Tag Archives: wordpress

The WordPress Process: to WordPress.Com We Go

WordPress.Com is awesome

WordPress.Com is awesome

The WordPress Process is a series of posts at Newsome.Org, documenting my forced march from the comfort of Blogger to the initially uncharted territories of WordPress.  Parts 1 & 2 are here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here, Part 5 is here, and Part 6 is here.

Newsome.Org (formerly and sometimes currently known as Rancho DeNada) has lived a gypsy’s life.  When I started blogging (actually no one knew about blogging then; it was just “Latest News”), I published content via a Perl script.  It seems antiquated now, but it worked pretty well.  Then I began using Blogger’s publishing platform, via the now-discontinued FTP publishing feature.  My blog was hosted on my web server, but I could use Blogger’s front-end to manage content.

When FTP publishing was no longer available, I made the move to WordPress.  Again, hosted on my web server.  It was sort of bumpy, as noted in Parts 1-6, but I got it done.

Near the end of last year, it dawned on me that (a) I might need a new tractor this year and (b) for that to happen while staying married meant I had to cut out some expenses.  So I did.  One of them was my web server.  I needed a mighty and dedicated web server back in the glory days of ACCBoards.Com, but I don’t need it anymore, with the decline of the message boards and the vast improvements to content management platforms.  So, I decided to move Newsome.Org to WordPress.Com.  What this means, in effect is:

1. My blog is hosted at and by WordPress.Com;
2. WordPress handles all the software updates: and
3. There are a few limitations on how I manage pages and content.

This was probably the best blog-related decision I’ve ever made.  For one, I don’t have to worry about updating WordPress.  They do all that.  Two, media handling is very easy, often requiring nothing more than a URL or shortcode.  Three, it is a lot cheaper.  I need some storage and the ability to stream media files, so I pay for the $100/year upgrade bundle- less than half my prior monthly cost.  I could go into a lot of detail, but the point is that managing my web site is much easier and much less expensive.  Sure, I can’t install certain plug-ins, and I can’t install any theme I want.  But you know what?  I don’t need to.  I don’t miss them at all.

I had a lot of content, and the import process was very easy and mostly successful.  Because of my blog’s long history and many prior platforms (and resulting scattered media files, etc.), some of my pictures weren’t imported correctly.  I sent a request for help, and got it quickly and effectively (Valerie is tech support awesomeness).  After all was done, I still had to manually go back and revise some internal links, but that was because some of my early blog posts were in .shtml (because of all the server side includes I used to hack and use).  It took a few nights, but soon enough I was up and running.

And it is great.  So much less stressful.  It’s hard to explain, but blogging just seems easier and more fun.  In sum, if you have a blog or want a blog, there is no good reason not to host it at WordPress.Com.  There are plans ranging from free to enterprise.

One limitation of WordPress.Com over my former web server is that I can’t just upload whatever pages I want.  Native JavaScript isn’t supported either (content from certain approved sources can be used via shortcodes).  This is the reason for all the scrambling I did last month to find a new home for The Home Place, my internet portal.  I ended up hosting it at Amazon via S3.  Here’s the new link.  Amazon S3 (and Glacier) are unbelievably cheap.  Look for a tutorial on those shortly.

Giving the WordPress iPad App Another Spin

As I noted earlier, the increasing frequency of Parallels/Windows crashes and the utter lack of any decent Mac blogging apps have led me back to the native WordPress blog editor. With a few good plugins, I think the web-based desktop editor may work.

That leaves mobile. Historically, I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by the mobile WordPress app. But like the web-based editor, it has been steadily improving.

The lack of plugins, especially Post Snippets, is a drag. Adding links has gotten easier, but it’s never going to be really easy on a tablet.

Images are still hard.

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I like the preview feature, particularly since you never know what a mobile blog post is going to look like.

All in all, it’s good enough. And that’s good enough for me.

Post Snippets: A Mandatory WordPress Plugin

Now that I have been once again foiled in my attempts to find a decent Mac blogging app, I am, once again, considering using the native WordPress front-end.  It’s still not great, but it seems to be improving at a steady pace.

Today, I came across a fantastic plug-in that may be the thing that makes the WordPress front-end good enough.  Post Snippits.  A plugin that will save you a ton of time and effort.

One of the things I do to make my blogging more efficient is create snippets of text or code that I use over and over.

