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Hello,

Welcome to the first Random Mutterings of 2020. 
If you are reading this on 02/02/2020 or if you are American 02/02/2020, HAPPY PALINDROME day! It turns out it’s a pretty mathematically weird day all round.

Before we go further I want to say you’re awesome, in part because you subscribed which clearly shows awesome character. If however, you don’t want to receive these newsletters, you can totally unsubscribe at any time. I only want you to have these in your inbox if you want them and look forward to opening them.

Now on with the newsletter.

January 2020 seems to be a blue month all round

January for me has been a hard month, I fell down the stairs during the Christmas break and then my daughter brought home a virus meaning long periods being bed-bound and unhappy. However, the second half of the month has seen some upward trends and I’m ready to hit February running.What I have been pleased with is my writing in January. I have written five blog posts. 
 I kicked off new years day with my New Year, which means new plans and new tools post looking at the struggle between trying to organise things analogue or digitally. I came to a decision but you will have to wait till WordCamp Glasgow to find out….
 My second post of the year was one that had been in my drafts for months and it was my 5 Languages WordPress Developers should look at it in 2020 it had good feedback on social media, and sparked some interesting discussions.
 However, in terms of popularity, my most popular post of the month has been the one I spent less than 20 minutes writing. Which was a quick look at how I found all my sites Gutenberg Blocks?
 Finally, the month ended with the first 2 posts in my back to basics WordPress Security series with posts on Upgrading Strategies and User Management respectively. Expect more of this series in Feb/March though a few other posts will be jotted in to break them up including a look at how I redesigned this site again.
 In addition to my own site, I was the first guest of the new year on the WP&UP podcast talking about how I cope with panic attacks. It is a highly edited version of the conversation and a big shout out to Nathan Wrigley who is the host of both the WP&UP podcast but also WPBuilds.com podcast. He did a fantastic job of making me sound coherent just a shame about the sound quality.

📖What have I been reading?

Hopefully a bit of light reading and some not so light reading for all: 🔨System Administration and System Productivity
Essential Habits For Being Highly Productive In LinuxBPF: A New Type of SoftwareAWK in 20 minutesBuilding Personal search infrastructure(A few) Ops lessons we all learn the hard way
 🧰WordPress & Web DevelopmentAdding conditional menu items to a menuWhat I learned as a developer from accidents in spacePerformance testing HTTP Protocols for REST APIs10 Micro optimisations to make your WordPress site faster
✍🏽Writing and contentCan I build a million-dollar side projectBlogging the ultimate guide (it’s good and worth of a read, but “ultimate” it is not) 🧑🏾‍💼Human Productivity and WorkflowsDefrag CalendarWhy is software slow and shittyLook before you leap 🗜️Security & PrivacySSH Pentesting GuideStepping up the security ladderSystemD service sandboxing and Hardening What black hat hacking can teach devs about security

📚Actual Books

January I continued the trend of trying to read/listen to a couple of books specifically:
Developers guide to content creation – Available online, it’s a good short read, while it’s not going to shock you with revelations it provides a good well-communicated set of processes, the real value is in the worksheet and exercises. Grab a copy from – https://www.developersguidetocontent.com/
How to design & teach workshops that work every time – written by two authors, one of whom wrote the Moms Test which I featured in a previous newsletter. Again it’s not going to rock the foundations of how you view teaching however it is a good relatively light read, and once again the value is in the exercises and process as the actual content. Grab a copy from https://www.workshopsurvival.com/

⚙️Amazing tools

I want to highlight a single really useful app, tool or process and this time it’s a dev tool…

Tinkerwell

Have you ever needed to just test some code quickly, a snippet you wanted to see the output of, or just quickly get some data out of the system? Traditionally for this task in WordPress, I would probably use wp shell which is a WP-CLI wrapper for “php -a” interactive shell. Well no more…
 Tinkerwell is a GUI based tool for Mac/Linux/Windows that allows you to point at your Laravel or WordPress install and then just run code against it. My friend Ross does a far better job in a few more words and videos to explain it so head over to his post – https://rosswintle.uk/2020/01/tinkerwell-for-wordpress-developers/
If you are a PHP Developer, WordPress or Laravel grab yourself a copy, especially if you are a speaker I have already changed a couple of talks to use it for demos. 
 Do you have a great tool you think not that many people know about, let me know I would love to see it?

 📰News and Opinions

WooCommerce 4.0 has been announced coming in March time (Maybe) with the new admin dashboard amongst other changes. You can test the dashboard today and while technically in beta, it seems quite a few sites have been running it in production.  
 Brent from Sticher.io has been on a roll recently with two good posts, the first showing how much modern PHP has changed and a look at features in PHP to use in 2020. The second is a look at PHP8 which will be hitting at the end of 2020.

Speaking of PHP 7.4, 7.3 & 7.2 received security updates in the last week. If you manage your own PHP instances then you will want to update as soon as possible. Importantly if you are using anything pre PHP 7.2 it did NOT receive the update and the advice is to update to a later version as soon as possible.   With the hiring of Justin Tadlock in 2019 WP Tavern has been breathed a new lease of life I’m particularly enjoying his more editorial opinion pieces a good example being Gutenberg can tackle problems with the fields APII’m really hoping the balance of news and editorial keeps as it is, for the first time in years WPTavern is back in my feed reader.  An example of a news piece from the Tavern and a little bit of a feel-good story the GiveWP plugin which is designed to allow sites to accept donations and specifically for charity sites has just processed over $100 Million in donations. You can read the whole story on WPTavern but it’s a really impressive achievement.  Behind every domain name is an IP address, and every device that connects it needs an IP and everything in between. That’s a lot of IPs! Problem is most of the web traffic is still running on IPv4 and we sort of ran out of those, so while plenty is people are trading and selling IPv4 addresses and that trend looks to continue the take-up of IPv6 which would fix the issue is not happening at pace. You can read the full report on the state of addressing in 2019.

📅Where can you find me?

I’m still sorting out events and where I’m going over the next few months however I do have:  
 08/02/2020 – WordCamp Glasgow 🎟️ – Both myself and Kayleigh Thorpe will be there representing 34SP.com in our blue shirts so come and say Hi! We are both giving talks, Kay is talking performance while I’m NOT talking security instead of looking at productivity and workflows with a talk called Hack Tim. Don’t worry though my usual security talks will be returning. If it’s your first time at a WordCamp then why not check out my guide to coming to a WordCamp.
 Can I ask a huge favour? If you like this newsletter and content I create can you help me to share it.
Encourage a friend to subscribe to the newsletter at https://timnash.co.uk/newsletter if an article has resonated with you please share it on your social media platforms. I would love to reach more people in 2020 and to do that I need your help.
 Thank you and you are awesome!

Finally, I will leave you with a quote from (A Few) Ops Lessons we learn the hard way, which was on the reading list.

Schrödinger’s Backup — “The condition of any backup is unknown until a restore is attempted.” — is overly optimistic.

See you next time!

Tim Nash