Wonky WordPress

Ever since I upgraded to WordPress 2.3.2, I have noticed a really strange error.  I am trying a fix found here, and this post is partly a test to see if it works.

Also, a reader of my husband’s gracious donated a used Apple iBook G3 for my use so that I might have computer time to continue to create interesting opportunities for my students to learn.  Thanks, Betsy!  One of the main reasons for the light blogging here is the increasing need to Steve to use our desktop for his writing (which he gets paid for and I don’t).

Now playing: The Kelly Richey Band – The Blues Don’t Lie
via FoxyTunes

[tags]wordpress, mysql error, apple, ibook[/tags]

Movable Type Goes Open Source

When I first began blogging after moving away from a hosted online journal, I used Movable Type mainly because it seemed to be the biggest game around.  It was, at that time, a bear to install.  I always had difficulty with upgrades, too.  Updating was not easy, as I had to rebuild after each post — a time-consuming process.  Finally, I found tech support to be unhelpful or nonexistent because, as it seemed to me, MT was interested in you only if you paid for a license, which was not something I could afford to do.

I switched to WordPress in early 2006, and I have been very happy ever since.  I rarely have any problems with upgrading, and I love the ease with which I can change themes (templates).  To my way of thinking, what WP got right from the beginning that MT got wrong was going open source.  Yesterday, MT announced they are going open source.  My personal thinking is that they waited too long, but I’m glad they’re making this move.  If I had paid for a license, I think I’d be pretty angry about it.  I think MT will be a much better product as a result, and competition will only be good for WP and MT both.

[tags]mt, movable type, wordpress, open source[/tags]

Anarchy Media Player and Odeo Plugins

I am very lazy. Up until now, in order to post YouTube videos and Odeo podcasts, I have had to jump through a few hoops. For non-WordPress users, this won’t mean much, but for those of you who use WP and want to be able to post flash media and want to learn how, this post is for you.

The first thing I had to do was login and click on my Users tab. Next, I had to click on the “Your Profile” tab. Under “Personal Options,” I had to uncheck the checkbox that says “Use the visual editor when writing.” I like using the visual editor (aka the rich text editor) because it enables me to see things easier and work more easily with the HTML I use. In fact, newbies can use the editor and blog without knowing any HTML at all. I learned HTML some years ago when I was using a journaling system that pretty much forced me to learn it in order to make any changes in my template, but nowadays, one really doesn’t need to know any HTML to write online (it helps, but it is totally unnecessary).

After turning of the visual editor, I could then post any sort of embedded flash video or podcast. I found those extra steps I had to take something of a pain, and I was rather hoping I could find a plugin that would enable me to work around this problem. I am happy to report that I have found two such plugins today.

Patrick Chia‘s Odeo Plugin enables me to insert an Odeo player into a post with a minimum of trouble. I simply locate the URL to the Odeo file I want to play and insert it between brackets like so:

Odeo code

I did a little editing of the wp-odeo.php file. The code calls for the gray Odeo player, but I don’t like that one (mainly because it has a pink button that I feel clashes with my blog template), so I opened the file with notepade and searched for the following text:

wp-odeo code

and substituted all instances when I saw “gray” with “black”:

wp-odeo code black

You will need to look through the file to find all of the instances in which the code is used. I found that I needed to replace the word “gray” with black three times; for some reason, one part of the code already said black. As far as I can tell, the plugin does not give the option to choose from among several embedded players. If this is incorrect, someone please let me know. Therefore, if you don’t like the gray one, you should figure out what the code is for the other types. You can do this at Odeo’s site if you click on the link that says Embeddable Player (it will appear underneath the player on the page where your podcast is located). You will be presented with six options. If you would like the large gray player with the pink button, you don’t need to do anything. If you want another player, simply replace the code in the file that calls for the gray player with the code for the player of your choice. Here is a sample of this plugin at work on this blog:



Now, I’m not sure if this next plugin will also play Odeo files or not; the plugin’s author didn’t mention Odeo. However, it will play all kinds of media files from your own uploaded files (such as movies and mp3’s) to flash swf files. It is called Anarchy Media Player, and it was created by An-Archos. You don’t have to be running WP to use it, but it is very WP-friendly. One caution. Be careful and and actually read so that you download the right version. I got it on the third try after I slowed down enough to actually read the site and see which one I needed. If you have upgraded to 2.1, you need to download the 2.0 Beta version of AMP for WP 2.1. Be careful that you don’t download the version for WP 2.0; it won’t work properly. I’m not crazy about the buttons provided to use on WP’s rich text (or visual) editor, as I don’t think they are intuitive. I think I will be consulting the site for some time until I can remember wat they do; however, it is much easier than going through the process I have had to use up until now just to share a video.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/cxWOWdq-wO0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

[tags]WordPresss, plugins, Anarchy Media Player, Odeo[/tags]


I recently upgraded to WordPress 2.1, and I’m really happy with it. I knew the time would come when I would need to sift through all my plugins to see which ones needed to be updated in order to continue to work, but it seemed like such an arduous task. I particularly hate updating the plugin that allows you see what I’m currently reading in the sidebar because the default templates do not work with my blog template, and I have to do a lot of tweaking. I have now upgraded to the most recent version of each plugin I use on each of my blogs. I also took the time to delete plugins I don’t use.

