WordPress Seeking Feedback About "Community Hub" - Fill Out The Poll Today

Wordpress orgWhat would you like in a "community hub" website that would help local WordPress groups? What would you like to see for helping publicize events? Connecting groups to each other?

If you are involved with a local WordPress group, or would like to start one, the team behind the "Make WordPress Community" effort would like your feedback on what should be part of a community hub web portal. They'd like you to fill out this quick survey:

http://wordpressdotorg.polldaddy.com/s/community-hub-voting

The poll closes at 00:00 29th January 2015. (Not sure the timezone... so I'd err on filling it out sooner than later.)


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Excellent Article on Medium About Podcasting Stats: Downloads, Listens and Listeners

Podcasting statsWhat do the number of podcast downloads, listens and listeners really mean? Which statistics can you really believe? And what do they mean?

Back on December 12, Pete Davis published a great article on Medium titled "Downloads, listens, listeners, and about those podcast numbers" that dives into all these different stats. Davies was reacting to the hype over the podcast "Serial" and wanting to make sure people understood some of the nuances of how you can measure podcasts.

As he points out, the number of people downloading an episode can be very different from the total number of downloaded episodes. One person, who we will call a "downloader" might download many different episodes. As he notes, people might have different devices or podcast apps that all pull down episodes.

And the number of downloads is VERY different from the actual number of listens that occur. I can personally attest to this - my apps download many different episodes of podcasts... but I only listen to a few of them. The others have been downloaded but will probably never be listened to.

The challenge is that finding out if people have actually listened to a podcast is extremely hard. As Davies writes:

Nobody really knows exactly how many people are listening to podcasts.

This has a lot to do with the many different ways people can listen to podcasts. They can play them in a web page... play them in a podcasting app... play them in a music program like iTunes... download them and play them in some other music app.

All we can do is make guesses... or use imperfect numbers like downloads to make some kind of estimate of the popularity of a show.

It's a good article... and as he concludes, we do need better data around all of this. I also definitely agree with his conclusion that a large part of the success of "Serial" and "Startup" is that they offer compelling content! It happens to be in audio form... but the content and storytelling expertise is what draws people to these podcasts.


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I Was Going To Write A Blog Post, But The Plague...

I had every intention of writing a long blog post tonight... but then I stumbled upon Plague, a new link/photo sharing app for iOS and Android. Wow! Incredibly addictive!

http://thenextweb.com/apps/2014/12/23/plague-tinder-information-addictive-founders-onto-something/

You have been warned!


I Was Going To Write A Blog Post, But The Plague...


Google+ Finally Gets Photo Sharing Parity On iPhone/iPad/iOS

In an update to iOS (iPhone/iPad) apps yesterday, Google+ finally got the kind of sharing of photos that Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social networks have had for some time. Now, when I go to share a photo, one of my options is Google+:

Photo Dec 22 1 07 16 PM

I realize that this is old news to Android users, but for those of us on iOS who have wanted to share photos on Google+, it seemed strange that we couldn't do so from the built in photos application within iOS. Sure, we could do it through the G+ app on the iPhone or iPad, but not from within the native photos app.

This functionality appeared after I installed version 4.8.0:

Googleplus 4 8 0

I did have to tap the " More ... " button once and then turn on the Google+ sharing, but after doing that I was then able to easily share to G+ the next time.

Great to see G+ finally getting parity with the other social networks. I look forward to being able to more easily share more photos!


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10 Years of FIR Podcast Coming Up on January 5, 2015 - Suggestions?

Unbelievably, the For Immediate Release (FIR) Podcast to which I contribute is coming up on a TEN YEAR anniversary! As co-host Neville Hobson recently wrote in the FIR Community on Google+:
On January 5, 2015, Shel and I will be recording episode 789 of The Hobson & Holtz Report.

That episode will mark a very special milestone for us and for our community of listeners and friends as it will be the episode that starts our eleventh year of podcasting.

