Sabbatical Update III

Month Three

This is it! The end of my 3 month sabbatical. I can’t believe how fast it went! This is really bitter sweet as it has been such an amazing experience to have three months of no work, but at the same time I miss it. I love what I do, I love my work people and I have had some FOMO for sure. I am ready to dive deep in, especially with all of the leveling up I have been doing.

I had four goals for my 3 month paid sabbatical, let’s see how I did.


Fitness was not as big of a success as I was hoping for. I did however get a lot of rest and that did me a lot of good. I am at a gym now and working out, just not as intensely as I would like. My wife and I are also eating right, so I would say this goal was modified. I am healthier and we have a lifestyle in place that will get us to being fit, it just did not happen over sabbatical.

II. Level Up!

I earned the Jr Pentester certificate at TryHackMe! I have a bit left on the Bug Bounty Hunter track at HackTheBox and I am hoping to take the eJPT certification test next month. I still have some work to do around network hacking, enumeration, and Injection before I feel confident enough to take on that 72 hour test.

III. Leadership Skills

This is by far the hardest one. I am happy with the progress

Sabbatical Update II

Month Two

Last month when I posted my Sabbatical Update I talked a bit about my 4 goals and where I was. I thought I’d do the same update, because it’s easy to reuse the post. 🙂


Last month around this time I had not yet started on the fitness goal, I totally blame both being busy and some profound laziness. But this month I have defeated laziness and settled into a fitness routine. I got a personal trainer with the goal of weight loss and muscle gain. It’s way different than CrossFit or HITT. It’s really focused on lifting heavy and isolating muscles, eating and rest. Yikes, eating. I eat 6 times a day, measured out healthy food and I am still not used to eating so much. Chicken, rice, potatoes, beef, veggies, etc. This is very different than any training I have done in the past, but I have to admit, despite the constant being sore, I really love it.

II. Level Up!

I have put HTB and THM on hold as I concentrate on getting the eJPT certification. It’s slow going, but I am making progress.

III. Leadership Skills

Still working on this through personal development, books and such. Not much to update on here.

IV. Rest

I am resting, but it’s a busy rest. I have taken my kids camping, done some road trips and enjoyed a lot of down time.

Sabbatical Update

Month One

My paid three months off started October 1st. Sadly my plans are not going as well as I had hoped. I have four goals I’d like to accomplish by the end of my Sabbatical in January of 2022. Goals I think are good. Maybe?

  1. Regain my pre-Covid fitness level.
  2. Level up on Python and build proficiency in Cybersecurity by spending several hours a day on HackTheBox, TryHackMe, and BugBounty. Ending in December with a eJPT certification and at least one bug bounty complete. I have wanted to advance in these areas for a long time, but just have not had the time. I enjoy this stuff so much. I am working on my Linux systems 100% of the time again, and I have really missed that.
  3. Improve my leadership skills.
  4. Rest.


It’s been three weeks and my fitness goal has no progress. I am having trouble finding where to land. CrossFit again? HITT? Boxing? Heavy lifting? I just don’t know! I am forcing myself to do something by the end of this week and give whatever it is a few weeks at least, even if I hate it.

Level Up

This is the one area I am really making progress in. In three weeks I have learned so, so much. I am in the top 4% on TryHackMe, and I have almost completed the Pentester track on HackTheBox and the Bug Bounty track on HackTheBox Academy. I am also about 1/2 way through a Python book. So pretty solid here. I am spending about 4-6 hours a day on this goal.

Leadership Skills

This is a difficult one. Not just to accomplish, but to gauge progress on. I started on this about a year ago. I have some hard things that need doing, and it’s very exhausting to be honest. Career coaching and counseling play a big part in figuring this out. My mantra is simple. “I can’t lead others if I can’t lead myself”. So I am working on leading myself right now.


This one, I am pretty much just failing hard at. For good reason though. I am a dad. I am dad to many teens. I spend so, so much time driving kids to school, appointments, and events and such. Like it’s an insane amount of my time that goes to this stuff, not to mention just parenting and trying my best to love these kids and not burn out. The load is heavy, but it’s worth carrying, so I do. There is no sleeping in, there is no getting to bed early. I am still burning the candle at both ends, and it’s thankless work that frankly yields very little rewards in the now. It’s a long game I am playing and I hope that when it’s time for these kids to be adults, that they are good ones. I’ll rest when I am dead, right? Seriously though, I am trying to figure out how to build in rest. I do go for coffee after I drop off kids, and sometimes I go to a park and breath in the fall air, when it’s not filled with smoke and dust … because … Fresno.

