What I was doing while I wasn’t here

20160518_213952 I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m getting ready to start a week of vacation so I’ll probably get back onto a regular writing schedule.

The first three months of this year involved no work travel, which was really nice. In the last two months, I’ve traveled 5 out of 8 weeks: San Francisco, St. Louis, Boston, London, Barcelona.

For my client in San Francisco, we’ll be publishing a case study shortly and I’m excited to share it with you all. I’ll wait to write more about it and them until it’s out, though.

Boston was great and I had an opportunity to see some friends as well as some co-workers who came into town while I was there working with a new client.

After Boston, I spent a couple of weeks writing questions for a new “agile with JIRA Software” certification for Atlassian.

I spent some time in London working on ScriptRunner for JIRA training and just generally hanging out with my co-workers, which was fantastic.

20160523_072416Then I went to Barcelona for AtlasCamp 2016 where I presented on the new JIRA certification, which I helped write and for which I am writing all the study materials.

After a week of rest, I’ll be finishing up the JIRA study materials, then beginning work on Confluence. Once Confluence is done, I’ll be writing study materials for the JIRA Software cert.

I’m also going to get back to reading. I haven’t done much PM study since I graduated in December and I don’t want to get into the bad habit of not learning and growing professionally, so I’ve ordered some new books and will begin studying again. My main focus right now is agile PM at scale.

So stay tuned for new posts in a week or two!

A Net By Any Other Name

I live and die by my calendar, and yesterday I looked at this weekend and discovered that I have just a few hours free on Saturday during which I can rest and relax. The semester has started out pretty well, but I’m busier than ever.

What is interesting is that all of these things I’m doing are very supportive of one another. That is to say, what I’m learning in my classes is helping me at work and at church; the work I’m doing at my job is giving me practice for church and school; my vision for my ministry will fuel my school and work. I feel like I’m on a rising tide, and it’s lifting all the ships.

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Winter 2009 Newsletter

I’ve been keeping up with blogging and publishing better this fall, even better than I had expected, but maybe you want to see some pictures, or maybe (for some reason we won’t discuss) you don’t check in often. It is for you that I carefully, gently, and with great love craft this newsletter.

If you’d like to receive this newsletter regularly, I’d suggest you drop your email in the bucket to get a copy when it comes out. Of course, they’ll show up here in the regular RSS feed as well, or you can subscribe to an RSS feed designed especially for them.

Download and/or view SilverPen News – Winter 2009.

What I’m working on

Is SilverPen Publishing an actual company? No, not yet, but I do stuff anyways.

Herbert the Trillionaire

I’m not really sure what this thing is. It’s a short story, and I’m publishing it as I go along, and I think it’s kind of fun. Herbert is a really rich guy who seems to have lost his memory and, with it, his hate-filled personality. Now he’s pretty easy-going and likes to help people. That seems nice?

Upcoming Story-a-Day

I don’t have a title for this yet, but I intend to begin publishing a story serially, at about 500 words a day, Monday through Friday. I’m developing the first couple of months worth of story offline before I begin posting it just in case I hit some writer’s block or horrible illness or something that prevents me from keeping up with my writing schedule. I’m not going into details of what this story is yet, but it’s

  1. filled with stuff I know about, and
  2. something I’d enjoy reading

so hopefully it’ll be OK. I’m having fun at least, which I kind of think is the point.

Building the Modern Help Desk

I’ve had this project shelved for a while, but my outline and notes are coming together more fully now. This short work of non-fiction will be a book about how to keep your job in IT, especially in regards to providing support to users. I see a lot of rigidity in a lot of people’s thinking that is probably going to lose them their jobs before too long–this book will share some theories of user support that will help make you more valuable to your place of employment.

Book about college ministry

This will be a short book (as I hope most of my books to be) about what I think college ministry should look like after being involved with it for five years. Semi-autobiographical, it will highlight strengths and weaknesses of current/traditional college ministry and lay out a vision for how college ministry could be better.

Spiritual Warfare Recap

Weekly podcast about spiritual warfare and anything pertaining to it, mostly focused on my own thoughts/studies and questions/conclusions that arise from them. Right now, I’m reading a series of books by Walter Wink.

