What I learned at WordCamp Montreal
After I posted my last blog about going to WordCamp Montreal, an ironic thing happened: my personal WordPress blog (buttontapper.com) ceased to exist. It’s back online, mostly, at the time I’m writing this, but a lot of my blogs have disappeared into the ether. Which I hope will serve as a warning to back up your own site weekly, if not daily, but probably won’t because, as we all know, people don’t like to do things until they learn from a bad experience.
ANYWAY, all that to say that I was going to be reporting on WordCamp on my blog, but since it got destroyed when my former hosting provider went AWOL, I ended up spending a good chunk of my weekend reinstalling WordPress, hunting down the files I’d lost, reinstalling old and new plugins, and otherwise jerking around on my site. Instead of reporting on WordCamp. I suck.
In an attempt to make up for the fact that I’ve clearly failed you all, I thought I would share some of the things I did manage to learn during my Saturday at WordCamp (Sunday was just way too hectic to make it to the SAT), and pass the wisdom of the crowd along.
The first talk I heard was CT Moore’s presentation on WP-MU (a version of which you can also find online at his website, Gypsy Bandito). He basically gave a quick walk-through on how to install the program, and an overview as to what it can do. If you’re going to be manipulating multiple blogs, whether on a single domain or across several domains, you should definitely consider installing MU. That’s what it’s designed for, as the name stands for Multiple Users. You can give admin privileges to lots of different people, let lots of people create blogs on your site, share admin privileges across multiple sites, and basically get a hell of a lot of blogs all managed under one system. It sounded pretty excellent, so I have been debating installing it on my own computer, but since I only currently own the domains for two blogs, that might be a bit overkill. Sure, I have to log into two separate interfaces, but it also helps keep them separate in my mind. If you had multiple blogs at one domain, this would probably be way more useful to you.
The second talk was actually a loose Q&A with Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress. Matt was in Montreal on vacation, so he didn’t want to give his usual “State of the Word” talk, but you can watch it online at WordPressTV if you’re curious. He’s been touring the various WordCamps throughout North America, and figured he couldn’t skip ours, even if it was during the final days of the Jazz Fest. Anyway, I thought he was super cool and had lots of good things to say about the WordPress community and how open-source software works, why it’s important to give back, and why people like Bill Gates will someday be giving their own software away for free. You should definitely watch the video, because he’s very optimistic and upbeat, and it’s nice to get that kind of perspective in a world that is so often cynical about community, and online communities in particular.
The last talk I stayed for was Brad Williams‘ WordPress security talk, which had lots of useful tips and tricks for keeping your personal site safe (with WordPress installed). I believe he said he would have all his tips online at his website, but I don’t think they’re online there yet. To summarize, you should:
- Have a secure password, that isn’t based on dictionary words (duh, but how many of us really do this?)
- Keep your WordPress files up to date with the latest plugins and WP installs
- Make a different account your admin account, and delete the original “admin” user
- Give your WordPress files a random prefix that hackers won’t be able to guess, instead of the default “wp-”
I think there were a few more tips that I’m forgetting, but those stood out as the most important and easiest to do, for starters.
There was quite a good turn-out for WordCamp Montreal, and if anybody else wants to share any insights they had or things they learned there, feel free to post those below.