Using Google Photos – One of my Favorite Tools for Blogging

Can I just tell you how much I love Google Photos? The tool makes my blogging life so much easier. In my last post, I highlighted some of my favorite pics of my husband from this past year. Know how long it took me to find those photos?

About two minutes.

To use Google Photos you sign up for a Google account. Then you download the app onto your mobile device. It’s in the Google Play Store for Androids and the iTunes App store for iPhones.

When your images show up in the app, you can sync them to your account so you can access them in a browser. Or share the images with friends, or send it to WordPress so you can create a blog post on-the-spot-using the WordPress app. Here is a screencast from my iPhone showing how it works:

You can also change it so the images auto-sync in your app settings.

Once the images are in my computer browser, I can play away. For instance, I can choose a date to find images from the past or I can search a person or a location. I can even use the tool to fine-tune my results as seen in this screencast:

For yesterday’s post, I searched for images of Chris then focused on the past year. When I picked out my favorites and clicked on the dots on each image to select it, I downloaded them and dragged them in to my WordPress media library. Then I used the /Classic block>Add Image>Create Gallery options to show the mosaic.

I’ll leave those images I quickly, randomly chose because they kind of make me giggle 🙂 Especially that one of Hudi in the goggles, right after the word “Laugh.”

Other benefits of Google Photos:

1. When I go on a trip, it marks my locations and when I get home, it notifies me of a “book” it made of my travels, using its algorithms to find the perfect pics of the visit away. That saves me tons of time.

2. It auto-enhances images and offers the changed shots as suggestions. Sometimes the results are stunning. If not, it’s easy enough to delete the suggestion.

3. It’s great from creating albums to share privately with people. This is really nice when we record dance class clips or want to share certain images with friends that, and we don’t feel like emailing or Drop Box-ing. Select the photos then choose to create a private album and share then type in their email address. That’s all there is to it!

If any of you have any other tools or tricks to suggest, I’d love to hear in the comments. For me? Well, I’m off to go back to my images and take a trip down memory lane. The images are making me happy.

Highlighted Blog #24 – Kat’s Thoughts

Often I will curl up on a day off and read through blogs. I particularly love reading a nice long blog post that broadens my world. Kat’s blog is one of my favorites for this. Through her writing, I gain insight into novels and get to armchair travel and learn about the world.

Trois-Pistole is a small town a few hours away north from Montreal. It is located on the shore of the Saint-Laurence river close where it falls into the ocean. Almost everything about the area makes you feel like you are at the seaside – the fresh salty air, the water full of seaweed, the seals […]

via Kayaking In Trois-Pistole — Kat’s Thoughts

* For the month of November (the month of Thanksgiving in the United States), I’m sharing  writing from some of the blogs I’m thankful for. If you want thankful posts from my own personal day-to-day stuff, check out my Inspired By and Thankful For blog.

AFK and Blogging

Well, technically I’m not afk if I’m blogging, but I am away from keyboard for work-related customer-support-type stuff. This was going to be an interesting time off, I thought as I headed into my 11-day break. It was one of the first vacations I had in a super long time that had no real agenda. And best of all, I was not feeling like I needed a break.

Now that I’m a few days into the relaxation time, I’m realizing I might not have listened to my body well recently. Twice now, I have slept almost 12 hrs at night, even after taking naps. I didn’t know I was quite capable of such sleep.

tired jet lag GIF

When I’m not sleeping, I’m reading, or yakking with visiting friends or hiking or shopping or watching movies. I’m also honing my CSS skills for fun, taking a Treehouse courses. And I’m indulging in writing time.

Did you know that I have fodder for blog posts that are a year old? How embarrassing. Over the next few days you will probably see me writing about a few past events that were year-highlights for me.

One of the things I love best is how it takes one down memory lane so you can re-live pivotal moments in life. And it’s handy when you want to share these events with people.

In the past two months I found myself using the resource a few times. Once I was trying to explain the beauty of the iceburgs on Lake Ontario, especially as they break up. Then I remembered I had blogged about it, and could easily share the images. Then one day Hudi asked me about my recipe for bread, and Mollie asked for my recipe for yogurt. That one was hidden in my recipe for sour cream, but it’s in there.

