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WPTavern: Amazon Introduces Blog Blueprint to Deliver WordPress Posts as Audio on Alexa

WPTavern: Amazon Introduces Blog Blueprint to Deliver WordPress Posts as Audio on Alexa

Last week Amazon launched Alexa Skill Blueprints that allow anyone to publish new skills to the Alexa Skills Store without having to have any coding knowledge. The blueprints are templates that provide a starting point where users can create a new skill by filling in the blanks and then publish it to the store for US customers.

This first round of blueprints is targeted at content creators, bloggers, and organizations. It includes blueprints for personal trainers, flashcards, facts, quizzes, and a fable blueprint for storytellers. There are also new blueprints available called University and Spiritual Talks for live and recorded audio content from institutions and organizations.

Amazon has also created a blueprint specifically for WordPress blogs. It works in connection with the Amazon AI Plugin for WordPress to read blogs aloud on Alexa-enabled devices. Setup is not trivial but it is much easier for users than having to create their own blueprints from scratch.

How to Get Alexa to Read Your WordPress Blog Aloud

According to Amazon’s announcement, the new WordPress blog blueprint converts posts into speech and creates an audio RSS feed:

The Amazon AI Plugin for WordPress is a sample application that enables WordPress bloggers to easily convert their blog posts into speech by leveraging Text-to-Speech (TTS) and translation tools provided by Amazon. Bloggers can generate an audio feed (RSS feed) for text-based blog content, and simply add this to the new Blog blueprint to create and publish their own Alexa skill.

If you want to get this working for your WordPress blog, the first step is to install the official Amazon AI Plugin for WordPress. Follow the instructions on the Blog skill blueprint page. The plugin will generate an RSS feed that you will enter into your skill content section. It also needs to be configured with the AWS access key, secret key, and AWS region. There are options available for specifying a post type, enable logging, audio player settings, the ability to exclude certain tags from generating audio, translations, audio excerpts, and more.

After setting up the plugin, you can complete the blueprint by customizing the welcome messages, naming the skill, and publishing it to the Alexa Skills Store, as demonstrated in the video below. Anyone with an Alexa-enabled device can then have Alexa read your RSS feed to them.

Amazon also introduced a new blueprint for creating flash briefing skills, which include short-form content in the form of an audio feed. This format lends itself well to local weather reports, news and sports updates, and other information that can be quickly communicated via an audio update. This may be another option that WordPress news site owners may want to consider. The flash briefing skills page has instructions for creating one and there is also an unofficial WordPress plugin called WP Alexa Flash Briefing that has its own Alexa skill already set up.

If you want to go one step further and manage your WordPress blog with Alexa, the Blog Helper skill will enable you to log new drafts and moderate comments. It’s available on GitHub.


Last week Amazon launched Alexa Skill Blueprints that allow anyone to publish new skills to the Alexa Skills Store without having to have any coding knowledge. The blueprints are templates that provide a starting point where users can create a new skill by filling in the blanks and then publish it to the store for US customers. This first round of blueprints is targeted at content creators, bloggers, and organizations. It includes blueprints for personal trainers, flashcards, facts, quizzes, and a fable blueprint for storytellers. There are also new blueprints available called University and Spiritual Talks for live and recorded audio content from institutions and organizations. Amazon has also created a blueprint specifically for WordPress blogs. It works in connection with the Amazon AI Plugin for WordPress to read blogs aloud on Alexa-enabled devices. Setup is not trivial but it is much easier for users than having to create their own blueprints from scratch. How to Get Alexa to Read Your WordPress Blog Aloud According to Amazon’s announcement, the new WordPress blog blueprint converts posts into speech and creates an audio RSS feed: The Amazon AI Plugin for WordPress is a sample application that enables WordPress bloggers to easily convert…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: Matt Mullenweg Publishes TED Talk on the Future of Work, Prepares to Launch New Distributed.blog Website

WPTavern: Matt Mullenweg Publishes TED Talk on the Future of Work, Prepares to Launch New Distributed.blog Website

Matt Mullenweg is teasing out a new website at distributed.blog with the tagline “The future of work is here.” It’s not clear yet whether subscribers to the mystery blog will be on board for blog posts, a new podcast, or a book promotion, but the site has piqued curiosity.

Mullenweg recently recorded a talk for TED’s new video series, The Way We Work. Over the past 14 years since founding Automattic, he has become an expert and an industry advocate for distributed work, having grown the company to more than 800 employees. In the video he said he prefers the term “distributed” over “remote,” as remote implies there are some people who are central and some who are not.

