Orlando WordPress Meetup: Going Responsive with WordPress

So it finally happened. I did a talk at the local WordPress meetup, Going Responsive with WordPress. If you’re here because you saw my talk and are interested in more information or the slides, you’re in the right place! And also, thank you for coming! If you missed the talk, but still want to look at the slides, you’re in the right place too!

I’m using reveal.js for my slides, and they can be found here: Making Responsive Sites Accessible For Everyone (slides).

If you’re interested in reading more on the subject, here are some more resources:

Introduction to Understanding WCAG 2.0 Mobile Accessibility: How WCAG 2.0 and Other W3C/WAI Guidelines Apply to Mobile Finger-Friendly Design: Ideal Mobile Touchscreen Target Sizes How Do Users Really Hold Mobile Devices? Common Misconceptions About Touch HTML5 input fields CodePen demo.

And as a bonus, this YouTube channel provides some interesting insights in how blind people tackle “menial” tasks in life. There are a number of iPhone videos in it that are particularly relevant to the subject. TommyEdisonXP’s YouTube channel

One of the questions was about resources that I’d recommend for further reading. The WCAG Overview is a good place to start. Furthermore, the talented people at the Paciello Group write a lot about the subject of accessibility. You’ll be able to find most of them on Twitter as well. Other blogs to follow are Simply Accessible, Usability Geek blog, and Joe Dolson’s blog. I’m sure there are more of them out there, so feel free to share them!

All WordPress pages but the homepage give a 404 error

More and more often I keep seeing posts asking about what’s going on with their site when only the homepage seems to be working. Even developers are sometimes caught off-guard when this happens. This little quick tip should help you out in roughly 99.99999999% of the time.

So how would you fix this? Simple. Just re-save the permalinks. That’s literally all there is to it.

A screenshot of a portion of the admin menu, highlighting Settings and Permalinks.To do so, what you’ll need to do is head over to the “Permalinks” settings page. You can find this page by hovering over the “Settings” option in the left sidebar of the admin and then selecting “Permalinks”.

Once the page loads, you don’t even have to touch any settings. Simply click the blue “Save Changes” button that is near the bottom of the page.

Now, it may be cause for alarm when your site has been running great for a while and suddenly your subpages don’t work. In those situations, re-saving the permalinks will also work but you will also want to look for the root cause of why they broke. Otherwise, you may end up re-saving them every other week. In general, you’ll want to consider what plugins you installed last, and what plugins have been updated recently.

If re-saving your permalinks doesn’t fix this issue (I can almost guarantee that it will, but you never know), find me on Twitter and I’ll help you figure it out.

Bienvenidos a Miami: A recap of WordCamp Miami 2015

This WordCamp has been a number of firsts for me. It would be the first WordCamp outside of Orlando, and also the first time for me to visit Miami. It’s also the first road trip we’ve taken by ourselves as a married couple. All around good stuff.

I am fully aware that this post has run a bit long. But it is what it is. So here are a few links that will allow you to skip straight to other sections of this post.

Skip to a recap of Saturday: A day of learning and networking
Skip to a recap of Sunday: Why would anyone go to Miami Beach?
Skip to a recap of Monday: The road home
Skip to a little bit about my networking skill
Skip to the end and learn what’s next for me

Friday: Driving down to Miami

The adventure starts with picking up the rental car. Apparently, when you want to pay for one with a debit card you’re expected to bring proof in the form of a utility bill of some sort. I guess they want to make sure you won’t run off with the car or something.

Luckily, they let us call Kissimme Utility Authority(KUA) to have them fax over our most recent bill. With that all sorted out, we took the car home to load it up and off we were. The next 4-5 hours were filled with a lot of people driving like absolute idiots (something we’d end up having to deal with on our way back, as well), numb arses, and some peculiar routing by our GPS. Which, granted, is getting a bit old and possibly out of date.

Once we finally reached our hotel, we couldn’t believe just how large our room was. It was essentially a reasonably sized studio apartment without a kitchen (but it still had a small, crappy, fridge, a microwave, and a Keurig coffee maker – what more could anyone need?). Large enough for me to just lay on the floor with my arms spread and then some:

It's me, laying on the floor of our hotel room, arms spread wide

Saturday: A day of learning and networking

Since our hotel wasn’t super close to FIU (it was in Miramar) it was an early morning and a short 25 minute drive to get there. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the venue goes. The schools I’ve been to weren’t nearly as vast in size. But there we were, at a large campus with its own streets and student housing blocks. It was kind of surreal. The walk between buildings was nice though. The park in the center of it all was lovely and there was even a pond with turtles!

