Fine Tuning Your WordPress Themes with Theme.fm

Hey there, long time no read eh? Well the reason to that is that I’ve been extremely busy with an exciting project, and today I’m glad to announce it, although it’s been launched last week. Theme.fm is a blog, journal, magazine (call it whatever you like) about fine tuning your WordPress themes. And what does that mean?

Theme.fm: Fine Tune Your WordPress Themes

Well, themes for WordPress are certainly not new, but they are hot. Especially with the competition constantly growing (both free and premium themes) and the different market places getting bigger every day. This definitely is an opportunity for both businesses and freelance designers and developers to “get out there and make some good products” (and some money, of course).

Theme.fm is focused on the “good” part of that sentence, meaning that we’ll eventually teach you how to get the best out of WordPress for you and your customers (whether they’re developers/agencies or end-users). We’ll show you the best practices of creating free and premium themes, where the free ones are more strict, while the premium ones are less strict but require that “extra thing” to get the attention of the buyers.

We’ll guide you through all the aspects of web design and cover the design trends, the ones adaptable for WordPress themes. We’ll give you some performance tips to make sure your customers (and Google) are always happy with the speed of their websites. Perhaps some WordPress and SEO tips for the ones hungry to get exposed and obviously WordPress related news and discussions, so that you’re always up to date, while being on schedule these busy days ;)

Here’s are the highlights of Theme.fm from last week:

Hope that’s something to catch your attention, but wait, there’s more! Probably something I shouldn’t speak about yet, but I will — we’re getting an iPhone App for Theme.fm. Now ssshh ;) Subscribe to the Theme.fm RSS feed and follow us on Twitter, and if you feel like you can contribute to Theme.fm, we’re always open to discussions, just hit me on Twitter or Skype ;)

Digital Memories into Real Life with Printsgram

Today I’m here to tell you about a startup, launched by some friends of mine in Istanbul a couple of weeks ago, called Printsgram. I’m a fan of “digital” myself and I like to keep things that way — no CDs, DVDs, long-term papers and photo albums in my house, especially after the move last weekend (which was terrible). Even hard drives and flash drives don’t seem to get along with me since I’d rather store my files in the Web (Amazon S3, Dropbox, Evernote), than on my PC or laptop, which is a single point of failure, I did data recovery from dozens of hard drives throughout my life ;)

But that’s me, besides I never said real (as in paper-real) photos and posters are useless. I think they’re useless in technical terms of “memories backup”, but they’re awesome as a decoration or a gift to a friend. As I mentioned, I moved to a new flat last weekend and my walls are still plain and boring, so I might as well lighten them up with something!

Okay now, back to Printsgram:

The service works by linking to your Instagram account, and then choosing your photos with a drag and drop interface. Saving your layout creates a print ready PDF file of your own design. Optionally you can show people what you have done by sharing small screen sized images of your design.

I’m not using Instagram any longer, especially after my transition to the Android, but I’m sure it remained a great service to store and share your photos, and now with Printsgram you can get those photos printed in several different layouts, including my favorite — the photo cubes :)

Digital Memories into Real Life with Printsgram

All the layouts are free for a limited time period (for the public beta stage I guess) and more layouts will be rolling out soon. Try it out yourself — Printsgram.

Le Web Conference, Paris 2010

Honestly, I haven’t been to the conference, but the guys at Ustream did an amazing job at bringing up the show live. The video quality was perfect, while sound had some problems in the beginning, which were solved in the second half of the first day of the conference. For those of you not familiar with Le Web, it’s the number one Internet conference in Europe organized by Loic Le Meur (@loic), founder of Seesmic.

Le Web brings together hi-tech companies all over the planet for a two-day session with presentations, Q&As and interviews. This year’s conference was dedicated to Platforms. We’ve seen companies like Mozilla, PayPal, Automattic, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Foursquare, Renault, TechCrunch and many many others on stage, as well as a set of early-stage companies giving their 3 minute pitches in the startups competition.

Loic

I cannot say that every part of the show was exciting, but switching to the startups competition from time to time (which was held in another hall) was the only thing that kept me from being bored. Kudos to Le Web and Foursquare for creating a special exclusive badge for Le Web 2010. You could get that badge on Foursquare by checking in all the three venues.

So let’s quickly go through the talks that I’ve pointed out starting with Google.

