Lab 01: Getting Started

Welcome to Hacking History.

Today’s “lab” is really just an introduction to the website; but since you will be building your own site before the year is out, you’ll want to pay attention to the interface. We use the WordPress web framework in this class. WordPress is the most popular “Content Management System” in the world, and runs ~75 million sites. It is often praised for the relatively quick learning curve encountered by both users and developers.

Registration and First Post

You should receive an email with your site login info shortly before class starts; to log in find the admin login page and type in your email. Request a new password and log in.


In the “new post” screen write a short post introducing yourself to me and your classmates. Include some of the following:

  • What interests you about this class?
  • What are you looking forward to/anxious about?
  • Is there something unusual about yourself that you’re willing to share with the class, that will help us to know you better?

If you’re concerned about privacy, consider restricting access to users of level “author” or higher:


Press “Publish,” and voilà, you’re done. If you’ve used WordPress before, you may still learn something from reading about the new structured text improvements and the advanced Markdown capabilities.

User Profile

If you want a picture of yourself to appear next to your name (and it would be helpful for me to have one), you can create an account at Gravatar and upload an image. WordPress will automatically link to your gravatar profile.

Understanding WordPress

We will discuss this in more detail in a few weeks; but for now, here is a picture: data_and_metadata_on_the_web.png


This is a fun excercise to introduce everyone to the practice of hacking.

My friend Kate Hudson created a simple github training exercise last year for some of my other students. It was really fun, so I modified it for us:

  1. Sign Up for a Github Account (or sign in if you already have an account)
  2. Navigate to my heroes-please repository
  3. Take a quick look at the README. Can you understand it? Maybe we need to add some extra instructions (like, what does npm install -g mean? And where do those emoji come from?) What does the program do, and (if you can get this far) how does it work?
  4. Have you found where the Heroes live?
  5. Add a new hero from inside Github itself(!) simply by navigating to the right spot and clicking the + button. (see the picture below)

    • Be sure to name the file “” so that everyone knows it’s written in Markdown
    • follow markdown syntax in writing your recipe (see this cheatsheet, especially the sections on Headings, Lists, and Links)
    • When you save the file, Github will automatically create a forked repository under your account! Magic.

  6. File a pull request with me by navigating back to the main page of your repository ( and hitting the Github pull request button: github-pull-request.png

HTML Preview

If we have time at the end, let’s take a look at this exercise which is planned for next week.

Also, this is an opportunity to download and install the Atom text editor which we will be using in coming weeks.