We’ve been hard at work the last few months hiring new staff and producing awesome experiences for our clients. I’m really excited by the direction we’ve been going, and people are noticing.
Personally, I’m particularly excited about the reviews we’ve been getting on Yelp. We’ve received so much positive feedback on our Yelp, I decided to do a video that would live on our Yelp page – you can watch it below. Though you’ll need to make sure to watch on a desktop. We’re working on a mobile friendly video, and will update that post as soon as that happens.
A little over a year ago, we launched a New Responsive Website for Coppersea Distilling (http://coppersea.com), a craft distillery based in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Today, they announced their partnership with Wilson Daniels, a premium wine importer & marketing agency based in Napa Valley.
From the press release :
Coppersea Distilling is a Heritage-Methods farm distillery located in the burgeoning distilling hub of New York’s Hudson Valley. Coppersea, recently named one of “America’s Coolest Distilleries” by Travel and Leisure magazine, creates spirits of distinction and character from hyper-locally sourced ingredients and employs Heritage-Methods distillation techniques, this means using on-site well water, mashing in open wood fermentation tanks, and distilling in direct-fired alembic copper pot stills. The resulting Coppersea New York Raw Rye is an unaged whisky of unusual creaminess, with notes of black pepper and honey.
This past June, I gave a presentation at the San Francisco WordPress Meetup on the topic of WordPress Security. When I started, I posted a question to the room.
1. Who has had their WordPress site hacked?
2. Who has “unhacked” someone else’s WordPress site?
Everyone in the room raised their hand.
This is why Arrow Root Media started offering ongoing, proactive security and maintenance services last year. We prevent hacks before they happen. Since we started offering this service, our clients haven’t had a single issue.
My point of the presentation was simply this : even though many WordPress sites have been hacked, WordPress is actually very secure. I listed out some things you can do to keep your site and server secure.
You can watch the video below for some key tips.
If you’d like a copy of the actual presentation we used, simply leave a comment below. And if you’re looking for help to keep your sites online, secure, and running quickly, get in touch! We can help.
We recently had a client come to us and say “Our WordPress site is slow. Can you help?” The answer, of course was “Yes!”
In fact, we improved the site’s performance by a factor of 7.5.
In other words, the sites is 7.5 times faster than it was before we started working on it.
The Client : Solaire Generation
After digging around, we noticed a few things :
It was running on cheap, shared hosting
It was running an old version of WordPress, and had outdated plugins.
This situation is actually pretty typical, and we see it quite a bit. Running an old version of WordPress is bad. Really bad. But that’s a whole different topic. Let’s just focus on the speed for this post.
I’m assuming you already know why it’s important for your site to be fast and secure. But – if you need convincing, here are a few links :
The above tools were very helpful in diagnosing, monitoring, and improving the site’s performance. Migrating the site to a better host (WP Engine) also made a HUGE difference. Without a doubt. But it was just one part of the bigger puzzle. Caching, CDN’s, plugins, and other optimizations are all key. The real secret, though, includes tweaking, ongoing maintenance, and general persistence.
Want to see how we can make your site faster, more secure, and generally more stable? Get in touch and we’ll give you a free, personalized analysis of your site. We love doing this stuff and would be happy to take a look at your site!
Questions? Tips? Leave a comment below!
PS – a big mighty thanks to the folks over at WP Engine for helping us out so much!
Once I had the latest versions running on my computer, I was able to get hacking and coding. I pulled down some test code just to try getting code from my computer to by Arduino board. For the Arduino side of things, I’m using the Arduino Duemilanove.
Initially, I had some issues getting the very basic step of getting code onto my Arduino going. I typed in the error message I got when I compiled code into Google and came across many resources. This particular resource was the best : http://www.arduino.cc/en/Guide/Troubleshooting#upload
It turns out that I had an old version of Processing and Arduino already running. So I had to make some changes.
From the page :
Make sure you have the right item selected in the Tools > Board menu. If you have an Arduino Uno, you’ll need to choose it. Also, newer Arduino Duemilanove boards come with an ATmega328, while older ones have an ATmega168. To check, read the text on the microcontroller (the larger chip) on your Arduino board.
Once I updated my software, and made the changes above, I was able to get coding.
This past March, I taught a WordPress Intensive at The Hub in San Francisco, as part of their ongoing educational series, Hub Workbench.
The intensive was geared towards people getting started with WordPress. At the end of the course, most of the students were left with more questions than they had come in with.
