Category Archives: Podcast Projects

I made this podcast in hopes of reaching out to others within the web development field—to let you know that I’m in the trenches with you when it comes to code. I get excited about how our profession moves forward rapidly but at the same time I’d be lying if I said I’ve never been confused about it as well. That said, I felt compelled to process my thoughts through audio. I hope you enjoy these segments and please feel free to provide feedback.

Feel free to bookmark the entire channel: allwebsd.com

Review of WordPress In Easy Steps

Introduction

WordPress in easy steps by Darryl Bartlett, is a book which saved me when I was tasked with maintaining my company’s WordPress website. At last pass, the website was officially on PHP 7. Whereas my last freelance project used PHP 4.

Yikes 😶 .

I needed an insurance policy and I found this book to be a saving grace in helping me survive the modern day WordPress ecosystem.

Summary

The contents of this book are broken down into 11 condensed topics including: “Introduction to WordPress”, “Dashboard & Users”, “Appearance & Themes”, “Creating Content”,”Plugins”, “Creating an Online Store”, “Settings & Tools”, “SEO & Social Media”, “User Interaction”, “Tips & Tricks” and “Advanced WordPress”.

All chapters are condensed, straight to the point and are thoughtfully written. It’s not a complex read at all and each topic is fully supported with clear illustrations.

What’s Important

In order to thrive, you first must survive. And in my opinion out of all of the topics discussed you’ll want to focus on these 5 chapters first:

Dashboard & Users

You’re going to need to know the sidebar and the dashboard as a whole once logged in. The advice here breaks down the out of box WordPress sidebar and its available menu options. Find your way through the dashboard quickly and learn to add users to give them specific roles. Heads up, the more involved your WordPress development is (namely adding more plugins), the probability of your sidebar and dashboard becoming bloated would be high.

Appearance & Themes

Augmenting the look of your website will mean hitting the installed theme of your WordPress site. Here you’ll get the basics of what a theme is, how to install, upload and edit them.

Creating Content

Part of the grunt work will simply be adding or editing your site content. In this chapter, you’ll learn to distinguish between posts and pages and learn how to add text, images, video and audio.

Plugins

Most complex problems you encounter can most likely be solved in two ways: you code your way into solving the issue or you download a plugin from the open source community. Learn how to find, install, update and even edit a plugin. In my opinion, plugins are both a gift and a curse but you’re going to have to understand them, regardless. That said, I do not recommend you edit a plugin ever. That may break any licensing terms or cause undesirable side effects. Put that responsibility on the developer that built that plugin. Write a support ticket or contact them directly.

Settings & Tools

Learn the underpinnings of your WordPress ecosystem. Toggle each of the core settings and observe what they do. As important as it is to create a cool experience on the front-end, you’ll need to know what buttons to push behind the scenes to keep the entire house in order.

Conclusion

I strongly believe you could read this entire book in one focused hour. This book is a great utility to keep in arms reach when you need to quickly learn the outs of your WordPress environment. This isn’t a book to teach you WordPress on an academic level. It’s a book designed to keep the plane that’s already flying to still be at altitude.

If you’re looking to be immersed in the technical how-tos I’d recommend starting off with the source itself, WordPress.org. To add a bit of flavor, opinion and friendly guidance, follow Chris Coyier and CSS Tricks.



This post may contain affiliate links. Should you make a purchase by clicking on any of the links, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full affiliate disclosure here.

Review of Digital Minimalism

Introduction

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport is an important book that I’ve picked up in the last decade. It’s a pretty bold statement to make but for me personally, I was in the market for something which could help me out with some mental stress that I’d been carrying over my head. At the core of it all, the root cause is my iPhone. It’s been a great tool to have but it’s also come at a cost. And those tiny apps which sit inside of that expensive piece of machinery has caused me a ton of mental headaches, social anxiety and has misled me many times over with misinformation and half baked conversations.

Frankly, if I could summarize it, I felt sad. So I turned to this book in hopes of finding clarity in this gruesome situation and I wanted to share some of the things I thought were worth mentioning.

Summary

In short, Cal breaks down this form of anxiety from the very beginning. You should know this by now. 2004 and The Facebook takes hold. Then it’s 2007, roughly a year out from the Great Recession and Steve Jobs designs what Apple deemed to be the best iPod yet. Harnessing both the telephone and music player capabilities into one device, the iPhone was never originally presented as segue into mobile apps or the app store as one would assume. 

Through a series of short chapters, a total of 7, he takes you on this well explained journey: “A Lopsided Arms Race”, “Digital Minimalism”, “The Digital Declutter”, “Spend Time Alone”, “Don’t Click ‘Like'”, “Reclaim Leisure”, and “Join the Attention Resistance”.

