Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

2014 Midterm Elections, Get Out The Vote!

i-voted-sticker

Since 2004, WordPress has set out with an ambitious goal in mind — to democratize publishing and put state-of-the-art tools in front of publishers both large and small across the planet. We believe strongly in this vision because when more people have access to powerful tools on the web, that in-turn empowers them to do great things and publish amazing content. We feel the same way when it comes to democratizing, well, democracy — and in just a few weeks, citizens across the United States will have a unique opportunity to flex their political muscle and vote in the 2014 Midterm Elections.

For our part, we want to provide our US-based users a set of resources to help them make a smart, informed decision when it comes to who they will vote for. We also want to provide a toolkit so that they can get more information on where to vote, which issues are at stake and of course, after voting occurs, a way to show their pride and encourage others to go get out the vote.

We’ve teamed up with the good folks from The Pew Charitable Trusts, who, along with Google, and election officials nationwide, have developed the The Voting Information Project (VIP). Together, we’re offering cutting-edge tools that give voters access to the customized information they need to cast a ballot on or before Election Day. The Voting Information Project is offering free apps and tools that provide polling place locations and ballot information for the 2014 election across a range of technology platforms. The project provides official election information to voters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and voters can find answers to common questions such as “Where is my polling location?” and “What’s on my ballot?” through the convenience of their phone or by searching the web.

The only way a set of resources will be effective is if they make it into the right hands, so if you’re eligible to vote in the US Midterm Elections, take advantage of these tools and share them with your readers.

It’s super easy using the [voterinfotool] shortcode. Just create a new post or page and drop the shortcode in (or click here to create a new draft with the embed prefilled). If you want to customize the experience a bit more you can drop in code directly from the Voter Information Tool with options like height, width, and colors and we’ll convert it to a proper embed code.

After you vote, either by mail, or in early voting, OR on Election Day, please embed the I Voted badge into your WordPress.com site or blog and share it with your audience, along with friends throughout your social network. Here’s how to install the I Voted badge:

  1. Go to your blog’s dashboard.
  2. Look under the Appearance menu for the “Widgets” option.
  3. Locate the “I Voted” widget and drag it to the sidebar of your choosing.
  4. Give the widget a title (optional) and hit the save button. Your badge will now be displayed for all your readers to see.

Voting is our most fundamental responsibility as citizens — without it, our American democracy wouldn’t exist. WordPress.com is a platform that gives everyday people the ability to share their voice and we’re asking you to take advantage of this voice — by exercising your right to vote. We’re asking you for your help to spread the word, encourage participation and get out the vote on November 4th, 2014.

If you have any questions, please let them in the comments and we’ll be sure you help wherever we can. Thanks!

Filed under: Community
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Blogging U.’s Photo 101 Course: Post a Photo a Day

On The Daily Post, we host the popular Weekly Photo Challenge each Friday, and we’re always excited to see your snapshots from all over the world. We thought a free photoblogging course mixing the spirit of these photo challenges with bite-sized shooting tips would be a fun way to get you taking pictures and meeting your daily posting goals.

Introducing Blogging U.’s Photography 101 course

Photography 101 is an intro-level course, open to all. You might be a totally new blogger, an amateur photographer, a veteran photo challenge participant, or a pro-shooter. Or, you may be someone who wants to participate in the daily posting madness of November, alongside NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo enthusiasts, in a more visual way. Self-hosted bloggers and photographers on other platforms are also welcome to join us.

The basics:

  • A month-long course, starting November 3 and ending November 28. Weekend participation is optional.
  • No prerequisites, other than your camera.
  • We love all devices! Use your cameraphone, compact point-and-shoot, dSLR, or other equipment. (You can shoot with a film camera, but note the suggested goal is to publish an image on your blog each day. Alternatively, film photographers are welcome to use the themes as inspiration, and all are free to participate in a way that works for you.)
  • The course tag is photo101, which you can use to connect with fellow participants and see their submissions in the Reader.
  • If you shoot mainly from your iOS or Android phone or tablet, download the WordPress app (for iOS | for Android) if you don’t already use it. We’ll also watch the wponthego tag for images you post from the app — we want to see your photography on the go!

What to expect each day:

  • New assignments are published on The Daily Post each weekday at 12AM GMT.
  • Each assignment includes a daily theme and tip to inspire you to take a picture and publish it on your blog. Browse our past Weekly Photo Challenges for the types of themes to expect.
  • The daily tip consists of basic shooting and editing advice: we might share tips on composition, working with different types of light, or cropping and rotating an image. Each tip complements the daily theme, but you don’t have to incorporate it into your shooting or posting process.
  • Participants will have a private community site, the Commons, for chatting, connecting, and seeking feedback and support. Daily Post staff and Happiness Engineers will be on hand to answer your questions and offer guidance and resources.
  • This course will remain separate from our Weekly Photo Challenges on Fridays. You can focus on this course, or participate in both.

