Aaron Van Noy talks about speed testing your site at tools.pingdom.com

Website Design with WordPress meetup on July 19th in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

WordPress Group in Cedar Rapids

WordPress conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa: June 2016

Members of the WordPress meetup group in Iowa

WordPress Child Theme Development using Integrated Development Environments (IDE) and Source Control Repository.

Group at Corridor Digital Marketing meetup: Increase Revenue with Social Media/Selling

Corridor Digital Marketing. Social Selling: Use Social Media to Increase Your Revenue Potential

April 2016 WordPress meetup group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Gravity Forms course at Cedar Rapids WordPress meetup group

I co-organize the Creative Corridor (Cedar Rapids & Iowa City) WordPress Meetup group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At this month’s event on Apr 19, 2016, I was able to get (kinda guilt tripped) Andrew Miller the owner of https://www.84em.com/ into giving us a detailed overview of what the plugin Gravity Forms can do for a WordPress admins. Tonight he covered topics like credit card integration, adding posts automatically to your website, integrating into the mySQL database, collecting emails/names/etc and many other powerful features that lots of people didn’t even know could be achieved via this plugin. The developer version expands this plugin’s abilities with multiple add ons plus advanced email routing features. One of Andrew’s most favorite add ons is Zapier (see video at 16:00). Zapier currently offers integration of 400+ apps. Integrate/connect apps you use on the web and easily move data between them is now easy with Zapier & Gravity Forms!  A full list of additional Gravity Forms add ons are listed here.










Other topics discussed at WP event

BuiltWith logo I also shared with the group a website called BuiltWith technology lookup site. It’s design to find out what websites are built with! Use it to find what technologies are used in the creating of any website. The accuracy is quite astonishing!

WordPress Tavern logo

WP-Tavern logo with no textIf you aren’t a member of WordPress Tavern and the multiple discussions that are taking place about new features added to WordPress you are doing something wrong. Simply join using your own WordPress.com credentials. They will keep you abreast of new APIs, WordPress releases, WordCamps and much more!

Freemius logo Monetization Platform for WordPress Plugin Developers

We talked about Freemius for the WordPress plugin developers. They have created a way to start making revenues from your plugin in minutes, about ten to be exact. I’m not sure this is all that great for the WordPress ecosystem with a potential new flood of “freemium” plugins flooding the market. Most of the website designers I know tend to buy the full license upfront, but we all know how well the rental model has treated Adobe.

WP-Filebase Download ManagerAlso I recently was working on The Bluebird Dinner’s website, see my blog post about it, and I saw the WP-filebase plugin being used. It is shaping up to be quite powerful but a little bit on the convoluted side of things when you are new to it. It’s about the same as items in WooCommerce’s plugin where you create one item and select it using the WP-Filebase plugin to show it in a specified area. Over all (if there is continued support) it’s quite a viable plugin!

Let's Encrypt logoLet’s Encrypt is a new SSL Certificate Authority: It’s free, automated, and open. And it’s now out of beta as of April 12th, 2016. Special note:  wordpress.com and all of the subdomains that people are blogging on are now all under this Let’s Encrypt umbrella. So website security just got a bit better for the 22.6 billion pages that wordpress.com hosts for bloggers.

Monster Insights logoNo WP Admins, you were NOT hacked! Yes, your Yoast Google Analytics plugins just changed hands to Monster Insights (see Twitter). This plugin is being developed and managed by Syed Balkhi & Chris Christoff. They admit they didn’t give enough warning to Admins before the drastic change with the addition of the bright green monster in the admin panel. Since then the icon in the WordPress Admin panel has changed and now just reads “Insights” with the monster to the left of it. Read the full write up on WP-Tavern logo with no text.

Information about REST API in Des Moines, Iowa

The WordPress Des Moines meetup group is having a talk about REST APIs, how they work and how you can use them with your website. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, Jordan Julson, Arthur M. Smith (Art) and Andy Brudtkuhl will break down how to get started at our next WPDSM Meeting on April 25th. BBQ and beverages provided. Meeting taking place at Gravitate (206 6th Avenue, Des Moines, IA). I’m hoping to get several people together from our Creative Corridor WordPress Meetup group to carpool to this event! 

