WordPress has come a long way since I began using it in 2007. Now it’s probably the most stable, secure, and simple CMS (or hosting platform) that you can get. And it’s free.
Step One: If you’re not self-hosting your WordPress site stop immediately and get a hosting package. (I’ve used A2Hosting for years and they are extremely inexpensive, stable, helpful, and they run Control Panel which you want.)
Step Two: The Plugins
Over the last 5 years I’ve tried a lot of WordPress plugins. Here are the essentials that I always start with.
Google Analyticator – the greatest plug-in for attaching and analyzing your Google Analytics. (You’ve got GA installed don’t you?)
iThemes Security – a simple and robust security plug-in. In addition to securing the simple holes in WP, it gives you the easy ability to set up a new Admin login URL. This will keep about 95% of the login breach attempts.
Contact 7 – a nice forms system. Highly configurable.
Find and Replace – Wanna do some serious replacing? Works with HTML as well as TXT.
FD Feedburner – Though RSS feeds have falling quit a bit, this is the best way to use Feedburner to offer you content for almost every system.
Jetpack by WordPress – a great system for adding (non-Google Analytics) and a host of other features. Shut off the features you don’t use to keep the overhead lower.
Simple Sitemap – the easiest way to create a post index. I like the older version, but you can configure the new version to your heart’s content.
W3 Total Cache – when your traffic starts going up you’re going to want a caching plugin to speed things up.
WP Optimize – kill the comment spam from your site and optimize your databases in one quick process.
WP-reCaptcha – good Captcha spam stopper.
WP-User Online – gives insight into your current visitors
Count Per Day – another good analytics package with vastly different numbers than GA and a simple way to display various stats in a widget.
For added security I have been using Bulletproof Security that does a lot of extra things to lock WP down. I use the free version.
Event Calendar – for coordinating your events.
Editorial Calendar – for working with others and coordinating deadlines from within WP.
Yoast SEO – so easy it’ll make you feel silly paying for SEO from a vendor.
There are a ton more plugins loaded on this site right now, but this is my “must have” package that I start every engagement with. What are your favorite plugins that I’m missing? Tell me and I’ll add them to my list.
I work in a very interesting open office environment. And you know what one of the benefits of this setup is? Nothing.
It sure keeps us quiet. If that’s the idea, it works pretty well. We sit feet from each other and we stare into our “privacy-enhanced” dual monitors and we don’t talk. Talking would be rude. And when the younger group of consultants, talks about 50 feet behind me, it IS annoying. This is a huge miss. We’d rather send an email than drop by and say hi. For consideration of our neighbors.
So everyone wears ear buds and listens to music or pretends to listen to webcast presentations. We’re really just hanging out in our little fishbowl, wondering who is watching us and why they’ve got us all clustered together. This building has about 2 complete floors of available space. They could give us each cube and offices if they wanted to. But they don’t. Something about this layout says “innovation.” Something about this open environment says modern. What it really says to all of us, “I’m watching you.”
And if you know anything about corporate IT you already know they can watch every keystroke. Do they? No. It would be extremely boring and inefficient. But they put little sniffers on your computer. 1. Is he opening Facebook? 2. Is he checking his personal G-mail account too often. 3. Is he opening inappropriate sites? 4. What applications does he spend the most time on? (They can ask for a break down of you entire day, week, or month by application activity. So, it’s not like we’re going to get away with anything if we were not looking over each other’s shoulders.)
And the millennials are not much happier. Sure, they break out in song and dance every now and then to piss the rest of us off. But for the most part their joy is also muted by the observation of considerate silence.
I was walking around the building today and walking past a very clean and open cube farm. I once thought cube farms were the height of impersonal space. Today, I think a cube farm would be a major upgrade. When I visit my friends on the 5th floor, they’ve all got their own spaces. Their own walls to hang things. Their own extra chair for people to stop by and chat.
So what’s the motivation behind the open office environment? Enforcement? Compliance? Space savings? What ever it is, the research shows the detrimental effects of being in an open environment. I’ve just mentioned a few.
Isolation – rather than open
Noise – zero privacy
High stress – as opening your Facebook page might get you busted
What they’ve shown, more than carrots and sticks, workers prefer being given the opportunity to succeed on their own terms. Mastery seems to be its own reward. So if they put us in spaces that respected our human nature the wouldn’t need a manager in a desk looking directly over everyone. It’s demeaning. It’s cruel. It fosters subversion and hiding in conference rooms.
Whatever the open office experiment was, it has failed just like the open classroom idea that came in vogue as I was entering 7th grade. No work got done. In middle school all we did was make eye contact with our friends and goof off. In the corporate environment the exact opposite occurs. We make zero eye contact, we rarely talk, and in the middle of a group of people we can feel more isolated than when we are alone.
