Category Archives: Personal

MCM_5975

Jay Z + Me

I think it was Dustin Curtis who said something along the lines of “you can learn a lot about someone by their bucket list,” and he had posted his publicly recently. (Posting it is a great idea by the way, people will help you with it.) I began to think about mine, which was a little strange because I’ve been trying to move away from desiring things or experiences and just be more grateful in the present, but immediately a few music ones came to mind: have WordPress name-checked in a major hip-hop song, be in a rap video, and perform with one of my favorite artists (somehow).

It was less than a week later I got an email from a friend who was helping organize a hush-hush event where Jay-Z would sing his song Picasso Baby over and over 6 hours while interacting with various artists and an audience as a performance piece, and there might even be an opportunity to be one of the people he interacted with. My jaw dropped.

Continue reading Jay Z + Me

Twenty-Nine

A week ago I rang in my twenty-ninth birthday and entered that twilight zone prior to thirty. It was an exciting day, I got to fly a plane, dogfight another, and do some aerobatics like a tumble, which was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Unusually for me, I managed to stay away from my computer the entire weekend, instead spending time eating, drinking, and dancing with a few friends who were also in Las Vegas. I came back online to some very sweet birthday blogs (thank you Lorelle, Austin, and John!) and of course a number of nice messages on Facebook and Twitter. All in all, extremely pleasant.

I travelled more this year than I ever have before, covering 261,077 miles in 292 days away from San Francisco (79 cities, 11 countries).

From the outside my life sometimes can appear crazy, and my 20s have been atypical in many ways, but one of the things I appreciate the most about this past year is that things have been getting less hectic overall. Much of this I attribute technology which I’ve finally gotten to a point where the majority of it in my life serves to allow me to spend doing things I love, like writing, designing, coding, learning, and less time on infrastructure or overhead.

The most interesting thing about twenty-nine so far is I’ve been getting lots of tips from people on how to end my 20s, which usually fall under “go out with a bang” from people currently in their 20s and “don’t worry it just gets better from here” from people in their 30s.

My focus this year will be on simplification and streamlining. As in many years past, I find I’m the most balanced when I take time every day to read, especially in the morning, and as an additional resolution this year I’m trying to watch a film every week recommended by friends. (So far have seen My Fair Lady, Casablanca, King Corn, and American President.)

Previous years: 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26, 27, and 28.

Twenty-Eight

This is the tenth year I’ve blogged my birthday: 19, 20, 21, 22 (this one is funny), 23, 24, 25, and 26, 27. Wow… I don’t think I’ve ever done anything for ten years in a row before.

The public awareness of blogging comes and goes every two years, but for me it’s been a rock of intrinsic goodness that I keep coming back to. I think that’s why I love working on the platforms around it so much.

I was on the road a lot this year, covering about 190k miles over 245 days. (An average velocity of 21.6 mph.) I spent longer stretches in the same place, and often to places I had been before, which was nice for starting to appreciate the character of a given place. (52 cities and 12 countries.)

It was also one of my most productive years yet. The big resolutions from last year — launching Jetpack, Jazz Quotes, three major WordPress versions — all were completed, and as the team at Automattic grew and matured I was able to focus my time a lot more, even finding time to start coding again and switch (back) to Mac after 8 years on Windows.

In my twenty-eighth year I want to focus more on friends, family, and loved ones, something I’m running late for by doing this blog post, so will wrap this up now and see you all more later in 2012. :)

Reminder: In lieu of gifts, I’m trying to raise $28,000 to help bring clean water to Africa. It’s ambitious but I think we can do it. Please chip in!

Twenty-seven

Today is a fun day — 2011-1-11 (not 1:11 PM anymore, I’m a slow writer) and I’m turning 27. This is the time of the year I always look back, and from last year’s resolutions I actually did pretty well. I was able to simplify a number of areas of my life, including reducing the number of computers running in my place. I bought my first apartment and remodeled it. I slowed down my eating by chewing more, a vignette that made Tim’s new Four Hour Body book. Redesigned this site. I didn’t bike at all, but walked a ton. I started exercising with a kettlebell over the summer and was pretty consistent about it until last month, with some noticeable improvements in strength and energy. Got all the old photo galleries imported going all the way to 2002.

