Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

4/7/2017

Blog Posts

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Fun,Geek Work,On Creativity,Stimulus and Production — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

My creative blog posting well is dry.

So dry.
Seriously, if you count my original blog, I have been doing this blogging nonsense for almost 17 years. My first blog post went live May 4th, 2000. How crazy is that?  Back then, I hand coded every page, making the HTML myself with Microsoft Notepad.  Then, I installed Moveable Type.  That was followed by a definite upgrade to WordPress during the great licensing debacle of 2004.  So, yes, I’ve been using WordPress since version 1.2  A lot has changed since then, but I can tell you one thing that hasn’t; the terrible struggle to create new and interesting content.
My wife, The Organizing Decorator, and I were talking about this very thing recently.  She just finished moving her site to her own hosting and content management system, so that I wasn’t responsible for her site as well as all of mine, and she told me how she need to stop tweaking and tampering with it.  My response was that it was a lot easier to mess with formatting than it was to actually create content.  And, after 17 years, I’m really feeling tapped out.

So, what’s my response?  To share with you two links about generating content!
First, a post from the very brainy and entrepreneurial Growth Lab titled How to find 20+ blog ideas your audience can’t wait to read.  It’s a process, but it’s a process that will help you generate content tailored to your blog, brand, or business.
The other is How To Think Outside The Box with 200+ writing prompts by CoSchedule.  And, it’s just what it sounds like, a list of prompts with blanks to get you started on a blog post.  They’re pretty generic, but they may not all be applicable to your chosen subject matter.

Well, there you have it.  Two links that are free and useful, if not exactly “fun” for non-bloggers or content producers.
Maybe I’ll have something better for you next week.
Maybe not.  Only time will tell.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

7/8/2016

What Theme Is That WordPress Running?

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:11 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Okay, so this may not matter to a lot of my readers who aren’t designers, programmers or WordPress enthusiasts.

But, it does matter to me.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a site and wanted to know what they were running.  Most of the time, I just go over to Netcraft and check to see what kind of server and content management system they’re running.  But, sometimes, when I see that they’re running WordPress, I often want to know more, like what theme the site is running or what plugins it’s using.  The problem is, while I can usually look at the code and see what theme they’re running, it’s almost impossible to get any of the plugins, too.
Well, the other night while looking for something else, I found the WordPress Theme Detector, which can tell me all of that information and a little more.  It’s a free service and all you need to do is put in the URL of the site you’re curious about to get the 411.

That ought to kill a little time while you drop your favorite blogs in there to see what they’re running!
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

9/11/2015

WordPress Training

Filed under: Fun,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,Ooo, shiny...,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Free training, of course, for my favorite content management system; WordPress.

Not familiar with WordPress?  Well, you should be since it runs or manages a significant percentage of the web.  As of this writing, “significant” means about 25% of all websites.  Yeah.  That’s a lot.  And, there are a lot of reasons for that.  For one thing, it’s well supported and lots of developers work with it, so getting help and customization work done is relatively easy.  For another, it’s easily…
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5/22/2015

Roll Your Own

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Ooo, shiny...,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Three words that strike fear into the heart of many a wise system administrator.

And not a few other sorts of smart people, too!
In this case, though, I’m talking about rolling your own WordPress theme.  This is one of those many, many projects that I’ve wanted to get to on that ever-elusive “one day” when I have spare time.  It’s also something I want to ultimately do for FindMyPhotographer.com, which I quietly rolled live a week ago.  I won’t make it…
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9/12/2014

Download The Latest Themes From Automattic

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,GUI Center — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

It’s a great time to be a blogger.
No, seriously!  For one thing, if you’re an old guy like me, who’s been blogging for ten or fifteen years, the golden time we all knew was coming has arrived; according to The Atlantic, Millennials are finally craving long-form reads.

So, you can finally setup that blog you’ve been dreaming of and write to your heart’s content.  And, while you can always setup a free blog on WordPress.com, I would personally suggest that you…
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9/5/2014

Style Maker

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:50 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Hopefully, you all won’t be too disappointed to not see links to a bunch of other blogs today.

I hate to admit it, but I wrote this at the last minute because I’ve been so busy.  So, if you all think this is lame today, well, I don’t blame you.  I’ll try to do better for next week and the rest of the month.  No promises, though.
As you may know, I dabble in WordPress, which just updated to a new version…
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4/22/2014

WordPress – Blogging, CMS and more

Filed under: Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

So, my “Tools for Tuesday” posts are getting a bit more challenging for me time-wise and quality-wise.

