Footnotes #399


This is a tumultuous time for society. I have started and subsequently stopped writing several times this week, trying to better understand and somehow encapsulate what we’re seeing unfold. To consider how I, as a white man, can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

We have watched horrible videos of crimes spread like wildfire on social media. We’ve seen systemic prejudice manifest itself in statistic after statistic, proving the harder path people of color must walk all their lives. We’ve witnessed those sworn to protect the citizenry too often do the opposite. We’ve seen city, state, and federal forces violate protesters’ inherent constitutional rights to assemble peacefully.

George Floyd’s murder was a spark, a catalyst that shook millions and spurred them into action. To protest. To demand institutional reform and change. To demand justice for Floyd, for Breanna Taylor, for Stephon Clark, for Philando Castile, for Alton Sterling, for Walter Scott, for Tamir Rice, for Michael Brown, for Eric Garner, for untold more.

We can, and should, lean into this movement — not only for justice but for change. It’s the change we can all be a part of, especially those of us with a voice, or those of us with the capacity to otherwise help right wrongs that have been perpetuated for centuries.

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I have very few. I can listen. I have been listening. And I can not only stand in solidarity with the black community, but I can act in solidarity. I can take part in change that is needed. I can help uplift black voices. I can call out wrongdoing. I can continue to learn. Importantly, I can resist the temptation to “move on” when the dust settles, and instead make a persistent effort to do better.

How the tech community can provide support for Black Lives Matter. Practical advice by Jennifer Riggins.

Shannon Shaffer on fearing speaking up about diversity, inclusion, and racism.

Reflecting on the color of my skin, from Marques Brownlee.


On the recommendation of an architect-entrepreneur friend, I read The Win Without Pitching Manifesto, which is excellent overall but really, really good for agencies and service-oriented businesses. This quote from the book especially stuck out to me:

“Presenting is a tool of swaying, while conversing is a tool of weighing. Through the former, we try to convince people to hire us. Through the latter we try to determine if both parties would be well served by working together.”

Jetpack has added site scanning to its repertoire of paid services. For $7 per month, this adds to Jetpack's backups product as a service-oriented paid feature from Jetpack. I'm keenly watching to see where else Jetpack will go as they begin to roll out their monetization strategy, which was inevitable after spending years and millions of dollars developing the core product and user base.

I think there are several interesting ways they can take this strategy, particularly given their hosted computing capabilities, large network of sites for wrangling data, etc.

WordPress celebrated the 17th anniversary of its first release on May 27th. 🎉

Matt Mullenweg recalls, “The main feedback we got at the time was that the blogging software market was saturated and there wasn’t room or need for anything new.” He notes that 38 releases later, WordPress continues to press forward.

WordPress is approaching 37.2% of the CMS market share according to W3Techs. (The .2% is growth up from about 36.9% since the end of May.) 📈

Just for kicks, check out the post that announced the first public release of WordPress. XHTML 1.1, “Highly Intelligent Line Breaks,” and “Manual Excerpts” were the headliners.

🍰 Congratulations to Yoast on their tenth anniversary! 🔟

🌊 The Gutenberg 8.2 🇮🇹 release includes block pattern categories, cover block content alignment, and an improved editing flow:

“The editing flow is a constant priority for the project, and Gutenberg 8.2 introduces several enhancements to improve the writing experience. Copying, cutting, and pasting single blocks is now much easier. You can also split out of captions and button blocks using ‘Enter' to continue your writing.”

Carrie Dils dives into full site editing in WordPress now with this Getting Started guide.

To experiment with the existing and planned features coming to Gutenberg in the near future, you'll start by downloading and installing the latest version of the Gutenberg plugin on a development site. Next, enable “Full Site Editing” under plugin settings. ⬇️

💶 TechCrunch‘s Connie Loizos took an interesting look at how Automattic pays its remote employees in different locations and currencies. When asked if Automattic pays employees based on their geography and its related cost of living, Matt said:

“[W]e aim to pay the same rates for the same roles, regardless of geography. Automattic currently has folks in over 75 countries. Sometimes this puts us above or below what may be the market rate for a role in a given area.”

Over at his blog, Matt shared his online streaming setup. If you have some cash to burn (or if you are a CEO) then you might be interested in some of his picks.

No matter what your budget is, there's a lot to learn from Matt's Guide to Distributed Work Tools. 🛠️

Ashley Rich and Brad Touesnard have put together a setup guide for Ubuntu 18.04 to “run WordPress fast.” Chapter one explains how to set up a secure virtual server on DigitalOcean. 💨

The 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey results have been published. WordPress doesn't seem to fare well in these surveys, although that might be due to the lack of WordPress developers taking them.

Notably, while WordPress was ranked the most “dreaded” platform, it also ranked high in the “most popular platforms” category. 😕

With BuddyPress 6.0.0 released on May 14, the invitation is out for contributors to 7.0.0’s kickoff. Just reply to the call for tickets — as WordPress does before each release. 🙋‍♂️

Here's an attempt by Joshua Thijssen to list all 150+ Amazon Web Services with clear descriptions of what they do. 🤯

Conference Updates

📻 If you are interested in learning how to start a podcast, Joe Casabona has a new course devoted to this subject. It is a paid course, but the initial lessons are available for free as a preview. Joe covers selecting a good topic, getting your gear, recording, and launching your show.

Gravity Forms has released a Product Roadmap to its customers as well as the ability to vote and provide feedback on ideas as they pass through the stages of “under consideration,” “planned,” and “launched.” They also recently unveiled a new Community section of their site for third-party developers who are “creatively extending the power and reach of” Gravity Forms. 🚌

Jeffrey Nolte has the skinny on Google's “core web vitals” — the metrics Google considers “essential” for “a healthy site” today. 📈

“You’re not really a developer. Sooner or later people are going to realize you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just not good enough.”

If you've ever had those thoughts, you are not alone, says Landon Schropp. This is an encouraging and insightful post that young people just starting to code may need to hear as well as “mature” coders. 👨‍👧

If you've ever thought about live streaming yourself developing or coding on a platform like Twitch, then check out this blog post at AcAdamy. The advantages are accountability, community and networking, a rapid feedback loop, a higher impact, it's fun, and you could earn some money. 👩‍💻


Video Picks

📹 Here's the video pick of the week:

  • Matt Medeiros has a great video overview of GeneratePress‘s new GenerateBlocks plugin. 🔌

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that I enjoyed:

  • Core Intuition: Daniel Jalkut and Manton Reece talk about the open web and Automattic's strategic investment of almost $5M into New Vector. 💸 :
  • WPCoffeeTalk: Michelle interviewed Amy Hall, who is very knowledgeable about MailChimp and email marketing. 📧
  • The WPMRR WordPress Podcast: Ben McAdam returns as a guest and speaks about managing during the pandemic. There's also some information on the Build Scale Sell Summit and the benefits of virtual summits. ⛰️
  • How I Built It: John Vuong offers advice for forging better relationships through communication with current and potential clients. 🤝