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6 posts from December 2011

Are You Following the WordPress Development Updates Site?

If you use WordPress for publishing content online and are interested in how the platform is evolving, do you follow the "WordPress Development Updates" blog found at:

It is the "official blog for the core development team" and is regularly updated with news of their meetings, activities and other projects. For instance, for those of us interested in WordPress Multisite (as I am), there was a recap of a recent meeting focused on ideas for improving Multisite. There was also a thread earlier in the month about adding images to plugin pages on, which explains why many of the pages have now added photos. And there was discussion of what would be in a "TwentyTwelve" default WordPress theme.

All good stuff to monitor for those of you heavily using WordPress. You can, of course, subscribe via RSS... and an email option is also provided.

Kudos to the core development team for keeping us all informed on what they are doing (or thinking about doing).


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The Remarkable Success of Sean Quigley's Little Drummer Boy Video

The tools we have today to unleash creativity are utterly amazing. Recording a version of the classic song "The Little Drummer Boy" is not terribly remarkable... but... creating your own arrangement, playing all the instruments and singing, recording and editing a really fun video, and then getting 1.4 million hits on YouTube... and all at the age of 16... THAT is remarkable!

If you haven't seen it yet, just watch 16-year-old Sean Quigley's video:

As a result of the amazing interest in the video, the high school student in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, (note the red "Canada" gloves in the video) has now been on the major Canadian TV and radio networks and has been receiving attention from around the world. As articles in USA Today and on CTV News can attest, he now has an agent and is in fact selling copies of his song online.

This interview on CTV News back on December 2nd gives a bit of the background:

Of course, at that time, the number of views was still only in the thousands. Now, as I'm writing this post, the number of views is closing in on 1.4 million... and I'd expect it to probably go even higher.

What I find so cool about this all is that Sean Quigley did all of this himself with the help of a few friends.

He shot it all using a basic DSLR camera. He recorded all the instruments and vocals into a computer. He did the editing/post-production - I don't know using what software but there are many inexpensive choices.

No fancy commercial production houses. No extra producers.

Just a talented individual able to make use of tools he had available.

He didn't need to ask permission of anyone to upload the video.

He just did.

It's awesome to see... and he and his family and friends certainly have a good bit to be proud of... I'm looking forward to seeing what he'll do next!

And I'm looking forward to the continued creativity to come out of all the people in this world with the easy access to tools... and an open Internet on which to publish their work...

P.S. Those interested in following what is next for Sean Quigley can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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5 Critical Facts You Need To Know About Jan 12th Launch of New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)

Are you aware that on January 12, 2011, a fundamental change to the Internet's naming infrastructure is beginning? Are you thinking about what it means to your company or organization?

What's going on?

On that date, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) starts taking applications for new "generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Here are five critical facts:

1. The gTLD process may result in 10s or 100s of new top-level domains

A "top-level domain" (TLD) is the final part of a domain name. Originally there were only eight TLDs:

.com .edu .gov .int .mil .net .org .arpa

ICANN was awarded the contract to manage the DNS system in 1998 and engaged in two rounds of domain expansion in 2000 and 2004 that resulted in the addition of 15 more domains (see the ICANN agreements):

.aero .asia .biz .cat .coop .info .jobs .mobi .museum .name .post .pro .tel .travel .xxx

Additionally, there are 250-ish two-letter "country code top-level domains (ccTLDs)" that are handled by each nation. (And some of those ccTLDs are available commercially to anyone such as ".tv". ".me", ".co", etc.)

This new round of domain name expansion happening comes after about an 18-month process by ICANN to engage many different stakeholders in the process. It will allow anyone who can meet the criteria to establish a "registry" for a new domain name. ICANN created a video that explains the program:

2. These New Domain Names Will Most Likely Not Be Out Until 2013

On January 12, 2012, the application process will start for entities that want to apply to register a new gTLD. As explained in the Applicant Guidebook, the process is quite lengthy and involves a significant amount of both technical and business due diligence. It also costs $185,000 USD just to apply, plus the additional costs of setting up the business, technical infrastructure, etc.

The application process closes on April 12, 2012, and given the lengthy process the earliest that new gTLDs would most likely become available is early 2013.

3. You Need To Watch The gTLD Applicants To Ensure No Trademark Issues

ICANN has stated that "approximately 2 weeks after the close of the application window, ICANN will post the public portions of all applications that have been received on our website. At this time, the formal objection period will begin and will last for approximately 7 months." (See Section 4.1 of ICANN's gTLD FAQ.)

ICANN has stated that at the current time they will NOT be notifying brand name / trademark holders of applications using their brand/trademark (see Section 1.12 of the FAQ), so you need to pay attention to what is being proposed.

4. There Is An Opportunity Here for Brands

If your company/organization has both the financial and technical capability to operate a gTLD registry, there is a great potential here for carving out your area of the Internet. For instance, Ford Motor Company could register ".ford" and then start using domains such as:

The beautiful thing about operating your own gTLD is that:

You do NOT have to let anyone else use it!