That’s why I missed last week, actually.  I was just too busy to get a good review post done and shared in time.  And, I think maybe it’s time I start scaling that feature back, just a bit, to one post every other week.  I hope it will let me maintain both the quality and quantity of “Tools for Tuesday” posts.

And, now that bit of house-keeping is out of the way, on with the big show!WordPressThreePointNine-2
Or, at least the main post.  This week, I’m sharing something that is probably familiar to many, if not most, of my readers; WordPress.  WordPress is the blogging software that I use to run this blog, not to mention my other old blog at Fantasist.net, as well as the entire site at JKHoffman.com and my wife’s site at OrganizingDecorator.com.  It will also be what I use to run two other projects that I’m working on developing, Find My Photographer and Find My Decorator.
As you fellow devotees know, this past week saw the release of WordPress 3.9, but I’ve been using this free, open source software since version 1.2!  Before that, I used MovableType like many early bloggers, but with their “great license debacle”, many of us jumped ship and found our way to WordPress.  I know one reason I, personally, chose to go that route was because the lead developer of the project is Matt Mullenweg, who happens to hail from Houston, where I live currently.  I liked the idea that I might run into him at one of the local computer groups that were around at the time.  I never did, but I did go to DEF*CON with someone he used to play in a band with back in 2012.

In any case, I’ve used WordPress for a long time, especially in “internet years”.
Back in the day, it was really only a blogging platform, but it was super easy to setup and maintain.  And, perhaps more importantly to me, especially back then, it was easy to extend.  I haven’t written any plugins lately, but WordPress is so easy to use and code for that even I could write add-ons for it.  I’ve even done some pretty significant modification of themes, and anyone who knows me knows that I’m about as far from a designer as you can get.
WordPressThreePointNineSince those early days, though, WordPress has really grown up!  Now, not only can it handle simple blogging, but it can run your whole site.  There are detractors, of course, who say that it’s not really a full-featured content management system, but they’re wrong.  WordPress has built-in features that make running an entire site easy, like the ability to set a static home page and super-simple page management.  Add to that a completely customizable appearance through themeing, limited only by the designer’s vision and ability and you can see why WordPress runs about 19% of the internet and has been downloaded at least 46 million times.  But, what’s even better is that there are so many people doing add-on development in one for or another that there is a theme, widget or plug-in that will pretty much do anything else you could want that’s not already rolled in.  And that’s really saying something because WordPress “ships” with a pretty robust gallery and media management system already rolled into it.  Other important features include good, reasonably secure user management, a commenting system and an easy to use interface.  Granted, the interface is always being worked on and improved, so it’s always changing, but it’s never been a distraction for me.

WordPressFourPointZeroOther features include autosave, spell check, automatic upgrading, built-in plugin installation, sticky posts, comment threading/paging/replies, bulk management of posts and comments, image editing, a Trash/Undo feature, bulk plugin and theme updating, a multi-site option allowing multiple custom blogs to be run from the same installation, it comes in at least 70 languages and it’s even pretty optimized for search engines!  But, it think what matters most to me is that WordPress has a huge community around it, supporting it going forward, developing for it and making it better, even though it’s free.  I can download the latest version of this beauty any time I want, install it on the webserver of my choosing, and make my voice heard on the internet.  I can build with it or I can build on it to make it do whatever I need or want and anything I create with it is all mine.  No one owns a piece of it and, as long as I write my own posts and pages, I keep and maintain all rights to all the data that I shove into it.  That’s pretty incredible when you think about it.

And, yes, it really is easy to install and use, so if you’re thinking about starting a website, I highly recommend using WordPress to do it.  Don’t listen to the nay-sayers that claim WordPress isn’t up to the task either, because a lot of really incredible websites use WordPress.  You can check some out at the WordPress Showcase.  You might be surprised at some of the high-profile sites that you have already been to that use WordPress!  All that power can be yours, too, if you just take the time to download, install and use WordPress!

8/29/2013

Moveable Type Changes License

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events,PERL,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

And becomes completely irrelevant.

Apparently, I missed this last month, but Six Apart is changing their license so that Movable Type will no longer have a free version.  Now, when it was Ben and Mena Trott running Six Apart, when they made a mistake with licensing, which I think they did back in 2004, you can understand and forgive.
Ben and Mena were like us, just two fellow geeks out there coding and blogging.  They came up with a great idea and everyone loved it.  But, then, money got involved and things got complicated.  They did things to make money, and, honestly, I probably would have done the exact same things.  When they first changed things to make the license more restrictive back in 2004, I was, I admit, outraged.  How could they betray us like that?  They were like us!  How could they throw this all over to just make money!  In retrospect, the question is, how could they NOT?

