Why WordPress is Better than Facebook

“Because of the GPL, and the way it works, WordPress will be available as a publishing platform for decades to come, and long after the next social network comes and goes, for as long as the Internet remains free and accessible, anyone with WordPress will be able to have their say.”

Note: the GPL is the license under which WordPress is distributed that guarantees it will always be freely available.

Breaking the Silence

PhpStorm Keyboard Commands That Are Incredibly Useful To Memorize

I’m working on using my development tools more efficiently and to their fullest extent. I’ve collected this list of PhpStorm keyboard commands that I’m trying to embed in my muscle memory. Perhaps they’ll be useful for you too.
⌘ = command
⌥ = option (alt)
⌃ = control
⇧ = shift
⏎ = enter
↑ = up arrow
⌫ = backspace
Quick Reformat (to WordPress standards
Split editor vertically
Split editor horizontally
Toggle sidebar (open / close)
Search actions (not files)
File Structure
Open File (searches files)
Close File
Search for a PHP function, or CSS/Sass class
Search Everywhere
Toggle between two files (last used)
Select groups of code such as div
Find in Path
Duplicate a line
Moves a line of code
⌥⇧↑  or  ⌥⇧↓
Moves the whole function
⌘⇧↑  or  ⌘⇧↓
Deletes a line
Jumps to last code changed
Copy entire line of code
Delete entire line of code

I’m No Expert

So it seems I’m giving a talk at one of the local universities soon. It’s a panel of “experts.” That term always makes me instinctually shudder, especially when used by others, but I know it’s being used appropriately here.

It’s only a 10-minute talk, so I won’t be able to cover much. If I get any slides together, or if by chance someone videos it, I’ll put that info on the blog here.

Flyer for the CMS experts panel at Minnesota State University Moorhead

Plugin: Content Audit – Makes a Big Job Manageable

content-auditWhether your site is brand new or it’s been around for a while, you’ve probably felt the need to tidy the content up a bit. Maybe some pages still have placeholder text, or some are outdated, or some… well, they’re just not up to your current standards.

Going through your website and doing a content audit can be a big job, but there’s a plugin to make it much easier. The Content Audit plugin can help you get a handle on the work that needs to be done on your website.

Content Audit Overview dashboardThere are so many useful features that Content Audit brings to your WordPress site. For starters, it adds an “Outdated Content” meta box on the main Dashboard that lists all the work that you’ve tagged on the site as needing to be done. Or if you click on the menu item under Dashboard, you’ll see a more comprehensive status board of where you are in the audit process.

It also adds a “Content Audit Attributes” item to the Posts and Pages menus which lets you add what amounts to categories of the types/status of work to be done. The defaults include “Audited,” “Outdated,” “Redundant,” Review SEO,” “Review Style,” and “Trivial,” but you can change these or add your own attributes.

The plugin does its real work on the Post and Page editing screens where it adds a few extra fields to help you manage the auditing task.

  1. One is the ability to check which of those previously mentioned attributes apply to that post/page.
  2. There’s also a box to add “Content Audit Notes” so you can remember what exactly needs to be done to bring it up to standards.
  3. You also have the ability to assign the page to a “Content Owner” who can be different than the author. That can be really helpful if the “webmaster” spun up all the pages initially, if there’s turnover or changes in duties, or if you need a department head to be responsible for content.
  4. One other feature the plugin adds is the ability to add an Expiration Date  if the information is perishable or needs changing at a particular time. Killer feature if you have pages with content such as annual policies, quarterly numbers, or school year info.

Content Audit columns on Posts screenThe plugin really makes it’s presence known on the Posts and Pages screens. Columns are added to the listing to identify the Content Owner, Content Status, and the Content Audit Notes that were added. This makes it easy to not only see what needs working on, but to pick and choose which content you can tackle if you’ve only got a few minutes at your disposal. You can also sort by Expiration Date to find those items that might need urgent attention.

Content Audit allows you to decide what should and shouldn’t be included through its Settings area. You can choose to include Posts, Pages, Media, and any other content types that might be on your site. If you only want certain categories of users to see the Content Audit information, you can limit it by user roles.

