Category Archives: Blogging

Upgrade to WordPress 3.0

Word Press 3.0 Is Here

The Information Sells upgrade to WordPress 3.0 seems to have gone smooth as silk.

If you are going to upgrade, here’s my advice (I assume your blog is already at WordPress 2.9.2 If you are at an earlier version – follow the steps below to upgrade to the current version, then upgrade to 3.0 Don’t jump from, say, WordPress 2.6 directly to WordPress 3.0):

1. Be sure all your plugins are compatible with 3.0 and upgrade to the most recent version of all your plugins before you upgrade.

2. Be sure your theme is compatible with WordPress 3.0 and upgrade to the most recent version of your theme before you do the WordPress upgrade

3. Back up everything. If you are an Amazon s3 subscriber, do a manual backup to S3 using the Automatic WordPress Plugin If you are not an S3 subscriber, try using the WP-DB-Backup plugin and the WordPress Backup plugin (yes – use both).

4. Disable all plugins. Theoretically, WordPress will go into maintenance mode and disable your plugins. Also theoretically, nothing will go wrong, so you don’t need to back up, either. Back up, then disable all plugins.

5. Upgrade. I use BlueHost and have never run into any trouble using the automatic core upgrade. If, however, you have found that on your web host, you cannot automatically upgrade plugins, that you must enter your FTP password everytime you want to download a theme, or anything else happens where you have to do a step or two more than WordPress’s default upgrade requires – then I’d suggest you do the manual upgrade instead of the automatic one.

And there you are – WordPress 3.0!

This upgrade has gotten a lot of attention, but you may find that the new features are pretty underwhelming for a regular user with a single blog. Anytime anyone has to use the word “taxonomy” to describe a feature, my eyelids begin to droop.

Many of the new features are improvements to “the core,” that is, the guts of WordPress. Their value will become more evident in future versions, where you will not have to tweak the code to get them to work.

So is it worthwhile to upgrade? Yes – there are very important security features included in this upgrade. You should always keep your WordPress installs up to date. Is it necessary to upgrade today? No – you can safely wait another week to make sure all your plugins and your theme are compatible. But this upgrade has been in the works for a long time and most developers have been keeping their software up-to-date, so you shouldn’t have a problem upgrading.

Shrink The Web

   

Small, Medium, and Large Size Images from Shrink The Web

Have you ever wanted to add a thumbnail picture of a web site to illustrate a post?

If you’ve tried, you know it can be difficult to make the picture small enough to fit your project while still keeping the image sharp enough to be identifiable.

That’s where the free tool, Shrink The Web, comes in.

Once you sign up, all you need to do is enter the URL of the site you want, choose the size of the image, place a line of code where you want the image, and – presto – your image will appear.

There are a few limitations to the free version. First, you can only do 5,000 screencaps per month (or 179 per day). That shouldn’t be much of a hardship for the average blogger. More annoying, however, is that free accounts can only snap the home page of any URL. For instance, since this blog isn’t the front page of the Ghost Leg site, I can’t use Shrink The Web to capture an image of the front page of Information Sells – I can only get the front page of Ghost Leg Media. (See the image in the right hand corner of this post.) The Pro version starts at $9.95 per month and can go up to several thousand dollars, depending on the features you want. For most of us, free will do just fine.

A Simple Way To Automatically Add New Blog Posts to Your FaceBook Pages

I spend a fair amount of time writing blog posts, and I’d like to get as much mileage out of that content as possible. At the same time, I want to keep adding new content to my FaceBook Fan page… but there are only 24 hours in the day.

Something’s got to give.

Or does it?

How would you like to have a short excerpt from each new blog post added automatically to your FaceBook profile? There is a WordPress plugin called “WordBooker” that will do just that.

In this short tutorial, I’ll show you how to find the plugin, add it to your blog, and configure it so that FaceBook’s security settings allow it to write to your FaceBook page and WordPress allows Facebook comments to be automatically posted back to your blog.

It’s a great way to get new readers for your blog while adding fresh content to FaceBook.


