Why do we care?


WordCamp Europe was 2 weeks ago and it was a blast, to have the opportunity to learn something new and make new connections while you are having fun. It’s priceless. I brought home some ideas, some projects, really important stuff but also this question: “why do we care?”

On Saturday I watched Stefan’s Kanev presentation on Functional programming: What’s the fuss all about?” where he talked about the differences between Imperative and Declarative programming languages and why we should choose one over the other. Stefan explained well the differences, he even mentioned roughly that with declarative you could sometimes improve performance.  From my understanding performance wasn’t the point, the point was to show that with a declarative paradigm one can focus on what a particular program should do, on what are the results we want to achieve instead of how we should do it, plus the readability of the code is 10x better.

By the end of his presentation someone asked:

Why do we care?

I must admit I felt a bit shocked, it certainly wasn’t polite and it didn’t make sense. So I kept thinking why the hell would someone ask this. So after some thought I came up with the following possibilities:

  1. he was trying to be funny
  2. he never wrote a line of code in his life
  3. he does not care as long as function x returns y what happens in between is magic.

So after this I started to think on how I would reply to this “why do we care”, could he be right? if no one sees it, is it ok that my code sucks? If no one is looking, is it ok that I throw garbage on the street?

I write code, and I do have the need to feel proud of my code, I can still improve my skills a lot, but I do my best in order to feel good about my code. I dream about my code if I know I did something under pressure that should be better. Obviously I care , but why (if no one is looking)?

It’s not true, no one is looking, otherwise “view source” wouldn’t be a browser option, we programmers do look to other programmers code, not only when we get someone’s else project but specially when we want to learn something.

So should we care because others may be looking at our code?

I don’t believe so but if it makes you write better code I consider it a valid reason.

Personally all this reminds me something my mother told me when I was 12.

We went to this shop so she could by me some earrings.  I was super excited because I wanted those earrings for a long time and that day was the day I was getting them. At the shop we realised there were 2 options: gold or silver. I remember I told my mom “Lets choose the cheapest, they are all blue, no one will know they are not gold.“, she looked at me and said: “We’ll take the golden ones, you will know“.

So that’s why I care! I Know and if I know that I can do better there is no absolute reason why I shouldn’t do it, even when no one is looking.


When your partner is your partner


No one prepares you for what means to have a business with your husband.  It’s the most challenging thing I have been through. It still is. It has given me a great joy but some sleepless nights as well. It does not matter how many posts you read about “the 10th rules for couples working together” you’ll need to figure out together what makes sense for you and it will take time.

Personally the biggest challenge for me is to differentiate my emotions towards my colleague from my emotions towards my husband. How does one say ” I love you, but please finish issue #999 on project XYZ” or “You were great with the client today, could you please help and wash the dishes?”. I had to learn that I can be mad about work but that can’t affect my behaviour at home and the other way around too, specially when you have other people working with you. It’s true everyone needs to do the same exercise but it’s particularly important when your partner is your partner.

So why do I do it?

Building my own company is a dream I shared for years with Nuno, not necessarily together but it was always something we’ve talked about and at some point we thought we didn’t have nothing to loose we decided to try. First on a small project, it went well, then on a bigger one, and on a bigger one and then WidgiLabs. The true is that what makes us work as a couple it’s also what makes us work as partners. We complement each other, I am good on things Nuno isn’t and he is good on others I’m not, we know each other really well, and that,  most of the times puts us in a sweet spot.

To be honest there isn’t a set of rules to make it work, this isn’t like a recipe, some days it will work somedays it won’t work and the sooner you’ll embrace that the sooner you’ll reach the balance that’s needed. Once in a while ask yourself if it’s worth it and remember why you are doing it.

Well… there is one rule… be good to each other and never go to bed upset.




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Mrs Wilberforce

A couple of years ago while I was in London I went to the theatre, I am not quite sure of the title anymore but I remember the plot. Mrs Wilberforce was a lovely old lady living by herself near Kings Cross station. She was extremely vigilant of what happened on her street and she would call the police every time she witnessed a suspected behavior on the neighborhood. She was so cautious that it became really funny when she couldn’t understand that the men to which she rented a room on her apartment was preparing an assault to a nearby bank. Everything happened right in front of her eyes but nevertheless she couldn’t see it.

Why can’t you see what is right in front of you even when you want it so bad to be true?

Because most of the time you are so busy doing other stuff, especially small unproductive tasks that you miss the big things, may it be a small, but effective, change on you business that will boost you leads more than 30%, may it be some weird situation a coworker is going through, may it be a new opportunity.

