Archive for September, 2014
Automattic is a distributed company — we all work from wherever we are. Right now, “where we are” is 197 cities around the world: New Orleans, USA. Montevideo, Uruguay. Tokyo, Japan. Vilnius, Lithuania.
Once a year, we get together somewhere in the world to meet, work alongside, learn from, and laugh with one another in an exhilarating, exhausting week called the Grand Meetup. This year, 277 Automatticians descended on Park City, Utah, for seven days in mid-September.
I flew across the country to spend time in a mountain lodge with a bunch of strangers I met on the Internet. And they are wonderful. #a8cGM
— Chris Hardie (@ChrisHardie) September 16, 2014
We introduced ourselves to new colleagues, reconnected with coworkers we haven’t seen since last year, and worked on ways to make WordPress.com even better. And of course, lots of us blogged about the experience, in words and images.
We were blown away by the brilliance and generosity of our colleagues…
I’m grateful to have met so many Automatticians from around the world who brought such kindness, curiosity, patience, fierce intelligence, creativity and humor to the time we had together. I’m grateful to have learned about their hobbies, families, personal journeys, quirks, pet peeves, amazing skills, unmitigated geekiness, and brilliant senses of humor.
- VIP Wrangler Chris Hardie
We marveled at the range of conversations we had, from the sublime to the absurd…
Here are some of the things I talked about this week:
- Scottish independence
- Taylor Swift
- My children
- Other people’s children
- Swing dancing
- Waffles (lack thereof)
- Fake morning talkshows
- Mario Kart
We soaked in the natural beauty of Utah…
Early morning takeoff, by yours truly.
And some of us got up close and personal with the wide Utah sky…
Happiness Engineer Jeremey DuVall realizes he’s just jumped out of an airplane.
We learned from one another, and had fun doing it…
I learned how to analyze data in Python with Carly, and went skydiving with Prasath. After discussing common security vulnerabilities with Anne, Cami and I plotted a podcast about absolutely nothing, and recorded part of our first episode…
If you asked me four years ago if I thought it were possible to enjoy working, I’d be dubious. If you asked me whether one could ever genuinely love and respect all their coworkers, I’d hesitate.
Over the past four years, the people of Automattic have demonstrated to me that it’s possible to do work you love with people you love. It’s not common — not yet — but it’s possible.
- VaultPress Eclectic Happiffier Chris Rudzki
We burned the midnight oil…
We worked, we played, we ate, we drank, we slept very little. We tried to make the world a better place, and if you think that’s me being dramatic you don’t know the people I have the honor of working with.
- Dot Organizer Cami Kaos
We took a lot of photos…
(Images above from Happiness Engineers Stephen McLeod, Pam Kocke, Andrea Badgley, Dennis Hong, and Andrew Spittle; Creative Director Dave Martin; Code Wrangler Allen Snook; Designamagician Dan Hauk, Mobile Maker Aaron Douglas; Growth Explorer Luca Sartoni; Spline Reticulator Dennis Snell; and Chief Semicolon Advocate Michelle Weber, AKA me.)
On the final day, Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg led us in a toast that summed up the reason we’re all here…
I’m really grateful that I get to work with the people I do, and on the problems that we work on together. It’s far from easy, in fact each year brings new challenges and I make mistakes as often as not, but it is worthwhile and incredibly fulfilling. A few hours ago I gave a closing toast and teared up looking around the room. So many folks that give their passion and dedicate themselves to jobs both large and small, visible and unseen, to help make the web a better place.
- WordPress co-founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg
And when the week was over, heading home was bittersweet…
This morning was filled with so many hugs (and maybe a tear or two). I told myself that I was looking forward to returning home. To my own bed (although the sleep I got in the silence of the Park City night was the best I may have ever experienced). To regular exercise and home cooking. To the routine of my everyday life. And I was looking forward to that. And even though I knew I would miss my colleagues (it’s happened every time I return from a trip), the weight of the fog of sadness still surprises me when it descends.
