WordPress: A Step-By-Step Tutorial

WordPress: Step-by-Step is my attempt to expose the process of creating a WordPress theme.

Nothing is set in stone, but this is a reliable guide for getting things in order. “You have to know the rules to break them”, Well then…  beginners can start here, and over time develop their own process.

This was for a WordPress workshop I taught @ General Assembly.

Dialing into the Twilio API

In this video, Rob Spectre of Twilio alongside Christopher Castiglione show you how to develop an app that hooks into the Twilio API.

In less than 1 hour we build something that every successful startup needs! What’s that you ask? A customer support line to manage all those support calls you’ll be getting. The Twilio Queue (a new feature from Twilio) is the quickest and easiest way to programmatically develop a call queue, and accept incoming calls from customers.

Dialing into the Twilio API from General Assembly on Vimeo.

In this project you’ll…

  • Develop a system where your customers will be able to call your phone number and be placed in a waiting cue
  • Alert your employees that there are customers waiting on the line (in the order the calls were received)
  • Have some fun with the waiting experience. (Because it’s your startup, and while your customers are on hold they shouldn’t be forced to listen to easy-listening Muzak. Unless you want to be ironic, then sure, we get it).

Continue reading “Dialing into the Twilio API”

Integrating Payment With The STRIPE API

I love Stripe. They have an awesome API that handles payment processing for Websites. And it’s super easy to get started using it.

Saikat Chakrabarti (Product Engineer @Stripe), along with myself and the folks at General Assembly put this video together highlighting the first steps for getting started using Stripe.

Integrating Payments with the Stripe API – Archive from General Assembly on Vimeo.

This is a great class for developers who are interested in payment processing. Whether your client wants to sell something as simple as a t-shirt, or is in need of a fully customizable e-commerce solution, the Stripe API can handle it.

Questions answered:
-How do I get started with the Stripe API?
-What can’t I do with Stripe?
-What makes Stripe better than all the other payment options I’m considering?
-Is there a superior Stripe library I should consider when working with Stripe?

The tutorial files can be found on Stripe’s GitHub account: https://github.com/castig/wilde-things

Expression Engine Should Be GNU (and Free?)

This isn’t the typical argument that Expression Engine should be GNU and “free” because it is too expensive, rather my argument focuses on the fact that the EE pay wall slows its growth and inhibits innovation. As far as Content Management Systems go, Expression Engine is an efficient, functional solution for both developer and clients. But unfortunately, snappy functionality isn’t the only factor you need to consider when choosing a CMS. Compare EE with two of its “competitors”, WordPress and Drupal, and you’ll find that EE falls short on a number of other issues including: price, smaller community, less updates, and an unfortunate licensing situation. Continue reading “Expression Engine Should Be GNU (and Free?)”

The Urban Screens Conference

cell-phone-discoOn December 4, the Institute of Network Culture organized the Urban Screens conference at Trouw in Amsterdam. The conference celebrated the launch of The Urban Screens Reader: the first book to focus entirely on the topic of urban screens. In assembling contributions from a range of leading theorists, in conjunction with a series of case studies dealing with artists’ projects and screen operators’ and curators’ experiences, the reader offers a rich resource for those interested in the intersections between digital media, cultural practices and urban space.

Thanks to all the speakers and participants for their great contributions to this event! The videos will be online soon, and many of our reports are already online:

Facebook Connect Vs. OpenID The Format War for Your Identity

Facebook Connect officially launched on Thursday and gives its members access to third-party sites using their Facebook login/password.  This feature is available to all FB’s members on (so far) 24 partner sites including: Digg, Twitter, Citysearch, CBS, CollegeHumor, Hulu and others.  In addition to instant access, Facebook Connect promises data portability: taking your friends, profile pics and privacy settings with you as you transverse the web. Facebook Connect will give us a well needed rest from profile-fatigue, but at what cost?

The data portability debate has been going on for some time now. The DataPortability Project has been promoting open source standards for data portability since 2007.  They encourage use of the well known OpenID authentication protocol which has already been adopted around the web by Google’s Blogger, AOL, Yahoo, etc – as well as having been incorporated into open source platforms like Drupal and WordPress.

Continue reading “Facebook Connect Vs. OpenID The Format War for Your Identity”

Every Time You Use IE6 God Kills A Grandmother

IE6 is my grandmother on her deathbed and she just won’t die. Her skin is obviously wrinkled and dated, she doesn’t have any recollection of the past, and she is sucking the life (and money) out of everyone around her. God, can you please pull the plug!?

IE6 is a seven-year old technology. It was released in 2001 and predates Windows XP, Gmail, Facebook, Safari, Firefox, 9/11 and the iPod. In the days before Web 2.0, the two most popular browsers were IE6 and Netscape. Choosing between those two browsers is like choosing between a Ford Pinto and a Hairy Firetruck, but back in 2001 we were just happy to go for a ride. So….SEVEN YEARS later why is IE6 still one of the top two browsers? Why is (roughly) 25% of the world still using IE6?

Why IE6 Sucks

  1. IE6 doesn’t support CSS standards
    IE6 complies with (roughly) only 55% of CSS 2.1 Basic properties, compared with Firefox’s 98% compliance.
  2. IE6 Is Destroying The Economy
    Web developers spend hours (sometimes days!) optimizing CSS and HTML for IE6. This is an enormous time suck for the developers, a drain on the client’s budget, and wasted resources for the company. As a developer myself I can attest to the hours of painful labor spent solely on fixing IE6 bugs, and there have even been initiatives to Save The Developers.  A poll on CIO (from of over 500 voters) shows that 40% of developers still optimize for IE6.
  3. IE6 Is Unsafe
    a) “Using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser to surf the Internet has become a marked risk — even with the latest security patches installed”, says USA Today.
    b) “THE US GOVERNMENT has sent out a warning out to internet users through its Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), pleading users to stop using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.” according to The Inquirer.
    c) New York Times, Slate and others have similar stories
  4. IE6 Doesn’t Display Pages Correctly
    Many sites don’t render correctly on IE6. Here are two sites off the top of my head that don’t look quite right:
    a) Google Documents has never worked for me in IE6; they have stopped supporting IE6 on Vista.
    b) Facebook chat constantly fails for me in IE6.  Meanwhile, Facebook asks you to “…switch to another browser”
  5. IE6 is the 8th Worst Tech Product of All Time says “PC World
  6. IE6 doesn’t have tabbed browsing

Why IE6 is still around

  1. Ignorance: most people don’t know or don’t care
  2. Beauracracy: Universities, companies, and large organaztion have IE6 preinstalled on millions of computers around the world and they are unwilling to upgrade. I noticed this trend last summer as I traveled around parts of the US, Asia and Europe: public computers default to IE6. What is even worse is that many of these comptuers are controlled by system administrators, so the user can’t install new programs or browser upgrades! Even as I sit here, a New Media student at the University of Amsterdam computer lab, IE6 is my only browser option.

What You Can Do

In addition to the obvious things we can do…

  1. Spread the word to friends
  2. Stop developing for IE6 compatibility

…to kill IE6 we need a top-down approach:
If your organization defaults to IE6 then contact your boss or the IT department and let them know that they are using a seven year old technology to run their business! Tell them exactly why IE6 sucks! They’ll probably thank you for being so “cutting edge and innovative”.

Upgrade To Another Browser Now!

*This post comes after a long line of other frustrated people trying to make the web a better place: End6, StopIE6.org, BrowseHappy, BrowseSad. What other sites don’t look correctly in IE6? What are some other initiatives to stop IE6?