Soul of the Machine: Now Available

Sarah’s first professionally produced album, Soul of the Machine, was released last week! This was indeed one heck of a ride with professional orchestras and chamber groups all over the world recording some of her best compositions under the watchful gaze and mastering of Navona Records.

The album comes with full copies of the scores so you can follow along with the music, and can be purchased on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Classics Online. If you’re a fan of streaming music services, you can listen to the album on Spotify and Rdio too.

And, if you’re in the area on September 3rd at 6 PM, stop by Brave New World Comics for the official launch party!

Team Rads in Cabo

Last week, Team Rads of Automattic got together in Cabo San Lucas to work on improvements to WordAds and a few additional surprises to be hopefully unveiled later this year. We are a globally distributed team with three in various California locations, one in Iceland, and our newest team member in Portugal, so it’s nice to get together in person a few times each year.

In general, I don’t recommend Cabo in July, it’s quite humid, but I do highly recommend the Buccaneer Queen Pirate Cruise. It’s hard to describe, but it was incredibly fun in a rather ridiculous way, and all of my photos from this trip are from that cruise.

If you plan to go to Cabo, don’t go in July, bring lots of cash, don’t rely on credit cards, and make a reservation on the Pirate Cruise. If you want to work at Automattic, we’re hiring!

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Revenue, Ads, and Team Switching

Three years ago, I became a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, focussing on WordPress.com. I had a lot of fun with my colleagues, helping folks learn to use the greatest free blogging platform ever. Fun fact, WordPress.com is both free and a business, we have bills to pay, and businesses need money to operate. A few months back, I made a big switch from our Happiness Engineering team to a team we call Rads (Revenue and Ads), so that I can both have a hand in the financial stability of WordPress.com and keep the terribly horrid, tasteless, and distracting ads that have become all too common elsewhere away from your free blog.

Rads is led by Jon Burke and features the talents of Egill Erlendsson, Marcus Kazmierczak, Derek Springer, and our celebrity designer shared amongst teams, Joen Asmussen. As part of the team, I provide support for WordAds, our advertising program for WordPress.com bloggers, and work directly with ad networks for a variety of things. That last bit is fun and worth a whole post itself. Let’s just say that some networks are very good at what they do, while others have absolutely no clue.

Part of the work I do with ad networks is handle bad ad reports. We strive to provide only family-friendly advertising on WordPress.com, and we have contracts with our ad networks to provide just that. If we ever receive a complaint about an ad that is not family-friendly, I make sure that the ad (and sometimes the ad network itself) is immediately removed from WordPress.com.

Now, I know some of you who are reading this, and you’re going to ask, “Hey James, didn’t you just tell us how you never use ad blockers last month? Are you trying to trick us into viewing the ads on WordPress.com?” Goodness no, and shame on you for asking. You should know me better than that. I have never used ad blockers, because there are free sites that I rely on whose only source of revenue is from ads. I want them to stay in business, so I don’t block their ads, or I purchase some sort of ad-free subscription if available. Anyway, there’s also an advantage to this for my job now. As a daily “consumer” of ads, I know what kind of crap is out there, I know how annoying that crap is, and I can make sure it never winds up on WordPress.com. I can also immediately investigate the possibility of running newer less-distracting ads on WordPress.com as newer ad technologies make themselves known.

So, now you know where I am. I spend every day working with these awesome people to keep WordPress.com free and to keep lame ads away from your free blog.

Rads 2013

Photo by Jeff Bowen

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Automattic Meetup 2013

Automattic is a globally distributed company with over 200 employees, so it’s nice to get together once a year as a company to build great things. This year, we gathered in San Francisco and later migrated down to Santa Cruz. That may sound odd to many of you, so I highly recommend this book. Many of the things we built this week are already live on WordPress.com, some are performance tweaks that you might have already noticed, while others may be announced in the future.

Here are the rest of the photos from the week that didn’t make the cut to be posted on their own in my sfomeetup2013 tag.

Those fire dancing photos sure are amazing, but this video of the fire dancing and this slow-motion clip are even more amazing!

Now that you’ve seen all that, make sure that you apply, and maybe we’ll see you here with us next year!

Photo by Ash Rhodes

Photo by Ash Rhodes