I petered out on Farscape, and didn’t display my photography anywhere in print, so a wash there. I spent a week in the woods with Beau at Tracker camp. I joined the board of the non-profit Grist, and was able to expand charitable donations to cover more organizations than previously, including Charity: WaterFSFApacheArchive.orgSamasourceEFF, and GAFFTA. I had a tweet go viral and end up on Time and CBS (I still need to blog about that), and a blog post about shipping go viral and get over a hundred thousand visitors. (With an interesting traffic pattern too — lots of Twitter and Facebook like you would expect, but 92% of the traffic from the long tail or blogs like Daring Fireball.)

Speaking of launches, was lucky to hit all the big ones I had planned in the beginning of the year in that abbreviation-coded list: VaultPress, new Akismet, mobile WordPress apps for every platform, Ma.tt themesAudrey Capital, WordPress Foundation. Also hired 28 new Automatticians, added 7.2 million blogs to WP.com, and had 38 million downloads from WordPress.org.

This year, along lines of simplifying, I have six main goals:

  • Increase the release frequency of core WordPress, I think we can hit our goal of three major releases this year. (Only did one last year — 3.0.)
  • Keep reading the New Yorker every week, and hopefully work in a few more books every month.
  • Launch a new jazz-related site I’ve been working on sporadically.
  • Finally upload my un-uploaded photos for 2005-2010.
  • Keep exercising regularly. (The first time I have a health-related resolution, if you believe it!)
  • Launch secret new thing, code abbreviation JP. :)

It’s not a resolution, but I think I’m going to spend a lot more time in Houston in 2011. As for some other stats: 208 posts here on ma.tt (up Y/Y for first time since 2007), 535 posts on my moblog, 4,456 comments, and posted 2,432 photos. The top five posts were 1.0 Is the Loneliest NumberWildcard DNS and Sub DomainsThe Headers of Twenty TenChange OS X Computer Name, and Sonos vs Squeezebox, but most of the traffic was to the home page. My top emailers were Toni, Rose, Paul, my Mom, and Raanan with 3,028 emails between them. I sent 10,813 emails to about 2,228 people.

According to TripIt, which I love and use constantly, I was on the road 227 days out of the year, traveling 122,066 miles across 59 cities and 17 countries.

27 is a really awkward age — I’m not young anymore but still before the looming 30. It’s inbetween. That said, I think 2011 is going to be a year where a lot of things come together and a lot of the foundations laid down in 2010 (and when I was 26) come to fruition.

This is the ninth year I’ve blogged my birthday: 19202122 (this one is funny), 2324, 25, and 26.

Only in New York

Last night around 10:15 decided to head out for dinner, and somewhat randomly picked the Cuban restaurant Guantanamera because it was nearby. Sat down in a booth near the bar, facing the band, and ordered some mojitos. Over the din of the other diners I thought “hey this house band isn’t half bad.”

Within a few minutes of listening it became very apparent that beyond “not half bad” they were actually really remarkable. What a treat! Ordered a steak and sank in, letting the music (and mojito) flow over me. A half hour later a lady from one of the front tables got up to sing with the band — which isn’t always a good thing. They started on The Man I Love and it was sublime. The song started out as a ballad but then they kicked it up to a fast afro-Cuban beat, and the singer scatted over the beats for a good 4-5 minutes. It turns out it was Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer! I felt particularly fortunate as I had been bummed to miss the Manhattan Transfer show at the Montréal Jazz Festival in June, but here, of all the most random places, was one of my favorite members performing at a small family joint in Midtown West.

Janis sat down after one song but a string of similarly talented musicians came in and out of the band until the restaurant started to close down. I didn’t recognize any of them but the music was so good. :)

There was a recording device above the band that was collected by a fellow who I caught up with outside the restaurant as he was hailing a taxi. His name was Paul Siegel and he’s the co-president of Hudson Music which is a music education group (with a website powered by WordPress). I learned the percussionist leader of the house band was Pedro Martínez and Paul follows and records him several times a week at different venues. Apparently Guantanamera is a long-time musician hang-out where even folks like Eric Clapton sat in with the band.

Only in New York.

I Miss School

Just like they say youth is wasted on the young, I think I squandered school when I was in it. The idea of having no responsibilities except general edification seems like such a luxury now. When I had it all I wanted to do was hack around on the web. Now that the vast majority of my hours are hacking around on the web, it’s a huge luxury to just sit and read for a bit.

