WordPress 3.4 was just released and as always you should upgrade, if for nothing else, just to ensure you have the security fixes. As for functionality improvements, there is nothing really exciting about this release. You can preview theme changes before publishing them and change the size of the header in the default theme now–although you are still stuck with the massive amount of wasted space above the header unless you make code changes like demonstrated here. You can also create nice looking Twitter embeds by pasting the tweet permalink on a line in the editor–been doing that for a while now with the Blackbird Pie plugin.
Three years of egg on their face and the disciples over in moodle-land are still pushing the big Moodle security lie. Maybe they need to refresh their memories.
Moodle Security = Oxymoron
WordPress 3.3.2 is a security release and everyone should upgrade. Looks like the SWF uploader is being replaced…good, since it didn’t work that well anyway. No added features, but for security sake you do need to upgrade. Remember…don’t just push the upgrade button…do it right to avoid Murphy’s Law.
Now that Blackboard has effectively bought out Moodle, they are wasting no time making their presence noticed. Just look at the #Moodle hashtag on Twitter today and it’s right in your face. Moodle sells out and Blackboard takes over…of course, I still don’t see Blackboard in the Official Moodle Partner list over at Moodle.com
I love it when people tell it like it is…especially when that person is the leader of a very successful endeavor and doesn’t care that the truth may offend the “elites” in the industry. Kudos to the Canvas leadership for putting it out there.
But what about open source? Yes Ray Henderson talks a lot about open source, but clearly it’s eyewash. Blackboard hasn’t changed, but hope springs eternal.
So, what’s going to happen now? Expect more confusion. I don’t think it requires much imagination to suppose that the Moodle and Sakai community will become even more jumbled and Blackboard will shove innovation even further back on the burner.
Blackboard was bought out by Providence Equity Partners venture (vulture?) capitalists, who specialise in leveraged buyouts, last year. Presumably they borrowed the $1.64 billion they paid and need to see a significant return on that ASAP. Leveraged buyouts are usually about a fast turnaround and how to extract the biggest possible return in the shortest possible time regardless of the long-term outcomes. If they destroy Moodle and/or Blackboard in the process, that’s just business.
Blackboard announces the purchase of moodlerooms, the largest Moodle partner. For those of you who don’t know, Moodle partners pay a stipend (normally around 10%) to Moodle HQ. Wonder how much Moodle HQ got and will continue to get in this deal?
Not sure why this should surprise anyone…Moodle was never an open source project…it was always about pretending to be one, getting free labor and development from thousands of people, and making a handy profit off a closed business model. However, this announcement takes the business side of Moodle to a complete new level.
In this video I show how to quickly install a WordPress blog and then replicate it multiple times resulting in multiple independent WordPress installs using a single database. If you need hundreds of WordPress installs, then the using the network feature (multiple blog feature) in WordPress is the way to go. However, if you only need a few then installing separate blogs may be a lit simpler and easier for you to manage.
I’ll be lurking in the #blogchat discussion tonight on #twitter and the topic of discussion is “favorite blog plugins”. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized it’s hard to identify my favorite plugins–I use a lot of different plugins on different sites depending on a lot of variables. However, in the spirit of sharing, here are some of my favorites/most used blog (WordPress) plugins — in no particular order:
The video in this post is a follow-up to the last video I published here about creating a members only WordPress blog. In that video I briefly demonstated a WordPress plugin that allows you to upload a csv file of and create tens of thousands users in a matter of minutes. In this video, I demonstrate how to create that csv file of users with MS Excel. The video is a bit long…I’m sure given a lot of planning and thought I could have demonstrated this in under 10 minutes, but since I can now upload videos of unlimited length to YouTube, and since I no longer have the time to spend hours on creating these, my videos will tend to be a bit longer these days. The upside is, in this video, you should not only learn a thing or two about WordPress, but you may pick up a few Excel tips that could come in handy in several different applications–I demonstrate the use of the “text to columns”, “concatenate”, and “past values only” functions in Excel that are extremely useful. Anyway, enjoy.
