Tag Archives: open source

WordCamp Seattle Contributor Day

Why you should go to a WordCamp Contributor Day

A WordCamp Contributor Day Logo created by  Jenny Wong
A WordCamp Contributor Day Logo created by Jenny Wong for WordCamp Sheffield

You’re a WordPress developer and you attend WordCamps?

But I ask you? Have you ever attended a Contributor Day?

The reason I ask is many WordCamps now are actually two-day events. First day is the general conference with speakers and the second day is a contributor day. I have attended the contributor days at WordCamp Seattle for two years now and it’s a great place to learn, talk, discuss WordPress core and how you can contribute back to WordPress. (Hence the name)

Have you working with WordPress and said:

  1. I wish I had time to suggest or submit an improvement to WordPress.
  2. I think this is a bug but I am not sure and I am way to busy at work to investigate.
  3. Why doesn’t the codex have updated documentation on this.
  4. There are a lot of unanswered questions in the forums.

These are all great reasons to go to a contributor day and give back to the community!

You’ll also be able to meet and chat with other developer and often their are core contributors or committers to WordPress in attendance that you can converse with.

So if you love WordPress and want to start contributing but don’t know where to start. Then attend a contributor day and find a way to give back.

ps. WordCamp Vancouver 2014 is holding it’s first Contributor Day and you should attend!

Analogy for a good foundation to web design

Always start with a good foundation

Although I went to school for web design I basically taught myself HTML and CSS. I am generally an organized person, so I always kept my CSS neat and organized. So if someone had to pick up where you left of they code without a huge amount of trouble.

Since joining the Vancouver WordPress Community I met Christine Rondeau who instilled in me just how standards are so important. I have been using her blank themes for WordPress development for a number of years now. I’ve also collaboration with Christine on a responsive blank theme For WordPress development.

Another Vancouver WordPress developer Joey Kudish had done the same for Christine’s blank themes and pickup up a lot of good habits from those two and many others.

This past month I had two examples of how important this truly is!

One site was small but needed to be professional and only had a three week timeline from start to finish. I took Christine’s Bold Headline theme from the WordPress Theme Directory, Changed the font, moved a few things around, added my own footer and a couple other style flourishes. The client love it, deadlines were met everyone was happy. But it all started with Christine’s Bold Headline (which originally started off as a Underscores default theme).

Christine had a good foundation with Underscores and made Bold Headline
I had a good foundation with Bold Headline and made my clients deadline.

The second example was less so.

It was a theme that was purchased from a theme house and I was contracted out to make a number of similar changes to this theme. A font change here, a new footer there and a couple other style flourishes to give the theme it’s own feel.

(Don’t judge a book by it’s cover some theme houses have great code and awesome developers working for them.)

After checking the support forums of the theme developer he didn’t provide any support if a single line of code was changed to his theme. If it wasn’t in the customizer. Don’t try it and if you do I can’t help you with it. Also it was said this theme could be used with the current version of WordPress btw.

I now know why he provides no support to making even slight changes to the theme. The theme’s is a mess of hacked code with no rhyme or reason why it was done.  Italics tags with the italics removed, anchor tags with both absolute and relative positions to them (you should never apply a position to a anchor tag anyway) … I could go on but it makes me cringe and nothing was commented…

Now I am not without my abilities and I was able to modify the existing theme to suit the clients purposes and they are happy with there site.

But both themes have left me with two very different feelings on completion.

The first theme I’d gladly work on again. I can adapt change to the clients needs and anyone with WordPress, HTML and CSS knowledge could work on this. They need some plugin that changes the functionality of the site. Shouldn’t be a problem.

The second theme: I never want to see again… Not because the work I did was of poor quality, or I am ashamed of what I did. But because any small amount of code change could completely break the theme. Just to change a icon took over an hour and for no good reason. Who know what will happen if or more likely when you want to add something to the site.

Coincidentally both projects came out to similar prices.

So the moral of this story is to always start with a good foundation or else you’ll be living with a website that feels like this:

House on stilts
Just keep to the right hand side of the house and you’ll do fine…


Contributing to open source along with client work at the same time is harder then I though…

But once the contribution has been made it’s so rewarding… 

John Biehler's MakerBot TK-421

The world of 3D printing… with John Biehler

John Biehler's Thing-o-Matic TK-421
John Biehler’s Thing-o-Matic TK-421 and a collection of objects he has made since he ordered the machine.

I was able to visit John Biehler and his  Thing-O-Matic by Maker Bot on Friday and I was pretty awestruck but the entire technology.

When I first saw John on Canada Day he only had a few samples with him from  his two weeks with the machine.

He is certainly the first and only person I know who owns on and, john correct me if I am wrong, but you ordered your bot he got his shortly after I saw it featured on the Colbert Report.

When I visited his home and saw the apply named TK-421 Thing-O-Matic he had a huge assortment of stuff he has tried and showed me a few amazing samples of what the technology is capable of.

John is also making a second more advanced 3D printer called a Prusa Mendel and most of the pieces are made from his original Thing-O-Matic.

This tech is not for the faint of heart as you have to assemble it yourself and John spent some considerable time learning how too maintain and operate the machine properly but if you have some computer tech hardware knowledge along with about $1200 cdn you can start 3D printing too…

The loaded question I had for John was could he print me something I was looking for?

I was looking for a cable holder for my office at home. I hadn’t needed one until recently, but a quick catalog check and I didn’t want to pay $10 for a piece of plastic I knew only cost at most a buck to produce.

With in seconds john had found a design on thingiverse, a vast catalog of designs that you can print. You can find everything from busts of Yoda and Steven Colbert to that cable holder you always wanted…

Keep the Change TK-421
The change I joking left on the table for the actual cost of the cable clips.

The software even tells John what it will cost him to produce the product.

“That be a total of 37 cents Robert, will that be Visa, Mastercard or Amex?”

Search in my pockets for some change I found 40 cents and left it on the table. We both had a chuckle over that… 20 minutes later I had the piece in my fingers.

John also has complete control over the density of the product and the speed it would be printed.

In closing 3-D printing is quite the technology and I Look forward to this technology advancing in the coming years. We’re along way away from having a Star Trek Replicator in our homes, but for the first time I seen something that can make a product upon request with in minutes…

The Cable Catcher s3 in both Green and Orange
The Cable Catcher s3 in both Green and Orange
Close up of cable clips
Close up photo of cable holder Photo by John Biehler using his new iPhone 4s