The Search Regex plugin for WordPress is an essential plugin to have when you need to make multiple post/page edits at once. The plugin allows one to search for a string and report results, show what would happen if a string was replaced in multiple posts/pages, and perform the actual task. The plugin also supports regular expressions.
In my case, I needed to replace all references of “lightbox” in my posts/pages to “lytebox” instead. Here is an example:
Although the screenshot above does not show it, I am replacing “lightbox” with “lytebox” which yeilded 646 hits:
I would, of course, backup your WordPress database before doing anything too complicated in case things go wrong. This plugin and many more can be found on my WordPress page.
I recently started using the Advanced Admin Menus Plugin and it has made working with WordPress much easier. I create the following tutorial (1 minute and 17 seconds) to demonstrate:
(click to play)
There are a few random notes that I wanted to mention in order to bring closure to this series of adventure posts:
- Eton FR400 - Buy it! I used it while camping to check local weather where other forms of communication could fail.
- Twitter - I witnessed Andy use this to great effect from his cell phone by posting his gas stops. Wonderful use of the technology to keep family and friends informed.
- Cell Phone - While I have enjoyed using Skype as my sole source of voice communication it seems I might have to break down and buy a cell phone again. I discovered that long distance pay phone installations are quickly dying out. Some day WiFi access will be universal…
- Conference Power - I found it amusing that while attending a blogging conference there was a severe shortage of power connections BUT WiFi access worked fine. Seems kind of silly to have WiFi service when your laptop battery is dead. Boo.
- Offline Usage - I made a serious mistake by taking notes in various formats when I could have been using Windows Live Writer as an offline tool for composing blog posts. It supports the WordPress API and once I regained connectivity I could have published my posts, fully formatted, without using the web interface. On the other hand, offline access to my syndicated feeds via Feed Demon worked beautifully!
- Slideshare - Cool service. I mentioned it earlier, just wanted to mention it again.
- GPS-enhanced Pictures - I need the ability to take pictures with GPS coordinates recorded. It would make writing trip posts so much more interactive when you can link photos to maps. There are some technologies out there. Just need to incorporate them on this site…
OK, that is it. Trip is over.
Article Series - WordCamp 2007
Today was the second and last of the WordCamp conference. The following are my notes from the day.
Speakers: Barry Abrahamson and Matt Mullenweg
Interesting WordPress statistics. Best if you check out the slideshow.
10:45am - Blogs at the New York Times
Speaker: Jeremy Zilar
This was a spur of the moment presentation. He spoke about how they are using WordPress to power The New York Times. Check out their theme layout. Very cool!
A few blog essentials were discussed:
- About Page - Every blog should have one and it should describe the purpose and goal of the blog.
- Blogroll - I do not like this name as I call mine “Links of Interest” but this is where you link to the favorite sites you follow and subscribe to so that others can tune in.
- Posts - Well, you do not have much of a blog without them.
- Blog Title - Should be short, catchy, and to the point.
Speaker: Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D.
She is a founder of SlideShare which is definitely something worth checking out. She spoke of first and second generation social networks and their evolution. Check out her slides. I also recommend watching her Perils of Popularity slideshow.
12pm - BBQ Lunch
Good but Joe’s BBQ is better!
1:15pm - Musical Interlude by Andy Skelton
Entertaining. Unfortunately, he had to sing about my accidental killing of rabbits near the Natural Bridges National Monument. Hey, you try driving in the evening and see how many you can avoid as they throw themselves at your tire(s)!
Speaker: Dave Winer
It is a shame that only an hour was given to Dave to speak. He had a sheet of topics to discuss and only covered a small portion. He spoke of the following:
- OPML Import/Export - All social software should have OMPL import and export capability.
- Future Safe Archives - We need to solve the problem of using technology of today in generations to come. It should be possible to view data stored today millions of years from now without having to know how to configure and manipulate the machinery and software in use today. For example, can you still read a 5.25” floppy disk on your computer?
- Data Portability - Data should be portable and accessible in as many forms as possible.
