Google measuring sites’ “mobile friendliness”

As of April 21, 2015 Google is using the degree to which a web site changes form based on the device being used to display it. “Mobile search” (from a phone or similar device) will get lower ratings if it is not mobile friendly; responsive. Google has a web page that will tell you whether a site meets their new criteria or not. Of the WordPress sites I’ve worked on recently, only two passed this test on first try – one done using and another done for the NEK Collaborative for which I used the Suffusion theme for the first time. Evidently it has responsiveness baked in well enough to pass Google’s tests.

To get this site ( to pass Google’s test, I added the WPtouch Mobile Plugin. It takes a site not ready for mobile and uses a separate theme when it is displayed on a small screen. I used the default “Bauhaus” theme. Other themes are available with paid versions of WPtouch.

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Free WordPress Resources

The site Free Resources to Help You Build Your Next WordPress Site has links to lots of excellent resources for those building WordPress-based sites. The site on which this appears, SixRevisions, has lots more WordPress-oriented posts as well as many other posts relevant to web site design.

Brian Krogsgard has a site that is focused primarily on issues related to WordPress. One post of particular interest is on Go-to WordPress Resources.

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More WordPress

First, a survey at W3Techs of Content Management System usage – about 2/3 of sites use none. Of the others, WordPress is the leader by far, followed by Joomla, Drupal, and dozens of others.

On Kyle Jones’ Corkboard web site there’s a near hour-long video of an interview of Matt Mullenweg and Dries Buytaert (founders of WordPress and Drupal, respectively). They’re quite open about what they see as the strengths and weaknesses of the two platforms.

The Poynter Institute has posts comparing WordPress and Drupal. One titled “5 questions to ask when deciding whether to use Drupal or WordPress” discussing how two newspapers came to choose two different Content Management Systems. The comments have much additional information, and bring Joomla into the discussion. Another, titled “9 reasons to switch from Drupal to WordPress” discusses the reason the writer chose WordPress over Drupal.


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I’m writing this post from my new Google Nexus Android phone. I’m using the WordPress app for Android.

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Viable System Model

In composing this post on Stafford Beer (author of the model in the post title) I’ve been dipping into some of his books I’ve only skimmed in the past. Thought I’d pull a quote. The most recent book in my library is Beyond Dispute: The Invention of Team Syntegrity. Copyright 1994. From the back of the Title page:

Dedicated to

Qui prius respondet quam audiat stultum se esse demonstrat et confusione dignum
Proverbiorum Liben 18:13 (Vulgate)

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is a folly and shame unto him.
Book of Proverbs 18:13 (King James)

 Stafford Beer’s realms of expertise included cybernetics, systems, operations research, yoga (he taught (or teaches – I conjecture he is no longer with us) individual pupils), …

I own half a dozen of Stafford Beer’s books. I’ve read 3 or 4 of them at least once, some of them multiple times.The ones I’ve read in full deal with his Viable System model. One feature of it that I have not found emphasized in any other system model:

It is a model in which systems at one level (self-maintaining within their environment) become, in the aggregate, the first-level components in a larger system, which also self-maintains within its larger environment.

The strength of this model (as I see it) is in the nature of the communication between adjacent system-levels. Each level of “management” serves as a filter for the information coming from larger systems. A healthy system has the “requisite variety” of ways to handle what its environment might send its way. (“Requisite variety” is a concept from cybernetics / H. Ross Ashby – that is important in Stafford Beer’s model.)

To make this concrete, I will discuss it in terms of how Vermont could design a hierarchy of systems to connect its educational institutions.

Local school boards set the direction for local schools. It is part of a larger system (in Vermont, a Supervisory Union – what others call a district).  There are over 50 Supervisory Districts (smaller) or Unions (larger). The largest SU’s have over a dozen schools. Some Districts have only one or two schools.

Teachers, schools, districts, even states are given “things to do” from higher level systems. Rules and mandates from above; constructed with little thought towards (in creation) nor observation towards their effectiveness (in execution); blind to the effects on those who must live with seemingly arbitrary and sometimes irrelevant rules, and their short and long term consequences in the daily lives of those affected – directly or at some distance.

If one were to attempt a re-design starting from a Viable System framework, it might be possible to cut through some of the Gordian knot of managing budgets, schools, teachers, classrooms, etc.

Echoing what I said in other words above, one of the roles of the larger whole (the system-of-systems) is to filter from the component (lower level) systems repercussions from goings-on at higher levels. I see that not happening in the way things work now. And the component systems work most smoothly when given the autonomy to deal with issues best dealt with locally. That’s not always the case in our classrooms nor in the schools of which they’re a part, nor in the larger entities administering the individual schools.




