Last weekend I had the opportunity to interview Andy Fragen, a longtime member of the WordPress community and core contributor. He is also the author of the GitHub Updater plugin, which allows developers to enable automatic updates to their GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, or Gitea hosted WordPress plugins, themes, and language packs. In the video below, Fragen gives us a window into his world on the frontlines as an acute care surgeon.
After working his shifts at the hospital, Fragen returns home and voluntarily keeps himself in semi-isolation from his wife and kids. He spends his time working on his plugins and contributing to WordPress. In addition to improving GitHub Updater, he also recently became a maintainer for the core Site Health component and the WordPress Beta Tester plugin.
“I look at computer programming and stuff like that as puzzle solving,” Fragen said. “It’s an interesting way to occupy time and figure out something to do. We have a little aphorism in surgery: the enemy of good is better. I don’t necessarily stick to that in plugin development, because otherwise we’d be at a standstill. Things would never get better and never improve.”
During normal times when there isn’t a pandemic going on, Fragen enjoys attending local WordCamps in LA, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, and Phoenix. When he first started getting involved with WordPress he decided if he was ever going to meet any of the people who make the software, he would have to get involved in some community events. He started sponsoring WordCamps so he could have the opportunity to meet the speakers and contributors, and then he was hooked.
When he’s not stitching people back together, Fragen can be sometimes be found leading the the core Site Health meeting. He tries to pop into the core development meeting when his schedule permits.
Durning our interview Fragen offered some good tips on navigating the many claims and conspiracy theories that are swirling around with the pandemic. The rampant misinformation campaigns have so far not affected his outlook as a healthcare worker.
“For the most part, when we’re working, we’re working, and we don’t necessarily pay attention to all the extraneous things that are going on around,” he said. “You’re in the moment and doing what you need to do to get the work done and take care of the patient.”
It has been months since he has been able to hug his wife and kids, but Fragen is maintaining a sense of normal by continuing his hobbies in isolation. Despite the increased requirements for PPE and vigilance at work, he said his training has prepared him for this time.
“It’s amazing what you can get used to,” Fragen said. “A lot of these things affect people in different ways. For better or for worse, some of these things never bothered me. The training is hard enough. Because of that, you learn to adapt a little bit better, I guess. When there are things happening, as I like to say, ‘If I’m having a bad day, someone else is having a worse one.’ You are there to take care of them and to fix them as best they can be fixed, if they can be fixed.”