And sometimes it’s just for sharing goofy family stories. Hudi mentioned they had a Henry in their apartment, and Chris and I knew what he was talking about, but Mollie didn’t. We caught her up on the basic idea of Henry, but linking her to a record of the account while it was fresh in our brains really gave her more understanding.

I love blogging. And this week while I’m still afk, I am also indulging on reading other people’s blogs from my Reader. I’m off to do that now.

Grabbing HTML for an Image and Link for a Text Widget

In my job as a Happiness Engineer for Automattic, I often get asked how to add an image with a link into a widget area. This can be daunting if someone doesn’t know HTML. But that doesn’t have to deter you. There is a sneaky way to get that code, even without HTML knowledge. This is how to do it:

  1. Create a draft post and insert your image.
    a-insert-image
  2. If you want to add a link to the image, click on the image after it’s inserted and click on the paperclip icon to add your link.
    b-paper-clipc-url
  3. Click on the “HMTL” option at the top of your editing page (next to “Visual”)
    d-html
  4. Copy that code. Note that your code will look similar to what I have in the next image, but the words and links will be different – specialized to your own information.
    e-code
  5. Open your Customize tool and go to Widgets.
    f-customizeg-widgets
  6. Add the Text Widget.
    h-text-widget
  7. Paste your code and save.
    i-code-in-widget
  8. And you will see your image in your widget areas (click it to test your link) 🙂
    j-final

Where Have I Been? See if You Can Tell

It’s a game for you to play if you want.

** Edited to add that Hudi is definitely the winner in the family category, and Tina is the non-family winner. Great job! You all guessed a lot of these! Answers are now in the captions. **

“Never apologize for not posting in a while. It just calls attention to it.” That’s advice I often give bloggers. And I believe it, but I also relate to the guilt they feel as they put up a post after a long absence. And confession is always a good thing after an action that instills guilt. I get it.

For me, this time, I felt overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to post about.  So many experiences and life events I wanted to share. I got some out there, but ran out of time for the rest. So I’m going to do it all in one shot now. Get the images up and move on, feeling caught up.

So I’m going to make it a game. 

According to Google, I have been on 43 trips so far this year. See if you can:

  • Tell where I was
  • For bonus points – name the event 🙂
  • And for SUPER bonus points – feel free to add a story or anecdote from the occasion 😀

Please describe which image you are referring to when you post your answers. 

To make things a bit easier, I only did occasions from mid-April through October.

Ready? Steady? GO!!!!

I will post the answers in captions next week — or as the answers are given if I have time.

I Get to Work in Blogging 101 Again – Yahoo!

Blogging 101Blogging 101 is one of my favorite courses, and we start again in a few days! Woot!

If you have ever wanted to learn how to make a free WordPress blog, this is a great way to do it. Just make sure you sign up before Sunday the 7th.

The WordPress Blogging University offers free month-long classes you can take at your own pace. Each weekday you get an assignment to work on with your own blog. The assignments get you publishing, customizing your site and engaging with other bloggers. It’s really fun!

One of my favorite aspects of the course (aside from meeting lots of awesome bloggers) is that one can take it at their own pace. While assignments are issued–nobody is keeping track of what you do. There are no grades. And since there are no assignments on weekends, you have time to catch up if you want.

For sign-ups just go to Blogging 101: Zero to Hero: June 8 – 26.

Hope to see you in the class 🙂

Becoming a Happiness Engineer

It was just about a year ago when my world was completely rocked. In an ironic quirk of fate, I found my dream job in technology while crashing a website. How (not) cool is that?

Background

snowboardingFor almost 20 years I worked from home as a freelance writer, specializing in children’s media. Then a friend who liked my work-from-home lifestyle encouraged me to learn Python and work for his company. That was great for a while, then the job ended.

What was I to do? As I contemplated re-entering the professional writing world, I began volunteering to help at the local ski resort where my family likes to play — Swain Resort. That turned into a full-time job, which I absolutely loved. I loved interacting with people in customer service, playing with the technology, and taking snowboarding breaks. I was able to work with friends, and my kids and husband worked there, too. Life was pretty good.

