WordCamp Brisbane 2018 – WordPress as a Static Site Generator

In a tired, but inspired state, after attending this weekend’s WordCamp Brisbane 2018.

Got to start with a big shout-out to all of the organizers, volunteers, speakers and attendees – THANK YOU!

I’m far from a WordPress fanboi – I regularly talk people out of using self-hosted WordPress. As a tech industry professional, I feel responsible to not push everyone to use a certain technology unless it makes sense. For someone who isn’t interested in learning development and being responsible for security and performance of their server (or willing to pay someone else to be), I’d much sooner advise them to check-out a hosted platform, be it WordPress.com, SquareSpace, Shopify, etc. For those who do want to get geeky, I’m more often encouraging them to look at modern web frameworks, not try to bend a blogging tool into uncomfortable positions.

I regularly talk people out of using self-hosted WordPress

So why did I go?

I’m passionate about open source software and WordPress is still a great example of this. It’s definitely helped me earn money over the years and has allowed many others to get involved in development, with a low barrier to entry. I also author a WordPress plugin, which aims to help solve security, performance and cost issues for users who are already invested in WordPress for their website.

I went to present on static sites and how users can continue to use WordPress for all of its benefits, but take advantage of publishing it out to host as a static site. I mentioned my plugin as one means to this end, but it was primarily a mission in raising awareness of what static sites are and why people should care (spoiler: security, performance and cost!).

My passions and long term goals are to see people embrace low-resource computing, re-using older hardware with low-footprint but high productivity software to enable more people to get involved in the tech community (and try to put an end to the forced obselence practiced by companies like Apple, pushing users onto new hardware every 2 years – at great cost to the environment and little benefit to society. More emotions on software bloat and disenchantment within the software industry).

Raising awareness about static websites is one step towards this goal and with WordPress powering > 30% of the top websites, the amount of wasted resources is disturbing.

Though nervous about presenting for the first time, I was pleased with the feedback and engagement from the audience via post talk questions and follow up chats throughout the conference and the evening drinks Friday and Saturday nights. To feel you may have given some people reason to “think different” is really fulfilling and motivating to do more.

Why did I love this WordCamp?

The community. This is the resonating reason everyone gave. An event selflessly organised and volunteered at by users leaves a great impression. I’m an early riser and found myself helping carry some boxes with a trio of another plugin developer, a leading WordPress hosting company engineer and one of the lead WordPress developers from Automattic. That’s just… wow!

There are countless other people to thank for all their efforts.

Whilst my feelings for WordPress, the product, are far from unconditional love, I’ve got mad love for the community and privileged to be a part of it!

See the next group at either WordCamp Kuala Lumpur or WordCamp Jakarta!

Find your next WordCamp or Meetup.

Startups in Manila, Philippines

AKA – Where have I been the last 4 months?

Wow, where do I start? My last post left off with some late night snacks in office #2 for ZALORA Philippines, a Rocket Internet GmbH venture. Since then, we’ve moved offices again, largely to accommodate the ~100 developers I hired, along with a massive pool of image retouchers and content writers, all servicing the Southeast Asian expansion of the now popular ZALORA brand of online fashion.

Hiring developers for a startup is an exciting, fast paced adventure. Hiring 100 developers, system engineers and software quality assurance staff in a few months, I definitely learned a lot about the local talent, Philippine’s labor law and industry competitiveness. The latter of these bore the fruit of a Cease & Desist letter from another large development center here, along with other companies implementing lock-down procedures on their staff once they knew a few had jumped ship to the infamous Rocket Internet.

The quality of developers available in Manila definitely varies, as it does in any country, but for economic reasons, Manila is one of the best places to setup a development team. English is spoken here as a second language (ESL), a foreign language (EFL) as it is in any other asian countries. The western influence here also means there is less culture gap between Europeans and Pinoys as there is in say China or Indonesia. Until recently though, most operations here have been over exploiting the cheap labor force here and so many of the most talented developers are either being swept up by higher paying companies in Japan, Singapore, Australia, USA, etc. Those who can’t or don’t want to travel often find the great opportunity and higher rates that onlineĀ freelance work offers (as I’ve always been a big proponent of).

I’m very happy with the people who joined us in establishing one of the biggest development centers in Manila and which should only grow to serve the ever expanding network of Rocket Internet ventures globally.

Once hiring got to a certain point, it was time to really look at optimizing development processes and balancing the agility of a startup with the business demands of a company with many investors and stakeholders. This is where I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I’d managed small development teams and virtual products before, but here we were with 100 developers, 8 products spread across asia, with hundreds of staff on the ground in each country supporting operations, liaising with stake holders in Singapore, China and head office in Germany. Tensions were high with conflicting aims of the micro-managing waterfall model of software development most familiar to traditional project managers, while aiming to be a rapid, “agile” startup development hub. It’s going to be an evolutionary process for quite a while longer, but it is amazing to see how far things have come from when the first few developers came on board around 3 months ago.

