"Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over." -Ernest Hemingway

Native.php WordPress Hack

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Came across a file in my WordPress files tonight that I didn’t recognize. I was looking through because I noticed I was getting search results for pharmaceutical drugs. This file was located at /wp-content/themes/theme name/native.php.

So, if you come across this, delete it…it’s bad and make sure your all up to date and your site is locked down.

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Facebook as an Office Tool?

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I like Facebook. I admit it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love them by any means. They do a lot of things I think are downright stupid and evil, but unfortunately, it’s become the best way to communicate with people in a lot of ways. I like that Facebook allows me to communicate daily with people I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to do. Sure, you always get the people you don’t want to communicate with, but that’s your fault for allowing them into your world. (Facebook User Tip: Use the privacy controls. They actually work.) I’ve noticed more recently though that I’m using it for more things. For instance, this week I’m on vacation. I have a part-time seasonal employee working for me. She doesn’t have an office space or anything, but she’s young and therefore pretty techy. Instead of giving her a list, emailing her or passing information along other ways, we’ve been communicating via Facebook. I’ll send her what I need done. She communicates back about status or other things going on. It takes me all of 10 seconds to respond and I don’t have to be in the office or check my work email to do it. I also have another example from this week. I’m a youth pastor to a group of teens. We haven’t met in a couple weeks because of the business with Christmas and I always worry about what they are off doing. Kids minds can change in an instant and sometimes, if there isn’t constant reminders of Hey, we’re here for you, come hang out. Behave, they can move on to the next thing and before you know it, you haven’t seen them in 3 months. During this break time I’ve been casually communicating with them via Facebook. Trust me, I know nearly every thing they’ve done during Christmas break–at least if it showed up on Facebook, and the way they and their friends post things, it’s more likely than not. I generally leave them in the background and make mental notes about things we need to have a lesson on like dating, using bad language, alcohol, bullying, depression, etc…. This week though, rather than wait to see what they were doing, I tagged them all in a post and told them to watch these videos about Ben Breedlove. They all got notified and within a few hours, some of them started commenting on it. Not just that’s cool kind of stuff, but they really watched and took it in and made some good observations about it. In that moment, Facebook really was a great ministry tool and will have them prepped for what we’ll start on when we meet again.

Granted, using it to communicate with kids and young people is different than a workplace. But consider this, what if Facebook had a business side of it. Kind of like Facebook groups or whatever, but just a little more official and business. It could work. I know some businesses have a “cloud” or bulletin board or whatever where they share information, but most small businesses or non-profits are able to have those kind of things because of the cost and technical aspect of having it set up. Anyone can set up a Facebook group or workspace if you will. It surely allows more communication than email in the workplace does.

I’m not saying I think Facebook should do that or even that it would be a “good” idea. I’m just throwing it out there from the aspect of now that I’ve started using it for work communications, the possibilities are pretty great for other uses.

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Manage Facebook Page on Android

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Maybe I’m behind, or just chalk this up to me being incredibly dumb, but when I first heard about Facebook’s update to their Android App a few months ago and that it contained a way to update Pages, I was really happy. That is, until I tried to figure out how to do it. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure it out. Someone said you needed to find it in the update stream and access it that way. However, if it wasn’t in the stream, there didn’t seem to be a good way to access it.

Lo and behold, I found it! If you’ve been looking too, it’s like this.

  1. Go to the Facebook menu page that gives you the news feed, friends, profile, etc.. options
  2. Click on “Friends”
  3. Click “Pages” at the bottom and your pages (the ones you are an admin on) should show up

It seems pretty easy and in reality, I didn’t put a ton of time into it other than a simple Google search after I didn’t initially figure it out. What I’m wondering though is why they just didn’t create a menu item like on the iPhone.

At any rate, hope that helps someone.

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Google+ Plus Still Needs…

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google plus

If you haven’t got yourself into Google+ yet, keep trying. I hear they are opening it up to anyone and then closing it off. So you’re best bet is to keep trying or if you want, I’ll send you something as way of an invitation and try to get you in that way.

So far, despite being a little lonely over there, I like it. The interface is nice, clean, non-obtrusive (yeah, I’m talking to you Facebook) and just feels natural. All that aside, there are a few things I think they need to address ASAP.

  1. Google Reader integration. Seriously, as of yet, there is no way to connect the two so that what I “share” in Google Reader shows up in G+. Why is that, Google? I’m sure something has to be in the works, but it seems weird. In fact, in Google Reader, I can’t even +1 something. It does show up on the profile under Buzz, but I don’t look there for other people’s buzzes, just what is in their stream. There doesn’t seem a way to share your Buzzes from G+ to your stream either. Just give us an option to post it to our stream from Reader.
  2. Gmail integration. There are a million ideas I have about how this should work, but I’ll start simple. Let me reply to messages/notifications I get in my email from G+. You can do it in Facebook. In fact, tie it in with my gmail account so that when I send a picture to someone not on G+ (or even someone that is), it looks like it’s coming from my email address. I have some other thoughts about that…you remember Wave? Yeah, something like that, just better and all inside G+. Don’t make me leave G+ for any reason actually.
The not-so-ASAP list:
  1. Events/Calendar. Let us create events and add things to our Google Calendar. Again, don’t make me leave G+ for anything.
  2. Docs. I could really see G+ being a great tool for the workplace…if you allow document sharing, etc…
  3. WordPress integration. Going with a non-Google item here. I know there are plans to integrate Blogger, but why? Everyone knows Blogger sucks. I am shocked it still exists. Keep it and integrate it for those blogs still hosted on it. We don’t want to lose page rank. But, give us other options like WordPress integration to start.
What else do you want to see done in G+? Are you using it?
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Writing Tools: WordPress Mobile Apps

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In keeping things brief in the previous post, I omitted one other major advantage to using WordPress for writing. The WordPress Mobile App for your iPhone, iPad or Android phone, and pretty much any other type of phone you have. Here is the list.

