News from June 2022
June's gone by already?! How does the time go so fast, and yet there's still so much going on? Maybe the busier you are, the faster things happen... in any case, we've got a lot to tell you about this month.
First things, first: Welcome, Amanda! If you follow us on Twitter, you may have already seen the news, but this week we welcomed Amanda Schmidt to our team as our Instructional Support Specialist. Reclaim is so excited to have Amanda on board, and we can't wait to see what she's going to do!
July Container Flex Course
Starting tomorrow (what the heck, tomorrow?!) it's July, and you know what July means: our Understanding Containers flex course, of course! This month-long course will contain a series of asynchronous videos and weekly live chats about running applications using Docker containers, not to mention virtual office hours in Discord. We’ll cover concepts like containerization, talk about the philosophy behind running apps in this way, get you started running applications in Docker, teach you how to map domains and make things work over HTTPS, and help you strategize running applications like this over the long term.
If you’re interested in learning more about Docker Containers but aren’t sure where to begin, this is the perfect way to dive right in. You can find more information, including how to register, on the events calendar page right here. Come and join us!
August Headless Flex Course
September DoOO 101 Workshop
And mark your calendars for September 13th and 14th because coming in September, we're going to be hosting a two day Domain of One's Own 101 virtual workshop. New admins will have an opportunity to shore up some key skills, and for old hands, it'll be a great chance to focus on the fundamentals and take their work to the next level. If you want to know more, we've got a page for it on our Events Calendar here, but if you already can't wait, you can hop right ahead and register here.
Domain of One's Own Price Changes
Starting January 1, 2023, Reclaim is going to be raising the cost for Domain of One's Own packages. It's been a long time (seven years!) since our pricing was last updated, and we've grown a lot (more than triple in employees alone!) since then. We're constantly pushing to improve – our in-house support, our training and documentations, and our community offerings are just a couple of the things that we get better at every year – and it's time we updated our pricing to reflect how much we've grown. We have a longer and more detailed announcement, including the schedule for when this will take effect and a breakdown of the changes in cost, available right here:
Updates in Infrastructure
It's always busy in Infrastructure, and this summer is no exception. We're announcing updates left, right, and center – PHP versions changing, workflow shifts in how WHM access is controlled, more information about the changes going on in cPanel and Ubuntu, and new security patches for our servers. There's much too much to cover efficiently all in one newsletter, and the Infrastructure team has already put it in their own words, so if you want more details, here's where to find them:
Community Chat - July
July's Community Chat is coming up on Wednesday the 13th, at 12pm EST. This month we'll be talking about tools that seem out of reach! Are there projects you'd like to work on, tools you'd like to try, or goals you'd like to accomplish – but you're still figuring out how you'd start? Bring examples of cool apps you want to explore, and let's chat about our dreams. For more information, check out the event calendar here – and if you'd like to register for Community Chat communications, you can do that right here.
Community Chat - June (and before!)
Our June Community Chat, WordPress Beyond Blogging!, was an awesome time. We loved getting to sit down with you and hear about the seriously cool tools and projects you've built or seen, pushing WordPress beyond a flexible blogging platform and using it for true magic. If you want to check it out, you can find the video here (or embedded below).
And hey, if you're feeling nostalgic, we also have a playlist of all our past Community Chats! Whether you're revisiting fond memories or catching up on a chat you missed, why not press play?
ICYMI (In Case Ya Missed It)
This month brings some new treats: we're doing periodic workshop-stream-tutorial things in our Discord! If you want to see them live, participate and/or ask questions, join us there, but if you aren't there already, don't worry – these streams are recorded, so you can still catch them after the fact.
Taylor explored different site archiving tools, and how to embed and share archived sites with Webrecorder (he's also got a neat blog writeup available here). The video's embedded right here, but in case you're a click-through kind of soul, here's the regular link as well.
In preparation for July's Containers flex course, Taylor also went over some of the basics of the Linux command line. If you're not familiar with the command line (or you are, but you're not comfortable, or even if you're both familiar and comfortable), check it out and see what tricks you pick up! (And again, here's the link.)
We were also lucky enough to be joined by Ed Beck, who led a session on Full Site Editing with WordPress. Full Site Editing is a very recent feature of WordPress, so if you aren't too familiar with how it works, no worries – we're all here to learn. Sit back and watch (and, as always, here's the link):
Recent Blog Posts
Let's get right down to it: it's time for the BLOGS. Meredith is kicking us off with another entry in her desk saga. Back in April, she talked about how her desk setup changed over the years, and this post is an overview of what one might call its final form. Take a look to see how Meredith configured her tech, and where she looked for inspiration for such a cool-looking workspace!
This month we held our Gravity Forms of an Awesome Series flex course, where participants learned how to use a seriously flexible WordPress tool, Gravity Forms, to their own ends. Jim wrote about his experiences with the course a lot, creating a whole saga about his work. He went from goal-setting and project planning, thinking about how he would create a cataloguing system for all the media in the Bava Library, to reflecting on an old online publishing project and how newer, similar ones might use Gravity Forms. Jim also put together records of some of his weekly work in "Week 1: Form of an Awesome Personal Media Catalog" and "Form of an Awesome VHS Catalog Entry for The Shining", as well as today's "bavaLibrary Progress: a Form of Awesome Production" giving a glimpse of the sorts of things the flex course covered.
And he's not the only one! Meredith also documented her experience with the first week of Form of Awesome in this post here. She's working on it as a tool for collecting recipes, as well as for some of our internal communication workflows (for example, collecting information about new schools in a structured way where the Support team can always go to look at it).
Reclaim is using Peertube more and more as a teaching tool. It lets us stream our processes (several of the streams in our ICYMI section above were done in Peertube, actually) and share the recordings. And Peertube 4.2 came out this month! Taylor and Jim both wrote up their experiences with the update (Taylor here and Jim here), going over the processes of updating their instances, looking at the new features available, and troubleshooting all those little things that pop up when software updates drop.
We're always looking for new ways to improve, so a new tool is always an awesome discovery. This month, Meredith found a documentation tool called Scribe (more about it in Staff Picks below, but the gist is that it's a Chrome extension that lets you record your movement on the screen, clicks and keyboard input, and converts it to documentation in an instant) and wrote up her first impressions of it here.
In the announcements section, you may have noticed a bit about how Infrastructure is going to be changing server access practices going forward. Go back and look at the announcement for more information on that – that's what it's there for – but if you're curious, Chris has put together a thoughtful blog post about the why and how of these changes. "S(i)S(yp)H(us)" is a great look at how difficult it can be to do this kind of work, and how much effort goes into making it happen.
It's important to look at the work you're doing not just as itself, but in context, and Jim spent a lot of time this month thinking about EdTech – both the work Reclaim is doing, and the field as a whole. What does EdTech look like right now? Where is it going, and how do we fit in? You can read these posts, "Is Edtech Dead?" and "Thinking about Edtech", right here. Sure, sometimes it can be easy to focus on the negative, but there's a lot out there to be hopeful about. What are you hoping for?
New Support Documentation
Sometimes, you just need a little change. Let's Encrypt and AutoSSL are both great options for issuing your site's security certificates, but in case you're ever wanting to switch from one to the other, Gordon has your back with "Changing SSL Certificates from Let’s Encrypt to AutoSSL".
And for anyone out there who wants a crash course (or a refresher!) in what domains are, how they work, and how you can wield them confidently in any situation, Meredith has put together an incredible overview in "Understanding Domain Requirements". Take a look!
There's lots to talk about here today – June has been a month for experimenting!
For some recent work Taylor's been doing in Markdown, he's been working with Hedgedoc, which is an open source Markdown editor that allows for real-time collaboration and which you can self-host. Gotta love open source self-hosting tools... the teamwork is really just the cherry on top!
Readers of our Recent Blog Posts section may find a familiar name in Scribe – that's the instantaneous documentation generator Meredith blogged about earlier. She's also been taking a look at Tango, a similar platform for turning automatic screen captures and clicks into a faster-than-light how-to.
Amanda shared the Digital Humanities Research Institute Curriculum Website, which is what it sounds like – a collection of workshops developed by the DHRI as part of their curriculum, covering various digital and technical skills like data literacy and Git proficiency.
And if you haven't heard of Wizard Zines – oh boy, is it time to hear about Wizard Zines. Wizard Zines is a collection of zines about programming by Julia Evans on all different topics, but this month we took a real close look at some of the DNS-focused ones. Taylor wanted to share "DNS questions" and "questions about DNS records", which are little sets of questions that you can use as flashcards for your DNS knowledge, and Tom Woodward and Tim both added Mess with DNS, a Wizard Zines project that provides a little sandbox for users to make and test changes to a subdomain's DNS. If you want to learn more or experiment with that arcane schema of Internet Protocols and Domain Name Systems, these are a great place to start.
On the legal front, Jim found it refreshing to see tech companies like Cloudflare lead a challenge against over-reaching copyright injunctions:
Broad injunctions that attempt to deal with future ‘pirate’ countermeasures (such as domain changes) may seem reasonable to the plaintiffs, but this case shows that rightsholders can issue powerful orders without any due process or judicial oversight.
And here's a like/retweet from Jim, Alan Levine's reflection on Lumen Learning's porting select OER to Course Hero provides yet another stark reminder of how investment capital and foundational ideals can rarely co-exist for long:
If anything is a call to detach from profit oriented platforms and reclaim the web for your own, well this call has been screaming for a long time. It might be louder now, but shrug goes most of the world as they keep clicking the Like/Retweet buttons to keep the Ad Matrix humming.
Which may provide another reminder of the work we do in spite of....
And as we sign off...
Just want to take this moment to say – Happy July! We're excited to explore the future with you.