2:30pm - Usability Analysis
Speaker: Liz Danzico, Happy Cog
Liz has been working with the Automatic team to improve the WordPress usability experience. Most of her work will not be realized until the release of WordPress 2.4 but what is planned looks great. She spoke of the following:
- Desire Lines - When developers/designers create user interfaces they design with one idea in mind but in actuality users might use the software in an entirely different purpose or find shortcuts to getting things done faster. It is these shortcuts that are known as “desire lines”. When designing software, it is good to think of what desire lines are and build them in. Easiest way to do this is to be the user of your own software.
- Object Oriented Design - Think of design in terms of objects. I like this approach, being an object oriented developer. Examples of excellent object oriented design would be: Tumblr and the iPhone.
3:30pm - State of the Word
Speaker: Matt Mullenweg
He spoke of the following:
- bbPress - Bulletin board software that supports themes and plugins.
- BackPress - I did not take very good notes on this for some reason (maybe I thought I could link to it) but it has a user system, supports HyperDB, and supports script loading.
- WPCP - Work is being done on a WordPress Caching Proxy for improving WordPress speed and performance. Sounds interesting for high volume sites.
- WordPress 2.3 - Will have plugin update notification, tags (sweet!), and improved draft/pending post/page writing support.
- Blicki - I have been searching for a plugin that would allow one to add Wiki capabilities to WordPress and now I have found it.
- Windows Live Writer - Need to study this more. It’s been on my “ToDo” list but it sounds like this is a great offline application used to publish to WordPress as it supports most, if not all, WordPress API.
4:30pm - Developer Duke-out
Speakers: Matt Mullenweg, Michael Adams, Ryan Boren, Mark Jaquith, and Andy Skelton
Entertaining but was not able to stay for all of it as I had to hit the road. I need to get more involved with WordPress development. Baby steps first, starting with this web site.
Article Series - WordCamp 2007
Today was the first day of the WordCamp conference. The following are my notes from the day.
Stopped for chai and scones at the Kape on 16th Street between Sanchez and Church. Serves Filipino cuisine and a great atmosphere. WiFi access is free. Check it out if you are ever in San Francisco and want something a little more quaint off Market Street.
10am - Podcasting
Speaker: Dan Kuykendall (author of PodPress)
I have been playing with Podpress off and on for some time now but am currently not using it on this site. This is about to change. Dan’s talk was mostly about showcasing Podpress, what it can do, and where it is headed. I like the fact that it supports not only audio but video. He mentioned that while YouTube video support is not there yet he is working on it. Sweet plugin.
The hardware/software that Dan is using for his podcasting setup is:
- MAudio Mobile
- AKG Perception 100
- Audacity (but Garage Band on the Mac is better).
11am - Blogs vs. Journalism
Always entertaining to hear John speak. I liked the fact that he supports and embraces blogging. A forward thinker that others in his field should aspire to.
12pm - Subway Sandwich Lunch
Curbed the hunger.
Speaker: Lorelle VanFossen
Interesting lady. Energetic, boisterous, and strange but also friendly. I got a chance to chat with her later while having drinks with the rest of the WordCamp crew. I thanked her for the work she does on her site as I am an avid reader. Here are a few notes:
- Write something new.
- Have a fresh perspective.
- Never fail to stop asking “why”. Question everything.
- Think before writing/publishing. Try not to be the first but absorb and digest the information first.
- Blog for you first.
- Be a mirror for others. Once you find your community, they will understand and relate to you.
- Blogging is like archeology. The work that we have done and will do will be a wealth of information for future generations to use. This is something we have never had before and it feels good being part of it.
- Do not always complete a thought. Your audience is smart, let them fill in the blanks.
- As bloggers, it is our duty to comment back on other peoples blogs and keep the conversation going.
- Write timeless posts.
- Push yourself and go for extremes. Good advice for anything you do.
- Do not be an island, be part of the community.
- Do not be afraid to fail as failure is the pathway to success.
Those are my notes but you can watch the video for yourself.
