The horse head

I recorded the following 28-second video on February 29, 2012 — it’s funny. Heads up: there’s some profanity. Thanks to Hanni for being a good sport!

Here’s the context1:

Hey Hanni, or greetings from Core Happy - February 29, 2012 (Tybee Island, GA) — Hanni was arriving that day, and someone on Core Happy brought a horse head. We decided to place it in her bed for fun. I think she freaked out. 😉 These were the two photos I snapped.

  1. Confession: I also wanted to try the Display Posts Shortcode. ;) 

DuckDuckGo and phonetic spelling

Thank you to contributor Robert May for helping add Phoneic to Instant Answers at DuckDuckGo. This handy new query allows you to “spell a string phonetically with the NATO alphabet”.

As an example, consider someone asking you to spell your name over the phone. Assuming I’m in front of a computer, with an Alfred web search, I can type “duck phonetic villarin“, and see the Instant Answer at the top of DuckDuckGo search results:

Phonetic: Victor-India-Lima-Lima-Alfa-Romeo-India-November

Slick. Happy Thursday!

Bravo-Romeo-Yankee-Alfa-November. 😉

Four Years as a Happiness Engineer

Thank you, Automattic, for helping me improve and mature. Four years and counting, and loving it!

I like shifting my work schedule. I started with Tuesday–Saturday, switched to Monday–Friday during my Happiness Hiring rotation, and I’m currently on Sunday–Thursday. Dig it for helping reduce average response times. I’m happy to take advantage of the flexible schedule.

Happiness Hiring invited me for a rotation from mid July to early October 2015. I helped improve their process a bit by adding checklists and updating their internal documentation. Best of all, three of the trials are now my colleagues, and the fourth will start soon. So rad! ⭐

For the Grand Meetup, many Automattic musicians organized, rehearsed, and performed a set of several songs during the party on the last night. It was epic. I played bass guitar for the first time in years for a song during the party on the last night.1

Late last year, Matt suggested we get a USB headset with noise-canceling microphone2 if we participate in video or audio chats. It was great timing because I was able to record some solid training screencasts with fantastic audio quality.

Notable

  • 15 “weekly” reviews.
  • Coworked five times with other SoCal Automatticians.
  • Four training sessions for other Happiness Engineers (one trial, three full timers).
  • Published 88 posts in 2015.
  • Comfort processing DMCA notices and trademark complaints have improved.

Travel & Events

  • May 2015: Justitia team meetup in Barcelona, Spain
  • October 2015: Grand Meetup in Park City, Utah (second consecutive year)
  • January 2016: NAMM 2016 in Anaheim, CA — two days in the WordPress booth by WordPress.com

Boo this man

  • I was 56 short of my goal of 144 posts in 2015. Don’t worry, 366 in 2016!
  • I didn’t publish any posts for the WordPress.com Transparency Report.
  • I was short by 37 weekly reviews.

Previously: Two Years as a Happiness Engineer, Three Years as a Happiness Engineer


  1. “The Distance” by Cake. No video at the moment. 
  2. I went with the previous Wirecutter pick (before it was updated), the Microsoft’s LifeChat LX-6000. (Amazon.com affiliate link.) 

Lyft: My first three experiences

A few colleagues used Lyft from their phones while I was in San Francisco for UserConf in November 2014. However, I won’t count that as my first experience because I didn’t use it on my iPhone.

I worked a couple of shifts at the WordPress booth (by WordPress.com)1 at NAMM 2016 in Anaheim on Thursday and Friday, January 21st and 22nd.

A day or two earlier, I installed Lyft.

Along with my pal, Ryan Cowles, we took public transportation from Pasadena to Anaheim early Thursday morning.2 After arriving at ARTIC (Anaheim), we went to the pickup area, and I requested a Lyft driver. 3 minutes — cool!

The time estimate was accurate, and I also received a text messsage right when we saw the car. Nice. Davey was friendly, and the drive was smooth.

