When I was younger, I was constantly sketching, drawing, and scribbling on things. As I got more into digital mediums and web development, I found myself doing this less and less. Then along came an iPad app called Paper. I began playing around with the app last year. Since then I’ve been drawing more often – both digitally and the old fashioned way, with a paper and pencil.

These past holidays, Alanna got me Pencil, which is a stylus specifically made for Paper. I don’t think anything can completely replace a physical sketchbook. But the combination of Paper and Pencil comes pretty close.

FiftyThree, the company behind the stylus and the app, recently created a community site called Mix. Mix allows you to share your own work and follow other artists. You can remix ideas that other people post, and they can remix yours. I’ve found that it’s a great way to find some inspiration and have some fun. You can find my profile here and you can see some of my sketches in the gallery below:

I’ve found that Paper is also great for quickly sketching ideas and wireframes. Here’s an example of a quick sketch that became the foundation for Just Write:

Just Write wireframes

And here is a quick sketch that became Loose Leaf (the current theme on my portfolio site):

Loose Leaf wireframes

So, if you haven’t done so already, go check out Mix. And if you have a profile, let me know so I can give you a follow!

Alanna and I are playing host to a couple of friends from the East Coast this week. Yesterday, we all took a trip down to Long Beach, to visit the Queen Mary. After exploring the Observation Bar for awhile, we took a guided tour through the ship. The tour brought us to the second class pool, the engine room, and other “haunted” locations on board the ship. Most parts of the tour were too dark for photography. But I found a few flat surfaces, and attempted some multi-second long exposures.

I started working full time at Automattic in May 2013. When I see the date written down, it doesn’t seem like a long time. Yet I can’t imagine working anywhere else. I often get questions about what exactly I do. Or what it’s like working for Automattic in general. Some questions are easier to answer than others. But perhaps sharing my own personal experience will shed some light on some of the most common ones.

I’m part of the Aurora Team. Most of the work that we do is with the Jetpack plugin. The work itself can vary quite a bit depending upon the day. But the endgame is always the same – try our best to make sure our users are happy.

Just yesterday, I wrote a small plugin to help someone customize Jetpack for their site. I found and reported a bug. I answered support questions from our users. I participated in our monthly Townhall, which is a live Q&A with our CEO, Matt Mullenweg. In my free time, I also volunteer on the Theme Review team. So, following the Townhall, I hopped into the Theme Review team’s weekly chat. Most days aren’t quite this busy, but it goes to show that it’s hard to be bored at Automattic.

Aside from our day-to-day work, we also get to meet up with other Automatticians in person throughout the year. Sometimes this happens at conferences. Sometimes this happens at team meet ups. And once a year, the entire company gets together for the Grand Meetup. I’ve seen a lot of new places and met a lot of incredible people. But don’t let that fool you… we work, and we work hard.

We’re a company of motivated people. We have to be. We’re given a lot of trust. We need to be motivated to thrive in an environment with so much autonomy. And with so many moving parts, we need to communicate well together. We talk, we plan, we laugh, we make mistakes, and we learn together.

Working with so many people was intimidating at first. Especially considering that they are some of the best and brightest folks in the industry. I’ve looked up to many of them for years. It’s humbling. But I am constantly amazed at how friendly, welcoming, and modest they are. Whenever I need help, someone is more than willing to pitch in. And whenever I have a question, someone is there to help teach me.

Of course, there are downsides. Nothing says, “Good Morning” quite like an angry user telling me that I suck, our product sucks, and everything sucks. But I’ve learned to let it roll off my back. I’ve learned even this clearly negative feedback can be helpful. Is there an issue with our product? Is there a bug? Did they have trouble getting in contact with us? What can we do better? Luckily, the angry users are few and far between. But it goes to show that even the negative feedback can be helpful.

No matter how much I love my job, I realize that concerns will arise. We will have disagreements. But the incredible part is that we actually address these concerns. And disagreements open the floor for discussion. Just about every decision made that affects our users or our company gets posted on a P2. If there are differing opinions, we are free to weigh in with our thoughts.

We’ll never be able to agree on everything 100%. But these candid and open discussions are something that I’ve never seen in a workplace. And I believe the value given to each individual opinion plays a very crucial role in our success as a whole.

Not every day is perfect. Or easy. But I wouldn’t want it to be. It’s challenging. It’s rewarding. I get to work for a company that shares many of the same beliefs and principles as I do. And I truly enjoy going to work every day, because I will never stop learning.

But this is all just my opinion based on my personal experience. There are 300 other Automatticians in 37 countries who have their own personal experiences. And if you want to see what it’s like to be an Automattician for yourself, we’re hiring.

Ryan Cowles:

Extremely happy and humbled to be a part of all this. Here’s to 2015, and many years to come!

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

Millions of new sites created and posts published later, 2014 is in the books. We could regale you with big numbers, like these…

Total New Blogs
That’s 49,997 new blogs per day!
Total Posts
Or more than 1.5 million per day — not too shabby. 47 million were published from mobile devices, because you’re on the go.
Bytes of Data per Hour
24.5 Trillion
(Thanks for keeping us so busy!)

… but the most important part of Automattic is what you make with the tools we offer. This year, we thought we’d look back at some of your successes, and how we were able to support the incredible things you created and shared.

To Publish a Mockingbird

With beautifully detailed portraits finished with bodies out of a toddler’s dream, the drawings illustrator Mica creates with her four-year-old daughter are captivating — the post of images she published on Busy Mockingbird has been viewed…

View original 1,055 more words

I took a walk around the neighborhood with my brother-in-law today. It’s been awhile since I’ve shot digital, so I grabbed my Canon before heading out the door and snapped some photos.