Happy New Year! the 2016 edition

2016 begins today, so it’s a great time to make sure your browser is up to date, update all of your passwords, setup two factor authentication wherever you can, start a blog with WordPress (and Jetpack) or WordPress.com, or start posting again if you already have one!

MacManX.com had a great 2015, and I’m sure you’ll have a great 2016!

WordPress 4.4 Released

2016ipadWordPress 4.4 has been released! This release introduces the new default theme Twenty Sixteen, responsive images, post embeds, the basic infrastructure for the upcoming REST API, and more.

466 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Scott Taylor. That’s a new record for WordPress, almost doubling the last release! At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.4 has been out for only 30 minutes, and has already been downloaded 58,192 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.

If you run into any problems, stop by the known issues first, and please let us know if it’s not covered there!

WordPress 4.3 Released

si600WordPress 4.3 has been released! This release introduces menu and site icon controls to the customizer, formatting shortcuts to the editor, stronger password enforcement, and more.

246 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Konstantin Obenland. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.3 has been out for a bit over 2 hours and has already been downloaded 373,399 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.

Automattic: The WooThemes Awakens

woomatticThere has been an acquisition. Have you felt it? Automattic has acquired WooThemes, a leading developer of WordPress eCommerce solutions. The acquisition was announced just a few minutes ago, and I’m very excited that we’ll have a hand in continuing to grow this powerhouse of eCommerce tools alongside 55 new colleagues.

If you’re already a user of WooThemes products, don’t worry, it’s going to be business as usual. We’re joining forces to continue building this great eCommerce solution so we can grow WordPress to power more than just 23% of the web.

We’re moving onwards and upwards, and if you want to be a part of that journey too, we’re always hiring.

Star Wars: A Better Order

sworderIf you’re a Star Wars fan like me, or even just coming to know Star Wars, you’re probably planning to watch the films now that they’re all available digitally. After being inspired by The Machete Order, we decided to try our own take on the reorganized saga: I, IV, V, II, III, and VI. Except for my usual annoyance with Episode II, the new order was a much better experience than watching all six straight through, and here are some thoughts on why.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way, Star Wars is the story of Anakin Skywalker, not Luke Skywalker. Luke is in only three films, Anakin is in all six, it’s that simple. Now, what does that have to do with the new order? Everything. (spoilers below)

When watched in sequence from I to VI, the conclusion of Episode III completely robs the cliffhanger reveal in Episode V of all its meaning and shock value. “No, I am your father!” Vader, I know, we confirmed that two whole films ago. “No, that’s not true, that’s impossible!” Oh, it’s true, I saw it with my own eyes. “Search your feelings,” no need for that, I just re-watched the 1:16:40 mark of Episode III, it’s indeed true. This is what bothers me the most about the prequels, even more than Jar Jar Binks. “I am your father,” was one of the most profound reveals in cinema, but when watched with the prequels first, it’s not shocking at all, it’s expected.

When watched in my new preferred order (I, IV, V, II, III, VI), the “I am your father” reveal is still first and still shocking. We begin with Episode I to learn about the naive young Anakin Skywalker, who is swept up into something he can never hope to understand (Your complaints about this episode aside, you can’t have a meaningful story about Anakin Skywalker’s fall and redemption without the chapter on this naive young boy). We flash forward 32 years for Episode IV to see that things aren’t so well for the galaxy, and that we have a new hero in Luke Skywalker, who is apparently Anakin’s son. We continue the story in Episode V where we learn that Darth Vader is indeed Anakin, and we’re just as devastated as Luke. We flash back 25 years for Episodes II and III where we learn exactly how that naive young boy fell so far and became the terrifying Darth Vader. Finally, we return to the “present” timeline in Episode VI, to finish the saga and witness Anakin’s redemption.

The order restores the impact of the “I am your father” reveal, forms a much more solid narrative around Anakin Skywalker by introducing both distinct phases of his life in the first two films, and also takes advantage of the larger than usual time spans between Episodes I and II and Episodes V and VI to support the flash forward/back structure.

Above all, Star Wars is a great saga that you deserve to enjoy however you want to. I personally prefer this new order, but you don’t have to take my word for it.

Edit: Here’s a revised order including the new films: I, Rogue One, IV, V, II, III, VI, VII, and VIII.

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Earth Day, 2015

Earth Day is upon us, as it is every April 22nd, which means it’s a great time to at least start saving the environment for free and to donate to The Conservation Fund, my favorite environmental charity for many important reasons.

Want to do more? Is the environment more important to you than a few clicks and a few dollars? Then start doing more at home with this list of fifty ways to help the planet.

Now, get out of your home or office and spend some time outdoors! Or, if it’s not too hospitable outside today, at least watch this video.

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Star Wars Anime

Have you ever wanted to see a Star Wars anime? We’ll probably never see an official one now that Disney owns the franchise, but this short film fills the void quite well, and all I want now is more. For more info, see the coverage at The Verge and the short film’s companion PDF.

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?

MacManX.com had a great 2014, and I’m sure you’ll have a great 2015!

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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.

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RIP, Robin Williams

Robin Williams, renowned actor, comedian, and so much more, passed away yesterday. I can’t think of a single actor that I have seen in more films throughout my life, from his hilarious and whimsical performance as the Genie in Aladdin to his brilliant and terrifying performance as Sy in One Hour Photo. To suggest that he did not have an impact on my life through this wealth of artistic output would be ridiculous, and for that, I will indeed miss him.

You can see two collections of some of Robin Williams’s best scenes rounded up at The Verge and Quartz. Below is his pivotal “What will your verse be?” scene from Dead Poets Society, and in honor of his life and legacy, I ask, what will your verse be?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq_XBP3NrBo