About Jane Wells

User experience design for WordPress. Master gardener.

Save the Dolphins!

World’s smallest dolphin under threat from nets as species reduced to just 55 survivors | Mail Online.

At Tybee we have regular old bottlenose dolphins, and seeing them off the coast or in the river always makes my day. Seeing another type of dolphin be eliminated from the face of the planet due to poor fisheries management is very sad. Nets in general are just evil… we consume so much fish that the fishing industry needs them to be profitable, but even with adaptations to help prevent by-catch and accidental sea turtle or dolphin death, a lot of death occurs. I think it’s time I revisited my pescetarian ways and limit myself to wild line-caught fish.

My own personal habits aside, I hope the New Zealand government takes action to protect the few remaining Maui dolphins and/or engage with a marine wildlife organization for a long-term sustainability plan, probably including some type of breeding program. I fear that hope is in vain, though. 😦

Gravatar Saves the Day!

I flew to Austin on Sunday. I was meeting Matt for tea on my way to the airport, and as a result I rushed out of the house without my usual pre-travel checks. When I got to the airport I discovered that I had neither my driver’s license nor my passport with me. Crap!

I thought this would mean I couldn’t fly, but as it turns out, there’s a list of things you can show that aren’t government-issued IDs to get through security with some additional screening. I showed them 3 credit cards and checks I had printed on my computer, but they really needed something with a photo on it so they could be confident I was me.

Hello, gravatar-included business cards! I’ve always been a big fan and proponent of putting gravatars in business cards (like Automattic does), because it provides a better post-event experience after connecting with people at WordCamps and other conferences. Who you are online gets more firmly connected to who you are in person, an makes it easier to remember conversations afterward. At least it does for me.

In this case the gravatar on my business card saved the day — and the SXSW WordPress Party, because if I’d had to drive home to get my ID, the chances of getting a new flight to Austin would have been pretty slim. So! The next time you’re having cards made, consider including your gravatar. It just might save you someday.

Poem for Kevin’s Birthday

My friend and co-worker Kevin Conboy‘s birthday was yesterday. I’ve known him since 2000. Since everyone still called me Jen. Since before I started dying my hair.

I posted this originally on a company blog. It is a terrible poem, but it hits the high points of our relationship. There is a factual error in the first line. When I wrote it I was thinking we met when I moved to Denver in 1999, but now that I think of it, I started at Spire in February 2000. The whitewater catchphrases at the end of each stanza, however, are 100% true. 🙂

Kevin

We met before the Y2k, you said
the cell phone didn’t like me and
we picked out a pinball machine.
Whitewater.

You yelled at me for my first blog that year,
“Center OR left align,” you steamed.
I went with left, obviously.
Good goin’, pardner!

The golden summer of Spire, that was it.
Lunch, ice cream, napster, rent, blue note,
and celebrity jeopardy.
Jackpot!

I left for Vermont with your mix CD:
Nosering Girl and Morrissey, yo.
Freelance, Ocean Navigator.
No way out!

We carried an iMac home from Brooklyn —
I still have that gorgeous machine!
Then thank you treats at Veniero’s.
Insanity Falls.

I thought you were sick of Wall Street data
So I said, “Matt, I have this friend…”
And there goes another birthday.
Ride the whirlpool!

P.S. Kevin is also backing the Jitterbug!

WordPress Consultant Time for Jitterbug Contributions?

Pete Mall did an awesome thing:

Then George Mamdashvili (mamaduka) said:

Should I?

If I add extra contributor rewards for the $100 level for an hour of ‘pick my brain’/consulting from any of the participating WordPress types, that would be kind of cool, because then I could tally up how much $ came in via those guys, and I could give them the appropriate cumulative reward (vs a contributor getting the care package, shirt, mug, etc and the generous consultant not being recognized). Anyone who wanted to limit the number of people who could redeem the offer could specify how many to limit it to and be listed individually – if there are only a couple, then might as well list everyone individually for easier tracking.

So does this sound like a good idea? Anyone else want to contribute by way of donating an hour of consulting time?

P.S. You can back the Jitterbug on Kickstarter.