I’m not going to change my company anytime soon. But I have to say, I’m really glad I only work with them as a consultant, part-time. If I were there 40+ hours a week, I’d bug out.
Remember when we talked about cloud computing? Everyone and everything wanted to be in the cloud. Guess what? We’re there. And if cloud computing is like air travel, we’re heading for interstellar storage. On demand, free, and everywhere.
That’s the problem with the cloud today, you’re only able to access your data if you’re connected. If you’re long international flight doesn’t offer wifi, you’re SOL. But we won’t be in the Write Brother’s age of computing for too long. Devices and smart programmers are working towards something more seamless and something more ubiquitous.
YouTube Music is Google’s first play into the music space. And powered by YOUR YouTube music selections, it does a great job of knowing what you like and what you want to hear. It’s not Pandora yet, but it’s getting there. The cool thing about YT Music is it’s ability to create an offline playlist for when your signal goes offline.
Based on your song selections, YTM can pre-download a selection of music based on how much space you allocate, or how much time you believe you are going to be offline. Then, using your previous selections, YTM builds a playlist for your flight. No matter where you are, YTM is there with songs. Pandora can’t do this. Spotify can, but only the paid version.
And Google docs has some similar features built into Google Drive. With Drive you can work on and save documents to your local computer, that will then be synced once you’re back online.
So the cloud is interesting, life in the aether will be much cooler.
If 95% of the 5% of the people that actually engage with a business online are ignored, that leaves MOST (what’s 5% of 5%?) facebook users IGNORED! How’s that grab you for the successful use of social media for business?
In continuing this thought from a previous facebook fails post, I want to explore what activities we still participate in online that have community value. Maybe facebook is a community, but it’s more like a scrapbook you share with “friends” and “not-so-much-friends.”
In a training session yesterday with about 35 young men and women we talked a lot about facebook and “engagement” and “driving the conversation.” I guess if facebook were a thriving community, the participation rate would be a bit higher.
Once again, let me set the context with a few FACTS about facebook participation today:
90% of time spent on social networks is on facebook, world-wide.*
Only 1 out of 10 people ever LIKES something on facebook.* (the other 90% do not participate, they lurk)
50% of people’s time on facebook is spent in social gaming* (farmville, etc)
Of the 5% of people who are showing a pulse on facebook and not merely gaming or browsing, very very few ever comment or post on facebook themselves.
And it’s not just the individuals that are missing the connection: a recent statistic says that 95% of questions on company facebook pages go unanswered.*
All right, so that’s a pretty alarming statistic, isn’t it? For all the time companies spend getting FANS and promoting themselves, don’t you think they would answer when the 0.25% people post a question on their wall? But they don’t. What are they doing with their facebook “community?”
This summer, after Pfizer’s facebook page was hacked, I asked a question that was aimed at the same core concept. What value, what “conversation” is Pfizer capable of providing on facebook? Do people want to become FANS of Viagra? (Probably they do.) Or some anti-depressant drug of the month?
So if pharmaceutical companies are merely pushing promotional advertising as social media, what are other businesses doing?
In an example yesterday, a participant talked about a competitor’s facebook page. There was a direct sales question, as in “how can I pay you my money right now?” that had been asked on Dec. 7th. It had not been answered on Dec. 21st. And more than likely no one saw the question and no one will answer it. Is that social media?
What do we do online that builds community?
Talk about a product we are passionate about, or a software program we are using, or a cause we strongly believe in.
I can guarantee you someone is always answering questions on the livestrong site, facebook page, twitter account, and their own community pages. And you already know that their brand (name) awareness is huge. But is it about Lance Armstrong? Some of it. Some of the “community” is passionate about biking. Is it about cancer? Some of it. Much of livestong’s mission is to provide social “community” support for people and families of people fighting against cancer. Is it a health & wellness site? Some of it. You can find apps to help you lose wait, control your salt intake, and stop smoking. Is it a sales and marketing site? Yep, that too. You can by several hundred products on livestrong’s site.
The core tenets of community are:
Support: conversations, questions, answers, exchanging information from person to person (rather than company to person), “I’m having problems with this product of yours, how can I fix it?”.
Passionate branding: love the products, love what they stand for (even if you don’t have cancer in your life), love the spokesmen and spokeswomen, love the message they broadcast.
Fun: gaming, challenging, encouraging, competing, measuring yourself against the masses.
Sharing: her’s my picture, here’s where I am now, here’s what I am doing, what are you doing? do you want to get together? did you like that movie?
NOTE TO BUSINESS ON FACEBOOK: Community is not about advertising or promotional coupons, and it’s not about sales or ROI. Those things can be a part of the platform, but they alone do not provide any communal value.
