WordPress Security Presentation

The first ever WordCamp Charleston was held this past Saturday to a sellout crowd, and it was a huge success. Everyone involved did a great job, and there was a diverse and interesting group of attendees. It was so fun actually that I can’t wait for the next one. Too bad I can’t make it up to WordCamp Asheville.

Anyway, I promised I would put up the slides of my talk on WordPress security, and here they are. Of course there was a lot of talking that went along with these, so there may be gaps in what does and doesn’t make sense. All of the talks at WordCamp were captured on video however, and they should be up at WordCamp.TV soon. I will let you know as soon as that happens.

Oh, and if you found this presentation interesting, you should also check out my friend Jared Smith’s presentation on WordPress Peak Performance. His slide deck is available on his site. Trust me, he is the guru of this stuff.

So, enjoy the pointers on securing and backing up your WordPress site and, as always, if you have any questions just give me a shout!

Review – The Maker Movement Manifesto

The Maker Movement is really gaining steam these days. From “Make Labs” down the road The Maker Movement Manifestoto Arduinos in every RadioShack, the maker phenomenon is spreading like wildfire. For some this grassroots movement to create new things is hard to understand. That is where Mark Hatch’s book “The Maker Movement Manifesto” comes in to play. Published by McGraw Hill and subtitled “Rules for innovation in the new world of crafters, hackers, and tinkerers”, this book is a 40,000 foot management overview of the changing world of innovation.

Hatch is the CEO of TechShop, a maker space where inventors and innovators can go to test out ideas, use the available equipment, and create the projects of their dreams. In this book he uses the experiences he has gained at that location to follow the path of ventures such as DoDoCase, the iPad case manufacturing company, to Square and Oru Kayak.

The examples and case studies are the backbone of the book. What we are seeing here is the maker experience from the business side. In contrast to a nuts-and-bolts book like Zero To Maker” by David Lang, The Maker Movement Manifesto is an enthusiastic relation of the maker psychology and the perks of approaching manufacturing in a new way. Whether it is shortened designed times, less need for out-side investment, or a more hands on and adaptive method of the product evolution, Hatch discusses the big picture issues. Issues like the correct software to use, the different microprocessors to consider, and the implications of the various styles of 3-D printers are beyond the scope.

If you are new to the field, if you need to know why people are excited about the maker movement and why it is being compared to the birth of the Internet, then this a great book. The style is friendly, the examples inspiring, and the read enjoyable. But if you have a grasp of why you want to be a maker are are looking for a guide on how to be on, you might be better off with “Zero To Maker”.

A Choice of Simple Tools

My primary requirement for a tool is that it stay out of my way. Ok, so maybe that is requirement number two, right after the requirement of the tool fulfilling its purpose. But honestly, if a tool can perform its required function then the next most important characteristic for me is that it be as non-obtrusive as possible. This applies to simple tools like screwdrivers and hammers as well as more complex tools such as computers and their software.

Simplicity ToolsWhen I pick up a hammer I expect it to be able to drive a nail into a board. I do not need it to have a compass to guide the way or a light to illuminate the path. Such things would only add needless complexity to the device and would thus get in my way. It is the simplicity of the device that makes it both useful and appropriate. The same goes for a screwdriver. Multiple attachments, lights in the body, and fancy sheathing may sound attractive at first, but when I am trying to get a job done those added complexities could actually make the job more difficult. The beauty of simplicity is that it represents just enough. Just enough to accomplish the work – not too little so that you require more time or tools, and not too much so that extra effort is expended.

This simplicity is also how I choose software. I am an Apple fan; there is no doubt about that. But I am an Apple fan for a reason. I will not deny, not in the least, that Windows and Linux may be immensely more configurable than Mac OSX. But that configurability adds a level of complexity that I find in no way necessary. That configurability actually gets in my way. I feel the same way about the Android mobile operating system versus IOS.
Continue reading “A Choice of Simple Tools”

A Look at a Online Word Processors

More and more I find that ideas occur to me and the need to write calls to me when I am on a computer, but not necessarily my main personal machine. What all of the machines I might be sitting at have though is a web browser. From there I can check my main, search the Internet, and most importantly, access a web based word processor. There are quite a few options when it comes to web based writing, and I decided to take a look at the major ones so I could find the one most suited to my needs.

Writing In The CloudsFirst though we need to mention the machine-based Microsoft Word. Yes, I know that the native MS Word is not an online tool, but let’s face it, Word is the standard. I am not going to say it is the best or the brightest, but it is the word processor that almost all people cut their teeth on. Because it is what we learned on, and because it is the industry standard for document submission, and because most people have a copy of it already on the computer, like it or not Word is what we judge everything else from. Sure I would love to turn off 90% of it off for my daily use, but when I need those extra features it is really nice to have them around. So this is what we will be judging against.

Word in Office 365 Online

Since this is a much different product to MS Word that runs directly on the machine, I wanted to test this out and see what is or isn’t available.  I really don’t care too much about all the layout tools because what I am trying to do is write, not do pretty publication.

The product looks very nice, but there are unfortunately a few features missing that are very important to me. I was about to say that word count was missing, but then I found it. It was just hiding down there in the bottom left corner. This is symptomatic of Microsoft – things you need are just too darn hidden. On the other hand, a grammar checker doesn’t exist. Some might not like having a program watch over their grammar for them, but I find it is very useful in catching wild misspellings and also pointing out some blatant wording blunders. I can always ignore it if I like, but I do like having it available. A spelling checker is available, but grammar is not.

There are headers and footers available, as well as page numbers, tables, images, hyperlinks, and all that stuff. However, none of that would I really use in my daily writing. But at least the features are there.

In operation it is actually quite comfortable to write in, and with the push of a button it will open my local copy of Word and I can keep on working.  And since the document is stored in my SkyDrive account that is synced up on my numerous computers, it is backed up and available everywhere. I can even use it on  my iPad. I will also say that to Microsoft’s credit the web-based writing is very fluid. I have not experienced any of the odd freezes or lags that I have seen in other software. Not bad. Not bad at all.

And now on to Google Apps.

Continue reading “A Look at a Online Word Processors”

All That New Christmas Technology

OK, so I am writing an update of my post from 2009 that was titled “So You Got A New PC“. I will finish it and get it up soon – updated to deal with newer versions of Windows and Mac and iOS and yes, maybe even Android. Until then though, please go read the original post and make sure you have working anti-virus software installed on your Windows machine and for all devices – backup, backup, backup!