Adria Richards Discusses WordPress and SXSW

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We were able to snag some time with the ever-lovely Adria Richards during SXSWi last weekend. Adria’s passion lies in empowering people through technology. She actually started her career at Geek Squad way back in 1999. She runs her own consulting company, offers online training through FreshWorkshops, blogs her heart out, produces a weekly tech show and finds time somewhere to help raise awareness of equality in the tech field.

First and foremost, Adria believes that SXSW is all about relationships. It’s arguably the best conference each year to connect with others who share your interests and goals. The panels she attended were informative but the hallway chatter and networking events are what stood out for her – as they did for nearly everyone else in attendance.

Adria points out that a buddy system works well for this event. You cannot possibly attend every session and talk that is scheduled. Work with a friend or two to divide up the talks that interest you the most. Build some downtime into your schedule later in the day and compare notes. Discuss what you learned and what you took away from the session with you. Share the ideas and build upon them with your friends.

Adria has been using WordPress since 2006, and is considered by many to be an expert. She got her start after being spurred by people she had helped via email. They would ask her tech questions, and she would respond with detailed and lengthy messages full of links and bullet points. Those people knew that her information should be made public so that others could learn from her as well.

In the early days, Adria used WordPress when teaching a course on A+ certification. There were no online resources back then such as we have now for learning environments. Instead of relying on mass emails (or even phone trees), Adria could quickly throw something important onto the WordPress install and the entire class of twenty-five had instant access.

These days, she uses WP for much more than teaching courses. She blogs for herself when she has something to say about topics that interest her. She also teaches others how to properly use WP through online and in-person training courses. The online course is four weeks long – two hours per week.

Adria did of course attend the WordPress session during SXSW. One thing that has her excited is the fact that bbPress is going to be integrated as a plugin. This will allow you to quickly and easily set up a forum on your site right from your WP back end.

WordPress founding developer Matt Mullenweg loves what he does because WP gives people a voice. Having that voice is what Adria works so hard to bring to other people… a task which she does flawlessly.

Best Free Blogging Platform

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Someone asked recently which free blogging platform is the “best” one to get started with. This question is pretty impossible to answer. There are many decent free blog providers out there. As with anything, you have to research what they offer and see how well it fits your needs.

Blogger is a good choice for beginners. It’s the one I used way back in the day – before it was owned by Google. You can also use WordPress. They have a free blogging area, in addition to the ability to download the software for use on your own domain.

I happen to own a site for Geeks, which has free blogging available. Any good content posted there automatically gets featured in my daily newsletters, so it’s a great way for you to be “discovered” by people looking for blogs to read. Doing something like this can help you gain a dedicated group of followers, who would then read what you’re doing on your own site someday.

We do have free blogs on Lockergnome, but we only accept people there who have excellent writing abilities. If you feel you can write far better than an average person, we’d love to have you. Keep in mind, though, that being able to write well is not something that everyone can master.

There are also services such as Posterous and Tumblr.

Figure out what it is YOU need in a blogging service, and then match that against what each of the providers can give you.

What free blogging service do you recommend – and why?

Joomla Thoughts

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Someone asked recently what I think about Joomla. It’s a great framework and platform to build websites on top of. It’s still largely unfriendly, though. I know there are tons of modules, but it’s just so user UNfriendly.

Some people would be intent on comparing Joomla with something like WordPress. WP is a great blogging platform at this time, and it’s working on being for more than just blogging. Joomla is better being compared to Drupal. If I had to choose between Drupal and Joomla, I’d go with Joomla any day of the week.

I’ve yet to find a framework out there in open source land that is user friendly. I say that the reason that this is is due to developers getting ahold of things. Usability is usually the last thing on a developer’s mind. That’s how we end up with these unweildy experiences.

Joomla fans will gripe at me to just learn it. However, if I look at something and feel as though I might screw it up, I tend not to touch it. If a program or framework is steeped in a usability nightmare, I want nothing to do with it.

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Posterous Takes Aim at WordPress

With Twitter taking over so much of our time these days, many of us pay less attention to our “traditional” blogs. They’re cumbersome, take more work to manage – not to mention more time. Posterous recognizes this, and is working hard to make things easier. They want you to blog – and they’re willing to help you move away from your current WordPress setup. There are a lot of “features” in the backend of WP that most of us never use. Those items have been stripped away from the new Posterous platform.

The new WordPress blog importer is scheduled to launch tomorrow. It will grab blog posts, comments and tags, and stuff them into a Posterous account. For those of us with a LOT of content, this process will likely take quite awhile. However, it’s not something you have to stare at as it does its thing. Just start it and go grab some dinner with friends. It will work quietly in the background, grabbing your life from one platform and seamlessly moving it over to another.

In return, you’ll find yourself faced with a streamlined backend, free of all of the features you never once used. There will be no more spam – Posterous is free of that (for now, at least). You’ll also be surprised to find how simple it is to email in your posts – even from your phone. If you can email something, you can blog it from your phone. This includes photos, videos, text documents and even spreadsheets!

Prolific blogger Phil Campbell has already made the switch. Will you be joining him?

Could WordPress 3.0 Revolutionize the Internet?

WordPress 3.0 “Thelonious” is finally here, and not a moment too soon. There are some pretty major new features involved in the release, including a slick new default theme called “Twenty Ten.” Theme editors have all new APIs which help them easily add in custom backgrounds, headers, menus, post types and shortlinks.

Developers and net admins alike are going to love the integration of WPMU and WordPress. This creates a new multi-site functionality that makes it possible to run just one blog or ten million from the same installation… such as we have on Lockergnome. This is something I have long waited for, and I believe it’s going to make things a whole lot easier for our community bloggers – and myself.

Users will love the new interface, I think. It’s lighter and has contextual help on every single screen. There are more than a thousand bug fixes and feature enhancements. Also, we now have the ability to “bulk update,” allowing you to upgrade all of your plugins at once with a single click.

The team at WordPress won’t be getting to work immediately on the next release. In their blog, they stated that “Over the next three months we’re going to split into ninja/pirate teams focused on different areas of the around-WordPress experience, including the showcase, Codex, forums, profiles, update and compatibility APIs, theme directory, plugin directory, mailing lists, core plugins,… the possibilities are endless.”

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