What’s Important

Cal defines the meaning of Digital Minimalism quickly as,


“A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

Addiction – not only relates to alcohol and drugs but is thoroughly explained in relation to our digital consumption too. Two forces in particular are explained: intermittent positive reinforcement and the drive for social approval. It’s a pretty nasty explanation on how the Like button impacts us.

“A Lopsided Arms Race” is worth reading over and over.

Digital Declutter – in summary this is essentially a proposal of blunt force trauma to your current digital usage. It’s a cold turkey technique of 30 days where he emphasizes that “aggressive action is needed to fundamentally transform your relationship with technology.”

To me, every process and thought explained in this book are equally important but “Join the Attention Resistance” has to be what Trevor Hoffman was to the San Diego Padres. It’s the closer and the final chapter in giving actionable advice to address this problem.

  • Practice: Delete Social Media From Your Phone
  • Practice: Turn Your Devices Into Single-Purpose Computers
  • Practice: Use Social Media Like a Professional
  • Practice: Embrace Slow Media
  • Practice: Dumb Down Your SmartPhone

Conclusion

For me, what didn’t work was digital declutter, so I compromised. I tried a cold turkey schedule every fourth week of the month. That worked once and my remaining attempts failed. So I tinkered and ended up using small wins which for me just add up. I removed Facebook and Twitter for good from my phone. I need a laptop when I dip into those worlds. 

All notifications for social media are turned off. And it’s really changed the way I frame other apps when I see them come to market. Long story short, I’m not on Tik Tok. It’s one of those scenarios where I continue to say to myself that if I never had it in the first place, I never really missed it.

I don’t look down on my past usage but I am moderately more assertive of what I’m doing when I’m inside of that Instagram game, a Messenger Chat or scrolling through a feed. And for now that’s step one which was definitely better than yesterday, when there were no steps at all.



This post may contain affiliate links. Should you make a purchase by clicking on any of the links, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full affiliate disclosure here.

Not Everyone Has an iPhone

I’d like you to take in informal data point on your immediate social network. No, not the people you like, heart or drop cute little emoticons on, I’m talking about actual people you talk or text with. 

Now, count on 10 fingers (yourself included) on what smart phone you and your 9 other peers are on. At first pass, that’s 5 on an iPhone and 5 on an Android. This includes my immediate family members, in-laws, the boys if you will and me.

I use an iPhone and I have that bias groomed into me from the start. There’s 50% of an audience I very much overlook. 50% of an audience I don’t necessarily acknowledge when I code and it’s a thought I want to process today with you by my side.

This pondering impacts everything we do on both a business and cultural level. But bringing it back to the context of this channel, namely, web app development, it gets me to once again think. This is a challenge once again brought to my attention by my JavaScript Instructor, Thomas Powell. 

A small except from a previous conversation, he says “grab a stock Android phone or throttle your dev tools and feel the pain”.

Here’s an ad hoc test I just did right now. I have Outlook’s web app open in my Chrome browser and I’ve intentionally throttled the app at a Slow 3G connection. I’ve had the the time to write and rewrite what I’m saying to you at the moment because Load is at 1.7 minutes. Okay, I’m over it. Flipping this back to Online and it has a Load of 7.36 seconds.

Now, to be clear this is Outlook which means an abundance of emails (text and downloadable images) so for Outlook to do this over the wire is amazing in itself.

Unfortunately, I don’t find myself equipped to convince business leads that servicing these audiences are important. Except to say, it is.

Here’s some food for thought. 

And a list of challenges we as developers need answers to in order to overcome this oversight:

  • How do you convince your business that a non-iPhone lead is worth pursuing? 
  • In this case, the argument that not everyone is on the latest iPhone or a 5G connection?
  • What are the data points necessary to present which gives them the chance to make an informed decision?
  • How do you as a developer address this problem without ever being told?
  • Are solutions like caching, gzip, compression or progressive web app techniques enough to solve this problem?
  • Product, Design & Development often argue about what the MVP truly is. Those debates should continue.
  • But have we beat it with a dead horse when it’s been about the same segments since the advent of the original iPhone in 2007?
  • Are your UX and Design specs already framed with an iPhone as its exterior? What gave to that assumption?
  • It’s fair to say that other countries have completely different networking infrastructures – word of mouth has it that South Korea has one of the fastest internet speeds of any country.
  • But on our own soil I know for sure that there are regions within our 50 states that aren’t wired up like Silicon Valley. 
  • Take a look at the rust belt. 
  • Take a look at the corn belt. 
  • Take a look at your own county and reflect back on what cities had the poorest of internet connections. 
  • Tie that alongside the type of hardware your 9 other peers are on.
  • Can we develop for that?