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Learning WordPress

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wp This is my third try at writing this post as I have lost my draft three times.  Isn’t that just the way when you want to talk about a technology?  I am writing this in the dashboard of WordPress.  There are many choices when wanting to use a blogging platform, like Blogger, Moveable Type, Squarespace and others.  I like to stay up to date on what all of them are doing.  I was able to see what was new in the world of WordPress and learn some cool stuff and meet some new friends yesterday.

I had an opportunity to attend an event this weekend in Reno, Nevada, called Reno-Tahoe Wordcamp.  I had a chance to see again for the fourth time many users and evangelists of the blogging platform.  I was one of the presenters and wanted to thank the organizers for allowing me to talk about “Blogging For A Living.”  This is my fourth Wordcamp this year attending Vegas, Miami, Denver previous, and I will be speaking at the Chicago Wordcamp coming up in June. If you are going, I would love to see you there.  Next month the main event in the world of Wordcamps is happening in San Francisco. Matt Mullenweg the founder of WordPress will be talking about the company more in depth at that event and everyone should attend.

I wanted to thank the organizers of the Reno-Tahoe Wordcamp for allowing me to be a part of their exciting event.  The event was held in a journalism school in Reno at the local college.  That to me was a bit of an irony as we are just now being taken serious by the world of journalism so it was also fun to think about how far we have come. If you have a local Wordcamp make you get signed up to attend it will allow you to learn from some of the best and the brightest using this application.  I have had an opportunity to walk away always with a new nugget of information or a trick or tip to make my use of WordPress a little better.

Blogging: Not Just For The Young!

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Not only am I a blogger, I’ve BEEN a blogger since April 2004;  I’m no newcomer!  If I may say so, I know whassup with the Blogosphere.  I have several hundred blogs in my blogrolls and readers.  Not only do I blog for myself, I blog for several clients as well.  I read everything I can find about blogging, the Blogosphere, Blog Conferences, and blogs in general, and while it is true that many bloggers are between 18 and 35, I will have to stand up and challenge anyone who claims that the Blogosphere is inhabited mostly by the young.  I know for a FACT that there are Blogosphere neighbors who are, shall we say,  more than just a little bit to the right of the age timeline median mark.

I know this because, not only am I one myself,  I know of definite OTHERS!  I’ve blogged with them, commented with them, MET them in Los Angeles and Chicago at BlogHer, talked with them on Skype and Google Chat and even the (remember this?) telephone! We’re on FaceBook and MySpace together, and we often exchange ideas on Linkedin and Twitter.  We Digg and Stumbleupon and Reddit, and we think social media is absolutely del.cio.us.  Some of us even know about (shhhh) Bit Torrent.

Yes, the Blogosphere is filled with young parents,  and young entrepreneurs, all sharing advice and information, but that same Blogosphere is also filled with older people whose children are grown and gone, and whose businesses are thriving, or were thriving – or not – who can offer invaluable advice to young parents and others who are now where older bloggers once were. The Blogosphere, like any neighborhood, is teeming with people who know, and people who need to know!  Online, we come together.  Online, we can meet and help each other in ways that just aren’t possible in our “other” lives.  No matter where we fall, chronologically, we all love to meet each other, and blog expos and blog conferences are some of our favorite things!

We older bloggers are not interested in Geritol, Assisted Living ads, denture adhesive, insurance, orthopoedic shoes, funeral directives, Depends, bland diets, and articles on how to entertain grandchildren.  I mean, we ARE, but mostly, we’re not.  Please, marketers, do not insult us with such assumptions or stereotyping!  Older bloggers are interested in the same Blogosphere “things” as everyone else:  where to find deals on SD cards,  funky forums, movies, books, laptops, HDTV, wireless digital picture frames, new cars, WordCamps, Amazon, eBay, cool recipes,  blog conferences ( a huge percentage of BlogHer participants were over 40!), cool electronics, fashion, the environment, crafts, education, and humor!

Blogs, blogging, blog conferences, and the Blogosphere itself are not inhabited by one age group only.  Like any interesting neighborhood, the Blogosphere has neighbors of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, personalities, and temperaments. 

The important thing is, to be a part of that Blogosphere!  There is definitely something for everybody there.

First Jerry Seinfeld Microsoft Ad

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The first Microsoft ad featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld has surfaced and I’ll be honest, it was a tad bit disappointing.  According to a Cnet article a lot of folks out there are quite disappointed by Microsoft’s attempt to challenge the oh so popular mac ads.  The ad features some typical Jerry Seinfeld humor blended in with churros, showering while clothed, shoe circus, and Bill Gates shaking his ass.  Ya, I’m not kidding.

The ad can be seen here.

