The Revisionaries of Wikipedia

wikiquestionWikipedia has been with us for fourteen years, and I’m willing to bet that everyone has made use of it at least once. Perhaps some of you have even contributed content or editorial help to Wikipedia. It is, after all, the encyclopedia editable by everyone, right?

Over the past eleven years, a group of core editors has been working behind the scenes, choosing which edits live or die while handing out lifetime bans for edits they consider to be not factual (regardless of evidence). Recently, they choose to ban editors defending articles from vandalism, rather than ban the vandals themselves. Is this a reaction to the impossibility of policing an encyclopedia which is editable by the entire world? Of course, but then why advertise it as such?

The whole situation reminds me of The Revisionaries, a documentary detailing how a small group with clear biases has commanding control over exactly what and how history is portrayed in our textbooks. If you have not seen it yet, I recommend it, as it may also speak towards a grim future for Wikipedia, given recent events.

An encyclopedia editable by the entire world needs to be policed somehow, but when deciding the knowledge which is passed down, how do we trust the right choices are being made? After all, they even discard corrections from scholars accompanied by published evidence. Does this mean that established yet incorrect “facts” may never be corrected in the eyes of Wikipedia? Perhaps the problem is that too many people think of facts as a matter of opinion, not as a result of evidence.

Where do we go from here? I believe The Internet Archive is the answer. The Internet Archive does not strive to make history editable by the masses, nor does it make rulings on fact vs. fiction. The Internet Archive simply exists to preserve as much history as it can for as long as it can. If you see a book written by one man preserved in The Internet Archive, you can trust that it is the opinion of that one man. If the evidence in that book holds up, you known that opinion is indeed a fact. How much of a Wikipedia article is fact? We may never know. Everyone has their hands in Wikipedia, with one possibly biased group holding the power of final judgement.

I guess I see it as a choice between what’s more important for the future of history itself. Should it be the ability to preserve history forever, or the ability to edit history whenever we want to?

Fix for Stuck Health App (iOS 8)

applehealth400I honestly don’t know how it happened, but one day I opened Apple’s Health app on my iPhone and it wouldn’t load anything. Graphs were empty, attempts to show specific data points just hung forever, attempts to clear all data points under specific categories only appeared to work until the app was relaunched, and even deleting the Jawbone Up app left its data in place. I tried to backup and restore my phone several times, until I finally stumbled on the solution.

The solution for me was to backup the phone with a not-encrypted backup via iTunes (iCloud backups must be encrypted), then restore from that. Probably for privacy/security reasons, the unencrypted backup does not save Health information (along with stored passwords, and I think a few other things). This means that I was able to restore my iPhone without any Health data and start fresh. Ever since, the Health app has been working properly.

Your mileage may very, but best of luck to you in curing your stuck Health app woes!


WordPress Logo MacBook Pro

mbptopWorking at Automattic comes with a lot of benefits, but at the moment, none are cooler than the one pictured above. After four years of employment, Automattic employees are allowed to have their next computer customized by ColorWare.

This particular model is a mostly black retina MacBook Pro with a glowing WordPress logo in the center, and it’s ready for four more years with me at Automattic.


Happy New Year! the 2015 edition

2015 is upon us, so it’s once again time for those resolutions that you waited until today to start (and you should really ask yourself why you waited too)! If you don’t have anything planned for this year, why not make sure your browser is up to date, update all of your passwords, setup two factor authenticationstart a blog, or start posting again if you already have one? had a great 2014, and I’m sure you’ll have a great 2015! in 2014

annualreport2014 was another big year for, and as usual, the folks at Jetpack prepared an awesome recap of my year for me! There’s some fun numbers and charts in there to round-up the year, as well as this gem:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2014 was a great year, so here’s hoping for an even greater 2015!

Brew Workflows for Alfred

Do you use Brew? Are you tired of entering four separate commands just to make sure everything is up to date and working properly before you launch your favorite formulas? Do you use Alfred and its indispensable and inexpensive Powerpack? Then I have two Alfred Workflows just for you!

Brew Launch (download) allows you to simply enter “bl {formula}” (like “bl inkscape”) to quickly execute Brew’s update command (to see if there are any new or updated packages), upgrade command (to upgrade any installed packages), cleanup command (to remove old packages), and doctor command (to confirm that Brew is operating properly). Finally, the entered formula is launched, and all of that is done in simply one action. No more need to enter five separate commands just to launch the latest version of your favorite formula!

Don’t want to launch a formula today, but still want to make sure everything is up to date? Brew Update (download) allows you to simply enter “bu” to quickly execute Brew’s update command, upgrade command, cleanup command, and doctor command all in one action.

Please feel free to enjoy, use wisely, file bug reports on GitHub, and/or modify these as needed. I only ask that if you improve these yourself, you at least tell me about it, so I can use yours instead. 😉

Update: Want to do even more than just updates with Brew and Alfred? Check out the Brew Workflows at Packal.

WordPress 4.1 Released

wp41dfwWordPress 4.1 has been released! This release brings with it a new distraction-free writing mode, the new Twenty Fifteen theme, a new simple language chooser in the general settings, the ability to log out of your account everywhere you may have left it logged in, plugin recommendations based on the plugins you’re already using, and more!

283 volunteers contributed to this release, led by John Blackbourn. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.1 has been out for less than an hour and has already been downloaded 37,298 times!

All users can now safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.

Contributing to WordPress

wordpress-logo-stacked-rgbMatt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress, recently mentioned that it would be awesome if everyone profiting from WordPress could give back 5% of their time to the free and open source blogging platform. There are many ways to contribute to WordPress, and not all of them require coding skills. Sure, the WordPress community is always looking for more developers to bring their ideas to WordPress, WordPress 4.0 was brought to us by 275 volunteers after all, but the community is also looking for more folks to help in support and documentation too.

The documentation is editable by anyone with an account, so please feel free to edit or add information wherever you feel it’s necessary. There’s even a handbook if you’re just getting started. The support forums are also open to anyone with an account. Topics without replies are easy to find, and no matter your experience level, you’ll find that there’s always someone you can help. Ten years ago, I got involved in the WordPress Support Forums while waiting for a reply to my own support thread. I figured that I might as well see if I could help out in the Installation section since I had just successfully installed WordPress a few hours earlier, and after helping a few people, I was hooked.

We recently completed the first phase of a Support Handbook for anyone eager to dive into WordPress support. Within the handbook, you’ll find some recommendations on how to support WordPress users, ways to troubleshoot common problems, philosophical bits, code examples, and even some replies to frequent issues which you are more than welcome to copy and paste as your own. Though the content is mostly complete, the Support Handbook is still a work in progress and we have some great things planned for it in the future. If you see any problems there, please do let us know in the comments on the specific page with the problem.

WordPress is open source, which means that it’s grown by the strength of its community, not the power and wealth of a single company. If you rely on WordPress, you can give back by joining the community. Whether it’s in a development role or helping out in support and documentation, every contribution will help WordPress grow into a better platform for us all.


Net Neutrality

The internet today is a battleground between the internet service providers who want to charge more for faster access to certain sites and the lawmakers who want to make sure everyone has equal access. I could spend several paragraphs describing to you how your internet service provider (who already charges you for fast internet access) wants to charge more for guaranteed fast access to certain sites, like YouTube and Wikipedia, or how lawmakers against Net Neutrality are being financially backed by the internet service providers themselves, but no explanation will even come close to this from John Oliver.

If you watch any video today, make this 13-minute video it, and then join the battle for Net Neutrality.