The Tale of Two Meetups

With the launch of my product Dashter, I wanted to share a little bit about how the company / product / solution came to be. One part of that story is how my attendance and participation in two great Meetup groups here in Orange County helped spark, nurture, and evolve the product & the business – and ultimately myself.

#OCWP

About a year ago I started attending a group that I’d found on Meetup.com called Orange County WordPress (OCWP). I’d done numerous WordPress sites for myself and my clients in the past, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to attend and learn more about the platform beyond what I could gather off the web. I also suffered from what so many small business owners can attest to – which is when you’re running a small business you crave interacting with people. So I figured what the hell – I’d show up on a Monday night and see what it was all about.

Meetups – just like any new networking event – are always a little nerve-wracking. I walked in alone and didn’t know anyone there. The space at the old Zeek offices were cramped like you wouldn’t believe – there were 40 people fitting in to a room that was probably intended to hold 15 people comfortably. Lots of folks knew each other already, were sharing inside jokes, asking about friends & family, etc. It took a little while to get my bearings, but overall I could tell instantly I was in a good space with people I could definitely get along with. Continue reading The Tale of Two Meetups

OC WordPress Dev Night Dec 5 2011

This post was generated by Dashter (which is available now, by the way!) It’s been a while since I posted a round-up – so here we go!

OCWP Dev Night

Cooking up some good geek knowledge here at the Zeek Interactive / Dashter offices. Let’s get started!

WordPress Network Sites

Tonight’s first topic is WordPress Network (formerly MultiUser) sites. If you want to get started using them on your site, there’s a great WP Codex page for getting started: http://codex.wordpress.org/Create_A_Network

Suzette FranckSuzette Franck – @suzettework
#ocwp Can’t wait to set up a multisite! Awesome demo!

Yep, multisite are a lot of fun. Also great for playing with multiple client projects – if you want to offer a variety of different theme options or choices, you can setup multiple “multisites” and then show off a full range of choices. It’s typically easier and more understandable from a client site if they’re choosing things like how many columns or where navigation will go. You can copy the source database of content and share it between as many sub-sites as you want.

Jeff HesterJeff Hester – @jeffhester
PJMedia.com is a great example of a site using WordPress multisite. #ocwp

Steve (@zengy) quickly showed off Pajamas Media – the author sites are “network sites” so that each author can manage and maintain their own content. It’s a clean install that demonstrates how MU / WordPress Network can be used for large-scale content sites. (Photo of Steve also courtesy Jeff Hester)

Jeff HesterJeff Hester – @jeffhester
Skateboarding.com (and the other TransWorld sites) use WordPress multisite, too! #ocwp

Yeah, that was cool. Awesome addition to the discussion.

[brief pause between sessions for pizza!]

BuddyPress Presentation by Suzette Franck

Suzette is sorta known ’round these parts as the “BuddyPress” queen – she’s got a great presentation prepared featuring a good walkthrough of why you might want to use BP, what some of the limitations & capabilities are, and how to do a successful install.

BuddyPress is available here for your WordPress site. For the developers in the group, there’s a full BuddyPress Codex available as well.

ManageWP Service Update (publicly launching / premium pricing coming soon!)

Jeff HesterJeff Hester – @jeffhester
Holy cow! managewp.com looks awesome for managing multiple WordPress sites. #ocwp

Yeah, that looks like an awesome solution for folks running numerous sites. I was impressed by the fact that they’re getting two-way chatter from the sites – so for instance a plugin installed on one site can get logged in the ManageWP admin; and then you can review it directly from there. No more having to log in to 20 different places to manage your stable of sites! Nice. Also includes member management, backups, cloning / replicating, and more. May have to check that out soon!

WP Ajax

Brandon Dove shared a pretty quick hands-on with wp_ajax for plugins & themes – perhaps one of the most useful set of functions to get familiar with as a modern-day WP developer. Considering how much clients expect clean real-time user interfaces, AJAX is absolutely clutch to solve those problems.

Again, there’s a good article in the codex on wp_ajax – but I also suggest you check out the Professional WordPress Plugin Development book for some good explanation of the action as well.

So that’s about it for the evening! Had a good time – and good to see everyone. If you want to attend the OCWP (general audience) meetup – Subscribe to the Meetup Group on Meetup.com.

How Many +1’s Does It Take To Screw In a Social Network?

Alright, let’s start off with where this article came from:

Jeremy BlantonJeremy Blanton – @jb140
RT @respres: “a social network isn’t a product; it’s a place” http://t.co/QVZlUdrA

I caught Jeremy’s RT of Jeff’s post a couple days ago, but I was out in Vegas for PubCon so my attention span was running a little short. But I read the linked article, and I knew I had to dish out a response. First off – I want to make it totally clear that I’m not a Google+ apologist. I’m not sitting around on Google+ waiting for new comments or likes. But to the same vein I’ve almost entirely stopped participating on Facebook too. I’m working on Dashter – I’m living in Twitter – things are good. Conversations abound (especially when you’ve got the right tools).

But this article (written by Farhad Manjoo @fmanjoo) just seemed so far off base I had to whip up a rebuttal – or at least a pragmatic alternative to the doomsday prediction he provided in his article.