Interested in joining Photography 101? Register now! If this course doesn’t sound right for you but you’re itching to join a Blogging U. course, consider Blogging 101, which focuses on the nuts and bolts of blogging. You can register for either course — or both — below.

You won’t receive an automated confirmation, but you’ll get a more detailed welcome email before the courses begin.

Please note that if you’re clicking over via email and receive a security warning, remove the “s” in “https” in the link and refresh. Alternatively, just fill out the embedded form at the bottom of the post.

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Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, WordPress.com
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The NaMos are Coming! The NaMos are Coming!

November is one week away, and that means NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo are, too!

If you’ve been thinking about reinvigorating your blogging or are finally ready to stop procrastinating on that book you’ve always wanted to write, these two great events (and communities) can give you the jolt of motivation you need.

NaMo what now?

NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo are short for “National Novel Writing Month” and “National Blog Posting Month,” respectively. In the first, writers commit to writing a 50,000-word novel between November 1 and November 30; in the second, to posting every single day in November.

310,095 participants started the month of November as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

- NaNoWriMo 2013 at a Glance

Although the two events are separate, they share a history: NaBloPoMo started in response to NaNoWriMo, when a group of bloggers who lacked the time or inclination to write a book, but loved the idea of a communal blogging challenge, coalesced. Both challenges now have their own vibrant communities of writers and bloggers who inspire and support one another.

If you wait until the Muse shows up and inspires you to write, you may end up writing nothing at all. Whereas if you’re sitting there every day in November churning out your thoughts and photos and shaping them all into something readable, if even 33% of what you’ve posted veers toward greatness, that’s 10 great posts you came up with that you might not have otherwise.

- NaBloPoMo founder Eden Kennedy

Hundreds of thousands of writers and bloggers participate each year, making new friends and writing things they never thought they would.

How do I get involved?

Easy! Just decide to do it. All you need is an idea, some commitment, and a place to write.

Take the NaNoWriMo challenge, and proudly display the Viking crest!

Take the NaNoWriMo challenge, and proudly display the Viking crest!

Getting involved with the larger communities is almost as easy:

  • To be listed on the official blogroll of NaBloPoMo participants, head to BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo headquarters at the beginning of November — there’ll be a sign-up post where you can add your blog, along with a list of suggested blogging prompts for the month. You can also grab the official badge for your blog.
  • For NaNoWriMo, mosey over to the project’s official website to sign up and access features like word count tools and forums where you can connect with other budding novelists.

On WordPress.com, you can also tag your posts with “NaNoWriMo” or “NaBloPoMo” to help other participants find you.

I’m not sure I can blog every day for a month, help!

Sure you can, and we can help. Along with the prompts NaBloPoMo provides, we’ve got our own daily prompts and weekly writing and photo challenges to get the creative juices flowing. For those of you who prefer to blog with images, we’re also kicking off a new Blogging U. challenge in November, Photography 101, to help you snap and post every day.

If prompts aren’t for you, try creating your own manageable posting strategy for the month. Posting every day doesn’t have to mean writing 1,000 words a day — it can be as simple as:

  • A photo a day
  • A list a day
  • A sketch a day
  • A haiku a day
  • An observation a day
  • A thank you a day

For more help making it through, check out our blog event survival guide or our roundtable with seasoned NaNoWriMo authors. And there’s no better motivation than encouragement and engagement, so visit one another’s blogs and leave a comment when you do.

You’ve got a week to prepare. Get ready to get writing!

Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, Events
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New Themes: Minnow and Cols

We’re happy to introduce two brand new free themes today!

Minnow

Minnow WordPress Theme

Designed by Mel Choyce, Minnow is a light, simple theme that puts your social presence front and center. A social links menu is displayed prominently below the site title and logo, so readers can easily find you on your favorite social networks.

When activated, the optional Custom Menu or Widget area appear in a slide-out sidebar, making secondary content accessible while keeping the focus on your content.

Learn more about the free Minnow theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

Cols

cols-featureimage
This theme is designed by yours trulyCols is a novel theme that lets you tell your stories without the layout getting in the way.

Standard-format posts are displayed in a newspaper-like layout, with three columns on large monitors, two columns on medium-sized displays, and a one-column layout on small screens like phones. Other supported post formats — Aside, Image, Video, Quote, Link, and Chat — are displayed in a simple single-column layout.

Learn more about the free Cols theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 7

Here it is! A new collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress.

As always, you can find our past collections here. You can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations, or subscribe to our free weekly email.

Publishers, writers, you can share links to your favorite essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and on WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


1. What Happens When a Veteran High School Teacher Becomes a Student for the Day

Grant Wiggins

“I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day.” A high school teacher learns some sobering lessons about how kids experience a typical day — and the amount of sitting required.