For example, I like to have a snippet that lets me add a YouTube video by simply filling in the video’s ID number.  Create a snippet via Post Snippets’ settings, click on the Post Snippets icon in the post editor…

snipicon-300x133

and the following beautifully simple and easy box appears.

Add the video ID, click Insert and…

insert-300x114

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBuJB218UvU

I also created a snippet that lets me create an Amazon Affiliates link to a recommended record.

Wrinkle Neck Mules – Apprentice to Ghosts is available via immediate download at Amazon.  Buy this great record now.

With a little effort, you can automate a lot of stuff this way.  It actually works better than the similar feature in Live Writer.

And that is a promising development.

WordPress for iOS 2.6.4 Released

After I pooped all over the WordPress app the other night, I was pleased to see that an update was released today.

Version 2.6.4 allegedly fixes some bugs.  That’s good

It is now easy enough to insert, if not place, images.  It is still a huge pain to insert links.   My best tip here- use a URL shortener to save some typing.  For those like me who keep forgetting how to do links in the app, type http:  and the form will pop up.

The next thing WordPress should do is allow for a default URL shortener to be set, so all you have to do in the link URL form is type the shortened link code.  That would save a ton of time.

I wrote this post on my iPhone, and it wasn’t a completely horrible experience.  Let’s see how it turns out.

What WordPress should do is opt for a bookmarket equivalent, with a browser-based implementation of the “Press This” app that renders a minimal, but usable, web-based editor.

Just to see if I can do it, here’s a random image.

So how’d it do?

Update:  It did OK.  I like two spaces between sentences, and those didn’t make it.  But other than that and a few small screen related typos, the post came out pretty good.

Live Writer Beta + WordPress 3.0 = Jumbled Mess (for Now)

NOTE: This blog post is going to be all jumbled up.  I am trying to show the Live Writer developers a problem that exists with the current beta and WordPress 3.o

I love Live Writer.  I’m even willing to learn to live with the Ribbon in the beta version.  I love WordPress, and find 3.0 to be a nice advance of the platform.

But, at least for now, the Live Writer beta and WordPress 3.0 do not play well together.  The problem is that the photo or other graphic layout (location, placement, etc.) created in Live Writer does not make the trip through WordPress 3.0 and onto the applicable blog page.

Here are some examples, using some random screen caps.

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There’s a screen cap of my Facebook profile.  I am a Go Dog Go-ocrat, because I think just about every single problem we face in society originates from the moment the first person decided it was really important to differentiate himself from all the other people.  In other words, once dogs start driving cars, it’s all over.  More importantly for purposes of this post, that graphic is supposed to be above this paragraph.

Here’s a picture of a book I just read.  I liked it.  That graphic is supposed to be below this paragraph.

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For some reason, the alignment and other information is getting lost between placement in live writer and publishing to a WordPress 3.0 blog.  When I look at the published and jumbled post under the WordPress dashboard, the graphics appear to have no placement information associated with them.  By that I mean nothing is shown under the graphic, not even “None.”  That graphic is supposed to be under this paragraph.  None of these images should have words beside them.

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I suspect that this problem has to do with the photo setting “Inherit from Blog” in Live Writer.  It may be that you need to specifically set the information for each photo or graphic to “None” by double clicking on the image and selecting the second choice under Picture Tools.  Let’s see if that helps.

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Nope.  It’s still a mess.

Live Writer and WordPress are two of the three applications (along with Google Reader) that I use the most.  I’m sure this will get fixed.

I’m just doing my part to try and help.

Backing Up and Upgrading Your WordPress Installation

This is a new installment of my The WordPress Process series, documenting my forced march from the comfort of Blogger to the uncharted territories of WordPress.  Parts 1 & 2 are here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here, Part 5 is here, and Part 6 is here.

image As everyone knows, WordPress 3.0 was released this week.  This morning, I upgraded my WordPress installation (which uses Woothemes’ excellent Canvas theme), easily and without a hitch.  Here’s how I did it.

First, backup your blog.  There are about a million ways to do this.  Most ways are free and hard.  So I went with not free and very easy: I paid $45.00 for Backup Buddy.  Backup Buddy looks impressive, and more importantly, my pals over at WordPress Tavern really like it.  I can confirm that installation and activation is a breeze and a full backup takes just a few minutes, even using the slower compatibility mode.  Obviously, you never really know if a backup system works until you have to restore lost content, but Backup Buddy looks like a screaming bargain at $45.00.  The installation, activation and backup process could not be any easier.

