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Automattic Meetup 2017

Like like last year, Automattic went to Whistler, British Columbia for our annual Grand Meetup. We had almost 600 employees spanning the globe, suddenly just spanning 2 hotels for the week. It’s great to build things in person with people you usually only communicate with via text. Sure, it’s a little bit overwhelming, but I always walk away with a few new friends.

We built and learned quite a bit this week, and though there are no specific announcements yet, please watch the Jetpack Blog, WordPress.com Blog, and WooCommerce Blog for exciting news. As for myself, and as usual, I have a fair amount of photos to share:

In case you’re wondering, those last few photos are of our very talented band of Automatticians.

For more photos, visit colleagues Lisa Schuyler, Stephen McLeod Blythe, Ryan Cowles, and many more on Instagram. If any of this looks interesting to you, we’re always hiring!

Photo of Ryan Cowles, Richard, and James Huff, by Lisa Schuyler

Photo of Ryan Cowles, Richard Archambault, and James Huff, by Lisa Schuyler

Shady Oaks Takedown Soundtrack

Earlier this month, Sarah spent 8 straight hours composing the soundtrack for Shady Oaks Takedown, a senior center martial arts comedy, which was completed in just 48 hours. This short film marks the first time Sarah’s music was heard in a real movie theater, and now it is moving on to final voting for the Audience Award this Friday!

You can own this senior center martial arts comedy with an 80’s vibe soundtrack for just $3 and enjoy this new historic moment in Sarah’s rapidly growing composition career!

For more details on the how the soundtrack came together, check out the interview between Sarah and director Andrew Menjivar. You can see the full film, and help it win the Audience Award, by attending the Audience Awards Special in Los Angeles this Friday (August 25) at 9PM. The tickets are going fast!

Update: Shady Oaks Takedown is moving on to the Best Of Los Angeles Award’s Screening and Ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre on September 10 at 4PM! Tickets are still available!

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The New DuckTales

I grew up loving DuckTales, so you can imagine how excited I was to hear that there’s a new DuckTales series, complete with a cast of well-known faces. The new series feels both familiar and modern, which is definitely what I want from any nostalgia-fueled reboot. It premiered last Saturday with a two-part special that’s available to watch on YouTube, and will begin airing weekly on September 23.

Reborn

All your life you did the right thing, always putting others before yourself. This is your reward.

Reborn is an imaginative look at the afterlife from writer Mark Millar and artist Greg Capullo. We’re introduced to our hero Bonnie Black as she passes away from a stroke, only to be reborn in the afterlife, younger and apparently the prophetic savior of everyone who had lead a good life. Bonnie is joined by her battle-hardened father and war-ready childhood dog on a quest to stop the forces of darkness.

We’re all familiar in some way with stories of traditional heaven and hell style afterlives, and while Reborn certainly doesn’t deviate from that style, it refreshes it with a vibrant fantasy world and an over-arching examination of life, death, what we leave behind, and what we bring with us. My only complaint is that Millar and Capullo have constructed such a vibrant fantasy world that it seems impossible to cover in this first volume, so it’s filled with imaginative visuals that are accompanied by little to no explanation. I preferred to fill the gaps in myself, as Bonnie’s journey of discovery and acceptance makes it hard not to wonder what we’d do in the same situation.

Reborn is just one volume so far, but according to Millar, there is a strong possibility of four more volumes, a series of novels, and a television series. The first volume has a solid ending and can definitely stand on its own, but I’m excited to see the rest of this world that Millar and Capullo have built.

Net Neutrality Day of Action

net neutralityNet Neutrality is a big issue that everyone should be concerned about. When you request a website, or any information over the internet, you expect your ISP to deliver it as requested with no interference. This is what the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules protect. Without Net Neutrality rules, your ISP could block sites they don’t like or slow down access to sites that don’t pay a fee, and those rules are in jeopardy.

The FCC is considering repealing the Net Neutrality rules, but there’s still time to stand up for what’s right. The FCC is currently requesting your feedback, and the first comment deadline is July 17, so make sure that you send your feedback to let them know what Net Neutrality means to you. Next, join the Net Neutrality Day of Action protest tomorrow (July 12). There are many ways you can participate listed there, and if you have a WordPress site, use the Fight for the Future Alerts plugin.

Millions of people spoke out in 2014 to establish the Net Neutrality rules, and hopefully we can do the same this year to save them.

