Tag Archives: wordpress

Wordcamp Seattle 2011: The Beautiful, Ugly World of Open Source

Hagget Hall during Wordcamp Seattle 2011

Seeing actual Automattic employees at Wordcamp Seattle gave the event a different vibe than the ones I had been to before. When you watch Scott Berkun or Andrew Nacin talk about the software and the open source community that created it, you get the feeling that they’re not just making money from this neat little serve-side toy. They are making a TON of money and changing the face of publishing on the web  while they are at it.

Whether I was learning about plug-in development best practices or the trials of the theme marketplace, every presentation I went to stressed the importance of the open source community in moving the industry forward. However, I found the most interesting talks of the day were at the lunch tables. It turns out all is not well in the worker’s paradise of open source.

Automattic is the company that runs the WordPress project. It decides which features are included by default in the next release of WordPress. This could be a bad thing for the community. As Trevor Green from Azure Creative pointed out, while the software is open source, the WordPress brand is not.

For instance, their plug-in called jetpack installs a slew of features that some say could be handled more competently by other plugins. Because Automattic has such a strong hold over the WordPress.com brand, a plugin like jetpack could discourage further development.

I have no delusions that Automattic is secretly planning to turn WordPress into a closed-source gulag. That would be spaying their golden goose. However, their momentum as a corporation and within the community makes it impossible for them to make a move without affecting the software ecosystem. Could the same thing happen to other open source projects, like Ruby on Rails? Rails 3.0 already includes its own test suite by default. Could edge out “competitors” like cucumber or rspec?

It’s fascinating that even in the game of open source, there are still winners and losers. For smaller developers, it’s just another chapter in the constant battle against commoditization and obsolescence. If we want to eat, we’ll just have to move on to some other more open framework.

Much thanks goes to Trevor Green and Torey Azure from Azure Creative, Curtis Mchale from SFN Design, Srinivas Penumaka of ReadyPulse , Christine Rondeau of Bluelime Media, Jacie Landeros, and all the other attendees at WCSEA for providing such scintillating conversation.

The Friday Files

Square Enix is re-releasing Romancing SaGa 2 for the Nintendo DS (Final Fantasy Legend II as it’s known in the west). There’s also a retrospective video on the same site. It’s a crime how little of the SaGa series was actually translated into English. Via Gametrailers.com

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One more thing I forgot to mention about Tokyo: UFO catcher machines are everywhere. So much so that there’s apparently an industry event to showcase new toys. My favorite are these Gatchaman figures. There’s even a themed USB stick! Check out the rest of the 15th Prize Fair at Nekomagic.com

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I’ve never finished an Armored Core game before, but they sure put out some nice model kits. Check out the full review at CollectionDX.com

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Legend of Galactic Heroes. Seems like it’s the only science fiction series out there where the capital ships look built by an actual military. Via HobbyLink Japan

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There is absolutely no good reason why Tekkaman Blade is not in Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom. They should’ve gotten an injunction or something and just slotted him in there. Here he is (foreground)  in Soul of Chogokin form. Via SRW Hotnews

Link Love

Here are some links I found in my travels this week:

Yamato toys is set to unveil a new line of products for the Macross event in Akihabara, including a 1/1 scale Fighter Pilot helmet. I’d be all over that thing if only I could fit my big giant head inside it. Via www.collectiondx.com

Ghostlightning over at “We Remember Love!” contemplates fan service outside the realm of pretty girls viewed at compromising angles.

We all know that the best Batman game was the one released on the NES after the movie came out 1989. An intrepid animator has created an intro for an 8-bit game based on the latest movie, “The Dark Knight”. This one will have you screaming “JUST PRESS START ALREADY!” Found via the Loony Blog.

Here’s an internet classic. The Smurfs are commies!

Some wicked mecha concept art found via espvisuals.

Someone has decided to transform a Japanese WWII Zero fighter into a Battloid.

It’s the Serenity crew in Lego form!

Fool’s Errant muses on the tropes and trends of Space Opera.

Twitter, Twitter Everywhere

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I’ve been on the micro-blogging site Twitter for about year now, and I’ve avoided blogging about because it struck me as the dumbest thing ever. If you’re going to blog using only 140 characters at a time, why do you need a separate platform to do so? I still use it, I enjoy it, but there is no way I can justify its necessity to the real world. The Twitter people don’t seem to be making any money from what they do. Some people are benefiting from Twitter via new subscribers to their websites, but they have no way of sharing this success with Twitter even if they wanted to. The service crashes more times than it should, and frankly it sounds like the whole thing could collapse at any moment.