Friday Jitterbug Progress Report – 2/24

Welcome te the first weekly Jitterbug Progress Report! I’m putting aside-type updates on the buyjaneabakery.com blog, and I’ll start doing updates for the kickstarter backers, but since this is the permanent archive of all things Jane, thought I’d do weekly summaries here. Here’s what’s up:

  • Opened the Jitterbug fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com on Wednesday afternoon. So far it’s up to $1,995. (Plus $1,475 from the pre-kickstarter paypal contributions) Thank you to everyone who’s pitched in so far!
  • The refurbished espresso machine I’d hoped to buy from Espresso Southeast was no longer available. Looking at alternate machines, but the luddite in me is wondering if I could buy 10 Presso machines instead and do hand-pressed espresso to order. Insert hand-pressed/WordPress/espresso puns here. If I put a W sticker on it, it would be a WordPresso. (Seriously, though, that would be freakin’ cool, yeah?)
  • Called the Presso distributor and have a machine on its way to me to try with the Perc coffee.
  • Met with Philip from Perc to discuss the coffee/espresso setup in the space. Looks like we’ll need some minor construction, possibly some plumbing and electrical work. Unless, of course, I go with the Presso plan, in which case it might just be some construction.
  • Confirmed participation as a booth for the Tybee Island Wine Festival April 14. Probable menu of giveaways: Greek pasta salad, mini mint chip cookies, key lime cupcakes, cardamom peach coffee cake, honey peach iced green tea.
  • Planning on soft launch April 15 with limited hours, grand opening in May.
  • Bank account set up.
  • Looked into eco-friendly to-go packaging, composting, water-saving measures, etc.
  • Considered trying to get kosher-certified at the suggestion of Adam from my co-working space. Turns out it’s not just an inspection and more expensive cheese, it’s complete religious oversight of the place. Not for me, sorry.
  • Business license meetings today.

Coming Up:

  • Clean up logo for Wine Fest marketing.
  • Design stickers and tees.
  • Make construction, painting, furnishing plans.
  • Test kitchen.
  • Contact some local people about publicizing the kickstarter campaign.
  • Send in supplier account applications.
  • Revise budget.

A Bakery? Also, OMGOMGOMG!

This post has the potential to be as long as the scarf I made Matt for his birthday. Knowing that, I’ll try to keep it short and to the point. Opportunity knocked last week and I decided to answer. No, I’m not leaving WordPress or Automattic; get your mind out of the gutter. The owner of a small restaurant here on Tybee (Charly’s) is retiring and selling his place, and $10,000 was plunked down as a deposit to buy it so that it could house:
Jitterbug: eat. drink. blog.
I want to turn it into a bakery/internet cafe/WordPressy community gathering space. Bake in the morning to force some non-computer time, then do my usual WP stuff in the lulls. I wrote a 20-page business plan full of stats and projections, and some smart money types tell me it looks good. But wait! I’ve spent all my money in the last few years on things like raising my brother’s kids, buying braces for same, helping my mom buy her house down here, and stuff like that. I am broke! I can’t afford to turn this place into the vision of awesomeness I see in my head, despite the below-market price and my plan to take a loan out against my 401k. So: crowdfunding!

The project — the Jitterbug Bakery — was accepted to Kickstarter yesterday, and on Monday once I finish their project setup, I’ll launch a fundraising campaign there. I also set up a WordPress site with a paypal plugin for the non-Kickstarter types, which would mean less lost to fees. If you want to help me make this thing a reality, I’d love it if you’d pitch in (rewards range from my brownies and Jitterbug swag to website setups and reviews), but will in no way hold it against you if you don’t.

small green house with a deck with seating

The building in question: the future Jitterbug

Did you know a decent refurbished espresso setup costs up to $15k? And I don’t even drink coffee!

So if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish I could buy Jane a [drink, dinner, iPad, car] to show her how much I appreciate all she does,” here’s your chance! I’ll provide the drinks and dinner if you come visit the Jitterbug, I don’t like iPads, and I have a car I like. I put up a site at BuyJaneABakery.com that is pretty much just what it sounds like. It has all the info on what I (we, if you include my mom and Morgan!) want to create for my local community. The Contribute page has a donation widget at the bottom. Yes, a bit hidden. The Personal Fundraising plugin I wanted to use was pretty and awesome but more trouble than it was worth. If you’re a Kickstarter type of person, I’ll update this post by Monday when the project goes live there.

