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Jeremey DuVall

Jeremey DuVall is a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, developer, and writer on leadership, learning, and self-improvement.

Building a Photo Site With GatsbyJS Part 1 – Getting Setup

In a recent post, I talked about some recent experimentation I did with GatsbyJS and the API. While it wasn’t quite a fit for rebuilding my personal site, I wanted to build something else with it. So, I elected to build an Instagram-esque photo sharing site. I thought it might be helpful to share a bit of the process so I’ll be walking through the following steps:

  • Part 1: Getting Setup (this post)
  • Part 2: Determining the Layout and Understanding Queries
  • Part 3: Building a Header Component
  • Part 4: Building a Grid Photo Layout
  • Part 5: Building the Individual Photo
  • Part 6: Deploying to Netlify

The end result will look like this:

Finished Product.jpg

Let’s go through the first part of getting setup.

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Hour of Code 2017 and Beyond

I realize I’m a little late on the ball with this one, but I thought I would share it in case some folks wanted to get involved. This past week (December 4-10) was Hour of Code week hosted by It’s a worldwide event where millions of students across 180+ countries work through activities related to code and technology.

Hour of Code.jpeg

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Experimenting With GatsbyJS and the API

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that my November project was to rebuild my personal site using GatsbyJS and the API:

If you’re not familiar with Gatsby, it bills itself as a “blazing-fast static site generator for React.” Having used React to work on Calypso and build some other small projects here and there, I figured it would be a pretty fun experiment.

Obviously, November has come and gone, and yet, you’re still seeing a traditional WordPress theme on my personal site. I ended up not launching my GatsbyJS site (although it is more or less built!) for a few reasons. I’ll touch on those reasons as well as my experience working with GatsbyJS.

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Adding a Widget Area After the Post

Astute readers will have noticed that I recently changed themes on my personal site. I’ve been on a Genesis theme for the past several years. I love the folks over at StudioPress, and I still use their themes on other sites of mine. For my personal site though, I wanted to make a little switch so I picked up a free theme by Array Themes.

One of the aspects I loved so much about Genesis themes was how simple they made it to add in extra bits like an email subscription box after the post. If you’re curious, here’s exactly how you do it. They bake in genesis-after-entry-widget-area directly so you don’t have to do much else with your theme. You just declare support like this:

add_theme_support( 'genesis-after-entry-widget-area' );

And boom – you have a footer widget area after the post.

The Array themes don’t do that so you have to go out on your own a bit and figure it out. I recently added a widget area after my posts so I thought I would share how in case anyone else is wondering.

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Surviving in the Gig Economy

A few folks have asked why I haven't been writing much lately. Honestly, I've been working on a few code projects, which has left me less time for writing blog posts. But! I have been writing; it just hasen't been here on the blog.

Over the past month or so, I've had two articles get published over on Todoist. One involved how to promote yourself at work. The one I want to talk about today was all about the changing job landscape. After getting published on Todoist, it was picked up by Fast Company as well, which is a first for me.

Here's the cliff notes version of the changing job landscape and how to prepare.

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A Refresh to My GTD System

Back in January of 2016, I wrote about how I was applying Cal Newport's concepts from Deep Work to my own routine. I still think it's the single best book on the market related to productivity and meaningful work.

Since that original post, I've made some tweaks here and there to how I plan and set out my day. Over the past few months in particular, I've felt pretty on top of things. I'm able to get in some solid coding time every day. I don't feel behind on anything work-related. I'm still able to find some time to read every day.

I've shared this updated system with a few folks, and they've found it helpful so I thought I would share it here.

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Building a Rock Solid Career Reputation

I’m currently working my way through The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. The book is fascinating as it draws on dozens of historical examples to pull out key takeaways and suggestions for building power and influence. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular lesson or takeaway and how you can apply it to your own life.

A few chapters in particular have stood out to me, but one in particular (Law 5 – “So Much Depends on Your Reputation—Guard It With Your Life”) is applicable to some of the topics I’ve been writing about recently.

In the beginning, you must work to establish a reputation for one outstanding quality, whether generosity or honesty or cunning. This quality sets you apart and gets other people to talk about you. You then make your reputation known to as many people as possible (subtly, though; take care to build slowly, and with a firm foundation), and watch as it spreads like wildfire.

The two parts are then:

  1. Building a reputation.
  2. Spreading your reputation.

The trick is always “How?”. How exactly do you build a reputation? Perhaps more importantly, once you have that reputation, how do you spread that reputation without feeling like a selfish jerk?

This post will touch on the first piece – building the reputation. I recently wrote a piece on The Muse all about soft skills that will help you excel in your career. I have another one coming up on Todoist about demonstrating your value within an organization.

I wanted to pull together some common threads from the research I did for both that apply to building a reputation and some distinct points in the process that I’ve found helpful. In a follow-up post, I’ll discuss some thoughts on spreading that reputation and talking about yourself without feeling sleezy.

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We Should All Be a Bit Angry

“I’m probably the angriest person here.”

That phrasing caught me by surprise. I was at dinner at the 2017 Automattic Grand Meetup in Whistler, BC. I was sitting next to one of the happiest and most enjoyable people I know.

This person went on to elaborate on what they meant. They weren’t angry about their current situation, the dinner, or anything else related to that particular point in time. Here’s a short list of things they were angry about:

  • Certain parts of the education system in the US
  • Gender gaps in tech
  • The lack of self-advocacy techniques shared with underrepresented groups (in and out of tech)

We overuse the term “passionate” to describe our various areas of interest. Passion implies a strong belief and an interest in learning more about a particular issue. Often times, passion stops there short of action, short of follow-through that changes the situation for others.

“Anger” is different. It implies something more than passion. Yes, you hold a strong belief about the issue. Yes, you want to learn more about it. But, anger doesn’t stop there. It goes a step farther – you’re actively working to change the game for everyone else.

Many would characterize themselves as passionate. Not many would say they’re angry.

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A Comprehensive Look at How to Give Better Feedback

A few months back, I published some notes from a presentation I gave at Automattic all about why receiving feedback tends to sting. While everyone is focused on developing the skill of delivering feedback, I truly believe becoming a better feedback receiver is worth spending some time on. The skills go hand in hand. While you can’t always control how feedback is delivered to you, you can control your reaction to that feedback.

Still, there is an art to delivering feedback. When delivered appropriately, feedback can grow the relationship you have with colleagues, teammates, and even friends/family. When delivered inappropriately, it can create animosity.

If you remember the three types of feedback triggers, you’ll know that the three reasons feedback tends to sting are:

  • Truth triggers – We’re upset by the substance of the feedback. It’s unhelpful or simply not true.
  • Relationship triggers – We’re upset by the dynamics with the feedback giver. Either we feel mistreated by this person or we feel as though they’re not in a position to give us feedback on this particular topic.
  • Identity triggers – The feedback we’re receiving conflicts with our own internal narrative.

Similar to receiving feedback, I led a workshop awhile back at Automattic on the topic of giving feedback. Here are some extrapolated notes from that topic. They’ll address specifics like:

  • Feedback comes in all shapes and sizes. We’ll talk about the three specific types of feedback and why you’re likely falling short on one of them.
  • Now that I know why colleagues are set off by feedback, how can I tailor the feedback I’m giving to avoid the three triggers mentioned above?

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Jeremey DuVall

Team Lead at Automattic and JavaScript Developer

About Me

I’m a Happiness Engineer team lead at Automattic and JavaScript tinkerer. I also co-founded a 501(c)3 nonprofit called Drink for Pink.
I write daily about my thoughts on technology (usually JavaScript), leadership, customer support, and learning.
Read more about me