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Building with WordPress

I’ve run into multiple sites related to WordPress. Some of the more interesting I’ve encountered recently are:

WP Candy – an active site with WordPress developers and users chiming in. It has news, opinion, tutorials, reviews, a forum and much more.

WP Questions – ask for short-term expert help with your WordPress questions

On Smashing Apps (free and unusual online resources for designers and developers), two posts: 21 Mindblowing Free Themes and 13 Plugins to speed up your Blog.

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Review of Online Website Builders

Found an interesting web post titled 7 Best (Yet Free) Online Website Builders. Doesn’t even mention Haven’t had a chance yet to look them over.

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File System structures

This post deals with the fundamentals of how computer operating systems organize and reference files. The unix-derived world and the Gates-derived world handle things differently.

With Windows, one can create shortcuts to a file in folders other than the file’s original location. The shortcuts are ephemeral. If the original file moves, or is deleted, the shortcut leads nowhere.

With unix, one can create one or more links to a file in new locations. The new links have equal weight to the original. If the original link to a file is deleted, the remaining links still references the content of the file directly.

I prefer the latter. It allows for more versatile ways for organizing disparate information. I haven’t found a way to have such available while using Windows. Maybe “there’s an app” that’ll do that.

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Process Enneagram ™

Process Enneagram” is the phrase Dick Knowles uses to describe his approach towards applying the tools of Systematics to guiding an organization. The organization being guided might be an individual or a corporation. I consider the Process Ennagram a powerful tool that takes much study to use effectively.

The enneagram has a varied history. Its diagram has nine points around a circle (0 and 9 at the top point, points 1 to 8 clockwise around the circle. The connections among the points form a triangle and hexad (six components). The hexad has a path formed by the repeating fraction for 1/7 in base ten – 0.142857142857… as well as the path formed by following the circle clockwise (1-2-4-5-7-8, skipping the 3-6-9 triangle).

My understanding of its application is thus – working backward from what’s popular now to earlier understandings. The vast majority of the hundreds of books that have been published on the enneagram describe a typology of human personalities. The ideas have roots in the work of Oscar Ichazo. People who studied at his Arica Institute brought their understandings to new communities. Some in the Jesuit community have embraced this typology. I’ve found value in finding my place in that typology, and how the typology describes directions of growth or decay in the evolution of the type with which I identify.

There’s another take – a typology of body types – that has similar but different connections to the enneagram’s mathematical roots. I’ve not studied this in depth. I have a friend who lived for decades in a community that used this typology on a regular basis. She finds the typology useful in understanding how the body types encountered in self and others affect connections of the individual to the world.

What seems to me the deepest roots come to the West via George Ivanovich (G. I.) Gurdjieff. One of his students – John Godolphin ( J. G.) Bennett – built on these ideas in what he termed Systematics. Tony (Anthony George Edward) Blake has devoted his life to keeping the flame of a certain approach to concept-development and self-development alive. He has edited much of Bennett’s work, and written many books, including The Intelligent Enneagram.

Systematics has been applied in corporate America through the efforts of Charles Krone. I know of this through my father’s career in Organizational Development within DuPont. Dick Knowles once managed a DuPont plant in West Virginia. He describes his time there – and what he learned through his work there – in his book The Leadership Dance: Pathways to Extraordinary Organizational Effectiveness. Observing the differences in how people performed during crises versus in every day life led to new understandings. He developed a particular way of putting the “pieces” of Sytematics into a new variant of the enneagram that he has termed the Process Enneagram. I consider it a tool that, if used with study and humility, could foster seismic shifts in the way organizations run.

I thirst to work with transformational tools – such as this one – within organizations. I know not how to engage [the small, local organizations with which I’d be most interested in working] to consider the use of tools as complex and foreign as the Process Enneagram in steering an organization. If any reader is interested in trying/using/discussing this tool or others to re-conceive an organization, I’d be thrilled to talk with you.

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I found an article titled SEO Basics: The Principles of Search Engine Optimization via a page on the site . I don’t quite understand what they’re selling, or its possible value to me – so for now, I’m endorsing on the site only this one article. I’m wary of the rest for the moment.

I found the article an excellent starting point – a guide through deeper material. It points to the four primary raters of web sites and their guidelines, and suggests not trying to “game the system” but to pay attention to those guidelines. For those who’ve digested that material, there are links to eight sites with deeper material on SEO.

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