But, then there was WordPress.  Many of us made the jump, including me.  WordPress was a new way of doing things.  This Open Source thing was new to many of us and it was exciting!  Software that was mostly free that the community built!  People who were just like us!  Code geeks and blog geeks and graphics geeks all coming together to make cool things happen.  What could be better?  And, from my perspective, WordPress was easier to extend and develop for in many, many ways.  Also, it seemed to have fewer resource issues than the Perl-based Movable Type.  Better still, as I understood the license, WordPress would always be free and if it stopped being free, we could fork the code and make it free again.

Somewhere back in there, after the 2004 license debacle, Movable Type added an Open Source version.  They tried to get us back, but, frankly, for most of us, it was too little, too late.  After one license change like that, how could we be sure that it wouldn’t happen again?  And what about charging money to be part of the developer’s group who had access to the documentation you really needed to understand Movable Type enough to develop for it?  I know I couldn’t afford that!  Besides, as Six Apart got more and more corporate, I just felt like something else bad was coming, if not soon, then eventually.

Now this.
Well, it actually happened in July, but I just read about it on Mark Jaquith’s blog.
So, finally, after nine years, that other shoe has finally dropped.  Of course, a lot has changed in those nine years.  For one thing, I’ve gotten both married and divorced and am getting ready to be married again.  Interestingly, to me, Ben and Mena who started Six Apart have gotten divorced, too.  Ben still seems to be involved in the day-to-day development of Movable Type and related stuff, but Mena seems less involved.  I can’t imagine the toll their meteoric rise took on their relationship.  It must have gotten truly unbearable after a while.
You know, I hope they made out well.  Sure, this latest license thing is, I think, a final nail in the coffin of Movable Type, but, damnit, Movable Type also launched the blogging era in many ways, and paved the way for WordPress.  And, it was two people who started it.  Just two.  Two good people.

So, it’s sad, to me, to see how things have gone.  I’m sad to have been right about Movable Type all those years ago.  I wish they had proven me wrong.
But, with this, I think they proved me right not to trust the Movable Type license any more.  And, honestly, they taught me something about how to treat my audience and my customers.
And, yes, it makes me sad.  It’s the end of an era, of sorts.
I’m sorry to see you go, old friend.

3/30/2012

Social Media Monster

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I love me some infographics!

No, seriously, infographics are fun.
Now, I’m not a guy who has to track and record and quantify every aspect of his life.  I know people like that, but I’m not really one of them.  On the other hand, I am one of those guys who likes to look at log files and statistics and trends.  It’s kind of a contradiction, I’ll admit, but, well, there it is.    And, I’ll tell you what else, I’m very aware of all the information, all the data points, that I leave behind as a consequence of being on the internet, especially on social media sites, like Facebook.  So, have you ever wondered, like I have, what that data, that information, looks like?
Well, wonder no more!  Now, you, too, can get your very own Facebook Monster infographic!
All you have to do is go to the site, sign into Facebook via their application, and let the app go to work.  The result will be a personalized, fun, funny, monster-based, Facebook-driven infographic of your very own.  I’d share mine, but, well, I’ll be honest, my social media data-footprint kind of sucks for this particular application.  I’m just too low-profile, frankly, to generate a good example data set.

But, hey, this is about you and your data, not me and mine.  So, it’s Friday and you’re slacking anyway, you might as well hit the link and see how your social data looks.  And, y’all have a great weekend!

3/9/2012

Social Media Papers

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Soon, you’ll need a passport to enter Facebook.

No, not really.  Well, probably not, but I’m sure Zuckerberg wouldn’t mind issuing passports and currency!
Regardless, in this case, I’m talking about an art project with a social consciousness that I read about on Gizmodo; Facebook ID Cards.
Those of you who know me, know how obsessed I can become over realistic, but fake, marginalia, like stamps, currency, government documents, and, of course, identification cards just like these.  Things like passports and driver’s licenses are the ephemera of our lives that we often use to define who we are and identify us to strangers, especially those in authority.  We tend to take them for granted, but someone designed them and they serve some purpose, whether it’s to tell a police officer that we are certified to drive or Facebook’s security goons that we’re allowed to access our friendlist.
So, no, it hasn’t happened, yet, but I suspect it will one day.

And, did you notice that they astutely included a QR Code in their design?  Remember that article I linked to earlier in the week?  Might want to read that again…

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