Johnathan.org
Johnathan Lyman

Johnathan.org

My name is Johnathan Lyman. I'm an engineer at Papertrail, a huge Apple nerd and semi-regular blogger. I enjoy bubble tea way too much and find Farming Simulator relaxing.

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2014 – 2018 Johnathan Lyman. All 339 posts and 12 pages were made with and in Seattle.

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January 2015 Archives

How I Solved Related Posts not Showing when Running WordPress, JetPack, and Nginx

Programming
Ever since I started this blog up again at the beginning of January, I wanted to have related posts be visible at the end of each post. I use JetPack and I figured turning Related Posts on would be easy and I would be all set.

Well, not so much.

I turned on Related Posts and discovered nothing was appearing. I knew there wasn’t really anything that could be wrong as I don’t have any errors in WordPress, PHP-FPM doesn’t report errors in any of my logs, and I can use other services like WordPress.com Stats and the like.

I did some digging and after my search turned up nothing, I reached out to Automatic support and asked about my JetPack issue. We worked through a few things including making sure WordPress.com Stats was working, the JetPack servers could see my site (which they did). We even checked to make sure the plugin was even grabbing data to display in the first place. This can be done by adding ?relatedposts to the end of any single post URL. You’ll get a JSON blob in return if it’s doing what it’s supposed to on the back end. We figured, well, that can’t be it either. Turns out, the answer wasn’t anywhere where I was expecting it to be.

My problem was with my Nginx server configuration for this site.

Here’s where it gets technical. For any path, you’ll have a set of URIs for the server to try before it gives up. The code usually looks like this:

try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php

In most cases, that’s right! WordPress will work just fine like this. You won’t notice errors and everything will parse fine… except for JetPack’s Related Posts plugin.

See, with the above line of code, we’re telling Nginx that it’s ok to try the URI by itself, with a slash after it, or try index.php by itself, depending on what the URI actually is. Nginx, however, is very detail-oriented and will only do exactly what you tell it to do. In my case, I left out a specific instruction: process index.php with arguments, please. By doing so, we turn the above line of code into this line of code:

try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?q=$uri&$args

JetPack calls upon that JSON blob I told you about a bit ago just like that: index.php followed by the URI (not fancy, something like a post ID), and any additional arguments necessary after that. So in the case where my post ID is 105 and it’s grabbing the related posts for that, it would be calling

index.php?q=105&relatedposts=1

Boom.

I hope you find this helpful. If you did (or did not), leave a comment below.

Learn to Code as Early as You Can!

Blog

One thing I always wish I would have paid more attention to when I was younger was coding. I believe my generation is just the start of the potential batch of humans that become masters of writing code and making apps that do random things. My problem is I feel like I’m a bit behind the curve because I didn’t pay as much attention to it nor did I have a solid path to learn code in the first place…

There’s a huge demand for software developers. A lot of these developers went to school for computer science and built up the foundations necessary to be successful in that career. While I’m decent—I could hold my own if I was writing something with HTML/CSS, Python, or PowerShell—I think I would be even better if I had paid more attention. When I was younger, I didn’t care so much about stuff like that. I wasn’t interested in the future. I was interested in girls and just making it through high school. If I had really kept my nose in the books so to speak, I could have gone to a good school and today I would have a CS degree and likely be pretty good in software development.

I know what you’re thinking. Just because I didn’t get a degree doesn’t mean I can’t excel at programming. You’re right. That’s why I’m good with the above languages I cited. I used to be good with PHP, too, but that was before high school and those brain cells rusted out; a lot has changed with PHP but it’s not foreign to me. I use WordPress every day and I can handle my own when reading and understanding code.

Where to Learn

There are a ton of resources out there to learn to code, some online and others in person. Here’s a good list from what I’ve discovered and personally think are fantastic:

Online

In Person

There are a lot more out there, I’m sure, but these are just the ones I’m familiar with. Not all services and locations will offer up the same courses, but I think there’s a good mix of online and in-person resources to get anyone to a good place to start making their own apps.

Once you have a solid foundation, it’s time to experiment and start making stuff. You’re at the point where you won’t get a high-paying software development job just yet, but it’s coming. Here are some ideas and idea lists to get you started:

I’ve combed through a lot of these resources myself and have used some of the earlier resources I listed for learning to code. I personally believe that if you have the time and resources to learn in-person, you’ll have a much better time. If you don’t, please don’t fret. You might be surprised by how much you can learn online. If you ever get stuck, the very popular Q&A site for whatever StackExchange has great sub-sites for various programming languages but their biggest is StackOverflow. You’ll find an answer there, I’d almost guarantee it. Your problem probably isn’t unique if you’re working on something that may have been done before.

I might have regrets about not learning to code sooner, but it’s also very much not too late to learn. With the amount of free resources, there’s no excuse.

Bonus

There’s an iPad app called Code Academy – Hour of Code that also provides great resources on the basics of development and programming. If you have an iPad and want to learn the fundaments in an hour a day, give it a look. It’s free so you have nothing to lose and no excuse not to do it.

If I Could Change Just One Thing

Blog

I get it. Working with another team can suck at times. I’ve had my fair share of cases where I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the idea of working with a team of people who I didn’t believe were in the right position to be of assistance. While that’s certainly my opinion, it’s not my place to tell them they’re idiots. It’s also not appropriate. That’s not the only thing that bothers me about inter-team dynamics that seems all too common today.

What really grinds me gears is the lack of open communication between multiple teams and parties that exists, today. Most companies have several teams and aren’t on the scrappy startup level. Some companies have multiple teams doing one type of task, although that number is significantly less. I am in the second boat. More times than I can witness, no matter what management has described, open communication didn’t exist and to even suggest it did was nothing short of heresy.

There’s a comfort zone or bubble that builds up when a team has been around a while and has had the opportunity to essentially do things the way they want to do them for some time. That bubble becomes something the team wants to protect at all costs because its safe and it feels nice. To have that taken away for what would at first seem like no good reason because now there’s team B coming in and helping with the same type of tasks, it can feel threatening.

This situation is amplified when team A tries to take the dominant position in the relationship and doesn’t even try to hide the fact that they’re trying to put team B into a lower, less useful-feeling place to perhaps push them back out. Think of it as a “good ol’ boys club” of sorts or even a country club. If you’re not a member of the special club or organization, then you’re nothing to them. You might as well golf in your backyard because you’ll never be doing it on their lush green grass.

