WordPress: scaling up developers

A friend of mine is scaling up her website. It’s running WordPress and has ways too many visitors for their stone-age hosting, which means the service is slow and crashes regularly.

I’m trying to help out, and there are low-hanging fruits all along the way, like moving the files and database off from the VPS and into the cloud. Eventually we are going to move the whole lot to a low-maintenance cloud host like Heroku or CloudControl, use nice caches and what not.

There is one massive bottle-neck: developers.

Technology is awesome. Today you can live in a cave and run a website with close to 100% uptime rate for buttons. No kidding, this blog, receiving about 3000 uniques every month, is running on the smallest Heroku instance – with 100% uptime for the 3rd consecutive month, according to Pingdom. Could easily handle ten times the traffic, all less than $10 per month.

Developers are the ones who are not awesome. They are many, for sure. Throw a stone any direction, and it will hit a WordPress developer.

That stone is likely to hit one who is renaming files to php.backup instead of using version control. One who is not reading Hacker News. One who has never heard of the Twelve-factor app.

It’s definitely not because the new technology is too difficult to learn. I’ve just had a 19-ys-old teammate on a London Hackathon who was writing code for Android, Pebble watch and hacked together a website in 24 hours. I’m pretty sure that, if you’re a developer reading this, you can tell the same story about yourself in your early 20s. We are curious people. I think most developers just give up trying after a while.

The friend-of-mine with the WordPress site is now working with a team of developers who look at Heroku and send me e-mails asking for the FTP password. Clearly, they need to go. Is it easy to find a better team? It is not: Linkedin makes it way too easy to copy CVs, the example codes are plugin rip-offs, and no one can pass the simplest of tech interviews.

Without developers though, any tech project manager is just the coachman who whips thin air and wonders why the carriage wouldn’t move.

(I’m helping out a few friends with their side projects these days, so you can expect more of these rant-posts popping up, haha.)

On my flight: a prisoner trying to break out

A prisoner, on the same flight as I am. Apparently this is something low-cost airlines do. Transport people who need that kind of special assistance.

He smashed the seat in front of him, and used the pieces to attack the person to his right. The attacker, massive fella, with the kind of look you would draw, if you had to make a cartoon about terrorists.

The crew was in panic. The woman next to me started crying. You could hear the assistance-buttons pinging all over the airplane, and the commotion in the back.

Spotify or Apple Music: which subscription to cancel?

It’s been a long way for the music industry to catch up with what users need, but at last, there are plenty of really good choices. I’m listening to Apple Music’s British Talent selection right now (The Southern – Shout it!), the sun is shining bright, I have my late-morning coffee, and wonder which subscription to cancel: Spotify or Apple Music.

Both come for £10 a month, Spotify is an awesome Swedish company, and Music’s curated playlists are just fantastic. Oh, such a hard choice this.

Apple’s service is all new, Spotify is offering all their music for free – an interesting test would be to compare which of those databases is seemingly larger. I’ll do this with a list of bands from my to-be-checked-out list: these are the songs I Shazam, get recommended to, or find in a random music store.

Rapid sightseeing: Amsterdam, Prague

Flying is terrible. It’s not the part when you’re actually in the air, that’s fine. Terrible is getting to and from the airport, staying in endless queues, drinking overpriced coffee in shopping-mall-like terminals with nervous people around.

Whenever I can, therefore, I choose the train. And trains in Europe are awesome! They are fast, comfortable, rather spacious, have onboard wifi and power plugs. Even when the ride is 8-10 hours long, I consider it being a rather nice workday: get on board, work a good few hours, find the restaurant car, and continue after lunch. Most trains serve coffee at your seat.

The best days are when I can find a ride with a connection at an unknown city. Amsterdam, Cologne, Prague, Vienna, Milan – you can actually discover quite a bit of a lot of towns in 1-2 hours, starting from (and returning to) the main train station. This post is about showing you how.

This is how I pitch (and why)

There is the promise of the Internet that if you sell online, you never, ever have to see the person you are selling to.

Now that might be true, but then I just have no idea how it works.

As luck would have it, I got a demo spot on the last Berlin Tech Meetup to introduce Appwoodoo. It turned out that pitching in front of 200 people is scary.

jQuery EU Cookie Law popups

The EU Cookie Law does actually seem to apply to most of our websites — we are based in the UK and are using Google Analytics, so there is no way out. Useless as it might be the e-Privacy Directive, the worst part is the scam-like pages that offer “solutions”. Instead, I just went ahead and created a plugin that can be installed by adding 4 lines of code.

An easy-to-install jQuery plugin to create EU Cookie Law popups.

Supports multiple layouts out of the box. Works well with Bootstrap 3. Easy to customize markup and CSS.

IBM is not Nerdwana

So when I get offered a $2000 visitor pass for a tech conference plus a flight ticket and accommodation in Las Vegas, then I say yes and start packing my bags. Even if IBM Interconnect does not particularly sound fun, and even if I could point out almost infinite number of better things to spend that money on.

IBM used to be the place where you send your resume only if you don’t consider technology being especially precious. Their products are as uncool as Windows XP was for OS – but where Microsoft developers are crazy awesome hackers, IBM seems to exclusively hire sales people. And now, the Big Blue gives the world Watson. The one-stop shop for artificial intelligence. That is a solid, fun, innovative thing to do, and mind you: it’s not a startup building AI-as-a-service first, but people from the Dilbert strips.

I’m with one of the first startups here that can get their hands on Watson, so I’m very excited to visit all workshops and see what is there to learn.

This is chess, and this is boxing

Two people face each other in the box ring, full of muscles and full of tension. Sweat is rolling down on one guy’s face and blood on the other’s, as they are: hunching over a chess board.

The two opponents have noise-cancelling headphones on to filter out the classical music we hear, and I wonder how much a headphone can do about the blood rush in the head. Because one of the guys does not look great. And he has about one minute left to win this game by chess mate, before the fight music returns, and his opponent begins throwing uppercuts to his head.

This is the wonderful sport of chess boxing.

We went for a real mens’ night out with friends a while back, and discovered chess boxing on an “Intellectual Fight Night”. The full article I wrote after the event continues on Yakuzuzu.

Kickstart any app idea: our recipe

It’s easy to be in the centre of attention if you have something cool to offer. Developers are a hot asset now: every now and then, someone wants our agency to do a mobile app for revenue share, a website for future profit, or me, in person, to be the CTO of a new gig.

I love all these projects.

No, really, I do.

Let’s create something impossible

Flipped through this hip ebook, listing 100 startup people from Berlin in 2014. Hundred people, that’s a lot. Hundred startups, that’s, yeah, a lot.

A lot of ideas a hundred, not a surprise therefore that most of the ideas are very similar. But then, if all these startups are going to fail, or at least the better part of them, why are the ideas so similar and mundane? Why not starting something actually exciting, that makes you want to wake up every day?