I’m not a blogger.

As if that wasn’t obvious enough, I’m putting it out here in print: I can’t blog.

Not just because it has a silly name; essentially it’s just writing. Not because it’s the modern version of keeping a diary journal; and I’m scared my Mom will read it. Not because it takes too much time, because there’s at least half an hour every evening where I do nothing but stare off into the distance and brainstorm daydream (aka, I have the spare time).

The moment I open up this editor, or even dare to tread near my own web site, I go blank. I have nothing to say. It’s probably a matter of trying too hard to think of something other people would want to read, instead of just writing what’s on my mind. I accept that for what it is. If I ever get over that, maybe I’ll start writing something here.

Until then, I’m thinking of bulldozing this and just putting up something that says “Hello, world!”. Because developer.

WordPress blogs: are there any niches left?

This is a WordPress niche.

I like the idea of blogging.

I don’t particularly like the word “blogging”. No matter how prevalent some terms have become, somehow they always feel like they were never intended for the English language. Despite this idiosyncrasy, I like the premise. You write down some thoughts, people may or may not read them, and you get to look back at your progression through a particular stage of whatever it is you’re writing about.

I just have absolutely no idea what specifically to write about.

Find a Niche

This is one of the single most perpetuated adages of starting out with a new blog. Find a niche.

A niche is defined by Merriam-Webster as a shallow recess in a wall. Therein lies my problem, as there are absolutely no shallow recesses in any of my walls. I have a feeling that people with successful blogs all have nice homes with shallow recesses littered about willy nilly. Upon closer inspection of those niches, they probably found a topic scrawled there that became the victorious motif for their blog.

Since I have no niches in my walls, I have logically come to the conclusion that this is because they have all been filled. That’s not being defeatist. More so, it is recognition of the creative natures of those who have broken through and found their niche.

WordPress as a Niche

Really, I could write about two things; my choice of breakfast — which 5 times out of 7 is a brand of cereal — or WordPress. What can I write about WordPress that isn’t already covered on another website?

One thing that makes WordPress what it is, are the numerous quality web sites that the community has developed over the years. There are excellent news sites, both aggregate and organic; there’s some brilliant tutorial sites (often orchestrated by the who’s who of WordPress development firms or freelancers); lastly, there’s no shortage of sites claiming to have the essential list of WordPress plugins for <?php date( 'Y' ); ?>.

So… what’s my niche?

Instead of just writing whatever comes to mind, try to write around a topic. Not only will it be easier to stay on task, it’ll be a lot easier for readers to track with you. Amy Lynn Andrews

I could write about what came to mind till the cows came home (where are they?), but even I would have a hard time understanding what I was on about within a few days. Until I find that niche however, I think that’s the only real option I have.

So I guess that’s that. Welcome to my blog about WordPress… kind of, sort of, at least so far.

I will definitely continue exploring this question in a future post.

WP Bitly version 2.0, get it now!

WP Bitly v2.0

I’m back behind the wheel and coding again.

The obvious place to start after my hiatus was with my old and nearly forgotten plugins. The first of those to be brought up to speed is WP Bitly, a very simple shortlink generator. WP Bitly integrates seamlessly into the WordPress environment and provides you with bit.ly short urls for your posts, pages, and other custom post types.

Chip Bennett, another plugin developer who came on board with WP Bitly shortly before I went on sabbatical, deserves a giant helping of gratitude for keeping it alive. If it wasn’t for him, I’m sure this plugin would have completely fallen into oblivion.

What’s New in Version 2.0

Under the surface, nearly everything has changed. I’ve rewritten the code base almost from the ground up, and implemented the latest API endpoints from Bit.ly.

For users of WP Bitly, the only thing they’ll notice is that it works, and it works well. That’s exciting, right?

The Future of WP Bitly

Going forward, I want to keep this plugin fairly small and fast. If you need help with it, please ask. If you have issues with it, please submit them.

There’s a GitHub repository, where most of the development will happen.

Did I forget anything?

I’m drinking Google juice.

SEO Traffic is High Volume

I went ahead and installed the fantastic WordPress SEO plugin by the one and only @Yoast. He promised me a shiny new ten dollar bill if I mentioned his name.

I fully expect the traffic to start piling up. I made some fresh coffee, now I’m just going to kick back and watch the log files explode.

That’s how it works, right?

Edit (4/6/2014): I don’t know if anyone will think is as funny as I do, but WordPress SEO ranked this post as the worst SEO on my site.

It will get dusty. Bring your Swiffer®

Dust Bunny's Attack

It probably doesn’t take more than one visit here to notice there’s a little dust on the furniture. Scrolling to the bottom of my posts is an exercise in short throw mouse technology.

I’ve started at my new job, and I’ve come to the realization that “riding a bike” is in this case more relevant if that bike has at least two cylinders, a transmission, and you are required to check the crankcase pressure prior to operation. I’ve forgotten some ridiculously simple things.

Thankfully, I haven’t forgotten where or how to get information on those topics. The WordPress community is alive and well, and unlike myself have not taken any time off from doing what they do best. There’s an abundance of documentation, and there’s no shortage of activity by developers, designers and authors. I have to keep Twitter open nearly all day to make sure I don’t miss an exciting new article or announcement.

It’s my first weekend off; not only since starting this job, but in nearly two years while I worked at a job that didn’t understand the concept of personal time. I’m thinking now is a great time to stop writing this and start working on WordPress plugins. My wife is out and about pursuing a passion of hers, and I believe I should be doing the same.

If you’re here, thanks for dropping by! There’s always some dusting that needs to get done.

Does this make sense?

Old Computers

I have two computers right now. Nothing like the extravagant (or better, well thought out) set ups of most developers who work full time online. Just a desktop, and a laptop/notebook/whatever we’re calling them now.

The desktop is easily over four years old. The laptop is about a year… maybe two? It’s old, in computer years, it’s well past the mid life crisis.

Guess which one I’m still using? The laptop has failed. The desktop is still going strong.

Makes me wonder if I really need a laptop? Should a tablet and a desktop suffice? It used to be that you would get twice as much desktop for the same price you paid on a laptop, I wonder if that still holds true.

Hello world!

Adventure Time, with Finn and Jake

My name is Mark, and thank you for visiting my site! I used to develop WordPress plugins, themes and all kinds of fun PHP/MySQL junk back in the day. I was fairly involved in the community and was well on my way to doing something exciting, and then I changed my career path for some deeply misguided reason.

I’m pushing myself to get back online, and to dive in headfirst. I have a few plugins in the repository that desperately need to be brought back up to speed, and I’m planning on starting with those. At the same time, I’m pursuing a very exciting career change that will allow me to do this full time again if it’s successful. I will continue to pursue such avenues until I’m fully back on course where I know I need to be.

I’m aiming for the sweet spot. If my life can include my wonderful wife, the great outdoors, an unnatural amount of bacon (it’s not just for breakfast anymore) and WordPress, I think I’ll have it made.