A Day for Getting Things Done

Today was one of those days when you have to put your shoulder to the wheel and focus. We have a client at work who is going to be rolling out the next phase of their Joomla powered website with templates that have a unique look while keeping in the same look and feel as the main site. So today, I turned off my Twitter and IM programs and devoted my full attention to migrating/rearranging content and creating templates.

Occasionally you just have to unplug from the Internet firehose of information. Taking a breather makes returning to the stream just as refreshing.

Twitter Updates for 2009-04-22

Embarrassing Blog Posts

Obsessively Googling my name, I found these lovely nuggets.

Facebook — late to the bandwagon again
Thursday, 20 September 2007

So I set up a Facebook page. I knew you were waiting for that.
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=618093298

Twittering
Wednesday, 12 September 2007

I still think services like Twitter are a solution in search of a problem, but hey, I’ll give it a try.

http://www.twitter.com/waynehastings

Follow me!

Now look at me…

Rocking the WordPress

Server Migration Aftermath

So my web hosting company finally completed a server move that took way too long: just today I managed to get WordPress installed and configured properly, posted a couple of items I had recently composed, and knocked up a design that looks half decent. Woo hoo!

Not that I really need a personal website or blog, for the most part, since my FaceBook page (with Twitter status updates) has my day-to-day lifeblogging needs met. But, and this is a big but, I do need a place on the web for my personal portfolio, which is the main reason I keep this site going.

Lifelong Learning

In the first incarnation of this site, I used pMachine, then an up-and-comer that achieved some success then morphed into Expression Engine, I understand. I was never a fan of pMachine even though I used it for three or four years, and it wasn’t a technology we ever implemented for a customer, so I never dug into the guts very deep.

After pMachine, I gave Joomla a try as a blogging platform. We use Joomla (and Mambo before it) at my day job — Joomla is the CMS engine on top of which we build all of our client sites. I know Joomla pretty well. Well enough, in fact, to be deeply annoyed by how it works. So I was beyond ready to try a different CMS the next time I did a redesign.

Now, in this third version of the site, I’m going with WordPress. Although I was tempted to give something like Concrete5 or Silverstripe a try, I decided to stick with WordPress and see how I like it as a CMS.

So this site rebuild is as much about learning more about WordPress as anything.

In the life of…

When last I blogged, I was about to move to Los Angeles, CA, from Memphis, TN. The move was completed about three weeks ago. Los Angeles is extremely cool. The weather has been fantastic, sunny but cool nearly all the time. The weather is near-tropical — we have a flock of about 5 green parrots that feast on the loquat tree by our front door.

Choosing to live in Alhambra was a great choice — I’m in walking distance of just about anything I might need: grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, coffee shops, and more. (I do wish there was a good book store nearby. Getting to a Barnes and Noble is a short drive.)

Between unpacking and getting caught up with my day job, I’ve been pretty busy. But I have found time to visit Venice Beach, do some shopping in West Hollywood, and attend a book signing at Book Soup.

Still new to the LA area, my goal is to get involved with some of the design and interactive groups to get some networking going. So look out, Los Angeles, here I come.

WordPress Plugins I Actually Use: Part 1

I’m a sucker for lists. Everytime I encounter a new list of someone’s favorite WordPress plugins or themes, I bookmark them all. Just look at my WordPress bookmarks on Delicious.

So here is a list of the plugins I have installed and running on this site so far, after just two days live.

  1. All in One SEO Pack – Search engine goodness for WordPress. Just install and activate, or get in and muck with the details as much as you like.
  2. Automatic Timezone – Because the WordPress default install doesn’t know when to Spring Forward or Fall Back. This is actually a fairly trivial problem, but I did have one client complain that his server’s time was an hour off recently, which led me to locate this plugin.
  3. Bad Behavior – A free alternative to Akismet, this plugin hooks into the ProjectHoneypot.org blacklist.
  4. Contact Form 7 – Pain-free method for getting a simple contact form onto your site. I’ll probably be replacing this at some point with a more full-featured form solution.
  5. Delicious for WordPress – Pulls my recent Delicious.com bookmarks into the right hand sidebar. I felt my bookmark activity was at least as interesting as my Twitter activity, so it deserved equal visibility on my blog.
  6. Email Immunizer – One thing I liked about Joomla out of the box is how it automatically identifies e-mail addresses in content and makes them clickable links with Javascript masking to prevent spammers from harvesting e-mail addresses. This plugin does the same thing: turns e-mail addresses in posts into masked links.
  7. Google Sitemap Generator – More SEO goodness, also notifies the other major search engines that your sitemap.xml file is recently updated.
  8. NextGen Gallery – My first dip into image gallery plugins for WordPress, this looks pretty nice…
  9. NoFollow Case by Case – Allows you to selectively set links to follow or nofollow, so you can give your friends special SEO loving.
  10. Twitter Tools – Twitter has become the ubiquitous life/micro blogging platform, so you want to incorporate this into your regular blogging stream.
  11. WP Touch – This is a slick one: a iPhone/iTouch THEME masquerading as a plugin. Install this plugin, and your site becomes mobile phone friendly automatically.

Two plugins worth looking at:

  1. WP-Invoice – Great for freelancers, allows you to generate and send invoices by e-mail.
  2. WP e-Commerce – Turns your WordPress into a basic shopping cart!

There are a million WordPress plugins lists on the web, but maybe this will help someone out there identify something useful they hadn’t encountered yet.

What plugins do you find indispensible?

Brush with Greatness: Dooce Book Signing

To Wayne, Much LoveLast night I had my first “brush with greatness” since moving to Los Angeles. And this is a story for everyone who claims noone ever made money off of Twitter.

I discovered Heather B. Hamilton (aka Dooce) several months ago while I was still living in Memphis, TN. I spotted a reference to @dooce — one of my Twitter friends had replied to her — and the name caught my eye. Curious, I hit her website and discovered www.dooce.com and became a fan. I really enjoy her sense of humor and general outlook on life.

Earlier in the week, I saw her post that she was going to be at Book Soup in LA on April 2. So last night, we made the trek from our home in Alhambra to West Hollywood for the reading / signing.

It was a lot of fun. Heather was as funny and charming in person as I was expecting. She signed my copy of the book and I think I managed to get away without letting my star struck adolescent self make too big a fool of me.

Now think about this interaction for a moment. Heather is a writer. I found her first on Twitter. I became a fan of her work on her blog which I typically read via RSS in Google Reader. I travelled across town to a book signing at a book store I had not (yet) visited in person. And finally I purchased a book while I was there. 

I can’t say that I would have ever discovered her if I hadn’t been on Twitter at just the right moment. 

I think it is fair to say that being on Twitter was profitable for Heather. She is reaching an audience that might otherwise never find her. And since I have become a fan, I have been sharing her site with my friends (and the whole world) on my blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook, among other places.

Chalk one up for Twitter. If your business isn’t on Twitter, you’re leaving money on the table.