So on January 5 next year, we will have completed 10 years of The H&H Report almost to the day - episode 1 was published on January 3, 2005.

A rather amazing run for a podcast! I remember quite well way back in early 2005 as the whole world of "podcasting" was this new and fascinating space. It was something like February or March 2005 when I stumbled across FIR and started listening... and then, of course, shy person that I am, almost immediately started sending in audio comments.

Over time those audio comments evolved into reports and sometime in the fall of 2005 I was officially named a "correspondent" into the show.

And ever since those days in 2005... pretty much every week I've sent in my 5-7 minute report. I've missed a few weeks, but over all those years it's only been a few weeks. Even as I write this post, I'm also writing the notes for what I'm going to talk about in my report into tomorrow's show (that I'll record in the morning).

I'll save some more reminiscing for that actual show #789 on January 5, 2015 ... but in the meantime I'll relay the rest of Neville's request:

We have in mind a few things we plan to say in episode 789 to mark the milestone. One thing we definitely want to do is highlight the journey from that single podcast in 2005 to the FIR Podcast Network you see today, and our plans in 2015.

Is there anything that you would like to say or contribute or suggest for that episode to celebrate 10 years? All ideas most welcome!

If you do have ideas... I would encourage you to leave them as comments inside the FIR community on Google+. You can also contact Shel and Neville through one of the various contact methods in the sidebar of the FIR website.

It's pretty amazing to think of FIR being around - and consistently published for 10 years - I'm looking forward to joining in the celebration on January 5, 2015!


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New WordPress 4.1 Provides Much Improved Distraction-Free Writing Experience

WordPress version 4.1 is out today and the greatest feature I like is a new and MUCH improved "distraction-free writing" experience.

Wordpress4 1 dfw

The beautiful part about this is that when you click in the window and start typing, all the sidebars and menus fade way so that you can just focus on writing...

BUT...

... the moment you move your mouse outside the writing window all the sidebars and menus come back!

This is a huge improvement over the previous experience with WordPress 4.0 where once you clicked the button you were in a white screen with no way out unless you scrolled up and clicked the link in the menu bar that appeared:

Wordpress4 0 dfw

I found the WordPress 4.0 way so annoying that I never used it. Inevitably after I entered the mode I needed to change categories or tags or something like that - and so it was simply easier to NOT use the distraction-free mode.

The WordPress development team produced a video that shows how well this new writing mode works.

I like it because it lets me write but also makes it super easy for me to get back to the menus and sidebars.

All you need to do to enable the "distraction-free writing" mode is to click on the box on the right top of the editing window:

Dfw

It acts as a toggle to turn the "DFW" mode on or off.

Very nicely done!

There were of course many other aspects of the WordPress 4.1 release. The release post and the field notes as well as the codex entry go into much more detail. The Twenty Fifteen theme is pretty cool... and some of the other features are also interesting. But for me... I just like this new writing environment!

What do you think? What do you like best about WordPress 4.1?


An audio commentary is available as TDYR 200:


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The WordPress Plugin I Want: Statistics About Content Creation - Number of Posts, Pages, etc.

Here's the one WordPress plugin I really want to have - something that tells me the number of blog posts, pages or other content types that have been created in my site over a certain period of time.

As every year draws to a close, I'd like to be able to generate a report that says something like:

In 2014, we created:
  • 210 blog posts
  • 43 pages
  • 25 events
  • 72 articles (or pick some other 'custom post type' that you create)

Now, for some sites, like the Deploy360 site at work, I'd like to be able to do this on a quarterly basis so that we can provide updates internally about how much content we've created. For this reason I'd love to be able to choose a date range for a report. I also want the plugin to be able to work with custom post types, as on a couple of sites I've used that feature to create new post types with certain formats so that they are easy to enter by authors.

That's the minimum of what I'd like - the number of posts, pages and other content types created within a given interval.