Personally, I see this as a testament to the learning process – the more we learn, the more we realize how little we actually know.
Regardless, it’s helpful to have some resources to help along the way. So – I’ve gathered some resources resources that I often turn to when I need help or am looking for what’s new in WordPress land. Enjoy!
WP Mail – simply put, if you work with WordPress at all, subscribe to this email list and get smarter. Not convinced by my endorsement? Check out their archive.
From their site: “A free WordPress Newsletter, once a week, with a round-up of WordPress news and articles.” Simply put – this is a one-stop shop for great resources all around. For the curious types, I’ve linked to a nice article about “the making of” WP Mail.me, featured on WP Candy, another resource featured below.
WP Candypublishes all kinds of articles about WordPress. In my eyes, the site is geared towards WordPress designers and developers but often includes theme and plugin roundups. It was founded by Michael Castilla in 2007. In 2010, Ryan Imel acquired and re-launched the blog.
From their about page : “At WPCandy, we wrangle all the important stuff together so you can enjoy it with a cup of coffee. Let us do the work, you keep blogging, creating, and developing awesome things. Oh, but let us know when you’re done so we can tell everyone.”
Sucuri Blog – If your site has been hacked, Sucuri can help. They help remove malware, and get your site secure. Given they’re an internet security company, they’ve also got a nice blog on how to keep the internet a safe place. It doesn’t hurt that the founders, Dre Armeda and Tony Perez, are also great chaps.
Learn WordPress – geared towards beginners, this online handbook was launched by Automattic (the folks who make WordPress.com) to help folks get going and publishing. They’ve even made the online guide printable!
WPMU Dev - WPMU.org will often have fantastic posts on great plugins to use. They make their own set of plugins and fully support them. A great go-to resource. For an example of their usefulness – check out their recently featured WordPres.com v WordPress.org.
WP Daily- provides great articles about the world of WordPress – from their manifesto page : “We are a group of connected and passionate individuals called to create economies of creativity, innovation, and value. We are designers, developers, online publishers, bloggers, small business owners, corporate employees, leaders, followers, and everything in between.”
Smashing Magazine was one of the first blogs I would constantly visit when I first started WordPress development – and I still do. They feature extensive interviews, great theme roundups, and lots of tutorials. In my eyes, they’ve set the bar for all of the sites I’ve mentioned above. Check out Smashing Magazine’s WordPress articles <- here.
Chris Lema - Chris is the only individual in this list, so he doesn’t get a logo. After I attend WordCamp Miami (April 7th), I’ll create a new post of individual bloggers I’d recommend checking out. So this is a “preview” of that post.
Chris writes articles for people making things with WordPress (developers, designers, consultants, and business-types). Not only does he have some useful code, but he goes over the business of WordPress as well. And he recently organized a “business track” for a WordCamp (WordPress conference) in San Diego.
There are many people who make WordPress great. In addition to the developers who build WordPress, and the designers who make WordPress beautiful and usable, there are the many folks who are sharing resources.
Big thanks to all the bloggers, writers, publishers, designers, strategists, developers, and other people that make WordPress great!
Finally – if you’ve found a great WordPress resource that I haven’t included (or would like to add your own) – leave a comment!
We’re proud supporters of the Dance on Camera Festival happening February 1st. We’ll be at the Festival the whole way through – come visit us and say hello!
Last year, we helped Dance Films Association (DFA) revamp their whole site. DFA has been putting together their annual Dance on Camera film festival for over 40 years (since 1971) and is “the mother” of all Dance Film Fests. During the initial build, we worked on the information architecture first, which resulted in cleaning up the navigation. We also added a calendar, and redid the whole design. When we noticed they were getting a healthy amount of traffic, we moved them to our managed hosting system.
This year, we wanted to improve upon the work we did. So we helped Dance Films Association (DFA) launch several new features. One of the primary goals of their site is to help promote their Film Festivals, past and present. DFA also provides many services to their members, so we worked to setup a new online membership system.
Below is a little documentation on what we did, and how did it.
We love teaching. And we’re no strangers to teaching WordPress around these parts. In fact, we’ve spent over 500 hours teaching and training folks on WordPress alone. So we’re really excited to announce this new class. In partnership with The Hub (an incubator for “where change happens”), we’ll be teaching a new WordPress in their San Francisco space.