Now after watching that ad are you at all more compelled to go buy a PC?  Although the overall first impression of the Microsoft ad has been less than stellar, Cnet sources say that this first ad was just a teaser.  Not much of a tease…

What do you think of the ad?

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Dave Winer on the future of web publishing

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Dave Winer on stage now is going to start with a story (I can’t tell if he started it yet) and then move into questions.  Dave is describing it as something like a blog post.  Like podcasts, unconferences, and similar…ideas based on the idea of social media.

Dave says that Tim Berners-Lee had the first blog, not him (as it is claimed he says…) to settle (ha!) that debate.  In 1996 Dave Winer, while at Wired, wanted to help fight the communications decency act (the striking down of that law just celebrated it’s tenth anniversary).  A mail list started and flamed out.  Dave took some of the content there and built a site that became Scripting.com.

So a blog becomes and is the place where you can say your piece and no one can stop you.

Microblogging…Twitter as a microblog.  Text, link, go.  The link blog.  Is it useful?  Should it be part of WordPress?  Should there be a formal “style”? or “format”?

Future-safe archives…reflecting on giving RSS2 spec to Harvard.  Putting it on a server to hopefully save it for later.

Why shouldn’t your blog be around 100 years from now?  But given how we store and archive our blogs and data, how is that possible?  Is the next Faulkner or Hemingway out there and blogging?

(Dern more power block problems…overheated again).

Is ASCII and HTML the technologies that will stay?  Dave doesn’t have the answer for that.  When Dave republished the posts from the first day of his blog, April 1, 1997, he found that a lot of the links didn’t work anymore.  The sites are gone or have changed their structure so that the URLs are useless.

Archive.org…is that enough (Chris Heuer asks)?  Dave says it’s part of a solution not the whole solution.  How can then the domain changes be saved?

Wow, I didn’t know that Library of Congress is archiving music on 78s (78  RPM albums)!  Why, because they are easy to get the sound out of.  And think about the demise of punch cards, 5 1/4 floppies (when floppies flopped), even 3.5 in floppies…lots of computers don’t have disk drives anymore.  Laptops certainly don’t.  My first Dell laptop had a floppy drive that I could swap with the CD drive.  I think I used it maybe three times in three years.

“The greatest danger to archiving and protecting content is copyright”…I guess that’s true to a point.  Lorelle … “Pay first, then break”.  Is there a higher goal that preserving the content is above copyright and the law?

As I’m running low on battery juice…I have to let others take up the slack…

Rashmi Sinha, Slideshare, Designing Massively Multiplayer Social Systems

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Rashmi Sinha of Slideshare is talking about second generation social networks.  Her deck is on Slideshare, of course…now I’m saying this not just so you can follow along, but because the my power supply for my laptop just bought the farm.  Brian Oberkirch and I were sniffing the air wondering where the ozone burning smell was coming from…

Because I might be living on borrowed time here (laptop battery running out of power) … I’m sorry but I’m going to cut this post short, let the power supply cool (it is hot to the touch), and see if it still works.  If it doesn’t well I guess I’ll be finding a Best Buy or Staples soon….

Update:Whew.  I think I dodged the bullet.  Maybe the power supply sitting on the carpet didn’t let it cool itself well enough.  I’m back to charging and on AC power.

The fascinating part of this talk, since I cold focus on it almost entirely (as much as my ADD brain would allow, of course).  Her idea that people and popularity aren’t the best systems for determining what is good.  After lunch I’ll muse on this a bit more.  Lots to consider and cogitate on.

Jeremy Zilar of the New York Times on the Gray Lady's blogging efforts

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Jeremy is the technologist behind the NYT blogs.  There are 100+ blogs right now there and growing.  Okay, a lot of spiffy stats on their bloggy prowess, but let’s get to the meat of the issue…

Jeremy’s first point is about teaching.  Sharing how you use this new tool and medium.  Opening the conversation.  We need to share how we teach people so we can help others.

I didn’t get a heck of a lot of live blogging in for this session.  Maybe I’m distracted or something, or maybe I was listening…

Listening actually.  So the NYT.  What’s special about Jeremy coming in at the last minute?  It’s showing that blogs and newspapers really fit together.  He finished his talk giving the example of a writer using Moby Dick as part of an analogy for George Bush (did he give the link?)…the post spawned an amazing number of comments.  A true intellectual interaction.  That is an exciting thing to see.  Take the news.  The blog it, then extend it and share it.  While the MSM might be reviled (okay there is no might about it) for its perceived snobbery at social media I think the NYT is doing something to change that.

