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Introducing wpliving.net – the natural place for all things WordPress

I’m very pleased to announce the launch of wpliving, a new site devoted to WordPress, to helping newcomers discover the platform, its themes and plugins. This is a sister site to osliving (hence the similar naming convention).

Yet another WordPress site I hear you say? Well yes it is focused on WordPress, however the content will mark a departure from the usual “10 things you need to know” type lists and “30 great WordPress themes” lists that are the common currency of most WP blogs right now. Instead, wpliving will offer useful insights into how themes work, how they can be put to use and how to go about finding the right theme for your project. In short, it’s a site that helps people navigate the vast WordPress landscape.

So go and take a look at wpliving and if you have any suggestions for improvements, changes etc. I would be very grateful if you could either contact me or leave a comment here.

Chameleon WordPress CMS Premium Theme Review

I’ve been using WordPress almost since day one and I remember the arrival, circa 2008, of the first main Premium Theme developers. Among those was a one-man band by the name of Elegant Themes. One of the things that set Nick Roach’s company aside from its competitors was the particular type of premium model he put in place.

Rather than selling themes on a single unit basis, he opted for a theme club. That in itself was nothing new, but it was undoubtedly the low cost of entry to the club that made all the difference. The initial price was $29 per year for full access to all the themes. That has has since gone up to $39, but it still remains one of the cheapest price points on the market.

Almost 80 themes later, and Elegant Themes is still going strong. In this review, I take a look at one of Nick’s most recent offerings. A theme called Chameleon that was designed to be a CMS theme. In my video review below, I look at some of the highlights of this theme and point out a couple of areas that I would have liked to see a little more flexibility. You can check out the Chameleon demo here. Enjoy! Click here to continue reading

Briefcase Free Premium WordPress Theme Review

I received a tip by email the other day from a reader asking me to check out a theme by a fairly new Premium Theme company called Rockable Themes. The theme in question is called Briefcase and it comes in two versions: one free the other paid.

On first glance, the theme looks pretty much like many of the other portfolio themes on offer at the moment. However, on closer inspection, there were a number of nice surprises that make this theme an interesting proposition for a new blog or personal portfolio site.

Take a look at my video review to find out what those cool features are. You will also get a sense of the differences between the free and pro versions. Or go straight to the Briefcase Demo here. In any case please let me know what you think. Also, stay tuned for a brand new sister site to Open Source Living entirely devoted to WordPress. Click here to continue reading

Hero WordPress Theme Review

Welcome to the latest edition of my WordPress theme reviews. In this episode, I take a look at the latest theme by ThemeTrust called “Hero”. It’s a clean and user-friendly portfolio theme with a responsive layout and it comes with a range of customisation options.

This is the third theme by ThemeTrust that I’ve reviewed. If you haven’t already done so, please check out my review of the Craft, Solo and Filtered themes. The Hero theme is fairly basic in terms of features, particularly when compared to the sheer range of portfolio themes on offer across the various premium theme market places.

My review points to a few areas where some expansion would be helpful. It also highlights the high points of the theme, so go ahead and watch the review or dive straight into the theme demo.

Click here to continue reading

Free Blog Header Graphics

Following on from the popular free seamless wood backgrounds post, the next installment in our free web resources series is a grab bag of blog header graphics. Each image is set to an 820×125 pixel ratio. Each one was personally crafted using images from a range of stock image sharing sites.

Click here to continue reading

Open Source iPhone Applications Part 2

Open Source iPhone Apps

Ever since I compiled the original Open Source iPhone Applications post on this blog, I’ve kept an Evernote folder specifically for new open source apps. The list is long and I’ve simply selected some of my favourites and put them into a tidy list. I’d love to hear what sort of Open Source apps you use for your iPhone or Android smart phone. Please let me know via the comment section below and I’ll update the post with your suggestions and/or save them for ‘Part 3′. Click here to continue reading

The Standard WordPress Theme: A One-Stop-Shop for Bloggers

One of the questions I get asked quite a lot in relation to my WordPress theme review series is the following:

Could you recommend a simple and clean WordPress theme for a new blog I’m about to create?

The first thing I do is ask the person what they want to achieve with their blog and what their blog’s primary focus will be. The response to these questions usually helps narrow down the choice of themes. More and more, however, I find that there’s a strong demand for one-stop-shop blogging solutions: simple and professional themes with little to no set up required.

In a market saturated with daily theme releases from all sorts of developers, offering all types of support and legacy packages, it’s no wonder that functionality and reliability are qualities that are beginning to out-trump originality of design and bling. So what are some of the themes that meet this demand?

One of them is without doubt the Linen theme by ThemeFoundry, and you can read my review of it here. Another option (a review will be coming soon) is the excellent Canvas theme by WooThemes, but in this post I want to take a closer look at a third solution, it’s called the Standard WordPress theme and it was developed by a company called 8bit. Click here to continue reading

10 Essential Free and Open Source Android Apps


If you’re an Android smart phone user then you’re probably already using a range of free and open source apps. If so, then many of the following will already be familiar. But if you’re new to Android and/or Open Source then you might want to take a look at this selection of 10 essential free and open source Android applications. Each one was selected for practical use in daily life.

From communication and organisation tools to social media and vlogging apps, this small selection of software covers a range of activities and interests. If you’re an iPhone user, check out my selection of open source iPhone apps and if you’re an iPad or Blackberry user then watch this space for more excellent apps coming soon. Click here to continue reading

Review: Unspoken WordPress Newspaper and Magazine Theme by WPShower

Last year I did an interview with one of the co-founders of WPShower. At the time, this fledgling theme production duo from Eastern Europe had released a handful of clean and functional WordPress themes and had begun to garner a considerable social media following. Their work was picked up by several key online design outlets, including Smashing Magazine and WordPress Theme Garden, and rightly so since their free WordPress themes offer excellent solutions for anyone looking to set up a simple and functional blog.

Then in late 2010 everything fell silent. Despite the occasional murmur on Facebook, there was very little indication of what their next move would be. Had they stopped producing themes altogether? Were they gearing up for a major announcement? Had they been abducted by aliens? Such was the storm of questions swirling above the WPShower rain cloud. And then bam! WPShower staged its 2011 comeback last week by launching a complete overhaul of their website, and with it, a brand new premium WordPress newspaper and magazine theme called “Unspoken”. In this review I’m going to take a closer look at the Unspoken theme to find out whether it lives up to its $59 price tag and to get up to speed with WPShower’s latest endeavor. Click here to continue reading

Dodo Press or why you might give E-Readers a second chance


If you’re a book lover you will at some point have given some thought to the idea of an E-reader or electronic reading device; if at the very least as a way of tapping into the growing supply of e-books, many of whose print counterparts are simply not available. The book industry remains one of the hottest flash points in debates on the digital/analogue divide, and there are a number of key reasons for this.

The concept of the book is still firmly rooted in a tactile, physical experience. The book as an object of knowledge has a firm historical and cultural standing. Its shift into a digital medium, no matter how close the simulation of digital paper to pages of a book – as in the case of Amazon Kindle’s E-ink screen for example – is still deemed by many a compromise not worth making. The E-reader is simply not a book, it’s an E-reader. Click here to continue reading

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About

The OSLiving blog addresses issues of import in a broadly based Open Source context. It is a space for information, opinion and informed debate.

Discover software reviews and interviews with leading figures in the field, commentary on current Open Source issues and musings on all things WordPress.

If you'd like to contribute a guest article to the blog, please get in touch.

Sites We Like

SourceForge - one of the longest running portals devoted to housing projects from the Open Source community. A great place to find OSS projects to collaborate on.

Open Source Initiative - the OSI maintains the Open Source Definition and offers a range of information on OSS licensing and standards.

OSALT - a brilliant site devoted to open source alternatives. The site compares quality OSS with its commercial peers.

Got a great OSS link? Let us know.