Presentations, Talks and Q&As

Marissa Mayer (@marissamayer) who is VP at Google did quite an interesting Q&A with Michael Arrington, Editor at TechCrunch. I really loved some of the topics that Mike came up with – “What would you do if you were the CEO at Yahoo?”, “So Latitude is one of your products, right? Can we just both agree it’s pretty terrible?” and some others.

Google has also made a quick presentation of the new Nexus S and the Android Gingerbread platform, but they were too greedy to give away a few phones, having four of them right there on stage.

Nokia has spoken about their mobile device coming up in 2011, and their brand new look at the platform. It seems that the new device will not have any buttons at all. Loic joked it would sense your thoughts and give you feedback directly to your eyes ;)

Charlie Kindel (@ckindel) from Microsoft spoke about the new WP7 Developer Ecosystem and mentioned that the new Windows mobile will be like the X-box Live with an awesome gaming experience. Let’s see where that ends up.

I also loved the short story by Dennis Crowley (@DENS), CEO at Foursquare, who said that he has no idea on how to spend $50 million, which is why he turned down a $140 acquisition offered, going instead for a series B funding. During his Q&A geeks from the audience came up to ask a few questions, and Loic did point out one guy from Siberia (@danilka) wearing a cool “Have a working prototype, looking for a VC” t-shirt.

Alexia Tsotsis (@alexia) did a quick Q&A with Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) and Toni Schneider (@tonidotorg) and it turns out that 10% of all the websites in the Internet are powered by WordPress! Fascinating, isn’t it?

Sorry for the photos quality, they’re not really photos — they’re screenshots from Ustream ;)

Startups Competition

I didn’t watch the whole startups competition, but I did love the whole format of the presentations. Much more professional pitches that what I’ve seen here in Russia at Startup Point or Startup Weekend, yeah, we’ve still so many things to learn. So from all the 16 startups presented on stage, I pointed out Waze, Tiny Pay.me, Super Marmite, and Phonedeck, and I’m pretty sure Paper.li had a very good presentation too.

The three finalists were Waze, Super Marmite and Paper.li, they all got first place trophies ;)

Second day wasn’t as exciting as the first, except of course Matt Mullenweg on stage, I love the way he speaks and kudos to WordPress for making it. Kudos to Ustream for making such a great live show, I wish they could partner up with Google for their IO and Developer Day sessions. Too bad I didn’t make it to Paris this year, but hopefully will be there next year. Thanks for reading!

Foller.me Has Got a New Home: Google App Engine

That’s right, Google App Engine! For those of you who don’t remember, Foller.me is a Twitter app I wrote back in 2009. Honestly, I never realized back then that performance is an issue until the day I got featured on Mashable. More about it in a previous post.

If you’re not familiar with Foller.me, I’ll explain it here in a couple of words:

Foller.me is a web application based on the Twitter API, used to gather Twitter analytics from any profile – in seconds! Foller.me scans your Twitter profile, parses your latest tweets and followers. Tweets are separated into topics, mentions and hashtags. Followers are mapped out on a Google Map.

This weekend I made a choice I thought I never will – I’m moving Foller.me over to Google App Engine. It was all after running a couple of experiments in my Juice Toolkit project (note that there’s a GAE branch).

I realized that it wouldn’t take me too much time to rewrite Foller.me using the new language I’m learning – Python. And I was right, the first few tests were up and running on Saturday, and there’s now a live preview including more fixes and updates on App Spot. The clouds seem to work fine, geography is even better than I expected (with a few more updates) and the interface got a few extra buttons!

More over, the new version of Foller.me has been moved over to GitHub which means that it is now an open source project! Anybody can dive into the code, suggest a few patches or updates. Contributors are always welcome ;) Also, if there’s anybody interested in the PHP code that runs on the old version, let me know, I’ll be more than glad to share it.

Now, for the bad news – I’m closing down the Foller.me blog, since there’s not time to post, and not that much I could write about. I hope that the announcements, commits and wikis on GitHub and Twitter would be enough. The API will be temporarily shut down during the move and a few weeks after, but I’ll bring that to life, perhaps with a few more fixes. The domain will probably move to a www mirror, since App Engine doesn’t allow naked domains at this stage (see this issue).

So yeah, Foller.me will live, donations are always welcome. The app will remain free of charge and so will the API. But there’s a plan to launch a premium service on Foller.me – detailed profile analytics. I’m able to give you even more statistics and analytics on your Twitter profile, but of course not instantly – my rough calculations are 1-2 days. This will generate a very sophisticated PDF report about your profile, including much more information about your followers, about people you’re following, their relations, lists, graphs and charts, and even more geographical data.