There were only a few things missing:

  • I really missed having the freedom to set my own schedule. It was particularly difficult when I wanted to visit my aging mother-in-law while keeping up with my kids at home.
  • I missed working with code.
  • I also hated commuting. The bitter-sweet part of working at a ski resort is the best days at the slopes are the worst on the roads. And I’m a really wussy driver, tbh. I admit it.

Then something really cool happened. I crashed the ski slope’s website. 

Changes

Not gonna lie, it didn’t seem cool at the time. I was in a complete panic as I called up a past consultant for help. He fixed it (I have since come to learn, thanks to some tips at a WordCamp, that I had an extra space in the PHP of a plugin I was editing, and that’s what crashed the site). The incident prompted me to immediately purchase VaultPress.

I hit the site a few times when in the purchasing process. An ad popped up asking if I wanted to be a Happiness Engineer. That title was completely intriguing to me. I thought it was something Disney, and since I’m all about Disney, I clicked it.

What I saw stopped me in my tracks.

I have an eclectic background. I have a degree in elementary education, I ran a licensed Head Start home daycare, I wrote, I coded, I performed unit and integration tests in Python for a business, I worked customer service in a ski resort, I volunteered at a local library–teaching people to use electronic devices… and these all wrapped up in one beautiful package that made me the perfect candidate for the Happiness Engineer position that Automattic was offering. It was better than Disney! I printed the job description to dream about.

I knew it was my dream job, but I felt hesitant to apply. What if I didn’t make it? What if I didn’t know enough about WordPress? Again, just like driving on snowy roads, the wuss side of me came out. I showed the paper to family and friends and said “This is my dream job!” But I didn’t apply…until I saw Darnell’s write-up about his experiences.

It’s okay to apply and fail. The company doesn’t give up on you. That’s what I learned. So it wouldn’t hurt to apply. It wasn’t a one-shot deal. A dream is worth working for, and this was my dream. So I applied at the end of April 2014.

And I didn’t hear back for weeks. I sent a follow-up note near the end of May. And still didn’t hear back. It was okay since I loved my ski resort job. And now I knew I could re-apply regularly. My plan was to keep active in the forums and try again.

In July, while I was working security at the Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous in a remote part of PA (can you say limited Internet?) I was invited to an interview.

My Dreams Take Shape

After working security all night, I drove into a nearby town to conduct my interview using McDonald’s wi-fi. It went well, and after another interview and a project I began my trial.

That trial was really tough. And that’s an understatement. I only made it through thanks to the support of amazing family and friends. I knew the process of learning would be difficult, but I didn’t brace myself for the emotional impact of it all. The more I interacted with other Automattic workers, and the more I worked with people who wanted my help, the more I fell in love with the position. I was terrified I would be cut off. Even if I had a chance to start again.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in my trial was to pace myself and not over-work. The goal of being a good employee for Automattic is quality over quantity. Unlike the last coding job suggested to me (90 hrs a week), this work environment evaluated me on how I cared for myself and my family and friends while providing help for others at work. It’s all an important balance, and one I now value deeply.


I Made It!

DCIM202GOPROThe dream job. Now mine. Four months later, it’s still kind of a shock. Since my hiring I have been to Utah for a Grand Meetup of all Automattic employees (where I got to go sky-diving as a team bonding experience), I have been to Barcelona to meet my team, been to Saratoga Springs, NY and to Toronto for WordCamps, and I have gotten to meet amazing people from all around the world who are getting their voices heard through WordPress.

I am on the live chat team, so I get to interact with people every day! And I also get to test for bugs in our new app releases, and I get to work with people from all over the world. My office is in my home, and I can visit my mother-in-law whenever I want. Life is so amazingly good.

Automattic understands that happy workers provide quality service. My home is happy, and my work is solid. I look forward to getting up every day to meet more awesome people online and help them solve some issues.

If you love people, code, helping others, or just want to be part of the WordPress team, check out our job openings. We are hiring 🙂