After that, upgrading was a simple as clicking the “Update Automatically” button on the WordPress Dashboard.

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Wpveda has a good  walk-through.

Note that the WordPress upgrade takes a little while.  So don’t panic if the screen remains blank for a while.  That is normal.

All in all, it took about a half hour to backup and upgrade my WordPress installation.  So far, it works great.

Later I’ll cover the new features.  I’ll also try to answer any questions you have about the process in the Comments.

WordPress & iPad: a Pretty Good Combo

One of the first iPad apps I downloaded was the new, iPad optimized version of WordPress.  While only time and blog posts will tell how often I do it, I can tell you that it is very easy to configure and use the WordPress app on an iPad.

Photos and links will continue to be a problem, until someone comes up with a better way to create links on an iPad.  The photo insert tool within the app seems to be pretty straight forward, but since the iPad doesn’t have a camera, you’d have to import photos to use them.  I suppose I should try a screen cap.

I added a screen cap of the app interface, and sadly it seems the app still adds photos to the end of a post, and only then when published. I suspect it will also be sideways (it was, and I couldn’t even fix it with Live Writer).

I also had a mild lockup, that required me to close and reopen the app. This happens after previewing a post, and seems to be caused by the categories and tags overlapping the text box. I’ll attempt another screen cap.

It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough. And I suspect it will only get better.

ipadtext1

The interface, including the keyboard, works well.  Photos
are still a huge issue, as they get added to the end of the post,
sideways and far too big (I resized these via Live Writer).

ipadtext2

Notice the jumbled words.  The categories and tags are
on top of the text box.

How to Point a Domain to a Blog Category

One of my long-time and oft-stated problems with all of the so-called social networks is the brand and attention dilution that occurs when content producers cast their content across numerous networks, sending readers on a wild goose chase as they try to keep up with everything.  While I’ve done a lot better than most when it comes to keeping my content centered around my web site (Newsome.Org), I too have been lured into spreading myself too thin, network-wise.

I’m going to fix that.  I am in the process of consolidating most of my content and much of my applications.  When all is said and done, I will be a power user of this blog and a small number of ancillary networks (maybe as few as two: Twitter and Facebook).  Additionally, I intend to shrink my cloud toolbox down to a manageable size.  More on that later.

Today I want to take the first step, which is to consolidate our music recommendation blog, which was previously hosted at Tumblr, into Newsome.Org.  Specifically, I want that content to be included here- under the Music category.  But I want to continue to use the cool and valuable top level domain (GoodSongs.Com) that I have been using for song recommendations.

Here’s how that can be done.

What You’ll Need

To have this need and to make this work, you’ll need a blog platform that includes categories, tags or some other naming convention that has a URL.  I use WordPress, and I have a Music category (see the menu at the top of the page).  The URL for that category is http://www.newsome.org/category/music.

You’ll also need a domain (or a sub-domain) separate from the one that you use for your blog, that you want to point to the category.  As noted above, I am going to cause GoodSongs.Com, which previously pointed to a custom domain at Tumblr, to be redirected to my Music category here.

Use a Redirect

One way to redirect a domain to a blog category is through URL redirection  or a refresh meta tag.  A redirection makes sense if you have a long-standing or popular site that you want to move, so you can preserve links and Google juice.  If you, like me, just want to use your domain as an alternate address for a blog category- or if you don’t have the technical chops or server access to do a redirection, web forwarding might be your solution.

Configure Web Forwarding

I use Network Solutions as my primary domain registrar.  Here’s how you configure your domain for web forwarding via Network Solutions.  The process is probably similar at other registrars, but you may need to explore the configuration dashboard and maybe the help files to find the right pages and settings.

From your primary Dashboard, select the Web Forwarding option.  At Network Solutions, it’s under the Domain Names tab at the top of the page.

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From the resulting page, select the domain you want to forward, then click on “Continue with Web Forwarding.”

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On the next screen, fill in the URL of the category in the blank.  Web masking won’t work if your URL is a directory or database, but that’s OK.  The purpose is to get the readers to the new location at the blog category page.  You can brand the forwarded domain from within the category.

It Might Cost a Little

I don’t know what other registrars charge for web forwarding.  Network Solutions charges $12.00 a year.  A buck a month doesn’t seem too bad for a little consolidation.  Particularly consolidation that can be accomplished (or changed) via a few clicks on a web page.  Simple is good.