I love everything about the ride history shown in the Lyft app. Davey drove us from ARTIC to Anaheim Marriott Suites in eleven minutes. 🙂

Next, I decided to test Lyft’s Lost & Found procedure.

Not.

As we tried to find the place to get our exhibitor badges, it took me about five minutes to realize that I forgot my DSLR camera in his car.3

Doing my best to stay calm, I opened the Lyft app, went to Ride History, and spotted “Find lost item” at the bottom. I described my lost item, entered my Google Voice number, and waited.

Eight minutes after Hideto dropped us off, he returned my call, and said he could meet me where we were earlier. Happy ending! He was super cool about it, too.

With my camera in hands, I was like:

On Saturday morning, the third driver (Joshua) picked me up at Marriott Anaheim Suites for part of my journey back to Pasadena. Really nice person, incredibly gregarious (despite being sleep deprived), and the drive was smooth.

I thoroughly enjoyed my three Lyft experiences. Highly recommended!


  1. I’ll save that for a separate post. 
  2. Ryan took a couple of cool photos: Metrolink, and Track 1 to Los Angeles
  3. Canon EOS 40D + Sigma 30mm f/1.4. 

Why We Encrypt

Great post from Bruce Schneier from June 2015:

Encryption should be enabled for everything by default, not a feature you turn on only if you’re doing something you consider worth protecting.

This is important. If we only use encryption when we’re working with important data, then encryption signals that data’s importance. If only dissidents use encryption in a country, that country’s authorities have an easy way of identifying them. But if everyone uses it all of the time, encryption ceases to be a signal. No one can distinguish simple chatting from deeply private conversation. The government can’t tell the dissidents from the rest of the population. Every time you use encryption, you’re protecting someone who needs to use it to stay alive.

Private/group messaging and calling with iOS or Android? Signal is fantastic. For email, James Huff uses ProtonMail.

Don’t talk to police

Amy and I finished binge watching Making a Murderer on Netflix the other day. I just realized I never posted about these two videos uploaded on June 10th, 2008.

Please spend 48 minutes and 40 seconds to watch them carefully, and share with others.

To keep it fresh in your mind, I’d also suggest rewatching on a regular basis (monthly, perhaps).

Below is a YouTube playlist I’ve had saved, “Don’t Talk to Cops” so you can watch them consecutively. Feel free to subscribe (to save you from the need to do the same).

(1) Mr. James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and a former defense attorney, tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.

(2) An experienced police officer tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.

 

Bryan’s Purge of 2016

One of my goals in 2016 to is reduce my physical and digital belongings.

A few months ago, I read the sample of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and I’m inspired by the concept.

This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Working at Automattic1 means my gear and wardrobe needs are minimal. I really appreciate the freedom of a small wardrobe — and comfy swag helps, too. 🙂

I tend to keep something if there’s a chance I might need it later, which means that I’ve brought some items along in a few moves that I haven’t used in years. I’d ultimately love to feel confident that I enjoy and need all of my belongings.

Most items around home—mainly stuff in my office—don’t bring me joy. I rarely see them. When I do, my eyes gloss over them, with little or no pride. Occasional annoyance, even. (e.g. “Why do I still have this?”)

Someone else should have a chance to find joy from these items! Or, I should snap a photo, save it to Day One with a brief description, then trash the item.

By the end of 2016, I want to feel proud when seeing any item at home.

My next step: Read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.


  1. If you love helping people, apply

Signal: Installed!

My pals, Paul Ciano and Ash Rhodes, recently posted about Signal for private messaging and calls with iOS and Andoid. I’ve had it for a few months (thanks to a nudge from James Huff), but Amy installed it today! 🎉🤓

We verified our fingerprints, and successfully tested a call. Exciting and comforting to know that messages and calls sent with Signal will only be seen by us.

Update: My mother-in-law set it up on her iPad, and called Amy. Pleased as punch.