I’ve decided to kick off the New Year with optimizing my browser homepage. You see, this website used to be my personal blog until I pretty much gave up blogging since launching ServerPress.com back in October of 2011. The irony is that the company is centered around developing atop blogging software. I have to admit that I’ve never been an adamant personal blogger. I think that’s in part because I’m a fairly private person. One of my first jobs at the start of the Internet explosion back in ’95 was for a heavy patent holding digital rights company with visionary privacy concerns. It shaped my opinion of sharing my personal data on the web. I certainly don’t have a shortage of topics to share but I often find that I self-censore even on the most causal of Facebook groups; gaining friends, but not necessarily wanting to share family details with them. Fiddling with Facebook privacy controls is always a “terms of service” nightmare and I was thrilled when Google Plus came out with it’s concept of circles. I mistook them for “Circles of Trust” and found out quickly that it never satisfied the introvert in me.
Then there was the demise of iGoogle in 2013 and I desperately needed a fix for my browser’s default homepage. After trying a dozen replacements and spending hours tweaking their settings, I still ended up with a browser start page chopped full of advertising and who-knows-what other kind of exorbitant user tracking. The URL address bar at the top of the browser already doubles as a search bar so all I really missed was seeing an updated feed of my favorite publications. The side bar in Windows and Notification Center on Macintosh are a poor substitute. So being a self-hosted WordPress guru, it only seemed fitting to create a simple WordPress based solution to replace my iGoogle homepage. I just chose a clean theme that supported at least three columns of widgets, and gathered all my favorite website addresses. You can see mine in the footer if you scroll to the bottom of my pages. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to build your own:
- WordPress compatible hosting provider to run WordPress (i.e. Hostgator, etc.)
- 3 or 4 column theme for widgets (i.e. Simple Melody or Hannari)
- The RSS-In-Page WordPress plugin
Clearly WordPress has come a long way and it’s not just for blogging. Solutions for just about everything have been popping up partly because WordPress is social by nature; having roots in blogging and a strong connection to social coding has made it ideal for professional and budding developers alike. Which takes me back to blogging; I really should practice writing and contribute more. As for my anxiety for privacy, the “Circle of Trust” or just bombarding the wrong group with my political views (it is an election year after all)? WordPress has a solution for that too; membership plugins. Now there is no excuse for safely sharing family updates with family members or recipes and garage projects with new and old friends. A properly configured membership plugin doesn’t have to be about soliciting signups for subscription content. In fact, I’ll be using it for just the opposite; being in my personal address book probably means you already have global access (you’ll still need to verify via your email address or perhaps soon via a trusted social sign-in plugin for Facebook, Twitter, etc). I won’t be asking anyone for information I don’t already have. I’m going to reboot my homepage for 2016 and bring blogging back into the mix. Wish me luck and if it works out I’ll be posting the privacy controls/membership recipe here too.