WordPress Meetup Des Moines, Iowa

WordPress Meetup Des Moines, Iowa

The after party at Tanners Bar and Grill (CR,IA)

Participants of the CRIneta Cedar Rapids .NET User Group

CRIneta: Cedar Rapids .NET User Group meeting April 4, 2016

CRIneta - Cedar Rapids .NET User Group logoI went to the April CRIneta meeting at the Catalyst Cafe at the Geonetric Building in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At this CRIneta .NET meeting we watched the pre-recorded video of Scott Hanselman and Scott Hunter speak at the Microsoft Build 2016 event that took place in San Francisco, CA, from March 30 – April 1, 2016. Then we discussed the major changes to .NET!

The Scott Hanselman and Scott Hunter talk we watched:

Discussion Section of the night:

The power is now all in the .NET Standard Library, as they put it “one library to rule them all.” The reason is writing PCL (portable class library) has a hard reference to each base library. So now with the .NET Standard Library, this one BCL (base class library) works across : .NET framework (with WPF, Windows Forms & ASP.NET), .NET CORE (UWF & ASP.NET Core) and XAMARIN (with iOS, OS X and Android). This offers Microsoft much lower maintenance with no zero conflicts!

My personal thoughts: I’m not big into .NET as others in attendance. I do believe that it’s a smart move to have the .NET Standard Library but one that should have taken place YEARS ago! I feel like Microsoft is trying to not alienate any more programmers with this move of still supporting multiple programming languages. I’m still not sure why C#(began in 2000), Visual Basic (began in 1991) and F# (began in 2005) will continue to be supported. Apple introduced Swift and gave programmers a clear cut answer of what is to come. The C#, VB & F# programmers still have options… but programming overhead by Microsoft doesn’t make sense to me, at least not in the long run!

Group at A11y UX event in Cedar Rapids

Web Development Skills Help Disabled Children: Iowa Web Accessibility, UX & Inclusive Design

Iowa Web Accessibility UX and Inclusive Design LOGO (#A11y)This month’s A11y UX Inclusive Design meeting was held at the Geonetric building in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Our guest presenter was a graduate student from The University of Iowa, Rochelle Honey-Arcement. She ended up creating her own major Health and Disability Advocate to truly suit her needs. She presented tonight for our Web Dev Group (see the video below). Her thesis is about immigrant parents with children who have disabilities and the perception of the quality of service that their children are receiving. She has found that support systems are much needed for this demographic. She would like to see greater online support along with real world support systems as well.

Second Half of tonight’s presentation by Andrea Skeries:

Andrea Skeries's 2016 CSUN Conference exhibit hall experience

Andrea Skeries’s 2016 CSUN Conference exhibit hall experience

Our fearless UX leader Andrea Skeries talks about her experience at this year’s CSUN Conference. Lots of hot new toys and gadgets for both visually and hearing impaired. My favorite was the smart watch for the blind with an active Braille readout known as DOT. It pairs with a smartphone and gives you information at your fingertips, literally. I can see this to be quite a viable product for anyone who is blind! Next month’s meeting we will be delving into how to make our websites friendly for all of this new tech gadgetry hitting the stores.

From left to right: Aaron Frerichs, Mike Irvine, Seth Adam, Aaron Van Noy, Nate Houstman, Donna Conn and Donna's daughter Kathline Kay Conn at Oyama Sushi & Steakhouse.

Cedar Rapids WordPress meetup group at Oyama Sushi & Steakhouse

Our meetup group (Cedar Rapids WordPress Meetup Group) usually takes place at the Linn Area Community Credit Union/Business Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but maybe I was supposed to reserve the room? Don White I let you down. My first co-hosting of the wordpress meetup didn’t go as well as I had planned. But like I was trained to do, adapt, overcome, and conquer. And that is exactly what we did. So we all headed to Oyama Sushi & Steakhouse in Cedar Rapids and had the meeting there.

We ended up working on http://simplestrokesmassage.com owned by one of our unexpected guests tonight, Donna Conn, L.M.T. She is a new business owner and needed help with her WordPress website. Let’s just say I think her head was swimming with the pages of notes and information that were jotted down: SEO tips, Plugins to download, Widget help in the footer and Google Analytics was installed by me on that site. Plus much much more!

