Tag Archives: wordpress

Should School be Taught in the Cloud?

On March 5th, the U.S. Department of Education released its National Educational Technology Plan, which they named Transforming Education: Learning Powered by Technology. Some of the recommendations made in the report include things like having a computing device for every teacher – and student – so that they can access the Internet from both school and home, as well as wanting schools to embrace cloud computing, Creative Commons and open-source technologies.

The report focuses on what they are calling “21st Century Computing”. As a way to transform education, the department states that the plan is to “engage and empower learning experiences for all learners… by leveraging the power of technology to provide personalized learning instead of a one-size-fits all curriculum.” Overall, the plan calls for a challenge to the normal model of having an isolated teacher in every class. Instead, they want to promote the ideas of “always on” learning tools, with online communities for the teachers and students.

I know that this plan cannot possibly be enacted in schools across the country overnight. However, I’m excited to see things moving in this direction finally. What do you think? Is this a massive step forward for education in the United States?

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Lady Gaga Tops Vevo

Startup video site Vevo was created by three of the largest record companies – Universal Music, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI Music. Warner Music Group is in negotiations to join as well. They chose to start their site based on the huge following that music videos attract on YouTube. YouTube owner Google helped to create the site, believe it or not. In January, the site posted approximately 35 million unique visitors. That’s not too shabby for a site that only launched a few short months ago.

Lady Gaga has emerged over the past year as a music phenom. Whether or not you approve of how she dresses, you have to admit the woman can sing her face off. Her videos account for over a quarter of all views on Vevo! Additionally, if you click an official video of hers on YouTube, you’ll be redirected to Vevo to actually watch the content. That is the kind of partnership I like to see happening.

Vevo may not yet be profitable, but I have no doubt that it won’t take long. They are seeing billions of page views according to the website. Reactions to the site around our community have been very positive from what I’ve seen, and I admit to using it quite often myself! What are your thoughts on Vevo? Have you used the site yet? If you haven’t checked it out yet, I think you’re silly for waiting!

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Free Lifestream WordPress Options

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You’re doing things online every day, whether you’re posting to YouTube, publishing photos to Flickr, or sending out tweets. You’re doing all kinds of things, but what are you doing to archive your life stream? I have a solution for you… a brand-new site that I have created with some help. It’s a free WordPress blog, where we will help you aggregate all of your social media activity. You will be able to export all of that information at any point you choose! You can do all of this – and more! – on the new Lockergnome.net site.

Note the big difference… this Lockergnome site is a .net site, not the original .com. You can still apply to blog with us on the original Lockergnome site. We are even taking possible guest blogger applications, if you are interested in that.

This new Lockergnome is something a little bit different. Yes, you can make actual blog posts if you wish. Yes, you can update your status, much like you would on Facebook or MySpace. However, you can do SO much more with it! And, if you have trouble figuring out how to do all of these cool things, you can watch the screencast done by Devir that shows you exactly where you need to go… and what you need to do when you get there!

It’s free to sign up, and only takes a few moment. You can add your own avatar, of course, to personalize your experience. Once you start adding widgets to your page, you will have an even more customized page! Add in any – or all! – of your social media feeds to have them display on your Lockergnome page for everyone to see. Not only will the World be able to see it, you will be able to export and save it at any point in time. Keep a record for the future, so your grandchildren can go back and giggle at what you were doing online in the “olden days”.

If you do want your own personalized blog, with YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME, and including support and theme customization… you can head over to the Premium Lockergnome site! We are working hard to keep the prices competitive with other, similar services. Get your own domain name, host and customize your own blog, and then have us do the hosting work for you!

As an additional bonus, if you sign up for a premium account and site, you’ll receive a free copy of my upcoming eBook, full of tips and tricks to make money with your blog. That’s not quite available yet, but keep your eyes peeled for it in the near future!

So, there you have it: two different options to help you archive your life online. I hope to see you posting on Lockergnome soon!

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What are Your Greatest Accomplishments?

Reading threads on Geeks a little while ago, one headline in particular jumped out at me. The poster asks: What are your greatest accomplishments in life?. Even if you feel you have gone “nowhere” in life, the fact remains that you still have things to be proud of. So what if you haven’t reached all of your goals yet? The point is that if you really look at yourself and your past, you will indeed find many things to be proud of.