I would fix that, if I could. This is 2015, in case nobody noticed, not 1986. These scrappy startups and small companies are thriving because they’re kicking ass at being one cohesive unit. If anyone expects to continue to be successful or even succeed once, this relationship can’t exist.

At this point, however, if it already exists, it won’t ever go away. This kind of dynamic comes from above. Subordinates tend to conform to how the rest of the team is moving. Changing something like this is hard if not impossible. In this scenario, someone will always be the redheaded step child. It’s about time we accept that and fire everyone who creates that type of environment. It’s not going to do anyone any good in the long run. It hurts morale and low morale hurts quality.

Vivaldi – A New Browser for our Friends

Blog

So there’s a new browser in town, put out by ex Opera big cheese Jón Stephenson von Tetzchner. It’s called Vivaldi and so far, it looks just as good as Vivaldi’s music sounds.

Vivaldi came to be after coming to the conclusion that Opera (the browser) just ain’t what it used to be. According to the site: “[Opera] is no longer serving its community of users and contributors who helped build the browser in the first place.” That’s a bummer. I liked Opera for a while, but then it started feeling super fat. It started feeling like Firefox. For what it’s worth, at the time, all third party browsers were feeling super bloated like they needed to have extra water drained out of them.

I downloaded it just now and toyed around with it for a bit. Obviously, on a Mac, installing an app is simple to the point of condescension in most cases. Just drag and drop it into the Applications folder.

On launch, there’s not much going on. Once you start browsing sites, it’ll do what other browsers do and show you your most visited sites. The UI is flat and clean. It blends super well with the UI theme that OS X Yosemite carries, and doesn’t feel out of place. The tab idea must really be working with users because it seems quite similar to just about every other name brand browser out there, which is fine. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel if your existing wheel is super fast.

After launching a few sites, I noticed a really cool trend. The site icon that appears in the tab dictates the UI’s main color. The Vivaldi has a mostly red icon ergo the UI is the same shade red. Visiting The Great Discontent changes the UI to black, and Google to blue. It’s a subtle touch but is much appreciated. It takes the branding of the site the user is viewing and extends it over their whole screen. It’s almost as if the brand bleeds into the whole browsing experience.

There are a load of cool features coming soon, according to the Vivaldi Web site including:

  • Mail. What’s better than a really good competitor to Gmail? Who says they have to eat all the cake?
  • Bookmark/Notes/History/Session syncing across different devices. Smells like a hint that mobile will be a real thing.
  • Keyboard-based (Spatial) Navigation. Sounds like it could be good. Will have to wait and see how this turns out.
  • Performance Boosts. Nothing like a snappy quick browser. Even being slightly cracked out is OK, so long as it’s stable.
  • Extensions. Your browser needs to do so much more these days and they want to make sure that happens in the most secure method possible without impacting performance.
  • And More… They’re taking suggestions from the community!

Download: Vivaldi.net

I’m looking forward to seeing what this baby can do, especially with the upcoming release from Microsoft of their new “Spartan” browser!

Favorite Thing to This Day

Blog

In school my favorite subject was “Computers.” At the time, I didn’t quite know what that meant, nor did I really care. Kids thought I was nerdy because computers weren’t cool. The popular kids didn’t care about computers, they were athletes. That’s how they made friends. That didn’t deter me from keeping up with what I enjoyed the most.

I started with HTML in the 6th grade, and it escalated from there to include design and photography. Today, I work in IT at a rather large software company you might have heard of, and I enjoy it. If I had to change career paths at this very moment, the only shift I would make would be to photography, something that was stimulated by computers, too.

I experienced my first Mac around the 6th grade timeframe, too, but it was one of those colorful eMacs with the round one-button mice. I remember the next year my school bought newer white iMacs, still of the tube-television style one-piece setups, but the mice weren’t completely round anymore—though they still had one button.

Jump forward a couple years later into high school, and that’s when I got to feel my first, what I felt like was a legit iMac. It was a behemoth at 27” in screen size and I was blown away by it. The resolution—all those pixels—and the ability to have so much on screen and be able to do it all at once!

That was my last real contact with a mac until I bought my own in 2011. Don’t get me wrong, I used Windows computers, too. I built my own gaming-purposed desktop in the beginning of 2011 and rocked it like no other. However, it didn’t stick with me like my 15” Macbook Pro did. That same Macbook Pro is sitting in front of me right now. It’ll be four years old in roughly eight months and while I sank a lot of money into that gaming desktop I built, I can’t say it would be running the same this many years later, without intervention.

In IT, I’ve supported Macs, PCs, Windows servers, Linux servers, and any blend of those four technologies. If It hadn’t been for my interest in computers from the very beginning (with a Packard bell 486DX2-66), I don’t think any of my interests I have today would have flourished in any way.

Just Sit Down and Write with Desk

Blog

I’ve been writing pretty religiously for the last few weeks now—I officially started this new chapter on January 6th—and one thing I’ve failed to talk much about is what exactly I do my writing on. I could go into a huge, winded preamble about how the best software matters and this and that and the other thing, but I’ll spare you the sappy crap. The reality is, I have one app I use when I’m at my desk, tapping away at my keyboard, making words appear in sentence form on a screen. It’s called Desk. Yes, I use my computer on my desk, but on my computer is Desk. Boy that would be confusing if English wasn’t your first language. Anyway, without sounding two advertorial—sorry not sorry—I want to tell you a bit about the app.

Desk is a minimalist writing app. To say it’s minimalist might not actually be the right word for it. It’s more of a digital, software-based representation of a spiral notebook. See, Desk serves one purpose: be that guy you always go to when you need to talk about some stuff write. It allows you to be as distraction-free as possible and maintain a sense of organization and being “with it.”

Desk supports most of the popular platforms as of version 1.1:

  • WordPress
  • Blogger
  • Tumblr
  • Facebook Notes
  • Typepad
  • Squarespace
  • MovableType

Platforms such as Ghost are hopefully coming soon!

Publishing a post to any of your blogging platforms of choice takes but a few seconds, and with the option of enabling Quick Publish, it becomes a one-click setup. If you write the same type of content every day, this becomes a no brainer.