I read their blogs. I like their Facebook posts. I retweet their Tweets. And I miss them.
- Happiness (w)Rangler Lori McLeese
If you think you might want to work with this motley crew and join us in 2015’s mayhem…
… we’re hiring. (And yes, you’ll get to make up your own job title, too.)
Australia continues to attract people from all walks of life due to a number of interesting and beautiful things that it has to offer which ranges from its magnificent cities to its unique wildlife and stunning beaches as well as its welcoming people amongst other numerous things that will not only offer you an exciting gate away moment during your visit to this Australia but also quite a memorable time once you set your foot in this country. While in Australia you can never miss to see some captivating scenery and glamorous events but another thing that you can be sure of is the satisfying shopping experience that this country has to offer both to the locals and to any traveller and visitors alike. Actually the moment you secure an Australian visa, the first opportunity will be to visit some very magnificent shopping centres that will literally offer every opportunity to shop till you drop. This country is characterized with numerous and incredible shopping locations, magnificent one stop shops and malls as well as extensive shopping outlets that will give any passionate shopper every convenient opportunity to find whatever they desire and whatever they can think of Generally, while in this country you will find some of the best shopping sites in Australia that comprises of places such as;
1. Chad stone Shopping center: Situated in Melbourne, this mall is considered the largest shopping site in this city as it boast of up to about 530 retail outlets in an area of about 190,000 sq. m. Opened in the year 1960 this mall has stood the test of times with its sheer size making not only astounding but also satisfying.ln this mall you will find almost everything and anything that you would want to think of with the latest of the brands being the European fashion retailer Zara. Other stores that are situated here are the Woolworths, Coles David Jones, Dick Smith, Myer, Apple Inc., and JB Hi-Fi
2. Australian Fair: This is a multi-level shopping center that is situated in the heart of the Gold coast and is home to almost 230 specialty shops together with a number of key departmental stores such as Best and Less, Kmart and a number of supermarket chains such as the Woolworths and the Coles. There also exist Birch Carroll and Coyle Cinemas, the Trader Dukes Tavern as well as a wide array of restaurants together with a lot of trendy cafes.
3. The Queen Street mall: Situated in the city of Brisbane, this mall will meet all you shopping desires. It is in this location that you will find a number of shopping centres such as Brisbane Arcade and the Myer center. For fashion enthusiast you should never miss to visit the Winter Garden for a number of clothing lines as well as the queen’s plaza for some expensive cloth line as well as the Broadway which is for some formal dresses.
4. Pit street Mall: This is a pedestrianized area that is home to a number of flagship chain stores, it is a great shopping district that will offer you anything that you would desire to purchase since the area is awash with shopping centres such as the Westfield Centre point and Westfield Sydney, Imperial Arcade, Glasshouse, Sky Garden, Mid City Center, as well as the Central Plaza and the Strand Arcade. All these malls feature hundreds of Individual shopping outlets that are easy to reach.
5. Rundle Mall: This is the place to go if you are in Adelaide. This pedestrianized street features up to over 600 shops such that any shopping enthusiast will be sure to find everything and anything at this spot. It houses numerous Australian Indigenous retailers both large and small stores and numerous other specialty shops. Retailers such as Myer center, Woolworth and David Jones can all be found here.
Therefore, once you secure yourself an Australian Visa, you will find more than just enough locations in this country to visit for your shopping expedition. Places such as the Westfield Miranda, the Warringah Mall, the Erina fair and the Westfield Miranda junction are just but a few best shopping places amongst many more
A theme named after the decade that gave us daring teen comedies and cutting-edge synth pop was bound to be a crowd-pleaser. And indeed, in the few weeks since Eighties was released, it’s garnered tens of thousands of fans who are using it on their sites.