60 Second Book Reviews

Randomly scheduled book reviews, video recorded and posted on YouTube, that essentially give a thumbs or thumbs down on a particular book. You can get the description of the book on Amazon, so all I focus on is whether I liked it or not, and a little bit about why I formed that opinion.

Picking a path

These are the things I’m actually working on, not just the things I want to work on. I’ve also got a few other ideas and projects percolating, but those are less concrete and not being actively written/developed.

It helps me to write these things out sometimes to give myself some direction and goals. I hope to have first drafts of both the help desk and college ministry books completed by the end of August 2010. I hope to begin publishing Story-a-Day (whatever that ends up being called) in January 2010.

As for Herbert, I’m kind of thinking about turning it into a children’s book with illustrations. We’ll see how that turns out down the road. For now, I’m just enjoying writing it every now and again.

Clavicle Update

First, it’s not a clavix. My mistake.

Second, we have met with our local doctor, which was much more fruitful. He gauged my movement, showed me a stretching exercise I should do, and made me an appointment with an orthopedic specialist on Friday. They will be the one to decide if I need surgery or not.

I’m not taking any pain meds, other than the occasional ibuprofen, and am generally in very little pain. The first afternoon/evening was pretty hard, but that can partially be attributed to the concussion, shock, and dehydration. Sleeping at night isn’t particularly comfortable, but it’s manageable. I have discovered that my SumoSac is perhaps the most wonderful piece of furniture ever.

I can only type one handed, and only about 30-40 WPM, so suffice it to say that my first draft of the scifi novel I’ve been working on will not be completed by August. I will, however, still be running the D&D game we are starting this Friday.

I am back at work and will be attending leadership training this week. Though my functionality is limited, there’s no reason I can’t sit and listen to people talk.

Also, for those who are curious, our weekend in Eureka Springs wasn’t quite ruined. We couldn’t ride horses or get massages, but we did go shopping. I found some great sandals for 50% off and April got a skirt and a big, floppy hat. We also had the best coffee ever at a little place in town.

Blog entries will be few and short for the next 6-8 weeks; today’s was the last one I had written in advance. I intend for the OBS to be podcast only for a month or so.

I’ll put some pictures up from our weekend eventually. Until then, I’m signing off.

Update your feed

FeedBurner + Google

FeedBurner was purchased by Google some time ago, which was comforting news to those of us using FeedBurner for our RSS feeds. When you rely on a third party to handle part of your site or business, there’s always the risk that they’ll go out of business and leave you in a lurch, but that’s not really a concern with Google. They’re pretty solid, so there are no worries.

However, the other shoe has finally dropped and, in the transition from FeedBurner to Google’s FeedBurner, feed addresses are now changing. For the moment, the old address will forward to the new one, but that will presumably go away eventually, breaking the old address and forcing people to update.

I wanted to let you all know in advance so you can get your RSS reader(s) updated. The new address is http://feeds2.feedburner.com/SilverpenPub

For more information, see: FeedBurner is Dead, Long Live FeedBurner

Twitter as RSS

I’ve been following more people on Twitter, namely webcomic artists and bloggers, and have begun to notice that several of them update their Twitter every time they write a blog post. I’m a little conflicted about the practice, though I suppose it makes sense; redundantly putting information out in multiple places helps ensure it’ll get read by the most people. Since I subscribe to their RSS feeds, though, it first came across as somewhat over-the-top and obnoxious. Then it supplanted my usual RSS feed.

As much as I love RSS, and even Google Reader (my RSS reader of choice), I found that it’s really nice to read people’s words on their own site. People who blog or create web comics usually have decent websites, and as it turns out, the conventional wisdom is correct: a good frame accents the art and emphasizes its beauty.

Beyond that, as I began writing this, it occurred to me that Twitter is like RSS for life. Of course, you don’t have to update regularly, but it’s easy to see where it can be used as a mini-blog for more practical purposes. I say “practical” because it’s hard to justify writing an entire blog post and giving it the front page of my site for a day about how I pulled some muscles and my shoulders hurt, but I can certainly post about it on Twitter, which shows up in my sidebar. 140 characters is about all such information deserves.