2pm - Blog Monetization
Speaker: Jeremy Wright, b5media
Not sure I learned anything outside of what I already new. His lecture was mostly a panel discussion where he brought up three people from the audience and moderated. The different types of WordPress expriences by the people on the panel was interesting but not sure if this type of information was relative to the topic.
Nice guy though. Managed to survive Dr. Pepper shots with him later in the evening.
Speakers: Lloyd Budd (WordPress Quality Assurance) and Mark Jaquith (WordPress Development)
Nothing out of the ordinary here as they spoke about the following (much of which can be grokked from the WordPress site):
- Bug Tracking: trac.wordpress.org.
- Documentation: codex.wordpress.org.
- Source Code: Use
svn co http://svn.automatic.com/wordpress.
- Development Mail List: lists.automatic.com.
- Development Instant Chat: Use #wordpress on freenote.
4pm - Designing the Obvious
Speaker: Robert Hoekman, Jr.
Apparently Matt really liked his book of the same name. I plan to check it out despite I thought the lecture was the worst of the day. I guess, in the last couple hours before Robert’s lecture, he decided to through his slides and improvise. Bad move, dude. Should have stuck to the slides.
Still, here are a few notes:
- Web site speed matters if you want to keep users.
- Surface feed syndication on your site and make sure it is understood. Use graphics or graphical documentation that illustrates the point clearly.
- Show the most popular posts.
- Show related posts.
- Show recently viewed posts.
Speaker: Matt Cutts, Google.
This was the best speaker of the day despite being ill prepared. Really enjoyed listening to him talk and what he had to offer. Details of Matt’s talk can be found on his site. Here are a few of my notes:
- ALT Tags - Use them. They are not only good for when images do not load but for those who are blind.
- Use post creation dates as they are good for giving the reader a sense of date and time as well as chronological order.
- Be wary of URL address usage as it can screw up your search results. Choose one format and stick with it. For example, use www.aeonscope.net or aeonscope.net but not both.
- Ad Sense - Try thinking about using the following tags in your posts to control Google Ads for a specific post rather than the entire web site (which is what you get by default):
7:30pm - Lucky 13 Bar
Open bar and with the WordCamp crew and attendees. Had a lot of fun meeting people.
Here are few related notes from the day starting with a few of the people I met during the day:
- Crystal R. Williams - She is a slave to coffee.
- Kari Unebasami - This is not her main site. I didn’t write down the link. Drat.
- Julie Nelson - She is trying to create a community around summer cottages in Canada. She has a hard road ahead of her due to the elder demographic she is trying to reach. I can not even get my parents connected!
- Mike Melanson - A Linux engineer using WordPress.
- Harald Rudell - A systems engineer using WordPress.
- Eleanor - A photo blogger.
Plugins worth checking out:
- Democracy - Allows for user polling in posts.
- SEO Title - Improves post title search capability.
- Brian’s Threaded Comments - Thread comments like a forum.
- WP Mobile - Enhances your web page so that content can be easily consumed on mobile device.
Finally, a few links:
- Finding Dereck - This is an author who is using a blog to create the main character of her new book through user participation. Clever.
- SOB Awards - Awarded to successful bloggers.
- Google Webmaster Central Blogspot - Web master tips and tricks.
- Google Webmaster Central - Tools for web masters.
- Google Keyword Tool - Improves your understanding and use of web keywords.
Article Series - WordCamp 2007
Unfortunately, we did not have time to check out all of what the park had to offer but I plan to come back. There is so much I have yet to see in this area despite having traveled though many times already.