If you ever really loved me, help me buy a bakery!

Starting a Local Meetup – Status Update 1/29-2012

I posted here on January 5 that I was going to start two local meetups and document the process. Time for an update! Warning: it’s a little long, but it goes fast. 🙂

Tybee Island

I started with the Tybee Island WordPress Meetup Group in the sleepy vacation community where I live. There are a lot of WordPress sites among local businesses, but most have traditionally been managed by a firm and I would consider the WP community here to be more on the beginner end of the spectrum. That said, it’s as enthusiastic as any of the most insidery cliques at the big WordCamps, and I have high hopes for its progression.

Venue

For a venue, I picked the Tybee Island Social Club, a restaurant/bar in the middle of the island that’s good for groups and has free wifi. The meetup was planned to be a social get-together where whoever showed up could meet the others and we could find out what everyone’s interests and skill levels were, so there wasn’t any need for a venue with a projector or private area.

Publicizing

I scheduled the first meetup for January 11, a little less than a week after I created the group and announced it. I figured I’d be lucky if even one or two people showed up, since I knew I didn’t have time to really publicize it though local channels, and Meetup.com sends a note about new meetups to people in the area 3 days after you create your group, so there wouldn’t be much notice.

On the day of the meetup, I posted to the Facebook wall of the venue that we’d be meeting there that night and anyone was welcome to join in. I also posted to the wall of the Tybee Times, an online-only collection of local happenings. In the meetup description on meetup.com I posted that I would be wearing a WordPress shirt (sometimes it seems those are all I have) and would have my laptop covered with WordPress stickers open on the table. I sat at a table right by the front door and got there extra early so I could feed Morgan dinner there before the meetup.

Getting Members

To my surprise, a person joined the group every day or so, having heard about it from someone or found it via search. I emailed two people I know in Tybee that are new to WordPress to encourage them to join. By the day of the meetup there were 9 members; I couldn’t believe it!

The First Meetup

Around 7, meetup time, I noticed a group forming in the back of the restaurant. It was the group! They hadn’t seen me sitting to the left of the door and had just gone and pushed some tables together. A total of 12 people showed up!

Lesson: Set up shop in forward-facing gazepath from the door if possible. Have sign or table tent to catch the eye.

What followed was a combination of mini-group chats, roundtable introductions, showing each other on laptops what currents sites were and talking about the changes people want to make, and talking about local and regional events. I helped one member download the WordPress iPhone app and make a mobile post using Quick Photo. About half the group had bought tickets to WordCamp Atlanta, and everyone was excited by the idea of putting together a small WordCamp in Tybee sometime right before tourist season hit in full force.

The people who came weren’t all beginners, as I’d expected. About half were beginners, mostly small business owners using or hoping to use WordPress to power their business site. Another couple were advanced users and/or developers who came over from Savannah, and there were a few intermediate users.

Interestingly, it was the beginners who’d all signed up for WCATL (Diane had been waiting for one to happen since we moved her site to WordPress last year in exchange for core meetup cottage rentals), and some expressed concern that they might not know enough to follow the WC presentations. I agreed to do a beginners’ tutorial before WCATL  to get the vocabulary down and be comfortable with the posting process.

We discussed what kind of format our meetups should take. People were interested in running free classes at some point, possibly through the library, and having our meetups be a mix of social (read: drinking, Tybee’s pastime), coworking, and mini-presentations sometimes. We agreed that once a month was the right timing for regular meetups, and that we could do separate events for things like classes.

Everyone paid their own tab for food/drink, and I handed out WordPress buttons to anyone who wanted one. Unfortunately the wifi died near the end, which also meant no one could pay with credit cards, so we stuck around and chatted while we waited for the manual charge slips to be created.

The meetup was given good ratings on meetup.com (only about half of attendees had been members ahead of time).

