A Special Spooky Roundup
News from October 2022
Happy Halloween, everybody! Here's hoping you had a hauntingly happy, freakily fantastic and eerily excellent month, and that November turns out to be even better. Today we're bringing you all the Reclaim news from the month of October 2022 – enjoy!
Welcome to the Team, Noah!
First things first: we have a new team member! We announced it on Twitter already, but if you missed it, that's okay – we're still not done celebrating. This month Noah Dorsett joined the Infrastructure team as our new Junior Systems Administrator. We're so happy to have him aboard. Welcome, Noah!
Reclaim Open 2023: Call for Proposals!
We're open! Open for proposals, that is... for Reclaim Open! Our upcoming conference, Reclaim Open: Rediscovering the Open Web, will take place June 5-7, 2023 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We'll have three tracks – The Web that Was, The Web that Is, and The Web that Will Be – focusing on the past, present, and future of the Open web, and we'd love for you to contribute.
The call for proposals is available here. Bring us your lightning rounds, your presentations, your panels, your workshops, your Show-and-Tells, your Domains Fair Showcases, your art installations, your creative pieces – we're open to all of it! We're so excited to work with you, and can't wait to see what you're thinking.
October/November Flex Course - Hacks for Hybrid Working
For many of us in Higher Ed, hybrid working is here to stay. So whether you’d like to create a better work/life balance juggling being on campus with working from home, or you are looking to move from crisis mode to a way of working that is more sustainable, healthful or simply a little more joyful, this course is for you. Join us to explore hacks to create a better hybrid workplace for everyone.
We're so excited to join forces with Dr Maren Deepwell, author of Leading Virtual Teams, to bring you weekly video releases, live Q&As, and prompts, ideas and resources to try for yourself. The event has just started and it runs through November 18th, so you can jump in and join the conversation. Check out how, and find more details, on our events calendar.
November Flex Course - Running a Newsletter with Ghost
Starting tomorrow (oh my gosh, tomorrow?!), we're looking at Ghost! Join us in continuing the haunting season as we dive into the open-source blogging and newsletter platform, Ghost – the very tool we use to run this newsletter.
This free three-part flex course (November 2nd, 9th and 16th) will cover how to set Ghost up in Reclaim Cloud, what to think about when conceptualizing your newsletter, and how to send it once you've put it all together. If you want to participate in this spectacular séance on publishing your pieces, you can get all the information right here on our events calendar, and the introductory blog post is here for you too.
December/January Flex Course - Open Media Ecosystems
Throughout December and the first half of January, it's Open Media Ecosystems time! Join us for a free flex course exploring different cloud applications that can be used to create a flexible open media ecosystem. We'll be covering the video conferencing software Jitsi Meet, the streaming tool Owncast, the video cloud platform PeerTube, and the web radio software Azuracast – how to set them up, administer them, and integrate them together. Sound good? You can learn more, as always, on our event calendar.
January Flex Course - Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)
Following up on that, in the back half of January we'll be hosting a free flex course focusing on OBS, or Open Broadcasting Software. OBS is great for livestreaming, video production, or just punching up your Zoom calls a little bit. We'll be covering all the basics, including a general introduction, how to set up basic scenes and media, customizing your setup (maybe even with a green screen!) and streaming. If you're interested, you can find more details on our events calendar here.
November Community Chat - Ghost!
It really is Halloween around here, huh? We’ve been getting more and more use out of Ghost as a publishing platform here at Reclaim recently (and not so recently), so we thought that on the tail end of our three-week Running a Newsletter with Ghost flex course, it made sense to talk about it a little more. Join us on November 16th at 12pm ET as we talk about Ghost: What is it good for? What are its weaknesses? How can you make best use of it? What role can it play in alongside other tools like WordPress, and what would we like to see out of it in the future? For more info, including how to register, check out our event calendar.
October Community Chat - WordPress Multisite!
This past month we met to talk about WordPress Multisite, which was a natural extension of October's month-long flex course. WordPress Multisite remains one of the most accessible, scalable tools for online publishing in higher ed, and this chat explored the ways folks are managing their setups at their institution. Moreover there was even a fright or two when the topics of Gutenberg and the Full Site Editor came up, since managing that transition can be enough to scare the most courageous admins.
News from Infrastructure: Infinite WordPress for Domain of One's Own
November will see the beginning of monthly, scheduled updates to core files, themes and plugins for the main WordPress Homepage portal of Domain of One’s Own schools. Our infrastructure team will use InfiniteWP to manage these updates, and the first one is scheduled for Sunday, November 20th. No additional steps are required of DoOO admins to be included in these updates. If you would like to opt-out, however, please contact us to let us know. Keep in mind, these scheduled updates only apply to Domain of One’s Own schools at the moment.
More News from Infrastructure: PHP Updates
We've mentioned it before, but in case you missed it, we're making some updates to PHP on our servers. This month we rolled out PHP 8.0 as the new default (or "inherited") version of PHP on all our servers. This means that any account or application set to use the server default version will be using PHP 8.0 from this point on. PHP 7.3 and PHP 7.4 will still be available for the time being after this change, so if an application or user is inheriting the server default and there are concerns about application compatibility, users will need to manually set which version to use.
And on January 1, 2023, PHP 7.2 will be removed from all servers, meaning that the lowest version available would be PHP 7.3 going forward. Any installation or account still using PHP 7.2 at this point will be brought up to PHP 7.3. Users will need to address incompatibility of individual applications. You can read more about our Infrastructure updates for 2022 in this blog post.
One of the many pleasures of supporting the Reclaim Hosting community is coming across cool resources hosted on the open web. We hope to share our findings in our monthly newsletter (not to mention a case study or two), but for now enjoy this impressive resource...
Art and Architecture of the Middle Ages: Exploring a Connected World is a website that complements the newly published textbook from Cornell University Press authored by Jill Caskey, Adam S. Cohen, and Linda Safran. It's an impressive use of Omeka-S that not only shares curated galleries and primary sources, but also interactive maps, timelines, and numerous discussions with experts in the field. If you're looking for inspiration for your next Omeka project, look no further.
What's Happening in Discord
Every month we host an off-the-cuff, impromptu event or two in our Discord server, and we hope you can make it. But if you missed something, no worries, we know it can get busy. And hey – we've got you covered.
This month Taylor hosted a stream on HTML flattening (turning a complex site like a WordPress install into a simple, static, HTML-based one) using a tool called HTTrack. If you're interested, you can check it out right here:
HTML flattening is a great way to manage preservation and archiving older sites, for those times when you want to keep them around but don't plan on updating them anymore. In addition to the stream, Taylor also blogged about his process (and a script he wrote to iron out some of HTTrack's CSS hiccups) in his post, "Flattening sites to HTML with HTTrack."
Recent Blog Posts
We've been blogging. (When haven't we?!) This month the Reclaim blogosphere covered a lot of ground, so here's some brief peeks to let you see what's happening behind the scenes.
If you read the Announcements section, you may have seen that this October and November we're hosting Hacks for Hybrid Working here at Reclaim. In preparation for the event, Lauren put together two blog posts, "Tips & Tricks for Time Management" and "Collection of Hybrid Working Tips." The first is based on some internal professional development that we've done at Reclaim, swapping... well, tips and tricks on time management! And the second is a breakdown of Lauren's work-from-home setup and how you might approach yours to make it work for you.
Jim also had some thoughts on remote working and how we do it at Reclaim, which he shared in "Ambient Participation, Reclaim Radio, and Breaking on Through #4life." Since we're all-remote, we try hard to create fun modes of connection for the team, and one that's been big lately is Reclaim Radio, our internal radio station. In this post, Jim muses about how the way we've been listening to music together, with people taking turns picking playlists, creates a sense of shared space even though we're all dispersed.
In fact, Chris has also been working through his setup for Reclaim Radio. In "Internet Radio, Vinyl Records, and SBCs," he talks through his process setting up Azuracast, our Reclaim Cloud-based radio software, and hooking up vinyl records to play online using a Raspberry Pi. It's crazy cool, and if you're interested in how these things work, you should check this out.
This month Chris and Jim have also been digging deep into that colossus known as multiregion setups, where a site is served from two (or more!) different data centers. That means it's not only extremely performant, but it also guarantees the site remains online in the event of an outage. This multiregion research is part of a bigger push we're making at Reclaim Hosting to provide enterprise-level hosting for universities that are considering outsourcing the hosting of their main website, but we've been working on getting it set up for ourselves first.
Jim's been working on getting multiregion to work for almost a year, and in "Multiregion: a Year-Long Odyssey" he talks a bit about the process. In another blog post "Doing Multiregion WordPress Stuff With Cloudflare And Reclaim Cloud," Chris explains in more technical detail how he and Jim got Reclaim's primary WordPress site moved into such a setup, and used Cloudflare to manage the DNS.
Jim's post "Flattening the DNS Curve with Cloudflare" also talks about managing DNS with Cloudflare, and how even a partial setup is a game-changer for managing enterprise level sites. It's got load balancing, it's got DDoS protection, it's got global CDN, and and it gives the ability to proxy DNS records and essentially make any re-routing that might change IP addresses, or even data centers, totally seamless.
Going from high-tech to low-tech, this month Pilot did some review of HTML and CSS, going back to the basic building blocks of web design. In "The Finger-painting Approach" they muse on how doing a messy, experimental "project" that's mostly just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks can be a really freeing method of learning. Their other post "So I Had Some Commitment Issues…" builds on that a bit and brings in a review of Git and GitHub as well.
October has been WordPress Multisite month here at Reclaim, and on that topic, Jim wrote "WordPress Multisite Migrations and the Meaning of Web Life." Based on documentation from Tom Woodward, Jim talks through the process for migrating a large WordPress site out of a WordPress Multisite and onto its own instance smoothly & easily; he also muses on the life cycle of sites and web archival, and where Reclaim can fit into all this.
And finally, check out Jim's post, "Why I Love Reclaim Roundup." The Roundup plays a big role in how we reflect on the work we do and make it public. Using it as a lens, Jim thinks through how we've grown, where we're going, and how we can use this as a platform to highlight our community as well. Aww!
New Support Guides
In an attempt to provide both greater breadth and depth of coverage in our support documentation, we have begun to write as much focused support documentation as we can around a specific topic or theme. Given October was WordPress Multisite month, we dug in on providing as much documentation for WordPress Multisite as we could, and four short weeks later we have five awesome guides:
Amanda gets us started by making sure we're all staying safe. Her guide takes you through some solid recommendations for "Keeping WordPress Multisite Secure".
But it's always good to balance caution with living a little, hence Gordon's guide explaining how to map an external domain to a WordPress Multisite subsite. It's magic!
And for those who just need to delete a lot of things all at once, Meredith's created a guide outlining "Bulk Deletion in WordPress: Pages, Posts, Users" just for you.
Amanda continues her WordPress Multisite guide spree with resources for "Installing SSL Certificates on WPMS," which ties in with existing guides around managing SSL certificates such as "Using Third Party SSL Certificate in cPanel" and "Custom SSL certificates on Reclaim Cloud for WPMS."
It's always good to keep things tidy. To that end, Amanda's put together yet another WordPress Multisite guide that helps admins think through "Archiving Strategies and Methods for WPMS" so that you're not lost when it comes time to think through preserving users' work while managing your project.
Our final guide this month isn't WordPress Multisite, and it isn't even new, but it has been polished up a little for your convenience. Pilot went through our doc, "Domain Mapping to GitHub," and made a few updates to keep us in line with GitHub's current documentation.
Here at Reclaim, we're big fans. Of what, you ask? Well, we can't pick just one! We've got a lot of staff picks coming your way this month – why not take a look?
In keeping with our WordPress Multisite theme this month, Jim was rereading "What’s a Sysadmin to Do? — Avoiding Digital Detritus on a Blogging Platform Older than All of My Kids," a blog post by Kris Schaffer of the DTLT team at University of Mary Washington that examines their 2018 work to clean up and pare down UMW blogs.
From Taylor comes SingleFile, a Firefox extension that lets you save an entire web page (including images and styling!) as a single HTML file, and Continuity Camera, a new feature on iOS Ventura that lets you use your iPhone as a webcam, doc cam, or secondary wireless camera.
Jim also wanted to highlight the web artist Olia Lialina, who's written great pieces on early web aesthetics and the evolution of the homepage as the web has become more of a branded space.
This month we started chatting about image manipulation softwares as alternatives to Photoshop and GIMP, and both Taylor and Gordon had lots of ideas. Taylor mentioned Pixelmator Pro, which is a beginner-friendly Mac exclusive, and Affinity Photo (part of the Affinity suite, an alternative to Adobe); meanwhile, Gordon likes BeFunky Photo Editor, a free in-browser option.
Do you have backups? Because you should have backups. Tim wanted to mention this short video, which talks about how not having backups almost caused a major catastrophe for Pixar during production of Toy Story 2. (Seriously, make sure you have backups.)
You may have seen in the Blog Posts section, but DNS flattening with CloudFlare has been huge for us in getting multiregion setups up and running. Jim wants to give a special shoutout to "Introducing CNAME Flattening: RFC-Compliant CNAMEs at a Domain's Root," CloudFlare's own blog post from 2014 that introduced and explained how you might do it and why you might want to. It took Jim almost 8 years to figure this out, but the scales have been removed now!
Sharing is caring. That's why Jim and Chris wanted to share OnionShare with you. It's an open-source file sharing software akin to WeTransfer that's secure, anonymous, and easy to use—that's something given it uses the Tor browser. Go take a look!
Thanks for reading this far, everyone. It's been a great Roundup. And hey – Happy Halloween!