In my early twenties I met a wonderful girl named Melissa. In previous relationships I felt like an outsider, but with her I was so at ease. We were young & stupid and let it slip away, but I always looked back on her as the one that got away.

Thirty-ish years later I was walking my dogs in a nearby park and I ran into Melissa. I couldn’t believe it was her, and I couldn’t believe she lived just a few miles away.

We walked and talked for a while that morning, and continued to walk and talk for weeks after. We pretended to be platonic, but I knew I loved her. One day I held her hand and it was the most connected I ever felt with someone.

We went through a lot to get to this point, but on January 1, 2019, we married. “Here Comes the Sun” played as she walked down the aisle, because that’s what she is to me. Our wedding dance was to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” which was when my friends and family learned I really can’t dance.

We love doing so many things together – hot yoga, running, hiking, martinis, and so much more – but our favorite thing is live music. In the past few years I’ve seen more concerts than I’ve seen in my entire life.

Roger Waters, Metallica, Buddy Guy, Beck, Primus, Rolling Stones, Trombone Shorty, Hamilton, Tool, Dweezil Zappa, Wilco, Aerosmith, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Jr, Anthrax, George Clinton, Jonny Lang, Foo Fighters, the list goes on.

These days, of course, our concert-going has been put on pause. But we’re still having fun.

To keep us sane in lockdown, my wonderful wife filled the yard with toys. We have a badminton net, bean bag toss, croquet, hoppity hops, and a tiny kiddie pool to cool off in. We also bought inflatable paddle boards and kayaks so we can enjoy a nearby lake.

We don’t know where things are headed in this country, but we do know that we’ll continue to live a life of love, laughter, and music. I’m so glad for that morning in the park, and so glad I’m finally sharing this story with you.


Just over seven years ago I joined Automattic, and I said this back then:

They treat their employees the same way I try to treat the end users of my software. As a developer, I’ve tried to provide a great experience to those who use my software. As a company, Automattic tries to provide a great experience to those who work there. People stick with you when you provide a great experience.

Seven years later, I still feel this way. Among the benefits they provide is a three-month paid sabbatical after being with them for five years, and today is my first day of sabbatical (I delayed mine a couple years for personal reasons).

Of course, when I planned my sabbatical I had no idea it would be during a pandemic. My incredible wife and I had big plans to travel during my time off, but we have vulnerable parents so we’re not taking any chances and are staying put.

I really have no idea what I’ll do, but one thing I want to do is blog more often. It’s been almost three years since my last post, which is pretty ridiculous for someone working with the company running!

Goodbye, Bella

Over the years I’ve shared my life with seven dogs and I’ve loved them all, but none has meant more to me than Bella. Today I had to let her go, and I’m remembering what an impact she has had on me.

She possessed a fiercely independent spirit that I connected with in a way I never have with any other creature, and that connection was so deep that it forced me to confront how we treat animals as mere product. I gave up eating meat in part because of the bond we have shared.

She was unique, she was beautiful, and she was loved. It hurts so much to let her go, but I’m so glad we shared each other’s lives. I like to think we were both better off for it.



So About the Cartoons

If you’re a regular reader you’ve no doubt noticed the cartoons that appear here every now and then. And you may have noticed some of them seem a bit dated.

That’s because I drew them 25 years ago.

The cartoons were all published in The Daily Beacon when I was a student at the University of Tennessee from 1989-1991. I had flunked out of another college while pursuing a CompSci degree (it’s a long story) and decided to switch majors to journalism. My dream was to be a syndicated cartoonist so I figured I should understand how journalism and newspapers work.

That seems laughable now. I was ‘tooning in the golden age of newspaper strips like Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side and Bloom County, but the best comic strips these days are self-published on the web, not in newspapers. I can’t imagine any up-and-coming cartoonists dream of being published in newspapers anymore.

I’ve told my cartooning story here before so I won’t rehash it now, but if you’re interested here’s the rest of the story.

Test Driving Employees

From the NY Times:

“Employee trials work best for people in support, design and developer positions, said Matt Mullenweg, founder and chief executive of Automattic, the creator of WordPress, the blog and website tool. Still, every hire, without exception, goes through a two- to six-week contract period, and is paid the standard rate of $25 an hour.”

Employee trials are daunting, and downright impossible for many people. For some companies they’re completely unrealistic.

But the fact that Automattic had trials is one of the things that convinced me I wanted to work with them. I wanted to work alongside people who believed so much in what the company was doing that they’d go through the pain of a trial period.

The trial period was certainly painful for me. At the time I was working 60-80 hours a week at a job I wasn’t fully committed to, and I couldn’t imagine how I’d fit a trial period into that. But somehow I did it, and I’m glad I did because now I get to work with people totally invested in a shared goal.

PS: We’re hiring.

Goodbye Blue Sky

My parents grew up in England during World War II. They used to tell me about the air raid sirens that sounded at night alerting them to seek shelter, quickly.

I often asked them about this, thinking they must still be haunted by the thought of bombs dropping on them as they slept.

But they said it was normal to them. It was all they ever knew.

That has always stuck with me.

It makes me wonder how many things we accept simply because we’ve never known any different.

Abolishing the Gingerbread Tax

A few weeks ago I said this:

Every Android developer I know will dance in the streets the day they can drop support for pre-ICS versions of Android

Well, it looks like it’s time for me to hit the streets because WordPress for Android – the app I work on – is dropping Gingerbread support in new versions.

Strangely, though, I was a bit nervous when we first talked about doing this. Leaving any users stranded really bothered me.

But then I thought about how much extra work we put into maintaining backwards compatibility for a dwindling number of people, and I considered how much better the app could be for the large majority of our users if we spent that time improving it for newer devices.

When I looked at it that way, I wondered whether we should’ve dropped Gingerbread support even sooner. And I wondered how many other Android developers are continuing to make the majority of their users pay this Gingerbread Tax.

If you’re one of them, perhaps it’s time your app stops supporting pre-ICS devices, too.


Localized FeedDemon 4.0

If you upgraded to the new FeedDemon 4.0 and English isn't your primary language, then you'll be pleased to hear that Chinese, Czech, French, German, Italian, Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian language files are now freely available.

The simplest way to switch to a different language is to select Tools > Options > Language > Download Additional Languages from within FeedDemon 4.0, which takes you this page:

From there you can select the language file you wish to use, and FeedDemon will take care of downloading and installing it.

PS: These language files were created by customers who simply wanted FeedDemon to be available in their native language.  It's a tedious process creating these translations, so we owe a big "thank you" to those who spent their time working on them.