Success!

The Second Meetup

The second meetup was the beginners’ session we planned at the first meetup. For venue we met at Diane’s house, where it would be quieter. We did it as a potluck — I was busy working on 3.4 scope/schedule and dev chat, so I brought a bottle of prosecco I had at home and a box of chocolate-covered Krispy Kremes that Morgan had decided she didn’t like. Diane made chili and people brought appetizers. My MOM joined this meetup. Not an acronym. My actual mother.

After we ate, we started with the basic intro to WP stuff. Got everyone posting and uploading an image, understanding the difference between posts and pages (it may just be time for us to rename Posts in the main nav to Blog, and have Posts be the subitem — though I know Jaquith hates that idea and will fight it to the death, it would save 15 minutes of instruction that happens with almost every new user), knowing the difference between categories and tags and how to use each, and using the mobile apps for iPhone and Android (except Diane, whose seemed to be hitting a weird bug).

Belinda was also able to help people get things going, so the two of us made sure everyone was keeping up. The evening eventually devolved into more of a social gathering with occasional meandering back to WordPress, but everyone had a great time and learned at least a couple of things.

Next

As mentioned earlier, 5 or 6 people are heading to WC Atlanta next week, and our meetup group members are going to try and meet up there for coffee or lunch or something one day. We’ll return to regular meetups later in February and will pick a regular recurring day of the month. At that point I was thinking of taking out a small ad in the Tybee Breeze to get the word out, putting up flyers at the library and whatnot.

Savannah

I started later with the Savannah WordPress Meetup Group. When I was at WordCamp Birmingham I decided it was time to get Savannah started. I initially planned the first meetup for Feb 1, thinking having a couple of weeks of lead time would mean a bigger turnout, but then I thought of the WP philosophies: Shipping is a feature. Don’t wait for perfection, launch and iterate. With that in mind, I went ahead and set the 1st meetup for January 24, about a week and a half from the group’s formation.

Venue

I wanted to use ThincSavannah, the co-working space I belong to. I have a low-level membership that allows me to work there up to 40 hours per month during normal business hours of 9-5 during the week. In addition I get 8 hours per month of conference room rental time. The space has two large open co-working spaces as well as a couple of conference rooms, and is located in a great location right downtown overlooking Ellis Square and near the Whitaker Street Parking Garage.

I approached the owners to ask if it could be made to work, since technically I wasn’t supposed to be accessing the space at all hours, but our meetups would be in the evening. They wanted to host us (they host several tech-related events), but their offer was a reduced rate on conference room rentals. I told them I appreciated the offer, but since I didn’t want to incur expenses for the meetup, I would just see if I could get free space from SCAD (they hosted WordCamp Savannah 2010 as a venue sponsor) even though I thought ThincSavannah was the better venue philosophically. They said they’d discuss it further. The offer they came back with was to let me use my hours for the actual space rentals, but for me to put down a deposit (about the same price as a month’s membership) against any potential problems. I thought this was super reasonable, and happily paid the deposit. (Why do I have the cheapest membership that limits me to business hours? Because I want to have contact with the vibrant tech community in Savannah, but don’t want to commute 20 minutes each way every day, so twice a week is the max I can handle.)

Publicizing

Again I didn’t really publicize. I sent a tweet to Creative Coast, and ThincSavannah tweeted it, but that’s about it. I tweeted once from the old WordCamp Savannah account, and I tweeted from my personal account that I would be bringing tootsie rolls. 🙂

Getting Members

Join rate was slower than on Tybee. 6 or 7 had joined (including me) by the first meetup, and 5 showed up. Kevin Lawver, organizer of Refresh Savannah, told me via Twitter that it’s impossible to get people in Savannah to RSVP for things.

The First Meetup

We took the brand new ThincStudio room (the venue recently expanded), and all fit around one of the big (sustainable wood) tables. There was me, two pro WP consultants/devs, one advanced user/freelancer, and one newish blogger. I had a clipboard on the table to get people to sign in. This was good, because I could send an email to the two people who’d heard about it via Twitter and hadn’t joined the meetup.com group yet. My sign-in list had columns for name, member of group on meetup.com (y/n), and if not, email.