Eighties may have been created with personal bloggers in mind, but its balance of striking visuals and flexible design makes it a good choice for anyone looking for a memorable, easy-to-customize website. Here are some of the theme’s most noteworthy features, already expertly used by our favorite Eighties early adopters.
A bold header area
Big and Splash were both huge box-office hits in the 80s. Both can also describe the theme’s header area, a full-width visual statement that draws visitors in immediately. Case in point? paper chambers, a crisply designed site by TC Shillingford, a Philadelphia-based blogger who writes on popular culture, sports, and more. TC’s gorgeous custom header images, along with a slender, modernist custom font, immediately make the site stand out.
Bilbiolkept, a literary blog by Edwin Turner, also recently made the switch to Eighties. The theme complements the site’s thought-provoking content, featuring an ever-changing roster of header images that welcome visitors with fresh visuals every time they stop by.
Tailor-made post formats
Eighties offers several unique stylings for different types of content, including the video, quote, and status post formats. Still on Biblioklept, here’s a great use of the image post format, which gives extra oomph to pictures and photos:
Featured images you can’t miss
With Eighties, you can create a powerful visual effect when you use the featured images option. Sleepy Coffee and Fables, a photo-heavy blog by a writer passionate about travel and snail mail, displays a well-chosen photo to set a distinct mood on each post.
Here, for example, is the featured image from a post on night photography:
And another one, this time from a post about journaling:
Note that the theme has the option to display full-width featured images, too.
A clean slate
With its ample, bright white space, and endless possibilities to create bespoke designs, Eighties can be turned upside-down: from a recognizably brash theme to one that recedes into the background. A great example of the latter is the professional site of Madeleine Hawks, a doula practicing in Austin, Texas.
Madeleine has created a website with a static front page, so all of her content — including her contact information — is easy to find for the first-time visitor.
Even more ways to customize
Eighties also lets you tuck away your main navigation with a pop-up custom menu in the header area, and includes a sleek (optional) social links menu. For the designers, illustrators, and other visual artists among you, the theme also supports our Portfolio feature.
Are you using Eighties already? Tell us what it was that made it the right fit for you.
We’re back with another collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress! You can find our past collections here — and you can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations.
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1. What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About When We Talk About Making (Tim Maly, Quiet Babylon)
After a successful “creators’ conference” in Portland, Maly asks some tough questions about whether the creators are taking into account the factories and anonymous services that help them succeed in the first place.
The Nazis stole his family’s paintings. He emigrated to Canada and became one of the country’s foremost gallery owners. And now, twenty years after his death, he is changing the rules of restitution.
3. Interview: Vanessa Grigoriadis on Writing Fast, Putting Stories Away, and Documentary-Style Writing (Meagan Flynn, Beyond the New Yorker)
Journalist Meagan Flynn chats with New York Magazine and Rolling Stone writer Vanessa Grigoriadis:
I just really try to write fast. And I think it’s so much better for my writing. When I used to agonize over every sentence and every section, the stories were so much worse. My problem is, if the content is not interesting to me, I don’t want to go back and revise it.
The London Review of Books writer reflects on childhood diversion:
In spite of The Poet and me being pretty old, we’re still young enough to remember from our childhood being told off for watching too much television and not, like the parents, making our own entertainment.
How Christian Rudder, the 39-year-old president and co-founder of the online dating site OKCupid, found himself at the intersection of dating and Big Data.
The little-known story behind Wonder Woman’s origins:
Wonder Woman’s debt is to feminism. She’s the missing link in a chain of events that begins with the woman-suffrage campaigns of the nineteen-tens and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later. Wonder Woman is so hard to put on film because the fight for women’s rights has gone so badly.
A mother visits her young son in a psychiatric ward:
Kids with mental illness stand out profoundly, and, thus, become bullying targets. That’s why Connor is a victim no matter where he goes—even here.