Jeremy Zilar of the New York Times on the Gray Lady’s blogging efforts

Author:

Jeremy is the technologist behind the NYT blogs.  There are 100+ blogs right now there and growing.  Okay, a lot of spiffy stats on their bloggy prowess, but let’s get to the meat of the issue…

Jeremy’s first point is about teaching.  Sharing how you use this new tool and medium.  Opening the conversation.  We need to share how we teach people so we can help others.

I didn’t get a heck of a lot of live blogging in for this session.  Maybe I’m distracted or something, or maybe I was listening…

Listening actually.  So the NYT.  What’s special about Jeremy coming in at the last minute?  It’s showing that blogs and newspapers really fit together.  He finished his talk giving the example of a writer using Moby Dick as part of an analogy for George Bush (did he give the link?)…the post spawned an amazing number of comments.  A true intellectual interaction.  That is an exciting thing to see.  Take the news.  The blog it, then extend it and share it.  While the MSM might be reviled (okay there is no might about it) for its perceived snobbery at social media I think the NYT is doing something to change that.

High Octane WordPress…making WP go faster

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First off, this is getting into the hard-core geeky stuff.  Barry Abrahamson is giving us the in and out of how to make a WordPress install crank faster.

Most of you should know that your basic install of WP on a basic server can handle a huge amount of traffic without having trouble handling it.

There are some PHP add-on you can try for making PHP run faster (APC it’s called) but it seems that WP-Cache is the best solution for most people.  Although talked about the PHP add-on first, that isn’t something you can do if you aren’t in complete control of your server.  I’ve used WP-Cache before.  This isn’t a plugin for the faint of heart either.

The insight into how WordPress.com keeps the lights on…racks of servers…Matt gave an intro of using HyperDB (the sound of whoosh going over my head) in WP to make the DB connections go faster.

How does it all happen?  The core is planning.  Knowing where the fail points are and finding a way to deal with it.  Load balancing, multiple servers, multiple data centres.  Matt looked at what others had done before and saw where WP.com could get nailed and managed for it.

Now if basic WP install can handle a ton of traffic, why do sites crash when they get Dugg?  Oddly enough the crashing isn’t a WP problem, it’s an Apache (the web server software) issue.  Apache will take up too much memory and then the operating system will kill (shutdown) a process or three to save itself.  Unfortunately it will kill the database process…not a good thing.

Sounds like to “Digg proof” your blog…WP-Cache is the way to go.  Okay there is a trick to make an HTML version of your page and fake things around to make it static … that will give you breathing room.  That’s a mid-Digg thing to do.  There is also a way to use htaccess to block everyone from the blog so you can get in there and fix stuff too.

(Note to self…try getting WP-Cache in there…and turn some plugins off)

Matt Cutts: no Google doesn't hate you, just your code–SEO tips from Google

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Matt Cutts is on the stage giving us all the inside info from Google and da man himself.

Simple stuff, basic stuff.  Don’t have your blog in a directory called wordpress…using blog is best.  Personally I like having it in the root, but I get it.

Flipping the title and the blog name…very key.  Write your post rich in keywords…not to a spammy degree, but something that reflects what people use to search.

Categories that make for good keywords too.  Totally whitehat, totally helpful to your users.

URLs and path, dashes best, underscores next..no spaces sucks.  The engines have to work harder to figure out what the keywords are.

Guess why Matt started on WP … Blogger didn’t use categories and a lot of the SEO tweaks are just default.

ALT tags … use them!  Enough said (he says guiltily).

Usability … crawable (WP users all okay), mobile browsers (WP-Mobile solves this), full-text RSS, ping well (WP … no problem and FeedBurner’s pingshot).

Matt is talking about moving your site…man I think I’ll just talk about this later… cause I just did it and the wounds are still fresh.

 

Matt Cutts: no Google doesn’t hate you, just your code–SEO tips from Google

Author:

Matt Cutts is on the stage giving us all the inside info from Google and da man himself.

Simple stuff, basic stuff.  Don’t have your blog in a directory called wordpress…using blog is best.  Personally I like having it in the root, but I get it.

Flipping the title and the blog name…very key.  Write your post rich in keywords…not to a spammy degree, but something that reflects what people use to search.

Categories that make for good keywords too.  Totally whitehat, totally helpful to your users.

URLs and path, dashes best, underscores next..no spaces sucks.  The engines have to work harder to figure out what the keywords are.

Guess why Matt started on WP … Blogger didn’t use categories and a lot of the SEO tweaks are just default.

ALT tags … use them!  Enough said (he says guiltily).

Usability … crawable (WP users all okay), mobile browsers (WP-Mobile solves this), full-text RSS, ping well (WP … no problem and FeedBurner’s pingshot).

Matt is talking about moving your site…man I think I’ll just talk about this later… cause I just did it and the wounds are still fresh.

 

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