All articles you write can be saved to your iCloud Drive, along with anywhere else on your Mac. This is great if you start work on one Mac and finish on another (say at home and work). Your work travels with you from computer to computer.

The Desk on screen editor works in two ways: Markdown (awesome) or HTML (awesome, too.) With HTML mode off, the final formatting can be displayed in a separate preview window. If you’re good with Markdown, you’ll really enjoy writing with Desk.

Let’s not forget one important feature. Desk might be just a text-centric writing application, but that doesn’t stop it from being able to edit existing posts published to your platforms. From the side menu—where you do almost everything—you can select an existing post to work on or update without ever having to launch your browser or log into an admin page on your site.

This might not have been a super in-depth look at the tool and to be honest, a deep dive wouldn’t have been necessary. Yeah, it has all the basic stuff most text editors have, but on the flip side, it’s that way on purpose. It’s not trying to be an end-all writing app for everyone. It’s not meant for screenwriters (although I’m sure you could use it for that, if you wanted… no one’s stopping you) or authors of books. Desk is meant for the Web and blogging. If you’re someone, like me, who likes to write every day and push their thoughts to a blog, this is your deal. At $30 on the Mac App Store, it’s worth every penny.

The Workforce in 2030

Blog

I recently caught a TED Talk by Rainer Strack on the shifting of the workforce in the few decades to come. There’s a fundamental change that’ll take place soon and one thing’s for sure, there’ll end up being a lot more vacancies in the job market than there are now. I’m sure you’re wondering:

[Conservative] How can this be? Isn’t the economy in the toilet, still?
[Progressive] How can this be? Isn’t the economy doing great already?

Well fear not pundit! Because neither really matter. See, it’s not about how the economy’s doing but who’s working. In the 50s, we had what you’d call a “boom.” It wasn’t an industrial boom, nor an oil boom. It was a baby boom. While it sounds all fine and dandy, the problem lies in what will happen when that sharp population growth that took place fifty and almost sixty years ago all of a sudden decides to retire. I’m sure you can figure out the rest.

On the Bus in the Fog Unlike a Dog on a Log in a Bog with Nog

Blog
This is the first time I’ve tried to write a post on the bus. There’s a lot of free time to be had on the bus, that I could just waste reading ArsTechnica articles or scrolling Facebook. But after my recap on the finicky relationship I have with my iPhone I feel like it’s necessary to look into putting it to better use.

First off, let me be clear. I don’t have any special writing apps to craft posts for when I’m in a bus in the fog writing for my blog (or any other alliterative, Dr. Seuss-type wordplays). I’m using the basic Notes app that comes with all Apple devices these days. I’m not even bothering to check my spelling too much as autocorrect seems to be doing a pretty good job on its own. Now granted if my word choice ends up being a total crapfest, then I feel like I need to go back and update it.

Along with the Notes app comes the https://appsto.re/us/i9Mau.i“>WordPress app from Automattic. It’s how I interface with my site from both my iPhone and iPad.

Second, I don’t find it necessary to spend every waking moment writing, although it is enjoyable. I’m sure if I tried hard enough I could find enough stuff to talk about during the day to write non stop for two people.

Third, what’s a blog post anyway but a digital journal entry? All I’m doing is putting my thoughts on digital paper and sharing them. I understand the recourse of the idea that once it’s on the Internet it’s there forever.

At some point, someone will want to sit next to me and hopefully I’ll be close to the end. There’s nothing I hate more than someone peeking over my shoulder trying to see what I’m up to. I get passing glances and whatnot, stuff happens. I can’t expect someone to never catch a glance of my kickass high score in Candy Crush.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to clear my autocorrect dictionary after all the new crap words it seems to have recorded after I wrote this.

PS: I might have seemed a bit ramble. That’s just how I write and think on a moments notice. I wrote this post more so to prove a point that to myself that I can write wherever I am. In the future, I think I’ll have to procure one of those keyboard iPad cases. A small screen makes my thumbs hurt.

Taking Notes

Blog

Reflecting on my journey so far, one thing I’ve noticed that seems to be most consistent is my desire to write has improved, ten fold. Instead of coming up with huge elaborate stories or long-winded essays about something I don’t even know if I completely understand, I’m starting to keep my thoughts to under a thousand words. This keeps me from getting bored with what I write, and if I do choose to write something more long-form, I can do so without feeling like that’s all I do and it’s just more words on a page. I’m also finding that I’m wanting to take time out of my day, whenever it is, to “write something real quick.” Take last weekend, for example, I wrote a total of [x] posts and published them all. Were they all related? No, but they were all things I had going on in my head and I made sure to take the time to put them down and share them.

Going forward, I think this is something I’ll be doing more often. This has been a product of the changes in my morning routine now that I’m writing every day, almost without fail. So far I’ve had to resort to looking at my notes but a few times, but I can only speculate if that’ll get better or worse. I have at any one time, several different things I’m pondering or thinking about and am taking note of them on my iPhone with the built-in Notes app so when I get home in the evening or start spinning up first thing in the morning, I can look back on it and pick up where I left off. There’s no shame in checking notes to remember what you might want to talk about. I have complete faith that even the best of us do that, too.

If you have a lot of things you want to talk about but don’t ever remember them, writing them down when they pop into your head could save your bacon one day!

Positioning for the Journey to Dreamland

Blog
I saw a rather interesting article this morning via the Wall Street Journal that talks about finding the perfect sleep position. I couldn’t help but think: “is there some mad science in here that will give me the answer to all things sleeping so I can sleep mad sleeps and wake up feeling like a million dollars?” Well, no. The only way to wake up feeling like a stack of cash is either a) have a million dollars or b) eat some of those crazy mushrooms the kids like.

Anyway, This article had some good points that I wanted to recap because it’s something I struggle with from time to time, and after adjusting my morning routine to better serve my daily writing goals, the best sleep I can get from the limited time I have is fine by me.

Looking back on even last night’s sleep, I started out on my side, and the article puts me in the majority with 57% of sleepers starting out that way. Sometimes, if I’m already pretty relaxed, I’ll start on my back, and let my eyes literally roll back into my head (weird I know). That’s something only 17% of people seem to do, and for those stomach sleepers out there, you’re the odder of the bunch at 11% for starting positions.

