Online Entrepreneur, WordPress Developer, Logo Designer, Surfer Dude

My 7 Essential Tools For WordPress Theme Development

1. A MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt Display

Obviously you need a computer, but not just any computer. You need a MacBook Pro with a retina screen and a Thunderbolt display. If I’m traveling or just get sick of working from my home office, I want to quickly grab my computer and work on the go. Having a MacBook Pro with a Thunderbolt display makes that easy. I’ll be working while sipping on a latte in no time!

2. A Local Server

I personally use MAMP Pro as my local development server. I have trouble focusing on more than one project at a time — ADHD and all. However, if you work with multiple clients, Desktop Server may be perfect for you.

Update: I primarily use Desktop Server as my local development server now. It’s way easier for spinning up additional development sites.

3. Atom by Github

I spend a lot of time writing and editing code, so I need good development software. A couple years ago I made the switch from Espresso to Atom.

Atom is awesome! It’s free, open source and highly customizable. The good folks at Github maintain the software, and the active community contributes with useful packages. So you can customize the platform to meet your development style and needs. Assuming you’re a smart developer, you’re probably already using Github for version control. Atom syncs with your Git repositories to track all your changes. Really, I can’t say enough good things about Atom.

4. Adobe Photoshop

I learned Photoshop in high school at 14-years-old. I’ve grown up with the software, and used it for everything from illustration and print design to photo editing and web design mockups. I know the program backwards and forwards. These days I mostly use it for basic resizing of images for demo sites. I probably could find a much less robust program for my needs, but I’ve always been loyal to my Photoshop.

5. A WordPress Starter Theme

Using a good starter theme will get you 90% of the way to a completed WordPress theme. I initially created the Seed Theme to be a starter theme for my development process. However, it had some limitations. As a result, I ended up creating a new starter theme — the Swell Theme. I released a free version available on Github and the WordPress Theme Directory. Also, a premium version is available from Organic Themes.

Update: I’m always trying to create a better starter theme. The Origin Theme is the latest WordPress starter theme I have designed and developed.

6. The WordPress Developer Plugin

No WordPress theme developer should be working without the Developer plugin. This plugin contains a number of essential development plugins including Theme Check, Regenerate Thumbnails, RTL Tester, Debug Bar, Beta Tester and more.

7. Firebug or Chrome Inspector

Firebug is an essential tool for my design and development process. The Chrome inspector is equally as good, if not better. Regardless, use one of these inspectors, and use it frequently. You can practically learn web development just from playing with a good inspector.

There you have it. With a handful of essential tools you can create awesome WordPress themes! Granted, you’ll also need a solid understanding of HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript — And some killer design skills couldn’t hurt either.

Humility Is For Poor People! Unless You Live In Hawaii.

I’m a fairly humble dude. I don’t like talking about money or my accomplishments. I’m not one to brag about my skills and talents. It’s uncomfortable for me — like cold weather. Man, I just want to create cool brands and products that people can enjoy.

I find many people in business, particularly on the mainland, are constantly working to impress others with their money, words and shiny new things. That’s never been my style. Nothing gives me more pleasure than silently kicking ass in business without competitors even realizing it. All the while, pretending I’m a dumb ass redneck from Florida.

I had relatively humble beginnings. My family wasn’t poor, but we didn’t have much when I was young. I ain’t no fortunate son. Nah, nah… I watched my Dad build a successful construction company from practically nothing. I watched him lose that business, and and build another. I took notice when my mom went back to school as an adult to get her Master’s degree in psychology while working a full-time job. I watched them both struggle to give my brother and I the best childhood they could — with or without money. They worked to change our stars. That was a better education than our private elementary school, magnet high school and college educations combined. It taught us to take risks in life and business, to work hard and further our education — and to be humble about it.

Something I love about Hawaii is that most people here are humble. You probably couldn’t spot a millionaire from a beach bum — unless you know your OluKai slippers from a generic brand. It doesn’t matter in Hawaii. We all surf the same waves, and we all share a love of the ocean and this land. Most of us struggled to get here — or to stay here. Humility is still a virtue in Hawaii. It’s not a flaw.

I moved to Hawaii 7 years ago with nothing but a car to sleep in. Somewhere along the way of building a life and a business here, through the awesome times and the really shitty times; I became a local. This lifestyle, this land, this ocean, these people — it suits me. It’s a hold out for humility and humanity.