I’m interested in hearing your stories. Did you ace a test you thought for sure you would bomb? Did you win a scholarship that you had prayed for? Did your website or business garner more attention than you dreamed it could? It doesn’t matter how “small” an accomplishment may seem to you, the fact is that it is still something you should gloat about! So go ahead – share it with all of us!

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What Toy Would You Want for Christmas?

I admitted in a video earlier today that I still enjoy playing with LEGO Bricks. I also apparently still like the Lite Brite!

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally letting your inner child come out to play when you’re a grown-up. I personally think it can help keep you sane and stress-free if you let your hair down once in awhile, and take the time to remember what it’s like to play. What do you do during occasions like these? Do you indulge yourself with crayons? Do you prefer to duke it out with action figures?

What toys do your inner child still love to play with?

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Create Your Own WordPress Themes

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If you have a blog, you have a theme. Chances are, you downloaded a theme off the web somewhere. It’s okay that you don’t know how to code your own customized theme from scratch! Very few people are capable of doing this. You want your blog to say “YOU”, but you don’t want to pay a designer a ton of money to accomplish this. It’s a good thing Artisteer now makes it simple for you to create and customize your own WordPress theme with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Everything and anything you can think of that you might want to tweak in your layout can be done easily with Artisteer in just a few seconds. You don’t have to try to learn HTML or even CSS. All you have to be able to do is click your mouse buttons, and decide what look is right for you.

Move your gadgets to a different side. Change up your text with different colors and fonts. Heck, change the header or background image while you’re at it. Don’t like what you’re seeing? Psh! Just click a button and start completely over. It really is that easy.

Best of all, Artisteer doesn’t only work on WordPress. Create designs for web pages, Blogger Blogs, or make professional Joomla! and Drupal templates.

Artisteer is probably my favorite new discovery in a long time. I’m having so much fun that I’ve now created probably 30 different themes, just by playing around. The only limitation to this program is your own imagination. So… get creative!

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WicketPixie Open Source WordPress Theme Updates

  • If you like the theme I’m currently running on my blog, you can download and install your own copy. Granted, this is only true if you’re reading this post while I’m still using WicketPixie.
  • If you haven’t seen, we’ve pushed out a rather major update recently – although it’s not without its share of bugs. Since it’s an open source project, and we’re limited on developers and designers, it’s been slow-moving progress (but progress, nonetheless).
  • What we need right now are testers. All you have to do is download the latest build of WicketPixie. When we say latest, we’re referring to the master branch on GitHub, not the stable ZIP file that is distributed on Ohloh. Then, post bug reports to our bug tracker.
  • If you do know PHP (WordPress, specifically), then you can help out by looking for and/or fixing bugs reported in the issues list. Just fork the WicketPixie repository on GitHub and get working, then send Eddie Ringle a pull request. You can learn how to do all of this by reading the Git guides.
  • If you are graphic artist / Web designer, then you can help as well. It is recommended that you have knowledge of how WordPress themes work before you begin. If you have ideas, then please – join us!

I funded the initial development of WicketPixie, and it’s nice to see so many people using it. However, the only way it’s going to improve from this point forward is if others help it along. There are quite a few aspects that could stand improvement, including an overhauled design of the main page, an extended footer area, and various administrative tweaks.

The Future of WicketPixie?

  • Abstract Options to accommodate child themes
  • Clean up / Re-organize Options pages
  • Support for WPMU and BuddyPress
  • Easier “Social Me” configuration (ala MyBlogLog)
  • Automated updater
  • Turn front pages into Lifestream (ala Sweetcron)

WicketPixie Options need a heavy reorg. I know what I’m doing, and still feel a bit lost when looking at the latest version.

The bigger picture deserves equal attention for a v2.0: coming up with at least one child theme. That is to say, we abstract Options and make them work with any theme adapted for WicketPixie. WicketPixie isn’t the theme so much as it becomes a payload for Options – allowing developers and designers to create a different front-end experience for the same set of Options, thusly allowing users to select different WicketPixie designs.

Possible? I believe so.

Do You Need a Better Blog Search Tool?

