Guitar: Jack Johnson – Upside Down

Sometimes I get bored just listening to myself play the guitar, so I decided to add some backing tracks on this one using GarageBand (which came with my MacBook Pro laptop). I added the drum kit and percussion tracks fairly quickly. It took me a while to figure out how to manually add the electric bass part. It took even longer to get good takes on the guitar parts. I don’t have any professional music recording equipment, so the guitars sound like I recorded them with an old boombox. Oh well… it’s just for fun anyway. It’s all about learning new things (guitar included).

Learning to Develop WordPress Plugins

I’ve been learning how to develop WordPress plugins over the past week or so (in between big website projects). So far I’ve completed 7 simple but useful plugins! I’m by no means an expert software engineer, but I’m really pleased with the results after a relatively short amount of time. Plugins make repetitive content management tasks a whole lot easier and they’re not theme dependent (you can switch themes and they’ll stay in place). I’ll do some proper write-ups on a few of the plugins soon, but here’s a preview of what I’ve developed so far.

Note: For now, these plugins are just intended for my learning purposes, so I’m not releasing them to the general public. Plus, they mainly satisfy development needs that are specific to my website projects, so I don’t know how useful they’d be for other developers. Perhaps in the future I’ll develop some plugins to be included in the WordPress plugin repository.

Screenshot of Michael's WordPress plugins, including author bio shortcode, custom login, custom post types, placeholder shortcode, slider shortcodes, social media, and welcome panel.

WordPress Plugin: MPG Author Bio

If you have multiple authors on one WordPress blog, you can create accounts for each of those authors and add some biographical information in their user settings. However, not all authors prefer to provide personal info to the public. This plugin creates a simple shortcode that you can manually include on individual blog posts that includes the author’s bio and photo, as well as icon links to their social media accounts.

WordPress Plugin: MPG Welcome Panel

After installing a fresh copy of WordPress, you’re presented with a default WordPress-branded welcome panel at the top of the admin dashboard. I’ve recently learned that you can replace that panel with a version of your own. In my case, I’ve always wanted to give my clients a more useful panel that will encourage them to reach out to me if they run into problems while maintaining their site’s content.

This plugin is very easy to configure. Update the plugin’s HTML and CSS to match your brand’s logo, colors, and messaging. Upload your logo image to the WordPress Media Library and include the URL in the plugin’s anchor link. When I’m doing freelance work for other agencies, I can customize the welcome panel to match their branding and colors.

WordPress Plugin Training Course

I’ve been steadily going through the WordPress: Plugin Development training course by Jeff Starr on LinkedIn Learning. I’m really impressed with the quality of instruction in this entire set of videos. I’ve learned a lot and it’s really helped me fully understand how to plan, design, develop, and publish a complete WordPress plugin. If you’ve wanted to dig down deep in the subject, I’d recommend taking a look. There are a couple free introductory videos, as well as a course outline, that will give you a good idea of what the course is all about.

View Course >

Rotoscoping in Adobe After Effects

I’ve been learning how to do rotoscoping in the latest version of Adobe After Effects. Here’s a simple example I put together tonight. I’m looking forward to experimenting a lot more with it. The stock video footage is courtesy of Pexels and the music track is “Dub Trippin” by MK2 from the YouTube Audio Library.

Mandalas in Adobe Illustrator

I’m finally getting serious about learning how to use Adobe Illustrator properly. I’ve been using it off and on for years, but never really spent the time to get good at it since it’s so vast. I’ve been watching some videos on drawing mandalas, so I decided to see if I could create one with vector shapes. It was a fun and relaxing way to spend a couple hours. Also, I feel a lot more comfortable in Illustrator now. I added some color gradients with Photoshop.

Relearning Adobe Premiere Pro

I’ve recently subscribed to the entire Adobe Creative Suite and have been brushing up on my video editing skills with Premiere Pro (which I used to teach many years ago). I’ve already started doing some freelance work by editing some videos for my friend Kevin Lamping‘s “WebdriverIO Web App Testing” course (coming soon to a computer near you). It feels great to be doing some multimedia work again! I forgot how much I enjoy putting all of this together.

Floating Virtual Singers

I saw a creative video animation today and decided to recreate it in DaVinci Resolve. This is the final result using stock video footage and music. It’s pretty close, but I need to figure out how to add drop shadows (or a dark outer glow) to the floating videos. This could be used for one of those virtual choir videos where all of the beautiful singers go floating along in an interesting pattern. The stock video footage is courtesy of Pexels and the music track is “Escape” by Eveningland from the YouTube Audio Library.