In the video above I demonstrate how to close a WordPress blog to the public and make it available only to members who have a username and password created for them by the blog administrator. The site I demonstrate has 49,500 members that I created and bulk uploaded in about an hour. I show the plugin I used for the bulk upload of users. I’ll create a follow-up video in a week or so demonstrating how I used Excel to create those users from a file with nothing but first and last names. If you have need for a private blog/website to share with a few people or tens of thousands of people, this should help get you started.
The research report attached to this post was published in the “International Journal of Information Technology and Knowledge Management, January-June 2011, Volume 4, No. 1, pp. 233-238“. It covers some major security flaws in Moodle that will not surprise anyone who has been following Moodle security issues for the past few years. I no longer need to use Moodle, but for those of you who do rely on it, don’t be fooled…just because I’m no longer dedicating time and effort to publically demonstrate major security flaws in the Moodle code and design, don’t take that as a sign that those problems no longer exist! I know of at least two major security holes in the latest version of Moodle and one of them is just as bad as this one I publicized not long ago…and like that vulnerability, it has been discussed in the Moodle forums for months and has received no attention by the devs. If that security issue is not addressed in the next few months, then I may do another “open demonstration” for the public…that seems to be the only way to force action by the Moodle lead dev.
I created a video a couple years ago demonstrating how to create multiple WordPress blogs using a single database and I still get lots of email asking various questions about that process. However, since the release of WordPress 3.0 and the merging of WordPress and WordPress Mu, that process is no longer needed. You can now create multiple blogs using a single install of the base WordPress code. Although I no longer actively create WordPress tutorials for the general public, I decided to do an update so that people wouldn’t be following the old procedure and unnecessarily uploading multiple copies of the WP code-base to create multiple blogs.
WordPress 3.3.1 is now available. This maintenance release fixes 15 issues with WordPress 3.3, as well as a fix for a cross-site scripting vulnerability that affected version 3.3. Upgrade now, but if you are not extremely tech-savvy, then view this first!
In the video above I demonstrate how to do some basic editing on the default WordPress themes (Twentyten and Twentyeleven) to reduce the header size and remove some of the items that, in my opinion, take up way too much space in the header. In the process, I show the basics of setting up a child theme and provide a glimpse into how I use local copies of WordPress running on my computer to make theme editing a lot quicker and simpler. I also demonstrate how to preview changes in Firebug and then copy those changes into your theme css file. This tutorial is intended for non-techies…if you are an expert, then this isn’t for you. Enjoy!
I thought for sure we were headed for a showdown of Blackboard vs. Moodle. However as time progressed, even months before the RFP went out I could tell that there was a big buzz about Canvas. So much that Moodle fell right off the radar of pretty much everyone.
Moodle: 1990’s technology in 2011
In the video below I demonstrate how to take a full backup of your WordPress blog before upgrading so that you will have everything you need just in case the upgrade breaks your site and you need to get back to where you were. One of the biggest mistakes people make when upgrading their site is to just trust that everything will go well and fail to make a good backup. Don’t be a victim…you may make a hundred backups you never need, but one day you will need one.
I am a senior this year and getting to know a new program just to check my grades and post papers is ridiculous. Blackboard had become a friend to me; I knew everything about it and how to get to where I needed to be. Moodle is a stranger, one that I care not to know. You may say I am one of those people who does not like change, which is wrong: I love change, just not when it deals with my school work.
Experienced users will appreciate the new drag-and-drop uploader, hover menus for the navigation, the new toolbar, improved co-editing support, and the new Tumblr importer. We’ve also been thinking a ton about what the WordPress experience is like for people completely new to the software. Version 3.3 has significant improvements there with pointer tips for new features included in each update, a friendly welcome message for first-time users, and revamped help tabs throughout the interface. Finally we’ve improved the dashboard experience on the iPad and other tablets with better touch support.
If you don’t currently have your WordPress blog configured to render on mobile devi ces, then watch this video for directions on using the WPTouch plugin. In only a few minutes you have configure your blog to render very nicely on a variety of smartphones.