I’m Back.

“I’m back.”
–Michael Jordan, announcing on March 18, 1995 his return to the Chicago Bulls

Too dramatic? Yeah, probably, but it is almost March 18th. Over a year ago I had decided to move my entire blog existence from a self hosted WordPress platform to TypePad. I did this for quite a few reasons, the biggest two were to get out of the business of managing my own installation and to experience another platform altogether. I was so frustrated by a really slow host and what I considered a less than powerful writing environment. I really enjoyed using TypePad, but there were too many times I missed the advances happening in the WP space. I will say that in the year I was away, WP really grew and matured. In the end, there are just too many people on this bus.

So in light of all that progress and growth I’ve decided to come back. I spent a few hours yesterday migrating things back over here to my own installation of WordPress, writing under my own URL again, and am finding myself to be pleasantly surprised by the speed I am experiencing. What does this mean for other parts of my life where I’ve neglected WP? Not quite sure yet, but rest assured that the labs are cooking up something really good. We all have to stay tuned to how deep the energy flow can take our collective decision making across multiple spaces. In short, I am very excited about the potential moving forward on lots of fronts.

I’ll have to leave it at that for now. What I will say is that it was amazingly easy to make the migration. The other thing I will mention is that I learned quite a bit from using TypePad for an extended period of time … it does a few things so much better than WP. Some of those things are ideas I’ve pulled into conversations relative to how publishing platforms can better support faculty, staff, and student workflows, social connections, and participation. I am still searching for some of the more elusive pieces to integrate into my professional workflows, but by sampling a diversity of platforms I feel like I am getting closer to it. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for Jim to leave a taunting comment or tweet.

Well, we’ll see if it sticks … I mean it took Jordan until March 28th to really be back. Now that was a killer Birthday present!

Mobile WP Blogging

I just downloaded the WordPress 2.0 iPhone app and am writing this post on it while I sit and watch the Penn State game. A couple of quick thoughts:

  • The first thing I notice is that it seems like it is less about blogging and more about managing things. Comment modertion seems to be the big feature. They’ve added gravatar support to help identify people. They may have done this because blogging in long form on this might be tough.
  • The other thing I am noticing is that they don’t seem to want you to add pictures after you start writing. I can’t for the life of me find a button to add a photo once I start a new post. That is less than ideal. As a matter of fact, I can’t see where to do a photo post at all.

For quick posts it seems strong but the lack of photo integration seems odd. I must be missing something.

That was Easy

Last week WordPress 2.7.1 came out and my blog started telling me I needed to upgrade. I always put it off because I have bothering with it, but this time I decided to just do the auto upgrade option. I’ve never done it and was a little nervous, but after backing up my database I went ahead and just clicked the auto backup button. About 10 seconds later I saw the following … that’s the way things are supposed to be!


CommentPress in Action

About two months ago I was spending quite a bit of time talking with Brad Kozlek about how we might more fully explore CommentPress … we had great conversations, but as the holiday approached it sort of slipped into the background. Much to my surprise I saw a great post by my friend Alan Levine that has gotten me excited once again …

Leave it to CogDog to make amazing use of the CommentPress theme for WordPress — and to do it in such an interesting and meaningful way. He worked with what looks like a couple of people to take WordPress MultiUser and integrate it with CommentPress to create a community based publishing engine … at least that is what I’ll call it. The paper is well worth a read, but the geek in me is fascinated by the implementation of the technology. With WPMU it is so easy to instantly create a new blog and by adding the CommentPress plugin it appears trivial to create a site that supports multiple documents that are easily organized and commented on. What is so interesting is that it automatically seperates each paragraph so comments are maintained within this small context. It appears to do an outstanding job of keeping everything in a very readable and structured model.

CommentPress is a WP theme dreamed up by the folks at the Future of the Book … from their webstite:

CommentPress is an open source theme for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation. It can be applied to a fixed document (paper/essay/book etc.) or to a running blog. This site is presented in “document” mode.

I can think of dozens of ways this could be used in education … and now we have a killer example of it to show off. Anyone care to share some thoughts on this?

More on Moving MT to a New Location

Last night I wrote about exporting one blog out of the Blogs at Penn State platform and importing into a commercial (or self hosted) blog environment … clearly it is really easy, but I didn’t think of a couple of things. So today I did the same thing with my Spring 2007 Podcasting Update that I had done in the Blogs at Penn State about a year ago. You can see the whole thing here at this space now by using this link. This time I did three things while moving it:

  1. Grabbed all the images it references from my PSU Personal space and uploaded them into my common directory here at this blog. I obviously preserved the names to make it easier. Another thing I do with all my blogs is organize all the media I reference in each post into a common location … because of this I was able to take the export file and do an easy find and replace with the old path to the new path. Perfect! Now all my posts reference local media files.
  2. Next thing I did was create a new category here at Learning & Innovation that I wanted all these posts to show up in — I chose PSU Podcasting.
  3. Again using TextWrangler I did a quick find and replace to set the Primary Category to PSU Podcasting. This brought all my posts in under a common category. I didn’t do that on my iPhone blog import and it made me go through and update each by hand … not too bad, because I only had 20 or so posts, but if it would have been a big blog it would have taken me some time.

I could easily create a script to do that here locally, or by working with someone smarter than myself we could come up with a simple little utility to do it all via the web. All told, it took me under 10 minutes to make it all happen. Seamless move!

Something Different

Growing up in Bloomsburg, PA we had this diner on Main Street that seemed to change its name every year or so — Toddle House, The Bloom Diner, and (my favorite) Something Different. It was a lousy diner, not the kind you’d want to hang out in … no that place was across the street, the Texas Lunch. It was the Texas from back in the day … probably the 1930s or so. The Texas had the world famous egg burger, the hot dog special, and anything else that screamed of grease and goodness.

At any rate, that is a strange way to say that I am once again tweaking the look of this site. Just like the new-age diner with bad meals (you seeing the extended metaphor here?), I am once again trying to reinvent my lame content with a fresh look. I loved the old theme, but it was starting to perform poorly as WordPress continued to grow so today I spent an hour or so trolling the Internet for a good WP theme. I found what I found and it is what it is. I suspect most of you never see the actual look and feel of the blog and are stuck with just the same old content. At any rate, the blog has been changed so stop over and take a peek. Let me also say that I am not convinced I like it and may just blow the whole thing up once again — they shoulda done that with the Something Different Diner a long time ago.

Update: Since I got the, “it looks like Vista” comment, I tried just swapping the banner image out. Still not sure.

Twitter Updater Plugin

Thanks to D’Arcy for sending me the link and for CogDog for pushing me over the edge on theTwitter plugin for WordPress. This is a handy little plugin that I can see making life much easier — especially over at the ETS Blog and the associated ETS Talk Twitter account. Now in one motion I can post to the blog, update Twitter, and send everyone a link to the new post. Nice.

BTW, I just noticed this is post number 600 here. Not all those posts made it or are visible to the outside world, but kinda cool.