My 500 and counting

The beginning of the year I promised myself that I would try to review 500 themes by the end of the year. I finally managed to reach that point and was super ecstatic about it that I just had to tweet about it:

Yes, a tweet. Just one tweet. And I even went ahead and made another little challenge for myself for the next goal: 750. No timeframe for that just yet but I am happy I completed the 500 and am making some good traction for the next goal.

Since making that little challenge to myself a few things have changed. One of which is that I am now able to push themes live as well as others. Makes for reducing the queue a little easier and tolerable in my point of view. There are a few other things but I’ll leave that for another post and another time.

Keeping count of reviews

I hate posting this but I have to do it; sort of a status check for myself. To see where I stand and where I can be better. We all do it. I choose to do it publicly.

I can’t recall when I said I wanted to have my review count to be at 500 by the end of the year but I did. What review count you ask? Theme review of course. Since the beginning of the year I wanted to allot more time to reviewing and helping release more themes.

I can’t help it, I like to help when I can. It hasn’t been easy for me only because of the way I try and balance work and everyday life at the moment. I get home from work and I just want to review more themes when I should be sleeping.

As of this writing the tally is around 330 themes that I’ve looked over and read just about every single line of code. There are some that I glance over but for the most part I read all the code and of course look for key things when it comes to new themes.

I’m glad I’m keeping a good pace so far and will try and post an update when I finally reach that 500 theme mark.

Making a little music

I’ve been meaning to post an audio file for some time and today I got the nerve to get down and dirty with some settings. I have to say I am super happy with the sound since it’s been far too long since I dabbled with any type of audio. The last time I did that I was creating random sine waves to test speaker response and trying to create some audio filters with capacitors and a few resistors.

So here it is me randomly playing Tempestad on my Flamenco guitar. Enjoy!

( Edit: had to add one more: Lagrima – practice )

Making a few commits

Let me give you a little bit of a back story first.

2 years ago

I began posting on the WordPress.org forums to help people out. I would only post on things that I knew for sure I knew the answers to or would help out. It felt like it at the time. Who knows really. It was, after all, two years ago. Not only that I would only really post at most twice a week. It was fine only because I didn’t have a goal in mind.

Yes and no. I had a goal in mind: to help; to share my knowledge. A lot has changed since then of course. Now, I have a slightly different goal in mind: make a career out of helping people. Yes, it may sound a little cheesy but it is true. A lot of it does stem from working at Starbucks. Many of the ‘regulars’ know that I won’t lie to them and will try my hardest to find something they will like. Now, I’m getting a little sidetracked.

Push forward

Over those last two years I kept mentioning a theme I was working on. Funny thing is I did and I didn’t. Part of that reason was I kept putting it aside. I would do a theme review, post a solution to the forums or see how I could help out somebody in the IRC channels. You know what? I loved every encounter and every sentence I wrote and read. So really it’s hard to be upset. I learned a lot from it all. Not just WordPress but programming in general.

Yes, I did also pick up a few other things along the way like the basics of SVN and Git and how to create a simple repository with those tools.

It’s safe to say the last two years I have been fairly busy. I have reviewed more themes, posted more often on the forums, make an attempt to post on IRC more frequently and have the honor of being one of  the Theme Review Team reps. It’s been an awesome year for me so far.

Say what?

Up until recently I never really said much about my theme. Yeah, I posted one or two photos of what it might look like but never any code. Okay maybe some code but never really said it was.

I began my theme with one thing in mind: simplicity. It sounds overly repetitive since a lot of themes claim the same thing. You know what? That’s fine. Over time I realized one thing: I don’t want complete simplicity. It would be nice to have but I don’t think I would achieve it without deleting the entire project. I mean how much simpler can you get with no code?

So, here goes, what I have been working on/off for the last year or so: Solea

Yeah, it’s not finished. There are a few things missing here and there but you know what? It can be expanded upon.

I will always be a novice

I know it does sound funny to those that have known me for several years but that is how I view myself sometimes. I don’t mean that I am a beginner but I want to be one. I mean this in the most positive way I can think of.

A few years ago I was watching a documentary about the guitar. It opened my eyes to a slightly different way of thinking and looking at some things in my life. The person that really made me think most was Carlos Santana. Not too shocking since I fell in love with his guitar style of playing nearly a decade ago. He said that when plays the guitar he plays it like it’s his first time playing ( Or at least along those lines ).

This is often how I feel. The reason is because I think that there are several ways of doing one thing. Much like in PhotoShop there is more than one way of removing the background from an image. Yeah, each has their positive and negative but in the end they all get the same result. This is true when working with WordPress.

Recently I posted how to create a sticky post slider. I mentioned that another way of creating it would be to use get_posts rather than modifying the query. That is one way; another would be using query_posts and then of course there is what seems to be the more popular way of just getting a specific category or categories. There is nothing wrong with those methods. Each one has its own pitfalls and each one has their own feat. It is all a matter of preference.

What has brought this up is last week I was doing yet another WordPress theme review and saw a method that was new to me. It actually dealt with the WordPress theme customizer. It gave me an idea of how I could potentially use the customizer to include widgets or not. The other options was to display the copyright information on the footer.

Which then sparked an idea to create a plugin that has the ability to display the widgetized area on a single post or not, which actually could be attainable by using a simple conditional check for a theme option. And now I’m slowly trailing off.

The reason I say that I will always be a novice is because I want to be. It does sound a little odd to say but it is true. The reason is that I want to always be learning. The moment I feel like I have nothing left to learn that is when my brain wants to stop working and that is big no-no in my book. I want to always stimulate my brain and keep gathering information, methods and tons of new ideas.

The brain should always be focused and challenged on a daily basis.

