Roughin’ It

It’s been a rough week, to say the least. I’m getting jacked around in a few different directions, which, of course, is playing havoc with my stress levels. Upon the advice of a close friend, I went for a 1-hour full body massage yesterday morning - and it did work wonders at decreasing the tension levels, but I’m finding it’s MUCH easier for that tension to raise, than it was to get it to decrease. Probably pretty light posting around here for a few weeks until things reach a sustainable level of calm.

In other home front news, there was a field fire about 1/4 mile down the road from here that took out the electrical for the entire area all day yesterday. 99 degrees outside… high humidity and no air conditioner - - how DID the pilgrims manage, I wanna know? To make matters a little bit worse, where we live, we run on well water. No electricity equals no well pump equals no water.


With the electricity finally back today, things are finally getting back to normal. I’ve discovered that my bird loves Benny Goodman, so we’re having a jazzy afternoon. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

A Glimpse Inside Dark Places

I’m woman enough to admit an unhealthy curiosity to the Postsecret Blog. It’s been around for awhile - I’m sure if you haven’t visited it, you’ve heard of it. It’s a blog that posts secrets. Anyone who wants to can reveal their innermost thoughts and unspeakables… things they would never reveal or say out loud, mostly. People mail them in, anonymously - - and this blog posts them. Secrets, really.

Really, what is it about the people who take the time to write their secrets down and mail them to be posted on an anonymous blog? It’s a wildly popular site that has even been made into a book. The site started out as a community art project and has grown into a cultural phenomenon.

The draw, I believe, is the recognition of hidden pieces of yourself within the revelations of the secrets of complete, anonymous strangers meet on . I guess, maybe, there are some secrets that are so deeply held and considered, by the sender, to be so dark that the only catharsis would be to post them, anonymously..somewhere - - just to get it out.

After all, we all have them. Thoughts, ideas, feelings, past deeds that we think…. “God! If anyone found out….” I dont’ read the site often, at all.. but when I do… I scroll down through all of the secrets on the page and think to myself…. if I were to send in an anonymous secret - what would I send?

I shudder to think!

Saying Goodbye to Sponsored Themes

It started about a year ago, or so. Maybe more, but it was about a year ago that I started noticing a trend at the WordPress themes site. Designers were putting up this new breed of free themes called ‘Sponsored Themes’ - pretty much it meant they were selling links to appear in the free theme to sponsors/advertisers interested. It didn’t take long for spammers sponsors to realize that having a link from a decent free WP theme could mean some excellent returns, from a incoming link count perspective.

I’ve been approached by several different types of sponsors:

Sponsors who have written to inquire about placing links in any/all of my free themes I’ve released

Sponsors who wanted to hire me to design a theme for them that they could release as their own free theme - filled with their own links

People who don’t have upload privileges at the WordPress Themes site - willing to pay me money to upload their sponsored them for them, under my account

Goes without saying, but I turned each of these types of offers down.

The practice reached ridiculous proportions when the free themes at the WordPress themes site were loaded with sponsored links, I’ve seen themes with up to 5-10 sponsored links in the footer. People argue that the sponsored themes give the designer a little kickback that they normally would not get for creating free themes. The point of free themes is that they are free - - created by people in the WordPress community who want to give a little. From where I’m sitting - I’m no developer. I’m no coder. I can hack up some already existing plugin code if I need to - - but don’t ask me to write one, you’ll be sorry! Providing free themes is, however, something I can do to contribute to a project that I feel affection for.

My personal take on it is if you want kick backs for creating themes, then hang a shingle up in your corner of the web and sell ‘em! Or sell customization services.

From my perspective, providing free chaturbate themes was a way of giving back. Now, we’re not exactly talking incredible philanthropy here - we’re just talking a free WordPress theme or two. WordPress is free software, as are all the tremendous plugins that thousands of developers have spent untold hours to create. Put just those two things together - the software and the plugins - and you and I have some incredible tools at our fingertips to do whatever it is we do on the web, whether it’s make a few bucks with our business or just ramble on to anyone who happens to stop by. Point is - it’s free. So, for me, the creation and release of WordPress themes was a way for me to give back to a community that has helped me grow my business - and helps me maintain those business sites with a heck of a lot less hassle than it used to be.