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You know my name, and you know how to find me. If you look at my blog, you know that I run WordPress as my blogging platform. I host my blog myself, and it works quite well for the most part. There is one plugin in particular that makes life much easier. The Viewzi Search Plugin provides a very visual way of searching the Web. Now, you can bring that experience to your own blog.

Viewzi Site Search (VSS) is a pilot program that takes the Viewzi search experience and embeds it on your website or blog. Your search results become highly visual, elegant and engaging!

With multiple Views to look at search results, visitors click 2-3 times more pages per search on average.

When you visit my website now, you will notice a new search box under the video. The view of results will superimpose instantly, without even having to reload the page. You can customize the way your search results display, in order to show you what is the most relevant to you. It makes it soooo much easier for you to find anything I’ve ever posted.

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How Should a College Newspaper Publish on the Web?

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I graduated high school many years ago, and first got online in 1992. The Internet was there, but not the World Wide Web at that point. I wrote a series of articles for the newspaper at my university about the Internet. Chris wrote me with a question about his college newspaper, and getting it online. Specifically, he is confused about them needing something simple to update with an easy interface. The reason is, they won’t always have a tech guy around. Chris feels that buying their own domain name is just too much for them, and they aren’t happy with the free WordPress package, as they don’t like the templates. Additionally, they have almost no budget. So, he turned to me for help.

I will agree that the templates available for WP aren’t very much to your liking. If you like WordPress itself, spend just a little bit of money and buy a more professional one. I’m sure you have some kind of campus IT department. They could host the site for you. You may be able to approach a local business and get hosting from them, maybe in exchange for free advertising. With WordPress, you can find a good template that will allow you to make it look very much like the professional online papers.

Any money you might have to spend would be quickly offset with advertising, local businesses, or even time donated by other students to help. The sooner you can get the paper into a system that will work for them and grow with them, the better.

A blog is just one level. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many social features in WordPress. There’s no profile management, certainly not like Facebook or MySpace. While you’ll still be somewhat limited on themes, you could take a look at having a Ning community. Ning is basically a large network of free communities. I paid for a few extra options, including the ability to use my own domain and to run ads. There are features for Ning including photo albums, profiles, videos and forums. You can turn features on or off, as well. It’s certainly going to offer you a lot more than just a simple blog would.

I don’t know what all is out there, but I would certainly want to point you in the direction of open-source options. This way, you have freedom to make any changes you feel you may need. If anyone in our community has better recommendations, I’m sure that they will write and let me know.


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How to Make an iPhone Web Site and Icon

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Yes, I have an iPhone. If you look closely, you can see my little Chris icon on there. It’s also on my home screen. When I tap it, it opens my blog. When you open my blog on your iPhone, it’s going to look a lot different than it would on a browser. That’s due to a plugin I am running in WordPress.

WP Touch is a plugin that was designed specifically for your iPhone or iPod Touch. What it does it to automagically reformat my blog (or any WP blog), and optimizes it specifically for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It gives it a whole new layout, even, that is designed to just render better on your Apple mobile device. There’s no better way of giving you a better experience than to use WP Touch on a blog that is running WordPress.

As I drill down into the actual content on the home page, I can cascade out and read brief previews. Or, I can dive deeper and go so far as to leave a comment. It loads fast, and it’s clean. It’s a great way of getting content specifically optimized. It even uses Gravatars! There’s even a little search button at the top. Simply tap that, and you’ll be able to run a search through my blog.

How did I get the little Chris icon, you ask? If someone is viewing your website and they press the little plus (+) icon at the bottom in their Safari browser, they can select “add to home screen”. When they do that, the little graphic that is on my web server (or yours) is automatically pulled in when it’s added to their home screen. Even if you don’t have the iPhone or the iPod Touch, you still want to do this. You don’t know who out there in your audience does have one. You want to give them an amazing experience. Just open up your favorite photo editor. You’ll need to create a .png file. The size can vary up to 60×60 pixels. I uploaded mine to my root directory. It’s very important to name it properly: apple-touch-icon.png. That has to be the name, and it has to be in the root directory. This way, the plugin will be able to pull in this icon.

Think of it: you’re doing something simple and free for your audience. If you’re like me, you want to do everything you possibly can in order to keep people coming back for more.

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