2680866397_f6107a9fe0_o

What I really found interesting is just in the next paragraph, the author talks about the variance in the amount of times people toss and turn during the night: as few as three times to as many as 36. I would have no way of knowing where I fall in that category unless I videotaped myself. I’m ok not knowing that much about my sleeping habits.

I whole-heartedly believe it’s important to make sure I am sleeping “properly” or as close to it as I can. I try to avoid pain areas in the sense that I’ll sleep on the opposite side if I’m favoring an area or if my back hurts, I’ll try to lay as flat as I can, to keep as much tension and pressure off it as possible.

If you have time—if you don’t, I think you should make time—go read the article form the Wall Street Journal. Sleep is important and making sure you’re getting the most out of it is crucial to morning success. Not all of us can just spring out of bed before the birds.

Hunting the Hunter: Trying to Take a Photo of my Cat

Blog

I tried something interesting, yesterday. Every once in a while, I find the urge to pull out my camera and shoot stuff at home. It doesn’t happen very often, and for good reason. My space is outside, where things don’t move, where all I have to worry about is what time the sun sets, and how cold my fingers will end up at the end. The outdoors is peaceful. Nature doesn’t have a schedule and it largely sticks around for as long as it deems necessary. There are great places to hike, camp, and smell the roses, if there are any.

Bringing it back into reality, however, my home isn’t anything like that.

Have you ever tried taking a photo of you cat?

I did, and it wasn’t easy. It took a bit of thinking, stealth maneuvering, and patience. See, cats are these interesting creatures that do whatever the heck they want, when they want. They’re the part of nature that waits for no one, and if you miss out, that sucks for you. It’s interesting to see the juxtaposition of an animal that’s an extension of our larger feline friends in the wild, so free-spirited, and they end up pooping in some baking-soda-covered clay chunks, and they’re totally ok with it.

Maybe your cat’s chill. Good for you. Maybe you don’t own a cat and think I’m totally whack even talking about it, not long after talking about my cat being in a box. You might be wondering if I’ve run out of ideas of things to write about. All of those thoughts are valid and I understand your concern. I’m not crazy, though. Never the crazy cat person, will I be.

Oh, and you might be wondering if I ever got that photo?

No.

Cat 1. Human 0.

Never Gonna Give You Up, Never Gonna Put You Down… Sometimes.

Blog
As much as I try to stay current with technology, there’s a part of me that just doesn’t care if I check my phone all the time, or am constantly reading emails on the weekend. I know a lot of people keep up to date on the latest everything with every device they have and that’s awesome. I just can’t do that. However, there’s one device that I really can’t live without because it’s become a gateway to the “Quick-Check-to-See-if-the-World-Has-Burned-Down” reality: my iPhone.

I’m quite sure the list of people that say they couldn’t live without their phone is staggering. Hell, Instagram is a phone-only thing and look at how many people share what they’re eating on regular basis! If people stopped caring so much about their phones and making sure everything that was going on was going through their phone, Instagram would shut down. It’s likely that twitter would take a big hit, too. Facebook… meh. People are still butthurt about the unbundling of services that Facebook did recently, because they don’t have anything else to be upset about. They’re rebelling against the system by using their browser or their computer as if that’ll do anything. You go guys… way to stick it to the man.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having my phone around with me all the time, but it’s more of a just-in-case-something-happens kind of need. I might be listening to podcasts while I travel to and from work every day, but we’ve been able to do that for quite some time, before smartphones were a thing (remember the iPod?) so that doesn’t count as a dire need. I listen to music, too, but that also falls under what I just described. I might check twitter every now and then or watch Facebook all morning but that just drains me. Have you ever sat on twitter reading people’s 140-character-or-less thoughts and NOT felt drained or depressed afterwards? The world sucks nuts and I can only read about it for a little bit.

The world used to be a simpler place. Cats used to sit inside cannons like it’s no big deal. You can tell a lot about a time period by whether you have a cat that’s willing to loiter around artillery. Those days were nice.
tumblr_neyf5bef5V1sfie3io1_1280.jpg

For all I don’t use my iPhone for, though, if I didn’t have it with me, I’d feel disconnected, I’ll admit. It’s become more of a security blanket when I’m moving between point A and point B. I, and likely society as a whole, have been trained to think that if I leave my house without my phone, something bad might happen and I won’t be able to call for help! I wonder how people in the 90s even survived.

I think if I absolutely had to, could resort to a dumb phone. Apple still makes iPods, so all my smart tools could just migrate to that device. I’d have iMessage wherever I had wifi and text messaging on my dumb phone. Turns out, though, that I’d still end up paying an arm and a leg for service. The difference of $20 for data isn’t worth the downgrade. On the flip side, the uncharge of $20 for data to have a smartphone is paltry.

Perhaps one day I’ll see if I can go a whole day without my smartphone. I have a ton of technology around me at home, and a ton more at work, so really there’ll only be roughly three hours out of the day where I’m in that disconnected state that won’t allow me to get the latest tweets that I hate or read emails the bleeding freaking second they arrive.

But that’s unlikely.

How to Set up Automatic WordPress Blog Post Scheduling with IFT.TT, and Buffer

Blog
Let’s be honest. The year is 2015 and nobody wants to do things by hand or manually if they can help it. Companies are hiring people to automate the hell out of everything because like M.I.A (sort of, not really) famously rapped:

live fast, die young, robots do it well.

I’ll admit, I like speeding up the process of sharing what I’ve written but I like controlling it a bit more than some. Here’s how I do it.

You’ll want to create an account with IFTTT and Buffer if you haven’t already. IFTTT stands for IF This, Then That. The premise is that you can take data being expelled from one service, and based on certain criteria, do something with it via another. Things like “Text me with the daily weather report at 5AM” are easy and, well, kind of cheesy. If you become a power user of IFT.TT or already are, you’ll know that there’s so much more you can do with the service like auto-tweet breaking news stories from news sources or trigger your Philips Hue home lighting to change color when a storm warning comes into effect.

In my case, I want to sync IFTTT with my WordPress install. To start, I’ll need to create a new recipe and click on the blue this link (A) and choose the WordPress trigger channel (B). This will be the source for the data that IFTT uses.

ifttt_step1

Once I have that set, I can choose whether I want this action to be triggered by any new post from WordPress, or just when the post has a particular tag or category. In my case, I choose the former, because I want to share all posts.

Screenshot 2015-01-24 20.48.33

We can skip Step 3 as there’s nothing else to set for these triggers and move on to step four. Click Create Trigger.

So at this point we’ve established that if there’s any new post on WordPress Blog then we’ll do something. Now we establish what that something is. Click the blue that link. In my case, I want to share to Buffer.

Screenshot 2015-01-24 20.51.29

Screenshot 2015-01-24 20.51.36

I will want to choose the “Add to Buffer” option since I won’t be pushing photos from my source. My final step is to set up how I want my shares to look and then I create my action.

Note: If this is your first time, you’ll have to set up what account you want Buffer to schedule this IFTTT-pushed content on. 

Screenshot 2015-01-24 20.53.36

There are a couple things to keep in mind when setting this up. Anything pushed from IFTTT to Buffer: 1) will be set to whatever schedules you have created and 2), will only be pushed to whatever social media account you have set up for this channel. You can only have one social media account chosen for this type of setup.

If you want to use more than just one social media account to share you content, I recommend creating separate recipes for each. Granted, only one of them will be scheduled via Buffer, so keep that in mind. In my situation, I don’t really mind, and I use Buffer so much already that I like having the ability to manually schedule for other social media accounts that don’t get as much regular pushing of content.

All Done!

It’s that simple. If you have account with IFTTT and Buffer already set up, this will take you thirty seconds to do. You’ll find this thirty seconds will save you time in the long run and will become something that you don’t even think about at the end of the day.

Sure you could use WordPress plugins, too, and that’s all fine and dandy. I’m not stopping you! This is how I like to do it and I figured someone out there might like to know.

Thanks for stopping by, have a good one!

Ghostly Sharing to Twitter from Jetpack’s Publicize Plugin

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A rather odd thing started happening shortly after I implemented Jetpack on this site. I was seeing my posts show up on twitter, which is nice and all, but not through the method I had set up. I describe how I set up automatic post scheduling for the various social networks in this past. These tweets were being written without a fancy permalink, which seemed odd and told me that it wasn’t something of my intentional doing. After doing some research, I discovered someone having an issue with the Publicize plugin not removing a social media account properly. In order to fix their issue, they re-added their account and removed it again.

I figured it would be a stretch but I knew it couldn’t hurt anything so I tried that myself just to see what would happen. I Added my Facebook page, and after authorization, lo and behold, my twitter account showed up, too. It wasn’t previously authorized so I had a pretty good idea this ghost authorization was what was causing these unwanted shares. Un-linking my twitter account immediately solved the problem, and I was on my way to sharing the way I want to: WordPress > IFTTT > Buffer.

There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy–For Everything Else, There’s a Cat in a Box.

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Sometimes I wonder about cats. Who invented them? Why are they here? Are those whiskers really just antennae they use to communicate with their alien space ships? All these things are valid questions if you are like me, because obviously my brain isn’t stimulated enough as it is. Of all cat-related questions out there, the one that keeps me the most interested and stumped is: what’s with the boxlust?

Yes, that’s a word I just came up with. Boxlust. Noun. The unreasonable and indescribable urge to be in, on, or around boxes as much as possible, for particular reason. I’ve witnessed my cat enjoy cardboard boxes like none other. Even as a kid, I enjoyed boxes, but not to the extent my feline friend does.

So that got me wondering: perhaps someone’s looked into this already! I look to the ever trusting Internet to find out the who, what, where, why, and how of cats and their desires for cardboard containers with eight right-angled corners.

The first thing I came up with was a quote from Stephen Zawistowski from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA). He said “Cats like boxes because they are cryptic animals; they like to hide…[it] gives them a place of safety and security.” That explains a lot. When my cat enters his corrugated fortress, I’ll find he’s dug a mote around his encampment and at some point in the day found alligators to fill it. I’m still trying to figure out where he was able to procure alligators, as I can’t even seem to procure the right kind of accessories for my Playstation 4 on Amazon.

Live Science tells us that seeking out confined spaces is an instinctual behavior for cats. That makes sense, just like it’s an instinctual behavior for me to seek out a couch to veg on all weekend, every weekend. It’s a fire that burns deep in my core, and I suspect my cat lusts after the four-walled brown structure of an Amazon.com shipping box like a heroin addict lusts after crank: with the burning intensity of a thousand suns.

Although this all sounds like good information, I wasn’t satisfied with such normal and structured answers, so I took to reddit because why not? if the Internet has something to say about something, they’ll be saying it on reddit. Reddit User OookOok says it has something to do with trees, wood pulp, and the similarity. I’m trying to think of what wild cat fits inside a tree and can’t seem to come up with anything. Oh well, perhaps I’m missing a crucial demographic of the wild cat species: the one that’s like my house cat but somehow feral or wild? I didn’t know that was such a thing.

But then I got to thinking: in my obviously non-scientific accidental experiments, our cat seems to enjoy sitting on paper more than anything else. If my cat knew how to pay the child came “Hot Lava,” he’s a freaking expert. I feel like if my carpet ever became poisonous, he’d survive longer than I would. Perhaps he’s giving his kitty stamp of approval?

Whatever the reason is, I find it incredibly amusing. I’ve given up on buying cat trees, beds, houses, or other expensive toys. He’s resorted to several $1 rattling mice, pens, and paper products. I really should see if Staples is selling cat toys now. I feel like they’d have a great new product line and niche covered in a heartbeat. Either that or just get him a job with UPS. All those boxes? Yeah, he’d dig that.

Extending My Writing Goals to Photography

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When I’m not working, writing, or studying, I’m (ideally) shooting. I’m a landscape photographer and by shooting I mean “taking photos of.” One of the things I struggled with in 2014 was my motivation to shoot more. I’ve always had a small inkling in the back of my mind that I’d like to live out a career at my desk writing and taking photos. With my start to writing underway (and so far going relatively smoothly), the next half of that is creating more photos.

A lot of photographers will tell you that the gear doesn’t make the photographer. While I find that to be true, the gear does make the photographer more motivated if the gear they just bought is exponentially better than what they used to own. See, up until the end of last year, I owned a four year old camera body—the Canon 60D—and a couple of lenses. Unfortunately, the 60D wasn’t the best for landscape photography for two reasons:

  1. Crop-Sensor: While create for getting extra range when using a telephoto lens, the smaller sensor leads to more noise on the image because each individual pixel is much smaller. This became unbearable at a larger print sizes, which I love doing. I have a 30×20” photo in my dining room I took at Mt. Rainier that I would love to re-shoot with my new equipment. I know I’d get much better results.

  2. Lens Selection: While I could pick out awesome, expensive glass, it wouldn’t be worth it. With a crop sensor body, I’d have to multiply the focal length of the lens by 1.6, which takes an amazing landscape photography lens such as the Canon 16-35mm and turns it into a 25.6-56mm lens. While that sounds nice, that’s a bit too narrow for me. So I settled with a 3rd-party brand lens that gave me 10-20mm of range, which equated to 16-36mm, exactly where I wanted, but with a trade-off. It wasn’t super sharp.

With those two elements combined, I had a setup that I didn’t really appreciate so I stopped using it a lot. When I had the opportunity to replace my gear, I jumped on the idea, and ordered a new body—the Canon 6D—and the Canon 16-35mm F/4 lens. For what I want to shoot, it’s an amazing combination and so far I’ve had nothing but awesome luck and experiences with the combination. The setup is light and agile but not flimsy. The field of view is spectacular and the quality of imagery on the sharpness and clarity fronts are epic. Well worth the purchase.

For those who say that new gear won’t help you take better photos, they might be wrong if the old gear was of retiring age.

When it comes to actually taking photos, however, there’s no amount of gear that will make me get out and shoot. I have to want to. With the gear half of my desire out of the way, all I have left is myself to fight with. For 2015, I’m attempting to apply the same goals I set up for my writing to my photography and have broken them down as such:

  1. Shoot at least twice a week

  2. Different locations each time, not coming back for at least a month

  3. Share at least one image from each shoot.

  4. Stay at the location for as long as I deem necessary so as to not feel rushed.

  5. Start taking my camera more places, intentionally, in case an opportunity appears.

These are rougher goals and guidelines than what I established for my wordsmith self, and that’s ok. I have a running list of places I want to shoot and each location requires different coordination in terms of time of day, weather, how long I’m there, how long it takes to get to my final destination, etc. I can’t reasonably expect it to take an hour to shoot at a beach at sunset and take the same amount of time while I hike two miles each way to a waterfall while raining. That’s unrealistic.

I think a lot of my shooting will end up on the weekends, as during the week, I am working a day job so my possible options will typically be limited to sunsets and night-time photography such as shooting the stars. I’m all right with that. I shoot over the weekend while I was in California and got some great photos. After work yesterday, I ran out and shot a sunset at the beach and got more great photos. I could have just as easily stayed home after work because I was certainly tired, but I knew that it wouldn’t take that long, and I really just need to do it and stop complaining.

If I ever want to make this something I do more regularly and possibly make money from, I need to work at it more. Same with writing. If I ever want to make something of it, I need to keep at it. No one becomes famous overnight (unless you go viral on the Internet, but even then that’s not really fame).

My First Smartphone

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We all remember our first smartphones, for the most part. I know I remember my transition from the small brick phones that weighed as much as small bricks. They did the job back then. In 2003, texting was a limited thing still in my world and around all of my friends. We mostly emailed and instant-messaged each other. I think I did that pretty much all through high school. When I started using MySpace regularly, I communicated a lot through that service with my friends. Facebook, same story. It wasn’t until I bought my first smart phone in 2010 that my communication world really changed.

When I got my first flip phone, it was in 2007. I signed up with Verizon Wireless and felt super accomplished. I also had just turned 18 so I was allowed to sign up for stuff all by myself! I felt so accomplished. I even still remember my phone number from that time! I thoguht my phone was the coolest thing in the world. It had music playback capability, a front screen with music controls on it, I could browse the Internet with the built-in WAP browser… that was the life, for sure. Back then, battery life was awesome, too. I could go a couple days without charge while still using it regularly. I made a habit of plugging in nightly, though, as charging cables were still proprietary and good quality connectors were hard to come by.

My first flip phone was the LG Chocolate III. It was bigger than most flip phones of the time, and I loved that. It was shiny, had a great looking screen( for a flip phone) and the interface made it feel expensive. Since this was my first phone that had more than one color on the screen, I didn’t care about things like interface speed, lag, ux, or anything of the sort. It’s likely that a lot of people felt the same way. I rocked this phone for until my next upgrade date, which came 20 months later.

After I got my first taste of what adulthood brought in terms of mobile telephony, I wanted to kick it up a notch. The iPhone was still a really new thing and the iPhone 3G was out, but was an AT&T exclusive. I didn’t want to switch nor did I have the money to shell out for a true smartphone (yet). I bought the LG Dare. With its 240x400px screen, I felt like I was living the high life. Bluetooth, HTML Web browsing, MP3 and AAC support… ahh the features! The Dare (VX9700) was my first entry into touch-screen space and I loved it.

Comparing the size to my current iPhone 5, the Dare was shorter (4.87 vs 4.1 inches), slightly narrower (2.31 vs 2.2 inches), and thicker (0.3 vs 0.5 inches). It’s amazing to think about how far display technology has come where you have a deivce like the Dare with 0.08mp of screen resolution at 152ppi over a three inch screen versus the iPhone 5’s 0.72mp screen at 326ppi over four inches. Talk about a jump in resolution!

When 2010 came, I finally landed my first real smart phone. By this time, the iPhone was still an AT&T exclusive and I didn’t want to pay more money for the same measured service. I didn’t care about what one carrier had over the other. All I cared about was the fact that I would have to shell out more dollars for the same offering; that didn’t sound like a good investment, to me.

Instead of landing the iPhone, which wasn’t all bad as I wasn’t a fan of Apple products beyond the black iPod Nano I had at the time, I picked up the Motorola Droid X. When it arrived via FedEx, I was beyond excited. This was my first phone I could do complicated stuff with. It had a real browser, not some wimpy WAP-based turd. It had apps, too! The concept of Apps blew my mind and my views on my mobile device would never be the same. It had a huge—for its time—4.3” touch screen. With a 480×854 resolution, it was at the top of the smart phone display game, second to the iPhone, of course, which still had a higher density resolution screen.

At the time, though, I had no idea what that meant or why that would be significant to anybody. I was glad I had a device that was fast and had a big, beautiful display.

After about a year, though, I grew tired of this device. It made me feel that way, though, because at the time, Android aged quickly and updates to the software didn’t happen quick enough, if at all. The highest version one could install via traditional means was Gingerbread (2.3). It became clunky and slow and reminded me daily that it enjoyed gulping up battery juice. Even with larger capacity batteries, it didn’t take long before I got rid of it and switch to an iPhone.

After my battle with Android, I promised myself I wouldn’t buy another Android device, again. For the most part, I held fast to that promise. After I gave up my Droid X, my first real smart phone, I bought an iPhone 4S. I was thrilled to give it a shot after I heard so many good things about it from co-workers. I’ll admit it was a bit of a shock when I changed ecosystems. The whole premise was much different and I would grow to learn that was a good thing. This was my first realization that there are some devices I just want to work, no matter what. I don’t want to have to or even think about tinkering with some things, and my phone was the first on that list. It’s this idea that would eventually push me to replace my Windows PC that I hand built with a Mac.

Aside: to this day, I still get comments like “I’d never spend 2x on a closed platform” or “way to spend much more than any of that hardware is worth!” I like to casually remind people that unlike their Windows desktop or laptop, you’ll never hear me complaining about my mac being slow or crashing. To this day I’ve only hard rebooted my mac a couple times. As of this writing, I’ve never re-installed the OS, nor have I had to have it serviced for failing parts that don’t have a definite lifespan.

In 2013, I thought I’d give the Galaxy S4 a try, as I liked the idea of the large, bright, and colorful screen. Maybe that was my downfall, just as certain insects attract their prey with bright and beautfiful colors and or the allure of something great (read: black widow) only to kill them in the end because they made a stupid decision. The Galaxy S4 started killing me shortly after I got it. I was reminded of all the reasons why I disliked android: battery life, poor resource management, too many things that need tinkering to work right. I dumped it after just a few months and went back to an iPhone, where I sit to this day.

My next phone certainly won’t be an Android device. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Nah. Perhaps I’ll pick up an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S (or whatever the next version is that comes out this fall). All I know is that I bought android as my first smart phone because that was what I had available to me at the time. If I had been an AT&T customer from the start, I may have never purchased an Android smartphone and had an iPhone from the beginning. If that was the case, I might have bought an Android device later on down the road anyway, and fought through the same battles, just in a different time frame. I can’t say for sure what would have happened, but I know that my first smart phone purchase helped shape my technology toolset as it stands now and my continued purchases will help mold my future decisions. Apple has done a good job of building up an ecosystem people don’t want to leave, and I’ll admit I am one of them. It’s comforting to know, however, that there are a lot of people like me who just want their stuff to work. If that means paying more, then so be it. Consider it a no-hassle tax.

Running Out of Coffee (Creamer)

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This morning I ran out of coffee creamer so I hope this all makes sense, if not… meh. I’m just a week into my new weekday morning routine. If you’re unfamiliar or don’t remember how I described it, it’s simple.

  • Go to bed around the same time every night, with <=30 minutes deviation.
  • Set alarm for ~4 sleep cycles (~90 minutes each) + 20 minutes ahead of when I get into bed.
  • Wake up within 30 minutes of alarm going off, allowing for a couple snoozes or time in bed with the light on to fully bring myself back to reality.
  • Morning cleaning routine.
  • Coffee. Must have coffee.
  • Write. Unless something went sideways with the above steps, there should be time for this. If not, do something else stimulating enough to stay awake while consuming coffee.
  • Proceed with the day.

That’s the idea. Yesterday was a bit rough as I woke up at a more in-opportune time and shut off my alarm. Since my travel to work was going to be different and more forgiving this week, getting up an hour and a half late wasn’t such a big deal. I don’t want to make it a practice though, as this is the whole habit I’m trying to break: getting up at the last minute and rushing.

My old routine was chaotic because it left no time for deviation and frankly was frustrating. I had just enough time to do the bare minimum and that was it. No time to myself, whatsoever. After becoming more and more frustrated with it, I vowed to never do it again. I did some reading on how to “hack” my morning routine and while a load of it was crap or not useful in the least bit, the parts that stuck with me the most were about sleep cycles and morning stimulation.

Sleep Cycles

A human’s standard sleep cycle is roughly 90 minutes in length, from stage one (light sleep) to stage four (heavy/REM/dream sleep). The idea is that if whatever wakes you up in the morning does so as you’re coming out of a sleep cycle and returning to light sleep, you’ll have an easier time waking up. For the most part, that seems to be pretty true. I’ve found it just as easy to wake up when my alarm goes off at 3:30am as it does at 5:00am (provided I went to bed at 9:00pm the night before). I usually grant myself four cycles for anytime I go to bed after 9:00pm and five cycles any time I go to bed between 8:00pm and 9:00pm.

But wait, you say… that’s only 60 minutes, a sleep cycle is 90 minutes! You’re right, it is. With the shorter cycle option, I find I have to give myself a bit of slack in the morning, by roughly 15-20 minutes. In this case, I’ll set three alarms, 15 minutes apart (ex. :00, :15, :30) and make each one more annoying than the one before it. See, I can sleep through a lot of noise in the morning hours once I’ve been through a sleep cycle or two. I’ve been tested and the doctors agreed. After one relaxes a bit in bed and has been sleeping for a bit, a lot of the stimulants and distractions from falling asleep are gone so submerging into deeper sleep is easier and more fulfilling. Thus, as deep as you go into REM sleep, it takes time to come out of it. Usually I’m aware it’s time to wake up when alarm three comes around because I seem to have trained myself to subconsciously understand that alarm one and two are warning shots that my warm, sleep-filled experience is about to end.

The Best Part of Waking Up, Is (Sometimes Not) Folgers In Your Cup.

I find that most of my tiredness (or the feeling of being tired) seems to come from how and when I’m woken up in the morning in relation to my sleep cycle. I executed my five-cycle option last night and with ~7.5 hours of sleep, I feel rested. Of course, I’m wishing I had my coffee, and Starbucks will have to help me out as I drive into work this morning. A good morning stimulant isn’t always a bad thing. Some people can’t drink coffee because it’s too much caffeine and gives the anxiety or they don’t like the taste of it. I get it. I didn’t used to like coffee, either. I still don’t unless it has creamer.