Other than my career with Rocket Internet, I’ve managed to find a few hours recently to reconnect with my contacts in the social entrepreneurial space here in Manila, doing a preliminary meeting for a planned startup community which went well and ended as it should with bbq and beer! Stay tuned for big announcements for the first official event coming up soon. Startup founder friends and other key people are already on board, as are a large number of developers, designers and other talent ready to make a name for the Philippines as an emerging tech startup scene.

Personally, my kids are back in school, I need to be back in the gym, but have found a new stress relief in the form of pistol shooting. Something I wouldn’t have imagined myself doing, but becoming highly addicted to it thanks to a friend and his Glock .40 calibre. Time to revisit my Tagalog lessons which were put on hold when joining the startup blitz with Rocket Internet 4 months ago.

Pros and cons of working with Rocket Internet

Starting with one of the pros above, which is being treated to a rack of ribs, chips, baked beans, garlic bread and like 7 different sauces from Racks in Manila. This is in reward for one of the cons – working late on Sunday night!

I’ve always been a workaholic and dealt with short deadline tasks for lots of clients before, so the fast-paced chaos at one of the internet’s most notorious start-up machines is right up my alley. Continue reading →

1 x Senior & 2 x Junior PHP Developer Positions in Manila

I’m posting this here as a quick link to my developer friends in phpugph and Pinoy Freelancer Ako group on Facebook. I am making good connections here in the Philippines with various companies and from time to time will be able to share some sweet job details!

;)

2 opportunities here with a big company (no names right now ). A great opportunity with some good perks. Contact me directly if interested and I’ll forward your resume along with a good word to the hiring manager.

Senior PHP Developer
(will send successful applicant for ~1 week overseas training!)

Your skills:

  • You have extraordinary PHP skills with over 5 years’ experience
  • You are familiar with OO PHP and have worked with PHP MVC frameworks (e.g. Zend, CakePHP, Yii)
  • You are comfortable with cross platform XHTML, CSS and Javascript (jQuery a huge benefit)
  • You are experienced building large applications built on the LAMP stack.
  • You have working knowledge in the e-commerce space.
  • You have basic knowledge of System Administration (Linux, Apache, nginx)
  • You have a passion for high performance scalable design and database optimization.
  • You have exposure to web services (REST & SOAP)
  • You enjoy programming within a highly motivated team
  • You are open for new challenges such as Extreme Programming (XP) and Agile Modeling (Scrum or Kanban)

Our offer:

  • An attractive working environment in our Manila based office
  • A dynamic and motivated team with flat hierarchies
  • Challenging tasks and room for individual ideas
  • Ability to work in other international markets

Junior PHP Developer

Your skills:

  • Ability to communicate across business and technical audiences
  • IT graduate
  • Ideally over 1 year experience in a professional environment
  • Ability to trouble-shoot
  •  Must be a self-starter with the highest of professional standards
  • Exposure to  PHP 5, OO PHP, MVC Patterns, PHP Frameworks, Javascript, HTML and CSS
  • Experience in developing and maintaining web based applications
  • Integration experience including exposure to Mootools, Ajax & API’s isn’t essential but any experience would be a plus!!

Our Offer:

  • Ongoing training and exposure to the latest technologies
  • Mentoring from above and client exposure
  • Ownership of projects
  • Fantastic staff incentives
  • Great work environment
  • Flat structure and organic roles

Web Developer Internship in Manila, Philippines

So you wanna be a web rockstar?

I’m sitting here in my new office in Pasig Co.Lab Xchange, writing up my current client-work on the whiteboard… somehow I went from 2 clients at start of year to 7 within the last week or two… plus my social project and own in-house development work needing doing…

I thought to myself now, it would be great to bring someone young, fresh and full of energy who wants to be baptised by digital fire and learn the best way possible!

So, internship anyone??

Must have:

– laptop
– energy
– motivation
– sense of adventure
– some knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP
– oDesk account
– 4,500 Pesos + travel costs

The pesos are to cover your rental office space here, which is 4,500 for 1 month. You will be reimbursed this amount via oDesk, earning a daily rate enough to cover your office rent and travel expenses for the month (within reasonable amount).

Work hours are from 10am until 8pm, Monday to Friday with me in the office and then I’ll set you “homework tasks” as required if I feel you need to study more on something. You will be learning by working, the best way!

After the first month, if we’re getting along and you are showing some development, this will likely turn into a fulltime paid position.

