Shane Campbell – a Toolset support expert who traveled for 3 days to meet his colleagues

October 19, 2015

Shane having dinner with his girlfriend at the Spanish Court Hotel

On an everyday basis he works on the Toolset Support Team, doing his work remotely from home in Jamaica. At the end of September he packed his bag and boarded the plane to fly to Portugal, for the company annual meetup.

I met Shane when he first arrived at our hotel  in Porto in the late afternoon of October 1st. He looked a little apprehensive, but this was quite understandable after such a long 3 day journey all the way from Jamaica. Our “getting to know you games” later that evening proved a great ice breaker and the next day I was able to get to know Shane better.

This is what he told me about his island in the sun:

“I live with my mother and aunt in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, and I have 2 younger sisters, 2 older and 1 brother.

Jamaica is the fifth  largest island in the Caribbean, close to  Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  It has a population of around 2 million.

Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain in 1494, but in 1655 the English captured it. In 1962 Jamaica won independence.  Under British rule, slaves were imported from Africa to work on the sugar plantations and later Chinese and Indian labor.  Slavery was abolished,  the Europeans stayed, the slaves became free men and women  and hence our motto:  “Out of Many, One People.” Our flag represents “wood and water”.

The climate is tropical – hot and humid, but is more temperate in the mountains.  So today Jamaica exports bananas, Jamaica rum and Blue Mountain coffee – one of the most expensive and sought after coffees in the world.

Jamaica is a lush island with mountains in the center, rain forests and exotic  beaches.  Well-known tourist attractions are Montego Bay, Dunn’s River Falls in St.Ann, Blue Lagoon in Port Antonio (made famous by a film of the same name).”

What about pirates?  We’ve all heard of the Pirates of the Caribbean!

sunset on the Palisadoes Spit AKA Airport road
sunset on the Palisadoes Spit AKA Airport road

It’s true!  Port Royal at the mouth of Kingston harbor on the south east coast was an infamous pirate home port in the 17th century  when  notorious buccaneers like Calico Jack, Henry Morgan, and Blackbeard preyed on Spanish settlements and treasure fleets.  It was a pirate utopia and a den of iniquity.

With such an exciting history how has  Jamaican culture been influenced?

Shane and his cousin after Church
Shane and his cousin after Church

Jamaica is officially a bi-lingual country:   English (Standard Jamaican English) and Jamaican Patois or Jamaican Creole  which is a blend of African languages with European.  The pronunciation and vocabulary is significantly different from English as you can see in this example:

Patois: Gud Mawning, mi neva si yuh last nite, weh yuh did deh?

English: Good morning, I didn’t see you last night, where were you?

Reggae music,  a rhythmic African style of music , has been made world famous by Jamaica’s son Bob Marley.

Cricket is the national sport  but amazingly we even have a national bobsleigh team – a tropical island team competing in the Winter Olympics!

And what about Jamaican cuisine?

The national dish of Jamaica is ackee and saltfish (cod).  Ackee is an African fruit and was probably brought to Jamaica on a slave ship.    Curry goat is also a favorite  and Jerk  usually  pork or chicken is smothered with a very hot  spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice

What were you doing before joining OTGS?   How did you hear about the company?

I was a freelancer and although I had never used WPML, I  had seen it.  A friend applied for a job with OTGS but didn’t succeed so he suggested it to me and sent me the link.  I was interviewed by Sarah and Laura.  I felt at ease because I was quite used to solving similar problems every day.

What is involved in your job?

I actually work on the Toolset Support Team, so on a day to day basis I work in the Toolset Support forum.

Working in the forums is actually quite fun :) because I really love helping out the people there. Nothing beats getting a resolved ticket and a happy customer.

It’s always good to feel that you are able to contribute to the community since our forums are open to the public.  Other customers who are experiencing similar issues can also gain from the forum posts.

My job also entails debugging our plugins when customers have issues. I can say this part is also fun because I love a challenge and each day brings a new challenge to the table.

What qualifications are needed?

Personally I think the qualifications that are needed for a Toolset Supporter are:

  1. You must know WordPress and how to debug WordPress itself.
  2. You must know PHP or understand PHP as this will help a lot when it comes to debugging our plugins as well as advising customers on how to use the various Hooks that our plugins provide.
  3. It would help to have a BSC in Computer Science or something similar but it’s not a requirement. The reason for this is that the knowledge gained through a Computer Science program is universal and concepts learned there can greatly assist to make you a better supporter.
  4. Be a fun and open person :). I work within a team of supporters and for me this team feels like a small family rather than work colleagues. We work together and share a lot of interesting things and learn a lot.

What is a typical working day like for you?

<a href="https://toolset.com/forums/topic/pass-custom-song-post-types-audio-file-into-a-player-via-types-shortcode/">Example ticket</a> from Toolset support forum resolved by Shane
Example ticket from Toolset support forum resolved by Shane

A typical work day for me starts by reading through my emails for any important mails from others in my team. Next I go to the support queue and check the ticket loads for the day and assign about 5 – 7 threads to myself based on the number of tickets available.

I then begin to process each ticket one by one starting from the oldest ones and finishing with the newest.

My day is not always smooth sailing as some customers come with queries forcing you to think way outside the box. This is really good as it helps me grow.

Also for other customers, who know little about using our Toolset API, I normally wrap the code they need inside a shortcode so it’s easy for them to use and understand.

Sometimes you are not always able to get an issue resolved for the customer but they really appreciate your efforts and that’s just as good as getting the issue resolved.

Example
https://toolset.com/forums/topic/pass-custom-song-post-types-audio-file-into-a-player-via-types-shortcode/

What are your thoughts for the future?

I would love to be challenged by helping to develop software that is more user-friendly.  As a supporter I am familiar with the problems people have and I want to help them.