&version;

Why Working from Home Is Better for Business

This company is so dedicated to remote working that they literally don’t have an office. Here’s why a “distributed” workforce is better for business — and employees:

Posted by The Way We Work on Monday, January 14, 2019

When I first started working as a developer from home in 2008, many of my friends and family didn’t believe I had “a real job.” People would often say things like, “Remind me what it is that you do at home all day…?” Sometimes I would even receive honest questions from incredulous friends, asking, “Why don’t you go find a real job?” The culture of remote and distributed work is still not widely understood 11 years later but it is slowly improving.

“I think a distributed work force is the most effective way to build a company,” Mullenweg said. “The key is that you have to approach it consciously. I believe that talent and intelligence are equally distributed throughout the world but opportunity is not.” Large tech companies, along with more traditional style companies, still struggle to get on board with this way of working.

Mullenweg’s TED talk explains a few advantages of distributed work. He also anticipates responses from managers in traditional work environments, who might say, “Sure, that may work for all you fancy tech folks but not for us.” Mullenweg outlines a few tips for getting started, such as documenting everything, increasing communication online, and experimenting with collaboration tools.

Automattic was the first WordPress company to operate a completely distributed workforce. Many other product companies, hosts, and agencies have followed suit. Remote and distributed teams have now become so common in the WordPress ecosystem that many who have experienced this way of working can never return to their old way of life.


Matt Mullenweg is teasing out a new website at distributed.blog with the tagline “The future of work is here.” It’s not clear yet whether subscribers to the mystery blog will be on board for blog posts, a new podcast, or a book promotion, but the site has piqued curiosity. This should be fun… (take 2 with working form) https://t.co/RpAfb8jvg5 — Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) February 14, 2019 Mullenweg recently recorded a talk for TED’s new video series, The Way We Work. Over the past 14 years since founding Automattic, he has become an expert and an industry advocate for distributed work, having grown the company to more than 800 employees. In the video he said he prefers the term “distributed” over “remote,” as remote implies there are some people who are central and some who are not. &version; Why Working from Home Is Better for Business This company is so dedicated to remote working that they literally don’t have an office. Here’s why a “distributed” workforce is better for business — and employees: Posted by The Way We Work on Monday, January 14, 2019 When I first started working as a developer from home in 2008, many of my friends and…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: WPBrigade Patches Critical Vulnerability in Simple Social Buttons Plugin

WPTavern: WPBrigade Patches Critical Vulnerability in Simple Social Buttons Plugin

WPBrigade, the developers behind the Simple Social Buttons plugin, have patched a critical privilege escalation vulnerability. The security issue was discovered by the team at WebARX. Developer and researcher Luka Šikić summarized the vulnerability in a post published this week:

Improper application design flow, chained with lack of permission check resulted in privilege escalation and unauthorized actions in WordPress installation allowing non-admin users, even subscriber user type to modify WordPress installation options from the wp_options table.

Simple Social Buttons is a plugin that makes it easy for users to add social buttons to posts, pages, archives, and, popups, fly-ins, and custom post types. More than 40,000 users have the free version of the plugin active on their sites. A commercial version is also available through the developer’s website.

The plugin’s authors released version 2.0.22 the day after WebARX disclosed the vulnerability, but some site owners and agencies may not have heard about the security issue. Not everyone checks for updates automatically or even once per month. WPBrigade has not yet alerted users to the vulnerability on their blog or Twitter account. The only mention is in the plugin’s changelog, which states: “Enhancement: Fix security issue.” Users who see an update notice in their dashboards are advised to update immediately.


WPBrigade, the developers behind the Simple Social Buttons plugin, have patched a critical privilege escalation vulnerability. The security issue was discovered by the team at WebARX. Developer and researcher Luka Šikić summarized the vulnerability in a post published this week: Improper application design flow, chained with lack of permission check resulted in privilege escalation and unauthorized actions in WordPress installation allowing non-admin users, even subscriber user type to modify WordPress installation options from the wp_options table. Simple Social Buttons is a plugin that makes it easy for users to add social buttons to posts, pages, archives, and, popups, fly-ins, and custom post types. More than 40,000 users have the free version of the plugin active on their sites. A commercial version is also available through the developer’s website. The plugin’s authors released version 2.0.22 the day after WebARX disclosed the vulnerability, but some site owners and agencies may not have heard about the security issue. Not everyone checks for updates automatically or even once per month. WPBrigade has not yet alerted users to the vulnerability on their blog or Twitter account. The only mention is in the plugin’s changelog, which states: “Enhancement: Fix security issue.” Users who see an update…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: Ultimate Blocks Plugin Adds Schema-Enabled Review Block

WPTavern: Ultimate Blocks Plugin Adds Schema-Enabled Review Block

Ultimate Blocks, one of the many Gutenberg block collections that have sprouted up, launched before WordPress 5.0 with eight blocks. The collection has since doubled in size, adding features like accordions, social sharing buttons, tabbed content, a progress bar, and star-ratings. Many block collections are loosely organized around serving a specific user demographic. This one is aimed at bloggers and marketers.

