Should Journalist by held accountable for their lies?

Given the recent disclosure about anchor Brian Williams falsifying reports of his transport being hit by direct fire back in 2003. And realizing this is not the first journalist to embellish some details of a story. And surely will not be the last.

Why don’t we make lies told by journalist punishable? Sure the journalist is usually fired. Consider the story of Steven Glass. Glass was a journalist at The New Republic. It was discovered he falsified nearly half his stories. Besides loosing his job at The New Republic what were the consequences? Nothing as far as I’ve found on the Internet. No court involved punishment, community service,  etc. Just removed from the position and later no longer a journalist.

So again how can it be in an industry where the members aspire to such high levels of integrity have we not imposed some form of punishment? Even if it meant some fine imposed. After all as a writer you write to engage the audience. This successful engagement means potentially more readers to your work and as an end result your employer will reap the rewards. Thus yielding more revenue which may also in-turn mean more income for the writer. So as you can see some benefit from the lies. So why not some punishment?

But I guess if we imposed some punishment on journalist we would have to do the same to politicians. Remember the similar story from Hillary Clinton claiming “I remember landing under sniper fire” in 1996 when traveling to Bosnia with her daughter. She would later recant her story saying she made a misstatement.

I guess one is only held accountable for their lies in some lower rung of the society ladder. Pity.

Wondering when Netflix will come out with their own dedicated tablet player

First let me state I’m an equal user of Netflix as well as Amazon for movies and content. I love movies so both offer avenues for my needs.

Something I was thinking about the other day. I own among other things a Kindle 7HD. A Kindle is dedicated to all things Amazon. I can use it to read book, play games, and most recently play video content like movies, back sessions of popular series, etc. One interesting note for the Kindle. I have the option to download the movie to my device then play it later. As far as I can tell this is only on the Kindle and not for example on the Amazon iPad app.

Thinking about this download option reminded me of something I recently read about Netflix. In the article Cliff Edwards, Netflix’s director of corporate communications and technology, commented Netflix would never have an option to download the content. I can respect that.

However, I started thinking on this recent direction Netflix is taking creating their own content like “Orange is the New Black”, “House of Cards”, etc. Seems to me having your own device to compete with the iPads, Kindles, etc. would be the next logical progression. Then you could allow download of content to the device for off-line viewing. A win-win.

Celebrating 10 years of Development in WordPress

Happy Anniversary to me. This year I’m celebrating 10 full years of working in WordPress.

The first project I remember well. I was working for an agency out of Washington D.C. At the time the CMS we were using was based on an old version of MoveableType. For client projects we had this multi-tabbed Excel spreadsheet to estimations. Adding any custom type of functionality like an archive page or even RSS was a total pain and hence we can up-charge the client.

Generally when you work in an agency it is all about billable hors. In my case the developers we expected to give detailed estimates on each client project. Using the PERL-based MT system this was for me a shot in the dark sometimes. You may quote 5 hours to add RSS feed or an archive page. Sometimes you hit that mark. But most times you didn’t. This can create a lot of tension in development teams because you are judged by the management on how well you can give close estimated and then meet those estimations.

Frustrated with using the MT system I decided there had to be an easier method. So over that long weekend I took an existing and finished MT project and decided to see how it would be built using WordPress. Up to that point, I had not used or touched WordPress. I knew PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaSscript, etc. My only exposure from was an internal presentation from another developer. And at the time I thought it looked promising. Much better about publishing dynamic content. Remember at the time MT and many other CMS type systems simply generated the final HTML output when they went through the publishing cycle. WordPress on the other had was a dynamic engine.

Building the WordPress replacement of the site was in a word amazing. Even back then using WordPress pre-1.5 you could do a lot of things via the theme itself. And for the needed of the project I already had the layout via the complete HTML. So was just a matter to carving out the header and footer sections. The sidebar then the main content after. Then the really cool understanding that I didn’t need to create a completely new output template for each page. Wow. I only have to create the general index.php and single.php. Links and RSS were all built-in and automatic.

So after the three days of the weekend I had a finished theme. Complete with the real imported data!

So you may be asking how long the same functionality took to developer using MT? Well I remember the project taking 6 weeks. But realize that was partly client delays (always). Design time. And a team of 2-3 developers to setup hosting, cutup PSD from design. Reviews and tweaks for browsers. etc. So lets say 10 days to 2 weeks for actual development into the MT system. So in effect I had done the same thing in three days. That meant instead of tying up a team of developers, designers, account people on a project for 6 weeks. It could instead be a mere 10 days or less if you get really good about reusing some of the theme parts.

Over the next year I was the WordPress go to guy. I was up to pushing out a site every two weeks. It would have been quicker but you have to allow time for client reviews and changes. But not too many changes.

Since that first years I moved into plugin development to add our own custom functionality.

Meteor Landscape in my Backyard

Remember the movie Armageddon, where Bruce Willis and others fly up to destroy a meteor hurling toward earth? Remember where they landed how everything was spiky and frozen? Well I have that same current landscape in my backyard.

We just moved into this house last year and for whatever reason the previous owners didn’t work too hard on the backyard lawn. In fact I don’t think they worked on the yard much at all. From appearances they just loaded in a bunch of mulch to cover the existing clay/dirt. Thus preventing any grass from really growing. Well last weekend it rained heavily. And for the last 48 hours the temperature has been below freezing. This is causing the residual water below the mulch, above the clay/dirt to freeze. The result is some fantastic spiky, frozen terrain.

A New Year, a new you, a new coat of paint on the old website

Testing…TESTING! Is this thing (still) on? Why yes it is. I know there has been exaggerated reports of my demise. I’m still here. Still kicking. Still coding.

I’ve decided to start off 2015 with a fresh design for the site. And maybe get back into writing about some of the cool projects I’ve been working on for the past few years. The new look is based on the WordPress Free Theme Flat. I’ve added some tweaks of my own to a child theme. More functionality to come over the next few weeks.

So where have I been? What have I been doing with my time? Over the past few years I’ve gone deep into WordPress plugin development. I was working for a major WordPress plugin vendor (not going to name them here but you can check out my LinkedIn profile if you are curious). During my tenor there I was responsible for development and supported for up to 26 plugins. I learned so much about how to write plugins to work across the wide range of hosting environments. How to be efficient with coding and how to get along with site running many dozen other plugins. I learned some valuable knowledge about WordPress Multisite as well as BuddyPress. So really want to bring that back to my own plugins.

Speaking of my own plugin. I’m in the process of rewriting parts of my Media-Tags WordPress plugin to work better within the new Backbone.js Media system used with WordPress. Lots of good changes coming soon.

In other WordPress directions I’ve fallen in love with WooCommerce. Thinking back to the early days of WordPress commerce engines (again not going to name names). I can remember having to literally hack the plugin to get things to work per the client needs. And hoping the client never ever upgraded. With the new WooCommerce 2.x it feels more like BuddyPress. Lots of way to override even the smaller elements. Not to mention tons of template files you can add to the theme to override the default action. There is one area I tend to dislike related to Variable Products managements. I’m working on an add-on of my own. Hope to announce it soon.

Besides my fallback WordPress projects, I’ve been working some in Swift, the new Apple language. As many have stated it does remind one of JavaScript in some of the syntax. But yet it is very powerful for creating apps. Speaking of JavaScript I’ve also been playing with Node.js. I’m very very excited about the potential there. First thing I thought of when playing with the modules is “someone ought to write a CMS in Node.js”. Well a few have started. The most promising is PencilBlue. They actually state in the documentation they want to replace WordPress. Lofty goal. I’ll need to find some time and join the development group. See if I can bring in some of my WordPress knowledge.

Other than coding related things. We are still discovering parts of North Carolina. Still have not made the road trip to Asheville. We both miss Texas and especially our friends in Austin. I miss all the friends and contacts from the Refresh Austin and WordPress Austin groups. As well as SXSW Interactive being in my backyard. I’ve tried getting into the local WordPress group as well as other groups in the Triangle. They just seem a little too cliche-ish to me. I’ll try again this year.

On a personal note we moved into a beautiful home last year. The new neighborhood is great as well as the neighbors who actually come over and visit. Unlike the previous neighborhood where we were renting. The neighbors just could not be bothered to say hello to you. We even have a neighborhood book club I joined last year. I’m the only male in the group and was apprehensive. I thought I would be getting into some Harlequin Romance and Jane Austen type reads. But we have read some very interesting books. So I’m looking forward to some nice reading outside of my own tracks this new year.

Well that is about all for the update. I hope to be posting regular. I already have some other posts in the queue I’ve worked on. Just need to polish and publish.