VIP GM in Montréal, Canada

Automattic has split. Kind of. The VIP team are now working as a separate, autonomous entity, albeit still part of Automattic, and as a result we have the inaugural VIP Grand Meetup. It’s back to Canada again, although the East coast this time.

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Talking Support: Following the work of others

Working for the VIP team, I deal with a lot of enterprise-level clients and, although I’ve been working there for over a year and a half now, my experience of technical support goes back over 25 years before this. So, I thought it was time to share some of my knowledge. And, you know, little of this is mind-blowing stuff.

So, let’s talk about improving your own support abilities by tracking the work of others.

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Packing for business trips: the art of stress-free travel

In a couple of days I head for Montreal for the annual company meetup, the 11th trip I’ve taken with work in the last 18 months. Now, I’m not a seasoned, back-packing traveller but having to regularly head out, for anything from a few days to a week, I’m already getting pretty used to the whole experience. 

And, having exchanged tips with colleagues, and also seen some panic on those not so used to this life yet, I thought I’d share some of my own advice.

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Killerby Holiday

24 years ago my wife’s family all got together at Killerby Old Hall in Yorkshire for a holiday. Last week it was repeated – same location but a much different family.

My wife’s parents have passed on and some of the family couldn’t make it but it’s still obvious that the family has expanded greatly over those 24 years.

Here’s my diary of the week.

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Where is the ODB diagnostic port on a 2017 Mazda 3?

The ODB diagnostic port is used by garages and dealerships to connect your car to their computer systems, checking for any reported errors as well as check various engine values.

Just to check and clear an error message can cost £30+, yet ODB readers can be bought for not much more than £10 and phone apps can then be found for free to then display the output.

Some car manufacturers make the port difficult to get to, often they’re found under the bonnet. But on the 2017 model Mazda 3 it’s ridiculously easy to access.

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How to switch off the “Try Gutenberg” callout

When WordPress 4.9.8 hits, it will include a callout to try Gutenberg. It’s a great way to bring it to the attention of those who may not already be aware of it. However, for those who already are, it may be unwelcome.

It can be dismissed easily but if you’re managing a number of sites you may not want it to appear in the first place, save getting a lot of questions from users.

There is a plugin available to ensure it doesn’t appear but, tbh, it’s a lot simpler than even that.

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How to check for a minimum level of PHP within a WordPress plugin

Oh my. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such hate from users. What horrendous thing did I do? I change one of my plugins so that it now required PHP 7 to work, instead of 5.3.

You know PHP 7… which itself goes out of support in the next few months. PHP 7 also being the recommended minimum level of PHP for running WordPress.

Anyhow, I’ve written a short function which, when added to a plugin, will check for the current level and fail the activation if it doesn’t meet the requirements.

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