Tag Archives: wordpress

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, wordcamp.org… the possibilities are endless.”

Be sure to stop by our software center to check out the latest apps and software for all of your devices.

Open Source vs Closed Source

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Justin called from southern California recently to talk about open source projects. He’s doing some research into this for school, and had a few questions. Justin asked my opinion as to the pros and cons of both open source and closed source applications, along with positives and negatives of each. My opinions are not definitive, of course. As a user, I can appreciate either platform. It’s ultimately about what the software has to offer.

From a code perspective, there are some developers who want complete control over their code. They want to control development, and don’t want any input from others. They know every line of code inside and out, and live and breathe their creation alone.

Open source is more like one person sketching out an idea and then collaborating with others in order to come up with better iterations. If something in the closed source realm changes (or something happens to the original developer), you end up with a product that is dead for all intents and purposes.

Software is living. It’s omnipresent. You’re only as good as your latest version. Software is in a perpetual state of evolution. There are merits on both sides of this particular debate.

I’m a big fan of WordPress, and I’m always on the lookout for coding rockstars. I think there is so much more I could be doing if I had good designers and developers at my disposal.

What are YOUR thoughts? Are you a proponent of an open source ecosystem – or a closed one?

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How do You Make WordPress Work for You?

During the Next Level Hawaii event last weekend, the team at Believe and Succeed spent a few moments talking to Aaron Brazell, author of the WordPress Bible.

During the event, Aaron spoke to use about WordPress 3.0 coming out in May. There are a lot of big changes on the horizon. It will make WP less of a blogging platform and more of a content management system.

There are tons of tools and platforms out there to turn your WordPress installation into a place where you can hold conversations online and share your content across more than 270 networks. Social media is a powerful tool according to Aaron, and you should be spending time checking out what pieces of the tool will work best for you.

Aaron is working on a new version of his book which is due out next year. With all of the changes to WordPress and the social environment in general, there is sure to be a lot of new and interesting content.

I have to thank Bruce and his team at Hawaii Aloha for helping me once again make the trip down to paradise.

When are People Strange?

It’s always interesting to read people’s answers to random questions. For instance, I asked on my Facebook page earlier what makes a person strange. The answers were varied as usual. Many community members cracked simple jokes in reply. Still others actually came up with some cool insight into the question.

The absolute best answer had to be the person who stated: “There is really no follow up to that. People really are just strange.” That, folks, is the most truthful statement I’ve ever read! Have a great weekend, all of you strangers.

There’s nothing strange about wanting to keep your computer happy with the best software you can possibly find.

The Future of Ning Communities

A startling announcement came today from the Ning network. Only one month after appointing a new CEO, the company has major reorganization plans in the works. In addition to laying off approximately 40% of its staff, the company is killing off all free accounts. Free account users will have the option to either change over to a premium membership, or move their network to another platform entirely.

As I read this news, I breathed a sigh of relief that both Geeks and Gnomedex are hosted on premium Ning accounts already. As of today, we have more than 27,000 members, 14,000 blog posts, 19,000 forum threads and countless photos and videos that all of you have contributed. That is a LOT of information sharing, folks.

In his message to staff members, CEO Jason Rosenthal stated in part that “So, we are going to change our strategy to devote 100% of our resources to building the winning product to capture this big opportunity. We will judge ourselves by our ability to enable and power Premium Ning Networks at huge scale. And all of our product development capability will be devoted to making paying Network Creators extremely happy.

They want to make us extremely happy? That’s excellent news for our community. There are several things that we hope to see in the very near future. These are very basic things that will help our little slice of Ning continue to thrive. One of the most important things we need to see is a better way to control members. Currently, we have the ability to freeze or ban a member posting spam or other unwanted information. However, there is no way to ban a user by IP address. This is a HUGE problem.

Several times in the past few weeks, our site (along with many other Ning sites) was bombarded by a porn spam bot attack. We’re talking hundreds of posts being made in under an hour. Every single “member” came from the exact same IP address. Whoever was behind the attack knew full well that Ning doesn’t ban by IP. If they did, this attack would have been stopped in a matter of seconds… instead of taking over an hour.

There are several other smaller details that we would like to see worked on by the Ning team. I am happy to talk with them at any point in time in order to help contribute feedback and ideas. For the most part, I am happy with Ning and the features we have (although, half of what makes it a functional community are the “hacks” that had to be put in place). There is always room for improvement, though.

Then again, Ning has never really understood how communities work – and their platform strategy only reflects the lack of insight from the top down.

One large concern I have is the fact that many of our members have free Ning networks of their own. Most of them will not likely have the resources to convert their account to a premium one. What’s to happen to their communities?

Well, unless developers and designers put their collective heads together… Ning communities will remain stranded on a mostly-closed platform. There are ways to export Ning network data, but no translation tool to take those relationships elsewhere. What about a tool to import a Ning community into a WordPress 3.0 / BuddyPress installation?

Heck, I’d host a WordPress hackathon at my house over the weekend for the start of that – would there be any developers and designers interested. I live in the Seattle area, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t work remotely with capable individuals.

Inevitably, we’ll have community hosting set up under Lockergnome’s Premium Services. Signing up now will get you a domain name, WordPress installation and hosting, includes many popular plugins, and Free / Premium themes. Packages start at only $12.77 per month (which includes the domain registration), and there are no contracts. You can cancel anytime you like. This is classic WordPress at the moment, but I’m making moves to go into full WPMU / BuddyPress / WordPress 3.0 hosting.

Sometimes, you get what you pay for – which is to say that freeloaders should probably stop whining.

WordPress Vs. Tumblr

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During live calls recently, Alex called in to ask my opinion on the differences between using WordPress and using Tumblr to blog. Tumblr is a great service and it works very well with almost zero downtime. However, I still prefer WordPress. I don’t like the limitations placed on users by closed platforms such as Tumblr.

I feel that Tumblr (and other systems like it) don’t provide me with any benefits. The reason I set up the Premium LockerGnome site is to help others get started on their own blogging path with WordPress.

Alex pointed out that he prefers the functionality of Tumblr and the many features it offers. I’m sure there’s a plugin (or more than one) out there somewhere for WP that will give you those same types of features. I am just adamant that I don’t want to use something that is so closed and unable to be easily changed and “manipulated” to suit my needs.

Don’t get me wrong; Tumblr is a good service. I have a Tumblr account myself! In terms of dramatically different, it’s not much different than what most people would expect from a blogging platform. Tumblr (and others like it) could disappear within a year or two (or may be bought out). It happens all of the time. With something so large and open source like WordPress, you just don’t have to worry about that.

What are your thoughts? Which type of blogging platform do you use — and why?

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