iOS site update tools

WordPress is very capable out of the box, but anyone who runs a WordPress site is going to succumb to plugins, sooner or later.  There’re just too many, that do too much cool stuff, to stay vanilla for long.  And although you can set up WordPress to download, install, and update these for you at the click of a button, changing the settings necessary to make that tool work also makes your website less secure.  So one of the first things I needed to do from iOS was be able to update WordPress “the hard way.”

And because it’s basically the future, the hard way isn’t actually very hard.  I’m using Jetpack, the multitool plugin that allows you to use options previously available only to users on your homegrown WordPress site.

The first tool we’ll use came with you iOS device: use Safari to search for and navigate to the Jetpack plugin page. Click download.

The only other tool we need for this process is the editor Textastic, available on the App Store for iPad and iPhone.  Textastic has integrated sftp and zip functions, which allows us to get into the Jetpack plugin file and stick it where we want it.  When you click download to get the Jetpack zip file, iOS will ask you what to do with it, we want to Send it to Textastic.  When Textastic gets ahold of it, it will ask you if you want to unzip the archive, just tap “yes.”

At this point, we have access to the unpacked file directory in Textastic’s Files list.  Tap the Jetpack.X.X.X directory to reveal that it contains a directory named simply Jetpack.  It is this directory that we will move to the website.  Tap the World icon below the list to connect to your website.  Connect to your website using sftp and save the connection for ease of use, next time.  Tap the wp-content directory on you website to open it, and then tap the plugins directory to open it.  You should now have a two pane view, on the left the new Jetpack directory on your iOS device, on the right is the contents of the plugins directory on your website.  If you are updating Jetpack, there will be a jetpack directory in this right pane, this directory will not exist if you are installing the plugin for the first time.  Either way, tap the circle to the left of the jetpack directory in the left pane to select it, then tap the Upload button at the bottom of the left pane to send it to the website.  If you are updating, iOS will prompt you to confirm that you want to overwrite your old files.

Now, admittedly, the file transfer built into Textastic is not the speediest sftp implementation I’ve ever seen.  But the process is so simple, particularly if you have multiple sites you are updating (just a couple taps to go from one sftp connection to another in Textastic), that I tend to do it this way even if I’m at home with access to a full-on computer.

Textastic is not free… and it’s not 99 cents, either.  I think this is okay.  The developer has continued to make improvements and updates to his product, and the thing works well for what I need it to do.  And updating WordPress plugins is not even what the app was designed to do… it’s a very capable programmer’s text editor for iOS.  It’s worth the purchase for anyone serious about doing epublishing from the iOS platform.

Pricing App Store Apps

Michael Jurewitz takes a five-part look at pricing for the App Store… a process that you need to begin before you ever start coding your app.  Begin here.

The Death of Reader Driven Reading

Google Reader is going away.

I personally hate this. I’ve used Google Reader since it was still a part of Google Labs. I survived the integration with Google Plus. Google Reader has been my main interface to the web, and therefore my main interface to news and information about my various vocations, hobbies and pastimes, for at least four years.

But my hate for this decision goes deeper than the forcible change to my standard and comfortable workflow of processing web-based knowledge. Google Reader was not a product, like for instance their search product, that already existed and Google just found a way to do it better… this was a product that effectively did not exist outside of Google. Sure, there are alternative newsreaders to use, but all the most popular and most useful were those things because they synced with your Google Reader account. The newsreader ecosystem has been totally reliant on the Google Reader backbone.

So, there’s a certain amount of Google’s “it wasn’t being used much and we want to concentrate on other products” that at first blush doesn’t sit well, upon further consideration seems to be outright deceptive, and after investigating and digesting very much appears to put the lie to the whole “don’t be evil” thing, for those who hadn’t classified that as bullshit some time ago.