Facebook as a platform, does a great job at FUN. Social gaming makes up about 50% of people’s time on facebook. And facebook does a pretty good job at SHARING. (pictures, updates, checkins)
On the other two BRANDING and SUPPORT, facebook has a long way to go. If only 5% of wall questions ever get answered, you can be sure that a lot of companies with facebook pages are simply NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO FACEBOOK.
How have you seen facebook be successful in your work life, or in your business? I’d like to hear about it.
In 2010 when Steve Jobs *finally* brought the iPad to the world, he made an astounding pronouncement. The phone and the laptop pretty much covered most of our needs in computing. How was there room for a 3rd device? Did we really need another device? Today my iPad is often hovering at 15% charge and gathering dust beside my bed. I love my iPad Mini, but I don’t need it. In my world I use it for reading ebooks (80%) and consuming some video content (movies 10%, web browsing 10%). But I don’t need it. In my world the 3rd device, while well delivered by Mr. Jobs, has not become an essential device. Nor has the touch-screen become the killer feature of my computing world.
If you think the Microsoft Surface is revolutionary (even in it’s 3rd PRO incarnation) you’ve been missing out on a lot of the conversation. It’s probably why Windows 8 was such a drag. They HAD to be innovative and force METRO on all of us. But METRO on a Surface is wonderful. But then you’ve got a tablet/laptop hybrid that does 80% of what you need it to do.
I’m stuck in my ways. I love my MBP. I’m frustrated that Intel’s i7 doesn’t have a quantum-leap chip yet, so I could rationalize an upgrade. And I love my iPhone 5. (No need for “s” or 6 for, except the shiny-new thing, not yet, for me.) And while I love my iPad, it’s not essential. As Apple see’s the tablet market eroded by the phablet, at least now they are in the game with the iPhone 6 Plus, but again, I really don’t want one of those. I realize this is me-centric. But I cannot function without my laptop or phone. I go months without opening my iPad.
What do you think? Do you NEED your tablet? Will you buy a new tablet or a phablet? Or has your technology need been covered by the first two devices of computing?
In his one of his final shining moments, the late Steve Jobs introduced the iPad. And in his typical showmanship presentation style he began by telling us why we didn’t need a 3rd device. Unless that 3rd device solved some critical problem not addressed by our other electronic consumption devices.
Steve Jobs said, in his keynote, “If there is going to be a 3rd device it’s going to have to be better at these online activities than the current devices.” The current devices were the phone and laptop. The tablet, if it were done right, would have to become the essential 3rd device. Here are the essential activities for that 3rd device, that Jobs pointed out in his keynote launch of the iPad 1.
And I would say that the browsing capabilities of the iPad are great, unless you need FLASH. But most sites have already adapted to the Apple-Flash dump and are offering alternative delivery systems. And, in general, consumption of these media types is fine on a iPad. In fact, a few of these activities are GREAT on an iPad.
The iPad/Tablet home runs, in my estimation, are Gaming, Video consumption, eBooks, Photo browsing, and web browsing. And with SIRI on later models even Texting and Email can be greatly enhanced by having voice-to-text options.
But why is my iPad Mini, the one I was so stoked about getting, now gathering dust. I don’t use it. I often don’t know where it is. Why has the iPad failed, and what does this spell for the industry shift to TABLETS and PHONES, and god-forbid, the Phablet. (Yuk. And no thank you.)
All that is fine. And in a pure consumption mode, I guess the call for the 3rd device is still strong. BUT, the rise of the tablet as main computing device seems very short sighted to me. And while I do think the consumer is enamored with the tablet and touch screens, I don’t think the WIN 8 push to make everything touch-driven is a wise move. In fact, I would say that the Windows 8 launch, and forcing of METRO on the Masses was a huge mistake on Microsoft’s part. And the market is responding. With the a huge drop in PC sales.
So the SURFACE and all it’s permutations that rushed the touchscreen-tablet to market are in deep trouble with anemic sales and even worse corporate uptake. And I have to laugh when someone claims how Apple is late to the party. Um, the reason is, there is no party there.
Want a touchscreen-enabled computer fine. But what’s the real advantage? Sure there are times I’d like to swipe my laptop screen. But it’s not very often. And if you really want a touch-screen device with a keyboard (my basic assessment of the Surface and it’s spawn) you can set your iPad and iPad Mini on one of the inexpensive bluetooth keyboards. Viola, touchscreen computer.
The problem for me, when imagining the transition to all-tablet all-the-time is the computing power is simply not there. And OFFICE, the bain of the corporate computing environment, is not on the Mac OS yet. It’s not on Android either, so… for now the WIN 8 Office path is the only option available. And it’s simply not compelling enough to drive the sales of Windows 8 powered touchscreen-enabled computers.
