Category Archives: Asides

Interesting links.

WordCamp USThere were amazing applications for teams and cities to host the inaugural WordCamp US, a concept originally floated at the State of the Word last year. It was very hard to make a choice, but can now announce that the birthplace of the United States, Philadelphia, will host the first WCUS on December 4th–6th. They will also host it in 2016, but no dates have been chosen yet.

Having it the same place two years in a row allows us to keep logistics a set variable and really focus on the rest of the event in the second year. I also want to use it to facilitate experience transfer: We’ll choose the 2017 + 2018 host city in between the first and second event, so that team can volunteer on the ground the second year Philadelphia hosts it to learn from their experience. Hat tip: Cool graphic by Andrew Bergeron.

There is No Such Thing as a Split License

There’s a term that pops in the WordPress community, “split license”, that we should put to rest. It’s sloppy at best, misleading at worst.

First, some background. WordPress is under a license called the GPL, which basically says you can do whatever you like with the software, but if you distribute changes or create derivative works they also need to be under the GPL. Think of it like a Creative Commons Sharealike license.

In the past people weren’t sure if themes for WordPress were derivative works and needed to be GPL. In 2009 we got an outside legal opinion that cleared up the matter saying that the PHP in themes definitely had to be GPL, and for CSS and images it was optional. Basically everyone in the WP community went fully GPL, sometimes called 100% GPL, for all the files required to run their theme (PHP, JS, CSS, artwork). The predicted theme apocalypse and death of WordPress didn’t happen and in fact both theme shops and WordPress flourished, and best of all users had all the same freedoms from their themes as they got from WordPress. It was controversial at the time, but I think history has reflected well on the approach the WP community took.

As I said the PHP has to be GPL, the other stuff can be something else — many people started to use the term “split license” or “split GPL” to describe this. The problem, especially with the latter, is it leaves out the most important information. “Split GPL” doesn’t say whether the theme is violating WordPress’ license or not (maybe it’s proprietary PHP and GPL CSS), and more importantly doesn’t say what the non-GPL stuff is, which is the part you need to worry about! It also makes it sound like a split license is a thing, when all it really means is there are different licenses for different parts of the work. If something has a “split license” you have no idea what restrictions or freedoms it provides.

If someone decides to have different licenses for different parts of a theme they ship in one package, it’s probably worth taking a few extra words to spell out what the rights and restrictions are, like “GPL PHP, and a restrictive proprietary license for all other elements included with the theme.” This is really important because if you’re a smart WordPress consumer you should avoid proprietary software, there is always a GPL alternative that gives you the rights and freedoms you deserve, and probably is from a nicer person who is more in line with the philosophy of the rest of WordPress. Vote with your pocketbook, buy GPL software!


At an airport in Frankfurt airport security asked famous jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman to prove it was a real instrument.

Hilarious! I can’t find any recordings of Joshua playing that classic bebop song, but here’s a Charlie Parker recording:

and now you, who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; […]

A few thousand years ago Plato predicted how Google would make us less able to remember things.

Hat tip: Chris Rudzki.

I haven’t been following the Hacking Team story too closely. If you’re the same, here’s a quick catch-up: an Italian company that sold hacking tools, often to questionable governments, had all of their internal company data including emails, source code, everything released. Engadget has the best summary I’ve seen so far of how they got hacked, which was apparently done by a hacker vigilante who did something similar to another organization called the Gamma Group. The Intercept also has a good look at some of the more egregious behavior. Bruce Schneier calls this new trend Organizational Doxxing and considers its ramifications.