It can be your own top-level domain name that no one else on the global Internet can use. gTLD operators set all the rules for how the domain is to be operated - and can choose to not let anyone else use it... or set specific criteria for people wanting to use the domain.

Again, it's very definitely NOT an easy process to get started, but it is something that some larger brands certainly may want to consider. (There is also no guarantee that consumers would accept these new gTLDs and might keep trying to tack .com onto the end!)

5. Communicators Will Need To Monitor These New gTLDs for Defensive Registrations

Once these new gTLDs start appearing in 2013 or so, communicators will of course need to monitor the success (or not) of these new gTLDs and consider whether or not they want to defensively register their brand/name/etc. in the new gTLDs.

This has been the harshest critique of the new gTLD program - namely that it creates a massive problem for brand/trademark holders and will create additional cost for them to register in each of these new domains. There have even been hearings in the US House and Senate related to these concerns and numerous editorials and online articles about this. (one example - and an ICANN response)

However, all current signs are that the launch of the application process WILL go ahead as planned on January 12, 2012. The application process does require each new gTLD to have a "Sunrise" period where entities can register new domains with specific brands/trademarks in advance of the open public registration... but that again will be something communicators will need to monitor.


ICANN has established a section of their site specifically about the generic Top-Level Domain program:

Of particular value may be the FAQ: (direct link in English)

For those seriously interested or wanting more of the details, the Applicant Guidebook is critical:

There has been a great amount of discussion about this ICANN program in various parts of the media. One site I have found extremely useful has been CircleID and their specific page tracking TLDs is here:

Now, the reality is that this entire gTLD program could completely fail. There may not be enough applicants... or consumers may simply not accept any of the new domains. Certainly some of the already-approved gTLDs have not found widespread acceptance.

Still, this new expansion of top-level domains seems pretty certain to move ahead - and as communicators we all need to stay on top of what is going on here and understand what we may or may not need to do.

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The Snarky Tweet That Derailed Yesterday's SOPA Hearing

Yesterday during the marathon US House Judiciary Committee hearings on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (which is an insanely bad idea), there came a point where the entire hearings ground to a halt...
... because of a tweet!

I had just tuned back in to the hearing and it took me a bit to figure out the kerfuffle (via Twitter, naturally), but Iowa Congressman Steve King was bored listening to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and tweeted that sentiment:

Twitter steveking

As Declan McCullagh recounts over on CNET once Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee learned of the tweet she termed it "offensive" in the open conversation of the hearing... and the hearing then went into the type of parliamentary rathole that can occur in such places as the U.S. Congress.

While people can debate whether this was this was offensive and disrespectful of Rep. King or whether it is all being overblown, the more interesting aspect to me was the intersection between Twitter and hearings such as this one.

Any of us who are used to speaking publicly in 2011 are very well aware that there is inevitably a "Twitter backchannel" going on, for better or worse.

And the SOPA hearings were no different... the #SOPA hashtag had way too much traffic yesterday for any sane person to handle... and representatives who were in the hearings were participating in that stream, too. Rep. Zoe Lofgren had a couple of tweets go out during the hearings - and Rep. Darrell Issa had a constant stream going, although in his case he has made it clear that his staff is tweeting during the actual hearing.

In this case of Rep. King, though, it was a more snarky message about another committee member... made on a public stage. Which, of course, got back to people within the room.

I'm sure this won't be the last time... we're in this brave new world where comments and opinions people might have kept private in the past are now made in public forums. Interesting times ahead, for sure...

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New WordPress 3.3 Available With Much Simpler User Interface, Uploading

The folks over at Automattic announced last night that WordPress 3.3 is now out and, as per usual, provided a spiffy little video to highlight the new changes:

I've already updated one of my sites and am indeed impressed by the simpler and cleaner UI. Just as one very simple example, it was always annoying in earlier versions of WordPress that you had to click on the down arrow in the left navigation admin menu to get to the menu choices. The new fly-out menus are a whole lot easier! Similarly, the simplification of the upload process to a single button is a nice step.

There are a veritable TON of other changes and fixes for those interested in the gory details:

All in all it looks like quite a solid release. I'm looking forward to seeing how it works on my other sites!

P.S. WordPress 3.3 is available for immediate download, although if you are running any recent version of WordPress you can simply "update" your site (after backing it up!) through the admin menus.

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Goodbye Black Bar, Hello Grey Bar - Google+ Gets a Visual Update

Logging into Google+ today I was immediately drawn to the new visual look:


Quite a departure from the "black bar" that we've come to expect from Google+. Here's what it looked like yesterday - and interestingly still looks like on another computer of mine (I'm guessing there is a browser refresh issue there):

Old Google+ look

You'll note that in the old style of header, you had quick access to other Google services. This has now been moved to a drop-down menu when you hover over the "Google+" logo in the upper right:

Google+dropdown 1

This is all part of Google's overall effort to bring a stronger visual identity and simpler user interface across its various products and services.

So far in brief period of using it, I like the new redesign. How about you? What do you think?

P.S. If we aren't already connected on Google+, how about adding me to a circle on Google+?

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