This text will be replaced


After inatalling the plugin, if you receive the error message that Wordbooker lacks permission to publish to fan pages, use the following URL which will give you a dialogue box where you can grant permissions.

http://www.facebook.com/connect/prompt_permissions.php?api_key=0cbf13c858237f5d74ef0c32a4db11fd&v=1.0&ext_perm=publish_stream&enable_profile_selector=1

WordPress 2.9 Released

WordPress 2.9 is now available. However, I’d suggest you hold off updating, at least for a few days, until you are sure your theme and any essentially plugins are compatible with the new version.

Beyond compatability, I’ve run across a few puzzling deletions in the final version.

First – on the Plugin Upgrader. The buzz has all been about Bulk Upgrades for Plugins – but several people have reported that it is missing from the final, released version of WordPress 2.9

It’s not missing. It’s just another victim of WordPress’s User-Hostile interface design.

You’d probably expect to find the Plugin Bulk Updater in the Plugins section. But it is not there. Instead, it’s tucked away under Tools | Upgrade | Plugins. Bad design – great feature. 

Prior to the full release, there was talk of a built in URL shortener. This has, apparently, been available on WordPress.com for some time. The report I read said the new Short URL button would appear in the Post Edit window, right beside the permalink. But – not on my blog it doesn’t.

Of course, these are quibbles. There are many behind the scenes bug fixes and improvements that will make this a worthwhile upgrade (eventually). But it will be interesting to hear where the much ballyhooed features disappeared to.

How To Fix Problems With WordPress Publish and Visibility Panel

Word Press Under The Hood

Word Press Under The Hood

Although I am not  programmer, I help a lot of people install and maintain their WordPress blogs and web sites. By and large, WordPress is troublefree – but eventually, no matter how good the software, something is bound to go wrong somewhere for someone.

This week, I ran across a puzzling WordPress 2.8x bug that I’d never seen before.

It seems to strike only under very particular conditions, so there isn’t much documentation about it. After much Googling, I found a tip from NellCooper on the WordPress support forums that helped.

Here’s the Problem:

If you use Firefox, when you click on any “Edit” link in the Publish panel of WordPress 2.8x – nothing happens. The slide open panel does not slide open.

These links will not work

These links will not work when clicked

So you can neither schedule a post for later publication nor password protect a post. Clicking on the link just jumps the cursor a few lines down the page.

Oddly, the links work fine in Internet Explorer 8. For some people, they also work in Chrome.

But whether you are using a Mac or a PC, the Edit links will not work with Firefox if – and this is a big if – you also cannot use WordPress’s built in Plugin and Theme upgrade option.

With most web hosts, when you click the “Add New” link for themes or plugins, the theme is downloaded and installed automatically. However, with some web hosts, you will have to either enter your FTP credentials before the plugin or theme can be accessed or you will have to manually download the item to your computer and then unzip it and then finally upload the plugin to your site as WordPress users did before WordPress 2.7.

If you find yourself in that boat and then find that your Publish panel links no longer work after an upgrade to WordPress 2.8x, try this:

  1. Update any out of date plugins
  2. Disable all plugins
  3. Close Firefox
  4. Reopen Firefox and try the Edit links (plugins are still all disabled)

If the links work, hooray!, you are half way home.

Now go back to your plugins and re-enable them one at a time. After each plug in is enabled, re-test your edit links.

If you find a plugin conflict, deactivate or delete the plugin.

The combination of Firefox, a plugin conflict, and a mis-configured web server may not be the only cause for this dilemma, but it is a common one and the easiest one to troubleshoot.

You may also find, if the plugins are not the problem, that your theme is causing the conflict. Sadly, that is harder to fix. You may have to choose between using the Edit links and keeping your theme. Or, perhaps, moving to a different web host.

WordPress logo by S. Diddy Released under Creative Commons license Wrench from Microsoft clip art. Composite image by Ghost Leg Media


WordPress Under Attack

Word Press 2.8.4 Available

Upgrade to Word Press 2.8.4

Any version of WordPress older than WordPress v2.8.4 is vulnerable to a new attack.

So first, before reading any further, take a minute and upgrade your blog. Remember to

    1. Back up
    2. Disable all plugins

After the upgrade, re-enable you plugins and you should be back in business.

Now that your blog is up to date and is patched against further attack, here’s what to look for to see if you were hacked:

  • A change in your permalink structure that adds a long string of gooble-de-gook to pretty permalinks. The words “eval” and “base64_decode” will appear somewhere in the new structure.
  • The addition of a new (and possibly hidden) administrator in your User panel. It may appear as Admin(2) or you may find that when you tote up the users and administrators the total doesn’t match the total figure shown on the User panel.

Lorelle has more details and suggestions on how to clean up your blog if it was hacked.

Don’t shrug this off as something that happens to “other people.”  These attacks are run by robot; they are not aimed at any particular target. If your blog is vulnerable, it will eventually be hacked.

Here are some extra security measures that require no special knowledge or expertise before you can use them. They can keep you safe:

  • Add the Antivirus plugin and use it.
  • Don’t use “Admin” as your Admin name. In fact, don’t use any Admin name that is connected to you or to the blog or that can be easily guessed. Save the friendly name for the “Nickname” under which your posts will appear. Make your log in secure.
  • Turn off automatic user registration
  • Keep all your plugins up to date. Turn off or delete unused plugins.

WordPress 2.8 Officially Released Today

Time To Update Your Blog

WordPress 2.8 Now Available

WordPress 2.8 is officially available for download

The big news – Themes can now be downloaded and installed from within the Dashboard, just like plugins.

This makes WordPress even easier to use and customize. No need to download, unzip, and upload a new theme ever again. Just browse the theme gallery, pick your poison, and install it. Of course, the theme has to be available through the regular WordPress.org theme gallery. Custom themes, professional themes, and themes released by developers on their own web sites only will still need to be manually installed.

Widgets have also undergone a face lift and some usability improvements. You can now save inactive widgets, so all the information you’ve entered in text boxes, etc., will not be lost if you remove a widget from your sidebar. You can add more than one copy of a widget. And you can drag and drop widgets between sidebars.

For the adventurous among us, WordPress has introduced syntax highlighting in the code editor. This makes it much easier to see what you’re doing if you need to tweak your templates or style sheets.

I upgraded this blog without incident using the Automatic Upgrade that was introduced in WordPress 2.7. Before I updated, I did a full back up and I de-activated all plugins. Both of those steps used to be performed automatically by the WP Automatic Upgrade plug in. Since that plugin is no longer compatible with WordPress – be sure you do a manual back up and plugin deactivation. Both steps are crucial to a clean upgrade!

If you are interested in WordPress’s official announcement, the video below should give you a good overview of all the new features. (It stutters and runs in fits and starts if you have a slower internet connection.)

How To Install WordPress On Your Own Computer

WAMP Server for Windows

Your Own Personal Web Server

If you spend time working with WordPress – that is, not blogging, but testing plugins, tweaking themes, modifying stylesheets, and generally just messing with the code – you’ve probably wished you could test your changes before hitting “Publish” on your blog.

Well, you can.

Installing the services needed to run WordPress on a Windows computer is hardly any more complicated than installing WordPress on a web host.

And it is free.

You’ll need three services: Apache, MySQL, and PHP. All three can be found bundled for easy download and installation in the WAMP Server (Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP)

The WAMP installation takes just a few minutes (it can take a bit of time to configure security on MySQL, if you choose to do so), and the subsequent WordPress install is almost as simple as a one click Simple Script install.

There are many tutorials on the web. I found this one, from SimpleHelp.net, useful.

Even if all you do is give various themes a dry run before recommending or installing them, you’ll save yourself many headaches. So be adventurous! You’ll find plenty of uses for your own web server.

A Short Manual To Get New Bloggers Started

Ready To Cruise Down The Information Superhighway

Ready To Cruise The Information Superhighway

Sometimes, when you hire someone to install your blog and do the behind the scenes work, writing your first post can be overwhelming.

I recently had a client send me an email saying his new blog made him feel as though he were behind the wheel of a new car for the first time.

That gave me a chuckle and an idea.

To help him – and everyone else – get over their jitters and get that first post published, I put together a 5 page manual covering just the basic first steps. It’s free, and you can download a copy here: The New Blog Owner’s Manual

If you want more detail, please take a look at my ebook, Blogging With WordPress. It isn’t free, but it is an in depth look at how to blog.

Photo by omniNate Released under Creative Commons License