News from January 2023
Would you look at that?! The Roundup's turning one year old! Now it's old enough to... I don't know, toddle? Regardless, Reclaim and the Roundup are both moving into a new year, and we're really excited to see what 2023 will bring.
Reclaim Open 2023
In case you haven't heard, Reclaim Hosting's 10-year anniversary is coming up in June. We'll be celebrating it with our 4th biennial conference, Reclaim Open 2023, where we'll not only celebrate the history of the open web, but take stock of the present moment while exploring the future of Open as well.
We're excited to head back where it all began, and we're hoping you'll join us. Reclaim is looking forward to welcoming web historians, creative tinkerers, digital humanists, instructional technologists, project administrators, and open source advocates to Fredericksburg, Virginia on June 5-7, 2023. Our Call for Proposals is open, and the deadline has been extended to February 15th. Please come share your work with us – we can't wait to see you.
February Workshop - WordPress Multisite 201 with Tom Woodward
We're back, baby! Throughout February (y'know, the month that starts tomorrow) Reclaim will be building on our September WordPress Multisite 101 workshop to help experienced admins manage and fine-tune their project. Joined by WPMS master Tom Woodward, we'll tackle DMCA takedown questions, onboarding new users, and making sure your workflows are easy and sustainable. At the end of the month we'll also have a panel of experienced WPMS admins, sharing advice and thinking of how their projects have grown and evolved to best served their community.
And it's not too late to sign up! Sessions are weekly, and the first one will be on Monday, February 6th, so if this all sounds good to you, head on over to the events calendar for more schedule and signup details. Come learn with us, but even more, come share with us – we want to hear what you're doing, too!
March Workshop - Domains 201
Much like WPMS 201, we'll be taking time in March to follow up on last year's DoOO 101 to kick it up a notch. Over the course of a two-day intensive workshop (March 21-22), we'll talk about advanced management strategies for Domain of One's Own: how to customize your project, engage users and grow your project, and integrate other tools like Reclaim Cloud or WordPress Multisite to meet your community's needs. It'll be a blast, so why not register on our event calendar?
April Flex Course - Building Community with Discord
Throughout the past year, Reclaim has been using Discord to host our workshops, flex courses and streams. Our goal is to build an EdTech community where people can come together and learn from each other. So this April, we'll be hosting a pretty self-reflexive flex couurse: how to organize events using Discord. We'll talk about how and why you might want to do this; once we've covered that, we'll get into setting up a basic server, using Discord's basic settings to serve(r) your needs, and integrating supporting tools like Zapier or Twitter. If you're curious, we have more details about how to join on our event calendar.
February Community Chat - Helping People Get Comfortable in WordPress
If you've ever helped someone start learning WordPress, you know it can be intimidating to new users. So for our February Community Chat, we'll be thinking it through: how do you help people become comfortable inside WordPress? Join us on Wednesday, February 15th at 12pm as we talk tips and best practices for bringing people into WP as it evolves over time to be more customizable, capable and complex (and register for an invitation here!)
January Community Chat - Installatron Template Share-A-Thon
This past month, we met up to talk about templates and how you use them. At the Installatron Template Share-A-Thon, DoOO admins were invited to talk about the specific use cases they've been called on to support and how they designed templates to suit those needs (or how they'd like to build templates in the future). But if you missed it, don't worry: we've got a recording right here (as well as a playlist of all past Community Chats).
News from Infrastructure: Hanging Onto PHP 7.2 (For A Little While)
At the end of 2022, we announced that PHP 7.2 would be going away starting on January 01. Long story short, that timeline has been delayed slightly due to some application-level compatibility in Installatron; however, we'll still be pushing forward here in the new year. Stay tuned for more info on when we'll be deprovisioning 7.2.
Mastodon Collaboration with ALT: This Server Will Explode in 90 Days
Yes, that's right: Reclaim is collaborating with ALT, the Association for Learning Technology! Their project, This Mastodon Will Explode in 90 Days, is a short-lived Mastodon server for people who want to jump in and play in a sandbox, without worrying about having to create a more curated, longer-term presence on Mastodon. The server will be live until the end of April, after which point it'll be gone.
From a technical standpoint, it'll also serve as an experiment in what resources and costs hosting a Mastodon server requires. ALT's been considering what Mastodon looks like as a viable long-term solution, and that's where Reclaim comes in. Lots of people ask us what's needed to run Mastodon on Reclaim Cloud; working with ALT, we can both find some answers. If you want to know more, Jim wrote everything up in a blog post here (also available down in the Blog Posts section), and you can watch the monthly checkin streams here (the first one, from January 19th, is immediately below).
In Case Ya Missed It
Every month we're experimenting, trying new things, and generally exploring, and we usually do it on-stream so you can experiment with us! These streams are pretty impromptu, but we always announce them in our Discord. (Psst, if you're not in Discord, why not come join us?) And if you didn't catch them, we always collect them here in the Roundup.
This month was pretty devoted to writing and publishing tools: Taylor experimented with how to set up WriteFreely on Reclaim Cloud (and there's a blog post on it here as well!) WriteFreely is a lightweight blogging platform that can easily integrate with anything using the ActivityPub protocol, like Mastodon or Peertube. We've had a couple of questions about it as an alternative to WordPress, and while we don't claim to be experts, you can set up and tool around with it by checking out the stream.
Taylor and Amanda also continued their foray into Pressbooks with parts three and four of this multi-part series, wrapping up with their final thoughts on the whole experience. If you want to start from the beginning, we also have parts one and two on our Reclaim TV archive.
After that, Taylor, Pilot and Amanda took a look at Obsidian, which is a simple open-source word processing program using Markdown. Check it out here if you're curious (a bit of an early rec here, but we couldn't wait for Staff Picks). It's great for note-taking and has a lot of community plugins, so the stream also covered Obsidian Share, a plugin that lets you quickly publish a note so people can view it online.
In addition to the streams, we also have a podcast, Reclaim Today! This month Jim, Lauren and Pilot sat down to reflect on the Roundup at one year – what it was meant for originally, how it's evolved over time, and the role it serves at Reclaim to collect, acknowledge and share the work that we don't always remember to talk about. Happy Birthday, Reclaim Roundup!
Recent Blog Posts
OK, we're experimenting in the new year, but we're also taking some time to reflect. Our blog posts for January cover both angles, because when it comes to blogging, you can't limit yourself.
Jim spent some time this month thinking about his experiences working with Reclaim Cloud. In "Defaulting to the Cloud," he considers how over time, his thought process regarding new projects has shifted – rather than thinking of the cloud as a place for the projects he can't do in cPanel, he thinks of the cloud first for all his new work. It's flexible and integrates with all the fun tools, like Cloudflare and S3, so there's no need to feel limited. And "Costs in the Cloud Two Years On" catalogues pricing for all these projects monthly, so he can get a sense of everything he's doing and how much it costs.
In fact, he even discussed some of those projects on the blog as well. "1-Click Installer for Owncast in Reclaim Cloud" talks about our new installer for the streaming tool Owncast, which was created alongside the Open Media Ecosystems flex course we ran in December and January. Meanwhile, "WordPress Multiregion Database Replication Checks" covers an issue that occasionally pops up with WordPress Multiregion setups – the database for the primary site gets out of sync with the secondary/failover site – and how Jim's learned to address it during his multiregion work.
Back in November, Jim got the chance to interview Riv-Ellen Prell and Livia Foldes about their project, A Campus Divided: Progressives, Anticommunists, Racism, and Antisemitism at the University of Minnesota, 1930-1942. His blog post, "A Campus Divided" also talks about the work they're doing to create a digital archive of documents illustrating a history of surveillance and segregation at the University of Minnesota.
And in addition to that, Jim was also thinking about digital work at UMW, in particular the contributions of Shannon Hauser. "Web Building at UMW or, Why Shannon Hauser is #4life" reflects on Shannon's fifteen years and counting at UMW, beginning as a student worker in what was at the time the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies and becoming a crucial member of the team. Shannon does some amazing work, and we're huge fans.
And we mentioned this in the announcements, but if you didn't catch it there – in the next few months, Reclaim will be partnering with ALT to host a Mastodon server with a 90-day lifespan. It's for people looking to dip their toes into Mastodon, play around, and create with the freedom of knowing their work can be ephemeral. Jim's post "Mission Mastodon: This Server Will Explode in 90 Days" outlines the concept and invites you all to take part, and "This Mastodon Will Explode, Session 1" reflects on the January panel kicking off the experiment.
New Support Documentation
Sometimes you have problems with your WordPress site. It happens to the best of us! And sometimes updating plugins and themes doesn't solve the problem. Each error message has to be handled differently, but Amanda's new doc, "Troubleshooting WordPress PHP error: Constant FS_CHMOD_FILE already defined" will cover exactly how to fix a particularly pesky error and get your site back up and running.
Maybe you want to set up a custom URL for your Drupal site, just to make things a little snazzier. No problem! From Meredith, "Working with URL Aliases and Redirects in Drupal" will walk you through Drupal's built in features for managing this, so you can get that set up in no time.
For anyone managing a cPanel server without SSO integration or automation, you may need to set up a new account from time to time. Gordon's guide, "Creating New Account in WHM" goes over how to do just that, so if a user ever needs you to set that up manually, you've already got it covered.
There's been a lot of Mastodon talk lately – Jim blogged about it this past month, and it was the focus of our December Community Chat. Now we have a Mastodon installer for Reclaim Cloud, just for you! In his guide, "Running Mastodon in Reclaim Cloud" Taylor goes through how to use that installer to get going with Mastodon easily.
On a related note, we've got an Owncast installer for Reclaim Cloud as well. If you read the Blog Posts section you may have seen that Jim has a post on this topic, but he also has a support doc, "Installing Owncast," which will show you exactly how to set up your own streaming platform online.
And if you're working in Reclaim Cloud, you may be curious what your resource usage looks like. If so, Amanda wrote "How to Assess CPU Usage in Reclaim Cloud" just for you. This guide pulls back on the curtain on finding both historical and live data on how CPU intensive a particular environment might be and what processes might be causing any CPU spikes.
Oh, one last quick note – as the Jupiter theme for cPanel comes out, we're updating the screenshots in our documentation. So if things look a little different, don't worry, that's all it is.
It's time for Staff Picks, our collection of cool things from around the internet. 'Cause who doesn't love cool things?
To kick things off, we have WordPress Playground, courtesy of Taylor. It's a tool that runs a WordPress site completely in your browser and browser cache, so you can play around and edit it, but once you refresh, it's gone. WordPress Playground is awesome for experimenting and trying things out without having to modify any of your existing sites – check it out!
Also from Taylor comes Easy CSV Editor, a simple and lightweight alternative to Numbers, Excel, or Google Sheets. We love a simple tool that does one thing and does it well, and this is perfect for managing your CSVs and TSVs in a streamlined editor.
Gordon's kicking off the new year with the 2023 Cat Calendar, which is created by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District. It's a collection of many great feats of engineering... that are under siege by giant cats! Everything's better with cat pics, so why not go take a look?
Noah wants to make sure you're all aware of VirusTotal, a tool for scanning PDFs if you're not sure they're secure. And you don't have to upload them, either – VirusTotal can scan by URL, so drop the link in and check to make sure that PDF is trustworthy before you download it to your computer.
And finally there's MacWhisper from Taylor, which is a Mac-based GUI for Whisper, OpenAI's text transcription technology (say that three times fast). It's a quick way to generate subtitles and transcripts for your audio and video files, which is a great first step for accessible captioning.
That's all, folks! Thanks for joining us this Roundup. Let's head into February together!