Beyond that, a few other features would be great:

  • the word count for each type of content and in total;
  • these kind of statistics based on categories and tags so that I could know how much writing is happening on different topics (kind of like the Story Board in the EditFlow plugin only with counts);
  • these kind of statistics for each author of content, so I could understand the output of the writers on a site.

All of which would be great... but the key is the early part about the counts of content type over a time interval.

Anyone using a WordPress plugin that does something like this?

If so, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! Either as a comment to this post or on social media... or via email.

I've spent time searching the WordPress Plugin Directory but so far I haven't found anything that fits what I need. A great number of the "statistics" plugins are related to visitor statistics, i.e. how many people visited your site - but I don't need that. I already have Google Analytics and the Jetpack plugin helping me there.

What I want are content statistics.

I want to be able to easily see how much content I and the others who write on a site are producing over a given interval.

I'd note that for some sites (such as my work) I'd be willing to pay for a plugin like this if it were from a commercial plugin developer.

Seen anything like this?


UPDATE: I should have noted that the closest plugin I've found so far is Word Stats, but the plugin hasn't been updated in almost 2 years and while it works fine on one of my sites, it has a problem creating reports on another of my sites and another site went unresponsive after I activated the plugin (and so I quickly ssh'd in and removed the word-stats plugin directory).


An audio commentary is available as TDYR 199:


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Two Weeks In... How Is A Blog Post A Day Doing? #Finish2014Strong

So, two weeks after saying I would write at least one blog post a day (and talking about that) for all of December 2014, how am I doing?

Well... so far so good.

  • I posted at least once on the Deploy360 site every work day.
  • I did put something up on my personal sites every day so far.
  • I recorded a new "The Dan York Report" podcast on 10 of the 14 days.

I've had a serious cold/cough that made for really poor audio... so on some of the worst days I skipped it. I didn't think it made sense to record a poor-quality audio podcast just for the sake of saying I did it.

In fact, I'm honestly surprised how much I did write, given how foggy my head has felt and how most days it has seemed like I'm moving through molasses.

Now... the question will be whether I can continue this through the remaining days that include holidays and vacation time!

Here's the list of the month so far:


Monday, December 1

Deploy360 Programme:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:

Other:


Tuesday, December 2

Deploy360 Programme:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:


Wednesday, December 3

Deploy360 Programme:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:


Thursday, December 4

Deploy360 Programme:

DNSSEC Deployment Initiative:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:


Friday, December 5

Deploy360 Programme:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:

  • (no podcast - too sick)

Saturday, December 6

Deploy360 Programme:

  • (no post)

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:


Sunday, December 7

Deploy360 Programme:

  • (no post)

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:

  • (no podcast - too sick)

Monday, December 8

Deploy360 Programme:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:

Other:


Tuesday, December 9

Deploy360 Programme:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:


Wednesday, December 10

Deploy360 Programme:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:

  • (no podcast - too sick)

Thursday, December 11

Deploy360 Programme:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:


Friday, December 12

Deploy360 Programme:

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:

  • (no podcast)

Saturday, December 13

Deploy360 Programme:

  • (no post)

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:


Sunday, December 14

Deploy360 Programme:

  • (no post)

Personal Sites:

The Dan York Report audio podcast:


Now we'll see what the rest of the month brings...


An audio version of this post is available:


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Opinion - A New iPhone App Aiming To Make Podcasting Easy For Everyone

How can podcast creation be made even easier on the iPhone? I recently stumbled upon a new iPhone app called simply "Opinion" that is aimed at making podcasting no longer just "a medium reserved for tech geeks and media corporations" but rather a medium available to everyone.

Given that it's audio, it may be best to listen... so I recorded a "The Dan York Report" podcast today using the app and you can hear my thoughts in the recording:

Opinion main screen

UPDATE: One quick production note - I recorded this podcast on my iPhone 5s just using the internal microphone of the 5s. I did not attach a headset or any other kind of external mic. (People have asked about this.) I was sitting in a quiet room, but it was just with the raw iPhone 5s microphone. Nothing else.

