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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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During 2013, we published almost 300 posts on the OSTraining blog. We wrote at least one post per week on WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

So, at the end of the year, which posts did you find most useful?

I dug into our stats and found the 30 most visited posts of the year.

Looking into the stats in detail, I could also see big changes in the traffic sent by sites such as Twitter and Stack Overflow.

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3-ways-overcome-frustrationAs a book comes to life, it flows through the stages of conception, growth, birth, being a demanding vomitus insufferable brat, and entering society as a mature individual with something to offer one and all.

At some point along the way, most writers want to give up, quit and kick their manuscripts to the curb, whether from hopeless despair, irresistible rage or insipid indifference.

For more than 25 years, I have helped authors through every stage in the writing cycle.

Therefore, I offer you three lessons for finding the light at the end of the tunnel when you're tired and frustrated with writing.

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balance-workThis week is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.

The normal way to think about Thanksgiving is that it's a family holiday. People don't go on vacation; they mostly focus on getting together with their families.

But, Thanksgiving is also a time to think about work. You've been working really hard for 11 months. If you have kids, they've been in school since the summer without a break. Everyone is feeling tired.

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dedeEarlier this month, I gave a presentation about the importance of making open source more international.

At one point I claimed that "no country needs open source more than China".

Well, it turns out that a Chinese guy was in the audience and he was keen to talk.

He explained that most big, western open source projects are unknown in China. It turns out that the most popular open source CMS in China is entirely home-grown. Its name is Dede CMS, which translates as "chasing a dream".

Out of curiosity, I decided to take Dede CMS for a test drive. What I found has interesting implications for people interested in internationalization, usability, interfaces and of course, China.

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lightbeamOver the last week, I've deliberately let anyone track me online.

Normally, I'm a little paranoid about my privacy and use the Ghostery and Adblock Plus extensions with my browser.

However, I saw that Mozilla had launched Lightbeam, which they claim is an easy way to see exactly which sites are tracking you.

So, I decided to give Lightbeam a try. I used Firefox as my default browser and turned off any features that might stop people from tracking me.

Here's what I found after a week of unrestrained tracking ...

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absolute-beginners-guide-writingThere are three kinds of people in this world:

  • Those who are going to write a book.
  • Those who are not going to write a book.
  • Those who are going to fail in their attempts to write a book.

I'm an editor, and it's my job to help turn potential failures into potential success stories.

For more than 25 years, I have helped authors through every stage of developing manuscripts on topics as diverse as children's books to church history to short stories to first-hand accounts of Hurricane Katrina to inspirational self-help books.

In this blog post, I'm going to share what I've learned from a quarter century of working with writers.

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open writing platformsTraditional publishing is awful. If you've written a book, you know what I mean.

Writing a book through an old-fashioned publisher is slow, bureaucratic and often unrewarding.

If you want to write a book in an open, flexible or collaborative way, what are your options?

Over the last few months, we've been keeping an eye on some of the new options for writers and publishers. Here's our overview of the best options available.

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media_1380068794291.pngAbout two weeks ago, my iPhone accidentally went swimming in the lake near our house.

Rather than replace it immediately, I decided to try something different for a while.

I was intrigued by the new Firefox OS phone. The Firefox OS phone is entirely open source and built by Mozilla, the makers of the Firefox browser. All of the apps are built with HTML, CSS and Javascript.

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Multisites are a Bad Idea for Many SitesMany things sound like great ideas. Not all of them are in practice.

As open source becomes more and more popular, we see organizations rolling out many sites across their organization. As they try to manage them, many of them turn to "multisite" networks.

In short, a "multisite" allows you to run many sites from a single codebase. The idea is that you can update the codebase once and automatically apply those changes to all your site. In theory, it's a great idea. In practice, it often causes more problems than it solves.

In this blog post, I'll explain why you should think very carefully before setting up a multisite network. No matter what software you use, there are often better alternatives.

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speedThere's been a lot of talk about remote or distributed work lately, from the events at Yahoo to the new book coming from 37Signals.

Here at OSTraining all our staff work remotely, but we keep running into a problem that I rarely see discussed.

A lot of our staff live in small cities or rural areas in the U.S. All of them have abysmal internet connections that often impact their work.

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good bad states

Over the last few years it's become more and more common to see government websites embrace modern design and open source. It's now rare to find a new U.S. federal website that isn't built on open source.