I can probably accept up to 3 people simultaneously, so anyone up for adventure, let me know, you can start tomorrow!

**Cheap food, same as what I eat, will be provided, as is all you can drink coffee..!

Practicing what I program

OK, time has come to develop my WordPress HTML Static Output plugin further with many user requested features and a few of my own in the works.

Until just now though, this blog had been spending a nice relaxing break being hosted by WordPess.com. While that allowed me to easily add posts without getting my hands dirty, it took me too far away from the code I’d invested so much time to initially develop.

So, here it goes, this website has been exported out of WordPress.com, imported into my development server and now as you read this is being served in a purely static HTML form.

It will take me a little while to redo a WordPress theme better suited to this lean mean static machine, but bear with me!

Comments are now back to using Disqus embedded Javascript widgets and the XML feed may need revamping, too, but c’mon, who really reads RSS feeds?!?

Using Linux on old hardware

As I’ve switched from my MacBook Air to a used Fujitsu laptop at 1/12th its price, I’ve been trying to squeeze as much performance from this beast as possible.

The specs:

Fujitsu FMV-B8200
Pentium-M  1.2Ghz
512MB RAM
20GB HDD
12.1TFT @ 1024×768
1.19 kgs

Installed the only DVD I had distro I had on hand, which was Ubuntu Alternative (desktop edition).

For tweaking performance with minimal effort, the main things I’ve done so far are switch to the Fluxbox window manager. This DRMATICALLY improves performance, removing basically any lag I was suffering under Gnome. I’d used Fluxbox or IceWM or another lightweight window manager in the past when using Linux as my main work machine, the only thing I really needed to do was remember a few shortcuts and tweak some key commands.

Set a shortcut key for the menu:

Rather than trying to find an empty space on the desktop to right-click and bring up the main Fluxbox menu, I set a key binding to the Winblowz key + F5 to open it no matter what app I happen to be in at the time, this saved me a LOT of time instantly.

The file for changing key bindings is located at:

~/.fluxbox/keys

Just copy and paste some bits, I used:

# key to bring up menu: Mod4 F5 :RootMenu

The other keyboard shortcut I really needed to know was Alt + F1, which brings up a Terminal window.

Playing music from command line:

Using mplayer from the command line to save resources and wanting a quick way to play a folder’s worth of songs recursively, I found this command works like a charm:

mplayer -playlist <(find "$PWD" -type f)

I find that having easy access to music while working makes everything go smoother!

**Just be sure to test your output is going only to your headphones, not speakers when working out in public, I just took out my headphones to realize everyone had been listening to my playlist the last 30mins, oops!

Success finding sub-5,000 PHP laptop for online work in Philippines!

Having just sold my MacBook Air yesterday and aiming to inspire prospective online workers here in the Philippines to keep costs low, I went looking for a capable laptop for or less than 5,000 PHP.

While somethings are cheap in the Philippines, computers are not one of them! Compared to Japan’s flooded and thriving used PC market, it is hard to find such a wide selection here.

I ended up at Gilmore, Manila’s largest computer district (I believe). Asking around for somewhere I could get a sub-5k laptop, I was directed to “MIP Desktop & Laptop Computers Trading”, where an Angel (that’s her name actually) finally reduced 2,000 PHP from the price of one laptop for me, knowing I wouldn’t leave there without a 5k or lower machine!

The laptop acquired is a Fujitsu FMV-B8200 (http://www.fmworld.net/biz/fmv/product/hard/blb0504/b8200/), which basically met my pre-determined minimum requirements of 512MB, 12 (vs 13) inch screen, well thats basically all I was worried about… It has Wifi, lots of inputs n outputs, fingerprint scanner and good working battery, but those are all extras.

This machine will be more than capable of being my main work machine, with Xubuntu alternative ISO downloading now to allow me to install a stripped down, fast version of Linux.

I’ll be posting a bunch of guides on what software to use for various development or admin tasks I’ll be doing as an online worker, along with other tips for working online CHEAPLY.

No reason not to also do this if you are living in a “developed” country, either!

;)

Full address of the store in Gilmore, tell them Leon sent you

3/F Computer Graphics Bldg. 23-25 Gilmore cnr. Aurora Blvd., New Manila, Quezon City

Ph: 416-41-17

gilmore_mip2010@yahoo.com

My 2nd Ever Tagalog Related Post!

Yes, back by no particular demand and following up to Super beginner Tagalog (Filipino language), I’m recording here some new words I may have heard or read in a book since then.

bagong – new

I first read this in Nobody Speaks Perfectly Tagalog – English [Kindle Edition], and the next day was able to understand a whole sentence including it in a Western Union poster (something about “This is your new wallet”, some kinda cash card deal..).