2. No Apology

Mehreen Kasana

The truth about being Muslim in America:

In the eyes of those perpetually seeking an apology from Muslims, I am a Bad Muslim. I don’t put hashtag-suffixed apologies online for what someone else of my faith does. When 9/11 happened, I was as shocked and terrified as anyone else was. We scary-looking Muslims experience human emotions, too. … We Muslims react to unexpected loss of life like any non-Muslim would. We cry, we mourn.

3. The Rise and Fall of Public Housing in NYC

Richard Price, Guernica

A “subjective overview” of the history of public housing in New York City from the novelist Richard Price, framed through the lens of his own upbringing in the North Bronx’s Parkside Houses.

4. Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist

Kat Hagan, This Is Not a Pattern

How our behavior and language can have a harmful impact — and how we can fix it. “Small, simple changes will build the foundation for a better tech culture.”

5. Gone Girls: Human Trafficking on the Home Front

Mike Kessler, Los Angeles Magazine

Kessler talks to survivors of child prostitution, as well as law enforcement officers, judges, politicians, and advocates working to prevent the sex trafficking of minors.

6. The Evans Family Is Living in This World

Linda Vaccariello, Cincinnati Magazine

A community comes together to help a family after a tragedy:

“The reality hit me like nothing I’d ever experienced,” McDonald says. “She had no one. I couldn’t imagine what that was like.” McDonald went to Ao, threw her arm around the sobbing woman’s shoulders, and said, “We’ll help you.”

7. The Plunge

Carl Schreck, Grantland

The story of Shavarsh Karapetyan, a Soviet swimming champion who dove into Armenia’s Lake Yerevan and saved dozens of lives from a sinking trolleybus.

8. How Pixar’s Gurus Brought the Magic Back to Disney Animation

Caitlin Roper, Wired

A profile of John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, whose intense focus on storytelling helped revive Disney’s animation studio with hits like Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.

9. ‘I Am Darren Wilson’: St. Louis and the Geography of Fear

Sarah Kendzior & Umar Lee, Quartz

St. Louis is a city long on the run from itself. White flight has spread from suburbia to exurbia, while decades of black demands — for better jobs, better schools, better treatment—go unheeded. This is a region deprived of resources, forcing residents to scrounge for more fertile terrain.

10. Stephen Powers Puts the Writing on the Wall

Neima Jahromi, Bklynr

From the magazine Bklynr, a profile of the street artist behind some of Brooklyn’s most recognizable murals.

Photo: dystopos, Flickr

Filed under: Community, Reading, WordPress, WordPress.com
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A New My Sites Section

My Sites just got a new look, but more importantly, it got a technical overhaul, making the page dramatically faster and more powerful.

From one central location, scan and select any of your WordPress sites or create new ones with the support of a more visual interface. Head directly to the posts or pages of a particular WordPress or launch stats to glimpse trends and get inspiration for blog or website content.  Access themes, user settings, and sharing options with a click to make WordPress your own.

The new My Sites page is a small piece of a larger effort to make WordPress.com faster, easier to use from any device, and overall more wonderful. My Sites will be a hub for an increasingly seamless experience, so stay tuned for more updates, and please pardon the dust as we make a few changes!

My Sites: Before & After

My Sites: Before

My Sites: Before

My Sites: After

My Sites: After

Filed under: Administration
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New Theme: Penscratch

Today we have a brand new free theme especially for writers and bloggers!

Penscratch

Penscratch WordPress Theme

Penscratch is a clean, sophisticated theme for sharing your writing. Whether you’re working on an analytical essay, an anthology of poems, or a piece of long-form fiction, Penscratch makes for a pleasant reading and writing experience all around.

Choose between a one- or two-column layout by adding widgets, add links to your favorite social networks, customize your home on the web with a site logo or header image, or add fancy pull quotes throughout your content.

Penscratch is also responsive, ensuring the transition between different devices and screen sizes is flawless for your readers.

Learn more about the free Penscratch theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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Starting Next Week: Blogging 201

Blogging 201: Branding and Growth starts Monday, October 20. If you’re a recent alum of Blogging 101 looking to build on the skills you’ve developed so far, or a blogger looking for new ways to grow your site and its audience, this is the course for you.

What will Blogging 201 cover? We’ll introduce tools to increase your traffic within WordPress.com as well as through other platforms, discuss ways to develop a coherent, effective brand for your blog, and show how to use your archives and your site’s stats to build your readership.

During this two-week course we’ll give you a daily task and provide you with all the necessary resources and information to complete it (there will be no new tasks on weekends, to give you time to explore more on your own, or just publish a post or two). You’ll also have access to The Commons, a private, staff-moderated space where you can chat with other participants, ask questions, and give feedback.