Ultimate Blocks’ latest release includes Reviews, a new Gutenberg block that is unique to this plugin. It allows users to easily add rows of review criteria and will automatically calculate the cumulative star rating. Users can also edit the title of the review, author name, review summary, and call-to-action button.

One of the most interesting features of the plugin is that it is schema-enabled, which means that the reviews use a standard schema for structured data that can be easily read by applications like Google, Microsoft, Pinterest, and others. For example, when Google finds a schema-enabled review, it can display it as a rich review snippet with stars and other summary info. These snippets may appear in search results or in Google Knowledge Cards.

It’s important to clarify that this block is for the site owner to write their own reviews. It’s not a block that adds a frontend form for visitors to leave reviews. It’s more useful for site owners who want a nice way to display their own reviews for books, movies, restaurants, or any other type of information.

After testing the plugin, I was impressed by how the star rating calculations all work live inside Gutenberg while setting up the block. The back and frontend styles also match fairly well. The Reviews block is generic enough to be used for virtually any type of review a user wants to display. It would even more useful if the author expanded it to support frontend review submissions, which would allow users to create their own community review sites.


Ultimate Blocks, one of the many Gutenberg block collections that have sprouted up, launched before WordPress 5.0 with eight blocks. The collection has since doubled in size, adding features like accordions, social sharing buttons, tabbed content, a progress bar, and star-ratings. Many block collections are loosely organized around serving a specific user demographic. This one is aimed at bloggers and marketers. Ultimate Blocks’ latest release includes Reviews, a new Gutenberg block that is unique to this plugin. It allows users to easily add rows of review criteria and will automatically calculate the cumulative star rating. Users can also edit the title of the review, author name, review summary, and call-to-action button. One of the most interesting features of the plugin is that it is schema-enabled, which means that the reviews use a standard schema for structured data that can be easily read by applications like Google, Microsoft, Pinterest, and others. For example, when Google finds a schema-enabled review, it can display it as a rich review snippet with stars and other summary info. These snippets may appear in search results or in Google Knowledge Cards. It’s important to clarify that this block is for the site owner to write their own…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: Speaker Applications Now Open for 2nd Annual JavaScript for WordPress Conference, July 11-13, 2019

WPTavern: Speaker Applications Now Open for 2nd Annual JavaScript for WordPress Conference, July 11-13, 2019

Last year Zac Gordon organized a free virtual JavaScript for WordPress conference and the event drew 1,200 live attendees. With attendance numbers higher than most WordPress conferences and hundreds more views on the videos published afterwards, Gordon considered it a success and committed to organize another event this year.

The next edition is set for July 11-13, 2019, and has been expanded to feature three free days of talks, workshops, and contribution focused on JavaScript and WordPress. The goal for the event’s contributor day is to improve Gutenberg documentation. Applications for speakers and sponsors are now open and attendees can reserve their seats by signing up on the event’s website.

“The conference aims to cover intermediate and advanced topics (not so much beginner),” Gordon said. “Most of the talks are about latest trends of how JS and WP can be used together. Accessibility is really important, as is diversity in speakers. I’d love to have more folks share about cool things they do at work.” He said topics like headless WP, Gatsby, React, state management, Gutenberg, and blockchain are a few examples that seem to be popular in this space right now. Testing and internationalization are two topics that still need speakers.

Gordon teaches both beginner and more advanced courses on JavaScript and Gutenberg development, giving him a unique window into the landscape of JavaScript education. After Gutenberg made its way into core, Gordon said folks “finally have a tangible reason to learn JavaScript.”

“Also, I think folks are finding it easier than first thought,” he said. “A lot of folks have taken my Gutenberg Development Course with zero React or tooling experience and that served as a good introduction to it all.

“At first Matt said, ‘Learn JavaScript Deeply.’ But at the last WCUS he said, ‘Learn Blocks Deeply.’ Luckily, I think it is becoming easier to learn what we need to know with JS and React and tools to get by.”