I am driven by goals, I enjoy having a task list and go through it and when I am successful I go home with the feeling that my day was productive, even if the only thing I did was a load of tasks that no one benefit from. I have one particular problem, as a software engineer I tend to feel that my code can always be better, so I keep on coding some feature, sometimes to the extreme of performance, style, documented code whatever, just because I can’t let go. The same thing with debugging, if I am working on support and I already used the stipulated amount of time but I am still after some bug and I feel I am close, I can’t let go it’s like a game. In fact there is nothing wrong with it as a developer thats my job, but I am, at the same time, the business owner so I can’t be coding indefinitely for a client without charging, and I need to be able to choose what’s important and relevant from the what’s accessory.

So what I came to realize is that I may be busy but I am not effective, I may feel great on boosting that peace of code, but at the end the client does not realize and does not benefit,  the truth is that I am focused on myself and not on whats best for my client and ultimately for my company. Worst, while I am doing that I feel that I am an extremely busy person with no time for more projects or personal life or that I don’t have any new business ideas when in fact I am just playing around with what is accessory doing little with little impact.

Realizing this had a great impact on how I organize my day, when I choose to do something I generally ask the questions:

  • Is my client benefitting from this?
  • Is this really necessary?
  • Does this belong to scope and is on budget?

If I get only one yes it’s a no go.

Mrs Wilberforce was constantly looking to a different direction, I was constantly filling my day so I could feel I was doing something good without thinking if this was getting me where I want. If you take the time, look at you day and see the same pattern please try this: Stop the cycle, think before you act, define the questions that make sense for you and always choose to do whatever takes greater impact towards the dream you want to start living.

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WordCamp Europe

wordcamp-europe-logoThere is really nothing you can say in order to describe exactly the feeling that is to be part of a WordCamp. I was fortunate to be part of this amazing team, they are not only incredible good at their jobs but really nice people that know how to welcome you.

To be honest I don’t cope well with crowds and I must admit I was nervous, if you look at the attendees list you will understand what I mean, it was an opportunity to meet some of your WordPress heroes and I did manage to say hi to a few but again you really can’t describe it. I just want to thank everyone involved and say that it was a pleasure to help. If you were not one of the WordPress fellows in Leiden this weekend  do yourself a favor and enjoy some other WordCamp near you!

Are apple fan boys retards?

The fact that I love apple does not make me a retard that doesn’t know a thing about open source! I do advocate open source but I like apple because it simply works.

It may sound strange but I used to have debian installed on my computer, I used to write a pdf using LaTeX, and let’s admit I did it with pleasure. It was a nice feeling doing something complicated that almost needed a course to master and that the majority of people couldn’t do but ultimately it was stupid. I spent so much time on something that was considerable more difficult to do while I could have done it in no time and enjoyed the spare time to learn something new or just chill out. By the time I was doing it there was no Ubuntu or androids, you can nowadays say that running linux on your mobile or laptop is straight forward and does not take effort but it was not like this all the time.

I do have one big thing to thank to linux, I started to speak with my husband because he was the expert and the only person I knew that could fix my laptop when everything just broke (and I lost great amount of work, github was years to come).

I work with WordPress which is all about openness, I know how to do an apt-get install and other weird stuff but I like to open my laptop and start doing my work, not setting up my environment, I like the confort it gives me and the security that it works, I like it to be pretty and with attention to the detail. I don’t mind you call me a “fan boy” even if I am a women, I do mind if you consider me less because I choose something that works out of the box and assume I am not illuminated because I use something that it’s not open and that I can’t control 100%.

Let me tell you a little secret: You get the best pleasure from the things you can’t control, let it go!

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is 9 am early?

Sleepy_For me 9am is early and it’s the perfect time to start the day at the office. I don’t always manage, in fact I tend to be in the office around 9h30 except if there is something booked.  But the truth is that there’s some pleasure involved when I manage to leave my house before 9am, the light outside is different and I feel I can take more from my day. I know what you might be thinking, you are thinking that everyone knows that, and that I am not first person writing about it, the truth is that you may have heard about it or you may have understood how and why it works but if you don’t do it yet you don’t truly know it. This is my experience.

On WidgiLabs innovation week  we watched a video every morning, something me and Nuno were doing in the 2 weeks before. We did this prior to see the e-mail, prior to get hands dirty with work and not only it would set the mood for the day but it made us take some time to ourselves to learn something new or to get inspired when previously we were spending it on traffic because we overslept.

This was, in a way, educational for me, this made my day more productive when I was expecting the opposite. The thing with productivity is that what triggers you may be different from what triggers your co-workers or someone else., you need to test it and find what works for you.

So, What works for you?

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The shoes with different sizes

Last week I bought a new pair of shoes, nothing strange there, I like shoes. On the first day I wear them I realize immediately something was wrong. The left shoe felt much bigger then the right one, initially I thought is was only on my head but after a few steps it was more than clear that there was a problem with the shoes. After measuring both shoes it was clear they had a factory problem even though they were marked with the same size number. I searched for the receipt so I could go back to the shop and get a new pair or maybe a refund.  Except the receipt was nowhere to be found… Ok this was going to be a hard one, no receipt on a sales season they will not give me a new pair.

