Knowing Your Limits And Gaming Yourself

Since starting this blog several years ago, I’ve tried several techniques to keep up a regular blogging routine. From blogging daily for a week or two, to attempting to blog every day for an entire year, I’ve tried them all.

While this blog isn’t a business for me, it’s a great way to share knowledge, thoughts and interesting discoveries. At the same time, I simply cannot dedicate all day every day to blogging, researching and constructing articles. Ultimately, it’s also not how I most enjoy writing.

So here’s what I’ve done. Continue reading

Shifting the WordPress Mindset

I presented at WordCamp Cape Town 2012 yesterday on the topic of “Shifting the WordPress Mindset”. The objective of the presentation was to take a retrospective look at WordPress’ history and evolution, helping everyone (both new and seasoned users) to understand where we as the WordPress community has evolved from, where we are currently within WordPress’ growth and, thus, to enable us to more accurately forecast and understand where WordPress is heading as a platform and to help us, as a community, understand the role that we play and how we can help to evolve WordPress.

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A note to The Parlotones, as they jet off to America

The Parlotones

Earlier today, Rolling Stone South Africa published an article reporting that South African rock band, The Parlotones (or, as Gareth Cliff calls them, The Par-lot-ones), are moving to Los Angeles, California, in an attempt to reach further into the international music market. While I’m not a Parlotones fan, I am a big lover of South African music, and wanted to mull over a few thoughts, here, regarding this latest move by The Parlotones.

South Africa met The Parlotones several years ago. Instantly, the nation saw something in these gents (I’ll bet even your great auntie knows who they are). Since their inception, they’ve played at the FIFA 2010 World Cup, featured on television & radio… hang, they even had their own KFC-sponsored meal. To many South Africans, this is common knowledge and The Parlotones are a household name.

When looking at the South African music scene, there seems to be an inherent divide between the independents and the major labels. Many fans of ska, punk, metal and other, less-commercially friendly genres tend to “rebel”, if you will, against commercial artists, slating them for being “same-y” or “poppy”. While I’m certainly not a fan of The Parlotones (all their songs sound much the same to me), I feel it’s important to say a few things about and to the band, as they jet off to further their careers (as a band, and most likely as musicians in general, I’d imagine) in Los Angeles:

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Achieve any goal (and track your progress) with Lift

"Lift" LogoLets face it, we all have those tasks in life that we with we did more often- “I should really blog more”, is one of mine (hence this blog post). Sometimes, we have surges of motivation in which we begin our good habit-forming tasks, only to forget about them a few moments later.

The big question is, why shouldn’t we be keeping good habits and achieving our desired goals? I can’t think of any reason other than human nature, really.

Enter “Lift”, a web and iOS app that encourages good habit forming, helps to track progress and adds encouragement via the sending and receiving of “props” from friends connected through Facebook and Twitter.

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Set a custom rewrite rule for author archives in WordPress

In the comments of my post on custom rewrite rules in WordPress, I received a query regarding creating author profile URLs using a rewrite convention of “/profile“.

The WordPress author archives are a great way to create profiles for each author on your WordPress-powered website (in fact, it’s done for you by default). The author archives also make use of the “author.php” template file, if it exists in the theme, allowing for easy additions of custom information about the author, custom content from various areas of your website or links to their social media profiles. The question is, how can we leverage this and still have “/profile” as a part of the URL to each author’s archive screen?

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Test your knowledge of WordPress with “The WordPress Test”

So… you think you know WordPress, huh? 😉 Well, why not test your skills and see where you rank on the world’s stage? Presenting… the WordPress test!

I blogged the other day about using Smarterer and Code School for online education. As a starting point, take the test below and see how you stack up. You never know… the results may just surprise you. 🙂

WordPress

Once you’ve done taking the test, sign up over at Smarterer and take a few other tests to verify and enhance your skills set.

One-up your web development skills for free with these online services

As a developer in an industry where trends and languages grow and evolve at pace, it is virtually impossible to keep track of all the latest happenings. Thus, developers tend to specialise in certain languages or platforms which they watch. For example, while I keep tabs on developments within the PHP and WordPress communities, and I’m aware of what’s happening with CSS3 and HTML5, I may not keep a hawk-eye on CSS3 and HTML5, and certainly don’t know all the latest trends (simply because I don’t use the technology often enough). The converse would apply for a frontend designer. If this is the case, shouldn’t we constantly be striving to increase and better our knowledge in both the areas we are in touch with, as well as those which we aren’t?

I’ve been working with two websites in particular in my quest to further this goal- Code School for learning and Smarterer for testing and validating skills learned. The ways in which I’ve used them may not be obvious though. Continue reading

Default post thumbnails in WordPress

There is regular discussion within the WordPress user community on certain common encounters developers have when creating themes and plugins. One such discussion is around post thumbnails 1 and, more specifically, how to specify a default thumbnail. After reading a few discussions around this, I thought I’d share my take on things.

There are a myriad of methods to achieve this. Some developers do conditional checks in their code to see if an entry has an image assigned to it. This is the most common method of applying a default thumbnail. If the entry doesn’t have a thumbnail, display a default image. That’s pretty straight forward. That being said, this method requires extra logic on the frontend of your website, which may not always be clean/necessary.

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Writing and the lack of writing

Folks, I’d like to open this post with a question: do you ever find yourself typing too much? Too many words for what you’re trying to say/think/communicate? I do. A lot.

Over the years, through all the blogging, coding, IM-ing and e-mailing, I find I can now type significantly faster than I can write. While this does worry me somewhat (writing is an art-form that should be preserved as our generation shifts closer towards using technology for everyday communication), there is also a thought to take away from this.

How do we know what we’re really thinking if we don’t stop and think about it? Continue reading

Is DrawSomething a new approach to gathering Big Data?

Data is fast becoming the hot commodity in today’s society. What do we know about our customers? How can we use our customer’s habits and trends to make our product better? While this concept is not uncommon in the non-digital world (printed surveys and small inserts in magazines aren’t uncommon), filling in surveys is fast becoming a common and, frankly, boring method of collecting data about customers or users or a product.

I know, why not make them draw things instead?

DrawSomething, a popular mobile and online game by OMGPOP, has taken the digital world by storm. Worldwide, mobile users are connecting with their friends (many via Facebook) and drawing pictures of words such as “swimming”, “magnet” and “katyperry”, in the hopes that their friend will be able to guess the word correctly. This digital take on the popular “Pictionary” board game is great fun and, frankly, rather difficult to put down. Other than the fun factor, what is the real bigger picture (pardon the punn)?

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