Alastair McDermott is an online business and technology consultant specialising in web design & development, internet marketing and search engine optimisation. He has been building websites and software since 1996 and is a ten year veteran of using WordPress.
You may have noticed that we've recently made all of SelfAssemblySites video training library and bonus downloads available to anyone who signs up for a free account.
Back in 2011 we launched the site with high hopes, but over the next 18 months we failed to achieve the traction we were looking for, and both Al and I eventually moved on to other projects.
Recently I was setting up a new server and decided to see if we could breath some new life into the old site. We had over 100 videos here and neither of us wanted to see them go to waste.
What we've done is remove some of the more powerful but complex systems we were using like our forum software and membership software - we've replaced them with simpler solutions like a private Facebook group and a free WordPress plugin respectively.
While making these changes it also highlighted for me just how much some technology has moved on.
Our 100+ videos were recorded 3-4 years ago and the appearance and functionality of some of the featured tools and websites has changed since then. Because of that we've done a content audit of our entire training library.
We show a note like this on 43% of videos
The content audit revealed that 39% of our video content is "evergreen", i.e. needs no update, 43% of the video content "appears dated but no major changes in functionality", and 18% we classified as "out of date, principle or visuals have changed". (Even for these out of date videos, for the most part the general principles involved have not changed, so they're still useful.)
On 18% of videos we show this strong warning
Now that we've done the audit and marked content appropriately, for a limited time we're making everything available to anyone who registers a free account.
Over time we're planning to update the more crucial video content and then put everything behind a paywall for an amount tbd.
The number of signatures on the petition against "SOPA Ireland" (or "Sherlock's Folly" as some are calling it) is now hitting 60,000 - an incredible number for a petition started just days ago. If you're an Irish citizen and haven't yet, please sign it.
I've given up on the idea of working legislation in this country at this stage in almost any area of life. We'd need major change to fix the system of government before we'd get decent legislation for anything
We're going to get some more debate on this issue, but Sherlock appears intent on signing. He seems naive enough to believe that his legislation is fine as it is, and that the courts will deal with any spurious legislation. This beggars belief - we've seen the film and music industry in America taking dead people and people who don't even own computers to court for online copyright violations.
Individuals and small businesses who can't afford to fight won't stand a chance - when they get a threatening letter they will not risk the chance of court costs, regardless of how spurious it is.
Last week, we had SOPA and PIPA in the US. This week in Ireland, in an even less democratic fashion, we have a "statutory instrument", which requires no parlimentary or public debate, ready to be signed into law by a single minister's pen.
The "Statutory Instrument Number (TBD) of 2011 European Communities (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2011", otherwise known as the "Irish SOPA" is allegedly being enacted in order to comply with EU law, but the European Commission – which monitors implementation of EU law – doesn't seem to think Ireland is in breach and hasn't taken any action against Ireland for failure to introduce blocking.
The situation can no longer be tolerated where Irish Ministers enact EU legislation by statutory instrument. The checks and balances of parliamentary democracy are by-passed.
So we have a law being rushed in by the government, with no parlimentary debate - against the wishes of the government's own programme, in order to comply with EU law that we're probably not in breach of. It gets worse!
Do Schools Kill Creativity? From TED Talks - Sir Ken Robinson entertains while making a very moving case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity. Highly recommended - if you watch one online video this week, make it this one.
Is Google Making Us Stupid? What effect does using the Internet have on our brains. An article from a couple of years ago, but really interesting and more relevant now than ever.
Ricky Gervais admits he may be wrong about Twitter. One for the Twitter sceptics: "I may have been wrong about Twitter. [...] Of course there are idiots on Twitter. But there are idiots on the high street and I still go there. People say awful idiotic things all the time, but I don't give up language because of it."
A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy. A Clay Shirky article about groups, the internet and social software. Quite long but very interesting. A must read if your business is focused on online community (social network, discussion forums, etc).
If you have any suggestions or comments please leave a comment below :)
Here's an update for November to let you know what changes and improvements we've made around the site - and what's coming next - as well as a taster of the website training videos we've produced or have in production. Please give us your thoughts and suggestions on anything you think could make the site better for you!
We're continuously shooting more videos for you - here's a list of recently completed screencasts:
Add a new custom field to the videos which will tell you "How this particular video benefits you" (we're working on figuring out a better way to word that, it's a bit clunky, but we want to make it really obvious what result you will get from watching any given video)
Reviewing the plugins we use on the site currently, ensuring we have everything we want installed
When developing the new version of an existing website, what a lot of people do is develop it at a subdirectory of the current site, at e.g. www.example.com/newsite. When your new site is ready for production, you'll probably need to move it up to the top level e.g. www.example.com - here's what you need to look out for when you're doing that.
First, make a backup of the old site - in FTP create a directory called something like "oldsite" and move all of the files and folders except /newsite in there.
TimThumb.php is a great open-source script that web developers can use to help speed up sites by doing some clever image caching and resizing.
Unfortunately it's been discovered that there is a security hole in older versions of the script. If you are using this script on your site - it may be part of a premium theme - then you need to upgrade it to the latest version.
To know if you've been affected, you need to do a search for a file called "timthumb.php" - if you downloaded your theme files to your desktop before uploading, then you can do instant search by typing the filename into Voidtools Search Everything - watch the video for a full walkthrough.