What initially caught my attention to the line that Jeff quoted in his tweet was a strong disagreement that his premise is correct. Social Networks are places in as much as any website is a place. But social networking isn’t a place – it’s a process. It’s a verb. And because of that – the place is less important than the process provided.

Is Google+ A Dead Man Walking? Continue reading How Many +1’s Does It Take To Screw In a Social Network?

OC WordPress Meetup Oct 24

This post was generated by Dashter

ǝɹpǝɹp – @dremeda
I’m heading over to @zeekinteractive for #ocwp – Should be a fun meetup :)

Thrilled we could get Dre to come make a visit – looking forward to seeing his chat on WP security. After the rash of recent hosting hacks and other problems, it’ll be good to have some expert advice on the topic.

Jeff TurnerJeff Turner – @respres
Truly… “@jeffreyzinn: Holy Moses, it’s packed to the heezie at the OC WordPress Meetup. Need some stadium seating in here. #ocwp”

Yeah, even the big room got crowded! Great to see so many WP fans!

Jason TuckerJason Tucker – @jasontucker
bah, and they blame me :) (streaming) “@DevineLines: It’s always fun when techy people have technical difficulties. #ocwp”

Jason, we wouldn’t blame you for the technical difficulties if it wasn’t your fault! 😉

Jeff HesterJeff Hester – @jeffhester
Is #Dashter the ultimate tool for fighting blogger’s block? @respres @heydavecole http://t.co/7WIEhIEz #OCWP

In short, yes. Thanks for the shoutout Jeff.

Ross TeasleyRoss Teasley – @RossTeasley
Waving from home… #isuckattwitter #ocwp

Hey Ross! Sorry you’re having a tough time with Twitter… Maybe a sweet Dashter is in order?

Social Media Mastermind OC 10-22

This post was generated by Dashter… So it’s a Saturday morning and it’s time for some Social Media Masterminding here in Orange County!

Tips for College Kids about Social Media

Amanda WernickAmanda Wernick – @FUNomenalMe
in college? Be sure to keep up with your privacy settings. There is no privacy, only the illusion of it. #smmoc

Amanda has a really clear phrase here that I love, in that there is only the illusion of privacy. Companies like Google keep massive databases, and they’re public companies – they could decide tomorrow to sell off their database if it served their shareholders’ best interests. Privacy online is a virtual illusion.

Mitch DevineMitch Devine – @DevineLines
Social media advice to college kids: what goes on the Internet, stays on the Internet. It never dies. #SMMOC

It really doesn’t. Here’s something to think about: If you use 3rd-party apps on your social profile, those apps might be storing your profile data on their servers. Your data could be in a thousand different places – even if you delete your profile from the original website, it might be living somewhere else. The cost of hosting data is so low, there’s virtually no reason that it will ever get deleted.

What’s your Personal Brand?

Matthew GallizziMatthew Gallizzi – @mgallizzi
@DevineLines College kids could use a course on “branding”. They need to know employers will be researching them. #smmoc

Definitely agree with Matthew – personal identity and “branding” is more important today than ever before. There’s a part of me, though, that pities kids growing up in today’s marketplace. The act of “reinvention” is so valuable, but with online profiles and never-dying data, it becomes a lot more difficult. I think employers will have to adapt their understanding of hiring: Comparing two profiles, you will discover one with “bad” history and one with “no” history.

Candice CendañaCandice Cendaña – @CandiceCendana
RT @DarinRMcClure: #smmoc college kids your credit score is more important than your GPA. via @FUNomenalMe

Definitely think this is true – that credit score / tracking is for LIFE! You can always re-take a class, but your credit score is a reflection of your trustworthiness in the marketplace. Your next employer will care, your next date will probably care, and everything you attempt in terms of finance will be affected by this number. Good luck trying to get a home mortgage with an A- in economics!

SEO – Search Engine Optimization, it’s social, right?

Mitch DevineMitch Devine – @DevineLines
Approaches to SEO: you can optimize first, or you can focus on putting out great content and the #SEO will follow. #SMMOC

I think the folks with a strong SEO background would say the genius of a strong optimization strategy would be to start with a plan of action (know what you’re trying to optimize), write great content, and then continuously re-optimize. It’s a nonstop process.

Janet WhiteJanet White – @iSocialJanet
#smmoc SEO means
“How amped is your Google Juice?” #smmoc #google juice

Haha that sounds much worse than it is.

And a final thought… On Facebook – you’re not the consumer, You’re the Product.

Amanda WernickAmanda Wernick – @FUNomenalMe
If you pay nothing for something, YOU are the product #smmoc

No such thing as a free lunch – still true on social media & the internet – perhaps now more than ever.

20111022-110539.jpg

Think that makes for a great Saturday morning… Great to see everyone! Looking forward to seeing some of these friendly social faces at Monday evening’s Orange County WordPress meetup!

 

Make an Intro with your Twitter Follow

This post was generated by Dashter

Heaven is a CupcakeHeaven is a Cupcake – @heavensacupcake
It annoys me when someone follows you, so you follow back and then they unfollow! Not good twitter etiquette. :p

So “Heaven”‘s tweet here caught my eye, and I wanted to just share my thoughts on some Twitter etiquette that might go a long way towards building better relationships in your Twitter account. Obviously – playing counting games (like is described in the tweet above) is just silly. Un-following someone should really just be a product of their bad etiquette – not some sort of accumulation scheme.

Ahmad HammoudAhmad Hammoud – @Hammoud_
Twitter Etiquette 101: Never ask anyone to follow you.

On the other end of the etiquette spectrum are opinions like what Ahmad’s shared here, that you shouldn’t be asking for follows. I’m not sure I’d go with “never” when it comes to this sort of thinking – but I think it’s definitely true that you don’t want to harass people with suggestions that they follow you. Continue reading Make an Intro with your Twitter Follow

Beware Social Phishing

This post was generated by Dashter

Oscar GonzalezOscar Gonzalez – @notagrouch
@RossTeasley http://t.co/9ZXwoT9I – Please take a look at this guys. Pay attention to the URLs you click on.

The link provided goes to an image posted by Ross – with a very common phishing attack designed to snag login info from your Twitter account.

So why does it matter? It’s not like you’ve got personal information on your Twitter account, right?

The dangerous part about a site like Twitter is two-fold: Network effects, Twitter app access and short URL’s.

Network effects can be powerful: Your single account can be hijacked and distribute links to your followers (and random people interacting with your Twitter account) extremely quickly. Continue reading Beware Social Phishing

Welcome to iTwitter, Don’t Forget Your “Thank You’s”

I just got my first chance to play around with the new Twitter functionality in iOS 5 (aka iTwitter), and right off the bat – I’m thrilled! They updated the keyboard by adding an “@” and a “#” button, and the appearance / feel of sending images is good. It’s not texting or instant messaging, but it’s not emailing either. Sending a tweet is sorta like saying “Hey, here’s a thing!” and there’s even a cute “tweet” sound that chirps once you hit send.

As someone involved in the Twitter eco-system, I couldn’t be more thrilled with how easy they’ve integrated the little blue bird in to the iPhone. From a development perspective, we’re thrilled here at Dashter that the new iOS 5 integration uses the new Twitter “media” entity – because now these tweet’d pics are easily referenced from within the API. It’s very clean – and we can’t wait to show off how we’re taking advantage of this technology on our end.

But one other thing does come to mind with this level of integration: It’s one-way. Part of the beauty of Twitter is that you can post “blindly” to your followers – the expectation of reciprocation is low, compared to paired networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. But that also comes with the potential for people to forget that Twitter is a wonderful conversation medium. I liken Twitter more to a public text messaging service than a private social network. But with the ease of connectivity that is included in iOS 5, I think the potential is there for people to forget to participate on Twitter.
Continue reading Welcome to iTwitter, Don’t Forget Your “Thank You’s”

Netflix Isn’t NY Times, Apple, or In-N-Out

This post was generated by Dashter

ForbesForbes – @Forbes
The Price Isn’t Right: What New York Times, Apple and In-N-Out Could Teach Netflix http://t.co/P98xi0Q4

In this recent Forbes article, Netflix gets called out for not understanding pricing in the marketplace. But the argument falls flat (at best) and makes some pretty wacky assumptions (at its worst).

A little while ago, I wrote a post that stated that Netflix’s moves were anchored in a “startup” mentality – and I’m still sticking by that piece. For the Forbes article, author Trish Gorman starts off her piece with a rather ominous declaration:

What happened was more than a minor public-relations snafu. Netflix stumbled in its pricing—a minefield for any business and the last place you want to make a misstep.

So the premise is that Netflix has committed a cardinal business sin – the “last place” they can make a mistake. But like I argued in my previous piece, this really isn’t a pricing issue. Fundamentally, Netflix restored it’s original business – at a 20% discount (from $10 / month to $8 / month) of DVD-by-mail. They’re simply splitting their operations because the two businesses are different businesses that serve the same need. But that’s not what I want to focus on (just yet).

The Forbes article tells us that Netflix should learn from New York Times, Apple, and In-N-Out. 3 iconic brands, to be certain, with rabid fans and outwardly-successful business models that Netflix could use a case-study in pricing minefield avoidance. So what’s the takeaway? Uhm…

Her first example of how the New York Times has succeeded concludes with:

…the Times earned $83 million in the second quarter of this year, down from $93 million in the second quarter of 2010. But that the company managed the enormous price hike with just a few murmurs of complaint from its readers was extraordinary.

The only thing obvious from this example is that the NY Times is losing money. Hooray for their savvy pricing decision! Ultimately, the NY Times suffers much like Netflix: Premium content is blended in with commodity content, driving the price down to some sort of mean value that is averaged across the whole array. Would I need to read the New York Times for coverage of a national news story? Of course not – they’re likely getting their information from the same wire service that AP, Reuters, and every other news outlet is using. And in the case of the East Coast earthquake this past summer, I was getting news on the quake from people I follow on Twitter about 5 minutes before the Washington Post website. Continue reading Netflix Isn’t NY Times, Apple, or In-N-Out