I really did need this though. I am so thankful for where I work. A Sabbatical is one of the many, many amazing perks I enjoy working at Automattic (VIP). You might think about joining me, we are hiring.

Update WordPress Via WP-CLI

Updating WordPress via the CLI is pretty easy.

First make sure you have wp-cli installed. I’ll use my Linode as an example.

# wget
--2021-08-02 03:09:12--
Resolving (,,, ...
Connecting to (||:443... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 6094557 (5.8M) [application/octet-stream]
Saving to: ‘wp-cli.phar’

wp-cli.phar    100%[===========>]   5.81M  --.-KB/s    in 0.04s

2021-08-02 03:09:12 (140 MB/s) - ‘wp-cli.phar’ saved [6094557/6094557]

# chmod +x wp-cli.phar

# sudo mv wp-cli.phar /usr/local/bin/wp

Then it’s as simple as this:

# /usr/local/bin/wp core update

Updating to version 5.8 (en_US)...
Downloading update from
Unpacking the update...
Cleaning up files...
File removed: wp-includes/css/dist/editor/editor-styles-rtl.css
File removed: wp-includes/css/dist/editor/editor-styles-rtl.min.css
File removed: wp-includes/css/dist/editor/editor-styles.css
File removed: wp-includes/css/dist/editor/editor-styles.min.css
4 files cleaned up.
Success: WordPress updated successfully.

Updates to the home office – Work with me!

I work for a great company. One of the many perks that I and my co-workers enjoy is a regular hardware refresh. That along with a paid three-month sabbatical encouraged every five years, home office, career coaching, time off (open vacation policy) and more! I am sharing so you come and work with me!

So it was time for a hardware refresh this month, and it was also time to pick out my four-year anniversary laptop. Though it’s been well over 5 years, I decided to go for it.

I took this opportunity to overhaul everything! Every 5 years we also get a new monitor, and I was more than happy to get a new one. I am ditching my two monitor setup for a single monitor that’s ultra-wide. Since I am no longer using an iMac I needed to find a webcam, and I have wanted to upgrade from the Yeti microphone to something a little better, since I also do some home recording.

I am very happy with the results. I’ll list the upgrades I chose below and after a few months I think I might review them. Photos of the office are coming soon!

I am thankful for where I work and very blessed to have such a great working environment at home. You might consider applying at Automattic, we are hiring!

Here is the updated office!

  1. Macbook Pro (M1) “W” laptop as a gift after 5 years at Automattic
  2. SAMSUNG G9 monitor. Sent the G9 back. Way too many issues. In it’s place is the Dell Ultrasharp 43 4K USB-C Monitor – U4320Q. It’s huge!
  3. OWC 14-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock 
  4. Razer Kiyo Pro Webcam
  5. MOTU M2 2×2 USB-C Audio Interface
  6. Shure MV7 Podcast Microphone with boom
  7. beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones
  8. BENQ Computer Monitor Light ScreenBar
  9. A Few Sound Control Lights

I kept my uplift standing desk, keyboard and mouse, as well as the Polk Audio speakers, subwoofer and Denon receiver that I really, really love.



I had a great time with my wife and my team (Tatooine) in Hawaii. We were there 12 days total. The only thing I would change is the location in Hawaii. Honolulu is very crowded. It’s a big city that felt like Los Angeles, only the driving was 100 times worse. It was hot and humid as well. If I was to go back to Hawaii I would choose a different island.

We rented a car for 7 days and left the city several times. Those were the best days! That’s when Hawaii was a lot more fun for me, the beauty and the draw of Hawaii became apparent. We snorkeled, went on many hikes to beautiful water falls, light houses and jungle like destinations. We even did a dinner cruise that turned out to be one of my most favorite things, that along with the ATV tour of Jurassic Valley.

The times with my team were fun as well. There was another team on meetup in Hawaii (Go Sparta!) and our hotels were close together, so we were able to do some cross training and general hang outs. Typically what we do is have our own rooms and then we get the penthouse suite as a common area, which is what we did this time. That made for some really fun evenings playing games and getting to know each other better.

The next meetup needs to be somewhere cold. We are talking about Amsterdam or maybe Lisbon, Portugal. That’s more my speed. 🙂 The Grand Meetup is in 5 months, we return to Florida for the second year in a row. I am really spoiled weather wise being from the Bay Area.

Closing Party

Last night was the closing party which officially ends the Grand Meetup.

The party was held at Epcot Center not too far from our hotel. It was a blast! The food, the band (our own Automatticians), the fireworks, just an amazing experience as always! View the album here!