If you are interested in trying it out yourself, you can download Opinion in the AppStore for the iPhone. As I note in the recording, it will install onto the iPad, but in doing so it just behaves as an iPhone app (i.e. it doesn't make use of the iPhone's screen and just looks like a huge iPhone app).

You can find more info, too, at www.opinionpodcasting.com.

A quick summary of some of my thoughts:

  • The app was extremely easy to use.
  • I liked how you could stop and start the recording, generating new tracks within the same session. You can then easily move tracks around if you wanted to. For instance, I realized that I had left something out that I wanted to include earlier, so I recorded another track and then moved that back into the earlier flow.
  • The editing tool nicely lets you split tracks so, for instance, I could split an existing track to insert a new track.
  • I also used the editing tool to remove / trim the ends of tracks. I would cut the track which would create a new track with the audio I wanted to delete - and then I would just delete the track.
  • The workflow right now involves having a single "session" inside of the app. When you are done with the recording you upload it to some site or service. When you want to record again you are doing so in the same session, i.e. you need to delete some or all tracks in order to record again. This is in contrast to another app I use, Hindenburg Field Recorder, that lets you save your recording sessions inside the app. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, as most of the time I wind up simply deleting the older recording sessions in Hindenburg Field Recorder because they take up space. This "one session" approach has its merits.
  • One thing I like about it is that I could use this workflow to make a simple "intro" and "outro" for my TDYR podcasts. It could go like this:
    • Record an intro track.
    • Record an outro track.
    • Record a main episode track and then move it between the intro and outro.
    • Upload the finished episode to SoundCloud.
    • The next time... delete the main episode track.
    • Record a new main episode track.
    • Move it between the intro / outro tracks.
    • Upload the new finished episode to SoundCloud.
    • Repeat....

    This could be quite cool!

  • I haven't tried it yet, but the app has the ability to import music from your iPhone's Music library. You could then bring in songs or other audio. In my case, I could record my intro or outro on my regular computer, complete with music, then upload it to my iPhone via iTunes... and then have it available in Opinion.
  • The app worked really well from a usage perspective with having very nice touch gesture support.
  • Recording up to 10 minutes of audio is free - after that it is $5 for unlimited recording space. Definitely a reasonable price.
  • I'm not a big fan of the name as it's really generic... but I can see what they are getting at.

Let me end my just pointing out that Opinion has some nice export options. SoundCloud has a dedicated export function, but you can also send it via email or, more usefully, the "More" button lets up export to DropBox, Evernote or other apps and services you have on your iPhone:

UPDATE: Sadly, the Opinion app does NOT let you upload to DropBox yet. I asked the developers on Twitter about this, and they said they are considering this for a future version. (So I would encourage you to ask them on Twitter about this, too, to let them know you want it.)

UPDATE #2 Yea! The developers have implemented DropBox support and it will apparently be out in the next version.

Opinion export

All in all I found it a rather impressive app!

What do you think? Will you give it a try?


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A Blog Post A Day For December 2014 - #Finish2014Strong

Over the weekend I decided that I'd set myself the personal challenge of "finishing strong" in 2014 with publishing at least one post across my various different sites for each day of December 2014.

Why?

Well... I started out strong at the beginning of 2014 publishing content very frequently. In fact, I published a post a day on the Deploy360 site for the entire first quarter, mostly just again as a personal challenge. But then as the year went on I haven't been been as consistent.

In running, we talk about "finishing strong"... about trying to keep a little bit of energy in reserve so that you can have a final boost of effort as you get close to the finish line.

With that idea, I'm setting my own personal goal to finish 2014 in a strong way from a content creation / publishing point of view.