My Experience Creating Premium Themes For WordPress.com

collective-featured

The WordPress.com Collective Theme.

In a few words: Awesome. Educational. Empowering.

My experience working with the team at Automattic has been invaluable. As a self-taught developer, it was exactly what I needed. It’s an education in WordPress theme development directly from the source — the talented folks that have built the most popular website content management system in the world. Their team has taught, and continues to teach me the best ways to approach theme development. The experience has improved our products across the board.

The process has taught me to always have a fallback, and employ conditionals for everything. That’s more than a good lesson in theme development, that’s a good lesson for life. It’s taught me to test, test, test — then test again. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist, but it has helped perfect my perfectionism.

Organic Themes has been providing a handful of our premium themes on the WordPress.com marketplace for over a year. And for nearly a year, we have been dominating that marketplace in sales — out performing every major competitor with only a fraction of the products.

Way To Go David! Delete Half Your Sites!

I was messing around a few months ago clearing out old client accounts from my Media Temple account. I deleted a few databases that I didn’t think contained anything of importance — I was wrong. I realized a couple days later that I had deleted my old freelance portfolio site, Muku Studios; the Hawaii adventure blog, Discover Garden; and my parents business website…

Maui Coworking & Workation Space

My business partner, Jeff Milone, Maui social media man, Erik Blair, and myself are in the early stages of starting a coworking, workation, incubation, education space on Maui.

In case you’re in the dark about any of those things, I’ll provide some clarity:

Coworking example in Bali

Coworking is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. —Wikipedia

Workations involve traveling to a vacation destination to partake in both work and play. It’s appealing as a tax write-off and work incentive for business owners, freelancers and independent contractors looking for a change of environment. Workations are becoming popular with smaller businesses in which the owners and/or employees work independently from different locations around the world.

Business incubators are programs designed to support the successful development of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services, developed and orchestrated by incubator management and offered both in the incubator and through its network of contacts. —Wikipedia

Education would be offered in the form of paid workshops and coaching. The focus would be on tech related ways to build and promote your business — website development, branding, social media, marketing, etc.

Why You Shouldn’t Start A Blog

So what’s wrong with starting a blog?

If you’re creating a blog for personal reasons — nothing.

If you’re creating a blog to get rich and famous — everything.

When I created my first blog I imagined it as a huge success. I envisioned tons of traffic, selling advertising space, hiring writers and then kicking back, soaking it up in a hot tub with my soul mate. Granted, it was a fun project, but the dream was to pay the bills. It didn’t. It never will. I’ve accepted that.

The fact is, almost all blogs fail. I’m referring to blogs created with the hope of generating income. If a blog is marketing a service or a business in the real world, it can be a useful tool. However, a blog generally costs more money and time than will ever be recouped. If you get over the hump of more than 50 visitors per day, you’re doing pretty damn good. But nowhere near good enough.

The Importance Of Balancing Work And Play

Owning a business or being self-employed has its advantages. However, losing yourself in the work is far too easy, because it never ends. How much you make is determined by your own time, efforts and innovations. Nobody is blowing the whistle at the end of the day, except maybe your wife.

My business requires me sitting in front of the computer staring in to that glowing screen for countless hours. When I’m trying to solve a problem, it’s impossible to pry myself away from the task at hand. If I didn’t have hobbies, live in a location with perfect weather or have the privilege of being able to take a couple hours to myself during the day, it’s likely I would end up like Cartman:

Cartman-World-of-Warcraft

Stop Stealing My Bikes Dude!

Every bike I have owned in my adulthood has been stolen — from my porch in Orlando, from a palm tree in Hawaii, and now from my garage in La Jolla. I might as well start a non-profit, supplying the homeless, junkies and punk-ass kids with bike transportation.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch, tired from packing the house for moving back to Maui, and I forgot to close the garage door. Obviously my fault, but it happens. I woke up this morning and decided to take my new SUP board for a spin at Windansea. While moving stuff out of the way to get to my board in the garage, I noticed my bike was missing. At first, I thought it was just misplaced. I soon realized it had been stolen — again. Nothing else in the garage was taken, just my bike.

It got me thinking, why do people steal my bikes!? I’ll tell you, because they’re stealing their own getaway vehicle! It’s a low risk theft. Bikes are generally worth a decent chunk of change, but not enough to warrant the police actually spending their time to find it.

