Tales from a Nomad Software Developer in a hostel

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Aloha,

I’m currently staying in a hostel in Maui. I’ve been here for 6 nights, and am here for 5 more. After that I’m going to the island of Kauai where I’ve also booked a hostel. I actually think they are great as they allow you to meet awesome people and become friends almost instantly in a very relaxed and casual, traveler-friendly way. And because everyone is always on the go, there’s not really a strong pressure to be or do anything at any particular time or place. The particular hostel I am staying in offers free amazing tours everyday which is great for seeing amazing stuff whit a great group of people. They’re also really really cheap. Staying here costs me less per night than it would be to pay rent back in Vancouver :) — in other parts of the world they are even cheaper.

They are not for everyone. If you need a lot of personal space, or like things to be clean, or don’t like sharing a kitchen/bathroom and in most cases a bedroom with others, you won’t feel comfortable at all in a hostel. It’s worth the sacrifice though.

That being said, it’s definitely tricky to be working while staying in a hostel and to remain productive. So I thought I’d share a few tips (some of these are not hostel specific necessarily):

  • Security should always be in mind at a hostel, both for the physical gadgets you have and for the digital electrons you send into the cyberspace. So proxy your traffic always and use https everywhere. For the physical stuff: keep everything in a single bag, always keep it with you, sleep cuddling your bag if you need to. I don’t trust common safes like the ones they have in the lobby here. Despite everyone being super friendly here, there’s assholes and thieves everywhere; and you don’t want your multi-thousand laptop to get stolen.
  • If you can, get a car. They are super practical for several reasons: the trunk is a safe place to keep your stuff when you don’t want to carry your bag around; they are a quiet place you can take conference calls from; sometimes you just need to get far away from your hostel, so you get in and drive somewhere else.
  • Work anytime you have a free moment and try to plan ahead a few days. There’s always something going on at a hostel: a party, some joke being told, a hike somewhere exciting, etc. You will want to do all of it. There’s some FOMO (fear of missing out) and you may want to do everything. Set some hours aside to work; get up early to work; stay up late to work; whatever it takes. My hours have not been consistent while here, but that’s OK, that’s why I work at Automattic :)
  • ABC: always be charging. If you are near a power plug, charge. Buy a couple portable chargers for your mobile devices too. Seriously, you never know when you might be next to a power plug (and an available one at that!) again, so it’s important to always be as charged as possible.
  • Have a good pair of headphones with you. With them, I can work almost anywhere, and just block the external distractions. This post comes to you from the loud patio at my hostel, but I’m listening to music and in my own bubble.
  • It’ll be impossible to always work from the hostel, so find a cafe, a library, a coworking space — whatever you can to get away and focus for a few hours.
  • Enjoy it; Most of us web workers have the flexibility, the money and the ability to travel, so just do it! I get annoyed when I tell that to friends who have the same opportunities as me and make up weird excuses and then say they are jealous of me. I think traveling and adventuring while working is amazing, but it won’t come to you; you have to make it happen. All in all, Hostels are a great way to do it. I won’t always do hostels when I travel. Sometimes I just need a quiet space of my own far away from everyone with a super clean bathroom; but in a lot of cases hostels are just fine and provide a great environment.

If you want to travel & work like I do, Automattic is hiring ;)

Changing teams

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One of the great things about working at Automattic is the flexibility that it allows. As a company, we work on many different things and we’re split into roughly 20 teams working on various projects and maintenance tasks. Occasionally a new team is formed to take over an existing set of projects or to start something new. Recently, a new partnerships team was formed at Automattic, and I decided to join it. As of last week, I’m officially part of the new team.

As part of the partnerships team I work on all the third party integrations that we have on WordPress.com and Jetpack; this ranges from things like connecting your blog to your Twitter or Facebook account, to making sure that if someone pins your blog on Pinterest it looks as good as possible! In addition to third party integrations, the team is also working on many of the APIs that we make available for developers to integrate with our systems.

Finally, I’ll also be doing more evangelizing for our platform; promoting our APIs and encouraging others to work with us and our platforms.

On a personal side, I’m excited for the change; it’s nice to work with new people once in a while, and it’s good to focus on more “project-y” type work as opposed to the daily grind of maintenance which I did a lot of previously.

If you’re a developer and think it’d be cool to integrate your project with WordPress.com or Jetpack, make sure you take a look at developer.wordpress.com or contact me if you want to chat about it :)

Automattic is on Google Maps

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This is about the coolest thing ever. Automattic’s office (as in the inside) is on Google Maps.

Everyone at Automattic works from wherever they are (home, cafe, or what not) but we have lounge in San Francisco for hosting local Automatticians as well as events and get togethers.

A photographer came in and mapped out the entire building, including the upstairs lounge area. It’s really neat to be able to showcase the office like this.

Here’s the upstairs:

The image above was taken during our annual company meetup a few weeks ago. If this is cool to you, or you like how the office looks, you should apply ;)

Current status: coworking in Israel

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Current status: co-working with a great team of guys in Herzliya, Israel (near Tel-Aviv). Here we are together earlier today:

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I’ve been posting a bunch of other photos from the trip on my photo blog as well: http://photos.jkudish.com/.

