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General Technology

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.

Categories
General

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?

Categories
Colleagues General

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
Categories
General Photo

Everything but a Zip-Line

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Our new apartment has everything we need, except a zip-line to the coffee shop.

Categories
General Photo

Here we are. . .

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. . . born to be kings. We’re the princes of the universe.

(In other words, we’re done unpacking.)