Matty, Y U NO BLOG THIS WEEK?

Greetings, Wally watchers… long time no chat.

You may have been popping in here this week and thinking, “why isn’t he blogging every day, after he said he’d aim to do a post a day for the whole year?”. I’ll explain why I’ve been quiet on here for the past few days. 🙂

Over the past few weeks, i’ve been working with Michael Krapf and Mark Forrester over at WooThemes on our new theme (released today), “Unsigned“. This theme, geared primarily at bands and solo musicians, is a theme that’s near and dear to me, as music is a great passion of mine, as is the independent music industry in South Africa. More on “Unsigned” in another blog post though. Back to Project 365 and the “post a day” concept.

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The world according to Generation-O

In today’s world, we have so much at our disposal. Technology that previously occupied room upon room of space to do a few calculations now makes up a small part of even a common calculator. Let me ask you this… is having all this technology always great?

Occasionally on Twitter, I read tweets along the lines of “20 years ago today, I was climbing trees” or “#whenIwasYourAge I rode my bike to school every morning”. Is technology part of what has caused this generation shift?

Many people refer to “Generation-Y”… the youth. The “young people” who are to “make a difference in the world”. I’d say that we’re entering a new age of “Generation-O”- the “plugged in” youth of today who seek to optimise every facet of their lives through technology.

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Re-thinking the concept of the “impossible”

In today’s society, it seems to be a common occurrence to use the word “impossible”. For example, after climbing a mountain, one might say something like; “wow, that was impossible”. No it wasn’t… you just did it. Nowadays we seem to have a tendency to over-exaggerate (pardon the tautology there) and, in many cases, start to believe what we’re saying. Surely, this affects how we approach tasks and situations. Why should it?

Over the past few years (I’d say, since about 2008), I’ve decided to approach tasks day to day from a different angle. How can we say that a task is “impossible” if we haven’t even yet attempted it?

This is quite a common occurrence in web development… developers looking at a task, attempting to analyze it, getting “stuck” at one point and then moving on, deeming it “impossible”. Why does it have to, all of a sudden, be “impossible”, if you haven’t even attempted it yet? Why settle for the “shortcut” when you could just sit down and develop it how you envision it in the first place?

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Musicians know how to promote

When making observations, I make a point of looking at and learning from both positive and negative observations… taking the lessons and learning from them. I also quite enjoy relating one industry to another, taking a lesson or observation from a certain industry and applying it to another. Today’s topic is around promotion, pushing your brand and creating public awareness around what you’re trying to achieve. Much of this, I’ve observed and learned through the music industry.

In the music industry, there are many layers. The layer I’ll be focussing on here is that of the independent artists. The guys who run their own show and manage themselves and everything that goes along with being in a band or performing as a solo artist.

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E-mail is broken

While sitting down to write what was likely to be a completely different blog post, I found myself compelled to write this, so here goes…

E-mail, as a technology, is broken… and we broke it.

E-mail (electronic mail) was originally intended as a means of sending messages digitally in a similar form as a posted letter. A nice simple envelope with a hand-written or typed up letter, possibly to a pen-pal or maybe a notice to cancel an account of sorts… only digital.

As the internet became more popular, it became more a commonplace item in our lives. Nowadays, we almost assume that someone has at least an e-mail address, let alone a Facebook or Twitter account. E-mail is a common form of communication amongst the majority of us who are hooked into technology… so why can’t we use it correctly?

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Growth through Discussion

It is said by many that attending conferences and meet-ups is an important part of developing oneself in a particular industry, and of developing one’s skills set. Surrounding oneself with knowledgable and experienced individuals can go a long way towards developing skills and a knowledge base.

At many such conferences, I’ve heard successful businessmen and entrepreneurs impart valuable tips such as “the value of your fax machine is determined by how many others have fax machines” and “surround yourself with others who know more than you in certain areas of your business”. Both of these are valuable tid-bits of knowledge that I have taken to heart.

When listening to a speaker at a conference, I feel it is important to take in every word and process it (rather than just sitting and listening while tweeting a quote from their talk). I feel it is also important to ask questions and spark discussion from these talking points.

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Project 365 – The Road So Far

As I mentioned in my new year’s post a few days ago, one of my new years resolutions is to blog more. I, therefore, decided to have Project 365 a try and to write a blog post every day for the year.

So far, the journey (pfff… it’s been only 5 days) has been interesting. The main challenge, really, is to figure out what to post about. I’m definitely of the belief that a blog post should provide some form of value for the reader (not just a video of a cat jumping into a shoe box, for example). That makes it all the more difficult. Luckily, I find I learn a lot and find & pick up web development tips on a regular basis (such as more rigorous use of the Transients API– thanks Warren), which fills up one section of posts I’d like to write. I also tend to think of concepts and theories, which I could flesh out a bit more and post up here in my “thoughts” category. These may become a bit too general though and would need to be filtered into the proper categories.

On the whole, blogging is something I really enjoy (especially using the “distraction free writing” feature in WordPress, which this blog post is currently being written in). I’m really glad I chose to blog for Project 365, as I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Got any ideas for blog posts you’d like me to write up? Pop them in a comment below. 🙂

Re-thinking “Uncategorized” in WordPress

As WordPress users soon come to realise after setting up their website, a few defaults are loaded in. These defaults include a test “Hello World” post with a comment from Mr. WordPress, a “Sample Page’ with some text and instructions and the “Uncategorized” category, amongst the various default “Links” data and “Blogroll” category.

Having given this some thought, the “Uncategorized” category doesn’t really seem correct in that the term is a category in itself. It’s almost a full paradox to say that a post is “uncategorized”, meanwhile it is in fact in a category.

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Good morning, 2012!

As I type this, it’s 6:16am on January 1st, 2012. For the last 30 minutes, I’ve been up with a cup of coffee and bowl of cereal, welcoming in the new year (this after having gone to sleep at around 12:30am as well). Despite the early hour, I’m ready to get 2012 started and get moving!

2011 was a year of much excitement and many developments for me. Travels, WordPress plugin releases and exciting developments at WooThemes, coupled with the inclusion of our new family member, Maddie (now almost 5 months old), made for a truly amazing year.

With 2011 now firmly in the past, I’d imagine the usual chain of thought is happening with you all as well… “what new years resolutions should I make?”, “should I make any new years resolutions at all?”, “can I actually keep any of them?”. These are three questions that have been on my mind on and off for the last day or so (clearly, new years resolutions don’t weigh down on me :P). I figured, lets cement a few down in a blog post as a starting point, and see if it’s possible to get them done sooner rather than later in the new year.

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What a blog redesign means to me

Today’s question, folks, is; “What does a blog redesign mean to you?”. Lets dive right in, shall we?

For me, a blog redesign means quite a lot. It means the opportunity to hone my skills, experiment with new ideas and techniques and put a fresh coat of paint and a new engine behind my blog. Let me elaborate on the paint and engine for a moment.

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