Thinking: Our Blog
The WordPress Zone Manager plugin—alias The Zoninator—helps site admins curate content by allowing them to create content “zones” anywhere on their website. Content is then assigned to designated zones and ordered based on criteria configured on the backend. Oomph’s Vu Huynh has been working to optimize the power of Zone Manager for our clients, and we sat down with him to talk about what’s possible with The Zoninator.
What are some of the key benefits of the Zone Manager plugin?
Zone Manager provides an easy-to-use administrator interface to queue posts in any order without any programming knowledge. This is particularly useful when a certain post order cannot be easily made through a query. Zones can be quickly added, edited and deleted through the admin interface.
How have you been using Zone Manager?
I’ve been using Zone Manager as a means to “feature” posts on a homepage and a homepage-placed sidebar. Administrators can have a specific post remain on the homepage even if the post would normally be archived because of its publish date. Zones are sometimes used as an alternative to stickies when you want to have a featured post remain on the homepage despite its place in the chronological order.
What else is possible with Zone Manager?
Any content type can be placed into zones, not just posts and pages. So anything that queues content into a list can use Zoninator as an interface to do so, such as a custom gallery.
It’s been six weeks since the Oomph Boston team moved to Custom House Block, the granite and brick Greek revival style building located at the far-reaching edge of Long Wharf. In that time, we’ve witnessed incredible vibrancy happening all around us.
We’ve become familiar with the sound of jets zipping by overhead as they depart Boston Logan and disappear into the stratosphere. We’ve been able to set our clocks by the arrivals and departures of the passenger ferries, too, and the quick, steady movements of their crews. Walking to and from the wharf we stroll alongside Bostonians and commuters in black woolen coats and caps as well as tourists capturing photos on their iPhones. And, we’ve gotten to know the family of ducks that float on the ocean top—whether it’s calm or angry—happy to make the harbor their home. We’re by no means the first to witness life on the wharf, however.
In the years before Custom House Block (1848) was built, collections on imports and exports passing through the Port of Boston took place inside the Boston Custom House on State Street at the base of Long Wharf. For a short time, Nathaniel Hawthorne was employed by the Custom House, appointed as a “weigher” by the port’s collector, George Bancroft. The year was 1839—about ten years before “The Scarlet Letter” was published—and as luck would have it, Hawthorne wrote about his experiences in a personal notebook that has since been made public. It’s been said he accepted the job because he had hoped his experiences there would enhance his writing. Today, we are sharing some of his reflections on the wharf. Life has changed quite a bit here since then, but reading through Hawthorne’s descriptions makes us proud to be part of the storied history of Long Wharf.
Here are some excerpts as published in The Atlantic Monthly in September 1999:
An old man fishing on Long Wharf with a pole three or four feet long—just long enough to clear the edge of the wharf. Patched clothes, old, black coat—does not look as if he fished for what he might catch, but as a pastime, yet quite poor and needy looking. Fishing all the afternoon, and takes nothing but a plaice or two, which get quite quite sun-dried. Sometimes he hauls up his line, with as much briskness as he can, and finds a sculpin on the hook. The boys come around him, and eye his motions, and make pitying or impertinent remarks at his ill-luck–the-old man answers not, but fishes on imperturbably.
Objects on a wharf–a huge pile of cotton bales, from a New Orleans ship, twenty or thirty feet high, as high as a house. Barrels of molasses, in regular ranges; casks of linseed oil. Iron in bars landing from a vessel, and the weigher’s scales standing conveniently. To stand on the elevated deck or rail of a ship, and look up the wharf, you see the whole space of it thronged with trucks and carts, removing the cargoes of vessels, or taking commodities to and from stores.
A young sailor, with an anchor handsomely traced on the back of his hand–a foul anchor–and perhaps other naval insignia on his wrists and breast. He wears a sky-blue silk short jacket, with velvet collar–a bosom-pin, etc.
Near the head of Long Wharf there is an old sloop, which has been converted into a store for the sale of wooden ware, made at Hingham. It is afloat, and is sometimes moored close to the wharf;–or, when another vessel wishes to take its place, midway in the dock. It has been there many years. The storekeeper lives and sleeps on board.
Long flat-boats, taking in salt to carry it up the Merrimack canal, to Concord, in New Hampshire. Contrast and similarities between a stout, likely country fellow, aboard one of these, to whom the scenes of a sea-port are entirely new, but who is brisk, ready, and shrewd in his own way, and the mate of a ship, who has sailed to every port. They talk together, and take to each other.
Excerpts from: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “One of Hawthorne’s Unprinted Note-Books,” Atlantic Monthly, 77:459, 1-5, Jan. 1896. 23 Sep.1999. http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/pfanbam96.html
Corey Taylor, our newest software engineer, was 18 years old when he first began building websites. Like a fine wine, his skill and passion for web development has only gotten better over time.
Corey studied computer science at The University of Massachusetts Boston and went on to work as a tech support associate for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard. It wasn’t long before Corey became a systems administrator and PHP and SharePoint applications programmer there. Most recently, Corey worked as a PHP & Java software engineer at PlumChoice, Inc., developing their custom SugarCRM back-end, along with some Java-based partner portal websites.
Now Corey will bring his well-rounded blend of experience and zeal to Oomph where he says he is looking forward to collaborating with our “creative, dynamic, and talented” web delivery team to build strong, secure and sophisticated sites for our clients.
“I enjoy seeing how quickly the web is evolving,” Corey says. “It’s a field of work that never gets boring. Now that I’ll have to the opportunity to build sites on great open source CMS platforms like WordPress and Drupal, I’ll get to learn even more about the latest and greatest web technologies.”