Don’t Forget to Feed Your Feed

If you have an RSS feed at the domain you are forwarding to the blog category, don’t forget to update the feed once you make this change.

In my case, I already had an RSS feed for GoodSongs.Com, which I publish via Feedburner.  My WordPress theme creates a feed for each category, so all I had to do was change my feed location for GoodSongs.Com to the category feed.

From the main Feedburner dashboard for the applicable feed, select Edit Feed Details.

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Then replace the current “Original Feed” with your new one.

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That’s It

Once you’ve taken those simple steps, your domain will be forwarded to the blog category you selected.  Notice how GoodSongs.Com now points to the Music category here at Newsome.Org.

That’s step one in my consolidation and simplification process.  Stay tuned for more.

How to Use the New Newsome.Org

OK, our migration to WordPress, which was documented here, is complete, and I am very happy with the results.  In sum, I think the new look and the new functionality rocks.

But, as a blog partially targeted to grownups who don’t necessarily live in Google Reader or on Facebook or Twitter, we have a lot of readers who consume our content the old fashioned way.  By coming to the web site and clicking around.

I’ve had a few questions, so here’s a rundown on how to use the new layout.

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First, what hasn’t changed.  The newest content, across all Categories, is still located in the middle column, with the newest post at the top.  This has not changed- it was the same way in the prior layout.

Categories

But now, there are additional options, if you want to filter your content.  You can slice and dice content several ways.  First, by Category.  Note the horizontal menu between the red header and the gray line at the top of the page: Home, Tech, Music, Life, How to, etc.

Let’s say you want to read only our music content.  Click on that link in the top menu, and the center content will display only our music content, with the newest content at the top.  Same with Tech, Life and How to (our tech tutorials).  If you want to hear our podcasts, there’s the Podcast link.

Media, which has two sub-categories, is the place to go for photographs or videos.

Finally, there is an About page for those who want to know more about me and a Contact page, where you can send me an email or leave me a voice mail.

In sum, the default Home page has the same content as our old layout, but there are now topical options that display specific kinds of content.

More Ways to Find Good Stuff

Categories are great, but there are even more ways to drill down to the content you want.

See the box in the right hand column with tabs: Popular, Latest, Comments and Tags.  Popular shows the recent posts that have the most discussion (e.g., comments, reactions, etc.).  Latest shows a quick list of our latest posts.  Comments displays the most recent discussions that have occurred in comments to posts.  And finally, Tags are a clickable index where you can click on a topic and get only content about that topic.  If you are looking for something very specific, the Tags tab is the place to start.

You Can Read Content in a RSS Reader

Another option is to read our content in a feed reader, such as Google Reader.  We have our main RSS feed, which has the same form and content as always.  Additionally, there are Category-specific RSS feeds near the top of each Category page.

Or Via Email

If you’d rather avoid the whole web-business and don’t use a feed reader, there’s the option to have a single email delivered straight to your inbox every night, with all of our posts for that day included.  To subscribe by email, click on the link in the left column of the page.

What About the Sidebars?

There are a lot of extra goodies in the two side columns.

On the left hand side, we have a Menu of Newsome.Org content; links to my pages on the various social networks and photo and video sites; links to our excellent, hand-crafted Pandora radio stations (take a listen, you’ll like them); and hand-picked music and book recommendations (which are linked  to Amazon, where you can buy and download them or have them mailed with just a couple of clicks).

On the right hand side is the tabbed content box described above; a search box, where you can search Newsome.Org and see what others have recently searched for (that list is also clickable); a list of my latest Twitter posts; and some of my Flickr photos (click for the larger versions).

That’s it.

We’ve made it easy to find the content you’re looking for.  Enjoy.  Leave us a comment and tell us what you think!

WP Plugin: WP to Twitter

I’ve been using the Twitter Notify plug-in via Live Writer to post new blog post notifications to Twitter, but there are problems with that approach.  It doesn’t work when I post from the WordPress Dashboard, or when I (try) to post with the WordPress iPhone app.  So I went looking for a better method, and came up with WP to Twitter.

You can configure WP to Twitter to do just about anything short of tying your shoes.  You can configure it to work with several URL shorteners, including Bit.ly.  You can configure it to Tweet new posts (good) or edits to posts (with my typo-correcting requirements, bad).  You can customize the content and sequence of the Tweet, convert tags to Twitter hashtags and more.

Best of all, it will automatically push new posts to Twitter, regardless of where and how the post is created.

All in all, pretty nifty.