All this is still in the stage of an idea or a concept, lacking a business plan. So my question to you right now is – would you be interested in such a service? And if yes, how much money are you willing to pay for one report? Please answer in the comments section. Everybody who answered will get their first reports free of charge (if this is ever implemented).

Google Developer Day Moscow 2010

It’s been a good Friday last week, although I was a little bit late for the show. The event was held in Crocus City Hall in Moscow, which is quite wicked unless you drive there by car. Google Developer Day Moscow 2010, we all waited so long for it (one whole year actually) and it turned out to be… fascinating, as usual!

Starting early morning we got some coffee (which I was late for) and took our place in the main hall for the keynote by Eric Tholome and Gene Sokolov and a few other speakers who introduced their sections: Chrome & HTML5 was amazing, 2d and 3d graphics, filesystem API and hardware access, thus – speech recognition, device orientation and more. Chrome Web Store is coming soon (developer preview available). Cloud Computing with the new AppEngine for Business, plus a short introduction to Spring Roo. The Android introduction was quite boring. Other sections (Monetization and Social Web) didn’t get their five minutes during the keynote.

After that we all went out to have some fun, drank coke, played MindBall, PS3 and air hockey. This part turned out to be much more exciting than last year ;) and then came the presentations. I’ll list below the ones I’ve been at, others were promised to be listed on Google Code Blog.

Google Web Toolkit

Fred Sauer (@fredsa) gave us yet another short intro to GWT, mentioned again that the Google AdWords interface is built completely using their toolkit which is wonderful. Yeah, we heard that last year, did anything change? Well yeah, Fred spoke a little bit more about Spring Roo and then off to Eclipse. We’ve seen Eclipse last year too, but it seems that they made some improvements on the Google Plugin for Eclipse and introduced Speed Tracer which is quite exciting.

We went once more through the features of GWT, a brief GWT 2.1 introduction and yet another MVP presentation (for the ones that missed it last year).

This whole presentation made me install Eclipse immediately. I downloaded and installed the Google Plugin with AppEngine and GWT enabled, I switched my workspace to PyDev, created a new Google AppEngine Hello-World project, hit Deploy to AppEngine and bang! It told me that Eclipse cannot deploy my project to AppEngine since it’s not an AppEngine project. What? Goodbye Eclipse, see you next year! ;)

AppEngine for Business

I miseed the first “What’s new in AppEngine” topic by Fred, but Patrick Chanezon (@chanezon) outlined some of the exciting bits in his topic. Patrick introduced us to AppEngine for Business: SLA, Support, Hosted SQL, Custom Domain SSL and Enterprise Admin Console (sounds awesome, doesn’t it) – but yet again, I’m not that keen on trying it, especially with the feeling that they’ve done everything right, but only for Java, while Python is lacking behind. I’m okay with the current console and limitations, so thank you Google ;)

Once again, we’ve been told about Eclipse, the Google Plugin for Eclipse and how easy it is to deploy an application to AppEngine (Java, *sigh*). Patrick then gave us a short intro to the Google Apps Marketplace and took questions, which were mostly about feeds, comissions, etc.

VC Investment for Your Company

This was quite interesting with Ilya Ponomarev (@iponomarev) and Don Dodge (@dondodge) on stage. They discussed doing business in Russia, startups, business incubators and Skolkovo Innovation Center. Surprisingly Ilya mentioned Timothy Post (@timothypost) and Runet Labs as the ones launching Techstars in Russia.

Ilya and Don took many questions, most of which were either boring, or from journalists ;) At the end of the session, Don disappeared and Ilya gathered a group outside in the main hall and spent another hour answering questions (some of which were silly again). But yeah, it’s good to hear that stuff like this is at least being discussed. A good quote from Don about looking for VC investment in your startup:

One person can have a delusion. But if three people are crazy, okay, we’ll give you the money!

Don Dodge at Google Developer Day Moscow 2010

Well, that’s quite it! At the end of all the sessions we got Google Developer Day and Google Chrome t-shirts, beer and wine, again, this seems to be a tradition. I’ve gathered a Twitter list of people I met, heard about and seen at Google Developer Day, you can find it right over here: @kovshenin/gddru – feel free to poke me if there’s somebody I forgot to add to that list.

Anyways, it’s been a great day, hope to be there next year!