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Help Test the Future WordPress Editor

Last week, WordCamp Europe 2017 was filled with lots of opportunities to make WordPress better, including the announcement that the future WordPress Editor (codenamed Gutenberg) is now available for use as a plugin. The future of WordPress editing will be built on positionable blocks, where each block can be pretty much any kind of content, like this gallery:

There have already been plenty of great posts that go in depth on the current state of Gutenberg, so I won’t bore you with the details here, but the short version is that folks who are new to WordPress may find this to be an intuitive experience while long-time WordPress users may encounter a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately, Gutenberg won’t replace the existing WordPress editor until WordPress 5.0, so there’s plenty of time to install that plugin and start contributing.

P.S. This post was originally written with Gutenberg 0.2.0 on WordPress 4.8, but required a few tweaks after publishing, so please help us test this and contribute to make it better. 🙂

WordPress 4.8 Released

WordPress 4.8 has been released! This release introduces new widgets for images, videos, audio, and rich text, as well as new link boundaries to cure editor frustrations and a new Dashboard widget which displays nearby WordPress events!

346 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Matt Mullenweg and Jeffrey Paul. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.8 has been out for about 9 hours, and has already been downloaded 1,315,250 times!

All users can safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.

If you run into any problems, stop by the known issues first, and please let us know if it’s not covered there!

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Earth Day, 2017

Today is Earth Day, a day to reflect on this planet we call home, so it’s a great day to start saving the environment for free and donating to The Conservation Fund.

Also, take the time to consider ways in which you can help the environment yourself with just a few changes to your routine, like switching out your lights for LED bulbs, walking or biking to closer destinations rather than driving, planting a tree or two, and even something as simple as properly separating your recyclables from your trash.

Today is also the global March for Science, so it’s a great day to spend some time outdoors and possible even share your advocacy for science. If today isn’t such a great day for you to enjoy our world outside, at least enjoy this video.

Klaus

Only one man has to work at Yuletime, and that’s me. There are gifts waiting for your children. Tell them the Santa wears the red and white of Grimsvig. White for the snow of our homeland, red for the blood of the working people who built this town. Your colors.

Klaus is a surprisingly good tale from writer Grant Morrison and artist Dan Mora. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have a read a folklore adaptation or seen a Santa Claus movie that wasn’t even worth the time spent doing so. It’s rare for a creator to take an established icon of folklore and do something completely different with it, and when they do, it’s usually terrible. Klaus, billed as “How Santa Claus Began,” is different.

The imaginative origin story follows a banished soldier who returns to find his hometown under tyrannical control. Fueled by a deep sense of honor and guided by benevolent spirits, Klaus uses his skills as a woodworker and soldier to free his hometown, bring joy to its children, and face off with the fearsome Krampus. The characters are well-developed and believable while the stakes are high and ever-present, both a rarity in such stories, and yet it never manages to lose a subtle sense of levity.

I bought Klaus heavily discounted on impulse simply because the art is great. I didn’t expect much of the story, but I was pleasantly surprised, and found it to be original, fun, engaging, and not heavy-handed in the slightest. The premise is ridiculous, and yet it works beautifully. If you’re looking for a fun and imaginative origin of a folklore icon, Klaus won’t disappoint.

Descender

I’m your creator and designer, but that does not make me your family. You have no real family. You aren’t alive. You do understand that, don’t you?

Descender is a beautiful series from writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen, and in many ways, a coming of age tale both for our young protagonist and civilization itself. Set at some point in the very distant future, when many species have colonized the stars and mostly work together, the story follows a young robot who may have an ancestral connection to the robots who suddenly appeared and wiped out hundreds of millions of lives before vanishing just ten years prior.

The writing is engaging and reminiscent of many of today’s great provocative TV series, while the art is captivating and reminiscent of finely detailed water colors. Throughout the story, you’ll find yourself growing attached to the young robot who seems set on a path to outgrow his programming, while remaining constantly aware of the terrible toll the rest of the galaxy paid for that growth. The story is not as heavy-handed as it seems, rather it is presented with a balance that is delicately maintained throughout, accompanied by an eclectic cast and spread across an energetic plot.

Descender has been running as a monthly series since March of 2015, with three volumes already published and a fourth on the way. You definitely won’t regret diving in, and I’m sure you’ll want to stick around to see how it ends. I certainly do.