Why I’m Postponing my Monthly Blogging Until May

Hourglass on Stones

I've mentioned in the past that I want to start writing more. Since this is a new thing for me, I'll be starting off with a modest goal of one post per month. I was hoping to start this last Tuesday – and I almost made it. The post is almost done, but other priorities have come up that are going to force me to wait until next month to start.

In case you didn't already know, I'm a First Class Petty Officer in the Navy Reserve; that's the rank of E-6. Late last week I found out I'm board eligible. That means there is a slight chance of being promoted to chief (E-7). This is my first time going through the process and I'm learning a lot. One of the things I learned over the weekend is that there is a 40-hour course I need to complete by the end of the month. The website was also down until a couple days ago. Most of the time I would be spending on writing, learning, or developing, will now go to getting course that finished up.

That's what happens when you have a lot of things you're involved with. You have to be flexible and roll with things as they come in.

Planning for 2018: WordPress Support, JavaScript, and Community

Hand holding a compass in the woods

Happy New Year!  Life only seems to be getting busier as my kids get older and I take on more responsibilities in the Navy Reserve.  I was also voted in as our fire department's treasurer, effective today.  It'd be easy to say I'm busy enough and don't need to add anything else to my plate.  I wish I could do that, but it's not that easy.  I don't plan to ever stop learning; I just need to find a place for it in the schedule.

TL;DR:  Check out my action plans for the year.

I've struggled for the longest time with where to begin learning development. I've been a tinkerer for years, but now it's time to dive into things.  I love working on both the front-end and the back-end.  I've been learning more PHP and got into WordPress plugin development the last couple months.  I even completed my first plugin, Hawaiian Howdy. Although I have a couple other plugins in progress, I'm going to take a step back and put them on hold. I'm a little hesitant to do that because of how much I'm enjoying myself, but this is what I need to do right now.  Those plugins will eventually be rebuilt in JavaScript.

I'm focusing on two major areas and one minor one for 2018. My big goals are to get back into support on the WordPress.org forums and to learn JavaScript. My smaller focus is on community, whether that's online or in person.  By "smaller" I don't mean that it's less important, only that I'll be spending much less time on it than the others. 

WordPress Support

I used to spend quite a bit of time on the WordPress.org Support Forums.  I tried to split my time between there and the WordPress.com forums last year to learn how that platform worked. I simply didn't have time for both. Nothing against WordPress.com of course, but I missed the .org forums and came back in limited capacity.

This year I'm planning to spend at least 30-45 minutes a day in the forums. Some days it can take five minutes to clean up spam and others it can take 30; I love to eat SPAM, but hate spam in the forums.  This amount of time should be long enough to look at support topics instead of only being able to do moderator-type things.

My shift in focus on development will also change how I work on the forums. Instead of looking at everything, I'll be working more on the front-end questions in the forums.

Learn JavaScript, Deeply

I'm a beginner when it comes to JavaScript. I've done some basic work and understand general programming concepts. That comes in useful, but I have to look up most things at this point.

It's going to take more than a year to learn JavaScript deeply, but you have to start somewhere.  I may be shifting my focus but I'm not leaving WordPress.  Morten Rand-Hendriksen gave a great presentation at WordCamp US, Gutenberg and the WordPress of Tomorrow. I really started to see the potential of Gutenberg.  I like where things are headed and I want to be a part of it.

Instead of trying to learn every aspect of WordPress, I'm going to primarily focus on JavaScript. Of course, I still want to have a general idea of how things work.


I’ve spent some time working on freeCodeCamp’s Front End Development certificate last year. I did this while I was trying the #100DaysOfCode challenge, with a goal of coding an hour a day. I made it to day 54. That’s when I realized I was focusing more on reaching that hour of code than actually learning what I was doing.

I’m trying freeCodeCamp again in 2018, but this time I’m slowing way down. I will only move on to the next topic once I completely understand the current one. As I was looking at getting back into it, I realized they are working on a beta version with new certificates. These new certificates include:

  • Responsive Web Design
  • Algorithms and Data Structures
  • Front End Libraries
  • Data Visualization
  • APIs and Microservices
  • Information Security and Quality Assurance

I'm not too concerned with the certificates themselves, but so far this has been a great way to learn. Each certificate should take around 300 hours based on a post on the freeCodeCamp forums. I figure that has me set for the year and covers many of the topics I want to learn.


I'm also adding community into the mix. If you know me, you know I'm a very quiet person.  It's not that I don't like being around people or talking, I just don't talk much.  Unfortunately, this makes it easy to lose touch with people.

I want to do a better job of keeping in touch with people in 2018. I've met a few people at WordCamps and various places that are really nice, but I don't talk much with them outside of the events.


I know a lot of people have a hard time staying with their goals. My problem isn't keeping them, but finding the time. I've created an action plan for each of my main goals for the year. I also plan to start writing more in 2018, but I'm still figuring out the details on that right now.  As much as I love support and learning, this is only a hobby for me.  That means family events, Navy Reserve duties (including the junior sailors' evaluations that I'm currently working on), and the fire department will take precedence over things on this list. Things can and will come up, but this is a good reference point.

WordPress Support Action Plan

  • Spend 30-45 minutes each day in the forums
    • This can be cleaning up spam posts and/or answering questions
  • Read everything posted in the #Forums Slack channel
    • Time spent in the slack channel will not count towards my time in the forums

Learn JavaScript, Deeply Action Plan

  • Spend one hour each day learning on Lynda.com until my subscription expires in February
    • I have a Lynda.com premium subscription that I'm reluctantly going to let expire at the end of February
      • It's hard for me to justify the cost when this is only a hobby
      • I can always subscribe again in the future if I want and I may do that once I'm done with freeCodeCamp
  • Follow what's going on with Gutenburg and JavaScript within the WordPress community
  • Follow along with the #core-js channel in slack
  • Complete JavaScript 30
  • Start over with the beta version of freeCodeCamp
  • Post my week in review
    • Include how any challenges are going, what I've learned, what had me stumped, and any other useful information I came across the last week
    • Share any useful podcasts from the week

Community Action Plan

  • Spend at least 15 minutes per day reaching out on social media, blogs, or email.
  • Make a conscious effort to keep in touch with friends on a regular basis.

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!

Happy Kamehameha Day From the New GeoffreyShilling.com

Happy Kamehameha Day!  Today is in honor of King Kamehameha I, also known as Kamehameha the Great. He united the Hawaiian Islands into a royal kingdom in 1810.  Read more about King Kamehameha Day.

What does Kamehameha Day have to do with support or development?  Nothing!  But, as you’ll see from time to time, I have a strong passion for Hawai’i and thought this would be a fun day to launch this revised site.

If you’ve been to GeoffreyShilling.com before, it probably looks a bit different.  I’ve decided to turn this site into my place to share stuff related to WordPress support and development.  The content that was here has been moved to what will become more of a family blog at Shilling.blog.