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Author: Jaki Levy

WordCamp US – Photos

This year’s inaugural WordCamp US was hosted in Philadelphia. Over 2,000 WordPress makers and users attended the conference. Below are some photos I took while at the conference in Philadelphia.

WordCamp US

Here’s a direct link to the entire Flickr Album.

Ever since I’ve been attending WordCamp SF, Matt Mullenweg would deliver his “State of The Word” , summarizing key concepts and developments in the WordPress world.

You can watch this year’s State of The Word Below :

Slides are here :

Brian Krogsgard from Post Status posted his thoughts here.

And the folks over at WP Engine put together a nice infographic summarizing the State of The Word.

Brooklyn Country Cantina Wrap Up

This past SXSW, we hosted the Brooklyn Country Cantina in Austin. Literally. The website for the festival – brooklyncountrycantina.com – was hosted on our servers (managed by our hosting partners WP Engine) and was developed by our team using Make by ThemeFoundry.

Huh?

The Brooklyn Country Cantina is an annual party produced by The Defibulators and friends. The event features loads of bands and is an unofficial party that happens during the annual SXSW festival held in Austin.

This year, we were on hand to help setup, tweet, post some videos, and provide some on site tech support. Here’s a short clip of The Mastersons – one of the many bands we shot – on video – during the earlier part of the day.

The Mastersons at #bkcantina. Yummy harmonies.

A post shared by Jaki Levy (@jakilevy) on

As we wrapped up the day, we posted a few photos to our Twitter feed. Overall, we were on site for almost 18 hours. That’s a long day.

If you want some more good stuff, definitely check out the photos posted by The Bluegrass Station. They’re a fantastic set of images shot by a local Austin photog!

Overall, there were about 30 bands over the course of the day. So we went ahead and made a little playlist for your enjoyment via Spotify. Hope you enjoy that music! We did.

There’s loads of parties and bands that come to Austin for SXSW. According to Operation Every Band, there’s over 2,100 bands playing in Austin over just 1 week! That’s an average of 300 bands every day. Some bands we met played over 10 shows in just a few days.

So we’re thrilled that some folks think this is the best party during the festival. Aw Shucks. Now we’re blushing.

For even more SXSW musical goodness, make sure to check out NPR’s SXSW short list. It features 100 songs from musicians that played at SXSW. Some of those musicians played at our very own event. And all the songs are downloadable. Thanks, NPR!!!

And many many thanks to The Defibulators for putting this whole shebang together! We’ll see you next year at SXSW!

Emergency Maintenance

To our clients – a message from our hosting partner –

The majority of Cloud Providers across the world will be conducting maintenance for a security related issue. In order to implement the patch, our 3rd party data center providers will be rebooting. For more information about providers responding to the situation please visit this article: https://gigaom.com/2015/02/27/xen-security-issue-prompts-amazon-rackspace-cloud-reboots/

3rd party data center providers have informed us that they will be conducting a maintenance across their environment on March 5, 2015 for 24 hours. We believe that the maintenance may result in a brief interruption of service to your site during a server reboot.  We are contacting customers immediately to let them know of this emergency maintenance.

This maintenance window spans the entire 24 hours and the reboot could happen at any time during the maintenance window. We expect a brief period of downtime while the providers implement the patch.  Outside of the brief downtime, there should be no impact to your site. We will be monitoring the situation closely.

AIDS Lifecycle

Last year, I rode my bike 545 miles in 1 week from SF to LA. With 2,500 other cyclists, we raised over $15 million to benefit the SF AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. This is what AIDS Lifecycle is. An amazing community of cyclists, activists, and caring people. All riding to make a real difference.

The picture below sums it up pretty well :

You can do it! Register today with the code: RESOLVE at aidslifecycle.org 👍

A post shared by AIDS/LifeCycle (@aidslifecycle) on

This year, to help raise even more money, we’re providing web services in exchange for donations. And it all goes to AIDS Lifecycle. The way this works is pretty easy. You need web help. We provide that help. Instead of paying us cash, you provide a tax deductible donation directly to the ride. Not sure what we do? Take a look at our wide range of services.

Interested? Just fill out the form below and let us know what you need help with.

