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jwc 14 logoMany things happened in 2014. The redesign of OSTraining, the rebirth of Alledia and my favorite event of the year hosted in my country: the Joomla World Conference in Cancún.

As I live in México I was lucky to be able to go to the most important Joomla event of the year. It was my best experience since I discovered this powerful CMS back in 2010.

From November 7 to 9, hundreds of people from around the world shared their passion for Joomla in session talks about coding, design, marketing and business. That meant a variety of topics for every kind of Joomla enthusiast.

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Yes, this is a slightly obscure Portland referenceI never could have guessed that when I moved from Colorado to Portland, Oregon, it would result in my joining the OSTraining team.

By happy circumstance, just as I was completely burning out as a freelance consultant and dropping all my clients, Steve and Rod came to Portland for a Drupal conference.

We met for dinner at a restaurant in my part of Portland and they offered to save me by making an offer I couldn't refuse.

2014 was my first full year working here, and I couldn't be happier. It's been such a privilege to work with this group of talented, smart and just plain nice people.

cms-2014At the beginning of this year, we made our CMS predictions for 2014.

Some of those predictions were based on trends we saw in 2013. Some were hunches.

Some of those predictions were fun, but some were really serious for us. After all, our business success depends on being able to see changes coming.

So, how accurate were our 2014 predictions?

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cms beautiful logosEarlier this year we wrote about some really interesting uses of the Drupal logo.

Most of those logos were funny. Some were bizarre. This week, I had talked with someone who's making logos look beautiful.

Howard Perlman is based in Atlanta, near where OSTraining started. He makes gorgeous stained-glass versions of open source logos.

Here's my chat with Howard, together with photos of his work.

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auto update all the thingsOne of the really interesting and scary things about this month's Drupal issue is how fast the hackers moved.

Hackers moved faster than the vast majority of site-owners could respond.

It took a lot of courage for the security team to say this, but anyone whose site didn't update between 4 pm and 11 pm UTC (London time) on October 15th should assume they were hacked. That timeframe is outside of normal working hours for everyone from Paris to Tokyo.

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plain text passwordsIn the last couple of years, at least two popular web design sites have been hacked and had customer data stolen.

In 2014 it was iThemes, a WordPress company. In 2012, it was Envato, a marketplace for web design products.

In both cases the culprit was aMember, an application for running membership sites.

What was the problem? Until 2011, all aMember installations stored customer passwords in plain text. Once sites using aMember were compromised, customer data was easily stolen because it wasn't encrypted.

These hacks made me curious. I wondered whether aMember was alone. I did some digging to try and find out which popular applications use (or used) plain text passwords. Here's what I found ...

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ServerPilot logoIf you build websites, you're familiar with hosting control panels such as cPanel, Plesk and others. These control panels allow you to create sub domains, manage FTP users and perform many other tasks.

However, many of the newer cloud hosting platforms don’t provide such a control panel and require users to know command line tools. This makes managing the server extremely difficult, if not impossible, for most end users.

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Unmanaged virtual private servers such as those offered by Amazon and DigitalOcean offer you complete control at a lower cost.

However, without the technical skills required to setup, manage and secure a server, these options may be too complex for many to use.

To fill this gap, companies like Cloudways and ServerPilot are providing a way to get many of the benefits of a managed environment at the cost of an unmanaged server.

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discourseDiscourse is new open-source discussion software.

Version 1.0 of Discourse launched at the end of August. Within days, both the SitePoint and Twitter developer forums had migrated.

How on earth does a new platform attract users of that stature so quickly? And more importantly, will Discourse become a viable alternative to phpBB, vBulletin and older forum software?

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sitepoint logo This week we reviewed Discourse, the new open source forum software.

At the same time as that version 1.0 of Discourse was released, I saw that SitePoint moved their community forums to this new platform. SitePoint has over 5 million posts in that forum, so that was a huge vote of confidence in Discourse.

So, I reached out to Sarah Hawk, who's the community manager at SitePoint. I asked Sarah why and how they made the move to such a new platform.

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open source wide meaningI was watching British TV last week, and a newsreader asked if a politician should "step up to the plate".

It's strange for a BBC newsreader to use a U.S. baseball phrase, right? Not really. That phrase has such a strong and memorable meaning that almost all viewers would understand it. "Keep calm and carry on" is a war-time phrase that has gone in the opposite direction from the UK to worldwide use.

I think the same thing has happened to "open source".

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gravA clear trend has emerged in the last year: developers are building simpler platforms.

Around 10 years ago, platforms such as Joomla, Drupal and WordPress all emerged.

Now several groups of developers are betting that the time is right for radically simpler alternatives. 10 months ago we covered the launch of Ghost. Last month we covered the launch of Pagekit.

This week, we're talking about the launch of Grav from Rockettheme.

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David Hurley is one of the lead developers and evangelists for the Joomla project, but he started out as a graphic designer.

In this video, David gives a really interesting presentation on how design meets code. How do users experience the applications we build? How do we provide our users with something that is useful, usable and desirable?

One of my favorite things about this talk is that David uses so many real life examples. The main part of this presentation is only 20 minutes long, so it's a quick watch. For busy people like me, that's a great user experience!

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Project Planning and Estimation wiith User StoriesMost of us dabble in project management as part of our jobs. We need to keep our projects on track and try the best we can.

Deb Cinkus is a true project management professional. She has the certifications and experience to teach us a lot about how to do project management right.

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pagekit9 months ago we wrote a Day 1 review of the Ghost platform.

Ghost is designed to be nothing but a blog.

Now along comes the Alpha version of Pagekit, which aims to be more of a true CMS.

