WordPress Wednesday News: WordPress 2.5 News, Colleges and Schools Love WordPressMU, Viddler Meets WordPress, Theme Buyers Beware, Columns in Blog Posts, Feeds Without Plugins

WordPress 2.5 in final stages of preparation for release. WordPress Themes, free or paid, might need buyer beware stickers. Want to know what’s going on with WordPress.com blogs? Blog authors now featured in WordPress.com blogs. There’s a WordPress gathering in Austin, Texas, and Dallas is getting ready for WordCamp right afterwards. Colleges and Schools are choosing WordPressMU for their students, newspapers, teachers, and school blogs. Did you know you can now put columns in your WordPress posts and Pages with a Plugin? Or put feeds on your blog without Plugins? You can learn this and much more in this week’s WordPress Wednesday News.
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Jailed Blogger Finally Sees Family

One minute you’re typing, the next you’re in jail. That’s the case of Nay Phone Latt, a Myanmar blogger who has been sitting in jail after the military government caught wind of his alleged “illegal online activities.” The ruling junta regulates the Internet to block Websites it deems subversive. This includes mandating that all Internet cafes verify users’ personal information and employ regular screen captures on every computer.

Nay could be looking at six months of jail time.

Whether you refer to the region as Burma or Myanmar, one thing is clear, political turmoil is heating up.

Details on why Nay was arrested are sketchy. Supposedly, his open views on an electricity shortage and the swelling cost of living, upset the government.

It might sound lame, but wherever you are blogging from, take a moment to appreciate the democracy that most of us are fortunate enough to live under.

You can view Nay’s blog here, but the majority of it is not in English. Even if I can’t read the words, I support his right to speak freely – regardless of what he has to say.

Forgive Me Google For I Have Sold Links

Get Your Google PageRank BackI am not one of those people who worships at the altar of Google. Their green bar of power has not had any impact on my life before now. Unfortunately I am forced to kneel before the mighty G and ask for forgiveness.

You see, on one of my blogs I sold text link advertising. My DSLR  Photography Blog had a PR of 6 so I thought I would make some cash off the fact. Google doesn’t like that. Messes with their heads. You can guess what happened next …

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The Art of the Artist Web Design Collaboration

Graphic representation of the artist's bad web page design

Web design or re-design with artists, musicians, painters, poets, or crafters can be challenging. They usually have their “vision” which may or may not be technically possible. From the start, I tell the artist that their website or blog is their stage, totally under their control. From design to attention-getting content. It’s their performance hall. An outlet for their creative expression. Do with it what you will – however, a few guidelines along the way will make it a more effective performance, no different than learning how to project and control your voice, develop stage presence, and learn the techniques of connecting with their audience.

Treat the experience as an artist collaboration. Any hint of commercialism or “how others do it” that might violate their “creativity” so monetization and SEO must be handled delicately. They usually think of themselves as unique trend setters, which works well in web design, but can break it, too.

Once they understand their website is a stage, they jump on board with enthusiasm and great ideas for incorporating their talents toward this new audience.
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CNN Producer Fired for Personal Blog

Media companies love to appear as if they are embracing new media. However, comments are often moderated and edited, podcasts are one-way streets and YouTube sharing is always disabled.

It’s sorta like when your friend’s mom, even though she’s 50, is trying to be cool. The end result is always sad.

Citing that their employee handbook prohibits writing for other entities without approval, CNN has axed Emmy-award winning producer, Chez Pazienza, formerly of American Morning.

The blog under fire is Deus Ex Malcontent; With a single paragraph being cited by CNN for a TOS violation.

I wake up every morning baffled as to why America hasn’t deported George Bush and Dick Cheney, Hollywood hasn’t stopped trying to convince me that Sarah Jessica Parker is attractive, gullible soccer moms haven’t realized that they share absolutely no kinship with Oprah, and Fox canceled Firefly.

Read more about Chez’s rapid dismissal here.

Now might be a good time to break out those employee handbooks. Because in reality, mainstream media will never truly embrace Web 2.0. Not when the power of one has the ability to put egg on their faces.

