10 Years of WordPress

wp10logoWow, has it really been 10 years?

Yes, it has – officially 10 years ago, on May 27th, 2003, WordPress was released.

As part of the WordPress 10th Anniversary Blogging Project, I figured I would  I’d share some of my memories of using WordPress over the years.

Back in 2003, when WordPress was first released:

  • I was still using Windows 2000 on my home computer (I did use XP at work – cutting edge at the time!)
  • We were only on the 2nd Matrix movie, “The Matrix Reloaded”
  • I was still using the “Mozilla Suite,” the descendent of “Netscape Communicator.” (It wasn’t until next year that it was split into Firefox & Thunderbird)
  • We had just lost the Space Shuttle Columbia a few months prior
  • The iPod was only on its 3rd iteration, and the iPhone was still a distant dream
  • Slim flip-phone cell phones were all the rage
  • The Concorde made its last commercial flight

I didn’t start using WordPress myself until a little bit after its release – until around December 1st, 2005, in fact.

When I started using WordPress in 2005:

  • We were just starting to lament that schools were switching to using Java (the horror!) to teach programming
  • I still had a CRT TV in my living room (and on my computer – though I had just gotten an LCD display at work, and I’d soon get one at home as well)
  • Digital Rights Management came into the spotlight with the discovery of Sony’s rootkit that silently installed when you inserted a music (!!) CD in your computer.
  • This was the year I took down my old hand-coded personal site (which was old, dated, and not really very good) in favor of this blog.
  • And, of course, 2005 is the year I unexpectedly found myself living with my two wonderful rabbits

In all that time, I’ve switched WordPress themes more times than I can count – and upgraded and installed numerous useful (and sometimes silly) plugins.

Still, it’s amazing to see how far WordPress has come. It’s been a great 10 years, and I’m looking forward to 10 more!

Happy 10th birthday, WordPress!

A Green New Theme

I’ve finally stopped flipping through WordPress themes and settled on one I like – and it’s really, really nice!

Just today I finally stumbled across a theme that really speaks to me and that I instantly liked and felt like it “fit” this blog. So, obviously, this new theme that you’re probably looking at right now is… the new theme!

(The theme, in case you were wondering, is called Green Park 2.)

I’m quite happy with it – it has everything I want in a theme:

  • It’s clean and clear
  • It has great typography
  • The focus is on the content, not flashy extras
  • It has 2 sidebars (I have lots of links to put over there, so having 2 columns is very handy)

It also doesn’t hurt that green is my favorite color, either. 🙂

Coincidentally, it also has a link for my Twitter status – which you can see in the upper-right corner. I think this is pretty neat, and since I use twitter from time to time now, I figured it’d be nice to have here.

All in all, I’m very happy with this new theme, and I think I’ll be keeping it for quite a while!

WordPress 2.7 – Nice

That’s not a sarcastic “nice,” or an uninterested “nice,” that’s high-praise “niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!

I just happened to be up late last night and logged on to my blog’s admin interface, only to see that WordPress 2.7 had been released. Who-hoo!

I love new versions, especially of free software. I love the way people put their heart and soul into creating these things. As a fellow programmer myself, I can see the signs.

This latest version of WordPress (as you may already know) is a big one – and it shows. The sheer amount of polish (for lack of a better word) is astounding. This is high-class stuff here, folks.

So if you’ve ever considered starting a blog of your own, or if you already have a blog but are using a different blogging platform, now is definately the time to give WordPress a try! And if you’re using an older version of WordPress – upgrade now! Seriously, it’s well worth it.

An Oddity with Cookies and WordPress 2.6

I just upgraded the 3 blogs hosted here on my site to WordPress 2.6, as well as a number of other blogs I maintain for people.

In each and every case, after upgrading, I had some trouble getting back to the Admin page – the login page appears and it says “Please log in again” in pink above the login prompt. (Sadly, I didn’t think to get a screenshot.)

I did some digging and found a suggestion that clearing your Cookies would help – and indeed it did, for all the sites. Whew!

I do love this version of WordPress (as I love all versions – WordPress is great!) but it is a rather odd thing – it scared me at first, let me tell you! I thought something had gone horribly wrong or that my password had somehow changed. But it was just some weirdness with cookies.

I’m posting this here so that other people can find the answer – it’s simple enough. It seems as though there were some changes to the cookies used by WordPress in this version – perhaps that’s what caused the problem?

Blogging is HARD

Blogging is HARD.

No, seriously, it is.

Now, before you brush me off, thinking that “you just write a few paragraphs every so often and that’s it,” let me assure you – there is quite a bit more to it than that (or rather, there has to be more to it than that if you want your blog to be at all successful).

Unless you’re just writing a blog as you would a journal or diary (that is, for no one to read but you and maybe your best friends), then you are right – blogging is easy. Just write about what you did at the mall today or how mean your teacher was to you in 3rd period English, and you’re all set.

Now, if you want to write seriously and maybe even get random strangers to read your blog and (presumably) enjoy it, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

The biggest hurdle for new bloggers is just getting something to write about, and actually writing. Constantly – or at least regularly. If you only post once per month, nobody’s going to come back, and you’ll be doomed to only be read by the occasional person who got lost while searching Google.

Once you commit yourself to writing on some sort of regular schedule (doesn’t matter what it is really, as long as you stick to it), you’ve got to… well, actually WRITE. And if you think back to your English or Creative Writing or Essay classes or whatever you took in school, you might remember that it’s often very hard to write about something – everyone gets “writer’s block” at one time or another. And blogging is no different than a weekly essay assignment – except that you won’t flunk a class for not blogging, and without that strong impetus to write, you may be tempted to slack off. (Even with the strong impetus, you might still slack off – I know I did in college!)

So blogging is hard because you have to write, and write often. But of course that’s not it, either, because you have to write, and write often, about things that you feel strongly about (and hopefully that other people want to read about). And believe it or not, that’s not always easy, either.

At first, if you’re dedicated, you might find it somewhat easy – just spout out a rant here and there on a regular schedule – while you have your morning coffee or whatever – and you’re all set, right? Well, sort of.

It’s easy at first because you don’t know any better. Like anything, practice makes perfect. As you blog more and more (and presumably read other people’s blogs at the same time) you’ll become a better writer. And part of being a better writer is that difficult stage where you’re good enough to see the flaws in your own writing, but not quite good enough (or perhaps confident enough) to make the changes you need to rectify the flaws.

In point of fact, I’m sort of at that stage myself. I’ve started using the “drafts” feature of WordPress quite a bit to work on … well, drafts of posts. When I first write them, they are often horrible – full of grammar problems, ideas that just wander all over the map with no cohesive vision to link them together – basically, a mess. But over a few days (or sometimes weeks) I work them into something that “works.” And some days, my writing muse is working overtime and I manage to write a few good posts all at once.

In the old days I would have posted them all immediately. Now, though, I’m taking a cue from Raymond Chen and using the “scheduled post” feature of WordPress to schedule any extra “good” posts for later – that saves me from having to work like a dog, trying to come up with stuff to write about to keep to my schedule.

So blogging really is hard – and that’s fine, things that are hard are often worth the effort. In the case of blogging, the pay off is two fold: you get to participate in a new communications medium that is sweeping the Internet, and by writing often, you will become a better writer – and that can have “real world” benefits.

So by saying “blogging is hard,” I’m not trying to dissuade you from blogging – far from it. I’m saying that blogging is hard because that’s my excuse for not posting anything for a few days. Wait, no, that’s not right. I’m saying that blogging is hard because that’s how you know it’s worth doing.

So give it a try – there’s no excuse not to. You can get a free blog just about anywhere these days, so there’s no cost to start, except for your time. And the time and effort you put into it will pay off someday. Who knows? You might even become such a good writer that you’ll get offered a book deal. Hey, stranger things have happened!

(Image credits to mathowie and andyp uk for their Creative Commons licensed pictures.)