WordPress Custom Fields Contest

Update: This contest has been extended to March 30, 2007.

There is an often-overlooked aspect of WordPress that adds functionality that is more geared to a Content Management System than a blogging platform. And that’s why, perhaps, the world’s #1 blogging software finds that many users don’t really use Custom Fields.

I think that’s a travesty.

Conversations in the blog software world always toy with concepts that look forward to what should be introduced in a blogging software. A lot of these conversations circulate around breaking blogs out of the status quo which are “typical blogging templates”. Different approaches were taken at different times in the history of the blogging platform. For instance, the conversation around categories and how conversations could really be more granular than simple categories led to the advent of tags which are seen around the blogosphere. Trackbacks were used to alert another party of your conversation surrounding them but as spammers started exploiting trackbacks, pingbacks were invented which were more passive and allowed discovery of conversation surrounding the blogger.

Evolutions come and go, yet, blogging by and large remains a linear concept that is driven mainly by content creation and reader interaction. To that end, themes are built to this standard.

But what if the standard is just too limiting? What if the standard can be enhanced and changed? What if simple personal blogs could be turned into effective content properties?

Custom Fields may be the answer to the question, how do you make the mundane reach these goals?

I’m running a contest here at Technosailor and there are prizes involved. There is also judging. But there is time.

The Contest

Continue reading

WordPress Trunk

It probably interests no one but me, but I’m becoming more of an SVN ninja. It took me days to figure out how to setup a web accessible SVN server with appropriate web, svn and filesystem permissions (i.e. this repository is world readable, but can only be written to by me). I’ve been using SVN on the client side for a couple of years now, though not as a ninja, because of WordPress. In essence, I was downloading nightly builds of WordPress when it was 1.6-alpha (what would become the 2.0.x branch). Now, I am building everything on top of SVN, from plugins to personal projects, to contractor projects and on. Repositories are a commodity and with change control and versioning, it makes it dirt easy to revert when something is broke.

So I took the next logical step personally, and wrote a cron job to automatically svn me to trunk every day. That means I’ll always be running the latest.

Scary.

Q: What if WordPress introduces a bug that breaks the blog?

A: I can easily revert back to an early revision thanks to SVN.

Q: Why run unstable software?

A: Because this is a biggish blog (Top 2600 in Technorati today, whoo!) and no better way to find bugs and squash them before WordPress 2.2 is launched (in Aprilish) than to run trunk constantly in a big environment. WordPress.com runs trunk as well, so if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

Q: Aren’t you worried about hackers?

A: I’ll answer this gently… Not really. I don’t invite them to hack me, but if they do then it’s good exposure on a flaw and we have kick-ass backup support at LogicWorks. So no, not really. The good outweighs the bad here.

Timecapsule Plugin 1.0.3

A few of you have been asking me about when Timecapsule (initially released on Problogger) would be WordPress 2.1 compliant. The time is now and not yet.

For those who wish to download and test (please do!), you can do so via SVN:

1
svn co http://svn.b5media.com/svn/timecapsule/trunk

Or download the nightly.

I am looking to take this plugin to the next level and build features so speak up if you want features. Hart, this means you. And anyone else. :-)

Startup Truths: There is no Time or Money

I was reading Matt Mullenweg’s post about an interview that Robert Scoble recently had with Jonathon Schwarz of Sun in which it seemed Sun continued to be disconnected with reality. With respect, Schwarz responded and apologized for the perception that Sun presented. (As a sidenote, the comments on Schwarz’ entry are quite good).

Matt makes a statement that struck me as so profound that it leapt off the page at me:

At one point in the Scoble interview Jonathan Schwartz says something to the effect of their startup program targets folks with more time than money, where their enterprise customers usually value time over money. I think this might represent a fundamental misunderstanding. While I think this argument could be made for the motivation of some segment of Open Source communities, the situation in startups is even worse “” time and money are both scarce.

Anyone who has worked in a startup recognizes that Schwarz’ comment on startup is completely false. When I was working at Northrop Grumman and volunteering for b5media, I had no time and, let’s be honest – that’s really how most startups begin. Unless the folks at the helm of the startup already had capital and traction in the startup world, they need someway to pay the bills. Most folks in this situation work a “day job” ansd then slave away at the startup at night or on weekends trying to make it work.

Even once a startup is funded, this doesn’t really change. The pot of gold gets bigger and the strategies get more aggressive. Sure, you’re not working a day job and trying to make the startup work at night, but you face other challenges. Please don’t take this as complaining because I love what I do, but I still find it strangely ironic that folks sometime think us startup guys don’t really do anything but sit at home and surf the net.

My wife will tell you that I spend a large amount of time working late, spending time in front of the computer instead of going to bed with her. It’s not a cakewalk like some people might think it is.

I laugh at my dad who has no clue what I do. I tell him but he still doesn’t “get it”. He says, “People always ask me what you do and where you’re at and I just tell them, ‘I have no idea what he does but he does it well’.”

I’ve never been happier in my life. But anyone who thinks that startup guys have lots of time on their hands is fooling themselves. In some ways, there is more pressure to perform than in the big corporate environment. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

WordPress 2.1 Gotchas

I figured I’d follow up my 10 Things You Should Know About WordPress 2.1 with another useful post. The reality is that there were bound to be discoveries by the masses after the launch and over the past few days, this assumption has been borne out. The really tech savvy among us and those who participate (or at least religiously observe) in WordPress development, particularly via the email lists, have a tendency to “forget” what it’s like to not know the ins and outs of WordPress.

So having watched the uptake of WP 2.1 the past few days and learned a thing or two that I did not know along the way, I thought it would be useful to post some of the things that have cropped up in the mass migrations from WordPress 2.0.x to WordPress 2.1.

After my upgrade, my blogroll is all screwy.