Dr. Robert Lanza has racked up a slew of scientific accolades—and generated an equal amount of controversy—for his pioneering work on cloning and stem cells. He also lives alone on his own island, collects dinosaur bones, and is often the subject of Good Will Hunting comparisons.
A conversation with Susan Cain, who speaks out about what we need to do to make classrooms more accommodating for introverted students.
A look back at the pioneering group of women who worked on one of the earliest computers:
Shortly before she died in 2011, Jean Jennings Bartik reflected proudly on the fact that all the programmers who created the first general-purpose computer were women: “Despite our coming of age in an era when women’s career opportunities were generally quite confined, we helped initiate the era of the computer.”
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Join us as we explore the world though the street photography tag on WordPress.com. Here you’ll find no airport lineups, no grumpy customs agents, and you never get the middle seat.
On belgianstreets, photographer Andy Townend recently shot “stripfeest,” an annual comics festival held in Brussels, Belgium. We loved how Andy captures this young reader fully ensconced in his comic book. An avid photographer, Andy is also a regular contributor to The Daily Post‘s Weekly Photo Challenge.
We were intrigued by the untold stories in Michael Wilson’s photo, “the flower seller,” on his site, BrooklynBystander. Taken in Adelaide, South Australia, the photo below documents a brief moment of commerce. We look at it and wonder: who is it that these gentlemen bought flowers for — perhaps a friend, a relative, a lover, or maybe themselves?
Speaking of untold stories, the following moment of domesticity in the middle distance at Plebs Street Photography caught our eye. A woman, and a man working on a laptop, are both enjoying a bit of stolen warmth during Copenhagen Indian Summer. What is she doing? What is he working on? We love the way this photo allows us to imagine their story.
Matt Weber, a photographer who has documented New York City’s fleeting moments for the last 25 years, captured this subway performer’s serious glare and the polarizing effect this “subterranean gymnast” had on the passengers around him. If you were on this train car, would you be appreciative or apathetic?
Another quick spin through the WordPress.com Reader takes us from New York City’s subway to the following quiet moment in Venice, Italy, courtesy of photographer Kyra Betteridge. Kyra captured these gondola drivers in repose, as they waited for their next customers. We love how the light in this photograph draws your eye directly to the drivers, in their bright, striped shirts. Check out more of Kyra’s work on her site, Kyra Betteridge Photography.
At Life is a Vacation, Sangeeta wrestles with her emotions over the following photograph she took in Mandu, India, post-monsoon. The elderly woman struggling up the muddy, slippery incline reminded Sangeeta of her own nonagenarian grandmother.
Jessica Heckinger Nowak captures a different sort of solitude in this image of an accordion player in the streets of Paris, France. We love how if you focus your gaze on the player, the graffiti scribbled across the low wall resembles the flurry of musical notes we imagine emanating from his accordion. Interested in seeing more? Check out Jessica’s work at National Geographic.
Tour the world from the comfort of your favorite comfy chair, courtesy of the photographers who share their work on WordPress.com. For more, take a spin through the street photography tag in your Reader.
We might think of the end of summer as a slow news season. Not so for the authors and bloggers we feature today, who’ve been hard at work on some exciting projects recently.
Writer, professor, and media scholar Rebecca Hains often shares thoughtful posts on her blog, especially on topics revolving around gender and discrimination. Earlier this month, she celebrated the release of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Sourcebooks), her most recent book. A critique of popular culture and the messages it sends to young girls, the book has already earned rave reviews, including from Brenda Chapman, writer and director of Disney’s Brave.
Danielle Hark founded Broken Light Collective, a community for photographers coping with mental health issues, more than two years ago. We’ve been following that project for a while (and mentioned it in a mental health-focused roundup earlier this year), so it was nice to see Danielle, and Broken Light Collective as a whole, receive the attention they deserve in a New York Times profile. It was published to coincide with the Collective‘s first group gallery show, which closed in New York in August.