I have to admit that all the customization via plugins is one of my favorite things about WordPress. I noticed that Lorelle recently posted about the most popular plugins, and I discovered quite a few plugins I didn’t know about. I have to admit that I don’t sift through the plugins site very often. In fact, I don’t visit at all unless I have a specific task in mind, and I think I might be able to find a plugin to do it. I didn’t implement all the new plugins on this site, but you might notice a few new features.

Some of my favorite new site features:

  • Autosave: Every few minutes, the post draft automatically saves so I won’t ever lose a post again.
  • Redesigned login screen: This is something you’d never see, but I have to admit that the screen I see when I login is now much prettier.
  • Tabbed editor: This allows me to switch back and forth between the text editor and html code, which is something that was kind of a pain before.
  • Popularity Contest: This plugin places links to my most popular posts as determined by the number of comments and search engine hits, among other things, now appears in my left sidebar.
  • Related posts: I elected not to implement this plugin at this blog, but on my education blog, I thought it would help readers find nuggets in my archives that might be useful.
  • Bad Behavior: I admit that I had heard of this plugin, but for some reason, I thought it was only available to WordPress users at WordPress.com. I have been having trouble with spammers contacting me through my genealogy blog contact form. So far, since I installed this plugin, I haven’t received a spam e-mail via my contact form, but I don’t expect that particular problem to stop immediately. It looks as though Bad Behavior will stop spammers from getting at my site in the first place, so I should also notice fewer junk comments in my Comments Spam folder. Akismet does a great job preventing me from getting comment spam, but I figure one more layer of defense can’t hurt. I can’t believe we have to do things like this just to make sure all comments we receive are legitimate. Spammers are disgusting.

Let me know if anything seems broken. I had a plugin that interfered with my readers’ ability to comment on my education blog, so let me know if you are having any problems with anything on my site.

Movable Type v. Word Press: Update

Since I dumped Movable Type for Word Press about six months ago, I have fallen in love with Word Press. It is so much easier to make changes to templates. It’s less clunky and takes up less room on the server. The themes are nicer looking than most MT stylesheets/templates I’ve come across. I have fewer problems with spam comments; I have not had a single spam comment post to my site, and a miniscule amount of them are even thrown into moderation, so I never have to see them.

Because Word Press is distributed under the GNU General Public License, users have adapted it and created all sorts of plugins for it. I have barely even begun to look at all the bells and whistles I can attach to my lean, mean, CMS machine. I’ve recommended it to others looking to blog. If you yourself are looking to blog, I do suggest Word Press; if you don’t have your own domain, try WordPress.com, who will host your blog (similar to Blogger/Blogspot). In fact, if you are able to migrate from Blospot to WordPress.com, I’d suggest it. Blogspot has been a huge target for comment spam. One of my favorite blogs was having such a problem with it that the owner will only allow commenters who have Blogger profiles to comment on their blogs. One of the reasons I ditched MT was because of TypeKey. It may have changed since, but with the last version I had, I couldn’t simply allow users I trusted to automatically post a comment; they had to either go into moderation with everyone else or login to TypeKey. I sympathize with those of you who don’t feel like registering with some (unknown) entity in order to comment on a blog. I actually resent it, so I understand why most of you all did not do so when I was using TypeKey.

I wouldn’t go back to MT unless something major happened at Word Press. Steve first suggested it when he had the opportunity to use it while writing for Blogs for Natalee about a year ago. I am a creature of habit, and I was reluctant to switch. Once I tried it, though, I was really happy with it. I have changed the look drastically several times with minimal fuss compared to changing templates with MT.

P.S. Is there anyone out there who wants me to implement Gravatar again?

Soliciting Template Advice

I’m trying to decide whether or not to go with a bolder template I found. It reminded me instantly of Madama Butterfly, my favorite opera (but it isn’t as though I have been to lots).

