TOO COLD

Yo, VIP. Let’s Kick It.

In just four more months, I will have been working at Automattic for four years full-time, which is one of those things that feels both like it’s been forever (because it’s such a part of who I am now) and a really short amount of time (because, you know, time flies).

When I started here, I was updating WordPress.tv as often as possible, and being a Happiness Engineer the rest of the time. After about a year of that, I moved to being a Happiness Engineer full-time.

In four years, I’ve done pretty much everything there is to do in Happiness Engineering: I’ve been in our forums, I’ve been answering tickets for WordPress.com and almost every other service we provide, I’ve been in-person at Happiness Bars and doing workshops at WordCamps, and I’ve helped train and welcome several new “classes” of Happiness Engineers to Automattic I’m happy to call colleagues. It’s been a lot of fun being sort of the Happiness Engineering Obi-Wan.

Today is my first day not being a part of that Happiness team. I’m pleased to share that I’m joining the team working on WordPress.com VIP, supporting enterprise and time-sensitive customers with that same dedication to happiness. I’ve been working a rotation with the VIP team for the past two weeks, and it’s been both rewarding and challenging. I’m looking forward to extending this into the next few years.

Matt says often that within Automattic, we should look for new things to do every few years to make sure we’re keeping the mind sharp and learning new things. If the past two weeks are any indication, this is going to be a grand new adventure. It’s wonderful to have team leads who supported this move and teammates old and new who have provided encouragement.

So here’s to new things.

If you think this sounds like a great place to work, it is. And we’re hiring.

Four Little Numbers

My colleague Joen Asmussen writing about the process of shaping the new default theme for WordPress 3.6 (that happens to be powering this blog now):

Designing Twenty Thirteen has been a pretty remarkable experience, mainly because I got to work with such an amazing community. There’s nothing to temper a theme into shape like hundreds of people submitting patches. It’s as much a privilege as it is a learning experience and the design has changed so much since my initial mockups, all for the better. Here’s how it all started.

Joen and the WordPress community have outdone themselves with this one. I find myself saying it every year, but I don’t see how I’ll switch away from this one.

https://twitter.com/RyanMarkel/status/326350768443633664 Two things about this: It was totally

Two things about this:

  1. It was totally awesome and in the dream I was a total badass. Saved the day.
  2. It’s possible that I may have some repressed feelings about that job.

Automattic Sign Time-lapse

My main man Warren set up a GoPro outside the new Automattic office space in San Francisco as the new sign was placed on the building.

I’m already trying to concoct a reason for me to be in San Francisco so I can see the place and enjoy the new digs. I always enjoyed going to SF and just working from our “home away from home” on Pier 38. The new place looks great and I can’t wait to be there.

Office Space

I got a bit tired of my workspace a few weeks ago and decided to do something about it. I never really liked having my back to the door (having read Dune, of course), and didn’t think the space was very helpful though it was nice and bright.

Office v.1:

Office v.2:

The biggest change I like is that I got rid of the chair mat I was using that kept shattering every six months and bought a small area rug that’s pinned under the desk and protects the carpet.

I have a couple of Lack shelves for the wall that is now behind my desk but I’m dragging my feet on installing them. I think maybe that’s Office 2.5.

The Automattic Creed

Matt shared on his blog the Automattic Creed, which is how my colleagues and I live and breathe on a daily basis:

I will never stop learning. I won’t just work on things that are assigned to me. I know there’s no such thing as a status quo. I will build our business sustainably through passionate and loyal customers. I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything. I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company. I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day. Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable.

Working for with Automattic has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and certainly the best job I’ve ever had. I love what I do and the impact I have in making the experience of WordPress.com users and visitors better each day.

If you’re reading this and think this sounds interesting, maybe you should consider applying.

Keeping Things Moving

As an Automattician, I spend the vast majority of my time working from home. This has its advantages and disadvantages, like anything else, but I didn’t think of my physical activity (or lack thereof) in quite the right way until I saw this tweet from my colleague Beau:

For reasons that I plan to write about soon, I have been taking a long-overdue look at my habits throughout the day in an effort to improve them and their effects on my overall health. It’s no secret that it’s not a great thing for you to be sitting down all day long.

I know this because the best shape I’ve been in for the last 10 years or so was when I was working retail at Circuit City. Being on your feet for 10 hours at a stretch and walking a store floor will do that to you. Once I shifted to a desk job, I quickly ballooned to over 300 pounds until I hit a high of around 325 in the last couple of years.

(I have since dropped a good amount of weight but that will need to wait for that other post I was talking about.)

What I have been using for about the last year or so to keep myself from getting leg cramps is a little utility called AntiRSI. It sits in your dock (and with the newest version, can sit in your menu bar instead) and has a configurable set of controls for taking breaks.

The options are pretty straightforward:

I don’t use it for the micro breaks as I don’t have any issues with strain (yet) and they were interrupting my flow a bit. Instead, I use it to force myself to take an eight-minute break every 50 minutes (so about every hour). When the 50 minutes of work are up, this appears and won’t go away unless I dismiss it, which I try very hard not to do:

When that appears, I do exactly what it says. The important part is that I stand up when prompted for a work break and walk around a bit. I check on how the kids are doing in school, take a biobreak, refill my water, or any one of a number of things, but (a) don’t work and (2) stay standing and moving as much as possible. Sometimes I will set an eight minute timer on my iPhone and take a walk outside. I walk past the desk every so often to see if the break is up, and when it is I sit back down and get to it.

Now I read tonight that I might not be getting up enough. And it’s possible that using a standing desk (which I have considered) is getting up too much. This is of course only one source of information on this, and you can always find a study or paper that agrees with you, but:

Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 2 minutes AND MOVE. The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and move for a couple of minutes.  Simply standing is insufficient. Movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles. Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise (e.g. jumping jacks) to get the benefits, just walking around is sufficient. So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace (e.g. walk to a printer, water fountain, stand for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the floor, park a bit further away from the building each day).

You can read the original text here.

So maybe I will give 30 minute intervals with smaller breaks a shot and see how it goes for a while. I’m thinking 5 minutes’ break every 30 minutes or so.

Do you have a method that works for you? Something you do to stay active throughout the day? I would love to hear about it.