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Archive for WPMU Tutorials

One of the things I like best about my Essential Tools series, is getting to know the web pros I feature just a little better. This is definitely the case with this week’s star, WordPress Multi-User (WPMU) expert and designer Andrea Rennick of From our behind the scenes exchanges, I decided that Andrea and I could be long lost sisters – with our geek tendencies, super Mommy powers, and deficient domestic goddess genes. In all seriousness, I am so glad to be able to feature such talented individuals with such amazing web skills!

And now to Andrea in her own words:

Since I work from home as a freelance WordPress MU developer, I have a home office set up in a spare bedroom. My office mate is my husband Ron. He’s pretty essential, as we work together and he does the heavy coding. It’s also nice to bounce around ideas with someone else who does the same work as I do. Often, WordPress devs don’t get much of a chance to do that.

Some tech tools I use:

  • Debian Linux on my desktop: Yes, it’s uber-geeky, but the real up side is since I do so much work on server running the same OS, it makes it super easy to develop and test locally then just send along the finished work as if it were server to server. The case has lights and a clear side too, so it looks cool.
  • Tweetdeck: it’s the work at home office cooler! I also use to to check in with one of our daughters who is away at college. I’m a bit of a twitter-holic, it’s always open and I switch back and forth while waiting for page loads. Good thing I’m a fast typer. I have a couple of columns devoted to searches on WordPress MU and buddyPress, just in case I see someone who needs help.
  • OpenOffice: aside from docs, it has a built-in “publish to PDF”.
  • Gimp: the Photoshop-like graphic editor. No, it’s not quite Photoshop, but for most of what I need to do, it’s perfect.
  • Linky: this is a Firefox extension and the sole reason I can answer forum posts so quickly. Just highlight a bunch of links on the page, right click, select the “Open in tabs” option and off you go – multiple tabs opening at once. Three clicks instead of dozens.

Some soft tools:

  • A really good chair. I sit at my desk for a large portion of the day. the best advice I read was “For a startup, buy $100 desks and $700 chairs”. It’s totally worth it. That being said, I have a really good desk too – a big L-shaped one arranged just how I like it.
  • Notebooks. Lots of ‘em: you know the big 3 subject coiled-wire bound notebooks? I use those for everything. I write down every single thing I need to remember. I jot down notes from client calls, I write up to-do lists, I write down things I’m working on and great ideas. When I fill one, I file it and move on to the next. As long as it is all in my notebook, I can find it. For me, the act of writing things down helps me to remember it more. I try to section things out, but I usually wind up just flipping to a new page for a new day, or a new client call. Everything work-related is in my book.
  • Black extra fine ink pens. There’s three on my desk right now.
  • Since I work from home and live out in the country, I have a surprising lack of other work-related tech tools. I can barely use my cell phone and usually forget it when I go out.

When I’m not on the internet, blogging about WordPress MU at, I play a mild-mannered homeschooling mom of four. Ron and I also have a consultancy at We recently dipped our toes into BuddyPress themes and run and

Subscribe to the Essential Keystrokes feed so you don’t miss a single Essential Tools feature. Next week will feature SOBCon conference co-founder Terry Starbucker (also known from his Ramblings from a Glass Half Full blog) .  If you are interested in sharing your essential tools for business, drop me a line at cpolanosky [at] gmaildotcom.

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