I started to anticipate the discussion I was going to have with the lady at the shop. Days before Nuno was talking about the  book “How to Say No And Not Feel Guilty” and I was eager to put some of those things in practice. I set myself to not leave the shop without reaching my goal. So I took the shoes and went to the shop without the receipt prepared for the worst. This is what happened:

Me: I bought these shoes but there is a factory problem, they have the same size but are actually different sizes.

My internal dialog: Hold yourself and don’t say anything about the receipt, don’t say anything about the receipt.

Her: Really? (she measured the shoes comparing them) You are right, I am going to check if we have another pair.

Me: Ok

Five minutes later she comes back.

Her: Here it is another pair. Would you like to try?

Me: Yes.

I tried them they were ok, I went back to the counter thinking that when they discover I don’t have the receipt all this kindness is going away.

Except she made the switch and gave me the new pair.

Her: Here you go, I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience.

Me: Thank you for your help.

My internal dialog: Is this for real? They didn’t asked for the receipt. Great!

I walked out of the shop incredible happy it went really well I was totally surprised. I didn’t have to complain I simply asked one thing they recognized the error and fixed it in no time. To be totally honest I even thought they treated me so well not because they were aware that this was great client support but simply because they were genuine and didn’t knew exactly what to do in that case.  The bottom line is that I went there thinking in getting my money back and never buy any other pair of shoes on their shops and left with a great feeling that they are super efficient and I always should buy my shoes there.

This experience made me think deeply on what is quality customer support and how should I be treating my clients.

Customer support it’s a hard thing, I always thought it was kind of bullshit the moto “client is always right” simply because he isn’t. I have come to realize recently that is not about who is right or wrong it’s about the experience, it’s about the client being able to fully take advantage of your product at the same time he fulfills his needs. If you manage to help them in that process they will love you, they will remember you, and most important they will refer you, and that’s the best marketing you can get.

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Why Widgi why?

As you probably already realized Widgi is an acronym for “When in doubt Google it” and the name of this blog. Back in 2009 I was looking for a name for my new blog, I used to have one but was written in portuguese and was way to personal and silly I wanted to start writing in english so I could share more widely stuff related with my work and my dream to build a company and I wanted a fresh start. So I started searching for something others could easily identify and that I could relate to.  I do have a passion for learning and since I spent most of my time in front of my laptop it’s straightforward that when I don’t know something I google it. It also amazes me that most of the problems you have someone else already had them, more or less like me and new startup ideas that google already implemented, but that’s another story. So widgi made sense and  was available so here we are. The funny thing is that one year later I was registering a company and looking  together with my partner for a name. I must confess that looking for you company name is a pain, you want something catchy, funny but professional that has .com available. After long long hours searching we knew it had to have “labs” on it Nuno suggested we used widgi and again we felt we got something – WidgiLabs. To be completely honest we didn’t loved the name right away, it was the best out of the options we had, we learned to love it and as we build the company the name grows with it. My advise for the ones that are looking for companies names is not to over think it. Pick your best choice because at the end what makes your company is your work and your quality not the name. People will remember your work, then you and then your company name.

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WordPress Portugal

Long time no see! I have been working really hard on the OpenTipi project and really soon it will be also available in English, can’t wait to show it’s new looks, its a baby project going into puberty! That’s more than enough to justify my absence and in fact I came here today to speak about something completely different the WordPress community in Portugal. This past weekend we had an informal meeting at this great creative place Lx Factory in Lisbon. It was the perfect environment for this kind of meeting that worked really well. we had a few presentations on different perspectives, the user a Journalist working with WordPress and 2 developers, its always great to get to know how people are using  WordPress what are they problems and how they approach them. Personally I enjoyed the chats after each presentation where we could discuss particular issues raised both by the speakers and the audience. There was also time for some networking and to get to know the new upcoming features for next WordPress release.

The highlight in my  opinion was the plot to make a WordPress hackathon in Lisbon sponsored by the Publico newspaper sometime soon. Let’s make it happen!

working at home vs co-working

being a self disciplined person I always thought it would be just perfect to work at home, I was wrong! If you are self employed you have the luxury of controlling your own time(??) and one can almost have the duty of not havng an office and just be anywhere you want and work from there so you avoid the exact same behavior as you had as an employee… that simply does not work for me. I found out that I am more lazy than I though I was, that we need to create some routines and try to avoid doing stuff that needs to be done at home… I simply can’t make the distinction between life and work if I am at home. So we decided to experiment a co-working place and it has been great ever since. The productivity increased considerably we feel more professional 🙂 and we get to talk and discuss ideas with a lot of different people, its a completely different environment.Actually different than a office where you go as an employee. If you can, try it!

I am sure this is not a rule and for others working from home would be just perfect but probably for one week nothing more 🙂

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