And if you’re inspired and just wanna make a donation – well – you can do that too – here’s the link – http://www.tofighthiv.org/goto/jakirides

And yes – there are limitations. We can’t build you a social network like Facebook or an ecommerce store that has Amazon.com like features in exchange for a donation. Unless that donation is really really big, of course. Then we’ll find a way 🙂

Free Google Apps Setup in December

As part of our “Get Your Sh*t Together before 2015” campaign, we’re offering small businesses free Google Apps setup help.

What does this mean?

Well – if you’re still using GoDaddy, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, or yes – even a gmail.com email address for your business, it’s time to get your sh*t together. We’ll help you setup a professional, spam free, email address for your business (like YourName@yourBusiness.com) and make sure it’s being delivered by Google.

We made an announcement on our Facebook page (below) but not sure if peeps saw it. So here we are. Writing a blog post.

If you’re ready to “Get Your Sh*t Together” , contact us via the form below.

Get your sh*t Together

Note :
If you’re a large business or enterprise and need help migrating your email to Google Apps OR you need help setting up your emails on your mobile phon tablet devices, please let us know in the form above. We can guide you through the process, but it won’t be free.

Also – if we end up getting a crazy amount of demand, well, it’s free folks. We’ll do our very best to process and automate things as quickly as we can.

And if you really need more info – read the stuff below –

What is Google Apps?

Google Apps is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps teams communicate, collaborate and get things done from anywhere and on any device. It’s simple to set up, use and manage, so your business can focus on what really matters.

Millions of organizations around the world count on Google Apps for professional email, file storage, video meetings, online calendars, document editing and more.

Watch a video or find out more here.

Here are some highlights:

Business email for your domain

Looking professional matters, and that means communicating as you@yourcompany.com. Gmail’s simple, powerful features help you build your brand while getting more done.

Access from any location or device

Check email, share files, edit documents, hold video meetings and more whether you’re at work, at home or in transit. You can pick up where you left off from a computer, tablet or phone.

Enterprise-level management tools

Robust admin settings give you total command over users, devices, security and more. Your data always belongs to you, and it goes with you if you switch solutions.

Start free trial

Making Your WordPress Site Faster

Wordpress

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re looking for a performance boost. And that’s no surprise. A slow site can cost you dearly. In fact, over 50% of web surfers will ditch your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

According to this NY Times article, “People will visit a Web site less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds (a millisecond is a thousandth of a second).”

So – what are some things you can do to speed up your WordPress site?

1. Check out the tips below for the DIY kind of stuff. We’ve got a short list of how we make WordPress sites speedy. And now you can too.
2. If you don’t have the in house knowledge, let us know! We’d be glad to do it for you :-).

Make sure you’re on a good great host

A great host can make all the difference. If your site is running on a slow server or bad host, it doesn’t matter what you do. Your site’s still gonna crawl.
Case in point – we recently migrated FuseCorps.org from their old host to WP Engine. We used Pingdom tools to test the speed of fusecorps.org before and after the migration.

Before the migration, the site took 6.25 seconds to load on their old host.

fusecorps-before
FuseCorps.org – Before The Migration

After? The load time was 1.86 seconds. That’s more than 3x faster.

FuseCorps.org Performance on WP Engine
FuseCorps.org Performance on WP Engine

The migration alone shaved nearly 5 seconds off the load time. And the site went from being slower than 76% of all sites on the web to Faster than 73% of all tested websites, according to Pingdom.

Again – all we did was migrate the site to WP Engine. And this gave them a huge performance boost. Win!

Setup a CDN

cloudflare-logo
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) will make sure static files (things like images) are delivered from a nearby server. So if your site’s visitor is checking out your content in Maine, your images will be delivered from a server close to Maine. There are many CDN’s out there – personally, we love CloudFlare. And it’s free. We tend to use WP Engine’s CDN for our clients. But if you’re not on WP Engine (yet), Cloudflare is a great option to get going.

For more info on CDN’s, check out WP Beginner’s “Why You Need a CDN.”

The Plugin Route

WordPress has loads of plugins to optimize your site. One of the most popular is W3 Total Cache. It’s a technical plugin and takes time to setup. But the performance boost is massive. Here’s a great video on how to get it setup :

Aside from W3 Total Cache, I’d recommend installing P3 by GoDaddy. This plugin will tell all sorts of things to help you identify what’s slowing down your site.

A few other plugins to check out include :

One note : your host may not allow certain plugins (like W3 Total Cache) to run on their servers. This can be a good thing. It means they are savvy enough to take care of things for you!