Pagekit is developed by the YOOtheme team from Hamburg. We've used their work before on projects, including on the redesign of this site.

So we were curious about Pagekit. Keeping in mind that this is only an Alpha version, let's take Pagekit for a test drive.

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free ticketsI think we charge far too much for open source events.

Why do we hold community events for the software we use? Most of the time, it's to encourage more people to get involved.

I see ticket prices for camps varying between $35 and $85, but how accessible is that? $85 is more than many people make for a day of work.

An $85 ticket price immediately means that only middle-class people with plenty of time off can attend.

We can and should consider making more events free to attend if we're serious about getting more people involved.

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Firefox OSLike many people I have a love-hate relationship with Mozilla.

They get a lot wrong. Firefox has been struggling as a browser. Their Persona identity system has failed to take off. They've suffered through some very public mis-steps.

But, Mozilla is also trying great things. Mozilla is trying to push open source into places where no-one else is capable of taking it.

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survive an ecommerce projectThis is a really fun presentation from Joomla Day Atlanta.

E-commerce projects are really difficult. In fact, they can be so difficult that website developers who specialize in e-commerce are often jokingly called masochists. Deb Cinkus is one of those developers.

In this video, Deb takes us on a visual journey through many potential e-commerce project pitfalls. If you're really interested in project management in the open source area, check out UpStream, a WordPress project management plugin.

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RippleTwo weeks ago we wrote an introduction to Ripple, which is an open source platform for sending and receiving money.

Quite a few people read that introduction and had some questions on how to get started with Ripple.

Ripple have just released their new downloadable RippleClient, so we decided to create a tutorial on how to get started.

We're going to show you how to create and fund a Ripple Wallet. A Ripple Wallet is just like your physical wallet, except it's virtual. It stores your money and other important financial information.

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salaries and open sourceOpen Source hasn't had good press in recent weeks.

The OpenSSL Heartbleed bug led to many articles revealing how badly run OpenSSL was. One typical example read, "The Internet Is Being Protected By Two Guys Named Steve".

It's clear that some major open source projects have serious funding problems. Open source has become so successful so quickly that the infrastructure behind projects hasn't caught up.

Many projects are not able to ensure that all essential work gets done. There are more OpenSSL disasters waiting to happen.

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rippleWe mainly focus on open source with this blog, but we're fascinated by technology in general. 

I've been reading a lot about digital currencies lately and have been astonished by the innovation in this area. Bitcoin and related technologies are a glimpse into what commerce could be like in the near future.

This article is the first in a series of short overviews and tutorials on digital currencies.

I'm going to introduce you to Ripple, open source software that could become an essential platform for currency in the 21st century.

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wicsOver the last decade, I've spent my days teaching people how to use web software.

Some of that software has been easy to teach - students seem to understand the interface quickly.

Other software has been painful to teach - I've had to teach students to master long, complicated processes.

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Can-you-trust-BuiltWith-W3Techs-and-software-statisticsThe Drupal Association put out a press release today, quoting some statistics about Drupal.

The press release said:

  • According to Drupal.org stats, Drupal now powers more than 1 million websites.
  • According to Builtwith Research, Drupal powers more than 12% of the world’s top 100,000 websites.

I regularly see stats like this fly around the web, particularly on Twitter.

So, I decided to use these Drupal stats as an example and answer the question: "Can you trust software usage statistics?"

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great wide openHere at OSTraining, our business is open source and our headquarters is in Atlanta, Georgia.

So, when we heard that a conference on the business of open source is headed to Atlanta, we wanted to know more.

Great Wide Open is a conference talking about open source inside large companies. 

I spoke with Todd Lewis, one of the organizers of the Great Wide Open.  

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Packing for an OSTraining tripA few weeks ago I wrote about all the technology changes we were making in our live training.

With a fairly minimal investment, we/ve put together a bag of technology that allows us to go into any room with electrical power and do training. 

In this blog post I'm going to show you everything that goes in our "classroom-in-a-bag".

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cms-2014We're all in a constant state of motion.

Website technologies used to come and go in years. Now it feels as if they rise and fall in months or even weeks.

Our careers, and yours, heavily depend on correctly predicting what's going to change. So, I chatted with our team and got their thoughts about the year ahead.

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flat-websitesI've seen a few people proclaiming that 2014 will be the year that flat file websites become popular.

After testing a good number of flat file website tools, I completely disagree. These tools are unlikely to become popular because they are being really badly marketed. Flat file sites are currently only selling themselves to a niche groups of developers, rather than the mass market.

Let's take a tour of some of the best flat file website creators:

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lego-logoChristmas has just come and gone.

We have two young kids and I spent a good deal of time putting toys together. It was a fascinating and frustrating experience.

Some of the toys were nearly thrown out of the window before they made it under the tree.

It's astonishing how bad some of instructions were for some toys. The images were blurry, the text was confusing and the presentation was appalling.

Then there was Lego, who seem to treat instructions as if they were a work of art.

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Wistia Logo

If you’ve been around OSTraining for a while, you know that we offer a LOT of video tutorials. At the time of this posting, we serve up over 1,500 videos.

We're not alone: streaming video for training has really exploded over the past few years. Some general stats regarding the growth of online video are here.

As streaming has become more popular, so new companies have entered the market and one of those is Wistia. Over the last few months, we have moved all our videos to Wistia, and we’re very pleased with the results! I’d like to share some of the reasons for the move and some of the enhancements we’ll be introducing in 2014.

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write-at-workI'm the father of two adult daughters and a teenaged granddaughter.

They have told me a hundred times “what you say is not as important as how you say it.”

They know that it's easy to be misunderstood, or to deliberately say one thing and mean something else.

Here are my three keys to being understood when you write at your work.

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