All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘wordpress’
(An entry about this very site. How boring.)
A while back (over two years ago), I thought that maybe I could/would monetize this blog. I think a lot of people go through this phase when starting a blog. I attempted to write articles, provided tons of links, and installed ads on the site. Remember when I was writing a lot of short biographies for musicians? Basically, if you can be the number one search result for virtually anything in google, then you are able to amass followers and maybe get some revenue from advertisements. For instance, if I could get this site to come up as the number one result for the google search “stay at home dad,” then I would get thousands of free visits every month. The more you learn, however, the more you find out that SEO (search engine optimization) is a very tricky game and requires a lot of time. Anyway, that notion has long since left me and I have been attempting to clean up the look and feel of this site. I removed all instances of advertisements. I stopped creating backlinks (what a waste of time). But don’t worry, the useless facts aren’t going anywhere! I love doing those.
I think I’m going to keep the extremely simple look of this page, but I’ve been looking through a lot of lists of WordPress plugins. One of the reasons I’m such a fan of WordPress is its unending supply of plugins that can do anything you need. Need to implement a slick-looking slideshow of your images? No problem, there’s a plugin for that. And it’s free. Same with virtually anything else you could think of. These plugins have allowed me to modify this site well beyond the initial theme, and I don’t even know any base-level programming.
I am also in the middle of taking steps to protect the material on this site, even though that most likely won’t ever be an issue. I posted a link to a creative commons license and am testing a bunch of watermarks on my pictures. I can’t quite get a size/opacity combination that works for me yet. You want the watermark to be legible enough to point people back to your site, but you don’t want it to be annoying and take over the image.
Anyway, we are under construction over here, but it’s the kind of construction that still leaves one lane open. You can browse, but the experience might be hampered for about a week.
Now that I have everything pretty much organized the way I want it, this site is a bit too large to browse the traditional way. Here are some ways to categorize this site that will allow you to peak into my past a little bit. If you ever have some spare time, you may find this of interest.
Music Category – Both finished and unfinished songs.. a way to reduce the site to just music and playable files.
LJ Category – Old pictures, including our New Hampshire and Alaska vacations.
Snapshots Category – Sick of me blabbing? Tired of reading about linux? This is a way to reduce my blog to nothing but photos.
Video Category – YouTube videos, mostly of my child.
‘Bio’ Tag – A list of posts I have written that tell an artist’s life story.
‘Animals’ Tag – Posts relating to animals, most of them being images of my pets.
‘Photog’ Tag – Tags where I mention techniques related to photography. May contain insights/tips.
‘Favorites’ Tag – This is a subsection of my snapshots category that contains my favorite photos.
‘Linkfest’ Tag – Posts containing a lot of links to other sites/articles/videos.
‘Facts’ Tag – Facts gathered from a variety of locations. A good series on this site.
It is not very often that I get motivated to roll up my sleeves and fix some things that bother me about this site. Editing the look (“theme”) of a WordPress site involves editing a style.css stylesheet and/or any number of .php files. Now, I don’t know the first thing about either of these, so that involves a lot of googling, trial-and-error, pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth. But once I get going, I usually discover a lot of new “problems” to fix.
In many ways I was lucky when I first started this blog (and didn’t know a thing about WordPress). I immediately disabled the “Visual” mode in the post editor and switched to HTML editing mode. The Visual text editor makes it impossible to align/space everything correctly, and it inserts unnecessary html tags all over the place.
I initially searched for “minimal” when searching for themes for this site. I settled on the ever-so-popular Journalist theme (preview of original). I was fortunate, because this has to be one of the easiest themes to modify. People have modified it and released unofficial versions of it, like Journalist 18.104.22.168 and Journalist 2.1. I have slowly morphed Journalist 22.214.171.124 into what you see now. It’s larger, more spread out, and the photo caption boxes are different. I just have to change the title at the top of the page to a banner image and it will hardly be recognizable.
Last night I eventually got everything lined up the way I wanted (it literally comes down to shifting things 2 pixels this way, 1 pixel that way). Then I snooped around and found out how to make a permanent, auto-generated Archives page. Also–remember when I made that “WordPress Plugins Used on this Blog” entry? Well, that took a lot of work to type all that out, insert the links, and format the post. Last night I found a plugin that automatically generates a list/description of plugins, so I made a permanent page here that does the same thing. Pretty cool.
After having nice weather for a few days, we are supposed to have a couple of scorchers this weekend. Wimbledon starts Monday. My fav tournament.
I did a bunch of work on the theme/look of this website yesterday. As soon as I was finished with that, I saw that WordPress had upgraded to version 3.0. So, I upgraded this site, my wife’s site, and the earsauce site. Then I ran a backup on my server. That all took a bit of time. I wish I would have thought ahead and done these mindless upgrades during game 7 of the NBA Finals last night. I made some changes to this site that are quite noticeable. I think the new darker matting for the photos really helps, especially with black&white images. I think I enhanced readability and simplicity of the site by moving the author/tag information to the top of every post and getting rid of some unnecessary horizontal rules. I really need a banner across the top to finish it off.
We bought a wooden planter and put in a few sun-hardy flowers on our front steps. The bushes/ivy out front need to be trimmed, and I am hoping to do that this evening when it’s nice and cool.
I was on such a roll yesterday. I accomplished so many nerdy things that I never thought I’d have the ability to accomplish.
First, I exported all my old livejournal entries and converted them to WordPress posts. This was all handled within WordPress and was all automated. There are some minor issues pertaining to formatting and some other things, but I’m all done! My old pictures (2005-2008) can be seen in the lj category: here. There are pictures from my wedding/honeymoon, new hampshire, all kinds of good stuff. It even imported all the old comments. Pretty happy about that.
It’s interesting for me to see that, in many ways, I had no idea how to edit/optimize photos back in 2005-06, but I still managed to post a lot of good shots. I think that’s because my original Nikon “coolpix” e5700 was able to do so many things on its own. Excellent macro support, RAW support, and a movable screen with live view made it a perfect “starter” camera. I often wonder what would have happened to my interest in photography if I had gotten a different camera at the time. I definitely miss being able to shoot in macro mode.
After that I spent quite a bit of time trying to understand style.css sheets and how all the different .php files come together to make all my pages/categories on this blog. I have a very simple layout on here, so I think I may have actually learned how it all works. I changed the sidebar on the right, gave it a grey background and got rid of the dividing line between the main section (here) and the sidebar (over to the right). I also took forever to make that custom search bar with no “search” button to click, and made a few pics for my “about me” section. A few steps in the right direction. Now I just need a banner at the top, and a few other things. This is easier than I thought. I’ve been so scared to edit anything (last time I learned anything about HTML, style sheets were not in use, and now they determine the entire look of your site) that I’ve avoided it all, maybe a bit too much.
Then, since I was on a roll, I looked up ways to make Ubuntu faster and ended up editing 4 config files (blindly trusting some people’s blog posts and forum responses I found via Google). Still up and running in Linux, so I didn’t break anything… I don’t think. I’m starting to drink the Linux cool aid a little bit. It breaks down to two basic things for me. First, you are immune to everything Windows isn’t. Shady website? Might have viruses? No big deal, I’m immune to all viruses in Linux. Second, if you care enough, you can make Linux do anything you want. For instance, when I receive an instant message (AIM service), my computer reads my messages aloud to me. It took a lot of work, but I hooked my AIM client through the “accessibility” text-to-speech synthesizer. In Linux, you have unfettered access to even the most sensitive files, so you can always fix whatever is wrong. If you care enough.
I started off trying to learn how to modify this crap so I can get my wife’s blog (in the works) going, and in the process of learning how to do a few things, I took a 6-8hr detour and worked on my own site all day.
Note: This post is outdated. The current plugin list can be found on this page.
I feel that I have been engrossed in WordPress long enough that I can put together a fairly authoritative list of WordPress plugins with an explanation of each. These are the plugins I use. I don’t use twitter or facebook, so you won’t find anything related to those two services in here. Presented in alphabetical order:
- AddToAny. This plugin allows readers to add a more profession-looking link to your blog on their networking service of choice. It has automatic options for Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Digg, StumbleUpon, virtually anything you can imagine.
- Akismet. Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not, then it automatically files them under “spam” if there is a match. It allows you to manage/review the comments after they are marked as spam, and undelete comments if necessary. This plugin has already saved me from over 600 spam comments on this blog.
- All-in-one SEO Pack. This plugin allows you to setup your metatags for your both your main page and individual posts. You can add comments, craft an excerpt, or add tags for Search Engine Optimization.
- Apture. My favorite plugin. This allows you to contain your links within java pop-up windows on your site. Instead of people clicking your link to a Wikipedia article, they merely hover over the link and the article pops up within your page. This allows people to view material that is pertinent to your articles without navigating away from your page. It works automatically with YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter, IMDB, Amazon, and many more.
- Audio Player. A highly configurable plugin that turns your links to .mp3 files into a stylish Play button. It uses Flash animation and expands when clicked. It also keeps the clueless from stealing .mp3 files off your server and forces them to stream the files.
- Better-Wiki-Link. This plugin automatically creates a link to a related Wikipedia article if you put double brackets around any text in your blog entry. When used in conjunction with Apture, it creates a hover-link that brings up the Wikipedia article in a pop-up java window.
- Better Tag Cloud. A more configurable tag cloud than the default tag cloud provided with WordPress.
- Blog Protector. This plugin attempts to prevent people from plagiarizing information from your blog. It disables the highlighting of text (and in turn disables copy-and-paste of text from your blog). It can also be set to a) disable the ability for people to drag your photos onto their desktop and/or b) disable the ability to right-click on your page. I currently do not have this plugin enabled because it causes conflict with some other features of my blog, but maybe after a few more developments of the plugin I will be able to enable it.
- Broken Link Checker. This plugin continually checks all the links (past and present) on your blog entries and validates that no links are broken. I have over 600 links in my blog thus far, so this is a great plugin for me (this post alone has 29 links). Sometimes pages disappear and links in your old posts no longer work; this plugin keeps you from having to constantly re-check all of your links. It runs in the background and is not visible to readers of your blog.
- CommentLuv. When people fill out their information to leave a comment on your blog, this plugin checks the URL they provide. If the URL points to another blog, the plugin will automatically add a link to their most recent blog post. This provides free advertisement to others’ blogs and helps the blogging community as a whole.
- Do Follow. Removes the nofollow attribute that WordPress adds to comments by default.
- Feed Pauser. Allows authors to pause a feed from immediately being published. I frequently make a host of minor changes to a post immediately after it is published. This ensures that the post does not show up in my RSS feed until I have made all of my final adjustments (I have my Feed Pauser set to wait 20 minutes).
- Flickr Widget. A widget which displays the most recent photos from a Flickr account (mine displays in the right sidebar). You only have to set it up once and it automatically shows the most recent photos for you as you update your Flickr.
- GD Simple Widgets. This is a pack of several basic widgets. Most of them are improvements of widgets that come with WordPress by default, such as Recent Posts, Related Posts, Recent Comments.
- Google XML Sitemaps. This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog. It runs in the background and updates automatically every time you make a change to your blog.
- Gravatar Signup Encouragement. Encourages commenters who do not already have a Gravatar to sign up for a free Gravatar.
- No Curly Quotes. Stops WordPress from turning the ‘ and ” characters into curly quotes in blog posts, titles, excerpts and comments. Options can be set for each element separately. Curly quotes cause problems when cutting&pasting text.
- Outbound Links. Forces all outbund links to open in a new window. This helps ensure that people do not navigate away from your page when they click a link.
- Sidebar Login. Adds a sidebar widget to let users login to your blog. I use it as the top widget in the right sidebar. (No one ever logs in, though).
- Smart Ads. Allows you to automatically place Google Ads at certain places in your posts. You set certain rules (ie, minimum wordcount) that determine if and where your ads are placed.
- SubZane YouTube Plugin. Like the Flickr Widget, this plugin allows you to automatically display the most recent YouTube videos from your YouTube account.
- Visitor Maps and Who’s Online. Displays Visitor Maps with location pins, city, and country. Includes a Who’s Online Sidebar to show how many users are online and a Who’s Online admin dashboard to view visitor details. The visitor details include: what page the visitor is on, IP address, host lookup, online time, city, state, country, geolocation maps and more.
- WordPress.com Stats. Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks. Similar to Google Analytics.
- WP Super Cache. A fast caching plugin for WordPress. If your page gets a lot of traffic, this plugin can cut down on the amount of traffic to your server while still allowing everyone to view your blog. It creates an up-to-date HTML version of your site instead of the more consuming PHP version. I do not currently have it enabled because I do not get what is commonly known as “traffic,” hehe.
- WPtouch iPhone Theme. Formats your site with a mobile theme for the Apple iPhone / iPod touch, Google Android and other touch-based smartphones.
- Wunderground.com Weather Sticker. Adds a sidebar widget to display the standard wunderground.com Weather Sticker for your [chosen] location. Because of this widget, I actually check my own blog to get the outside temp before I go out.
We are buried in snow. I just took my final measurement of the night–22½ inches. It is still snowing a little bit, so we will probably get to 23 inches falling in the span of 26 hours. For this area, that might as well be eight feet. We are going to try to get a few pictures of Stephen in the snow tomorrow. It is very hard to even take the dogs out in the current conditions.
Spent a good portion of time upgrading WordPress to version 2.9 today. This doesn’t change my blog to the reader but just how I use it as “Administrator.” There is something that comes with WordPress called Akismet. This little plugin collects data from all the other blogs about which comments are “spam,” and deletes them automatically for you. You have the ability to review them… blogs really get a lot of these things; here is a good example:
Hey this was potentially one of the most intelligent posts I’ve had the chance to go over on the subject so far. I don’t have any idea where you get all of your information but keep it coming! I am gunna send a few individuals to this site to check this out. Fantastic, simply fantastic. I’m have just started getting into writing articles myself, nothing remotely close to your writing skills (doh) but I’d love for you to check out my work in progress someday!
…Followed by some sort of link to a used item for sale. The thing that really makes it funny is that it is linked to a post of mine with no words.
Lots of things are just random encouragement in poor english:
Very great web.
The info here is very important.
I will refer it to my friends.
Then if you click the person’s name it takes you to some whey protein sales site. Broken English is throughout:
Dear Author blog.evanvalentine.com !
I am final, I am sorry, but you could not give little bit more information.
So weird. I also wonder how many of these are related to mechanical turk.
Very cold dog walk this morning. I have to figure out what warm clothes we have for Stephen before it’s too late. I’m guessing we don’t have much. So far, he’s always warm enough with a big blanket in his stroller seat.
Familiar parody on Sesame Street this morning (I guess kids aren’t supposed to understand the parody part). Law and Order: SLU
Going camping this weekend. Well, it’s not really camping when you hike in with protein bars, peanut butter and Jack Daniels. Jaime is taking the baby and the dogs over to her parents’ for the weekend. Doesn’t look like the weather wants to cooperate for us.
I’ve really done way too much work on this page in the past few days. Now it is information overload at every turn. It is nice that I can embed/hide things that I’m thinking about without having to make a big deal about every little thing.
Also, I must not forget: Play your favorite 1980′s video games
I installed a lot of WordPress plugins this weekend, and am sorting through several more. For starters, if I link to a Wikipedia Article or a YouTube Video, the information can be brought up simply by hovering over the icon next to the links. Sleek. Modern.
Jaime and I have both been sick all weekend, but we did at least sell her old Honda. Back down to two cars. Mine needs some work, but not nearly the $2000 we got for the Honda. It doesn’t seem like Stephen is sick, although he has a runny nose twice a day.
Just playing around with links and stuff, I was trying to find a picture of my guitar, but I can’t find one that looks exactly right. Maybe mine is just more beat up than most of the pictures I found. The sunburst is far more subtle on mine.
Also, let’s see what happens when I link to a picture off of Jaime’s Flickr.
Okay, I’ll stop now.
ps–Started a new song yesterday morning. A clip: