Among our goals for the week was an attempt to strengthen the definition of who are team are, what we work on, and how and why we do so. That’s basically a team-level identity, mission, vision, and values, right?
Normally when you play Dixit, you select a card from your hand – each shows a unique piece of artwork – and try to describe it in a way that’s precise enough that some of the other players will later be able to pick it out of a line-up, but ambiguous enough that not all the other players will. It’s a delicate balancing act. Even when our old Geek Night was in full swing we didn’t used to play it often because our well-established group’s cornucopia of in-jokes and references made it trivially easy to “target” your descriptions at specific players1, but it’s still a solid icebreaker activity.
Perhaps it was the fantasy artwork that inspired us or maybe it just says something about how my team sees themselves, but what we came up with had a certain… swords-and-sorcery… even Dungeons & Dragons… feel to it.
Ou team’s new identity isn’t finalised, but I love the fact that we’ve been able to inject a bit of fun and whimsy into it. At our last draft, my team looks to be defined as comprising:
Gareth, level 62 Pathfinder, leading the way through the wilds
Bero, Level 5 Battlesmith, currently lost in the void
Dan (me!), Level 5 Arcane Trickster, breaking locks and stealing treasure
Cem, Level 4 Dragonslayer, smashing doors and bugs alike
Lae, Level 7 Pirate, seabound rogue with eyes on the horizon
Kyle, Level 5 Apprentice Bard, master of words and magic
Simran, Level 6 Apprentice Code Witch, weaving spells from nature
I think that’s pretty awesome.
1 Also: I don’t own any of the expansion packs and playing with the same cards over and over again gets a bit samey.
2 The “levels” are simply the number of years each teammate has been an Automattician, plus one.
The first wayoint is right across the road from where some work colleagues and I are staying for an “away week”. I decided to dash out during a break in the weather to try and solve this multi between meetings. But I was quickly confused because… this isn’t the way I was taught to do Roman numerals. I’d always been told that you should never have four of the same letter in a row, e.g. you should say XIV, not XIIII. Once I’d worked out what I was doing wrong, though, I was okay!
The second and third waypoints had me braving some frankly scary roads. The drivers here just don’t seem to stop unless you’re super assertive when you step out!
Once I had the final numbers and ran it through geochecker I realised that the cache must be very close to where I’d had lunch earlier today! Once I got there it took me a while to get to the right floor, after which the hint made things pretty obvious.
Great trail, really loved it. And just barely made it back before the rain really started hammering down. TFTC, FP awarded, and greetings from Oxford, UK!
Now that travel for work is back on the menu, I’ve been trying to upgrade my “pack light” game.
I’ve been inspired in part by Beau, who I first met during my trip to South Africa in 2019 during my Automattic onboarding. Beau travelled from the US for a two week jaunt with nothing but hand luggage, and it blew my mind.
For my trip to Vienna earlier this year for a divisional meetup, I got by with just a backpack and a laptop bag. Right now, I’m waiting to fly to Rome for a week, and I’ve ditched the laptop bag in favour of just a single carry-on backpack. About 7kg of luggage, and well within the overhead locker size limit.
I’m absolutely sold on this approach. I get to:
walk past the queues for luggage drop (having checked-in online),
keep the entirety of my luggage with me at all times (which ensures it goes where I do),
breeze through security1, thanks to smart packing2
walk right out of the airport at the other end without having to wait for the flingers to finish smashing everybody’s luggage into the carousels.
As somebody who’s travelled “heavy” for most of my life – and especially since the children came along – it’s liberating to migrate to a “pick up a bag and go” mindset. To begin with, the nagging thought that I must’ve forgotten something essential was challenging, but I think I’ve gotten past that stage now.
Travelling light feels like carefree: like being a kid again, when all you needed was the back on your back and you were ready for an adventure. Once again, I’ve got a bag on my back3 and I know that everything I need for an adventure is right here with me4.
1 If you’ve travelled with me before, you might have noticed that I sometimes have trouble at borders on account of my damn stupid name, as predicted by the Passport Office. I’ve since learned all the requisite tricks to sidestep these problems, but that’s probably worthy of a post in its own right.
2 A little smart packing goes a long way. In the photo above, you might see my pre-prepared liquids bag in a side pocket, my laptop slides right out for separate scanning, my wallet and phone just dump out of my pockets, and I’m done.