Ana Sofía Peláez‘s site has showcased the colorful, mouthwatering delights of Caribbean cuisine for more than five years, mixing in great storytelling with beautiful food photography. Next month, Ana Sofía will see her book, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History (St. Martin’s Press), hit bookstores (and kitchens) everywhere. A labor of love on which she collaborated with photographer Ellen Silverman, the book chronicles Cuban food cultures from Havana to Miami to New York.
Anyone interested in engaging, wide-ranging discussions on the history of sexuality will enjoy Notches, a blog that has tackled topics like Medieval love magic and the origins of “Born This Way” politics.
Earlier this week, Notches editor Julia Laite, a lecturer at the University of London, wrote a thought-provoking article in The Guardian on another fascinating topic: our decades-long obsession with Jack the Ripper.
Justine Brooks Froelker, the blogger behind Ever Upward, has been chronicling her journey through infertility, loss, and acceptance in posts that are at once unflinching and moving. Now, Justine is preparing for the release of her book, also named Ever Upward, in early October (it’ll also be available on Amazon starting February). You can get a taste of Justine’s writing in this excerpt from the book’s opening chapter.
Are you publishing a book soon? Has your blog made the news? Leave us a comment — we’d love to know.
This week, a group of hackers released a list of about 5 million Gmail addresses and passwords. This list was not generated as a result of an exploit of WordPress.com, but since a number of emails on the list matched email addresses associated with WordPress.com accounts, we took steps to protect our users.
We downloaded the list, compared it to our user database, and proactively reset over 100,000 accounts for which the password given in the list matched the WordPress.com password. We also sent email notification of the password reset containing instructions for regaining access to the account. Users who received the email were instructed to follow these steps:
- Go to WordPress.com.
- Click the “Login” button on the homepage.
- Click on the link “Lost your password?”
- Enter your WordPress.com username.
- Click the “Get New Password” button.
In general, it’s very important that passwords be unique for each account. Using the same password on different web sites increases the risk of an account being hacked. Now would be a good time for all users to go through all online services and set distinct, strong passwords for each.
It’s also a good idea to enhance account security by enabling two-step authentication on services that support the feature. Two-step authentication can be set up on WordPress.com by following these steps:
- Browse to WordPress.com.
- Hover over the user avatar at the top right of the screen.
- Click “Settings.”
- Click “Security” from the submenu.
- Follow the instructions provided there.
We checked the accounts of 600,000 other WordPress.com users whose email addresses were included in the list. Since these users were not immediately vulnerable, we did not reset their passwords or send emails but will be enabling a notification in their dashboards so that they can assess the security of their passwords at their leisure and with all of this information in hand.
We add new themes to the Theme Showcase each week, including free and premium themes for businesses, organizations, and your professional projects. Here’s a trio of business themes transformed by three very different types of users: a professional travel and food writer, a Buddhist podcast host, and a fly fishing outfitter in Australia.
Chicago-based travel and food curator Karen Valentine, the founder of roam & home, presents a beautifully designed site with Basis, a premium theme. Wide featured images add splashes of color to the homepage, while the Brandon Grotesque heading font — available to Custom Design upgrade users — adds a touch of style to each content block.
As you scroll down the home page, travel quotes inspire you to dream up your next big trip — a subtle but elegant touch:
These sections are accessible at the top right in a simple Custom Menu:
With Basis, you can build a site using a drag-and-drop page builder interface — create a section, add content, and then move it around — which makes creating a landing page or microsite easier. (Preview this drag-and-drop interface in the video at the top of the Basis page.)
Tip: While not activated on Karen’s site, you can also make a full-width slideshow with Basis, creating an eye-catching homepage for your personal or business brand, professional projects, or company’s products and services.
Visit the Basis theme page for details.
Launched at the end of July, the free Edin theme is packed with features for a business or professional site, and podcast host Danny Fisher shows it off nicely. With four custom page templates, Edin allows you to promote your company or work in different ways. At Off the Cushion, Danny uses the Front Page Template, using a big featured image and bold white text to introduce his independent podcast on Buddhism news and ideas.
