The Fog of Sadness

Here’s my friend and colleague Lori McLeese’s lovely post on Automattic’s annual Grand Meetup which just ended yesterday.


I know the fog of sadness will come. The knowing doesn’t make it any easier when it arrives.

It’s happened every year for the past five years. Sometimes it sets in the afternoon I arrive home, like today. Sometimes it sets in after I wake up from the post trip nap (last year’s “nap” was 18 hours long, due to sheer exhaustion from too much fun).

This year our annual all company meetup was held in Park City, Utah, and more than 250 people attended. This is a highlight of the year, because it’s often the only time that I’ll see many of my co-workers. We’re a distributed company, and everyone’s primary workspace is their home office. Oh, did I mention we have folks in thirty-five countries around the world? We’re really spread out. It’s a whirlwind of a week – learning at internally led code academy classes; project teams…

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Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 1 News

Here’s the first official edition of Longreads’ Best of WordPress! We’ve scoured 22% of the internet to create a reading list of great storytelling — from publishers you already know and love, to some that you may be discovering for the first time.

We’ll be doing more of these reading lists in the weeks and months to come. If you read or publish a story on WordPress that’s over 1,500 words, share it with us: just tag it #longreads on Twitter, or use the longreads tag on


Tickets for Restaurants (Nick Kokonas, Alinea)


How the owners of world-class restaurants including Alinea created their own custom ticketing system:

Though I hadn’t the faintest idea how we would sell tickets, Grant and I included the line: “Tickets, yes tickets, go on sale soon…” in the announcement ‘trailer’ for Next. That was meant to do three things: 1) gauge…

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Wikimedia Foundation’s 2014-2015 Audit Committee is looking for community volunteers

The Wikimedia Foundation has an Audit Committee which represents the Board in oversight of financial and accounting issues, including planning, reporting, audits, and internal controls (see foundation wiki Audit Committee page for details). The Committee serves for one year, from July through the late spring when the Foundation files its annual tax return in the U.S. This past year the committee included representatives both from the Foundation’s board and from across the Wikimedia movement. I currently serve as the Committee Chair. Continue reading “Wikimedia Foundation’s 2014-2015 Audit Committee is looking for community volunteers”

Longreads Joins the Automattic Family

Great news from a few weeks ago on Longreads joining Automattic. News

Today we’re excited to announce that we are acquiring Longreads, the pioneering service that helps readers find and share the best longform storytelling around the world, for reading on mobile devices.

Over the last five years, Longreads and its community have created a new ecosystem for readers to find great in-depth stories, and for writers and publishers to distribute their best work over 1,500 words. Longreads will continue to do what it does best — recommending stories from across the Internet — and we are excited to have them join the team and continue in their commitment to serving readers.

Mobile reading and the appetite for longform content

As consumption has moved to mobile devices, there has been a growing hunger for longform content: phones and tablets are perfect for enjoying in-depth articles, and there are more moments than ever for readers to dig into a story —…

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Top 10 settings to check on family iPhones and iPads

No matter what else happens in my life — professional success (a big win at work!) or personal joys (a new child!) — I have always been my family’s technical support guy. So this holiday season, as usual, I spent hours answering questions for family members and helping tune all their gadgets. This year’s focus was on iPads and iPhones. Between my sisters, parents, in-laws, nieces, and my own kids, we had a total of 21 iDevices. User ages range from 4 to 83, with little technical knowledge and less time to explore their gadgets.

Many settings needed tweaking. Here are the top 10 tips for our collection of iDevices (well, 11 tips, plus two bonus ones). They are designed for our situation — iDevice users who don’t want their kids to spend a fortune on data overages, where a big goal is to encourage more communication inside your family:

  1. Settings→Wi-Fi: Make sure each device is connected to the Wi-Fi at home, and that the connection is working. My 11-year old niece’s iPad was “connected” to an old broken Wi-Fi hotspot. She thought she was using Wi-Fi but in fact racked up 4.5 GB of data usage in less than 3 weeks.
  2. Settings→Cellular: Turn off Data Roaming. My sister turned on her iPhone for 10 minutes in Mexico earlier this year and racked up $350 of data charges. If you have teenagers, and you don’t like spending a fortune on data plan overages, under Use Cellular Data For, make sure YouTube, 8Track, Spotify, and other media streaming services are turned off. This way they will only use Wi-Fi. My 14-year old niece’s iPhone used over 7 GB in cellular data from these apps in just three months.
  3. Settings→General→Software Update: If there are any software updates, including to iOS 7, make a backup first and then do the update. My 10-year old niece’s iPad mini crashed during the iOS 7 update and I didn’t back it up first. The most recent backup was from 5 days earlier, and she lost about 1,000 coins from a few games she had been playing, plus a very special sparkly dragon character she had bought with them. Tears were shed.
  4. Settings→General→Usage: Explain how this shows how much space they are using for different apps. Explain that high definition video is 100MB per minute. Make an effort to get teenagers to delete any unneeded apps. Fail in your efforts.
  5. Settings→General→International→Keyboards: Add an emoji keyboard. To communicate with teenagers, you’ll need both words and emoji. Emoji are a standard set of smileys and other iconography first developed in Japan but are now widely used by teenagers everywhere. For example, when asked if she had the emoji keyboard turned on one of my nieces replied, “Of course I do. What kind of 10-year old wouldn’t?”
  6. Settings→iCloud: Login to iCloud. Turn on Find My iPhone. This not only helps find a lost phone but triggers all of Apple’s nice new anti-theft features. Suggest they use iCloud backups. For most, it’s worth it to get automatic backups every time a device is plugged in. Plus, you don’t need to clutter up your iTunes with the 1000+ apps that your kids download.
  7. Settings→Mail, Contacts, Calendars: For email accounts, make sure they’re connected via IMAP accounts and not POP. Curse email providers who either don’t provide or don’t default to IMAP (I’m looking at you, Earthlink and MSN/Hotmail/Live/whatever). For the teenagers, explain email (“texting for old people” has worked for me).
  8. Settings→Messages: Make sure they’re signed into their own Apple ID, not a parent’s. My 14-year old niece had been receiving/reading all of her father’s iMessages, and replying as him sometimes, because he had signed her into his iTunes store account but not changed her Apple ID for iMessage. Suggest they turn on Send Read Receipts — it’s great. Ensure both their phone number and Apple ID are included under Send & Receive.
  9. Settings→FaceTime: Make sure it’s turned on and they’re logged into their own Apple ID.
  10. Settings→iTunes & App Store: Turn on Automatic downloads for Updates, and maybe the others. Turn off Use Cellular Data. One of my nieces had over 1.7 GB of cellular downloads from the App Store.
  11. Find my Friends: This one is a matter of personal choice, but in our family the principle is that kids and parents — whatever their ages — share location data with each other. I know where my 83-year old mother is, and she knows where I am.

A final note on Restrictions. For parents, Settings→General→Restrictions has a comprehensive set of restrictions you can place on making changes to an iDevice. There are some personal decisions to make about how and when to restrict your kid use. Here are two that we use:

  1. Under Allow Changes, you can lock a variety of the above settings. For example, if you don’t want your child to be able to turn off Find my Friends, change the Cellular Data Use features, Background App Refresh, you can select “Don’t Allow Changes” under each.
  2. For my little kids, we disable Installing AppsDeleting AppsIn-App Purchases. This is mostly to avoid accidental or older-cousin-induced purchases.

The result of all this will, hopefully, be fewer data overages, more communication among family, and general rightness in the world. However, restrictions on installing apps might lead to awkward moment like this sales job from my Fruit Ninja obsessed 6-year old: