News from July 2022
So much happened in July, you guys. So much. We've got announcements, we've got blog posts, we've got new documentation, we've got staff picks! There's a lot to cover, so let's get rolling.
Happy Anniversary, Reclaim!
That's right: we recently passed Reclaim's ninth anniversary. What?!?! In "9 Years of Reclaim Hosting", Jim reflects on how far Reclaim has come, particularly in 2021 and 2022, and what the future looks like. Check it out, and come celebrate with us.
August Flex Course - Headless WordPress
This August (you know, the one that starts on Monday? Time flies...) we're offering a flex course on Headless WordPress – what it is, why it's so powerful, and how you can set one up for yourself. It'll be two sessions, on Tuesday August 23 and Thursday August 25 from 1pm-3pm EST, and you can find a bit more about it on our events calendar here. Thanks to our guest instructor, Jeff Everhart of WP Engine, we're able to make this flex course free to attend for all, so you can hop right on over here to register.
September Workshop - Domains 101
Coming to you September 2022, it's our Domains 101 workshop! We're going to be taking two days (Tuesday Sept. 13 and Wednesday Sept. 14) to do a deeper dive into the fundamentals of administrating Domain of One's Own. The workshop will cover the core systems and review how to use them, as well as examples of how different schools are making use of their Domain of One's Own setups, tools everyone should be aware of, and discussions with veteran DoOO admins about their experiences. We've got more information on our event calendar here, and if you're already ready to sign up, you can do that right over here.
October Workshop - WordPress Multisite 101 with Tom Woodward
And in October, join us for our WordPress Multisite 101 workshop with Tom Woodward. Taking place Wednesday Oct. 19 and Thursday Oct. 20, the workshop will be oriented towards WPMS admins with the goals of helping them manage and fine-tune their installation. We'll help you define your goals for the project, identify your resources, assess how it's going, and set up sustainable practices for long-term management. Want to join us? More information is available on our events calendar, and you can sign up over here.
August Community Chat - WordPress Full Site Editing
Our August Community Chat has a special surprise: Anne McCarthy from Automattic will be joining us! We're going to be talking about WordPress's new Full Site Editing feature, as well as what WordPress's future might look like, and we're so excited to have her. The Community Chat will take place on August 10th, 12pm EST (more information on that at our events calendar here) and all the joining info will be sent out to people who've registered for our Community Chat mailing list. If you want in but you aren't registered, you can find that right over here.
July Community Chat - Tools that seem out of reach!
This past July, our Community Chat was all about tools that seem out of reach – tools you've dreamed of using but don't have a good use case for right now, tools that seem interesting but you're not really sure when/what you'd do with them, tools that you wish existed because you have specific project dreams but aren't sure how to execute them yet... It was a great conversation, but if you missed it, no worries! We record all our Community Chats (playlist of them available here), and July's is right here. Taylor also compiled a list of all the tools and resources that came up and posted it right over here.
Recent Blog Posts
The blogosphere is always hot at Reclaim, but July was an extra-hot one for us. (Full disclosure, several blog posts are actually being featured in Staff Picks just to balance things out a little!) We've got a lot to share – go take a look!
Jim streamed his work to get BookStack set up, then shared his thoughts on the tool and went over his process a little more in "Installing BookStack on Reclaim Cloud". For a little more context, BookStack is a lightweight open source wiki a la Dokuwiki that's become extremely popular on GitHub, and it also came up in our July Community Chat on new and aspirational tools.
Another post from Jim, "Communication, Community, and Commitment" talks about both the Roundup – how it collects, shares & celebrates Reclaim's work – and how the Roundup is an expression of the values we stand by in EdTech. We always want to champion open communication, build and engage community, speak our passions and help others to speak theirs.
And on the topics of both tools and values, Jim also wrote "Swiffer, Gravity Forms, and Toolkits for User Innovation", which is a reflection on Reclaim's goals for Edtech: helping people learn tools &, through that learning, come up with new & relevant ways to use those tools. That way they can carry forward that knowledge into their lives and work wonders!
One of the reasons Jim was thinking so much about what Reclaim wants to stand for: this month we had an ongoing conversation across multiple blogs, on the topic of EDTECH ANGST. In "The Blogsphere is Hot….with Edtech Angst", Jim thinks about blogging as a way to have longer, meaningful conversations online, what Edtech means ethically and philosophically given recent community discussions around "selling out" and sacrificing ethics for money, and how we can combine our values with our excitement around tools rather than focusing on one or the other.
Meanwhile, Amanda and Taylor also weighed in. Amanda takes us through why it's important for empowering educational communities, and why we can't give up despite a malaise that seems to be sweeping the community, in "You want (edtech) angst? Take it from a millennial."
Taylor wrote "Have you heard the news that you're dead? (on the edtech angst)" based on his experiences working with faculty who were frustrated by remote teaching and digital tools, sharing reading resources and using My Chemical Romance as a tool to frame his thoughts.
Throughout the month of July, Reclaim hosted our flex course on understanding containers. Lauren wrote up her notes working through each week of the course – session one, session two, and session four (she put a hold on catching up on session three to work along with session four live). Jim also documented his work in the flex course, specifically the week three exercise centering on Nextcloud.
Related to our containers unit, Jim also took this opportunity to document how he sets up Mailgun for Ghost (which is the software we use to run our newsletter, and which we run in a container). He was configuring a new setup for a wool-related newsletter, and decided to write up how he did it, as well as how he updated the instance from Ghost v4.8 to Ghost v5.24. There's also a little behind-the-scenes on the setup for the Roundup, and how its configuration differs from this new one.
Did you know Reclaim has a radio station? It's true! We started it two years ago, but it fell into disuse for a while. This past month a couple of us took another look at it, updating the tech and considering how we want to use it in the future. Jim documented the whole thing in "Reclaim Radio 2.0". And hey, when we're on the air, you can find us at listen.reclaimrad.io.
And speaking of music, Chris produced a demo for his band, Toxitolerant, in anticipation of their first show, which took place on July 24th. You can read all about the creative process, getting past the hurdles, and how they set and met their recording goals, in his post, "Toxitolerant – Demo 2022".
Summer is the season for self-evaluations here at Reclaim. In "Working Habits, Self Evals, and Finding Connection", Lauren talks about how she's developed Reclaim's self-evals practice to make sure people are satisfied in and excited about their work, how she tries to make sure people are finding connections even working remotely, & how she's making space for her own personal development within her work as a manager.
Taylor put out not one, but two tutorial posts this month! First is Redirecting HTTP to HTTPS in Reclaim Cloud", which talks about how to redirect HTTP to HTTPS in Reclaim Cloud using an NGINX load balancer. Second is "The Basics of the Command Line", a breakdown of his June stream that went over, well, the basics of the command line, including timestamps to make navigating it a little easier.
In his post "Keep Seeding", Chris talks about torrenting as a way to support and distribute open-source projects, as well as how he set up a virtual machine server so that he could seed torrents of open-source software as a way to give back to the community. He also talks about the role the Internet Archive plays in making this possible, and why you should support it. Did you know that the Internet Archive is being served with a lawsuit that threatens the ability of it & other libraries to digitally lend copies of books that they've paid for? Support your libraries, guys!
And also in July, Jim revisited a project from a few months ago: setting up WordPress Multi-Region, which is a hosting option on Reclaim Cloud that creates a multi-region cluster spread across a couple of data centers. Setting this up means that traffic can be distributed to reduce stress on the server, visitors can be routed through their nearest data center to reduce latency, and if one data center has an outage, visitors can just go through a different one that's still up and running. (And you can check out part one and part two of the saga as well, if you want to read from the start.)
New Support Documentation
Occasionally a school needs to reach out to its users when certain changes are happening to the server that may temporarily affect their usage, like maintenance or consolidation. This month, Lauren is bringing you a new guide on how to approach those communications so that you have a good touchpoint when you do reach out: Server Maintenance / Consolidation Language. It's designed to help you not only with initial notifications, but with a longer-term communication schedule as well.
We've got a lot of recommendations here at Reclaim this month. Hey, we like to share!
If you read through the blog section, you may have seen the post about Reclaim Radio, and how we're revisiting it in 2022. In a mid-month meeting, Jim showed us all a lot of new tools for podcasting, radio, and audio in general. We started with Zencastr, a podcasting app that lets you host multiple guests at once.
We also went down a bit of a rabbit hole with RogueAmoeba's audio software. AudioHijack lets you capture and record/livestream multiple audio sources from your computer, which Jim uses all the time for his screensharing setup; he also uses Loopback, which lets you pull multiple audio sources into one virtual "device" that you can then use as a single audio source (in, say, a video call or presentation).
Also from Jim is ProtonVPN, which is a security and privacy-focused VPN from the creators of ProtonMail. It works all the way from Jim's setup in Italy! ... though they are Swiss-based, so maybe that makes sense...
Amanda actually shared a compilation of recommendations in her blog post, "Essential edtech reading". It includes stuff to read, stuff to listen to, stuff to watch, and stuff to subscribe to (in a recursive little easter egg, the Roundup is on that list)! If you're looking for some summer reading, definitely check it out.
In addition to that, Amanda also did some experimenting with GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program), an open source photo editing software. She wrote up her experience using it to update images for Reclaim's Support documentation on her blog at "Learning GIMP". If you're looking for an open source alternative to Photoshop, why not take a look?
In a bit of a twist, this recommendation isn't for a tool, it's for a person: Michael Branson-Smith. You can read about him in Jim's blog post, "A MBS Recommendation", which talks about Jim's struggle to capture all of Michael's incredible work, as well as the joys of getting to collaborate with him, in a single letter of recommendation. If you haven't heard of Michael Branson-Smith, now you have, and in case you missed it, he's pretty great.
How recently have you backed up your work? Chris recently shared Timeshift, a backup software that he's used to streamline his process for updating his Linux OS (Manjaro, which frequently releases updates). You can read about his current setup and process in, "Keeping Backups, or: How I Learned to Stop Reformatting and Love Timeshift".
More good work comes in the form of Scrapism 2022, an open curriculum all about reclaiming web scraping as a tool for transformative and critical thought. It's available on GitHub, and Jim wants to make sure you all get the chance to explore it.
And if you're ever curious about your browser, Lauren has the tool for you. What Is My Browser? is a website that shows you what you're running, whether you're up to date, plus some extra information about your browser setup just for you.