Use Varnish Cache

varnish

Whenever you visit a website, your web browser caches the content, the images, and other web files. Next time you visit the site on the same browser, it’ll be much faster to load.

Just like your browser, your server can also have a cache enabled. Varnish Cache works in a similar way as your browser’s – except it’s the cache for your web server. And since WordPress uses a database for so many things, the server cache can store a large amount of database lookups, saving you and your visitors lots of time.

Varnish Cache is typically setup by your hosting company or a sysAdmin. So – either ask your host or sysAdmin what they can do to setup Varnish. Or migrate to a host that already uses Varnish (are you getting the subtle hint to migrate to WP Engine yet?).

Other Resources

For even more details on optimizing your WordPress, check out :

Chris Coyier put together a great presentation on speeding up your site.

Iliya Polihronov delivered a great talk at WordCamp SF, 2012 on “High Performance WordPress” – definitely worth a watch.

Tuning your site is an ongoing process. This article is meant to get you going on specific things you can do today.

Did we miss something? Have a suggestion on making this article better? Want to hire us to do this for you? Let us know in the comments!

Meet us at WooConf

Wooconf

In addition to the elections, next week is #WooConf – the first ever conference dedicated to WordPress + Ecommerce. We’ll be attending Monday and Tuesday along with many others from Amazon, PayPal, Elto.com, and .

To celebrate, we’ll be hosting a Happy Hour with WP Engine (our awesome web hosting partners), one block away from WooConf.

wpengine1

Details
When : Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Time : 5-7pm
Location : The Hall SF
Address : 1028 Market Street

RSVP Here

And if we don’t see you at #WooConf, we hope to see you at the Happy Hour!


State of the Word at WordCamp

WordCamp

This year at WordCamp SF, Matt Mullenweg (the founder of the WordPress project), delivered the State of the Word – a compilation of 33,000 survey responses. We live tweeted part of it here.

Some highlights of The State of the Word :

  • over 23% of the web is powered by WordPress
  • nearly 25% of respondents to the survey (7,500+ people) make their living off of WordPress
  • Making WordPress generates over $1 billion in full-time jobs
  • 2014 was the first year where more people used WordPress in languages other than English
  • encouraging WordPress makers to contribute 5% of our time to making WordPress better
  • Planning for a WordCamp USA (a large WordPress conference)

Throughout his presentation, Matt emphasized #mobile. From making the WordPress admin area responsive, to the fact that there are more mobile phones than there are people in the world, it’s clear that mobile is not only the future – mobile has arrived.

In addition to these announcements, Matt highlighted some great new tools for WordPress makers :

  • Github and WordPress.org integration
  • Emphasizing partnerships between WordPress makers and hosting companies for auto-updates
  • Replacing #IRC with #Slack for chat on WordPress.org (chat.wordpress.org)
  • Activation of a developer hub on WordPress.org

Overall, these updates will make Making WordPress easier. And hopefully, it will make the mission of WordPress – to democratize publishing – even easier.

For more on Matt’s State of the Word :

  • check out PostStatus
  • review the #wcsf14 hashtag on twitter
  • check out some of the photos from the livestream below

Did you watch this year’s State of the Word? What were some of the highlights for you?

UPDATE : The video has been posted on WordPress.tv – check it out below

Hacktivating for the Homeless

Hacktivating

reallocate_logo

This weekend, Arrow Root Media (that’s us) sponsored Reallocate’s Hacktivation – a hackathon for the homeless population in San Francisco. For more info on that, check out our last blog post. What follows below is a summary of what our working group of 6 volunteer hackers did.

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THE NEED
Market Street for the Masses Coalition (MSFTMC) is a collective voice and resource for community organizations and companies to strengthen the social, physical and economic well-being of those living in the Mid-Market, Tenderloin, and South of Market neighborhoods.

The coalition needed a website that could :

  • showcase its members
  • get the larger community involved
  • offer tech companies an opportunity to connect with community organizations

Previous to the Hacktivation, MSFTMC organized its community through its Facebook Page and Facebook Group. Now, they have a fully featured WordPress website, hosted and managed by us. Here’s one of our team members talking about the process :

MSFTMC also now has a way to manage their site ongoingly, offer their member organizations a hub to connect, and feature all the ongoing community work. Our 6 person team worked to organize the content, produce the website, and develop an ongoing strategy for engaging the community.

Total Volunteer Time to Produce this site in 1 day : 40 hours

For all the WordPress geeks out there – here are the Tech Specs :

Thanks for all the work, team! We had a blast!