Part of that, for me, has been learning how much I don’t know. My search for learning in the past few years is why I’ve attended so many conferences. Events are usually a terrible medium for communicating information, at least how most of them are run, and most of their value is human connections. In the past years I’ve been to a few TED-style ones that were entertaining in their fast-paced format (15-20 minutes per presentation, musical or theatrical fluff to break dense ones up) and the curiosity they sparked by nature of being short and incomplete: TEDMED and EG. The format does become tiresome and exhausting after a while though, too short, and like pizza I appreciate the talks more once they’re on TED.com. (TED has one of the best post-conference experiences, and a big inspiration for WordPress.tv. Also check out FORA.tv which also has amazing content.)

So while events are a brief hit, most of my pleasure from learning comes these days from books and highly interlinked websites. Wikipedia is the canonical example, it can be so blissful to be lost in a web of great content, like a choose-your-own-adventure of information, stumbling from link to link and always ending up someplace you didn’t expect.

I wonder if there could be some sort of metric for writing that told you the ratio of time-to-create versus time-to-consume. On Twitter it’s basically 1:1, you can craft and consume a tweet in a time measured in seconds. For this blog post, it may take me an hour to write it and 5 minutes to read (not skim) it. You can work your way all the way up through 8-10,000 word essays, and books that may take years and years (or a lifetime) to create. The higher the ratio, the more potential for learning and self-improvement. (I wonder how you would measure the Wikipedia which has taken lots of people a little time.) I could easily spend four hours a day surfing hundreds of posts in Google Reader, most of them that took a few minutes to create. It’s a sugar-rush of content that crashes after an hour or two and leaves me empty and hungry. A great novel or book feeds my soul. That’s why I love the Kindle — it has helped me read again.

Top Emails and more, 2009 Edition

As I like to do every year, here are the top 10 people who emailed me this year:

  1. Toni Schneider — 914
  2. Maya Desai — 672
  3. Mom — 475
  4. Raanan Bar-Cohen — 284
  5. Barry Abrahamson — 276
  6. Rose Goldman — 256
  7. Jane Wells — 193
  8. Michael Pick — 185
  9. Donncha O Caoimh — 179
  10. Alex Shiels — 167

Email is my most frequently used social network, so it’s always interesting to see the trends.

This year I got 11,459 emails consider “important” by my script, or about 34 a day, and 53,030 “other” emails, excluding spam, mailing lists, and junk.

For the first time, I’ve decided to take a look at my outgoing emails as well, of which there were 9,101 of to 2,087 unique people, and here’s that list. These are less accurate because an email can be “to:” multiple people, or cc:s, but only ever From: one person, so the stats aren’t entirely correct for the to-list.

  1. Toni Schneider — 524
  2. Raanan Bar-Cohen — 450
  3. Maya Desai — 428
  4. Barry Abrahamson — 243
  5. Rose Goldman — 212
  6. Alex Shiels — 203
  7. My Matt.WP.com moblog post-by-email address — 148
  8. Michael Pick — 139
  9. WordPress.com Support — 123
  10. Andy Skelton — 108

I obviously need to email my Mom more. Here are my posting statistics:

Posts Avg. Words Total Words Avg. Comments Total Comments
2002 482 105 50,800 2 980
2003 559 130 73,009 3 1,723
2004 1,108 49 55,025 5 6,594
2005 703 43 30,485 9 6,343
2006 340 65 22,173 10 3,662
2007 360 56 20,408 16 6,091
2008 314 48 15,368 21 6,636
2009 182 80 14,675 23 4,280

My number of posts went down, but more words per post, so I’m posting less but meatier things. I made 391 comments myself last year, and it fell off rapidly after that. I would like to get more regular commenters next year, maybe by making the comment form more obvious on the photo pages. Photo pages draw the most repeat traffic.

I’m curious about travel stats, but haven’t gotten annual report from Dopplr yet.

Here were the top posts for 2009:

  1. How P2 Changed Automattic
  2. The Way I Work, annotated
  3. A Day on Necker Island (gallery)
  4. Starting a Bank
  5. 6 Steps to Kill Your Community
  6. New Spring Design
  7. Sun, Oracle, WordPress, and MySQL
  8. Elissa’s Wedding (gallery)
  9. WordPress Party Pictures (gallery)
  10. Visiting Shindo Labs (gallery)