficial, I’ll only be sharing my top picks each week.
  • Article Pick(s) of the Week: As with podcasts, I read a lot of articles – mostly about WordPress. I’m going to find the ones I think are interesting.
  • Goals for the next week: This is pretty straightforward; this is what I want to accomplish the following week.

Learning

I've done a lot of learning the past few months.  It's tough because I want to learn so many things.  The biggest thing I've learned recently is to slow down.  I was coding just to code as I worked through #100DaysOfCode even if I wasn't fully understanding what I was doing.  From here on out I'm setting out a learning path that is just as important as the number of lines of code I write.  For now, I'm going to include what Lynda.com courses I'm taking, but I may remove that in the future and just have some key takeaways for the week.

WordPress/PHP

[Learning: Lynda.com] Finished WordPress: Custom Post Types and Taxonomies

[Learning: Lynda.com] Working On:  JavaScript for Web Designers

General/Tools

  • Atom Shortcut
    CTRL+/ comments a block of code
  • I came across Automattic's Git Workflow and I really like their branch naming scheme.  This is the scheme I will be using going forward.
    add/{something} — When you are adding a completely new feature update/{something} — When you are iterating on an existing feature fix/{something} — When you are fixing something broken in a feature try/{something} — When you are trying out an idea and want feedback

Projects

[Plugin] Hawaiian Howdy

Purpose:  Hawaiian Howdy is a simple plugin that changes the "Howdy" text in the admin area to a Hawaiian greeting based on time of day.  It can also wish you a Happy Aloha Friday.  Both of these are options that can be turned on or off independently.
Progress:  I have to finish up the plugin internationalization, change the default information in the readme file, and make sure the rest of the WordPress coding standards are followed.  After that, Hawaiian Howdy should be done.  I already use it on my site and I love the extra touch of Hawai'i it adds.
GitHub Repo:  https://github.com/geoffreyshilling/hawaiian-howdy

[Website] GeoffreyShilling.com

Purpose:  This is an obvious one – it's my website!  I'm going to share weekly updates, reviews, plugins/themes I write, code snippets, and information that I think would help others on the same path as me.  I won't be doing a complete redesign right now, but I am changing how things are laid out.  The changes are planned to go live on January 1st, 2018. 
Progress:  I have a good portion of the work done.  The reviews are going to have their own custom post type and I am working on building that.  The biggest thing I have left is to write the actual content for some of the pages.  I also have to decide if I want to add in things beyond code, such as recipes and fitness tracking.  It would make it a lot easier for me to maintain one site, but that also dilutes the focus of the site.  We'll see.


Podcast Pick(s) of the Week

I’m going to start sharing my top pick(s) next week.


Goals for This Week

  • [Plugin] Hawaiian Howdy:   I should have no problem finishing the Hawaiian Howdy rebuild this week.
  • [PHP] IZ Ipsum:  The code on IZ Ipsum needs cleaned up.  Although this is a non-WordPress project, I also want to rewrite the code so it conforms to the WordPress PHP standards.
  • [Plugin] PRT Tracker:  If I get done with the other projects, I would like to get back into my PRT Tracker.  This is what I'm going to use for tracking my workouts (running, curl-ups, and push-ups) to improve my score on the Navy Reserve fitness test we have every six months.
  • [Learning] Lynda.com:  This week I'll finish up JavaScript for Web Designers and then I'm going to work on the Become a PHP Developer learning path.  I've already taken a couple courses, but will probably take them again as a refresher.

That's all for now.  Aloha until next week!

Note:  This post was written using Gutenberg.

Important Reset for #100DaysOfCode and WordPress Support

Time to Press the Reset Button

Working in the IT field, pressing the reset button is not uncommon. But most of the time it’s done on physical devices.  This last month has been beyond busy and I’ve decided to hit the reset button on several things in my life; these items include WordPress Support, #100DaysOfCode, and my PRT Challenge.  Here’s a brief summary of the major things that have kept me busy:

  • I attended my two weeks of Navy Reserve annual training (AT). There were several issues, including trouble with both my flight and hotel reservations.
  • After returning to the airport from AT, my car wouldn’t start.  Luckily we managed to get it going with Detroit’s complimentary in-airport service.  The car wouldn’t start at all the next day and had to be taken to the shop.  It turns out there was an electrical issue that caused a small but constant drain on my battery.  This drain also killed my relatively new battery.
  • We got back to town just in time for me to attend the second half of our fire department’s business meeting.
  • I got home Tuesday night from AT and we left early Thursday morning for my wife’s four-day 2017 Thirty-One National Conference.
  • The following weekend was my Navy Reserve drill weekend.
  • This last Thursday I traded in my car for a Jeep Compass.  I’m beyond stoked to be a Jeep owner again!
  • This weekend is my first weekend home in over a month.  Yesterday we had a few hours of fire department training in the morning.  I’m hoping today will consist of plenty of relaxation. It’s always nice to travel, but it’s great to be home and finally get to spend some time with my family.