We traveled on Highway 95 to Torrey, UT. The following are pictures from this region (map included at the end):
We stopped in Escalante, Utah on Highway 12 for lunch. We had burger, fries, and shake since it was hot out. With the fries came a special fry sauce that is a combination of thousand island dressing and pickles. Apparently it is unique to Utah and was a new discovery for me. I’ll be stopping there again! Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the burger stand but since the town is so small it would not be hard to figure out. The following is a picture of Hell’s Backbone near Escalante:
…and further down Highway 12 is Bryce Canyon (if you use the map above, you can see that Bryce is in the lower left corner):
While traveling the outskirts of a beautiful forest on Highway 14 into Cedar City, Utah, we spotted a forest fire in Zion National Park:
Once we reached Cedar City, Utah. Andy and I decided to part ways. It was not due to a personal dispute of any kind but because Andy had some business requirements that forced him to be in San Francisco Thursday afternoon instead of Thursday evening as I had assumed. He felt that he could reach San Francisco faster by traveling South through Las Vegas rather than cut across Nevada as I had mapped. So I stayed the course and started cutting across Nevada by myself where the roads were much like this:
Little did I know that the next 200 miles would be like that! I would travel though one ancient lake bed, over a hill top, and be greeted by similar terrain on the other side. There was not a soul in sight but I managed to travel 150 miles in an hour and a half maintaining a speed of roughly 100mph the whole time. Despite being extremely desolate, and the fact that if anything happened to me no one would probably figure it out for quite some time, it does have a sort of eerie beauty to it. Like a lunar landscape except not all white and much more shrubbery.
I reached Tonopah, Nevada around 7:45pm (local time) and checked into a Best Western hotel since it had free WiFi and breakfast. I couldn’t find any campgrounds out there but after having been through 200 miles of nothing I figured it was wise to take in some modern comforts.
Article Series - WordCamp 2007
We left home
a little after 8:30am to stop at:
Rocky Mountain Cycle Plaza
412 N Chelton Rd.
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
Andy needed a half-faced helmet that would give him more protection than what he already had since his original helmet was mostly just a skull cap. This set us back a couple hours due to traffic, construction, and getting to and from the Rocky Mountain Cycle Plaza. We managed to get out of Colorado Springs just after 11am with a new, half-faced, Bell helmet for Andy.
Once on the road, it was smooth sailing. Here are some shots from the Curecanti National Recreation Area (near Gunnison, Colorado):
We then traveled on to Norwood, Colorado which is at an elevation of 7,014 feet and flattens out to ranch and farmland. You end up scaling up a deep canyon as shown here:
We stopped for gas in Naturita, Colorado and met a local who mentioned we take this route as it is very scenic:
Unfortunately, we did not have time to investigate this further but I am making a note of this for future reference for others and myself. If the road from Naturita to La Sal, Utah then I am all for it! Here are some pictures taken on Highway 90 from Naturita to La Sal:
We ended the day by reaching Natural Bridges National Monument:
It was a long day traveling just under 500 miles and reaching the campsite by 10pm. After getting the place setup, fixing food, and cleaning up it was roughly midnight by the time we fell asleep.
Article Series - WordCamp 2007
During the course of upgrading this site I was finally able to get the FeedBurner FeedSmith plug-in installed on this site. FeedBurner, for those unaware, is a service, both free and paid, that allows one to track the statistics of your syndicated feeds.
The process was really easy which makes me feel silly for not taking the time to do this earlier. Here is a quick tour, started by creating a FeedBurner account and creating a new feed (in this case my posts feed):
Once you have all your FeedBurner feeds created, switch back to your WordPress–>Options–>FeedBurner menu and enter the FeedBurner feeds created earlier. For example, I have set up both my posts and comments feeds to be analyzed by FeedBurner:
With both FeedBurner and WordPress setup, FeedBurner will start tracking usage statistics on your feeds easily viewable once logged into your FeedBurner account:
Even though the WordPress plugin only allows you to track your post and comment feeds, I like the fact that you can track multiple feeds within one FeedBurner account. The best part is that all this is transparent to the user with no interruption to their subscription(s)!
- When: July 21, 2007 (Saturday) and July 22, 2007 (Sunday)
- Where: Swedish American Hall in San Francisco. Further info found at Upcoming.
- Schedule - Click to view the details.