Last year Zac Gordon organized a free virtual JavaScript for WordPress conference and the event drew 1,200 live attendees. With attendance numbers higher than most WordPress conferences and hundreds more views on the videos published afterwards, Gordon considered it a success and committed to organize another event this year. The next edition is set for July 11-13, 2019, and has been expanded to feature three free days of talks, workshops, and contribution focused on JavaScript and WordPress. The goal for the event’s contributor day is to improve Gutenberg documentation. Applications for speakers and sponsors are now open and attendees can reserve their seats by signing up on the event’s website. “The conference aims to cover intermediate and advanced topics (not so much beginner),” Gordon said. “Most of the talks are about latest trends of how JS and WP can be used together. Accessibility is really important, as is diversity in speakers. I’d love to have more folks share about cool things they do at work.” He said topics like headless WP, Gatsby, React, state management, Gutenberg, and blockchain are a few examples that seem to be popular in this space right now. Testing and internationalization are two topics that still…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: WordCamp Nordic to Host Workshop for Kids on March 7

WPTavern: WordCamp Nordic to Host Workshop for Kids on March 7
photo credit: Ivan Gatić

WordCamp Nordic, a new regional WordCamp taking place in Helsinki, is just 23 days away. Organizers have published a list of 26 speakers and their sessions this week. Topics include content design, entrepreneurship, security, leveraging AMP, WooCommerce, internationalization, Gutenberg, and general WordPress development.

The event’s organizers are also embracing a growing trend of hosting a kids’ camp alongside the WordCamp to introduce younger attendees to the software. WordCamp Nordic is planning a free WordPress workshop for 20 kids aged 8-14 that will be held Thursday, March 7, from 13:00 to 17:00. It will run at the same time and in the same venue as the WordCamp’s Contributor Day. Attendees will learn how to set up their own WordPress websites, choose a theme, and learn how to add text, galleries, videos, and other elements to the their sites.

WordPress veteran Petya Raykovska is leading the kids’ workshop. She has led similar workshops all over the world, first in Bangkok 2017, followed by events in Belgrade, Sofia, Varna, and other locations. Demand for the kids’ workshops has grown in the past two years and Raykovska started receiving requests from other European WordCamp organizers to lead events at their camps. As a result, she has created an organizer kit for others wanting to host their own WordPress workshops for kids.

WordPress can be a gateway to the open web for the next generation

Workshops for kids are starting to become more common at WordCamps, as there is a growing demographic of WordPress users with children and technology is more accessible than ever before. WordCamp Miami and WordCamp Phoenix were some of the first camps to offer kids’ workshops and since then St. Louis, Cape Town, and many other WordPress communities have hosted their own.

These workshops are important events that will foster the next generation of bloggers, business owners, and contributors to WordPress. Facebook (and soon to be Snapchat) is widely regarded as an “app for old people” and its users under the age of 24 are rapidly declining. WordPress is in a better position, because an influx of older users doesn’t affect the overall experience of the app the same way. However, if WordPress usage isn’t growing among the school age population, it is in danger of suffering the same fate as Facebook – becoming an application that will live and die with its current generation of users. Onboarding new young WordPressers doesn’t just help to ensure the software’s future but it also gives kids a tool that can help them find their place on the open web, a home for their content that will outlast all the ephemeral social networking apps.


photo credit: Ivan Gatić WordCamp Nordic, a new regional WordCamp taking place in Helsinki, is just 23 days away. Organizers have published a list of 26 speakers and their sessions this week. Topics include content design, entrepreneurship, security, leveraging AMP, WooCommerce, internationalization, Gutenberg, and general WordPress development. The event’s organizers are also embracing a growing trend of hosting a kids’ camp alongside the WordCamp to introduce younger attendees to the software. WordCamp Nordic is planning a free WordPress workshop for 20 kids aged 8-14 that will be held Thursday, March 7, from 13:00 to 17:00. It will run at the same time and in the same venue as the WordCamp’s Contributor Day. Attendees will learn how to set up their own WordPress websites, choose a theme, and learn how to add text, galleries, videos, and other elements to the their sites. WordPress veteran Petya Raykovska is leading the kids’ workshop. She has led similar workshops all over the world, first in Bangkok 2017, followed by events in Belgrade, Sofia, Varna, and other locations. Demand for the kids’ workshops has grown in the past two years and Raykovska started receiving requests from other European WordCamp organizers to lead events at their…

Source: WordPress

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