Mar 28, 2008 by Matt | Posted in General
When you add images to your blog posts, where do you upload them? Do you store them on an image host like TinyPic.com, or do you prefer to keep them on your own server somewhere?
There are advantages to both methods, and of course, disadvantages.
As of this writing, I put most of my images on TinyPic, though I’ve lately been a little worried about that. What if TinyPic decides to delete them? What if something happens and they lose a bunch of data? I happens. It would be lot of work to re-upload images and edit all of my posts, but it would be “safer.” Though on the other hand, I’d be storing more files on my server, and transferring more bytes as well…
I’m still undecided, but what’s your preferred method?
Mar 24, 2008 by Matt | Posted in Design, Featured
If you’re serious about blogging, and are trying to run a quality blog on a specific topic, you need a good design. Ideally, you want to have a unique design, built by a designer, though you can get away with a pre-made theme if you’re on a budget, or if you want to wait until the blog can pay for the design.
If you’re not ready to hire a designer, you can use a freely available WordPress theme, or a premium theme. Premium themes are pre-made templates for WordPress, which, though they are not free, cost much less than hiring a designer to make a unique theme.
Once you’ve picked-out a good theme, make it your own. Put your logo in the header, tweak the colors a little, and whatnot. Customize it so it matches your site’s personality.
Now that the introduction is out of the way, let’s get to the fun part. Following are a few WordPress themes that, in my opinion, are professional and well-done.
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Mar 23, 2008 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
WordPress users have long complained about the time and effort required to update all of their plugins. WordPress 2.5 RC1 introduces a new feature that allows you to update plugins to their latest version simply by clicking a link and entering your FTP password.
I’ve tried this out on a test installation of WordPress, and it’s great. There are, however, a few issues with this new feature.
The automatic upgrade does not deactivate your plugin first and then reactivate it after upgrading. If the plugin requires activation to run any checks for WordPress version, or do any db fixes, or “activate” any new features then it won’t do this and the plugin won’t work as expected. In most cases this can be simply remedied by remembering to deactivate and then reactivate the plugin after the upgrade is complete.
This is important because plugins sometimes update database entries when a plugin is re-activated after an update. So if you use the automated updater, be sure to deactivate and re-activate the plugin after the update has completed, to insure that the plugin will continue to work correctly.
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Mar 21, 2008 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
WordPress 2.5’s new interface is quite a bit different from the current one. Currently, many WordPress users aren’t entirely sure what they think about it yet (myself included). I will have to use it for a few weeks until I’ve decided what I think.
Astheria has an in-depth review of the new WordPress 2.5 interface.
Overall, I think the new interface is a great improvement, but there are many things that leave me wondering if it’s had enough polish yet. I am sure the folks at both WordPress and Happy Cog will make the final release a great experience, and I am excited that they are having a period for feedback prior to that release.
There is some nice commentary and creative criticism in the full article, and I would say it’s worth reading. WordPress developers, I hope you’re paying attention! Especially to this part:
The most important screen in the whole application is also one of the most drastically changed. While I love some of the new additions, such as the permalink preview and tag path there are a lot of things here I find questionable.
Mar 13, 2008 by Matt | Posted in Featured, WordPress
Two of the most common AdSense placements on blogs are
- A rectangular ad (such as the 250×250 unit) in the post, floated to the left, with the text wrapping around it.
- A 468×60 “banner” unit between the post title and the content.
In some posts, though, the floated ads get in the way of other elements, such as images. Suppose you want to have an image floated to the right, at the top of your post. That could conflict with your ad, couldn’t it? If the image is wide enough, it would run right into the ad. Or what if you wanted to have a wide image above the content, like on Copyblogger? That left-floated ad would get in the way. What’s the solution? No, you don’t need to switch to a 468×60 ad, which often doesn’t perform as well as the floated ad. It’s time for a little WordPress magic.
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Mar 12, 2008 by Matt | Posted in General
Back in December, I wrote an article about recovering after your blog has been vandalized. Of course, you want to avoid having your blog trashed in the first place.
The Lost Art of Blogging has recently released an informative article on securing your WordPress-powered blog. “Fighting Blog Hacks: Preventing And Eliminating Intruders” covers several things you should do to help avoid having your blog vandalized. They’re mainly simple tweaks, and you should definitely consider implementing them.
A few weeks ago I had the unpleasant surprise of finding out that my blog [The Lost Art of Blogging] got automatically hacked by spam bots, due to a WordPress exploit, and in course also got infected with malware. Google, vigilant as always, was quick on scanning LOAB for any malicious software, found some corrupted code and immediately flagged the blog. What happened next was very predictable: who ever tried to search to for something on Google and found LOAB among the search results wasn’t able to access the blog, as it was “quarantined.” I lost hundreds of visitors daily during the course of two weeks, my rankings were shattered and of course the blog’s reputation was stained; as a side note I’d like to thank all the loyal readers that confidently continued to read my blog during that tough period.
Don’t let it happen to your blog.
Feb 24, 2008 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
Homepage Excerpts is a WordPress plugin that allows you to add some extra flexibility to the display of posts on your main page. Usually you would have to have all posts displayed in their entirety, have all posts truncated, or Use the Optional Excerpt or More Tag. With the Homepage Excerpts plugin, however, you can say “I want the first post to be displayed fully, but the rest should be shortened.”
The plugin allows you to choose the number of posts to be displayed fully, and whether it should use the Except field or just truncate to a certain number of characters.
Personally, I prefer to manually use the More Tag on my posts, but I’m sure plenty of bloggers will find this useful. To see it in action, visit logo designer David Airey’s website.
Feb 15, 2008 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
Working on a new theme for your blog? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could edit a theme, and preview the results, without activating it for all to see? Yes, you can do that.
You could do it the hard way, and install another copy of WordPress in another location (your local computer, a directory of your website, etc). Or you do it the easier way and use the Preview Theme Plugin for WordPress.
Preview Theme, when installed, allows you to view a theme by appending ?preview_theme=ThemeName to a page’s URL. So to view WSC’s index with the WordPress Classic theme, you could use this URL: http://www.thesite.com/index.php?preview_theme=WordPress%20Classic
Cool, or what? Now you can work on your new theme, live on your blog, without letting anyone see it. and if you’re really paranoid about people not seeing the theme ( ), the plugin allows you to restrict the preview feature to certain user levels (e.g. Administrator) .