HUB Workbench helps changemakers develop the skills they need to succeed. Our teachers are activists, artists, and social entrepreneurs who envision a new kind of economy and a new definition of success in business. Our community will help you learn skills, build your project, and change the world.
HUB Workbench is a HUB Bay Area program.
The HUB Bay Area is part of a global community taking collaborative action for a better world. The HUB is an inspiring space, meaningful content and a vibrant global community of people.
We just posted this on our Status Blog, but thought we’d post it here as well. Our Status Blog is mainly for clients that are hosted with us. More on that later. For now, here’s the WordPress 3.5 announcement :
There’s a new version of WordPress due out today. WordPress 3.5 includes many new features. We’re excited to roll this out to our clients and will be automatically updating their sites across our network. If you need help upgrading your WordPress site to 3.5, send us a support ticket via our helpdesk.
On October 19th, I was hit by a car while riding my bike.
5 months later, I did my first ever triathlon with my sister. Below is my story of how and why.
Sunrise in South Beach
First – a little bit about my injury.
When I was hit by the car, I was launched off my bike and did about 2 ½ turns in mid-air. I track some of my bike rides through Runkeeper, an iPhone app, and was able to see my speed at the point of impact: http://runkeeper.com/user/jakilevy/activity/56798303.
When I was hit, I was going approximately 2 miles per hour. I landed right on my hip. Ouch.
The driver was nice enough to stop and call an ambulance. I was immediately taken to the hospital. They had to leave my bike behind at the scene of the incident. The cops on the scene locked up my bike. They were nice enough to secure the front wheel to the body of the bike so nobody would steal it while I made way to the ER.
At the hospital, I had X-Rays taken of both my hip and back. They didn’t find any fractures or broken bones. So they let me “walk” out of the hospital. Unfortunately, I was in a sh#t ton of pain, and couldn’t put any weight on my right leg or hip. I hopped out of the hospital and was on my way.
Fortunately, I already had a scheduled acupuncture session with Garden Acupuncture, my regular acupuncture folks in Brooklyn for the very next day. I had been going there before my accident to treat my stress and general health, but never thought I would be going to them to treat trauma. When I arrived at the office on October 20th, I was soon introduced to the crazy world of New York State’s No-Fault insurance laws. To put it simply, New York State No Fault law states the driver’s insurance must pay for any legitimate injuries sustained in accident, regardless of whose fault the accident was. You can read a bit more about No Fault here.
After filling out a sh#t ton of paperwork, I started receiving treatment within 24 hours of my accident, and it helped ease some of the pain. But because of those crazy no fault insurance laws, I wasn’t able to get an MRI scheduled until 7 days after the accident. 7 days. That’s 7 days of now knowing what happened to my body. And even longer to get my MRI results back. I didn’t actually find out that I fractured my hip, herniated the lower disc on my lower back, and tore my meniscus until 2 weeks into my treatment. Nevertheless, I was receiving treatment the entire time.
The Healing Process
About 4 times / week, I would go in for acupuncture with the folks at Garden Acupuncture, and an adjustment with my chiropractor. Rehab was (and continues to be) like another part-time job. But I knew how necessary it was to give my body the time it needed to heal and to go through the treatment. And it took time for me to start seeing any results. Well into my treatment, I was still worried I would need surgery, or that I wouldn’t be able to ride a bike again.
The acupuncture, though, helped tremendously. In addition to the physical pain I was experiencing, I was beginning to get very anxious and worried about missing so much time from work, dealing with the physical adjustments, while also absorbing the shock of trauma. I was also due to move out of my apartment on November 1st (12 days after my accident), and was going through a break up with my live-in girlfriend at the same time. The timing of this accident couldn’t have been any better.
This also happened to be the first time I had dealt with a major injury – I didn’t realize how the pain would morph and develop over time. For example, it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I started feeling a coldness across my right thigh and knee. I had never experienced that before, so I knew it was a result of some nerve damage that didn’t manifest itself until now.
I also had lots of trouble getting around. I like to think that I lived an active life in New York, but now I couldn’t even do regular day-to-day things like cooking for myself, doing my laundry, folding my clothes, or shower standing up. I spent ALOT of time lying in bed, icing my hip, and eating greens, and drinking tea.
The good news finally came in 7 weeks later – I didn’t need a hip replacement, but I did require knee surgery. And I also learned what a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine was.
So how did I go from almost needing a hip replacement to becoming a triathlete?