It doesn’t necessarily demand that you open your life up to every passer-by. You put as much info in as you like, and if you like, you could only use it as a marketing tool and to spread word about your other work. Whether you use it as RSS for your life or just your site, though, I think it presents a prettier picture than an XML sheet fed through a reader, black text on a white page.

That being said, I certainly don’t recommend shutting down your RSS feed(s)! This level of redundancy allows people to use whatever subscription means they like, but the key is consistency. If you start using Twitter as subscription means, you have to update it forever or accept the consequences: if you stop updating at some point in the future, you’re likely to lose at least some of those subscribers. You can post that you’re moving to a different subscription model/location, of course, but the people who use only one method and refuse all others are unlikely to change.

I currently have my blog and Twitter both posting to Friendfeed, but I can certainly see the value of Twitting about my blog. Nevertheless, I think I’ll hold off for now. My Twitter is all personal updates now, RSS for my life, and I think I’d like to keep it that way for now.

Carrington 1.3 has been released

If you pay attention to your WordPress Dashboard (I notice mine every 2-3 days), you might have seen that version 1.3 of Carrington has been released. Carrington is the theme I use for SilverPen Publishing, but it’s more than a theme: Carrington is a unique shift in theme framework development and finds itself in a significantly more advanced category than your standard WordPress theme.

Simply put, it’s all kinds of wonderful, and I’ve really enjoyed having its style represent SilverPen Publishing. However, I have had to make a few tweaks to the theme, and when faced with an upgrade, I was hesitant to recommit myself to that task. All of those changes would have to be made once again, and I didn’t take notes on what I had edited because I didn’t think I’d have to do it again any time soon, let alone with this theme.

Most theme publishers write a theme, put it out for public consumption, and leave it. I never expect upgrades of a theme unless a major change in WordPress outright breaks the theme, and even then it doesn’t get upgraded most of the time. Alex King‘s a champ, though, and stands by his work. If I could laud him any more highly I would, but for now my praise and recommendation will have to be sufficient. Such dedication caught me by surprise though, hence the lack of notes.

Because there were some important security upgrades in this version, I went ahead and upgraded after backing up my current theme, and then spent some time going through and changing what I needed to. In addition, I actually took notes this time as I went, and I’m going to go ahead and post them here. As I read in someone else’s blog recently, notes for me, notes for you.

Reasons to upgrade:

From Alex King’s blog:

Version 1.3 of Carrington Blog is now available for download.

Upgrading is strongly recommended due to a security patch in this release.

This version has a couple of changes – both bug fixes and new features:

  • Added an image.php file for displaying media. This is not yet abstracted into the framework, but will be in the future.
  • Added a field to the settings page for adding in analytics code.
  • Fixed a problem with IE7 and the dropdown menus.
  • Explicitly send headers with AJAX responses, hopefully fixes some issues reported by Safari users.
  • Added a Log In link to the header.
  • Added code to load in translations.
  • Updated documentation.

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June 30 – July 4: This Week at SilverPen Publishing

I know that I haven’t gotten any stories done, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to read at SilverPen Pub. If you’re looking for some books to check out from your local library, you could do worse than investigating the DragonLance Saga. I had two reviews go live this week, first on book 3 of the Legends trilogy, Test of the Twins. I followed that up with a review of Dragons of Summer Flame, possibly my favourite book in the Saga. Let me know what you think of the reviews (especially since I’m so new to reviewing and don’t really know what I’m doing), and I hope you check the books out sometime too.

I responded to Lorelle’s challenge today and wrote in the tech section about how my computer hardware and usage has changed over time. I think I’ll do a follow-up article next week about my experience and history with blogging, both on the hardware and software side. I’ll also have an article going live in the tech section next week about statistics gathering programs that display information about your visitors. Stay tuned.

Tonight, we’re having a LAN party at Metagames in honour of Cody’s week home, and tomorrow night April and I will be joining him at his parent’s house for a 4th of July party. I knew I was leaving that night open for something, and while I had assumed it was in anticipation of dying from exhaustion, it turns out it was because I had assumed a month or so ago that we would be having/attending some sort of party. Forethought is awesome, even when I forget that I thought forward.