One of my alternatives was Red Bull. I used to buy them by the case from a wholesale store (Costco). While roughly half the price per can as a convenience store or other local grocery chain, it was still Red Bull. It lost it’s luster after drinking one every day of the week, sometimes twice a day. Coffee is warm and creamy (after I add my creamer, of course). In the winter, this is an especially friendly feeling. In the summer, I’m more of an iced tea kind of guy. I’ll go Starbucks and get the largest, most caffeinated tea they have and have them sugar it up—I can’t stand unsweetened iced teas. Usually this is some kind of breakfast/black tea.

As I wrap this post up, I’m really wishing I wasn’t out of coffee creamer. A clear oversight on my part, I knew I was out when I poured, yesterday. I know I could drink it black, but I already said I don’t like the taste of black coffee. Perhaps I’ve been ruined by sweet tastes thanks to the likes of Starbucks and other espresso-shooting vendors. Maybe I have. Sue me. I’ll pay you in Starbucks cards, anyway.

Being S.M.A.R.T about Blogging Goals for the New Year

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If you’re still with me, I’m on day eight of the #10DaysBetterBlog challenge/workshop/event put on by John Saddington of Desk.pm fame. He’s on year 14 of blogging so chances are he knows a thing or two. Today’s topic has to do with coming up with goals in relation to where I want my blogging to go using the S.M.A.R.T. principle. It is outlined like so:

  1. Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  2. Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  3. Assignable – specify who will do it.
  4. Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  5. Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Those seem easy enough. When placed over the idea of writing, it seemed a bit daunting at first but that’s really only because I just started doing so consistently. Here’s a breakdown of how the above translates to me and the whole idea of writing and blogging:

Specific Target Area

I know I can produce quality writing if I just sit down and do it. I’ve never had a problem with that. I enjoy telling stupid stories, giving slightly janky points of view on seemingly random things, and also talking about real stuff that I find important. I don’t care so much if I’m maximizing my potential audience by covering as many topics as possible, because that’s my why I’m posting this—or anything—to my site. I need to focus on actually doing. I say I’ll become a master of X subject and never actually follow through with it. I’ll say I’ll go on more hikes next year because my gut says I could lose a few. I might not be able to control those things in this scenario. I can say this: if a bear craps in the woods, then I’m writing. I’m not talking about telling a story about a bear cutting pipe. I’m talking about the assurance that words will flow out of my mind, through my hands, into my keyboard, through the bits and digital stuff inside my computer, blah blah blah, to where you can see it.

TL;DR: WRITE.PERIOD.

Measurable Progress

My first blog post since I started writing daily was on January 6th, 2014, which as I write this, was six days ago. It’s easy for me to say that since I’ve conquered seven days, including this post, without stopping, I could bust out a whole year. Whether or not that’s true, nobody will know, because I don’t feel like it’s realistic! I’m writing every day because I made a promise to myself that I’d do this challenge and see it through to completion. I never said “I’m going to write at least 365 blog posts over the course of the year, with at least one per day, or I’ll eat my hat.” That’s stupid. Unless I worked for a publication that required articles to be created in the turn-and-burn style, I’d get maybe a month into it and burn out.

I need to make myself a little bit more seriously and treat blogging and writing as a form of genuine expression. Because of my personality, if I’ve been talking all day, I tend to get bored of people and bored of talking. Just like talking, I’d get bored of writing. Why sit down at my computer and but out some words about something that I may care a grand total of zero percent about for twenty minutes when I could sit in front of my T.V. and not even have to think about using my brain. Exactly. That’s stupid. Even in school I enjoyed writing papers not because it was homework (that was quite foul), but that I was writing about a topic. I didn’t write every single damn day and I was alright with that. I hated the topic I was writing about, but I enjoyed the fact that I was writing about it.

Being able to split up my writing adventures to a couple times a week is much more manageable because I can spend more time, perhaps over a few days, and craft a more quality piece, than some lame three hundred words on how tasty Garlic Jim’s pizza is. (side note: it’s delicious.)

My measurement of progress is that I’m writing two to four pieces a calendar week, with two being the hard minimum. I need to still keep myself to a commitment, just like people commit to stop smoking. It’s hard to start, but with a hard limit like dying when it comes to smoking, having a hard limit on how few of times I sit down and put my thoughts on paper must be a thing, no matter what.

Assignable

If it’s not obvious by now, this goal is mine and mine alone. No one else needs to be responsible for my writing tasks, assignments, topics, or anything of the sort. This is my beast so let me conquer it. By making this a solo task, this is something I can wholly own and have zero fear of something outside that I cannot control mucking it up.

Realism

Which brings me to this. As the popular saying goes: shit happens. It happened this morning when I twisted my ankle in the dark while walking the dog. Could I have done something about it? I don’t know, it was dark. I haven’t figured out how to turn on my night vision eyes, yet. With writing, sometimes life will get in the way and I’m completely OK with that. If I miss a week, then I’ll do my best to make up for it next week. If I know I’ll be missing a week in advance, I’ll put in extra time the previous week and schedule it out. WordPress has this fancy post-scheduling feature. While not as genuine and not as on-the-spot as some would like, I think I’m still totally genuine and real and on-the-spot. What I write down rarely gets condensed, censored, edited for time, etc. I just write. That’s always been one of my stronger traits when it came to writing; I hate outlines and I hate planning my words.

Secret: corporate, politically correct emails are the bane of my existence.

Deadlines

I’m giving my self 1/4 year (13 weeks). If I can sit down and discuss quality topics with quality time at least twice a week, but no more than four, for 13 weeks, then I’m in business. If I make it, I’ll do it again, but add another stipulation. If I fail, I’ll pull back a bit. I think it’s doable. Given the possibility of the next six months to a year changing quite radically and a whole host of new experiences coming my way, I don’t think I’ll have an issue. I’m pretty confident I’ll have enough to talk about.


*Read more from my #10DaysBetterBlog challenge to stay in the loop with my progress and the challenge as a whole. Follow me on a twitter @_JohnathanLyman, Instagram @theeJL, or email me if you’re adventurous. *



Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography