Monthly Archives: February 2010

Automated Website Thumbnails via

Ben Gillbanks has unearthed a neat, undocumented API. If you have a look at his WPVote site, you’ll note that next to each link there is a thumbnail or the originating site.

There are several services that can generate thumbnails like that, but most of them place watermarks on the images or place limits on how many API calls you can make in a month. (Amazon used to offer a paid service, but it was discontinued a year or two ago.)

To my surprise, when I was submitting an article to WPVote recently, I found that the thumbnails were served up by a subdomain of I thought something along the lines of “Eh? I didn’t know they offered a screenshot service…” and continued about my business.

A couple days later, I spotted Ben’s blog post in my feed reader. In it he explained how he discovered a dynamic URL that Automattic uses, in places like the commercial themes page, to display thumbnails. He posted an email to Matt Mullenweg about it and got this as a response:

You can use it and link to it, but it’s not official. It’s not worth the effort to try to make it into a business – we have to support it anyway for our own apps.

Sounds good to me. :) Obviously it wouldn’t be nice to use it for something huge and high-traffic, but it seems like they don’t object to us smaller WordPress fanatics making use of it.

There’s now a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to use the thumbnails in blog posts, with a shortcode, or elsewhere with a template tag.

Working with RESTful Services in CodeIgniter

The modern web is full of APIs. Many interesting sites have been created by mashing up data sources from multiple “Web 2.0″ sites. Net.Tuts+ has a new tutorial on Working with RESTful Services in CodeIgniter. I found it to be quite an interesting read,…

BlogBuzz February 13, 2009

Web Design for Global Markets

The web design process is very much about how your site ‘looks’ and ‘feels’. Most people over the age of twenty five will remember – fondly or otherwise – that the Web was once awash with sites from ‘designers’ in the very loosest sense…

BuySellAds Introduces Asynchronous Ad Serving

BuySellAds, the ad network that I use on Webmaster-Source, has introduced a cutting-edge ad-serving feature. Their new asynchronous ad serving script dramatically speeds up page loading times, as the browser doesn’t have to wait around for the ads to load. Todd Garland, the founder…

WooThemes Introduces “Canvas,” a Thesis Competitor?

WooThemes has released a new theme called Canvas, a theme that looks like it might be a competitor to the ever-popular Thesis. Canvas is a “blank slate” theme, with minimal styling, that you customize by either creating a child theme and using hooks, or…

Programmatically Creating Posts in WordPress

WordPress has a convenient function that can create a new post: wp_insert_post(). Suppose that you wanted to create a plugin to automatically create weekly roundups of your social media activity. You could gather your Delicious bookmarks, Twitter posts, etc. with SimpleXML, mash the data…

What’s the Status on Tweetie 2 for Mac?

Tweetie for Mac is the best desktop Twitter client I have found. I really like it, and the interface has streamlined the Twitter experience for me. Unfortunately, it’s long due for an update. Twitter, as I’m sure you remember, released their “Project Retweet” feature…

BlogBuzz February 6, 2010

Notify 2: Better Email Notifications for Webmail Users

Until recently I used Google Notifier to monitor my primary Google Apps inbox for new messages, and I used Apple’s Mail application to check my other accounts. Then I found Notify 2, a neat little Mac application that works even better. Notify sits in…