MacManX.com in 2015

2015statsAccording to this report from the good folks at Jetpack, 2015 was another big year for MacManX.com. Along with some interesting stats, the report sums it up best:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2015 was a bit slower for MacManX.com than last year, so I’ll see what I can do about publishing a bit more content in 2016. 🙂

Small Twitter Victory

twvictoryWhile my tiny corner of the world is being loomed over by the type of room-shaking thunderstorms it rarely experiences, I did find a tiny ray of sunlight. MacManX on Twitter is finally mine, after spending the last five years trying to wrestle it from the clutches of a long-abandoned tech news account. I don’t know why it’s so important to me, but it always bothered my that it was just sitting there unused and unloved, while I had to use MacManXcom instead. Well, now it’s mine. Time to find some sort of tiny victory horn to blast, but probably no one will hear it over this thunder.

Changing usernames on Twitter is shockingly easy, it’s actually just another settings field. You type in a new username, it instantly displays if it’s available, and you save your settings. Your Tweets are transferred over, your Followers are transferred over, everything is transferred over. I was very impressed. The only negative point is that there is no way to redirect the old username. You have officially given it up for someone else to have, which I suppose is perfectly fair. One minute to change the username, one hour to find and change any links and integrations that are within my power to change, and another hour to take a black marker to my business cards (way too many business cards). A nearly five-year struggle was over in two hours.

MacManX.com in 2014

annualreport2014 was another big year for MacManX.com, and as usual, the folks at Jetpack prepared an awesome recap of my year for me! There’s some fun numbers and charts in there to round-up the year, as well as this gem:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2014 was a great year, so here’s hoping for an even greater 2015!

Happy New Year! the 2014 edition

2014 is here, or 2013s if you’re an iPhone, so it’s a great time to make sure that your browser is up-to-date and change your passwords.

Get out there and experience new things this year. Maybe you want to visit places you never have before, learn something new (like Markdown, which is now supported here at WordPress.com), or just relax and enjoy life as-is. No matter what you do, make sure that you tell the world about it, so start a blog, or start posting again if you have been neglecting your blog.

MacManX.com had a great 2013, and I’m sure you’ll have a great 2014!

MacManX.com in 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Separating Work from Home

Automattic is a globally distributed company, which means that most of us work from home all over the world. Often times, folks ask me how I can separate my work life from my home life as if it were some sort of monumental task. Fortunately, that is not the case, and while not every trick may work for every person, here are a few tricks that help me separate my work life from my home life.

Separate Browsers: Use separate browsers for work and personal, not just separate browser windows, use completely separate applications. When I use Chrome, I’m at work. When I use Safari, I’m doing anything but work.

Different Devices: Use completely different devices for work and non-work. It’s nearly impossible for me to do my work from my iPad, but I can do almost anything else from it, so I spend most of my non-work time on the iPad.

No Unified Inboxes: Make your work email ignorable when you’re off work. Since I spend most of my non-work time on either my iPad or iPhone, I use the Gmail app, which despite modern conventions in email consumption, still (thankfully) does not offer unified inboxes (each account is separate). This allows me to easily ignore my work email if necessary. If the Gmail app ever offers a unified inbox (like almost every other email app), I’ll probably use separate email apps. Note that I do use Airmail on my computer with a unified inbox, since I’m typically working when on my computer, and it’s just easier that way.

Control Communication Sources: Don’t mix work communications with personal communications. We use Skype a lot at Automattic, so to me, Skype is work. Skype is a popular communication outlet for family and friends, but not mine. If my family or friends want to get in touch with me, they have plenty of other ways to reach me. Skype is not for them. Similarly, I never use my work email for personal things.

Know Your Boundaries: It’s okay to bring some work home, especially if it helps you to avoid dwelling on it all evening. Sometimes, frustrating things happen here at Automattic, like they do at any workplace. It could be a disagreement with a co-worker, a user who wants something that’s impossible, or even an ad network that thinks it’s totally ok to not pay us for their ad impressions for over three months. If I didn’t share these things with my wife, I’d just stay frustrated and dwell on them all evening. Some people say that you should never bring work home with you, but that’s usually the worst mistake you can make if you’re trying to free yourself from it.

So, that’s how I keep my work life from affecting my home life, even though I work at home. Do you work at home? If so, how do you keep the two lives separate?

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