Just consider Google’s abandonment of Google Reader alongside the attempted buildup of Google Plus. With Google Reader, Google controlled the underlying structure of an entire class of web application, whose participants willingly acceded to Google’s dominance. With Google Plus, Google entered a crowded battlefield that already had a mature, entrenched market leader, who remains largely unassailable despite Google’s concerted efforts. So what’s the difference in these two markets… why does Google decide to forfeit their acknowledged and accepted monopoly while continuing to sacrifice capital on the market where they are considered, at best, the geeky cousin sitting off by themselves in the corner?

Sadly, the answer appears to come down to the ease with which advertising can be directed by and injected through the use of Google Plus. Google Plus gives Google the ability to force me to look at things I don’t care about seeing, while Google Reader only showed me exactly what I asked to see.

And, because Google’s business is, at the end of the day, advertising, I suppose I have no right to be surprised or disappointed when they kill the project that shows me what I want while force-feeding me the product that shows me what they want.

So, yada yada yada, yet another nerd is outraged by Google proving to be just another business concerned with its customers’ wallets to the exclusion of its customers’ needs and wants. And besides, there has been enough uproar (and enough business opportunity represented by that uproar) that the Google newsreader backbone will be adequately replaced, and sooner rather than later. What’s with the sustained crankiness?

There’s two parts to that… at one level I’m cynically afraid that Google’s following Facebook’s well-worn path is a symbol of a public that doesn’t actually know or care what it wants, and is happy to swallow whatever the largest companies in the world want to feed them. But that way lies madness.

Mostly, I’m just terribly saddened by Google’s evolution. There was a time, not so long ago in percentage of my life but still eons ago in terms of the evolution of the web, that I was so enamored of Google and their apparent difference from “regular” businesses that my entire internet life was Googlefied. You got ahold of me through my Google Mail address, I presented my business through a Google Sites web presence and my opinions through a Google Blogger weblog. I shared files via Google Docs and shared discussions in Google Groups. And I consumed my web with the utensil of Google Reader.

Nearly all of that has gone its way. WordPress has proven a more complete and usable solution than both Google Sites and Google Blogger, Dropbox has superseded Google Docs… and nobody much bothers with discussion groups, anymore, so I haven’t felt compelled to even replace Google Groups. I still use Google Mail, although typically via POP from iOS’ Mail app, and now Google Reader is being yanked from under me, for reasons that are worse than mercenary, they are explicitly anti-user.

Google went Disney on me… and in a micro timeframe. Once a company that went far beyond what it had to do, that did things other companies wouldn’t in ways other companies couldn’t, thereby delighting a substantial and growing group of vocally and financially supportive customers, reduced to short-term, wallet-lining, customer-antagonistic decisions justified with the capitalized defense “It’s Business.”

It’s disheartening to be let down in that way by a company you believed was doing things their own way, the revolutionary and customer-experience driven way, suddenly reverting to following the crowd and scrounging for easier money. Hell, with the way things are going, you almost expect Apple to hire the guy that used to run Adobe Flash.


The Death of Self-Publishing

One of my first plans to take over the publishing world was to have my own comic book company. I had a few characters, and I made a bunch of house ads for my non-existent line. I was well ahead of my time, working on my corporate branding far ahead of perfecting the product. I remember hitting the jackpot finding a set of Sharpies with eight colors… and I still own several of the twist-style Scriptos I used in the seventies.

I’m up to Sharpie sets with twenty-seven different colors, but I admit to rarely using them in my current publishing setup. There’s an app for that, now. My family and I are using iOS devices more and more as our primary internet I/O point.

fireapplered is about supporting your internet presence with iOS tools.

While I’m embracing the new, I want to make sure I’m keeping the best of the old. The best part of the old Jewell Comics Group (aside from it being named before I developed affected capitalization) was that it was mine and I started something, right then and there. So my focus will be on finding easy to use tools that keep content in your control on your terms.

fireapplered is about structuring your Internet presence for access and control.

So self-publishing as an alternative to tradition publishing methods is dead… long live self-publishing as the collection and maintenance of the increasingly digital footprints of our lives.