It’s been a fun week so far with lots of eating, walking around beautiful places, socializing and working on a secret project that some of our coworkers will enjoy.

If this sounds like a good lifestyle, you should consider applying to work with us at Automattic.

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Joey Kudish:

WordPress.com now accepts Bitcoin as a way to pay. How many companies do you know who go out and build ways to accommodate users in otherwise restricted countries? Pretty awesome I think.

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

At WordPress.com, our mission is making publishing democratic — accessible and easy for anyone, anywhere. And while anyone can start a free blog here, not everyone can access upgrades (like going ad-free or enabling custom design) because of limits on traditional payment networks.

Today, that changes: you can now buy WordPress.com upgrades with bitcoins.

PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries, and many credit card companies have similar restrictions. Some are blocked for political reasons, some because of higher fraud rates, and some for other financial reasons. Whatever the reason, we don’t think an individual blogger from Haiti, Ethiopia, or Kenya should have diminished access to the blogosphere because of payment issues they can’t control. Our goal is to enable people, not block them.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that enables instant payments over the internet. Unlike credit cards and PayPal, Bitcoin has no central authority and…

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Joey Kudish:

Making it easier than ever for a city or town to create a beautiful and easy website for their community. Proud of my coworkers from Automattic for launching this project.

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

City administrators: Don’t spend thousands of dollars on a proprietary system for your city’s website. We’ve launched WordPress.com/cities as the go-to place to start a site for your city or other municipal body, and there’s no charge to get started. (“Free” is a price that will get every taxpayer on board, and since WordPress.com has been approved as a hosting site for federal government agencies, you can be sure we take security seriously.)

To supplement the impressive stable of existing WordPress.com features like custom domains (i.e., a .gov or .com of your choosing), we’ve added a couple of new ones to help you build the best site you can for residents and visitors alike:

Starter Content

When you sign up, we automatically create the pages most commonly needed on city websites, such as Parks & Recreation, City Hall, and Law Enforcement, and add them to your site’s…

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Jetpack 1.9

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Joey Kudish:

Pretty significant Jetpack update out today. Exciting things coming from Automattic for self-hosted WordPress.org sites!

Originally posted on Jetpack for WordPress:

Jetpack 1.9 is here. That’s right, it’s time for another big helping of Jetpack awesomeness. This release brings you Toolbar Notifications, Mobile Push Notifications, Custom CSS for mobile themes, a JSON API, and improvements to the Contact Form.

Notifications adds a menu to your toolbar that lets you read, moderate, reply to comments from any page on your blog. Plus, if find yourself on TechCrunch, GigaOm, or any of the millions of other sites running on WordPress.com, you’ll be able to view and moderate comments on your own site from the toolbar there, too.

Mobile Push Notifications for iOS: Users who link their accounts to WordPress.com and use WordPress for iOS 3.2 can now get push notifications of comments.

Custom CSS can now be applied to mobile themes.

The WordPress.com REST API is now available in Jetpack. That means developers can build cool applications that interact with…

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San Diego Scavenger Hunt

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I just returned from a week long company meetup with Automattic in San Diego. As a fun thing to do and to keep me alert, my partner Amy gave me a scavenger hunt for while I was there. I had to find and take a picture of the following 11 things. I got all but 1. I even crowdsourced and got some of my coworkers to help me out. It was definitely a fun activity for the trip and I feel like it kept me connected to Amy during the trip :) Here’s the list:

  1. a coconut
  2. 5 different flip flops in one photo
  3. a beard at least 8 inches long
  4. a beagle
  5. as many mac laptops as can fit in a photo
  6. something turquoise
  7. a canadian license plate
  8. 3 people making a pyramid
  9. a lighthouse
  10. something with wings over something that floats
  11. two people kissing

I couldn’t find the coconut, but here are the other 10 photos:

Oh, and if you think that’s the kind of meetup and company you want to be part of, we’re hiring.

P2 Hovercards

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Joey Kudish:

I absolutely love that at Automattic, we built in-house plugins that we then share with the world.

This handy little plugin is a huge speed-booster and convenience if you use P2 as your project manager (which you should!)

Originally posted on Developer Resources:

We’ve released a new plugin for the P2 theme that we’re calling P2 Hovercards. Hovercards are like extra bits of information about particular links that show up when you hover the corresponding inline link or object (for example, check out our Gravatar Hovercards).

With this plugin you can add hovercards to your self-hosted P2 sites. A good example of this is core trac tickets. If you look at the Make WordPress Core blog, you’ll notice that tagged Core Trac tickets are automatically linked up. So, something like #12345 links to http://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/12345.

With P2 Hovercards, we took this a step further. I can set it so that #12345 links to the right place, but then also show some additional information when you hover over the link. The following image is an example of what a hovercard could look like for that ticket:

You’ll notice that it gives all…

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