Happy New Year, let’s get 2020 going right

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Welcome to the first and last of my Random Mutterings for 2019.
You are awesome, in part because you subscribed which clearly shows awesome character.

YOU are AWESOME because that is who you are, I hope others tell you this, but sometimes it takes a random newsletter on New Year’s eve (and I hope you don’t read this till the 2nd) to remind you.

Now on with the newsletter.

What’s happened in 2019

Imagine if you had this great idea for a monthly round-up of what you were up to, perhaps cool reading material and maybe some witty commentary. You even had a coolish name for such writing “Random Mutterings” I mean how hard would that be to maintain. Well since the last Random Mutterings was in April it turns out its a lot harder then perhaps I had thought! I am however slowly kicking back into gear so as if nothing has happened here is what’s changed since April…. ish

I have managed some personal achievements but the highlight WordPress-wise is having visited every active WordPress Usergroup in England, Wales and Scotland I haven’t made it over to the Belfast based Northern Ireland group so can’t say UK :(

Beyond that little milestone the last few months have felt very busy and perhaps that is why my own site fell by the wayside though I did manage to get in a couple of blog posts, and two I’m particularly pleased with are:

Tim’s guide to going to WordCamps

If you haven’t read this post, its basically a brain dump of going to a WordCamp as an attendee what to expect and packed with what I hope are really useful tips for any conference-goer, from clothing to hydration it’s all there.

Behind the scenes of a talk

This talk is a retrospective of how myself and my friend Glenn Pegden put together our talk for SteelCon. While the talk did not hit quite the right mark, I have taken a reasonable amount of positive points away and there are styles and things I loved about that talk which I will fold into future talks. I sort of quite like doing deconstructs of my talks and while I can be a little too self-critical see Who’s afraid of the big bad talk its a style of a talk I wonder if more people would be interested in seeing.

Let me know if these how the talk was done posts interest you, or even if you would like to see a more in-depth how I make talks post/video/series thing.

Beyond writing and speaking, 2019 has been lots of ups and downs, including a few downs that were fairly public. This year I spoke a lot more about my own mental health a topic that I still find uncomfortable and I’m going to be on the WP&UP podcast in the new year. Nathan and I recorded it in mid-December, I originally agreed to go on the podcast in March!

What have I been reading?

Given it’s been a while since I last did this, think of this as “here are some great articles that I remember reading recently”

System Administration and Productivity

How to my: Terminal
Interactive SSH Applications
From Mac to Linux – the setup I’ve grown to love
Stupid Unix Tricks
Building Interactive SSH applications

WordPress & Web Development
Safely using PHP Dependencies in WordPress
How we migrated to Turbolinks
WordPress Nonces why we can’t have nice things
Updating your Favicon with dark mode

Writing and content
How to become a better blogger

Plain weird
My Business card runs Linux

Security & Privacy
Getting started with security keys
Layman’s IPTables 101
Opsec in the afterlife

Actual Books

In addition to plenty of online reading, particularly in December I have been reading or listening to a fair amount of books. Including:

The Mom Test – While aimed at people looking at building or selling products, this book is full of practical tips for mindset and conversation changers ultimately its a book about how to not ask questions. I was surprised at how useful I found it. If you’re an Audible user, the audiobook is available it is narrated by the author I found it a bit hard going.

Steal Like an Artist & Show your work – Less how-to and more inspiration for the coming year, I actually really love these books how they feel and look. If you haven’t read them I recommend buying the books rather then going with digital copies. If that’s a little too much, drop me a message and I will send you mine as long as you promise to pass them on yourself.

Returning Newsletter

Not mine, but rather Mattias Geniar Cron.Weekly has returned, and its total coincidence that its return means this newsletter has restarted. If you are a developer/systems administrator then this newsletter should be on your subscribing list.

Amazing tools

Foreshadowing a whole new idea I have had I want to highlight a single really useful app, tool or process and this time it’s a Mac app called…


If you are a Mac User then my first amazing tool, does almost nothing which is why I love it, it’s called Vanilla and simply it allows you to hide annoying menu items on the top bar as someone who likes an incredibly minimal menu bar this is just such a simple tool just done right. It’s free but pay for the pro version, otherwise, you are going to be opening it on startup, yes you could hack around that, but its only a few dollars.

Do you have a great tool you think not that many people know about, let me know I would love to see it?

Cool ideas

So I tweeted about this back in July when it came up but I want to highlight this great idea from Graham Stevens on preserving your laptop stickers, like any self-respecting geek I have stickers on my equipment and indeed I have several stickers that are waiting for my “next” machine. So I love the idea of preserving them. Sadly his Kickstarter failed, but the idea is solid. and sticky back plastic is my next purchase with the next laptop.

Where can you find me?

I’m on a bit of break speaking over the winter break, I believe I said that last year and ended up doing a silly number of talks in November/December but currently, I have no speaking engagements. However, you can still find me on Twitter just about, so if you are not following me you totally should.

I’m also really keen to start doing more podcasts, it’s been over a year since I was last on a podcast until the WP&UP one and I would love to do more, so if you are a podcast owner hint hint. 

Ok folks, that’s it – one last thing to mention thank you, to everyone who has helped me through 2019 it has been at times rough and I am totally indebted and ever so grateful to all of you.

2020 is coming, and regardless of the rest of the world, we all have the ability to make it a great year for those around us and ourselves and so I wish you a Happy New Year and hope it brings joy to you and your loved ones. 

If you found something useful in this newsletter, please do pass it on to someone who might also find it useful and I’m going to leave you with a quote from Steal Like an Artist.

Enjoy your obscurity while it lasts. Use it.

As I send this to my dozen or so subscribers.