In addition to being a web enthusiast, Corey is also a wine enthusiast.
“Lately I’m enjoying learning about (and tasting) different types of wines. When I find one I really like, I take a picture of the label and share it with my friends on Twitter, so they can try it out too. It’s also so I can remember which bottles I liked best for future shopping reference,” he says.
Today, we’re sharing Corey’s photo with our friends. Please join us as we toast Corey’s new role at Oomph Boston!
Our new interns—Nick, Amira and Lizzy—have been all over the map. It’s true. These three up-and-comers are each as well traveled as they are talented. From Scotland to Australia, they have collectively toured the globe (when not busy studying). Come to think of it, travel is a significant personal interest that translates well at Oomph because we, too, thrive on exploration and discovery.
Here’s a snapshot of our three spring interns.
When he’s not in the office or the classroom, Nick can be found outdoors enjoying his favorite hobbies like fishing and hiking. He’s working this semester with our Providence team, gaining intensive experience in coding and development. Nick’s area of study is graphic design and digital media at Rhode Island’s Johnson & Wales University, with a concentration in web technologies. At the Box Office, he hopes to acquire real world skills and learn more about maximizing the user experience. Nick’s other real world experiences include traveling to England, Wales, Mexico, Canada and Scotland.
Social Media and Marketing
Amira is currently finishing her master’s in business administration at Johnson & Wales University. Her concentration is marketing and in her role at Oomph she will be working directly on our social media campaigns, branding initiatives and event-planning. The Morocco native has traveled all over Europe and is pictured here in Paris, where she completed an internship while enjoying the spirit of the city. We think she has effectively branded herself and we look forward to her contribution at Oomph’s Boston office.
Lizzy is a seasoned designer with a creative mind and a demonstrated knowledge of emerging trends in design and design technology. She will be working on our internal graphic projects as well as some client-facing design proposals. A graduate of Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, Lizzy says she does her best work when faced with challenge. She enjoys the discovery. A look at her passport proves that whether she is in Dubai, Orvieto (or Oomph Boston), Lizzy is always ready for an adventure.
Welcome, Nick, Amira and Lizzy!
This past Saturday the Oomph development team joined forces with other local WordPress addicts to take part in Boston’s first official Hack Day.
Fueled by caffeine, a desire to learn and an enthusiasm for our favorite Open Source software, we settled in at the Seaport’s Bocoup Loft primed and ready to attack the keyboards. Mark Jaquith (pictured on the screen at left) and Andrew Nacin, lead developers of the WordPress web publishing platform, kicked off the group effort by video.
Over the course of eight hours, Jim Reevior, John Patz, Alex Vallejo, Ian Del Giudice, Vu Huynh and I worked on Trac tickets, bugs and features in preparation for the upcoming WordPress 3.6 release.
The event was a great success and serves to reinforce Boston WordPress as one of the best WP communities in the world. A special thank you to all the organizers, sponsors and contributors for a well-executed event. We look forward to seeing you next time.
Latitude Insights might be located down under, but when it comes to consumer research they’re located at the top of their field. As an early embracer of technology, Latitude has been able to leverage new tools to collect richer consumer insights and engage their study participants in fresh ways. Oomph has been working with the Australian company for four years, supporting them in their ongoing mission to offer clients the latest in qualitative and quantitative research technology.
In 2009, the Latitude team asked Oomph to create a multi-site framework that would give them more than just the capacity to host a large number of unique micro-sites, but also the power to independently add customized community sites on a regular basis and in a timely manner.
“This was an exciting time for Latitude, as we were preparing to launch a large-scale technical project of huge importance to the business,” says Marcail Arbuthnot, Research Manager at Latitude. “We were seeking a trusted partner that would work closely with us on our immediate project needs, as well as into the future.”
She says Oomph was the right decision.
“The Drupal-based community platform has enjoyed widespread take-up throughout our business, has provided Latitude with a competitive edge within the Market Research Industry and is delivering a healthy return on investment,” says Arbuthnot.
Since then, Latitude has continued their relationship with Oomph, choosing us as their go-to agency when it comes to maintaining and improving their community of sites. Most recently, we added private sharing tools to the framework that are designed to act like familiar social media sharing tools, but that are housed completely within Latitude’s framework. Using these tools, research participants, who are the end users, can comment or upload images or video to a community site. These tools are also easily managed by a site moderator so that he or she can, for example, hide comments from a participant until the participant has commented on the topic. We also built a broadcast tool allowing a moderator to “publish” a specific thread or invite users to “subscribe” to a specific thread.
Features like these help Latitude stay ahead of a changing industry. We continue to feel honored to have been selected as a partner in their mission. For more details about the Latitude Insights project, visit our Portfolio.
Interactive One and Oomph teamed up on iOne’s enterprise migration to WordPress.com VIP, a decision that has already seen a great return for iOne and its audience. Today on VIP’s site, read about the story as told by our friend Grant Cerny, Senior Vice President Products, Operations and iOne Studios. Here, he talks about why he chose WordPress.com VIP and the impact of a responsive design, and about the positive changes these decisions have made for their 70+ network of sites, particularly in the area of mobile user engagement.
“We needed agility, we needed stability, and we needed security. We’ve got all three of those now with WordPress.com VIP, so now we can focus on the business part of our business instead of the infrastructure.”
– Grant Cerny, Senior Vice President Products, Operations and iOne Studios (Courtesy WordPress.com VIP)
Read more about Oomph’s involvement in our iOne Case Study.