I, for one, welcome our new WordCamp Overlords

Jane Wells posted some new guidelines for WordCamp organizers and its raised quite a kerfuffle in the community.

Before I get into this, let me offer up a bit of background on my own involvement with conferences and events of all shapes. I’ve attended multiple WordCamps, both as a speaker and a participant. I’ve also helped organize BarCampOrlando, was involved with the first DrupalCamp Florida, and attended a number of other BarCamps and unconferences all over the country. I even booked and promoted concerts in a past life.

Let’s just say I’ve got a bit more Event Planning experience than your average bear, and have half a clue about what goes into making a good event great.

Here’s what I took away from the recent guidelines and along the way I’ll offer up a few assumptions of what I think are the motivations behind them, and what my interpretation of the guidelines are. This is by no means exhaustive nor is it intended to address anyone’s concerns directly.
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Apple v. Adobe

Stay Calm and Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On

The Apple vs Adobe debate has been raging since the announcement that a change to the iPhone Developer Agreement, specifically section 3.3.1, would ban the Adobe Flash to iPhone App compiler. In fact, Adobe has already thrown in the towel on this, days after the tool launched with Creative Suite 5. The reasons for this are many and varied, but essentially it boils down to 3 main issues:

  1. Flash is not a web standard.
  2. Control over the features that developers use should not be dictated by a ‘meta-platform’, but by first party tools.
  3. Flash is buggy, crash prone and eats battery life like its going out of style. Especially on OS X.

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Air App: WordPress comment moderation

There is a new Air app coming which should delight any WordPress user. It is going to bring Comment moderation out of the dashboard and your email and into an app that you can monitor and respond to quickly and easily. This is going to be HUGE. Its not out yet, but it will be soon. And because its an Adobe Air app, it will be cross platform out of the box.

On launch it will be missing a few features that I hope the developer, Daniel Dura, will consider adding:

  • Support for Multiple Blogs, since I don’t think you can run multiple instances of the same Air app at the same time. Besides who would want to?
  • The ability to reply to a comment thread, instead of just moderation. This may mean adding support for unmoderated comments as well.
  • A GPL / Open Source license. Can a geek dream?

Read more about it on his blog.

iMpressions of the iPhone

So I’ve had the device for a few days, and I have to say – the iPhone was totally worth getting. I love it more than I expected I would. The UI is incredibly expressive, and if the English language doesn’t have a word to express how intuitive and user friendly it is. I treated it like a movie I wanted to see and didn’t read much about how it actually worked. As I mentioned before, I bought the iPhone early and in a direct response to my unhappiness with how well my BlackBerry Curve II synced with OS X 10.5 Leopard. Plus the calendar on the BB was so ugly that it was practically unusable. In fact for a smart phone I only used 3 applications on it: Email, which was superb and in many ways still better than the iPhone; Google Maps, where the iPhone does trump the Curve; and TwitterBerry, a decent twitter client that allowed me to send updates and read a few of the last updates of my friends, but lacked any kind of ‘Wow’ factor.

In the end, I switched to Apple’s device for the promise it offered – having one device be the center of my digital experience, and one that I would use every square inch of. And it has more than delivered.

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iPhone and Me

So… I got an iPhone 3G. In fact, I was the 2nd person at my AT&T store to walk out with one. I was planning on getting one, and had budgeted it way in advance. I was already a relatively happy Blackberry user, and had been on that platform for about 2 years. I loved my Blackberries, but there was quite a bit of functionality that I never used because it was either ugly or unintuitive. Especially the calendar, which was so much of both that it was completely unusable. Syncing with my Mac (using PocketMac for Blackberry) was always a bit of an issue, but it got worse with Leopard. To give you an idea of what I mean, it made me create a calendar called “PocketMac” just so that it could sync any appointments I entered on my handheld back to iCal. Address Book was also a bit off, as double records were not uncommon, especially if I had filled out more information on a record on one side or the other. So with all of my machines but one running 10.5, I knew that an iPhone was going to be my next choice. At least I knew it would sync seamlessly, and the calendar app was basically mobile iCal. So when 3G was announced, I was impressed enough to be willing to upgrade early (I got my BB Curve II in December). So with a fist full of dollars, and my research done (despite thinking July 11 was Wednesday, and was all kinds of mixed up until one of my team mates, who also had the iPhone lust, corrected me) – I settled into the fact that I was going to get an iPhone and pay the $200 early upgrade, no-subsidy-for-you price of $399 for an 8gb iPhone. Continue reading

Andrew Keen, Full of Fail

Inspired by Lawrence Salberg’s review of Andrew Keen’s Cult of the Amateur, I downloaded the book with this month’s credit on my Audible account. I got an hour into the audio book today, and so far it’s like listening to Rush Limbaugh talk about the “Liberal Agenda”. Which is to say, his diatribes are made up of lots of false assumptions, punctuated with moments of accuracy, smeared in generalizations and couched in a rhetorical argument that only make sense if you believe the aforementioned assumptions.

With that out of the way, I agree with some of the points Andrew Keen makes, just not the conclusions he makes about them. Here are a handful of my initial impressions, stated conversationally as a response to his ideas: Continue reading

Another Useful WordPress Security Plugin

WordPress Exploit Scanner 0.1 has been released, in response to a comment on a recent thread about old versions of WordPress sites being hacked. You may have spotted this in your WordPress dashboard. Problem is, it only works for v2.5.1+, so it will only be useful in keeping you safe going forward. I just installed it on a basic WordPress site with K2, and got the following results:

Suspect Plugins
These plugin files look suspect. Please verify they are files you uploaded.

  1. ../themes/k2/app/includes/k2-sbm-loader.php

No suspicious posts or comments found

Hooray! No suspicious text found in your posts or comments tables!

For a brand new plugin that’s not bad, but throwing a false negative on such a popular theme is something that will need to be addressed. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

Reddit Goes Open Source

When we say ‘open-source’ we mean specifically that the code behind reddit is available to the public for download, and we’re inviting the public to submit code to help improve the site.

Laughing Squid has been all over this. And TechCrunch is already running it. The best bit is the logo on their trac instance:

Someone Better Fixxit

But other than the “free” bug fixes, I can’t really see what greater good this is going to bring to the world or their organization. Don’t we have enough news voting sites? I guess Reddit doesn’t think so. This would have been bigger news a year ago.

Have some unique ways to use reddits source code? Then post them in the comments.

Common HTTP Error Codes and Designing for the User Experience

HTTP Status/Error Codes provide valuable metrics about the ‘health’ of an application and its use.  Online Producers, Developers and Designers should be mindful about the most common Error Codes, and what kind of information and tools should be displayed for users when these errors are inevitably encountered.

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