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A little something I’ve been working on

click to enlarge

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New tools

About a month ago, I mentioned that I would be adding some plugins to this site. I added one just a few minutes ago. I’ve been working on a new plugin for WP 3.1 so uploading this one waited until I had upgraded this network to WP 3.1 (RC). When the KSES security alert came out with WP 3.0.4, I decided to update this network to 3.1 instead of 3.0.4.

Rudimentary Front end Editor

There is a screenshot of me creating this post. The plugin is still a little rough around the edges & has a few quirks. It’s probably going to be a few weeks before I have some more time to do a bit of cleanup work on it. Plus I need to have a few more things happen automagically behind the scenes.

As I was typing this up, I realized it should really have a link dialog of some kind. A second feature that’s on the list is a category drop down.

If you’re wondering, yes, the editor includes support for the standard post formats included in WP 3.1 *if* the theme registers support for them.

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Changing things out

In two weeks, this theme (Atypical Christmas) will be 5 years old. One of the things that has made WordPress a popular publishing platform is the stability of the theme system. Even though this theme is 5 years old, it’s never needed an update (nor has any of the themes Andrea & I developed for WP 2.0). We did add tag support to the themes running on Homeschool Journal when tags were added to WordPress, but other than adding that functionality nearly all of the themes on HSJ are circa WP 2.0.

I haven’t developed a theme from scratch in over 4 years. Over the last year, I’ve been working extensively with Genesis and most of the Genesis child themes. We use Genesis on Ron & Andrea, WP e-books, WP MU tutorials and Premium BP Themes. So, the new theme will be a Genesis child theme.

Over the last few months I’ve been thinking that I really needed to refresh the site. I’d like to have that done for the fifth anniversary of the Atypical Christmas theme, but I don’t think I’m going to make that. However, the last two weeks of December is typically quite quiet for us, so I’m setting my goal at having the theme changed out before the end of the year. I do have some interesting plans, but will save talking about those until I get a little further along in the process. As with all of the themes I’ve developed for blogging, the color scheme will be based on an image. The image that I selected for the header is one I took while we were on a nature walk early last month.

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New York, New York

On Friday morning, Andrea & I will be driving to Bangor, Maine to get on a plane bound for NYC. We will both be speaking at WordCamp NYC (WCNYC) on Saturday morning. (If you click through the link you’ll see our sessions are listed under the BuddyPress/MU track.) Most of our blogs and Homeschool Journal run on WordPress MU.

This will be our first overnight trip away together from all the children in about six years and it’s only the second time in 10 years. While it is technically a business trip we will get to have some time together.

Planning for WordCamps usually start a few months in advance. If I remember correctly, in the early planning, WCNYC was expecting 200-300 attendees. The registered list topped 500 over the weekend and is 530+ now. Many of the people attending are people that we know online. So, we are both excited to have the chance to get to meet them. It’s a bonus that no one will look at us strange when talk extensively about techy stuff ๐Ÿ˜€

We each have 3 sessions/presentations to prepare for. It is going to be a busy week for us, but a good busy.

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Techy post

I realized on Monday night that it had been 2 weeks since I posted. There are a few techy things that I wanted to mention.

  1. I’ve made a few more changes to the Spam Karma auto purge plugin. This weekend I should be able to test it. If it performs as expected, I will release it into the wild next week. I’m going to make a second version for WordPress MU which will have a feature not required in a stand-alone WP install.
  2. I’ve been running gentoo linux on this computer for the last 7 months or so. I’ve decided to switch to Fedora Core 6. Hopefully, this weekend I’ll be able download the 6 cd images needed. If that goes as planned, you won’t see alot of me next week.
  3. Last week I went to an official Vista launch day. For all the neat things they have done, I was quite underwhelmed. I know eventually I will be working with it. But, you can count on it never getting installed on any computer I own. More than once in the course of the day, I silently wondered how many people in the audience were familiar with the innovation of the Open Source and GNU communities. For example, Windows Vista has a sidebar on the desktop. For the sidebar you write gadgets using javascript. Extensions for Firefox which have been around for quite a while are written in javascript. I saw little innovation in which one could say the idea was original.
  4. For the last couple months, signups have been disabled at Homeschool Journal. We did that because we had reached our account’s capacity. The work that I’ve done with Spam Karma has extended the window in which we had to plan what to do next. Sometime in 1-2 months we will be moving Homeschool Journal to another provider where our account will give us a bigger slice of the server. Bigger accounts cost more and we will eventually have to look at ways of funding the site.
  5. After we have the account but before we move Homeschool Journal, I will be working on optimizing the code and implementing a few other features. So, for a while I may be throwing a few techy accomplishment posts at you.
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Summer look

