Things I’ve learned this week (08/08)

Here it is then, the second of my ‘Things I’ve learned this week‘ series. I’ve had an interesting week this week, mainly focusing on getting some traction on the thoughts I had in London last week. I’ll follow that up with a post at some point early next week, but for now here are a few things that I’ve discovered…

Thing the first: Web masters deserve every penny they get!

I’ve always been good with computers. ‘Better than most’ is how I often describe myself, but to be honest I’m a little bit better than that. So it always amused me when people would say things like ‘I’m great with WordPress’ – I mean, who isn’t in this day and age? May as well tell me you can use Microsoft Office as well! I can code in 6 different programming languages – how hard can WordPress really be?

Pride cometh, as they say, before the fall. I’ve been working this week mostly on one WordPress driven site and it has taken a lot more of my mental prowess than I thought. Setting aside issues with MySQL databases, domain redirects, and generic hosting issues, even getting some of the WordPress systems to do what the client wants has been tricky.

The problem is that – in the case of most WordPress themes – they want to appeal to the lowest common denominator to maximise downloads. So for 90% of people, the basic functionality of a good theme is fine. The problem comes when you want more than the basic. I’ve been developing the front landing page for my own site, and while I’m sure that there are a series of WordPress plugins that could do everything I want to, for me it is easier to write it all from scratch. I can do that though, because at the end of the day I’m only accountable to me. With a system as complex as WordPress – which long ago stopped being just a blogging platform – if you want to future-proof the site as much as possible its sometimes best not to play around too much with the inner workings.

Thing the second: personal details are scarily easy to come by.

I’m not particularly naive, and I know that when I sign up to basically anything my details are going to be sold on to other companies. That’s the cost of doing business, and the price you pay for all the lovely free social media platforms and email services and hosting that’s out there.

But this week over the course of setting up a few things I’ve had more cause to give my details – things like phone numbers and addresses. And I’ve had more spam come through this week than in the rest of this year – including some iMessages, which was novel. (If anyone wants some genuine Ray-Bans for only $19.99 just get in touch – the offer ends soon though!)

I’ve always been a bit blaze about things like this. But usually all I’ve given out is my email address and name – both of which are incredibly easy to get hold of anyway. But the iMessages interest me because they have come to my mobile number, which I don’t give to companies unless I have to.

Thing the third: 25 really isn’t that old.

Its a weird world we live in, and 25 is an odd age. This week my Young Persons Railcard ran out, and this is the last time I can renew it. Which means unless I go back into full-time education, I will only be able to get cheap rail travel (and here the term ‘cheap’ is definitely relative) for the next 365 days. So in terms of National Rail, I’m not a young person.

25 is the age that everything like that seems to stop; cheap train travel, entitlement to various grants, etc. Yet at the same time its not an age that is particularly favourable proffessionally. 25 year olds still struggle to be taken seriously in some sectors, you see very few 25 year old senior managers (outside of the startup world), and if you are out on a stag do and the stag is asked how old he is by passers-by the response is always met with some variation of ‘aww young love’.

So who is one to believe? National Rail, or your average big city firm? Is 25 old and wealthy, or young and inexperienced?

I guess that’s up to the individual in question. Age is, as they say, just a number.

If someone wants to let the ‘Young Persons Railcard’ department of National Rail know, I’d be very grateful.