And the real problem facing the PC industry is more about Windows 8 overall. If you don’t have a touchscreen, you don’t want Windows 8. In fact, a colleague recently, upgraded his WIN 8 system back to WIN 7.
So why did Microsoft foist this boner of an OS on the market? Why couldn’t WIN 8, or really METRO, have been a mobile or touch-screen branch of Windows 7? Of course the PC industry is driven by UPGRADES and their necessary tech upgrades as part of the lifecycle and product development track. But as the economy hit a dip, people are not as interested in a technology refresh for the sake of getting the latest thing. And when the latest thing, Windows 8, sucks… Well, again, the entire industry is suffering under this Microsoft blunder. And companies like Dell and HP are having to think of creative ways to keep promoting “Windows 7 Options This Way” because the numbers for Windows 8 are so bad.
So there you go. If you want a touchscreen get an iPad. Neither Apple nor Android have Office. If you must have Windows and you’re really inspired by touchscreen opportunities, maybe a Windows 8 tablet or Windows 8 touch-enabled laptop are in your future. But you will be in the minority. If you’re on a PC and plan to stay that way, you’ll want to say with WIN 7. No compelling reasons to upgrade, and a few compelling reasons not to upgrade.
The industries obsession with the Tablet and Phone is interesting. But when you creating rather than consuming, the real computing power of a full laptop is required. Sure you can run iMovie on a iPad. But Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut Pro, are all apps better left to the real computer. And in my word that’s best performed on Apple’s OS X.
So for me, the 3rd device is a nice to have, but not a must have. Maybe the next generation of iPads will have something that changes the game even more than they already have. But I’m still thinking that most developers and creators will be using Laptops for the foreseeable future. And probably not WIN 8 laptops.
The real tragedy of the massive iPhone 6 release on Friday, is aside from being the largest iPhone release yet, it also signals the next wave of the “most stolen” device of the decade. And Apple/ATT/Verizon/T-Mobile could’ve done something about it, but why… They are going to sell millions of these shiny new coveted objects, and then they are going to sell a second iPhone 6 to all the people who lose them to theft. (Here’s my 2012 iPhone 5 theft story.)
A new voluntary commitment from the phone manufacturers and carriers is going to add the “kill” feature to their devices and plans by July of 2015. At least that’s the promise. Today we can wipe or lock our phones. And Apple even has a cool “Find My iPhone” feature that’s been successful at recovering a number of lost phones. But it’s not enough. A “locked” phone can be reactivated after being reset. And there’s simply no reason for that to be the case. That little unique ID code on your phone SHOULD be able to lock it forever. This would render the stolen phone after market null and void.
In Mexico when my week-old iPhone 5 was ripped out of my hands by two thieves on a motorcycle, I was able to use the software to track the phone until they turned it off. And then nothing. After a bit of software manipulation I’m sure my phone was on sale within hours. And somewhere, up in ATT’s bowels, when the phone showed up again for reactivation, there should’ve been an alarm signal and KILL execution. But I’m sure ATT was happy to re-initialize the iPhone in Mexico while they sold me a new on in Texas. (Oh, and buyer beware, if they talk you into the insurance on your phone at the carrier, know that you’re still going to pay a $150 deductible. Nice chump change for your carrier.)
So yesterday’s record release of iPhone 6 units into the world, also signals a new market for stolen iPhone 6s. And it doesn’t have to be this way, but the manufacturers are making a killing selling handsets and selling them again to people who lose them to the black market.
About 1.6 million Americans had their phones stolen last year, according to Consumer Reports. About 40 percent of robberies in major U.S. cities involve mobile devices, the Federal Communications Commission has noted. *Huffpo
The system will only work if everyone is on-board. If the “kill” switch is voluntary, or an opt-in approach, the thefts will continue. But the carriers should be forced to kill stolen phones at the request of the previous owner. “My phone was stolen, disable this phone from reactivation on ATT,” should be all it takes to brick a shiny new iPhone 6. Of course, that’s not the way it’s going to play out. The carriers and manufactures have a lot to lose by killing all those stolen phones. If they implemented a real fix they would dry up that market that sold an additional 1.6 million phones last year. That’s a lot of revenue and a lot of deductibles if you happen to have paid for theft insurance.
As consumers we should demand a better method of killing our stolen phones. Apple’s approach is okay, but not a hard kill. My phone in Mexico was certainly reset to factory new and reinitialized on ATT’s network. And I shelled out the money for a new one on my upgradeable line. Two years later I would’ve hoped the iPhone 6 would’ve been a less attractive target for theft, but it’s only a bigger and more lucrative target.