#1 : Support
I had tremendous support from all of my friends – particularly, my best friend Sam. He helped me move out of my place, was there to help me cook meals, provided me a kick in the pants when I needed it, and kept the business running while I was spending time in treatment.
The team I have here at Arrow Root Media is incredibly talented. Though there were definitely real impacts on our project timelines, it was because of them that things were still getting done, albeit late.
I also had incredible support from my family, my life coach, and of course, my medical team.
#2 : Inspiration and Vision
2 weeks after my accident, my mom and sister came up to visit me and help me out. It turns out that they arrived the day of the NYC Marathon – my sister had never seen it before and we watched the whole thing go down from the window of my temporary apartment.
I was truly inspired and impressed. But inspiration only gets you so far in life.
#3 : Commitment
During the procession of marathon runners, my sister and I noticed a blind man running the marathon. He was holding a stick, and was guided by someone running in front of him, holding that same stick.
We were both inspired. She decided to do something about it and committed to signing up to run her first ever half marathon (13.1 miles). She had about 12 weeks to train for the Miami Marathon. Given that she had never run a race before in her life, she had a challenge ahead of her. I knew I couldn’t be there to run with her, but I could be there to support her at the finish line.
On January 27th, we attended the marathon expo together to pick up her marathon gear and registration materials. At the expo, we saw an ad for an upcoming triathlon in South Beach.
While I was still injured and had not been active for months, I had made significant progress and wanted to get active again. I knew doing this triathlon would be a good goal for me, but I needed a partner in the race. If my sister could train for a half marathon in 3 months, I had confidence I could get in good enough shape to swim and bike. Knowing my sister would be there to finish the run gave me the support I needed to sign on. So we registered as a relay team. Our first ever triathlon. Neither one of us could have done it alone, but we could definitely do the tri together.
For training and exercise, I focused on swimming. I started slow with 30 minute workouts, and worked my way up over time. It was critical for me to keep going to acupuncture on a regular basis. When I started excercising again, I had already been to over 60 prickly sessions. I was seeing incredible results and didn’t want to take any steps back. Given my leg was still getting that weird cold feeling, and I was still having pain, I didn’t want to spend another Winter in New York City. I was lucky enough to have family in Florida, so I spent part of the Winter down south – training, working, and healing.
Race day was soon approaching. In addition to all the physical therapy, there was a whole host of other things to prep for the triathlon. I joined a swim team in Florida and practiced in the open ocean water. The race organizers also held a few clinics the day before the race to help with things like transitioning from a swim to cycling. One of the best tips I received was to simply have fun.
Triathlon Clinic in South Beach, by Terrier Tri
Another really good tip I heard was to do some visualizations. I visualized the start of the race. I visualized getting out the water. I visualized taking off my goggles and hopping on my bike. And I visualized taking the relay bracelet off and giving it to my sister to do the run. This kind of vision really helped me prepare mentally and keep me relaxed for the race.
When race day finally came, I made sure to just enjoy the experience. I focused on the task ahead, kept an easy yet challenging pace in the water, and worked through the race to simply keep going.
We received the complete race results the next day. My sister and I swam a 1/2 mile, biked 19 miles, and ran 4 miles in 2 hours 17 minutes and 33 seconds.
I was amazed. And I know I couldn’t have achieved these amazing results without the incredible support network I had around me. My sister kept me going and kept me inspired. And the swim teams and coaches I’ve been working with have been simply awesome. It’s just so nice to exercise with a group of people.
1. You can’t achieve great things alone. It takes team effort.
2. Inspiration can only get you so far. Vision can get you further. But Commitment is the lynchpin.
3. Acupuncture heals all
I still experience a sharp pain in my hip and lower back, and there is still coldness in my right leg. I feel these sensations after I exercise, and when I wake up, probably because I’m most in tune with my body at these times. But I’m still regularly going to acupuncture. And I am definitely still feeling all kinds of new sensations of tightness and pain.
Nonetheless, I’m so grateful for the support I received during my recovery. I am much better than I was in October, and know I would not have had such amazing and inspiring results without the care and support I received from Lisa and Alex at Garden Acupuncture.