My idea is that I'll publish at least one post every day of December, including weekends - and I'll also tag it at least on Twitter with the hashtag #Finish2014Strong. There are others using that hashtag, too, and for similar reasons and ideas, it seems.

I'm writing about this publicly, of course, because if I put it out there in front of all of you reading this... well... I kind of need to follow through on it, eh?

Any of you are welcome to join me! Let's finish 2014 strong from a writing point of view!

TWO Posts A Day, Really

In truth, my goal will really be TWO posts a day. One will be on the Internet Society Deploy360 blog where I am, in fact, employed to be writing every day:

The other post each day will be on at least one of my various different personal sites, including:

  • Disruptive Conversations - how the "social media" of blogs, podcasts, wikis, virtual worlds, etc. are changing the way we communicate
  • Disruptive Telephony - how Voice-over-IP (VoIP) is fundamentally changing the technology we use to communicate
  • CircleID - a site focused on Internet infrastructure where I occasionally contribute articles
  • Code.Danyork.com - a place where I write about programming/developer topics, typically outside the realm of communications/telephony.
  • Voice of VOIPSA - a group weblog from the Voice Over IP Security Alliance on voip security issues
  • Monadnock Curling Club - a site focused on bringing the sport of curling to southwestern New Hampshire
  • DanYork.com - my "personal" site where I write about topics that don't fit in my other sites.
  • Migrating Applications to IPv6, a book published by O'Reilly in June 2011
  • Seven Deadliest Unified Communications Attacks, a book on VoIP security published by Syngress in April 2010

A large part of why I'm doing this is that I haven't been writing very consistently on my personal sites... and I'd like to change that. This is just a personal challenge to see if I can do this.

Quality versus Quantity

A reaction I've heard to this idea is that the quantity doesn't matter if what you do is simply push out a bunch of rather lame half-baked posts. You know the type... a post with one or two sentences that effectively says "Hey, look at this cool new thing..." and then points to another site or article. Or a post that effectively "excerpts" almost an entire other article.

That is very much a challenge with any of these kind of "blog post a day" kind of things... and my goal is definitely NOT to do that.

I want both quality AND quantity!

And the reality is that I have a looooonnnngggg queue of articles I'd like to write - and I need to clean out that queue! In particular, I have a number of more thoughtful/inspirational pieces I'd like to write, probably for my little-used danyork.com site.

The good news is that with the publishing systems I use I can schedule posts out in advance. I don't need to be writing posts each day. For example, there's Christmas in there... and some weekends where I've got some family activities planned. There may be a couple of nights where I spend a few hours getting a number of posts queued up.

The point of the "1 post a day" idea is not so much to guarantee quantity as to motivate myself to get out there and write!

When January 1, 2015, comes around you'll have to let me know how I do. :-)

Plus An Audio Podcast...

And just to keep life interesting, I'm also going to try to record one of my "The Dan York Report" (TDYR) audio podcasts up on SoundCloud each day. Again, I started the year doing one of these a day... and then slacked off a good bit over the past few months. It is so incredibly easy to record these audio segments... I just need to do it!

(And I recorded one for today already.)

DanYork.me - Tracking The Content I Create

I - and you all - will be able to see what content I create this month at my site where I aggregate all the content I write across various sites:

I use a WordPress plugin to pull in the RSS feeds of all the various places I write and display pointers to them on that site. It's a handy way for me to keep track of what I've written and where. A quick scan down can show what I've done.

Join Me?

Do you, too, want to "finish 2014 strong" from a writing point of view? Do you need some extra motivation to pick up the electronic pen and create some more content?

Please do!

This is just my own personal challenge to myself... written publicly... but I welcome any others who want to #Finish2014Strong - having others out there doing the same thing can be an added inspiration for those times when it would be so much easier to do something else rather than write! :-)

Let's see how this goes!


P.S. On day 1 I'm off to a great start with so far these 5 posts plus the audio podcast:

... let's see how the next 30 days go! :-)


An audio version of this post is available:


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