Ah, Oregon:

But assembling the video was about as tricky an undertaking as as one can imagine. First, Smith had to sell his colleagues on the joke–which wasn’t as hard as he initially feared. Most of his fellow lawmakers–at the time, the legislature was split evenly, with 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans–knew of Astley’s 1987 hit and understood the basic concept of a “Rick Roll,” he insists. “I pitched the idea to a few members, and they liked it,” he recalls.

But Smith–who developed the concept with his wife, a few colleagues and several friends, one of whom is video editor–had a few rules about the joke. The lines had to be delivered on the House floor during a lawmaker’s regular floor speech–which is, under Oregon law, videotaped for public records purposes. And the lines of the lyrics had to be spread out, so as not to tip off the state House clerk or other observers to what lawmakers were up to.

If the lawmaker who had this idea has a blog, there had better be an awesome post about it.

Who wants to try this with the U.S. House? Any takers?

Read the original article on Yahoo News here.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up the Pat Benatar pack for Rock Band, mostly out of curiosity. Last night I played “Love Is a Battlefield” for the first time and found it to be a lot more fun than I was expecting. I suppose I hadn’t listened to what the guitar was doing in the background before.

I did 95% on sightread, which was good enough for 1,496th on the leaderboard.

It’s not the best Benatar on Rock Band, though; that honor goes to “Heartbreaker.”

My Rock Band activity page is here, by the way. I really wish Harmonix provided RSS feeds or another way to ingest this information elsewhere. I turned on the Facebook integration today, but I prefer to bring this stuff into my own site where I can control it.

This poster is making the rounds on Reddit today:

As you might have guessed, it’s not actually from the Smithsonian (though it should be), but checking the Reddit thread, the original source is a student art project by designer Jenny Burrows. You can find a blog post about it, including two more posters in the same style, here. Prints are available from DeviantArt, and I sincerely hope some teachers buy them because they are awesome.

To the best of my recollection, I have been blogging in some form or another since some time in 1999. When I started, I was manually updating a site using a very old version of Dreamweaver. Later, I burned through a series of “platforms,” if you could call them that at the time. I started by rolling my own using some rudimentary ASP knowledge. I built one by harvesting posts and replies from an installation of Snitz Forums. I used LiveJournal for a while. I played with WordPress in its original release and then decided to go Movable Type instead—then ended up going back to WordPress when MT changed their licensing.

I’ve been on WordPress ever since, except for a three-month stint with Drupal that is best left in the past.

In that time, I’ve blogged, made themes, blogged some more, learned how to make basic plugins, and watched WordPress grow into what it is today. Thought I’ve had a WordPress.com account since back in the golden ticket days of the service, I was always primarily a user of self-hosted WordPress until a little less than a year ago.

Not long after I began working at Automattic and on WordPress.com full-time as a Happiness Engineer, I was looking at my personal sites and trying to determine the best thing to do with them. Shared hosting can be slow, and I was running more than one site off it. I had a very custom theme that I was pretty unhappy with because I’d rushed it and didn’t have the time to fix what I didn’t like about it.

I eventually made the decision to move both of my personal sites to WordPress.com, for a few reasons:

  • It’s better and more reliable hosting than any host within my cost reach.
  • I wanted to work with the same tools and within the same restrictions as the rest of our users.
  • It allowed me to test new features using my own content and site so I can relate them more easily in support.

When thinking about topics to write on for the Post a Day challenge, the experience of having my sites on WordPress.com kept popping into my head. It’s a great place to host a site, but there are things you sometimes need to work around because of our code or embed restrictions, and sometimes I miss certain aspects of self-hosting my sites.

On the other hand, there are plenty of advantages to hosting at WordPress.com. There are features here that are unique and either can’t be found (yet) or can’t be done easily on a self-hosted site without some serious systems mojo. I don’t have to worry about making sure everything is updated. I don’t have to worry about my host’s security track record (or lack thereof). I’ve had only a fraction of the downtime I experienced when I was self-hosting on a shared host.

So as part of my Post a Day ramblings, I want to talk about the experience of blogging on WordPress.com. What’s awesome about it? What’s frustrating about it or needs some working around? I think I’ve got some neat tricks up my sleeve for working with WordPress.com, and I’m willing to bet you do, too. You can find this post and my others regarding WordPress.com by clicking on the link in my navigation menu at the top of this page.

I encourage you to write about this as part of your trek through posting once per day this year! Let’s get the discussion going by rocking some comments! What is:

  • One thing you love about WordPress.com, or maybe the one feature that sold you on moving or starting your site here?
  • One thing that you don’t like so much about WordPress.com, and maybe wish was a bit different?

I can’t wait. Pinball FX 2 has been one of the best games I’ve played so far this year and four more tables, with more on the way, sound like a great idea.

In a normal day working as a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, I probably help a couple of hundred people with their WordPress.com sites. I enjoy doing this to a ridiculous level and I’m happy to be assisting people with learning to use WordPress and making sure their experience goes as smoothly as possible.

Quite often, I receive very nice responses, thanking me for my time and complimenting both myself and my colleagues. (Saying “thank you” to a support person can make their day, in case you didn’t know.) But last week, I received the most amazing response to a support request from Stephanie. No one has ever offered to do something so out-of-the-blue kind and appreciative in response to my help before. I asked her if I could share this publicly, and thankfully she said yes. I wanted to share it with you:

Thank you Ryan. You [have] actually taken the time to help me solve this problem. I really appreciate it. What is your favorite charitable organization? I’d like to donate some money in appreciation of the help you have given me. I know I can’t send you money, so I’ll give it to a cause that is close to your heart.

This made my week. (Seriously.)

In case you are wondering, I asked her to make the donation to Autism Speaks, for reasons that are close to me. I’ve also decided to put together a short list of the charities that I personally support, so if I’ve ever made your day, you can feel free to give a gift matching your gratitude to one of those organizations.