Registration and the morning

Registration was mildly confusing. There was a line there for…something. But because it ran right past the sponsor tables it was a bit difficult to see where the line ended and who was in it. After picking up my badge and swag bag and the opening remarks I went out to look for people I actually knew. Which, in my case, are very few as I don’t particularly enjoy small talk and so have a hard time meeting new people (and for similar reasons, apologies all around to all the people I may have inadvertently ignored, not my intention at all).

Luckily, Sir Adam Soucie has been around to assist in all of that. It probably looked a bit weird to have a hulking person following him around that was merely grinning sheepishly. But I digress.

Dev talks aplenty

The first talk of the day we had attended was Josh Pollock’s Introduction to AJAX in WordPress (link opens in a new window). A nice refresher of AJAX, and an interesting introduction on how to use it in WordPress. Absolutely something to investigate further and consider its applications further.

The next talk we had attended was Dan Beil’s talk “Beyond The Post: Pushing the limits of Custom Post Types”. What little I got from that (admittedly, mostly because I was distracted with the provided code sample) seemed useful. It did go a little fast, which made the impact from being distracted that much larger.

The last dev talk of the day we’ve attended was Nikhil Vimal’s “Integrating Third-party APIs with WordPress”. This guy is really young and really smart. While the gist of the talk was abundantly clear and showcased some of the more underused APIs within WordPress (HTTP (link opens in a new window) and Transients (link opens in a new window)), it was a little all over the place.

A small sidenote on code samples

Both Josh’ and Dan’s talk were accompanied by code examples on github. I thought this was a nice touch that was really helpful for digesting the code samples that were presented. Certainly, something that I’d consider doing for a talk of my own when appropriate.

At the same time though, and this may just be me, it’s also a little distracting. I think I missed most of Dan’s talk as a result of fiddling with his code. I will definitely revisit it when it appears on wordpress.tv.

Impressive orators and story tellers

This WordCamp I had the pleasure of seeing Chris Lema speak for the first time. And boy did he not disappoint. His talk on Saturday, “Blog Topics: How to come up with articles for your blog” was as inspiring as it was humorous. Hopefully it will help me get back on track with writing and find topics to write about. I’ve some ideas, but haven’t had a good chance to put in the work.

Similarly, Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s talk called “Designing for Informational User Experiences: A Responsive Web Design Workflow” was equally inspiring and funny. And different from the usual responsive talks that seem to be more a “here’s a technical how-to on how you do this”. It was a definite call to arms for user-centric design and doing things for your users and make them happy. As someone interested in accessibility, it’s something I can definitely get behind.

The after party

Ah, the Dolphin Mall. Apparently a black hole for phone signal and home of a grand Dave & Buster’s location. The latter was also the venue for the after party. I’m not entirely sure what to say about it. The food at Dave & Buster’s isn’t great, but it’ll do in a pinch. We ended up spending the evening playing some of the lovely games (as we do) and not get involved too much in whatever festivities were going on in the back party room with the tables.

With all that done, and fatigue from the day running high we retreated back to our hotel room and prepared for Sunday!

Sunday: Why would anyone go to Miami Beach?

Sunday morning, I had intended to stay for the morning networking thing but ended up staying up to lunch. Mainly so that the missus didn’t have to entertain herself for the entirety of this day as well. And so we had decided on going to the beach in the afternoon and be tourists in “our own” state (funnily enough, our rental had an Ohio license plate).

The breakfast thing was a bit strange. It was my understanding that it was to be held in the same building as where the registration and sponsors were at. I didn’t see a whole lot of activity here when I arrived and so decided to walk around the campus for a bit. It was a little hot (even that early), but still nice. And then I saw why, presumably, the “networking area” wasn’t bustling: There was a line out the door at the one Starbucks on campus that was actually open.

But, what can I say, I’m a sucker for tea and missed the first talk of the day standing in said line to get some of it. It also helped to be accompanied by my partner in crime Adam.

With tea in hand, off we went to see Chris Lema speak again. This time about business models and deciding on whether that grand idea is a good idea for you. We learnt how to score business ideas on different aspects and how well they work for us. Ultimately, a useful talk to refer back to should I ever decide to start something myself.

The last talk of the day for me was to be Devin Vinson’s “Writing WordPress Plugins with Standards”, an excellent talk about the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate (link opens in a new window) project he now maintains. I’ve dipped my toes into that water with the plugin I’ve created for this website as well as a plugin I’m writing with Adam. Details for the latter will be released when we’re good and ready for it though.

Wynwood Walls and Miami Beach

And with that, WordCamp was over for me. After lunch I got picked up by the wife to head out to the beach. But first, her sister had mentioned something about a cool graffiti art gallery in Miami called “Wynwood Walls”. This would be our first stop, and our first mistake. Besides the fact that it was packed and there was nowhere to park, the area seemed a bit…ghetto-ish. Now, I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, but it doesn’t necessarily make this pale white buy feel safe either. The graffiti we did see scattered on the walls around the area was nice to look at though. And some of it was just…weird.

A graffiti painting of a man with a cactus growing out of his head

From here we conquered the downtown Miami traffic to head down to Miami Beach. Mistake number two. This area is just a mess. And more so when you’ve absolutely no idea of where you’re going. And to add to the repulsion for this area, trying to find a decent garage to park was a nightmare by itself. $10 to park for an hour? Come on now.

So we ultimately decided to just head back to the hotel, have a nice dinner, grab some ice cream and just hang out in front of the TV. Somehow, we actually made it out alive. I knew people weren’t particularly capable of driving in Central Florida, but the traffic around Miami is just the worst.

Monday: The road home

Monday was the day for us to head home. I had specifically decided to stay a day longer so that we’d have time on Sunday to do whatever and so that we could be rested for the trip back home.

On our way back home we visited this magical place called Tate’s Comics (link opens in a new window). Their collection of graphic novels is amazing. What I loved the most about it is how they didn’t separate it out by publisher. DC, Marvel, and Indie books all had their place side by side in alphabetic order.

My score was a copy of Flash: Rebirth that I had been meaning to get, a hard cover copy of New 52 Wonder Woman volume 2 which has been elusive (I’ve been sitting on volumes 1 and 3 forever), a copy of Secret Warriors volume 4 for Adam, and a case for the George Perez sketch cover I had obtained at MegaCon.

After finally being able to pull away from the comic book Valhalla, we set out on our way to make up for our missed beach day the day before. The destination would be Melbourne Beach, which was windy and a bit deserted by the time we got there. The threatening clouds probably didn’t help with that.

We left in the nick of time for our final stop, Grandaddy’s (link opens in a new window), for dinner. Once we arrived there, the threatening clouds turned the sky dark and rain started coming down like crazy. Way to welcome us home Kissimmee.

A word on networking

Let me start by reiterating that I’m an absolutely terrible networker. I can somewhat hold my own when people start talking to me about things, but actually starting a conversation and carrying it is something I’m absolutely not good at.

Despite that, I feel I actually did okay this time around. Doors were opened and connections were made, which is always good. I also ended up (hopefully) helping someone out that came up to me for help with JetPack after Adam’s talk on plugins.

I also got to talk shop a little with some of the awesome guys involved in running the camp, which was also a nice change of pace and proof enough for me that I’m actually able to do this networking stuff to some capacity. And also shows that my work is cut out for me to get better at it. A lot of it.

What’s next?

I would absolutely love to attend WordCamp Netherlands (link opens in a new window). This year will probably no doubt not be possible (but there’s a slim chance!), so hopefully next year. For now, though, Tampa and Orlando are more feasible for this year and I’m looking forward to attending both of these.

Beyond that, the talks at Miami have given me some ideas for plugins to work on. Expect to see more about that in the coming months!

WordPress involvement: 0 to plaid in a month

Disclaimer: This post is a bit humble-braggy. You’ve been warned.

People that know me will know that I’m comfortable in my little shell that allows me to do my thing in the background. Like a Roadie (by Tenacious D).

Since finding and fixing my first WordPress bug (told you, humble-brag), I’ve been mainly lurking in Slack and not getting involved very much (mainly time related, to be fair).

Until, in early February, I noticed that the WordPress accessibility team was calling for testers. This has been a catalyst in getting involved more, especially since testing doesn’t need much more than experience with WordPress. Screen reader experience and experience navigating with the web with just a keyboard are nice to have and will allow you to test more. But really, accessibility is more than just that, being able to understand what’s going on and how to interact with WordPress functionality is also a very big part of it. If you’re at all interested in contributing, sign up to become an accessibility tester and get started today!

But I digress.

My testing contributions quickly put me in a place where I could help more, leading to getting more involved in the accessibility meetings, test results, ticket reporting, and ultimately get added to the Make Accessibility blog to help in posting test and meeting summaries.

None of this would have been possible were it not for the awesome Andrea Fercia and Rian Rietveld, who have both been really helpful.