It was pretty great. If we’d had beer it would have been perfect. We went around and told each other how we use WordPress and what we were hoping to get out of the group. We discussed different types of meetups we could have and agreed on casual work-on-stuff/social meetups for now, with occasional special events (every 3 months or so) involving presentations or speakers, rather than that being the default. Savannah is meetup-heavy, and it took us a while to itemize all the other events we’d want to work around (Refresh, cSpot, LunchTank, Free Advice Fridays, Social Media Club, etc). We eventually picked the second Wednesday for regular evening meetups at 6pm (vs 7pm in Tybee, b/c there we need to give people to get home from work, while in Savannah we figure people will come while they are still downtown), and a lunch meetup the 4th Wednesday (so people with evening commitments could still participate).

WordCamp?

We also discussed bringing WordCamp back to Savannah, with a focus on local speakers and possible unconference portions. The plan would be to decide the general program as a group, and to assign meetup group members topics to learn enough about to be able to do a session. If needed, I’ll connect people with some of the higher-profile WP community experts to ask/answer questions. We’d like to bring in one featured speaker per track from outside of town.

We talked about venues. The River Club, donated last time by SCAD, is no longer a SCAD property, so we thought about alternatives. WCSAV 2010 had about 185 attendees, and now that there are a bunch of people in Savannah using WP to make a living, we know it would be even more this time around. Caila thought she could hook us up with the Telfair theater since she works at the museum. We also thought we could do a fun, lo-fi WC right there at ThincSavannah. It would be crowded, people would have to scrounge for chairs, etc, but the old-time BarCamp vibe is something we all thought would be a positive thing. We agreed to keep talking about possibilities at future meetups. The possibility of doing something the same weekend as Tybee was seen as a good idea (one day in Tybee for blogger and beginning users, one day in Savannah for more experienced users and makers), but wasn’t gone into in detail.

Next

Our next evening meetup (WordPress Workalong) is scheduled for February 8 (4 people said yes so far), and the lunch meetup (WordPress Brown Bag) is scheduled for February 22 (2 people so far). After I’m back from WCATL, I might put up flyers at a couple of coffeeshops, but a small meetup of people who know what they are doing is such a nice thing I’m not in any big rush to draw in all and sundry. I will probably do more outreach to the other tech groups, though.

So that’s it for the first round. I’ll post another update next month with the progress.

If you currently run a WordPress meetup or would like te start one in your city, please fill in the WordPress Meetup Group Survey and check out the post about our new meetups program. Catch you later!

Blackout

The blackout on WordPress.org is active. It is an interstitial, but you have to scroll all the way to the bottom to get the clickthrough link. It will go away if you click that link and be replaced by the Stop Censorship ribbon for 1 hour, at which point the cookie expires and you have to do it again. We’ll run the blackout for 24 hours. Yes, it will annoy you. I wanted to shut everything down, so count your blessings.

The reason we did this instead of a full shut-down is that there are many businesses and people who help drive the independent web that need access to the WordPress Codex, forums, plugin/theme repos, and APIs. We wouldn’t want to penalize them in our protest, so we just made it impossible to ignore instead.

The action on WordPress.com has also started. The primary home page of WordPress.com has blacked out all of its normal “Freshly Pressed” content. The WordPress.com official blog is sporting a ribbon — if we blacked out the blog, then WordPress.com bloggers would lose access to the post telling them how they can black out their sites using the option we deployed this evening. We launched on option tonight for all blogs on WordPress.com to either blackout (8am-8pm EST) or add a ribbon. In the couple of hours since we launched it, it looks like more than 10k have chosen full blackout, and around 3k have added the ribbon. People who chose blackout will have a ribbon before and after the blackout. Ribbons will remain until January 24, when PIPA comes up for vote in the Senate.

Both the WordPress.org and the WordPress.com blackout pages include a short message that includes a text link to the sopastrike.com site, the Fight for the Future video, the email form, the call form, and the non-U.S. petition form.

These things are what I spent the last consecutive 18 hours working on.

For more information, check out americancensorship.org.