It feels great to have a vision and reach a goal. It feels even better when you know you did it with an amazing team of people. To all who have been with me during this time – thank you. We’re just getting started…
Installing WordPress can be either an easy or difficult process, depending on which hosting company you’re working with. For people using Bluehost, Dreamhost, and Godaddy all you need to do is go into the control panel and do what is called a “one-click installation.” When running a “one-click installation” script you are basically telling the host where on the server you’d like the WordPress files to be placed, and creating a mysql database (with username and password) to house all the information that will be pulled in through the WordPress site. That is the quick and painless way to create a WordPress site, but not all hosting companies are created equal.
Recently, my colleague and I were in the market for a new company to host our client’s sites on. We were in search of a host that has great support, technology to accommodate database driven sites, respects the privacy of its clients, and has security measures in place which will prevent client sites from being hacked. After reviewing a slew of hosting companies we discovered Rackspace. Not only do sites (referred to as Cloud Sites) hosted on Rackspace run fast, but their chat support is informative and efficient. The only downfall to Rackspace is the arduous process required for doing a WordPress installation on a cloud site. Rackspace cloud sites do not have a “one-click installation” option, so to create a WordPress site you must start from scratch, and do it manually.
Oh no! My dog ate my website! That is exactly what it feels like when you upgrade your WordPress site and your older plugins don’t exactly get along with the new software. When dealing with WordPress, it is not uncommon to run into a few bugs and hiccups. Sometimes you upgrade for security (like when a new version of WordPress is released). Or maybe the newer version of that plugin you love runs much faster or looks much sleeker than its crusty predecessor. Whatever reason you chose to modify your WordPress setup, it is imperative that you back everything up – just in case things go wrong (and they do).
So – without ado – here are a few options that will help (and most likely save) you or your client’s website. Read More…
Twitter is one of the fastest growing destinations on the web today. People from all walks of life are tweeting about what’s going on the world, and why it’s important to them. But, like the old saying goes, “there is more than one way to skin a cat” there are many ways to use Twitter and ride the wave of its ever-growing popularity. Some people believe that Twitter should be able to do more than it already does. We like to call these people perfectionists, and they have taken the time to build tools to not only enable the “missing” functionality, but help make Twitter even better for normal users like you and I. Below are 7 tools that are sure to enhance the Twitter dance. Use them with caution. They are highly addictive.
Tech4Good is a meetup group that connects people from all types of industries. Whether you are a non-profit organization, a funder, a programmer, an individual with a great idea, or a social changemaker, this meetup group will welcome you.
As most good meetups do, members are encouraged to share, learn and collaborate.
This month’s speaker, Justin Isaf, briefed folks about the benefits of managing communities. Justin currently manages 4 million comments a month for the Huffington Post Media Group, and has eight years of experience building highly leveraged online communities.
He covered topics like :
- how to spot the trolls who spam communities
- the importance of reaching critical mass of contributors and commenters
- how to get people talking to each other
- and…a URL to download an e-book version of Randy Farmer’s Building Web Reputation Systems.
Justin also offered three tactical approaches to leveraging communities (Twitter, Forums, and Blogs) while giving insight into their strengths and weaknesses. Twitter, for example, can be used to build conversations between followers, but those kinds of communities will never grow as large as the more traditional Forums. Blogs, on the other hand, give Community Managers more control over their communities than the other two approaches. Justin also discussed the Pros and Cons of being a community manager. “You need to have thick skin to do this work,” he stated after describing an experience where one of his former community leaders started spreading rumors about him on the web.
There’s no other way to say this – we’re really proud to announce the launch of NDNF’s new site : http://newdirectors.org.
In collaboration with the MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, we built a custom WordPress theme to house the film festival’s lineup. In celebration of the festival’s 40th anniversary, we developed a few custom post typesÂ to store the 300+ films in their archives. The website includes a directory of films, along their directors, and an interactive timeline.
The design was put together by MoMA’s fabulously talented Art Director, Brigitta Bungard.
For a preview of what’s to come on the big screen, take a look at the listing of this year’s films.
We’ve got super exciting news – a project we’ve been working on with MTV + Purpose is finally out in the wild!
Together with the fantastic design and strategy team at Purpose, we developed a custom wordpress plugin for MTV’s Act Blog, helping move people towards collective action.
Some of the basic tech details …
Our custom plugin utilizesÂ custom post types to allow MTV to build a directory of actions. The plugin also connects directly to the Social Actions database and gives the MTV bloggers access to a large set of actions to plug into their posts.
We also worked with theÂ Gigya API – this particular pieceÂ encourages visitors to share their actions with their friends.
Many thanks to all the folks who spent countless hours working on this!