Giving Back to WordPress

wordpress-logo-notext-rgbI want 2015 to be the year I begin really contributing to the WordPress community, not just hovering around the edges. After all, I’ve been using it for more than six years now and I’ve certainly benefited from it, both personally and professionally.

I took my first baby steps a little over a year ago when I started attending the NYC WordPress Meet Up. I’ve met a few people—not many, because I feel uncharacteristically shy at meetings—and I’m beginning to understand who’s who in the local community. I’ve learned a lot and hearing from local experts has expanded my thinking about what WP is and what it can do. At one of our meetings we heard from Matt Mullenweg himself, in person, which was hugely informative and personally inspiring. (He’s a Texan, you know.)

After doing a lot of reading and clicking, I’m also finally beginning to understand the structure of the groups that work together to make WordPress. For awhile I just couldn’t grasp what was going on. I think I fit best in the docs group, so last fall I began making my first tentative contributions to the codex. Since then I’ve been making minor changes to pages that are tagged for editing. I have experience editing Wikipedia and it is similar. My changes haven’t been challenged, so I’m gaining confidence.

I tried to get used to attending office hours and chats using IRC, but it was hard to do without carrying my laptop around all the time. The move from IRC to Slack has made it a lot easier to keep up with the ongoing docs conversation. I’ve even chimed in a few times! I’m excited about the new helphub project and I’ve signed up as a writer. I hope my WP knowledge will serve the community well in that role.

And along those lines, I’ve been using that knowledge to help people in two places: the wordpress.org forums and on Facebook. I’ve been answering beginner questions in the troubleshooting and miscellaneous forum folders and in four different FB groups. I’ve been able to help a few people solve their problems, which is confidence building. I would hate to steer anyone in the wrong direction. (I’ve been a lurker in /r/wordpress for a long time, but I’m not actually helping anyone there just yet. I’m still thinking about it.)

All together, I think I can be a productive member of the WP community and it seems welcoming. I really want to be a giver and not just a taker!

Best and Not Best Books of 2014

In 2014 I met my goal of reading 65 books.  (I always join the Goodreads Reading Challenge.) Some were really exceptional and some were pretty bad. I also re-read about a dozen books; they are not included on this list.

Favorite Books of 2014

Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Wonder – R.J. Palacio
Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

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Books I Want To Write About: Orange is the New Black

oitnb01I just finished Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman and I’m officially putting it on my imaginary list of books that really make me think.

I am a fan of the Netflix show and of course I binge watched both seasons as soon as they arrived in the queue. (I also once accosted Dascha Polanco on the street to beg for more episodes.) The thing I really like about the show is the way it tells the personal stories of the inmates and how they ended up behind bars.  It’s also well-written and the actors are some of the best in the industry. However, the book filled in some gaps for me that I haven’t grasped from watching the TV show.

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Books I Want to Write About: The Children’s Blizzard

childrensblizzardThis book is the story of the January 12, 1888, blizzard that led to the deaths of hundreds of people—many of them children who had gone off to school for the day and then tried to get home after the storm began. It is harrowing in its deadly detail, but also a fascinating look at the early days of meteorology and the personal stories of immigrants to the Great Plains. 

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Jimmy Fallon: I Changed My Mind (Mostly)

When Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Show, I wrote a scathing(-ish) review, complaining that it was same ol’ same ol’.  I’ve mostly changed my mind.

I still think that late night talk shows are yawn. And I still think Mr. Fallon follows the status quo too closely. But I want to give credit where credit is due and say that he has definitely put his own spin on the status quo and I like where it’s going. Some of the franchises are dumb and/or go on waaaay too long (<cough>Thank You Notes<cough>), but most are really funny. I happen to really like Hashtags and “Ew!”  The best part is when guests do unexpected things; it seems that they are having a good time and they are more relaxed.

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