You also can’t miss his Custom Menu to other parts of his site, as well as exterior websites, under the header.
Tip: To unify the site and promote his web presence, Danny displays social media icons, from Twitter to Instagram to LinkedIn, at the top and bottom of his site. Think of other ways to make your site visually cohesive; uploading a Site Logo (available on a growing list of themes) that matches a custom Image Widget in your sidebar is another option.
You can do much more with this free theme — visit the Edin page for details.
High Country Outfitters stocks a range of clothing and gear for fly fishing, snow sports, and other outdoor activities in the Snowy Mountains of Australia.
Using the custom page templates and other features of the premium theme Forefront, the outfitter promotes its shop, fly fishing trips, product news, and local fishing reports. Bold call-to-action buttons (“Visit Shop,” “Guiding & Tuition”) lead visitors to more information.
With Forefront, you can also display customer testimonials (not shown on the High Country Outfitters site).
Tip: Use a grid-style layout to visually organize a navigation page to other pages and links on your site. Check out the outfitters’ online shop (below), which uses a Grid Page Template.
To see if this premium theme is right for you, visit the Forefront page for more.
We have a growing number of professional and business themes — free and premium — for work projects, organizations, and small businesses. From simple, elegant landing pages to multi-page websites, you can create the perfect space for you and your brand.
You’ve just started your shiny new blog and you’d like some help as you get up to speed on WordPress.com. Or, maybe you’d like some inspiration to write every day. On September 15th, we kick off two free Blogging U. courses: Blogging 101 and Writing 101. They might be just what you need to whip your blog into shape and/or establish your writing habit.
Each day for 30 days, Blogging 101 offers a bite-sized blogging “assignment*,” geared to helping you customize the look of your blog, start a blogging habit, and find some new blogging friends. Here’s how it works:
- Assignments fall into three broad categories — publishing posts, customizing your blog, and engaging with the community. Assignments are designed to build on one another.
- We’ll post a new assignment at The Daily Post each weekday at 12AM GMT (8PM EDT). (Time zone math: 12AM GMT, Monday September 15th = 8PM EDT, Sunday, September 14th.) Each assignment contains all the inspiration and instructions you need to complete it. Weekends are free time you can use to catch up on assignments, if you like.
- Participants get access to a private community site, the Commons, where they can chat, connect, and seek feedback and support. Daily Post staff and Happiness Engineers will be on hand to answer your questions and offer guidance and resources.
- Cost? Free!
Each day for 30 days, we’ll post an “assignment*” geared to helping you create a writing habit, inspire you to try new forms, get some feedback from fellow participants, and make some writing friends online.
Here’s how it works:
- Each assignment has two parts: a prompt and a twist. Prompts are the topic for the day; twists are exercises that stretch your writing chops. Use them however you’d like: respond to the prompt, and ignore the twist. Try the twist, but write on your own topic. Use both.
- We’ll post a new writing assignment at the The Daily Post each weekday at 12AM GMT (8PM EDT). (Time zone math: 12AM GMT, Monday September 15th = 8PM EDT, Sunday, September 14th.). There are no weekend assignments — you’re free to expand on a weekday post, write something unrelated, or (gasp!) spend some time away from your blog.
- Participants get access to a private community site, the Commons, where they can chat, connect, and seek feedback and support. Daily Post staff and Happiness Engineers will be on hand in the comments to answer questions and offer guidance and resources.
- Cost? Zilch, zero, nada.
*All assignments are optional. Blogging 101 and Writing 101 are designed to inspire and educate you to start and maintain a blogging habit. While we encourage you to be active in the Commons and participate in discussions with fellow participants, you never have to show your work if you’d prefer not to.
Intrigued? Register for Blogging 101, Writing 101 or both by filling out this form: