Reclaim Today Episode 008: Sparking Conversations

Last week, was a whirlwind of work. But while everyone was back in the office for a few days, Lauren and I sat down for our first solo Reclaim Today episode. Tim and Jim already have 8 episodes behind them so we needed to catch up for sure. Lauren and I jumped into a quick conversation about Spark.

Now before I get into the gist of our conversation, I’m still new to using a third-party email client. I used AirMail for the past year I’ve been with Reclaim and before that, I used Gmail or iMail. It never really struck me to use another email client. I was so used to the default systems. But AirMail changed the game, and Spark is even better.

Lauren and I began talking about some of our favorite features. Mine, in particular, is the calendar. This helps a ton when trying to schedule meeting or calls, you don’t have to leave the application. I can see Reclaim’s calendar and manage my personal calendar all in one. 

Another feature that is super handy is the Smart Inbox feature. While working with a traditional inbox, you see the emails in reverse chronological order. So all the newsletters, shipping notifications, and important emails. It’s not easy to sort through and I always felt like I was going to miss an important email. Spark has a Smart Inbox feature that automatically sorts out emails for you. So all your newsletters, notifications and personal emails are sorted into their own category. It makes sifting through emails so much easier. 

Spark has a comment feature where people in your ‘team’ can comment and draft emails behind the scenes and collaborate on ideas. Reclaim Hosting receives a ton of notification emails and the comment feature comes in handy. It saves a few steps for sending emails responding to these notifications. 

Lauren continues the conversation with her favourite features, the smart inbox feature and email ‘templates’ using signatures. The episode is short but if you’re interested in a new mail client this is a good one! Take a look!

Archiving a Twitter Account

One of this week’s episodes of Reclaim Today sparked a conversation around archiving. These episodes are always a great listen, in this particular episode, Tim and Jim were chatting about Harvard’s announcement to close down blogs.harvard.edu. 

A highlight of this talk occurs about 9 minutes in when Tim discusses how users begin to think about taking their content with them. Jim continues the conversation,  describing that the blogging platform, specifically with UMW Blogs, was intended as a point of content creation with the notion that users own their content and can take it with them when they graduate. This became, as Jim said, the “kernel at the beginning of agency and digital identity.”

I looked into what this meant during my senior capstone project, where I created an Intro to Domain of One’s Own video. 


I didn’t really think much of this after listening to the live stream, but then I came across an old twitter account. I created an account as part of a final project for ds106, where we portrayed a character from the Wire in ‘real life’ through social media. We watched the Wire as part of the class and my character was Beadie Russell. 

This sparked my thoughts more on what I can control in other digital presences like through Twitter. I examined what this looked like through my own content and through my capstone project, but it never really hit me I could do this with content on a social media platform. So I decided, since I wasn’t actively using the account anymore, I would download an archive of the tweets I created for ds106.

So I requested an archive of the account (thank goodness I remembered the login credentials) and in a few short minutes, I had a .zip file of all the tweets for @beadierussell. I saw Tim did this exact thing with his previous twitter account as well.  I combed through the files, fully expecting to keep them on my computer locally and, I realized this was set up to be uploaded online. So I decided to do just that, I created a subdomain from my domain, and upload the .zip file of the account to it, so I can link it to the final project. 

It was super easy! I FTP’d into my account, uploaded the .zip folder and boom, @beadierussell now lives on meredithfierro.com! You can view the archive here at twitter.meredithfierro.com/beadierussell.

It’s nothing fancy, but I imagine it would look awesome if you had years of tweets, like Tim. Super cool that Twitter provided the coded files to upload the account right away too!

Messing Around with Gutenberg

A change is coming to WordPress. Don’t worry! It’s not as big as you think– but it’s worth noting. With the most recent version, 4.9.8, I took the opportunity to explore a little more. I think a lot of the change is coming to the post and page editors. 

But don’t worry! If you’re already overwhelmed with the change you can continue to edit a post in the normal editor. I’ve got you as well– I’m going to go through some of the biggest changes and show you some tips and tricks to make the most of the Gutenberg editor.


Frist, I’ll start off by showing you a side by side of what the two versions look like. 

Classic Post Editor: 

Gutenberg Post Editor: 

Big difference right? When WordPress 5.0 is released, Gutenberg will be the default editor. But, good news! The classic editor isn’t going away. You can access the classic editor through the post page. 

So if you’re still unsure where you’d like to use Gutenberg, you can still edit a post in the classic editor. 

From here, I’ll go through my process when I’m drafting a post. Hopefully, this will show you where you can incorporate the new post editor into your blog posts!


  Gutenberg offers a visual way to compose media heavy posts. So, for example, if you wanted to create a gallery post to highlight some of your more recent photography, Gutenberg allows you to embed a gallery within it’s own section of the post. 

So to demonstrate, here are a few photos I’ve taken over the last several months.

I was able to use a shortcut to insert the gallery. This is something I found out recently and I LOVE this feature. It makes inserting new sections into the post so much easier. 

All you need to do is use the ‘/’ which brings up a menu of popular choices when working with your post. You can choose the specific item you’d like to work with by clicking the menu item or typing in the full name of the item.

You can also search for the block type you’d like to use. Gutenberg incorporates a ton of new ‘blocks’ or post elements. You can embed a lot more, like Instagram posts, tweets, Spotify playlists, TedTalks, among many others. You could still do this before, but having a specific block for each element makes the embed process so much easier. 

So let’s say I want to share a playlist I’ve been listening to lately. I would use the ‘/’ and start typing ‘/spotify.’ This brings up the option to add a new block to embed the playlist or song. 

And the finished playlist looks like this: 


From here, I noticed the menu on the right-hand side change each time I click on a block. This allows you to modify a block even more. You can make changes to the entire document as well. 

Text Block

Media Block

Document Settings


So you’ll continue to add blocks to your post until you’re ready to publish and the post. Luckily, this process hasn’t changed. I go through each section and add the relevant categories and tags. You can even write an excerpt and manage the discussion settings within that same section as well. When you’re ready hit publish. Tada! You just published your post using the new Gutenberg editor!

Reclaim Today

I’ve always enjoyed listening to Podcasts. I remember listening to some back in middle and high school, but recently I rediscovered them in college. I live about 2 and a half hours from my hometown, and my Spotify got repetitive during the many drives back and forth. I quickly locked into many series like Serial, S-Town, Anna Faris is Unqualified, and Nerdist (ID10T), to name a few. Do you all listen to any? What are some of your favorite? — Seriously, let me know, I need more to listen to.

I’m writing about Podcasts because Reclaim Hosting has taken on a new project in the last week or so. We are creating a podcast. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like with a little more added to it. Right now, they’re more like videocasts, where we sit down and chat in a Google Hangout that streams to YouTube. We use the audio from each stream to post to a software called Fireside. It’s working well so far!

When I say ‘we,’ I mean Tim. He nailed it from the technical side. He figured out a mobile rig that allows us to move to different locations throughout the office to film different locations. Right now we have a Mac Mini hooked up to the TV, a camera attached to the Mac Mini, and a microphone attached to the camera. Most of the rig is on a rolling cart, save for a few tripods. The Mac Mini serves as the hub for the recording and frees up a laptop for us to join the hangout to use visual aids. But, he explains the entire set up much better on his blog. It’s super cool to see his process and how quickly he was able to put this together.

The entire podcast came together rather quickly, we discussed the idea just about a week ago, and we recorded the first episode the next day. This wasn’t a very long episode; we wanted to set out our expectations for the podcast and describe what we want it to become. You can listen to the podcast (if you want a traditional version) on our Fireside instance.

How about that intro, huh? Another excellent work of Tim’s and what a wicked way to introduce the podcast. He talks about his process in his post as well.

The Intro shows some of the main points of what we want to cover while creating these episodes. And while creating a podcast seems like a lot of work, we want to break the stigma of perfection. These episodes definitely do not need to be perfect. We want to capture what some of the topics in almost real-time, and document what Reclaim Hosting is currently working on. Making sure each episode is perfect takes away from that experience.

I’m excited to jump into the world of podcasting and even host some of my own episodes. I feel like a true millennial jumping on the podcast train. We’ve got a lot to talk about so stay tuned!

Omeka Case Studies

This week, Reclaim Hosting is running our second Workshop of One’s Own, where we will work with Domain of One’s Own admins to teach them about running DoOO on their campus. I’ve been tasked with talking through one of our most popular platforms, Omeka. While WordPress still takes the cake for the most popular applications run on our servers, Omeka has become increasingly popular. This post will dive into what Omeka is, and what you can do with the platform, and showcasing a few examples of how the platform could look when built out fully. You can read more about the other applications we are showcasing, Grav and Scalar. I’ve worked with Omeka for a little while but only when troubleshooting issues to specific sites, I haven’t built out a site like Omeka before. I took this a chance to look at the site in depth.

Omeka is a free open-source web-publishing platform. While it is open for anyone to use, the platform is mainly used by libraries, museums to archive items within their collections. The developers wanted to create a platform that allowed groups like this to create their own archive of collections just as easily as someone could start a blog. Omeka started with the development of Omeka classic, then the developers launched Omeka S, a standalone version similar to Omeka Classic. Omeka S has the option to streamline sites and more management features than Omeka Classic.  Omeka allows institutions like this to create online exhibits to archive any topic. It has a relatively simple user interface– once you get the hang of the layout, it’s fairly easy to use. You’ll do most of the site building through the dashboard: 

The main source code is standardized for each site but it is highly customizable based on themes and plugins used to build out the site. You can read more about installing themes and plugins on our Workshop of One’s Own website.

While I’m here, I’ll talk about three Omeka sites that are great examples of building out Omeka to archive events throughout history. The first is the Cork LGBT Archive. This website ‘aims to preserve, digitise, share and display information related to the history of the LGBT community in Cork, Ireland.’

This site showcases several exhibits of events within the LGBT community, building off of Arthur Leahy’s collection that began in the 1970s. One particular collection that stood out to me on this site was the Gay Sweatshop- Blood Green Collection. This archive a two-night play called ‘Blood Green’ that was put on by the Gay Sweatshop, at the Granery Theater. In an item within the collection, that describes what it was like to get the play up and running. 

Another great example of Omeka, is Making Modern America: Discovering the Great Depression and New Deal. This is was created during a class offered at the University of Oklahoma in the Fall of 2015. The course examined what happened during the Great Depression and the New Deal. Students created this instance of Omeka to curate what happened in Oklahoma during that time, and many chose to continue the project after the class finished. 

One thing that stood out to me is how the incorporated maps within their collection. This provides a great visual tool to document where things took place rather than documenting each item through exhibits. The class also added their lesson plans to the site through PDF embedding.

The last example I’ll talk about today is Georgetown University’s slavery archive.  This was created as an effort to document Georgetown University’s involvement in the institution of Slavery. But what’s unique about this specific project, is the blend of WordPress and Omeka. When you got to slavery.georgetown.edu, you’re brought to a WordPress site that shows what the project is and what they’re working on to document this portion of history.

But, the main archive uses Omeka. The slavery archive really goes into detail about how Georgetown and the surrounding area was involved with slavery. The collection itself is a repository of materials related to the Maryland Jesuits, Georgetown University, and Slavery in the surrounding areas. 

 

There are so many ways to use Omeka and to document pieces of history. These three sites are great examples of how you can document specific communities and periods of history around the world, specifically the LGBT community in Cork, Ireland, the New Deal in Oklahoma, and slavery at Georgetown University.

Using Flickr to embed images

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It can help illustrate a point you’re trying to make, how you felt at a particular moment or provide something to look at while you’re giving a presentation. I mainly use images to break up the writing on my posts. Using images means that I’m taking up space on the server to use them on my blog. That space can fill up quickly when you have a limited amount of space on a server too.

But there is a way around this! You can use Flickr to easily embed your own images on your site without taking up a ton of space on my account. Flickr is a ‘freemium’ web service where you can upload up to 1TB of images for free. You can organize the photos into albums and even edit the photos.

I stumbled across this solution when I was quickly reaching my storage quota for my website during ds106. I needed a way to upload all the images I created and didn’t have enough room on my website. So I thought I would show you all how simple it is to embed the images in posts and pages.


Uploading Images:

Before you can put the images on your website, you’ll need to upload them to Flickr. From the Flickr homepage, click the cloud icon in the top right corner.

You can click ‘Choose Photos and Videos to Upload’ or click and drag the images directly onto the screen to upload the images.

Once the images render, you can change the name, add them to albums, and give the item’s tags to organize them. This is totally your preference. When you’re ready, click ‘Upload’ in the top right corner. You’ll confirm the upload as well.


Embedding the Images

Once you have the images on Flickr. Click the photo you’d like to put on your website. Then click the down arrow icon. Click ‘View all sizes.’

This will bring up a new screen where you can toggle between image sizes. Select the image size you’d like to embed, then right click and click ‘Copy Image Address.’

This will give us a direct link to the image, rather than the Flickr album/photostream. Navigate to the WordPress post/page you’re working on. Within the visual editor, paste the link to the image.

Flickr will automatically change the URL into an image. You can manipulate it like you would if it was uploaded directly to the site.

 

1 Year with Reclaim

January 30th, 2017, the day that I started as an intern at Reclaim Hosting. Which, at the time of writing this, it was 1 year ago to the day. How crazy is that? A year ago I was a second-semester senior, itching to get out in the real world and be done with school. I was so ready to finish my degree and start working. I don’t remember too much about the day, just that I was super nervous because I had no clue where to start in the world of web hosting. I think the day really consisted of paperwork. Thinking back to where I am today, I’ve learned a ton. Not just in the web hosting community, but about myself as well. So this post is just a bit of reflection in the year that I’ve worked with Reclaim, first as an intern, then part-time, and finally full-time this fall. I wrote about my time as an intern on this blog and what I’ve been up to while full time  (over here).
Keep notes: Yes, note taking does not stop after high school/college. It may not be as intense as a 50-minute lecture where the professor talks the entire class, but it’s still super useful. There are so many ways to take notes. Lauren uses her blog as a place for notes on specific processes. I personally have to write them down to stay in my brain, so I keep a little notebook in my bag and jot notes as I got. But, I’m slowly but surely heading towards the blog. Ask questions: I can’t say it enough, ask questions. Then ask some more. And don’t worry if you think you’re being annoying with all the questions, but that’s really the way to learn. Clarity: Explaining thing clearly is key. I’m still trying to get the hang of this, but I’ve found writing more detailed responses helps a ton when you are trying to troubleshoot. I still have a ton to learn, which is a great thing. I would be worried I did. I definitely want to keep learning, and I can absolutely do that through this job.
Ok now for the fun stuff! What has the year held for Meredith at Reclaim? Well let me tell ya, it was a fun year. I got to travel, first to Oklahoma in June, then to NYC in November. Both of these trips were incredible. The Oklahoma trip was to Reclaim’s first ever Domains conference in Oklahoma City.  This was a tremendous experience for one because I got to attend a conference that my company was running, but I got to see the schools and universities we work with through Domain of One’s Own. The NYC trip was a perfect opportunity for the Reclaim team to get some team bonding in. I started working full time a couple of months before and it was the perfect time to regroup before the end of the year. If you’d like to read more about these trips, I wrote blog posts about each (linked above). I got to see our office space, CoWork, expand to the what it is today. When I came in it looked like this:
Lauren Brumfield’s photo
And this is what it looks like now:
Talk about a space transformation! While I wasn’t completely around for the entire transformation, it was still super cool to see the midpoint of the renovations to the completed space. That second CoWork photo brings me to my last big moment of the year. In late October, we ran a workshop covering the ins and outs of Domain of One’s Own. This workshop is catered towards the Domain of One’s Own admins and how they can support the program on their campus. I had the privilege of talking through Domain migrations and transfers during the second day. Speaking to a group like this was something I’d never done before. It was a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone.
And speaking of comfort zones, 2018 is shaping up to be a big one. In April, Reclaim is heading across the pond to Bristol, England for a two-day conference. During that conference, I’ll be speaking. Yes, I’m speaking at a conference. That’s something I never thought I’d hear see my self say type.  But in all honesty, I’m super excited for this opportunity and nervous at the same time (but it all goes away when I think about the fact I’m going back to England). But who knows where the rest of 2018 will bring! I’m honestly so glad I found this internship with Reclaim that led to a full time position. The opportunities Jim and Tim have given me are incredible, and I’m so grateful. Here’s to a year full of lessons and growth! Featured Image by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash

Using the Import/Export Tools in WordPress

Lately, I’ve been working with clients to move their website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. With this request, I use the Import/Export tools to move the content from one site to the other. This tool bundles the content on the site into a .zip file which you can then move to another location. Disclaimer: It isn’t perfect, you only get the content of the site, so things like posts, pages, and settings on the site. The plugins, themes, and media arent’ included, so, if your site has a lot of media, or has a ton of plugins, this tool might not work for you. (I’m writing another post about a plugin that will move everything on the site for you so stay tuned).

As I’m writing to the clients with instructions on how to set up their site using these tools, I started looking for a tutorial that would walk them through the process. And can you believe it, there are no tutorials that show the process from start to finish? So I wanted to take the time to write the process down. This article will showcase the import/export tools within WordPress (.com and .org) the process is essentially the same for both, they just look a little different.

But wait, there are two versions of WordPress? Yes, there are, but they are run in different ways.  WordPress, in a nutshell, is an open-source content management software (if you want to look at a more in-depth explanation you can read about it here).  Automattic Inc. helps develop and maintain this software. We offer this software at Reclaim and users can install an instance on their domain, in fact, you’re reading this post on a WordPress installation.

WordPress.com is Automattic Inc.’s hosting company that runs the WordPress software explicitly. They offer free accounts with subdomains like meredithfierro.wordpress.com for free or users can purchase a domain. Then users can opt-in to pay a monthly fee to get full use of the software, like you would if you installed WordPress on your domain through your hosting company.


WordPress.com

Export:

The first thing you’ll want to do is export all of the content. Also, take note of the plugins and theme the site is using (this will save time on the other side).

  1.  Click ‘Settings’ under ‘Configure’ 
  2. Click ‘Export,’ under the ‘Site Tools’ section:
  3. From here you can choose the amount of content you’d like to export, or you can export the entire content on the website. When you’ve decided what to export, click ‘Export’: 
  4. WordPress begins to package the content together. When it finishes, a banner should appear at the top of the screen. Click ‘Download’: 

Continue reading “Using the Import/Export Tools in WordPress”

Reclaiming NYC

The first team trip, for me, was one for the books! This was definitely a lot of fun and a great way for us to regroup before the end of the year, and the perfect time to reflect on Workshop of One’s Own.

WoOO is a two-day workshop that Reclaim hosts, to introduce and train Our Domain of One’s Own schools on the three parts that make up DoOO, WordPress, WHM, and WHMCS. This was our first time running a workshop in this capacity, but we want to continue to offer this to the schools we support through Domain of One’s Own. I thought this was successful. We spent the two days talking about each purpose of the trio that makes up Domain of One’s Own and how to support the program. We created a website that we hope becomes one of the go-to options for DoOO documentation. We reflected on what we could do to improve the workshop for the next go around in the car on the way to the airport just after finishing the final talks.

We decided that just talking to the participants wasn’t enough. That can get boring quickly. We ran an ‘escape room’ where we posed a series problems to fix a  troubled website. We gave the participants 2 lifelines to ‘support’ where they could ask us questions. The group was determined to not use the lifelines, and they successfully made it through the room without using them! This escape room quickly became one of the favorite activities.

Another thing that came up was the size of the group. We opened registration to include 10 people total. But as things moved along we ended up with 6 participants. This was honestly the perfect size. We wanted this to be a focused group of individuals where they could get all of their questions answered, and hopefully, they could learn all they could about supporting Domain of One’s Own. We decided as a group that a smaller group like this would be a better option.


Once we arrived in NYC, most of our conversations shifted towards how we felt as a group, and what the future holds for Reclaim. We even talked about where the company has expanded since the last team trip, to Portland, around this time last year.  Lauren and Jim both wrote about on their blogs, oddly enough both called Reclaiming Portland.

So what does the future hold for Reclaim? Cloudron is definitely a cool one, Tim wrote about this on his blog, but I’ll give a short description of what Cloudron is. From their website “Cloudron is a platform to host apps on your server and keep them up-to-date and secure.” And this is a super seamless way to install a single instance of WordPress and Ghost. This is so simple, There’s no need to worry about remembering passwords when installing the application, you can access this with the one password you set up when you log in.

Continuing on the future of Reclaim, we talked about a potential new marketing campaign… I think this will be an awesome addition to Reclaim and let us reach new schools. Be on the lookout for more on that!

This trip was also very inspiring. On Sunday morning, we found ourselves in SoHo and close to Chinatown for brunch. It dawned on me that one of my favorite Youtube Creators, Casey Neistat, has his office in this area. I only know this because it is literally a place on Google Maps. Casey is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and content creator. He started a business called Beme, which is like Snapchat. Recently, this company was bought by CNN but the headquarters is still on Broadway in NYC. We decided to take an adventure to the office after brunch and it was honestly so surreal. I happened to look up just before we got to the office and there it was! I thought it was pretty cool see where someone works when I only see that in their videos. Taking away the screen as a barrier made this all so real.

The Beme Headquarters

 

We may have left Reclaim’s mark in NYC as well…

Spot the Reclaim sticker

One last thing we talked about during our time in NYC was how we felt as a company. And I think we’re all in agreement when we say that things are going well. I’ve been on the team fulltime for two months now and I have no complaints. Yes, we all have those super boring days where nothing happens and then there are days when we’re getting new tickets left and right. We also talked about where we’d like to see the company go in the next year, and for me, I’d like to take on documentation as a project. I’d like to use writing documentation as a way to have an understanding of how everything works. When writing an article about something, it kind of forces you to learn about that topic before you publish the article.

So that’s what Reclaim is looking towards in the future! We definitely are growing, and this weekend in New York was a great time for us to get to know each other a little more and a great chance to see where everyone is at this point in their Reclaim career. Here’s to the future!