Since it’s happened enough times, I’ve come to notice a trend in my demeanor. For at least a few weeks after my bike is stolen, every person on a bicycle is the enemy. I’m ready to pounce on any unlucky soul riding a bike similar to mine. God forbid I actually see somebody on my bike. I will run them over, no hesitation. I almost tackled our 94-year-old neighbor this afternoon. She rounded the corner of my driveway with her rolling walker. I saw her out of the corner of my eye, thought it was somebody back to steal something else, and I was ready to kill!

The thing is, I’m not even a big bicyclist. I’m no Lance Armstrong (apparently he’s not either). I don’t wear the goofy spandex or have a hydration pack. I just like to cruise in to town, or to the beach from time to time. What really chaps my ass, is that I actually bought a decent bike this time around. A $400 Diamondback hybrid. You know, not amazing, but better than my previous beach cruisers from Target.

So I’m making a new vow. I don’t plan to spend more than $250 on a bike again. Because I’m probably buying it for somebody else.

Facebook, You Ruin Lives, But That’s Alright

It’s not that I don’t like Facebook — I just don’t like using Facebook. Obviously, plenty of people do. That’s cool. My Tweets and Instagrams post to my Facebook wall, and I throw up a “Like” from time to time. That’s usually the extent of my Facebook interaction. I don’t want to share every detail of my life, and I don’t really care to get all-up in everybody’s bizzness. I’ve seen Facebook do much more damage to relationships and friendships than good. It’s mostly a tool for gossip.

That being said, I think it is important to have an active Facebook account. In my opinion, Facebook is the future of our identity. It’s already used for background checks by employers, love interests and new friends. It holds precious memories, strong opinions and worthless rants. It’s how we will remember somebody when they pass away. It will likely become a serious form of identification — used for purchasing, traveling, working, driving, etc. If you believe in the Age of Spiritual Machines, it could potentially be a form of afterlife — or it could be the mark of the beast.

I have friends and family that have let Facebook consume them. Once they realize its destructive potential, they freak out and delete their whole account. It’s like killing off a part of themselves, so they’re usually back online within a few months. Deleting your account isn’t necessary in my opinion, and it’s probably a mistake. Like anything else, too much Facebook is unhealthy.

However, using Facebook in moderation can be healthy. It can be an outlet for our thoughts, a way of promoting positive energy and good karma. Facebook can be a networking tool, or used for maintaining friendships at long distance. It’s only when people forget the respect, refrain and common courtesy they use IRL (that’s internet code for “In Real Life”), that Facebook becomes a tool of evil!

Something I’ve learned from owning an online business is that the internet is very personal. A bad email from a customer can ruin my day, a negative comment on my blog — well that just makes me happy people are reading, but bad social press can ruin a business, and dangerous rumors can ruin lives. We need to lose the mentality that people on the other end of the computer are somehow less real. When we use the same respect for people online as in person, Facebook and the internet will be a better place — maybe the world.

The New Old Organic Themes Facebook Page

Once upon a time, in 2009, we created a Facebook page for Organic Themes, and well… it’s gone practically untouched until now (3 years later). Check out the updated page. Give us a “like” or leave a comment. Our last comment was nice, a year ago:

“You may have given up on Facebook, but we know you haven’t given up on WP Themes! Thank-you all for making some of the best themes around!”

I guarantee the page will see much more activity in the future. I’ve done a bunch of integration thanks to the Ultimate Facebook plugin from WPMU Dev. Organic Themes tweets and blog posts will now post to the page. So if Facebook is your thing, you can stay up to date with what’s going on at Organic Themes.

My 10 Favorite Surf Spots

Honolua — The best wave in the world, says me.

I don’t travel the world in search of the perfect wave, but after living in Florida, Oahu, Maui and San Diego, I have surfed my fair share of breaks. I decided to list my favorite spots in order. Keeping in mind, my style of wave isn’t huge, powerful and gnarly. You won’t find Pipeline or Jaws on this list. I like clean, chest to head high rights — with preferably no crowd.

Searching For My Home

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I grew up in Florida, I became a man in Hawaii, and California is new to me. There’s no rule book for having the freedom to live and work virtually anywhere in the world. It’s a relatively new concept, and while it should feel like complete freedom, sometimes it just feels like complete confusion. It’s a loss of your roots. However, in searching for my home I have come to some conclusions: