Category Archives: Technology

All things tech, from toys to hearing aids to ag-related developments…

The school district unveils a new website, built with WordPress

About a year ago, Northfield Public Schools superintendent Chris Richardson accepted my offer to meet with him so I could explain why the District’s website sucked big time.  He took copious notes, and his eyes did not seem to glaze over. But I seriously doubted anything would come of it.

Heather Kuchinka and Matt HillmanImagine my delighted surprise when two District staffers, Administrative Support Assistant Heather Kuchinka and Matt Hillman, Director of Human Resources and Technology, signed up for my online WordPress for Noobs course. They then revealed that they were about to unveil a new District website, based on WordPress, constructed by Daniel Edwins, WordPress guru at Neuger Communications Group.

Last week,  gave Heather and Matt gave me a preview and during the meeting, Chris stopped by to toss around some lingo, something to the effect of "We’ve got a boatload of RSS feeds and our permalinks are the prettiest around." You rock, Chris!

Northfield School District websiteToday, the District portion of the revamped site is up, and according to this news item (note that pretty permalink), "In the coming months, we will be rolling out new individual school sites in an effort to mirror the updates made at the district level."

They’ve set up a feedback page with a form on it, but I hate that.  I can’t learn from the feedback from anyone else, nor can I read their reaction to the feedback. So if you’re a fan of public feedback and conversation-as-a-path-to-public engagement, post your feedback in a comment here and I’ll see if I can twist their arms to join us.

Northfielders at the MWMC social networking panel

MWMC social networking panel at St. Kate's MWMC Board member Katie Fisher speaking to audience Elizabeth Child introducing MWMC social networking panel at St. Kate's
Thursday night I was part of a social networking panel at St. Kate’s that presented to the Seasoned Professionals special interest group for the Minnesota Women in Marketing and Communications (MWMC). Fellow Northfielder Elizabeth Child (on the right in right photo above) put the panel together.

MWMC panelists Griff Wigley, Lynsey Struthers, Michael Wells MWMC panelists Griff Wigley, Lynsey Struthers, Michael Wells 
I was joined by St. Olaf grad Lynsey Struthers, Interactive Strategist with The Lawlor Group, and Michael Wells, Digital Communications Manager at St. Catherine University. It turned out to be quite a fun evening.  We didn’t do presentations at all (no PowerPoint!) but rather just engaged in conversation with a very smart audience who had lots of great questions.

Some of themes I tried to address in my comments can be traced back to these posts from my Wigley and Associates blog in the past year:

Locally Grown (the blog and the comments) now available on the Kindle and the Nook eReaders

Subscribe to Locally Grown on the Amazon Kindle Locally Grown on Griff's Kindle

eRreaders are hot, especially the Kindle and the Nook. (We’re now a two-Kindle household.)

For a small monthly fee, you can now subscribe to Locally Grown on your Kindle and get the blog posts, the comments, or both:

If you have a Nook, you can install an application called NookFeed and subscribe to our blog’s RSS feed or the comments’ RSS feed for free.

A QR Code makes its appearance in the January NEG. How else might the codes be used?

NEG0101.thumbnail QR code ad in NEG WordPress for Noobs ad in NEG WordPress for Noobs course QR Code

I bought a small ad for my WordPress for Noobs course (starts next week! Call now! Operators are standing by! Not available in stores!) in the January 2011 issue of the Northfield Entertainment Guide (NEG). See it on page 11.

My ad contains a QR Code, which Wikipedia describes as a

matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

QR Codes marry the analog world, especially print, to the digital. (They do work online, too. Try it by pointing your smartphone’s code reader app at the code in this blog post.)

I used the free QR Code generator here to make my code.

WIRED_QRcodes copy qrbuckle-660x440
Left: See this blog post about the QR Code in a TAG Heuer print ad in the December issue of WIRED Magazine.

Right: A QR Code belt buckle.

How else might QR Codes be used in Northfield?

Tom Swift: Long Live the Book

Tom Swift has a new blog posted titled Long Live the Book.

Tom SwiftOf course, I am not suggesting e-readers are a fad. In fact, except for when confronted by another doomsayer, I scarcely think them anymore than I think about other gadgets for which I have yet to acquire a use. I only want them to keep publishing paperbacks. I don’t want to look at a screen, however cleverly rendered that screen, than I already do.

The deep pleasure that comes from words on paper in a quiet room cannot be mimicked. If enough people value that experience — and not just those of us who learned to “do the Google” seemingly last week but also even those tech-savvy college kids (look, ma, hands!) — books will endure. Does it have to be either/or?

Discuss here or there.

WordPress for Noobs begins January 10. Get it through Your Thick Skull

In late October, I hosted (with a little help from my friends, Tracy Davis and Sean Hayford O’Leary,) two WordPress Q&A webinars for Northfield area WordPress users. A few days later, I attended my first Minneapolis-St. Paul WordPress User Group meeting. And two weekends ago, I presented two sessions at WordCamp MSP in Richfield.

All of which served to convince me that A) the popularity of WordPress continues to grow; and B) the demand for help in using it continues to grow.

So I decided to create an online course called WordPress for Noobs, and have it be the first course delivered by my new interactive learning platform:

Your Thick Skull

Your Thick Skull; Griff Wigley, instructor

Continue reading WordPress for Noobs begins January 10. Get it through Your Thick Skull

Got questions about using WordPress? Register now to attend your choice of two Webinars on Oct. 26

WordPress webinarMany websites and blogs in the Rice County area are running on the WordPress platform, the most popular content management system in the world.  While WordPress is relatively easy to use, its flexibility and extensibility can be overwhelming.  And some of its advanced features can challenge the technical ability of even savvy webmasters.

So I’m putting on my Wigley and Associates hat and teaming up with two of my longtime colleagues, Tracy Davis and Sean Hayford O’Leary, to offer two free WordPress Q&A Webinars on Tuesday, Oct. 26, one at 11 am and the other at 8 pm.

Sean Hayford O'Leary Tracy Davis Griff Wigley
Sean and Tracy are experienced designers with considerable technical skills.  I can’t design my way out of a paper bag but I have set up many dozen WordPress sites and I’m not half bad as a coach.

The 11 am Webinar will be primarily for intermediate to advanced users with Sean and Tracy featured; the 8 pm webinar will be for beginning to intermediate users with me as the beauty on duty.

If you’re using WordPress and live or work anywhere in Rice County, you’re eligible.  But you must register ahead of time; the sooner the better, as we’re limiting each session to the first 25 registrants.

REGISTER NOW

  • WordPress Q&A Level 2 (intermediate to advanced users, featuring Sean and Tracy): Tuesday, October 26th, 11 am-noon CDT
  • WordPress Q&A Level 1 (beginning to intermediate users, featuring Griff): Tuesday, October 26th, 8-9 pm CDT

Have questions about the webinars?  Attach a comment below or contact me.

Buttons added to posts: Recommend and Retweet

retweet-recommend

We’ve added two buttons to the bottom of every blog post here on LoGroNo:

  • If you have a Facebook profile, you can click the Recommend button and your recommendation will show up as a one-liner on your Facebook status with a link to the blog post.  Many blogs and news organizations are doing this now. For example, see this week’s MPR story on the St. Olaf memorial chime tower which, as of this writing, has 56 recommendations.
  • If you use Twitter, you can more easily retweet a blog post. Clicking the retween button puts the blog post title in a Twitter text box, shortened with a Bit.ly URL link to the post.

And if you view the individual web page for a blog post (like for this one), you’ll see some additional options for ‘sharing’ the blog post via email and other social media services.

Doing this helps spread the word about a blog post. And we appreciate it.