Reinforced last night by my kuya, RDR, when he was the only one to greet me with:

Maligayang Bagong Taon! – Happy New Year!

As he was the only one to greet me with that, I’m feeling a bit lonely here in PI and need to make some local friends after already 3 days here…

ito – this

As seen in such phrases as:

magkano ito? – how much is this?

ako/ko – I

I’m quite scared of how my brain will deal with the different grammar rules for Filipino, such as when to use ako or ko, but I’m assuming the more I can get actual conversation practice, it will make more sense… that goes for all the ng‘s and mga‘s, too, which I think I can at least pronounce…

OK, now for some community recommendations from my last post, I’ll take the ones I’ve heard before:

gatas – milk

Thanks to my Filipina friends in Hong Kong and the fact I only had gatas or Tanduay in my house to drink (see this post to learn the fate of my Tanduay bottle…)

hindi – not

This one was easy to remember from a book, denotes negativity, reminds me of Bollywood (apologies if I got the ethnicities wrong!)

bayan – town

balik – return

I had heard this one as balikbayan, I think at Manila airport, there was a counter for OFW (Overseas Foreign Workers), perhaps it was written here..? Can someone tell me if babalik is the shortened version of balikbayan? Anyway, balikbayan seems to be synonymous with OFW’s returning home. If you start to type “balikb…” into Google, it’s auto-complete suggests balikbayan box New York, balikbayan box Honalulu, etc…

tubig – water

I haven’t remembered this one yet, but have heard it a few times… I’ll be careful not to mistake it as English “too big”, especially as a white guy in asia..

kamusta (ka)? – how are you?

Very easy to remember from the Spanish ¿Cómo estás?

salamat (po) – Thank you

I’ve kind of never used this, I would feel so like a tourist using this anywhere that people obviously speak English (99% of Manila??) Once I have a few more phrases under my belt though, I will be fine to throw it out there, hoping to catch a response in Tagalog to get a conversation started…

saan? – where?

This one has another hint inside, which is sa, used as a “particle”(?) for direction, similar to に(ni) in Japanese, or 在(sai/hai) in Mandarin/Cantonese. Let’s see the same particle in a sentence that will introduce another word:

gusto ko pumunta sa tubig – I want to go to the water

Maybe not a common phrase, but I wanted to throw water in there and introduce 2 more words:

gusto – want/like

pumunta/punta – go

This is where it gets tricky for me… punta supposedly means direction, but then the verb changes for each tense here:

Saan ang punta mo? – Where you going?

Saan ka pupunta? – Where are you going?

Pumunta ka ba kahapon? – Did you go yesterday?

That’s too much for me to remember the rules just yet.

ano/anong – what?

A Filipina co-worker taught me this one, thanks! I kept hearing her say it over the phone (work calls, I’m sure!). This also changes deepening on the following word’s first letter, if it is a vowel or consonant, I believe.

A lot of those last ones were from a random visitor, who was actually looking for info on my WordPress plugin!

To wrap up, a couple of verbs I’ve heard, but don’t know how to properly conjugate. I’ll pay them a conjugal visit in the future, perhaps…

nagluluto – cooking

baboy – pork

I was trying to be clever and typed nagluluto ay baboy into Google translate, it told me I was this clever: “cooks are breeding”. Seems “pork” has same connotations in Tagalog as English, hehe!

Actually, I’m out of verbs, just this last phrase:

anong oras na – what time is it?

The na and maybe ka seem similar to Japanese for making something a question, i.e. xxxxxx ka na?

OK, a bit of a long post, seems I’ve remembered a few more words in the last couple of days. Could really use some help with the grammar and verbiage next round of comments!

Combining multiple aDSL or other broadband lines (super fast torrenting anyone??)

Just landed in Manila today and the woeful internet speed made me remember my time working in mainland China. In between lashings and being force-fed propaganda cornflakes for breakfast, it was a daily struggle to get reliable internet connectivity in our office.

pfSense is an awesome FreeBSD-based router/firewall/swiss army knife of digital bliss which allowed our multiple expensive, crappy aDSL lines to band together and form one uber-line. At the time, we were using load-balancing, meaning it would send and receive packets evenly over each connection (or use a ratio we defined for stronger/weaker lines). This meant that more users could be surfing porn in the office at the same time and downloading torrents was like super fast man. There may have been increased business benefits, too, but really, well-porned workers are good workers is what I always say (just not out loud in China or I would get beaten with a stick).

I may setup another pfSense box here in Manila at some point if I could find some old hardware and afford extra aDSL(ow) lines.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t really do such cheeky stuff as download torrents, I use NZBs!