Content Audit Settings screenIt also allows you to automatically mark all items as expired if you want to set a policy of revisiting content regularly, say every year. And if an item becomes expired, an email can be sent to the content owner as a reminder.  (Not sure how it handles emailing mass notifications, if for instance you have 100 pages expiring on the same date.) Plus, you can have it display a reminder on the front-end – including Preview pages – to make it quite obvious to authorized users that there’s work to be done.

The Content Audit plugin helps you manage the sometimes overwhelming task of reviewing and updating your site in an efficient, pleasant way. It makes the job easy to do in small bites, but it’s persistent enough to not let you forget to get the job done. Easily one of my favorite plugins for managing content. Can even be helpful if you are working with clients to get a site ready for release.

Now, go forth and get it done!

[DISCLAIMER: This was originally published on the CyberChimps blog on 28 Sept 2014, but has since been taken down.]

Omaha – Week 2

Week 2 in Omaha was a busy one. We covered CSS in class, which like HTML is still something I’m fairly well versed in. I’m still learning new things even though I’m familiar with the course content. Just having the material organized rather than a random Google search for an answer is helpful. We didn’t quite finish CSS, so it’s going to bleed over into next week. But we should also be starting JavaScript next week which while not new to me I don’t consider it one of my strengths. We will also be introduced to the non-profits that we’ll be doing projects for. Shit gets real then.

There were two fun events this week too. Tuesday night Interface Web School hosted an event where a tech recruiter came in to provide advice. It was a small crowd and the recruiter may not have been a great match with the skills and interests of the folks who showed up, but we still got some good tips on how to look for jobs and work with recruiters. I’m not sure how many of my classmates are looking for jobs as there were only two from my class at the event. Plus most of my classmates work day jobs or are going to school so having events every night of the week is more of a burden for them than it is for me.

One fun fact from that event is that there was a mixup on the pizza order so there was an excess. I wound up carrying three boxes of leftover pizza back to the house, which is about 2 miles uphill. I figure at that point the pizza is zero-calorie, right?

The other fun event was the Flywheel open house on Friday. They moved into their current space several months ago (September?) but just finally got around to holding an open house. They had 300 RSVPs on Facebook and I’m sure even more folks stopped by. I was there at 4pm when it started and it filled up quickly. Lots of people from the local marketing/design/tech industry, some of which didn’t have strong ties to Flywheel but stopped by anyway to check it out. It was a good time with good food (Rounders from Localmotive!). There’s some interesting people and organizations in Omaha!

People mingling at Flywheel Open House People mingling at Flywheel Open House People mingling at Flywheel Open House

Omaha – Weekend 1

Ok I suck at taking pictures. I got out of the habit because I don’t really have anyone to share them with, which made it kind of pointless. I promise I’ll work on it for this blog.

Friday, 10 April 2015

So I spent my first weekend in Omaha trying to get more familiar with the place. On Friday evening, the Interface Web School hosted a happy hour for it’s students, past and present. It was nice to get a chance to chat with a couple of my fellow students outside of class. The food and beer was nice too. As was the walk.

Delicious food at Interface Web School happy hour

I didn’t realize until now that Interface is associated with Creighton University, which I also didn’t realize was in Omaha. I’m sorry, but Omaha has just never been on my radar. But it does kind of make sense now because what I’ve seen of the curriculum lead me to believe they were mimicking higher-ed type standards.

Interface Web School banner - "Building People Who Build the Web"
Banner at the Interface Web School happy hour

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Most of Saturday I spent at a powwow at Creighton that I happened to notice on a poster at the coffee shop I visited on Thursday. Since it was free and I like powwows – why not? It was my first powwow outside of Minnesota/North Dakota and I was intrigued by the (slight) differences. The most notable was the hugely diverse audience that was not only in attendance, but was participating. Dancing. In full regalia. That was new to me. I get that we are the most bland part of the the country up in Fargo. It’s been my experience that native events have been pretty… I don’t know the appropriate word here. Traditional? Stereotypical? I think you get what I mean. Was really cool to see everyone welcome in the circle.