I have created a test page for you to look at. It has my blog and sidebar as they would appear. I realize I need to make some tweaky changes (like fixing the search button). I also ditched the calendar function, so if you use that, it might be gone if I decide to go with the template.

View the test template, then come back and tell me what you think.

To Trackback or Not to Trackback

Perhaps not as weighty a consideration as that of the famed Prince of Denmark… at any rate, I’ve decided not to trackback. That is, I have disabled trackbacks for my system. I will still trackback others’ sites when I link them, but on this end, allowing trackbacks has proved to be rather fruitless. First of all, most people who link me don’t trackback. That’s fine; I don’t really mind. Second, for some reason, my spam filter blocks anyone who tracksback with a Blogspot blog on Blogger, even legitimate trackbacks. Perhaps this is due to the large number of splogs on Blogger. Finally, of the countless trackbacks I’ve received, maybe five — website wide, not just for this blog — have been legitimate. Considering that in some form or another, parts of this website have been live for a year and a half, that’s not a stellar record. My spam filter manages to block or moderate all of the trackback spam, but I do have to spend a few minutes each day deleting trackback spam from my junk folder. Considering how few benefits I get out of it, I decided it simply wasn’t worth it to continue accepting trackbacks. I doubt it will inconvenience anyone, but I thought I’d annouce the change anyway.


OK, I think I have avatars up and running. The CSS looks fine. I am not happy with how much space appears between the comment and the “Comment by ___,” but I’m not sure how to fix it, and I’ve been working on it for far too long tonight. If you want an avatar other than the default one to appear next to your comments so you are distinguished from other guests, go to Gravatar and upload an 80X80 px avatar. Your avatar will only be 50X50 on this site, and it will look better if it doesn’t already have a border. The largest avatars allowed are 80X80, and having an avatar that size will allow your avatar to appear on other Gravatar-enabled sites without messing up the way it looks. It is linked to your e-mail address, so if you use TypeKey, make sure you link your avatar to the same e-mail address as you use for TypeKey authentication; also, make sure you use the e-mail address you linked to the avatar to ensure that it will appear here. Whenever you comment on sites that have enabled Gravatar, your avatar will appear!

It will take a day or so for the Gravatar folks to rate it. I instituted a G-rating on avatars, because I want to avoid offending any co-workers, students, or parents who happen by. I don’t relish being offended by an avatar I can’t change appearing on my site either, so I guess that’s another reason. If your avatar exceeds a G-rating or if you don’t have an avatar, the default avatar will appear next to your comments. It looks like this:

See? You don’t want that. Get an avatar!

MT Protect and Gravatar

Arvind has a great-looking plugin in MT Protect. Too bad I can’t figure out how to get it to work. I know it is something I didn’t do correctly, because others don’t seem to be having problems. I:

  • Already had all my archives saved as .php files, so no problem.
  • Changed my index file to .php instead of .html. I could no longer see my blog.
  • I noticed I couldn’t see any archive pages either.
  • Checked to see if I had all my tags in the right place. I think they were, but the instructions were not step-by-step “for dummies” type instructions.
  • Checked to see that the plugin was enabled for this blog. It is.

I didn’t delete the plugin, because I feel like if I can get it to work, it will be good to be able to protect entries, especially now that all my blogs are on the same (read more accessible) domain, but I guess for now I’ll just have to make sure that I don’t write anything I would care if anyone out there read — which is precisely what I’ve been doing since February 2004, when I set up this blog at Upsaid following a nasty end to my tenure at Diaryland.

I have also enabled Gravatar. If you follow the link, you’ll see what that’s all about, but essentially it allows commenters to upload avatars that will appear next to their comments. You do have to wait for the Gravatar to be rated. I am only allowing “G” rated Gravatars on my site, because I do not want to offend parents, students, or co-workers who stop by. Plus, I just don’t trust you to keep it clean. Heh.

Happy Birthday, MT

Movable Type turned four years old on October 8.

I am really glad I started using MT about a year and a half ago. While I found it difficult to install initially, I eventually learned my way around, and subsequent upgrades were not too difficult. I like the wide array of plugins available, my favorite being Media Manager, which helps me keep track of my books and makes it very easy for me to format my book reviews. The latest version of MT even has SpamLookup bundled with the software, so you have the best comment and trackback spam protection without having to install anything extra. We haven’t had a single comment spam or trackback spam pass by its filter, despite the fact that there are well over 100 attempts at each on our site every day. Best of all, MT is free, though if you don’t pay you don’t get support.

I am really happy that I left Diaryland nearly two years ago now in favor of a place where I have no limitations. Without MT, I’m not sure what this place would look like. I’ve learned a lot about web publishing through my experience with MT.

Happy birthday, Movable Type!