We always have a blast at these meetups no matter if we have a set plan or we just wing it (like we ended up doing tonight). I originally planned that we would go over the REST API and even posted a video of the REST api & a webinar on angular js andwp REST api on the meetup page. Often when someone comes in needing help we all help out and give them a crash course in what we know.

Side note: If you are looking for a WordPress Meetup in Des Moines, Iowa area be sure to check out the that slack channel. I’m also a member of that group but not a Co-Organizer of that group.

People at Startup Weekend In Cedar Rapids, Iowa

My Experience at Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids March 4th 2016 #swcr16

StartUp Weekend Cedar Rapids logoThis will be my second Startup Weekend that I’ve attended, but my first Startup Weekend in Cedar Rapids (my very first was Startup Weekend Iowa City). I’ve decided to pitch my app idea this time. My mentor David Oliver told me to pitch my idea at the Iowa City startup, but I was worried that someone would take my idea. However, I’ve been so busy and have never had the chance to get working on this project. So this time I’ll be taking his advice and giving my pitch (a total of 1 min) to say in a concise manner what my idea is.

My 1 minute “pitch fire” speech (60 seconds goes FAST):

So what is my pitch? Well, here it is from beginning to end.

Hello my name is Aaron Van Noy. I’m a full-time website designer and marketer with a passion for pinball and tech. My idea is to create an app that plays nicely with preexisting social media sites using their APIs. The photo based app is called Crowd Zoo (subject to pivot at any time). This app will allow people to check-in to an event like a wedding, a sporting stadium or even an event like this, Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids. When groups use our Crowd Zoo app, small photos will automatically stream from right to left on everyone’s device. Simply flick up to auto post on the user’s predetermined favorite social media. Someone is always taking a picture from a better angle than I and I’d love to post it on my stream. All photos in this app will be geotagged with precise location of the picture. Stage 2: The event coordinator can prompt all users to participate in a “group photo” in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 CLICK! Images can then be stitched together on the server to create a matrix style fly around effect or a crowd walk through. These photos may give enough information to even create a 3D world walk through at a later time. So who is with me to start this Crowd Trainer App (Looks like I’ve already pivoted)?!

Last minute change. Told to SCRAP above & focus on the solution:

I was advised by multiple people from the Startup Iowa’s Slack Channel (Becky Smith, Trevor Carlson, Riley Eynon-Lynch, Mark Hadley, Tim McDougall and others) to NOT focus on the solution, but focus on the problem. Because people understand it from that perspective better. People have the same issues that they can fully grasp and relate to! So here I am hours away from my first pitch… and I’m changing how I’m going to pitch it. I honestly don’t think I would have enough time to pitch everything about anyway.

New redesigned “pitch fire” speech will be passionate and mostly off the cuff:

So I will be focusing on the problem and who is feeling the pain of the problem. Not the solution.

  • Problem of retweeting/reposting live event pictures cross platform
  • I know that person over there got a better picture from that angle than I.
  • Scour social media to find the image
  • Live icon preview of all pictures
  • Simple flick uploading
  • Use geotagged images for Matrix affect.
  • Wedding walk though
  • Get everyone to take a picture at the same time
People at Startup Weekend In Cedar Rapids, Iowa

People at Startup Weekend In Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Start with a game called “Half Baked”:

Start of Half Baked game at Cedar Rapids Startup Weekend

Start of Half Baked game at Cedar Rapids Startup Weekend

Grab random words during Half Baked game in Cedar Rapids

Grab random words during Half Baked game in Cedar Rapids

During the game Half Baked

During the game Half Baked

A game called Half Baked with the words Tasty Hippo

A game called Half Baked with the words Tasty Hippo

Video of the accepted pitches at Startup Weekend:

Team Collab Music:

I joined Collab Music and quickly ran into problems with the basic idea. The word Pivot come out of my mouth Friday night. It was a dominant word as we discovered more about our potential clients… Musicians.

Customer discovery and interviews:

Customer discovery and interviews at Guitar Center

Customer discovery and interviews at Guitar Center

Closeup of walls of guitars of Guitar Center in Cedar Rapids, IA

Closeup of walls of guitars of Guitar Center in Cedar Rapids, IA

Watch it live on Twitter! Use the hashtag #swcr16:

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