First Commit to WordPress Core

This week during the Grand Meetup I was in a class called “Contributing to Core”. It was such a great class in that I got an inside view to all things WordPress Core. By the end of class I had my very first commit to WordPress Core. The commit was a fix for #45028 that my co-worker filed during the class.

Harry Potter World

Tonight we took over Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Just us! The entire park to ourselves. No lines for rides, unlimited food and drinks, including my favorite beer and Butter Beer! I had 4 cups of the frozen Butter Beer! I can’t even begin to describe how amazing the experience was. My team, my co-workers, we are like a huge family and we got have a blast hanging out in Diagon Alley

After an amazing night at Universal Studios we all headed back to our hotel and continued having a great time! There was a latin dance party on the first floor and games and dancing in the part suites. I finally headed to bed around 3:00AM. What an amazing day!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter. from Shane Eckert on Vimeo.

Shane and Mike – Dragon! from Shane Eckert on Vimeo.

A8CGM Harry Potter Show from Shane Eckert on Vimeo.

WooCommerce: Emails are not sending

One of the more frequent issues that we hear about day to day is that WooCommerce is not sending emails for new orders (or any emails at all). There are several reasons that this may be happening. The most common reason is that the status of order is such that an email is not going to be sent. Some times the email may not even be enabled, or the server is not sending the emails.

While we do have a great FAQ here, I wanted to quickly go over the reasons for emails not sending.

Something that is really good to know is that WooCommerce does not send emails. It creates emails to be sent by the server, but it does not send email. The same goes with WordPress. WordPress creates all kinds of emails, but WordPress does not send them. That’s the job of the server. This is important to understand for two reasons. 1. Knowing this helps you troubleshoot. 2. Knowing this helps you to understand the solutions.

WooCommerce Emails

The first thing you might want to do is get familiar with the WooCommerce Emails. Head over to WooCommerce -> Settings -> Emails and look over the Email notifications. Plugins that you install that create emails will be listed here as well, but for our example I have just a bare bones site installed with just WooCommerce. These are the default emails that come with WooCommerce as of version 3.4.3.

Looking at the first column you can see that there are checkmarks all the way down until we get to Customer note. I have disabled this email for our example. If you are not getting New order emails and you see the same greyed out “X”, then that’s why. For some reason the email has been disabled. The enable/disable box looks like this.

Order Status

If you click on the New order email you will see a message across the top that says “New order emails are sent to chosen recipient(s) when a new order is received.” Each email is going to have a similar message so that you know what to expect. This means that new order emails are sent when the new order is received and this email is going to the Store Owner or whoever else you have in that field. This does not go to the customer.

To get a better understanding of order in WooCommerce, please read this great bit of documentation. The emails your customer will receive when they place an order are these.

When an order is processing, your customer will receive an email, and when it’s completed, your customer will receive an email. It’s important to understand that if your customer is not getting an email that you want to check the status of their order. This may explain why no email was sent.

Sending Email

I mentioned earlier that WordPress and WooCommerce do not send email. That’s the job of the server hosting your site. WordPress and WooCommerce are responsible for creating the email and then handing those off to the server to deliver.

So how can you tell if your emails are being created but not sent? It’s actually pretty easy. You will want to install a Mail Logging plugin. What this will do is check a page for emails. Simple right? Just install the plugin, send a test order, then check the page. If there is an email there, then WooCommerce has created the email as expected. If not, then there is an issue with WooCommerce or possible a conflicting plugin. It’s important to know if the server is not sending the email or if WooCommerce is not creating them because your path forward is different depending on that.

WP Mail Logging is my mail logger of choice. It’s worth download and getting familiar with.

So let’s say you sent a test order through and the email shows up in the logs. Great. We know WooCommerce is doing what it should. But if customers are not getting their email, and you have already confirmed that it’s not stuck in a SPAM folder, then it’s time to move on to the next step.

Hosting or dedicated SMTP

When email is not sending, it’s time to check with your hosting provider. It’s very common for shared hosting to have email issues. In fact we really suggest that you go with a dedicated SMTP provider. This will bypass the server and use a dedicated service to send your emails, which is great because you do not have to depend on your hosting provider for something as important as emails. A dedicated SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is just that, it’s dedicated to sending your email.

If you prefer not to go this route, then you will at least want to report the email issue to your hosting provider and ask them to get it sorted. Let them know that you have logs that show emails are being created, that will help convince them to check their logs and do what they need to in order to get your email sending again.

Here are some dedicated SMTP providers. 

I hope this helps the next time email is not sending on your WooCommerce site. Any questions? Feel free to reach out!