UPDATE :
We were also part of a much larger effort to build services for the homeless population – here’s a quick shot of more hacktivators at work :

HACKtivation, San Francisco

reallocate_logo

This weekend, Arrow Root Media’s very own Kyle Stewart will be holding this year’s HACKtivation hackathon in San Francisco, where several non-profit and other socially aware groups will get together to collaborate on projects for their causes, focusing on homelessness this year. The event serves as a time for the community to get together and work together, not only to develop the projects, but also educate others and create new ideas.

The event’s past success has drawn a diverse and great array of partners, including GoodWill, Spotify, and Code for America, and, of course, Arrow Root. With over twenty partners this year, the event seeks to create a lasting impact on the community. A large goal of these collaborative efforts is to fulfill the tech needs of a community as fast and economically as possible by drawing an effort from a group, rather than just individuals.

In a Shareable interview, Kyle said that while “hackathons do not create change themselves, it’s the sustained efforts of people working together for long-term solutions that will have an impact.”

The project was also recently featured on Torque Magazine, WP Engine’s source for WordPress Community News.

Despite the city spending $200 million per year on problems related to homelessness, the problem persists. “We want to help bring in new energy and ideas. Creative solutions come with creative people and it’s those people getting involved that can have impact in new ways,” said Kyle in response to whether homelessness needs to be treated in a different manner. “Homelessness and poverty are not technology problems, they are people problems.”

Kyle and many others prepared for the event this past Wednesday at the weekly Civic Hack night hosted in San Francisco’s Code for America office.

The event will start today, Friday, at 6 p.m. local time at Glide Memorial Church, with tomorrow’s hackathon session going from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m., and ending with a Sunday session 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There will be a closing ceremony at 4 p.m. that day, as well, at the Code for America office.

Costs for participation will be $20 for students, $40 for others.

Upcoming WordPress Classes

Wordpress classes

We’re excited to announce that in less than one week, we’ll be leading a WordPress Workshop in Berkeley.

logo

 

Here’s a little bit about the course, which is geared towards folks getting started :

We’ll go over the basics, talk about hosting, review a few popular WordPress features, and get started on creating content. We’ll also discuss how WordPress differs from other systems, and what advantages there are to working with WordPress.

If you can’t make it or don’t live in the area, you can still spread the word about our WordPress classes, and let others know!

Here’s some past praise from students –

Not only is Jaki an innovative, collaborative, informed, inspired instructor, but the students are fascinating as well. They have great projects that they’re working on. I’m always delighted to hear about them. Their questions are often ones I will need answered along the way too. I’m so glad that Jaki weaves the students’ questions and comments into our class time. It’s been a blast! These remarks are high praise from a relatively non-techie person like me. This course has surpassed my expectations in every way.

Jaki is the shining star in this course. He’s generous, wise, experienced. He has an amazing ability to address lots of random roadblocks that the students throw at him and still, for the most part, stick to his agenda. He’s even keeled and clear. The material is complex, but not for him, and even that aspect of the class is so valuable. Rubbing shoulders with someone who’s clear, logical, informed, creative and successful in this area makes the goal of constructing a WP website seem doable, even for us non-techies. This has been an awesome experience. I am very inspired to keep going with this.

WordPress Class Details

Location: Impact Hub Berkeley
2150 Allston Way, #400
(Inside the David Brower Center)
Berkeley, CA 94704

Time: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (AKST)

Cost: $25 for Hub Members / $35 for Non Members

Click to Purchase Tickets

New Video for Arrow Root Media

We’ve been hard at work here at Arrow Root Media, 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.

Congratulations to Coppersea Distilling

LogoOnly225HA 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.

To learn more about Coppersea, check out this awesome video by Surrender Pictures.

And to check out the press release, visit Coppersea’s press page.

Gallery at TV of Tomorrow Conference

This past June, we participated at the TV of Tomorrow Conference by showing a few of our interactive sculptures. Eleas Kostis, the sculptor and lead artist, worked on the form while I handled the interactive bits.

The pieces were previously shown at Maker Faire and Freespace. We’re honored to have participated with all the other artists – including the great folks at Cool Neon – check out some of their work (and ours) below.

TV of Tomorrow also put together a wrap up video for the conference – to see what the conference was all about, check out their recap here.

Check out some of Eleas Work at Praxis Designs.