Theme reviewing

I recently got a chance to assign my own themes in the WordPress Theme Trac in order to review submitted themes. I am beyond elated and feel a little honored at the same time. Some people may not understand what that means to me but I’m not too worried about that.

What this means to me is that I can now go in and review newly submitted themes and give feedback to the developer about the status of their theme. Approved or not. Sounds a little simple but there is more to it. I look over the implementation of both functionality and presentation of content.

The nice thing is that I am learning more and more about how WordPress works and feel even more confident about my coding skills to the point where I may just try to apply for an entry level web developer job or support staff job at Automattic.com since they have a happiness engineer job have been eyeing for some time now.

To top things off I have been in a better mood more and more these past few weeks. A lot of it is knowing that I can make a difference and actually seeing it. Motivation has been pretty clear in not only my everyday life but a bit more at work. I know, slightly branching off but it is on my mind. Always will be no matter what job I do.

WordPress has slowly become my learning annex and I love it. I have learned a lot since I first began looking at the code and working with Theme Development. This coming year will be full of good things and I can feel it.

My new addiction

No, not a drug; although some people may consider it a drug. Over the last few weeks I have been more driven to learn about web development. One of the things that I have learned is to document everything. I pretty much have tried to document every little detail of my learning process and I love every minute of it.

So far, one of the greatest things that I have learned was from viewing a WordPress video about theme development. The lesson was to use a version control system and commit wisely. I have since started to learn how to work with SVN and am in the midst of learning how Git works. Both are phenomenal tools that are great to know.

But really, what I was really trying to say is that I recently have spent – what seems to be for some – an unhealthy amount of time online. I have frequented the WordPress.org support forums and been looking at random WordPress themes from the repository to get a glimpse of how other developer code for their themes. It has been insightful and good.

Truly the best lesson out of it all is documenting everything. I think that is why I have been more and more compelled to blog about it all. It’s not really about sharing but learning by doing it so it sticks better.

In a way my digital addiction just may very well lead me in the right direction of what I really love to do. I say this because I really have learned a lot communication and development. Socialization and communication is a powerful medium not to be taken for granted. The way we interact with one another has drastically changed and will continue to change. Social media and sites have played a huge role in my life and I feel that it will be a great fit for me down the road.

Don’t get me wrong, I still would love to get a degree in computer science one day but for the time being I am beyond happy with how my life is going. I am learning new things in PHP, HTML, CSS, and just the web in general everyday and I am slowly getting the confidence to apply for a job I know will better suit me and the lifestyle I want to lead.

My blog site

This blog site has been a great thing for me. I have learned so much about myself by actually writing about my thoughts. It has opened my mind to how I really feel about life and the world around me.

I have been experimenting more and more with web design and development. I can’t wait until I finally finish my site’s final design. There are so many resources that I have used in order to create the final look of the site. When I get a moment or possibly the next day that I have off I will try my best to create a simple tutorial on how to create a simple local server to test websites. Granted there are plenty of tutorials out there as well but this one will be more suited to me since it dealt with my experience.

The one thing that I am debating is what fonts I want to use because there are so many elements that I want to include but I don’t want to throw off the feel of the site entirely. As many people have come to know I have fallen head over heels about type. I am in the midst of creating a post about how type has influenced my daily life. Yes, it does sound a little odd but it will make sense when it is finally published.

Recently, I have been looking at lines of code in order to create my site. Some of the things that I have learned are that I need to read more and more. Not just code but books and articles in general. I have so many unfinished books on the shelf that they have practically gained weight from all the dust they have collected.

The other thing that struck me as interesting while redesigning my site was looking at exactly what I post and how I can stylize how I like it. There are several things that I post but I know I don’t use the full potential of WordPress when I could be. I have learned about the subtle differences between digital publishing and physical but that will be for my type posting.

In the meantime I will keep reading about programming, art, design, type and how to merge them together into one good-looking blog that I call my own.

Parenthood – The journey begins

Parenthood:

Parenthood is a never-ending journey and every day is a new adventure into making mistakes while trying to keep some sanity. Parenthood has no rules, guidelines or even a reference guide but it is still a great thing to be a part of. I entered upon this journey on June 7, 2012. Okay not entirely but that was the day my little boy, Salvador, was born so I will count that as the actual day the journey began. I will add more and more pages as time goes on and I get time to share these little life lessons.

Parenthood and the rules

Really there have been no rules for either one of us since SJ was born. SJ because his middle name of course begins with a “J” and if you were to look at my little man you would say that is a big name for a little guy. Now I’m just getting a little off track. The things that both of us have learned are things that people often tell us. A good example is when people tell us that we won’t be getting any sleep. I’m used to not sleeping so that is not really new to me. My body has been so REM deprived over the last years that I am more than capable of functioning on three or four hours of sleep a day. The one thing that has changed about that is that the so-called sleep pattern is more random that ever.

Parenthood and the guidelines

Okay the basic guidelines are pretty simple when you get down to it: Don’t kill the baby. That is the basic guideline and the one thing to really follow. Everyday is an exploration into a world of how to. How to keep the little one entertained while keeping your sanity, how to keep him quiet long enough to make a bottle so he won’t scream your ears off. No one thing will work the same way the next day. That is one thing you can count on to be true. There are moments when you will want to be alone to think, read or do something so simple as taking a shower but it can feel like forever because you are changing, feeding, burping and then changing again just to keep your little one from bawling.

What can oftentimes make things easy is having somebody there to help out to accomplish those basic everyday tasks like doing laundry, eating, cooking, cleaning or taking a bath. Unfortunately, I know some people out there don’t often have that luxury and I often wonder about how they manage to do it and have a huge amount of respect for them for being able to pull it off.