Part of me is just itching to turn this into a great adventure by packing up the camping gear, the camera, and jumping on two wheels for an amazing drive across the American West:
It would be great to travel through Torrey, Utah again…
Either way I am definitely considering driving or flying to San Francisco.
Article Series - WordCamp 2007
I have been on a quest lately to improve communication within the corporate space. I have been primarily focused on using the latest social networking technology - namely, blogging technology powered by WordPress. I thought the following might be worth sharing in case it is of use to others.
Five months ago, I instigated a movement at work by setting up a blog for my team which then blossomed company-wide (well, not really but I’ll explain more in a bit). I did this because I wanted a way in which to capture what I was working on as well as see what others were doing within the team. The idea was each of us is doing interesting things so lets share it. For example, maybe the problems that I am solving apply to something another person is working on and visa versa, maybe I learned a new way of writing code, or maybe I learned a new software trick that made what I do faster. I see blogs as a way to capture these nuggets of info that can be stored for future use as well as be easily searchable. It also serves as a way in which to record breadcrumbs of information allowing someone who is following your trail to easily pick up where you left off. If nothing else, blogs help foster a community. A way to make the job just a little bit more fun and interesting. That is the idea anyway.
To help build a foundation for those new to this type of software, I have given a tech talk, written documentation, created screencast tutorials, and provided many links for reference within the walls of the company. I spent a lot of time and effort making this possible because I believed in what I was doing and I also believed that the company get would become engaged.
In addition to the educational materials mentioned above, I have also been very active amongst all internal sites (which are roughly fifteen in total). In my team alone, I am the most active blogger posting things that I learn and develop on an almost daily basis.
To me the idea and its implementation was helpful and streamlined. However, the experiment did not turn out as I had planned.
The problem was no matter how hard I tried to educate the company and its employees, only a handful made use of it. They would much rather stick to e-mail - which is overused in my opinion (see my post on Corporate E-mail Pitfalls for more info). The paradigm shift from e-mail to blogging (or anything that supports syndicated feeds) seemed too complex versus the status quo.
Because I view blogging as a way of life, I had no good answer to their objections. I view blogging as something you should want to try it out. The value is not necessarily realized by watching but by doing. This is HUGE hurdle to overcome because people need to get their jobs done and blogging can be considered wasted time.
My motivation stems from my use of what I write because if no one reads what I write then I will. As time rolls on, I might forget certain details and having a blog is an excellent way to go back in time and dig up something that I’ve done and might need to do again. That alone has saved me many times that the benefit far outweighs the cost. Even better, once you have written about it you can easily send a hyperlink to someone who might be asking you for advice.
Though I wish my passion for blogging had been shared by my company and fellow employees, I can not say that my experiences were purely positive. Out of the fifteen sites within the company today, only two of them are active. The rest have been abandoned. By this I mean that management has requested that all employees write weekly reports once a week that summarize what they have done, what they plan to do in the coming week, and any outstanding issues they might have had during the week. These reports can be useful but most are just badly formated noise. This counts as abandonment with no real involvement.
I remain optimistic, despite my particular obstacles, and hope that over time people will become more involved.
- Choose software that is easy to configure, maintain, and use. My choice, as mentioned, is WordPress, but there are others out there that might suite your needs better.
- Make sure some basic blogging guidelines are in place and people are aware of them.
- Appoint a champion early on to lead the effort and do not take this lightly. Not only do you need a champion but one who has the official blessing and approval of management. This needs to be made known company-wide.
- Start education early. Get people engaged and pick leaders from the various teams within the company to help you spread the love (so-to-speak).
- Provide plenty of tutorials and examples. Make it really easy for those who are stubborn or resistant to change to jump in. Anything you can do to lower the learning curve, the better.
- Do not let management mandate what people should or should not do. Any time there is a management mandate then it feels more like work and takes a bit of the fun out of it. This needs to grow organically.
- Actions always prove louder than words. Lead by example. Give people something to aspire to but don’t make it so daunting that they will be easily discouraged.
Check out an article by Path & Vinegar called Egos and Silos and Social Media. Food for thought.