My Name is Alx Blog

Like many of my co-workers, I have a brand new and shiny domain: I giggle each time I read it because Alx Block and Alx Blog sound so similar, and I can just imagine the conversations that I have when I tell people where to find me online.

This domain comes at a good time for me. I’ve been burnt on writing for a while because I didn’t want this site to be all about grief, and it’s felt hard for quite some time to write about anything else. Instead of forcing myself to publish, I just sat back and let this site get stale. But that’s lame. I know that’s lame. I need to find it in me to change that, and starting a new year with a new domain is as good of a time as any.

WordCamp Philly

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking at WordCamp Philly. What an amazing event in an incredible community.

The whole place was alive and there was so much learning happening around every corner.

My presentation was WordPress for Non-profits: For when your Operations Manager is also your Webmaster. Here are the slides from that presentation:

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Scripting for Linkinus (IRC Client)

At work we use IRC to communicate. It’s an old technology, but it’s really awesome. I’ve come to think of IRC as my home base. It’s the place where I chat with my colleagues across the globe and get to enjoy their company. With distributed work, it’s the best way to feel connected with people.

Because it’s my home base, I’ve always wanted to make it mine. I’ve made a few tweaks here and there, but I realized quickly that the only way to truly customize it is to write a script.

A friend of mine at work loves burritos. Every Friday (I suppose, out of companionship,) we have what’s called Burrito Friday. That means that no matter where you are in the world, you eat a Burrito of some kind. I personally don’t have too many options for Burritos in Philly, so I’ve decided that Burrito Friday is a state of mind. That means that anything that I eat on Friday is a Burrito. My friend hates that.

He hates it so much that I just can’t stop giving him a hard time about it.

What’s the point of giving someone a hard time if you have to do it manually? So I wrote a script1 to do it for me. Now all that I have to do is type /burrito in Linkinus to give him a hard time.

To use this yourself, open up your AppleScript Editor and create a new document with the code below. Save the file as burrito.scpt to /Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/Linkinus 2/Scripts

-- --------------------------------------
-- Burrito Friday
-- by Alx Block
-- Version 1.0
-- Description: Automatically insert sentances claming that anything is a Burrito
-- Usage: /burrito
-- Output: [burrito]
-- -------------------------------------

on linkinuscmd()
	set burrito_list to {"Everything is a beautiful Burrito", "My desk is a Burrito", "This pencil right here is a Burrito", "Today is Friday, so that means that your mom is a Burrito", "My MacBook Pro is a Burrito", "Only at Automattic can anything be a Burrito", "I'll admit that my trackpad is a Burrito", "This monitor right here is a Burrito", "The Bagel that I had this morning was a Burrito", "This baby monitor right here is a Burrito", "The salad that I'm eating is a Burrito", "This coffee is a Burrito", "I got you a Burrito", "I'm sorry, but you've never had a real Burrito", "I was eating an egg and all that I could think about was that it's a Burrito", "My kid. A Burrito!", "The sun is out, so it's a Burrito", "Have you ever had a frozen Burrito?", "There's no such thing as a Burrito. Only ZUUUUULL", "Burrito? Where we're going, we don't need Burritos", "My motorcylce is like a fancy Burrito", "I'm wearing a Burrito costume", "You're a real Burrito", "I hear that all of the Northeast is a Burrito", "Have you ever even had a real Burrito?", "This muffin is a Burrito", "Twitter is a Burrito", "Once a Burrito, always a Burrito", "My dog ate my Burrito", "I think IRC is also a Burrito"}
	set the list_count to the count of burrito_list
	set pick to random number from 1 to list_count
	set result to item pick of burrito_list as string
	return result
end linkinuscmd

The beautiful thing about this is that it’s super-simple. This is such a basic script, but it allows me to customize my home base in a way that’s meaningful to me. I’m excited to try more things and see what I can come up with next.

  1. The script that I’m using is actually a bit different because it mentions my friend by name. You can simply edit the code to add in the Nick of the person that you want to annoy the pants off of in front of each sentence. 

One year with Automattic

It’s hard not to be passionate about the work that I do. We’re making the web a better place by giving the world a voice. We’re pioneers in an ever-changing world. It’s a marathon and I’m just so proud to be on the team.

One year ago today I started a new adventure and haven’t looked back. I’m forever changed by the decision to move towards happiness. The truth is that the years working on my own were tough. I had a ton of fun and learned more than I ever thought possible, but there was a tipping point. For the last year of being a business owner, I spent more time running my business than I did doing the actual work. I love doing the work.

Working with Automattic fixes this for me. I feel like I own something; like I make a difference. I get to work as hard as I like to work and I don’t have to worry about how the insurance is going to get paid. At Automattic we’re trusted to be ourselves. We’re trusted to be the best. To be thoughtful, passionate, hard-working, quick on our feet, and to learn all that we can. We’re empowered to do what we think is right. We’re human. We’re making a difference.

I work with some of the most talented people in the world. I’m inspired every day to be better at what I do and I’m completely humbled by the company that I keep.

I’ve found my home. This is my element.

Every day working with users is like opening a present. It’s true that it isn’t work if you love what you do. I get paid to do the hobby that I’m most passionate about and I get to do it in style.

It would be an understatement to say that I’m looking forward to what the future brings. I’m beyond excited about where we’re going and how we’re getting there. I’m ecstatic to be a part of it. Thank you, Automattic, for putting your faith in me and allowing me to put my faith in you. We make a good team. 🙂

I’ve moved to

So this is my first post on It feels a little odd to admit that although I’ve been a WordPress user for at least 7 years, I’ve never tried my hand at using

The move here isn’t surprising to me. I’ve been supporting users for the better part of a year, and have been thinking for a while that I should give it a try. Curiously, it isn’t my proximity to the system that spurred the change, rather, it was because rocks and I felt like I was being left out of the cool kids club.

So this begins the grand experiment to use as a user for the first time. I’m hoping that it really helps me to empathize and connect to our users in a way that I haven’t previously done.

SEO Presentation

On July 19, 2013 I gave a presentation about SEO to the Asbury Park, NJ WordPress Meetup group, hosted at Cowerks. (I’ve actually been working out of Coweks for the last two weeks. If you ever need a coworking space while at the Jersey Shore, this is it.) It was a ton of fun.

Here are the slides, for your viewing pleasure:

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Edit: A similar presentation was also given at the Philly WordPress Meetup on July 23, 2013. (I feel like I’m on tour.)

I’m ignoring my kids to write this

My world is about communication. There are tweets, emails, work notifications, chat rooms, Skype, Facebook, and any other ping, beep, bloop, or ding that you can imagine.

With so much to interact with virtually, I often find myself not interacting physically. This is a problem.

It’s our duty to be in the present. To be physically and mentally in our space and to enjoy the moments that we have. It’s wrong to be so completely tied into the digital that you miss things that are happening around you. This is something that I need to work on.

Between friends, family, work, and fun, it’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to forget where you are and what you’re doing.

On a larger note, I wonder how many of us do this. Even though we may just be stealing a few moments here and there to CHECK ALL THE THINGS, what effect does it have?

What are we teaching our kids?

If we’re so into many things at all times, what are we missing in the here and now?

How much attention can we really give to what’s important if we’re in a constant state of multitasking?