I mentioned in my 10 Things article that there were semantic reasons for the combination (at least on the back end) of categories and what was formerly knows as “Links”. You’ll notice that Links is now called Bookmarks and is actually a category to itself among the Category listing. Continue reading

Social Networking Trends: Social Travel

Social travel is a new movement in the travel sector that is taking advantage of the Web 2.0 concept.

Just in case you’re not familiar with Web 2.0, the first round of web technologies, Web 1.0, was mostly read-only, while Web 2.0 is enabled for massive read-write capabilities. Two things make this possible: rich web technologies and social computing tools. Rich web technologies consist of things like Ajax, RSS, and Ruby on Rails, while social computing tools are primarily social networks, search, wikis, blogs, and tagging. The “Web 2.0 goal”: creating new paradigms in how software is used by consumers and companies. For the travel industry, Social Travel is that very thing.

Over the past decade, travel software has evolved as an extension of existing travel channels, by web-enabling the travel buying experience. At first this was hailed as a revolution because you didn’t have to rely on an airline customer service operator or travel agent to find you the best deal. You, the customer became in control, and didn’t have to submit to the mercy of the airline-owned Global Distribution System (GDS) products that were based on old mainframe technology.

With the advent of the web, travel sites popped up and pricing started to become more transparent, enabling the building of three types of business models. First, there were traditional sites (like Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz), which were extensions of their big brother GDS platforms. Then came reverse auctions (such as Priceline), which let you communicate how much you would be willing to pay. And finally, to squeeze out that last dollar, remnant sites (like HotWire and CheapTickets) that took all the extra inventory to market and delivered dollars that would otherwise never have been spent. The main thing wasn’t how good or bad these travel sites might have been in terms of inventory or design. The crucial thing they did was to empower the consumer with choice.

However, choice wasn’t enough. Incremental innovations including predictive pricing (like Farecast), multi-site search (Mobissimo, for example), and mobile communications (such as Kayak Mobile) helped sites evolve—but something was still truly missing. It was the community and communication between travelers.

Today, the online travel sector is undergoing a revolution. Or more accurately, a convergence between travel sites and social computing that is creating this new category of social travel. The overall goals of social travel sites are to enable community and communication between people who might travel together, share travel destination interests, and look for better information on destinations and service providers.

In the end, this is still about selling travel services—airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, and cruises—but social travel opens up all kinds of new selling opportunities, such as:

1: Group Travel. This lets you include all your friends and family in groups, to coordinate travel for events and vacations. For consumers, it means group buying power, and for travel service providers, it means more revenue as there is less hassle in the buying process.

2: Accurate Destination Marketing. This is not just knowing where people have gone in the past; it is about knowing where they like and want to go—making the marketing process more effective.

Right now, several sites in this space are taking various approaches in the social travel space. The primary ones out there are Groople, TravelPost, TripHub, TripConnect, and 43places.

Coming up next: VentureFiles will review some of the companies we mentioned in more depth, taking a look at what makes them compelling and what could break them out of their current “early-adopter only” phase.

10 Things You Should Know About WordPress 2.1

Back in December of 2005, I was filling in for Darren Rowse at ProBlogger and I wrote an entry that was very highly read and commented on. The topic was 10 Things You Should Know About WordPress 2.0. The occasion was the release of the much-waited for release of the current major release of WordPress (We’re up to 2.0.7 but the “dot releases” have all been security/bugfix releases).

Tomorrow (January 22, 2007), WordPress 2.1 will be released and it signifies the first major release since the 2.0 branch was launched. As is typical of major releases, they do not only address security/bugfixes but they release new functionality.

So in the spirit of the original article, I give you ten things you should know about WordPress 2.1.

Continue reading

I Love the Bay Area

It may not come as a whole heap of a surprise but I love California. I’ve never been to Southern Cal but it strikes me as a little too non-fun for me. It’s full of upper crust people that are so full of themselves that anything less than People Magazine simply won’t do it.

I like regular people. People who you can have a beer with and laugh about stupid stuff. People who understand the nuances of business but yet aren’t so caught up in money to be flaky. People who understand a good work-life balance and put it into practice. I enjoy cool summers and warm winters and picturesque mountains within eyesight.

I love San Francisco.

For the second time in my life, and really, the second time in 6 months, I’m in the Bay Area. Sure, the 3 hour time change kicks my ass. I wake up at 7am here feeling like it’s 10am and I never wake up before 9am at home. The flip side of that is that I want to crash at 8pm, instead of going to a jazz club or having dinner with a colleeague.

I still love San Francisco.

See, I have expensive taste on a pauper budget. If I could choose one of two places in the world to live, it would be New York or San Francisco. It’s expensive to live in either of those places. Too expensive for my budget. That can change, of course, but right now I live in Baltimore – because it’s affordable.

I’ll never be a Giants fan or a 49ers fan. Hell, I couldn’t tell you what sport the San Jose Sharks play. But I love the atmosphere. I love the weather. On the east coast, we get super humidity thanks to trade winds from the southeast and the Gulf of Mexico. During the winter, we get Canada’s Alberta Clippers that serves to freeze my tooshie. On the west coast, the Pacific Ocean keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We drove the 101 with the top down in the convertible today. Fantastic weather.

When I was here in August, it took me three days to find someone who was not nice. In Baltimore – give me 15 minutes.

In the Bay Area, violent crime is in two-digits for a city of 6 million. In Baltimore? 300+ in a city of 300,000. In Baltimore, we have 100 degrees with 98% humidity in July. In San Francisco? 70 degrees with 10% humidity. In Baltimore, it’s 35 degrees right now. In San Francisco, it’s 55. In Baltimore, people wear ties to work because of customers. In San Francisco, it’s torn jeans because product speaks for itself.

I love this town.