You can see the WhiteHouse.gov team building on Drupal and contributing code to the community. You can see the whole of Healthcare.gov built on Jekyll and actually hosted on Github for anyone to fork.

I wondered whether that same was true of government at the state level. So, I took a look at all the websites for all 50 U.S. states ...

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media_1370879872322.pngFotis Evangelou and the team at Joomlaworks are famous for their Joomla work.

They created K2, AllVideos, Simple Image Gallery and many more of the most popular extensions ever.

They've also built some of the highest traffic Joomla sites, several of which attract many million of visitors each month.

Fotis and his team have just launched a new project: Nuevvo.com. We sat down with Fotis to talk about the launch.

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premier leagueThe English Premier League is the most popular sports league in the world.

If you run a team in the Premier League, you can reach 5 billion people in over 200 countries.

So, wouldn't you want to put your best foot forward with marketing? Wouldn't it make sense to build a great website?

We took a look at the websites for all 20 Premier League teams to find out whose sites were world-class and whose sites were an own goal.

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droppletsWebsites used to be really simple.

No databases. No configuration. No complex deployment systems.

Perhaps until around the year 2000, most websites didn't use a database and simply stored all their data in files. 

Lately, some developers have tried to return to this simpler era, creating blogging software that only uses files. I've tested a few, and my favorite by far is Dropplets.

Dropplets is probably the simplest way to blog that I've seen in many years. It makes even WordPress look bloated by comparison. Developed by Jason Schuller, the man behind Press75 WordPress themes, Dropplets is a fun and easy way to blog. Here's how it works ...

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conferencesLast year we wrote, "every year now brings us a major new Joomla, Drupal or WordPress conference".

That has certainly been true over the last few years:

  • In 2010, the Joomla community created a European conference called JandBeyond.
  • In 2011, WordPress launched their first international conference called WordCamp San Francisco.
  • In 2012, Joomla debuted the Joomla World Conference in California.
  • Now, in 2013, DrupalCon arrived in Australia for the first time and WordPress will hold a major European event.

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live-class The tech conference season is just getting started in Europe and North America and many of those conferences will have live training sessions.

With over 500 live OSTraining classes completed, we've learned a lot. We've made many mistakes and had to survive many mishaps.

So, we decided to ask our staff and the people we know to provide tips on how to do live training. 

Here are our 13 tips for staying sane while providing a great live training class.

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changeI met the lady from Qantas in 2002.

The previous few months had been crazy.

In 2001, I was in my early 20's, living in Japan and working as a teacher with my future wife.

Our jobs as teachers came to an end. Since my wife is from the U.S., we decided to move there. A week after arriving, the 9/11 attacks ended any hopes I had of getting a work visa.

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bitnamiBitnami have long been creating desktop installs for WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

This week they made those installs even easier for Mac users.

You can now download Bitnami apps from the Mac App Store and have WordPress, Joomla and Drupal running on your desktop in minutes.

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WordPressOver the last year, there have been tantalizing hints of a new direction for WordPress.

In this interview from May, Matt Mullenweg says that he "had been hard at work coming up with a new interface that will eradicate some of the complexity that WordPress is usually associated with."

He went on to say, "one of the things I’ve been working on for the past few months is a radical simplification of the interface."

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Every morning, I wake up and check our support ticket system.

Every morning, we have somewhere between a dozen and two dozen emails from people in India. There's also a smattering of emails from Africa, South-east Asia and Eastern Europe.

The trouble is, through no fault of their own, none of these people are paying members and probably never will be. 

We have one of the best value membership plans around at $25 per month, but that's a lot of money when you come from a country where the average income per month is $100. It's even a lot of money if you're unemployed or disabled in a first world country like the the United States and need to survive on $500 per month.

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wordpress-joomla-drupalThis year we published over 280 posts on the OSTraining blog.

Next year we'll work even harder and try to publish a post every day!

Being the end of 2012 now, let's look back to see which of those posts were the most popular.

We've listed the 5 most popular posts for each CMS. The posts in each list give us insight as to what was on the minds of users in 2012.

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instagram"If you aren't paying for the product, you are the product."

That's a phrase we hear all the time now.

We heard it in the wake of this week's Instagram uproarany one of the many Facebook scandalsthe Digg crisis and when many other privacy controversies enrupt.

Any time a major website invades your privacy more than it normally does, the same phrase gets trotted out.

The trouble is, that phrase is nonsense.

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