Yet somehow, Twitter.com keeps growing as a phenomenon. Twitter surpassed Digg.com on Obama’s inauguration day as one of the top social news sites on the internet. Here’s a visualization of Twitter.com’s usage during the inauguration. As the network gets bigger, it gets more interesting. And just like any other social situation, emergent and unwritten rules start popping up. If someone starts following you, it’s polite to follow them back. Consequently, following people is a great way to get people to follow you. Every time I start following people, maybe two people will start following me back. Half of them have “social media expert” or some variation thereof on their profile. I don’t know if their using a twitter robot program to pick me up or if they’re just obsessively following everyone in their friend of a friend of a friend’s twitter lists.

Twitter also has something called an API, which allows people to write programs that help you deal with your ever-expanding friendlist. Tweetdeck is a desktop application for windows that automatically loads new twitter posts (also called “tweets”) and allows you to divide twitter users into groups. You can use services like Tweelater.com to auto-follow your new followers, but personally I want to find something I can host from my own server before I give someone else a new username and password I can forget the next day. The Twitter app on facebook attaches your twitter account to your facebook account, and vice versa. I use Twitter Tools on my wordpress blog to make a new tweet when I have a new post, and the twitter widget posts my twitter feed on the sidebar.

Twitter is a blogging platform that is meant for people who want to be found. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom that people want to protect their information from the internet. Celebrities seem to love it. You can follow Arnold Schwarzenegger, Britney Spears, and half the cast-members of Star Trek. Another funny thing about the platform is that it is not fundamentally different from wordpress, facebook, or any other blogging platform. There is no Twitter equation that anyone can patent. A few standards of usage are changed and voilà, you have the next social media phenomenon. I still think that Twitter is weird, its success is weird, and that is precisely why I’m going to keep experimenting with it and see where it takes me.

Top 20 WordPress Plug-ins

Since the Wordcamp last week I’ve been hard at work trying to trick out my blog for the internet at large. This involved locating and installing a lot of plug-ins. I’ve decided to save everyone else some time and post 20 of the most useful plug-ins I’ve found on the net.

Adsense-Deluxe – helps distribute google ads around my blog. It’s part of my quixotic quest to make this thing turn a profit.

Akismet – It’s no surprise this plug-in becomes bundled with wordpress now. If it weren’t for this one the comments section would be drowning in cialis ads.

All in One SEO pack – allows you to give your posts relevant search engine terms so google will pick it up.

Brian’s Threaded Comments – allows users to reply directly to other users’ posts.

Digg This – If anyone ever decides to submit one of my posts to the social news site Digg.com (hint, hint) this plug-in will alert my blog and stick a Digg button up at the top there.


Extended Comment Options
– Another weapon in the war on comment spam. This plug-in allows you to control comment access over all of your posts.

Feedburner Feedsmith – If you want to switch over to using Feedburner, this is the plug-in to get. It forwards subscribers of your old RSS feed to your new and shiny Feedburner RSS feed.

Google Analytics for WordPress – It’s kind of tough to use Google Analytics on WordPress because all the pages are dynamically generated. This plug-in puts the Analytics code on all the necessary parts of your page.


Google XML Sitemaps
– Google keeps track of websites using XML sitemaps. With this plug-in, you can generate a Sitemap and regenerate it when your page updates, making it more visible to Google.

Livejournal Crossposter – If you have friends on livejournal, then this plug-in will scrape your post and put it on your livejournal account.

PHPlist – Integrates with the PHPlist application to create a mailing list for your blog.

Show Top Commentators – Gives bragging writes to the users who comment the most on your blog.

Simple Tags – While not quite as simple as the name suggests, it allows you to mass edit the tags on your posts.


Socialize
– This will allow you to try out the Digg This plug-in. At the bottom of the post there are a number of buttons so that anyone can submit an article to Digg, Stumbleupon, Del.icio.us, or any other social news site.

Subscribe to Comments – Users can catch up on responses to their posts with this handy plug-in.

Twitter Tools – Using this, you can put new post notifications on Twitter or write Twitter posts from wordpress.

Twitter Widget – Puts that twitter feed right on the sidebar.

Widgetize Anything – Not every WordPress plug-in is optimized for sidebar widgets. This plug-in hopes to change that.

WordPress.com Stats – Puts usage statistics on the dashboard of your blog.

WordPress Database Backup – Nothing protects you from catastrophic failure like the occasional database backup. This plug-in does it quickly and easily.