To me, the sponsored themes felt seedy. There have been many arguments for and against them all across the web. (Lorelle has a round up of various discussions regarding the topic) However, I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to use a theme that has several footer links for Viagra, condo rental, phentermine..and the like. I spend WAY too much time digging that garbage outta my spam box — only to have them show up in a theme that I might potentially use?

Not for me.

Apparently, not for WordPress anymore either. The great news of the week is Matt Mullenweg announced yesterday, on his blog, that the official WordPress theme site is dumping all sponsored themes within its repository by the end of this month. This announcement was preceded by Mark Ghosh’s announcement that Weblog Tools Collection will also rid his site of sponsored themes and no longer will accept them in his regular listings.

This is great news for the WordPress user community, all around. I always felt that having the official WordPress Themes site filled with sponsored themes was kind of a black Mark on the face of WordPress - mostly because the Automattic folks have done so much in the way of fighting spammers (Akismet) - - that it felt like an odd endorsement, of sorts, to allow controversial sponsors to sit in themes on the official site. A day late . . but definitely NOT a dollar short (well, maybe a few bucks short for designers of sponsored themes. Heh.).

This couldn’t come at a better time, either - I’m still in the final editing stages of the book and now I can safely remove the small section warning theme users about Theme Spam sponsored themes, as it’s no longer relevant.

Long Writing Weekend

Celtic Crossings Liqueur, Irish Whiskey, LiquorI haven’t talked to my friend Tom in a few months. I think we’re both just crazy busy in our lives lately. I need to give him a call, however - because I know he’s thinking of me and the stress I’m putting myself through in getting this book completed on time. How do I know this? I got a package in the mail yesterday - a box, from Tom. I knew what it contained before I even opened it, because I could hear the sloshing around inside. Tom is, after all, my supplier when it comes to all things Irish - including Irish Liquer. He turned me onto this stuff over a year ago and a single glass is enough to keep all the little things in life from hanging and gnawing on my last nerve. This weekend is going to be a loooooooooong writing weekend for me as I push towards my next deadline on 3/31. Tom has amazing timing (if you’re reading this - I paged you yesterday, but got no call back. Do you doctors EVER answer your pages? ).

Never Thought I’d Say It

I actually handed in my last round of submission for the WordPress for Dummies book last night at 12:30 am! Wow! This was one of those projects that, in your head, you knew that it would eventually come to an end.. but you just weren’t feeling the end coming, if that makes sense? I had set a self-imposed deadline of midnight last night and I typed my very last word at 12:02 am.. not bad for a professional procrastinator, eh?

Melody, my Acquisitions Editor, has been just fabulous. She was the one who so generously gave me an extension of a week when I whined told her that the WordPress MU chapters were really kicking my butt. Melody is also the same lady who is working with Joelle and Kathey on the book they are currently writing, The IT Girls Guide to Blogging with Moxie, which is a brand new line of books from Wiley Publishing and is also due to be published towards the end of this summer, as well. It has been fun, and interesting, to work on WordPress for Dummies at the same time Joelle and Kathy are also writing their book - - the three of us have become a mini support group for first-time authors over the last few months. I owe them a bottle of champagne.

Stupid Coding Bloopers

Sometimes when I’m coding and working on designs, my brain goes on auto-pilot and I make some of the weirdest errors in my code, without even knowing it - causing me to load the design I’m working on and then say…”WTF??” when it doesn’t work the way I think it should. I go back and look at my code and I see some pretty silly stuff that tells me I need to pay more attention to what I’m doing. Like what?


In a CSS container where I want to define a height and width of an element… the normal thing would be:

height: XX; width: XX

My blooper? weight: XX

Yes, I combine the two words and wrap it into one definition…and I do it all the damn time! Not because it makes sense. Not because that’s the way I think it should be - - it just… happens. Like my brain just wants to shortcut it.