Blogger on the Road: Tools of the Trade

When I packed for my trip to Osaka, Japan last week, I thought long and hard what I needed to get my work done. I knew I’d have broadband access, so I should be able to get into the blogging groove again fairly soon after my arrival. Besides, I had planned on getting some other writing done as well, so I really wanted to make sure I had everything I needed.

Hence, the following content in my hand luggage, in case I should feel inspiration sneak up on me during the flight.

  • MacBook, my blog machine so to speak.
  • Sony Cybershot T70 digital camera, for pictures from Japan.
  • Sony Ericsson K800i mobile phone, a model that works worldwide, so that I can call people.
  • My Moleskine notebook, packed with ideas and great for quick notes, and my Moleskine calendar, since I’ve opted out of keeping track of dates and todo lists digitally.
  • Leisure things: iPod, PSP, books.

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Are You Ready for WordPress 2.5?

WordPress 2.5 is on it’s way. It’s now due March 10, 2008. Are you ready?

As a WordPress blogger, you need to be ready to upgrade your blog. Why not take time now to clean up your Theme, fix all those little nagging things desperately in need of fixing, and make note of all the customizations, WordPress Plugins, and code hacks you’ve done with your blog. A little homework can make the process faster, easier, and less stressful.

WordPress Theme Designers Must Prepare for Changes

As a WordPress Theme designer, have you updated and prepared your Theme for the new additions and features coming to WordPress? Like the improved ability to allow multiple sidebars in a WordPress Theme, addition of is_front_page() query for Themes to display content specific to the front page of the blog, new ability to limit the tree depth of wp_dropdown_categories() and wp_list_categories(), new post query function for ordering posts randomly, and the inclusion of get_avatar() for Themes to automatically include Gravatars and avatars.
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Three Research Articles That Changed My View on Blogging

In the past two years I’ve read many thought provoking articles on blogging. Unfortunately many of these articles are hidden behind the great academic firewall. Researcher and blogger danah boyd explains how and why many academic articles are behind “heavy iron walls” in her blog post ‘open-access is the future: boycott locked-down academic journals.

While subscription fees may keep academic journals going it prevents interesting articles from circulating widely and circulation creates discussion. Fortunately there are also many great research articles out there in the open. I’d like to share three pieces that changed the way I think about blogs.

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IOC gives all clear for Olympic competitors to blog in Beijing

It’s been a long time coming, but finally the International Olympic Committee has given competing athletes and their support staff the opportunity to blog during the Beijing Olympic Games.

In July last year, the IOC stated that, while “blogging is a legitimate form of personal expression available to all athletes” it was available “at all times except during the Games”.

Their new position is far more lenient, though there are restrictions in place which are designed to protect other athletes, and the paid-for rights of sponsors.

“The IOC considers blogging… as a legitimate form of personal expression and not a form of journalism,” the IOC said (we can argue about that at another time). “It is required that, when accredited persons at the Games post any Olympic content, it be confined solely to their own personal Olympic-related experience.”

Basically, bloggers can talk about their own personal Olympic journey, but they can’t talk about sensitive issues relating to other people, and presumably other situations, and nor can they use multimedia which might infringe on the media outlets who’ve paid a lot of money for the right to report and broadcast. That’s going to be an interesting one to police, particularly as there doesn’t appear to be a requirement to register these blogs.

Let’s hope the IOC is good at using Technorati.

For more Olympic resources, read Lorelle’s excellent feature on Blogging the Olympic Games

Help Stop Terrorists With Government Blog?

In this post-9/11 world, transportation security remains a major global issue.

In light of that fact, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in America has launched a blog in order to inform the public of future initiatives and give frustrated travelers a place to air their grievances.

Previously, it was necessary to file formal complaint. As you can imagine, the majority of which, were tied in red tape and lost in black holes.

The TSA’s Evolution of Security blog aims to explain to the public, in non-political terms, why certain processes work the way they do. At some time or another, many upstanding citizens have felt violated, as the air travel process has shifted from a luxury to an inconvenience.

Is the blog nothing more than propaganda to justify intrusive security checks and long delays?

According to the blog, “Terrorists Evolve. Threats Evolve. Security Must Stay Ahead. You Play A Part.”

Will the TSA pay attention, follow up, and let everyday citizens help dictate the agency’s actions? We’ll find out if this is a premature takeoff or a smooth landing soon enough.