The app allows you to write, save and publish straight from your mobile device. You can edit posts, write new posts, give them categories and tags, set up a scheduled post, and even do some basic formatting such as bold, italics, strikeout, and include links and quotes. It’s obviously not as full featured as using on an actual computer, but it’s quite good. In fact, for a long time, I’ve said it’s one of the best developed apps out there for iPhone/iPod Touch or Android. It’s stable and just works like you’d expect it to. Here’s the best part: you can even take pictures or videos and upload them straight to your post, or just select them from your gallery. It’s great when you’re in a pinch and really feel compelled to writing something and maybe don’t have your computer available.   [Read more...]

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Writing Tools: WordPress

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Another tool I use for writing is WordPress. There is so much I could say about WordPress that could take me days or even weeks, but I’m going to attempt to keep this brief. WordPress is free software you can use to create a blog or even a website, but it so much more than that. Gone are the days of creating individual pages for your website. With WordPress, you can literally just begin writing. Don’t care about design? No problem. The WordPress default theme is easy enough on the eyes and you won’t even have to think about it. Care about design? You’re in luck. You can literally do anything you want design-wise in WordPress. That’s one of the best things. People with zero web design or web development knowlege and still make the most of the excellent service, while even the most advanced person can tweak and develop and design until their heart is content.

First, there are two different types of WordPress. Self-Hosted means you download it from WordPress.org or more likely, allow your web host to do a simple one-click install of it. You pay for your own hosting, but the software itself is free, and you have complete control over it. WordPress.com is not self-hosted, they host your blog for you. The advantage is that you won’t have to pay a dime if you don’t want to. They give you the server space. The downside is that if you want your own unique URL or want to do a few extra things to it, you may pay some low-cost fees. You have less freedom on WordPress.com, but it’s equally as powerful from a writing standpoint. My preference is self-hosted and if you have any technical knowledge or a friend who can help, that is the route I’d go, but if you’re not sure, start with the WordPress.com blog.   [Read more...]

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Writing Tools: Evernote

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I mentioned in my last post that I’ve begun to intentionally set aside time to write something each day, or at least most days. One of the things I struggle with most is that I’ll have the greatest idea in the world, but forget it before I get in the mood to blog about it, or have lost whatever I was reading or seeing that sparked the idea to begin with. As such, I’ve started making use of some tools to help me with the process. One of the biggest helps to me is that I’ve started actually using Evernote. It’s kind of like an online notebook, but also so much more than that. You can jot down notes, ideas, quotes, recipes, or whatever. But you can also add links to web pages. Not just the web pages though, it’ll actually clip and insert the page so you don’t have to look for a link that may or may not be available anymore. Same goes for adding images, videos, attachments and audio recordings.

Here’s a real-life example I used recently. I was writing a food review of Schooners Bistro recently on my Monterey Insiders site. I jotted down some notes about the service, discreetly so that the server didn’t know I was actually judging him. For all he knew, I was texting someone. I also took a picture of my neighbor’s drink and attached it to the same file with the notes. As I was leaving to go to my car, I hit the audio record and added more voice reminders for myself. I did this all from my cell phone. When I got home, I pulled it up on my computer, went to that “note” about Schooners and had my notes, audio recording and picture all in once place. I actually waited until a few days later to write the review, but I still had all the ideas and thoughts that I was thinking the night I ate there, which would have been lost otherwise.   [Read more...]

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Widget Saver

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WordPressI installed this widget this week and so far, I love it! It’s annoying when switching a theme in WordPress and losing the widgets I’ve already saved. Granted, you should always back-up your widgets in a text document, but if you don’t want to do it every single time, this is a great alternative. It works like it says: It saves your widget data, so that when you switch themes, you don’t have to figure it all again and put it all back again.

Check it out here.

Official plugin site.  Author Site.

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Best Free Software

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Support Open Source. Use Firefox.

On nearly a daily basis I get asked about different computer software. What’s the best anti-virus? How can I get rid of this spyware? What should I use to organize my picture? A few years ago I came across this website, bookmarked it and it has hands-down been the best site I ever saved. It’s Gizmo’s Freeware Reviews. You may have seen it, but if not, stop what you are doing and bookmark it now. You’ll save yourself (and me) a lot of time.

Essentially the site reviews different free software for all sorts of things and then gives reviews and recommendations on the best software for different needs. Seriously, any type of software you could need for your computer is probably here. It’s not an old list either. It gets updated frequently and sometimes changes if something better comes along. It’ll lay out the pros and cons and give you safe links to download the software from. It’s not all open-source, but it is free. But if you have a choice, choose open-source.

If you’re not a “computer person” do yourself and your friends and relatives a favorite and bookmark this site.

For the record, some of my personal favorites I’ve found here are:

Anti-Virus: Avast!

Spyware Remover: Super AntiSpyware

Image Editor: GIMP

FTP Client: FileZilla

Parental Filter: K9 Web

Uninstaller: MyUninstaller

Photo Organizing: Picasa

Media Player: VLC

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Woo Rank: Website Analysis Tool

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I came across this pretty cool website tool this week. Basically it analyses your website for SEO stuff and tells you what areas you’re good at, what is not so good, and how to fix it. It’s called WooRank and it’s definitely worth checking out if you manage any websites.

By the way, there is nothing in it for me for telling you about them, I just think they have a great site.

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