With all that being said, I haven’t made much progress on #100DaysOfCode in quite a while. I don’t mind missing a day here or there, but I was about a third of the way done and missed a few weeks. That defeats the whole purpose of the #100DaysOfCode challenge. For this reason, I’ve decided to start over, but with some changes. Last time I was focused on PHP/WordPress development. I’m confident in my ability to understand what I need to at this point and to figure out what I don’t yet know. It’s time I learn JavaScript, deeply.

I’ve been working on a new schedule that’s taking affect tomorrow. With this new schedule, I’ll be learning JavaScript five days a week. The other two days will be spent on WordPress/PHP development. I’m going to be working on freeCodeCamp’s Front End Development Certification. There are a couple plugins I want to work on that should help me dive deeper into WordPress. My coffee tracker plugin is one I’m quite excited about.

I’ve also decided to start writing about my progress again. I had started this in the past, but then removed the posts. This will give a good history as I progress and it’ll be fun to look back in the future.

The way I do WordPress support is changing as well. For quite a while now, I’ve been trying to split my time between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. As much as I enjoy this, I don’t have the time for both of these with everything else I’m working on. I have decided to focus on the .org forums starting tomorrow.

My revised goal is to spend one hour a day coding and 30 minutes on the WordPress.org forums. This will be on top of any time spent on moderator tasks. I’m still going to be busy, but at least I won’t feel like I’m spreading myself too thin to make progress on any one thing.

Let’s see how this works.

Week in Review: June 19-25, 2017

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, but I intend to start sharing a weekly update from now on.  This will be a great way for me to track my progress.  Here’s what I’ve been working on:

Support

WordPress

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on the WordPress.com forums for some time now.  As much as I enjoy it, that means I haven’t been able to spend nearly as much time on the WordPress.org forums.  I miss them.

I’ve decided decided to cut back on the time I spend on WordPress.com get more back into the WordPress.org forums.

Development

100 Days of Code

It’s hard to believe I’m already two weeks into #100DaysOfCode.  I’m very pleased with my progress.  I’ve been learning a lot about PHP and WordPress plugins.

Coffee Cache  [WordPress Plugin]
https://github.com/geoffreyshilling/coffee-cache
This was my big project for the week and I absolutely loved working on it.  Coffee Cache is a plugin to track the amount of coffee I drink and give reports based on day, week, month, brand of coffee, roast, etc.  I have created a working back-end that features:

  • Custom post type (coffee)
  • Custom taxonomies (brand, roast, location)
  • Generates a default title and filler text.  Example:  Coffee Logged at 2017-06-25 18:17
  • Removed the standard text editor
  • Added a custom meta box that allows me to set number of cups of coffee, cups of water, brand, roast, location, container tracking, and notes

IZ Ipsum  [PHP]
https://geoffreyshilling.com/php/iz-ipsum/
A Hawaiian version of the lorem ipsum generator used as filler text that can be used in initial design and mock ups.  It generates filler text using information about Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole from Wikipedia.

Popular Posts  [WordPress Plugin]
https://github.com/geoffreyshilling/popular-posts
This is a plugin I built while following along with WordPress Developer Tips: Creating a Popular Posts Plugin on Lynda.com.

 


What are you working on this week?  Share it in the comments below!  Aloha until next week!

Podcast Review: Kitchen Sink WordPress

Overall rating: 5/5

Hosted by: Adam Silver (HeyAdamSilver)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kitchensinkwp
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kitchensinkwp
Website: http://kitchensinkwp.com/
iTunes: http://kitchensinkwp.com/itunes
Stitcher: http://kitchensinkwp.com/stitcher

I’m currently listening to around 30 podcasts each week, but Kitchen Sink WordPress is always the first one I start with. Adam does an awesome job of squeezing a lot of quality content into a short time. In addition to learning new tips, tricks, and tools, you’ll also hear what WordCamps are coming up, interviews, listener questions and answers, and more! He’s completely transparent, not only with products or services he uses or recommends but what he’s personally doing and whether it’s working or not.

I was lucky enough to meet Adam Silver at WordCamp Dayton 2015, my first-ever WordCamp. I’ve seen him at a couple WordCamps since then. He is always very friendly, knowledgeable, approachable, and it seems like his sense of humor is very close to mine. Thanks for producing a wonderful podcast, Adam – and for being a great example for others in the WordPress community!

[Note:  Originally published April 28, 2017]