Ending right before NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo kick off in November, Blogging 201: Branding and Growth will help you get your site ready for a new wave of viewers — as well as to keep them coming after their first visit.

Like all Blogging U. courses, there are no prerequisites for Blogging 201 (if you’d like to follow the courses in sequence, though, that’s fine: Blogging 101: Zero to Hero will be back in November!). Self-hosted blogs and blogs from other platforms are just as welcome to participate.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in trying, sign up for Blogging 201: Branding and Growth using this form:

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Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, Resources
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Around the World in Nine Photos

Do you love stories from around the world? Check out the work of the following nine photographers on WordPress.com and allow your imagination to take you away…

Nathanael‘s monochrome photo of the Star Lite Motel in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, conjures images of wayward romances and clandestine meetings. We loved the marquee’s message, “Forgive and forget its human to err.” (sic) which offers an almost haunting absolution. For more of Nathanael’s work, check out his blog, G’Nat’s Eye View.

Photo by Nathanael

Photo by P. Nathanael Gough

The image below, by UK photographer Andy Hooker, had us at hello. We love how the sign matches the woman’s red coat and how her right leg is in crisp focus just as her stride reaches the “h” above her head. Check out more of Andy’s work at LensScaper.

Photo by Andy Hooker

Photo by Andy Hooker

Bao Pham‘s photo of this graffiti sneer in bold, brilliant color lends an even more menacing effect to the shot of the motorcycle below, as if the bike’s owner is watching over you. The photo was taken in Melbourne, Australia. For more, visit Bao’s site.

Photo by Bao Pham

Photo by Bao Pham

Below, Debopriyo Datta‘s photo of these anthropomorphic recycled robots, captured during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India, will make you smile.

Photo by Debopriyo Datta

Photo by Debopriyo Datta

At The Film Shooter, Kutay’s photo of this young, ever-so-elegantly dressed solo violinist, as seen busking in Paddy’s Market in Sydney, Australia, captured our imagination. We couldn’t help but wonder which piece he was playing.

Photo by Kutay

Photo by Kutay

From stand-still above to to photo-finish below, we loved the motion depicted in Paulo César Silva’s image of three cyclists in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal. Visit COTTIDIANUS to see more of Paulo’s work.

Photo by Paulo César Silva

Photo by Paulo César Silva

From a split second in black and white to a split second in brilliant color, check out Ren Hoeck‘s photo of an elderly lady in Lima, Perú. We couldn’t help but wonder about where she had come from and where she was going.

Photo by Ren Hoeck

Photo by Ren Hoeck

From vibrant color to evocative darkness, sashnortier‘s image of a man in repose, smoking a cigarette in Cape Town, South Africa, is rather striking, wouldn’t you agree?

Photo by sashnortier

Photo by sashnortier

At the last stop on our world tour, we have a photo by lotof at a bar in Freiburg, Germany. The juxtaposition between the bold faces in the doorway poster and the lone contemplative figure at the bar has us wondering about the man’s backstory: is he relaxing after a hard day at work, drowning his sorrows, or celebrating? Only your imagination knows for sure.

Photo by lotof

Photo by lotof

For more amazing photographs, follow the street photography tag in your Reader.

Filed under: Community
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Add Gmail, Calendar, and Drive to Your Site

The content you publish on your site is the result of a lot of behind-the-scenes activity — and we’re not talking only about drafting posts and pages. Emails, meetings and events, documents and spreadsheets: as business owners and publishers you have a lot to juggle.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with Google to offer our users the incredible power of Google Apps for Work right in their WordPress.com dashboards.

A powerful suite of tools

With the Google Apps for Work integration you’ll be able to set up your own custom email address based on your domain, putting a professional face on all your communications. For example, if your custom domain is onegreatsite.com, you can choose an email address like requests@onegreatsite.com or team@onegreatsite.com.

The custom email address is just the beginning. Google Drive (for storing all your files), Google Calendar, Hangouts for group video chats, and more — all are now within easy reach of your site, and available on your desktop as well as your mobile devices.

Using Google Apps for Work alongside your WordPress.com site makes it easier and faster to work with team members, partners, and customers.

Set up Google Apps for Work right from your dashboard

When you purchase a new custom domain, you’ll now have the option to register your domain with Google Apps for Work. You can choose between a standard subscription for $50 per domain per year, or go for Google Apps for Work with unlimited storage for $120 per domain per year.

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 1.18.45 PM (1)

You can find all the information on setting up your domain with Google Apps for Work on our support page.

Note: Google Apps for Work is currently available for new custom domains only. Already have a domain? Stay tuned for a future announcement when we make Google Apps for Work available for existing domains as well.

Filed under: Dashboard, Domains, New Features, Upgrade, WordPress.com
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