In the mean time, Adam and I have geared up to start writing plugins in our spare time. We finalised the development and got our very first plugin ready for release this week. I’ve used it on my website, and I can obviously recommend it if you’re interested in having your post series organised. You can download it from the Our Post Series Manager plugin on WordPress Plugin Repository.

Where will this go from here? Who knows. More plugins, surely. Hopefully I will also be able to find more time to help Andrea with developing patches for the bugs we find.

But for now, #humblebrag over. Carry on.

My 2014. There may be many like it, but this one’s mine.

This is going to be frank and open. Probably more so than most people are used to from me. I’m not one to openly share personal things, especially on the Internets, possibly out of fear of it being abused like a weakness or something silly. Perhaps that’s also why I feel a Wall is the best way to describe it. Time to break that shit down, brick by brick.

Personal 2014

2014 has been a year of ups and downs, like many other years. I’ve experienced more of fried America (motherfriggin’ cheese curds), and also experienced the broken America as a short emergency room trip and several other medical mishaps are still haunting our finances. And, related to this, how broken the health insurance system is around here. It was the first year I’ve had my health “covered” since moving here, which entailed a lot of searches for doctors within an arbitrary network of care providers and paying a lot of money for very little.

In regards to health, 2014 has also been the year where I’ve started to pay more attention to what I eat. Carbs, and sugar in particular, have been mostly cut. I did so mainly to support my wife, but at the same time it’ll help me as well. We still have cheat days though, can’t go completely cold turkey with that stuff.

It’s also another year that I’ve not been back home, something my current financial means don’t really allow for while maintaining an already humble-ish lifestyle. It’s my main regret of the past year.

On the upside, this has been a very good year for comic book related media. TV networks seems to be finally catching on to the potential of comic book related shows. And in film, Marvel is keeping its stride with this year’s successful portion of their Phase 2 (Captain America 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy) and DC releasing a number of excellent book to animation films (Justice League: War and Son of Batman) as well as celebrating Batman’s 75th anniversary (clearly more important to me than Marvel’s 75th, sorry guys :p).

It was also the year that I got to see Monty Python’s live show, and Video Games Live. Especially the latter was an excellent experience and highly recommended if you’ve any interest in video game music at all.

And finally, this year was also the first year we got to go out of state and go on a road trip to see friends in North Carolina. While the drive itself made me feel bad that I couldn’t help more by driving part of it myself, it is something I’d like to do more often and see more of this vastly diverse country.

Professional 2014

On a professional level, this year saw a promotion of sorts for me. I’m now a developer lead, which means I’ve just about lost my soul to a more managerial position.

In reality, though, this means that I now also get to guide and support a team of awesome dudes and have a bit more influence on the department as a whole.

I’ve also started to make a bit more of an effort to go out to meetups (WordPress Orlando in particular) to, at the very least, show my face in the community. This has also led to attending my first WordCamp, which has been a very interesting experience. A lot of this is really due to Adam Soucie, without whom I probably would not have done any of this and would still be comfortable in my driving license-less shell.

And lastly, this year has also been the year where I’ve started making contributions to WordPress and WordPress related projects. I’ve reported a bug and submitted a patch. The ticket itself is a bit dead in the water, but that’s okay. I’ll need to revisit it for 4.1 and at least make note of whether it’s still an issue or not. Something else I’ve come to enjoy is translating things to Dutch. I feel it’s particularly important, now that I use this language a lot less, to keep in touch with it. I will probably never fully forget how to write or speak Dutch, but I do catch myself forgetting words more and more or combining the Dutch and English words. Like, “nummber”.

Goals for 2015

A post like this isn’t complete without at least a goal or two to work on for the next year. It probably won’t come as a surprise that one or more of these will be related to what’s described above.

On the whole, I’d like to strive to make our financial situation better than what it is now one way or another. We get by as it is, but living paycheck to paycheck is just terribly, and needlessly, stressful. This, as well as keeping up with the diet and finding time for exercise, are probably the top priority for this year.

As a developer I would like to find time to give back to the community more. I have some massive anxiety demons to slay (think Balrog, or Tarrasque, size) before I’m ready to speak in front of an audience, but spending more time fixing bugs or contributing in a more “behind the scenes” fashion should definitely be possible.

But most importantly, stay committed to the wife. She is, ultimately, the reason why I’m here and who I’m doing all of this for. While I’m still getting used to all this married life stuff two years in, I’m trying my best to not let all the other stuff consume it. As such, if push comes to shove, things will change to fit around my life with her and not so much the other way around.