3 I don’t really have a bag on my back right now. I’m sat in a depature lounge at Gatwick Airport. But you get the idea.
4 Do I really have everything I need? I’ve not brought a waterproof coat and, looking at the weather forecast at my destination, this might have been a mistake. But worst case I can buy a cheap poncho at the other end. That’s the kind of freedom that being an adult gets you, replacing the childlike freedom to get soaked and not care.
Automattic has acquired the ActivityPub plugin for WordPress from German developer Matthias Pfefferle, who will be joining the company to continue improving support for federated platforms. Pfefferle, who is also the author of the Webmention plugin, said his new role is to see how Automattic’s products can benefit from open protocols like ActivityPub.
This is so exciting I might burst. Want to know why?
Matt Mullenweg‘s commitment to ActivityPub makes me happy. WordPress made Pingback and Trackback take off, back in the day, and I believe that – in the same way – Automattic can help make ActivityPub more accessible and mainstream too.
Matthias Pfefferle is both an IndieWeb and an ActivityPub star; I use (and I’ve extented upon) a lot of code he’s written every day and I sponsor him on Github! The chance that we get to work directly together is pretty slim, but it’s a chance right?
Susan A. Kitchens expressed concern that this could increase the level of ActivityPub spam out there (which right now is very low). I worry about that too. But I’m still optimistic that we can make something awesome off the back of this acquisition and keep the interpersonal Web federated, the way it ought to be.
My work colleague Simon was looking for a way to add all of the upcoming UK strike action to their calendar, presumably so they know when not to try to catch a bus or require an ambulance or maybe just so they’d know to whom they should be giving support on any particular day. Thom was able to suggest a few places to see lists of strikes, such as this BBC News page and the comprehensive strikecalendar.co.uk, but neither provided a handy machine-readable feed.
If only they knew somebody who loves an excuse to throw a screen-scraper together. Oh wait, that’s me!
I threw together a 36-line Ruby program that extracts all the data from strikecalendar.co.uk and outputs an .ics file. I guess if you wanted you could set it up to automatically update the file a couple of times a day and host it at a URL that people can subscribe to; that’s an exercise left for the reader.
If you just want a one-off import based on the state-of-play right now, though, you can save this .ics file to your computer and import it to your calendar. Simple.
The week before last I had the opportunity to deliver a “flash talk” of up to 4 minutes duration at a work meetup in Vienna, Austria. I opted to present a summary of what I’ve learned while adding support for Finger and Gopher protocols to the WordPress installation that powers DanQ.me (I also hinted at the fact that I already added Gemini and Spring ’83 support, and I’m looking at other protocols). If you’d like to see how it went, you can watch my flash talk here or on YouTube.
If you love the idea of working from wherever-you-are but ocassionally meeting your colleagues in person for fabulous in-person events with (now optional) flash talks like this, you might like to look at Automattic’s recruitment pages…
The presentation is a shortened, Automattic-centric version of a talk I’ll be delivering tomorrow at Oxford Geek Nights #53; so if you’d like to see it in-person and talk protocols with me over a beer, you should come along! There’ll probably be blog posts to follow with a more-detailed look at the how-and-why of using WordPress as a CMS not only for the Web but for a variety of zany, clever, retro, and retro-inspired protocols down the line, so perhaps consider the video above a “teaser”, I guess?
The second spectacular cache I’ve found from this CO. Absolutely amazing. Coordinates got me close, but it was only when I started looking around that I spotted something that didn’t look quite right and found the cache. Amazing work, FP awarded.
I’ve been in Vienna for a week to meet work colleagues, and today – our meetings at an end and still with a few hours before my plane leaves – I decided to come out and find some local geocaches.
At the GZ there were lots of good hiding places so I reached over and around. In a few seconds my fingers touched the cache. Great!
But then – disaster! As others have observed, the magnets in this cache aren’t the strongest and it bounced free. It fell a long, long way! I rushed across the road and down to the lower level to grab it. Luckily the cache container was unharmed, so I signed the log as I carried it back to up its hiding place. What an adventure!
FP awarded for the cool container and hiding place, and for the fun story you helped me tell. Greetings from Oxfordshire, UK. TFTC!
You know who’s having a killer month? Automattic. Everyone who’s leaving Twitter seem to fall in at least one of these three camps:
They have gone back to the blogosphere. (using WordPress, or WordPress.com)
They have gone to Tumblr
They have gone to the fediverse (of which a fairly large percentage are WordPress installs)
In all of these cases, Automattic wins.
Some smart observations here by Alex. A fourth point worth noting is that Matt has openly suggested that former Twitter engineers might like to come join us in Automattic and help make the web a better place. We’ve changed our careers pages a little lately but we’re still the same awesome company!