Photo of Creighton University powwow
Crappy photo of the powwow. I should have done better.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sunday was routine with things like laundry, catching up on the business books, and recording SciFi Tech Talk. But Sunday evening is when the Entrepreneur House has its weekly meeting. The schedule conflicted with both a Seattle Sounders futbol game and the start of season 5 of Game of Thrones. Technology to the rescue!

The meeting was really interesting though. All the program participants (aka, housemates) gave their business pitches. That was perfect for me as I wasn’t quite sure what everyone was working on. It was meant for them to practice their pitches and think through their business. But they also brought in an outside perspective from a fellow named Mike Kolker of resolvingcomplexity.com to provide feedback. It was good business advice and really helpful for me too. Always good to think about that stuff more thoroughly. The Sunday meetings are going to be something to look forward to.

Omaha – Week 1

So it’s Friday and I’m done with classes for the week. Let’s catch up with what’s happened so far.

Class Update

We’ve been starting slow with foundational and background information that we will need to move forward. As much as I’m antsy to get eyeball deep, I know this is important information. I also know that many others in the class don’t have my background.

Even though I could argue that I’ve learned this week’s material before, I still found gems every day that I’m going to spend the next few days following up on. It’s one thing to know stuff. It’s another to assimilate it into your brain and muscle memory. One thing I want to focus on is integrating keyboard commands into my habits.

To be clear, what we’ve covered so far includes:

  • introductions to our classmates
  • tour of Flywheel
  • overview of the way the Internet works (like networking basics)
  • the languages and protocols of the web (especially those we’ll be focusing on)
  • apps that we’re going to need (like text editors, FTP and communication apps)
  • some command line tools
  • joining the class Slack team
  • an intro to some of the developer resources on the web
  • Sublime Text orientation and setup

Next week we’ll be digging into HTML and CSS, which I’m reasonably comfortable with but I still expect to learn more than a thing or two. We’ll begin coding next week too, so that will be nice. Week 3 is where the topics start to venture into why I’m here. JavaScript/JQuery and PHP/MySQL kick in about then and that’s what I’m REALLY looking forward to.

Living in Omaha

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m staying at an Entrepreneur House that I found on Airbnb. So I have five roommates that are busy trying to launch businesses. It’s rather cool. They’ve been here a while already and are deep into their program. I’ve met them all, but they come and go all day long and I often have the house to myself.

Having never been to Omaha before, I have NO IDEA where anything is. I don’t know if I’m in a good part of town or bad. I don’t know where groceries, coffee shops, or food joints are. I don’t know how to get from one place to another. Thank god for Lyft.

I had packed some food along (ramen and MREs FTW!) and really needed that the first couple of days as I didn’t leave the house except for class. We had a hiccup on Wednesday because the house leader’s wallet went missing a while back so of course he cancelled his credit cards – which were being used to pay the utility bill. So Wednesday they cut off the gas to the place. Realizing what had happened he immediately went down and corrected the situation. However, it wasn’t until the next morning when I went to take a shower that it was obvious that the gas hadn’t been turned back on. Not being able to cope with essentially no heat, no hot water, and no way to make tea I HAD TO leave the house.

It was a good thing actually. I went and hung out downtown at a coffee shop nearly all day. I’ll likely do that again now that I know where one is. I also got a brief chance to walk around the Old Market area of Omaha, which will require many walk arounds in the upcoming weeks. I managed to find an awesome tattoo joint (Big Brain Productions) and a pizza place (Zio’s Pizza) before heading over to class later in the day. Needless to say, this morning’s hot shower was glorious.

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do this weekend. There’s a happy hour gathering at the Interface School tonight, so I’ll be at that. The weather looks to improve soon. (It’s been cold and wet since I arrived – even snowed yesterday.) I’m hoping to start walking around to get to know where things are a bit better. I also saw a poster for a powwow over at Creighton University that I might go to on Saturday. One thing I did discover last night on the way home was that there’s a castle (Joslyn Castle) about four blocks away from where I’m staying. That may be the first direction I head when I go exploring.

So far so good in Omaha. Having fun and looking forward to what’s to come. An undying thank you to everyone who helped me get here.