I’ve been wanting to design a new theme for the blog for a month or so. What got me to thinking about it was the many new landscapes I’ve seen in the last couple months since I changed the route I’ve been following and also in traveling to and from the apartment I rented. But I’m also someone who likes to explore an area and I’ve found an amazing number of places where you have a 180 degree (or more) view of miles of farms and forest.

After I finished with the drum sander this afternoon I was ready for a break from the last couple weeks. It took about 1/2 hour to find, settle on and manipulate (with GIMP) the image I would use for a banner. It took about an hour to choose (from the image) and implement the colours in the theme. Note that I used a copy of Atypical Christmas and most of the work was just adjusting the colours on all the various elements on the page. And then I spent about 1/2 adding theme options and widgeting the theme. I’m not going to immediately offer the theme for public consumption but I will be making it available on homeschool journal.

If you are coming in via RSS, come on over and have a look.

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Another Theme

I finished off the Sticky Note Theme. It has a few added features in the admin panel. The screenshot gives you a hint of what one of them might be. Check out the details.

Sticky Note Theme

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WordPress Theme

Andrea has posted a Theme for WP 1.5 or 2.0. Read all about it.

pumpkim theme

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WordPress Hack

If you are new to WP, you may wonder what a WP hack is. Well, hacks were what lead to plugins. Basically, a plugin is an extension that you can add to WP (the majority of open source projects support plugins). Prior to the advent of plugins, if a WP user wanted to add or modify functionality, they would write a hack. Some people still do write hacks, although allowing plugins has eliminated most of the situations where one would want to. Generally, it is considered a hack when you modify WP core files.

Having said that, this is a hack. This hack replaces 2 files used by the admin panel. The hack has no effect on the public site. The purpose of the hack is to make the admin panel (I mentioned it last week) look like this:

Green Admin Panel

You can download the hack. Extract the hack onto your computer. It includes a README with instruction on how to use it. If you are not comfortable with backing up and overwriting files, wait for the plugin (if I can create one for it).

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WordPress rulez..

There is nothing like a comment spammer telling you something about their age. If you have left a comment here recently, I hope that the note I included regarding comment moderation in the comment template caught your attention. The following is one of the more original comment spam I’ve seen:

Great job on this site. And, thanks again for the info. WordPress rulez.. I like it. Hey, did I tell you about my encounter with and the amazing wonders of vitamins and supplements? I Feel great as never before! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Check it out. Any problems? Let nature help.

This puppy arrived today. In fact, it arrived several times. Now you would think that if you were trying to slide a comment by someone as being legitimate you would not submit the same one on 2 entries that were weeks apart within a minute of each other giving a different email address and url on each.

I’ve been watching somewhat amused at the progression of the comment spam. One of the reasons Andrea originally switched to WordPress a year or so ago was because comment spammers were pounding her blog with alot of comment spam. One day a while ago, she asked why her blog and this one seemed to only randomly get hit with a few spam, when they had previously pounded away. I told her from a programmer’s perspective, there’s no point in wasting alot of processing time on something until you have a reasonable chance of the processing succeeding. So, right now, they are trying to find a hole that will allow the comment spam through. In watching the characteristics of the spam change, I can tell that they are at least familiar with some of the comment settings in WordPress.

Do you see the irony of the statement in the comment spam that became the title of the post? One of the reasons WordPress is so popular is that it allows the site owner alot of choices in moderating comments including, if necessary, moderating every comment. Yes, you’re right, WordPress rules (and you’re wasting your time).