WordPress 2.8 automatic upgrade just works

Within about 15 minutes this morning, I upgraded three different WordPress websites from 2.7 to 2.8. And the updates would have gone much faster if I hadn’t taken the time to first update all the plugins!

I am simply in awe of the WordPress team. The built in upgrade function is just fantastic.

But do as I say, and not as I do: backup your website and your database BEFORE running the 2.8 upgrade, just in case…

Read more about WordPress 2.8 >>

Welcome to Self Hosting, ModFrugal!

This morning I have been advising an old friend on the merits of self hosting a WordPress blog over the free WordPress.com hosting service.

WordPress.com was a great training ground for her, but now she’s diving into the wooly world of setting up mySQL databases, modifying themes, and all that jazz.

So welcome to self hosting, Modfrugal. After your initial learning curve, you’re really going to like the flexibility and extensibility that self hosting brings.

View her blog at modfrugal.com

WordPress Plugins I Actually Use: Part 2

A couple weeks have gone by, and I have been tweaking this site a bit, both in the look and feel of the user interface and in the functionality in the plugins installed.

I added one new plugin, deactivated one and replaced it with another.

Since my last post, I have deactivated ShareThis. I felt it caused too much delay in page loading. In its place, I am using Sociable, which looks prettier and loads faster.

For managing the top level navigation, I found Page Lists Plus. This plugin gives you a great deal of control over the main nav, which WordPress creates based on your Pages. The link to my resume in the top nav is a link to a Google Docs page. And I have created a couple of other pages that I want in the site but that I don’t want in the main nav.

To configure Page Lists Plus to do the redirect, install and activate the plugin. On the Setting page, check this box:

plp1

Then create the Page, where the following appears at the bottom of the admin:

plp2

As you see, I have entered the Google Docs URL in the Redirect To field. Now the Resume page appears in the top navigation, but redirects to an off site URL instead of the page in WordPress.

So, this Part 2 of the series isn’t earth shattering in content, but, in the case of the main navigation, important in managing the functionality of the site.

The limited behavior of the main navigation, based as it is on Pages, belies WordPress’ history as a blogging platform. As WordPress continues to grow towards a more full-featured CMS, little amenities like these need to migrate from plugins into core functionality.

Iconic Me

After Chet twittered about my blog running the WPTouch theme, I was reminded I hadn’t customized it at all.

First things first, a new icon! Now, if you go to this site (waynehastings.net) on your iPhone or iPod Touch, click the Bookmark “+” icon, then click “Add to Home Screen”, the icon will look like this:

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Thankfully, the makers of the WPTouch theme included a Photoshop document, so creating this icon took just a few minutes. Little amenities like that make using some open source software an absolute pleasure.

Just for fun, I also replaced my Twitter profile picture with this icon.

WordPress Plugins I Actually Use: Part 1

I’m a sucker for lists. Everytime I encounter a new list of someone’s favorite WordPress plugins or themes, I bookmark them all. Just look at my WordPress bookmarks on Delicious.

So here is a list of the plugins I have installed and running on this site so far, after just two days live.

  1. All in One SEO Pack – Search engine goodness for WordPress. Just install and activate, or get in and muck with the details as much as you like.
  2. Automatic Timezone – Because the WordPress default install doesn’t know when to Spring Forward or Fall Back. This is actually a fairly trivial problem, but I did have one client complain that his server’s time was an hour off recently, which led me to locate this plugin.
  3. Bad Behavior – A free alternative to Akismet, this plugin hooks into the ProjectHoneypot.org blacklist.
  4. Contact Form 7 – Pain-free method for getting a simple contact form onto your site. I’ll probably be replacing this at some point with a more full-featured form solution.
  5. Delicious for WordPress – Pulls my recent Delicious.com bookmarks into the right hand sidebar. I felt my bookmark activity was at least as interesting as my Twitter activity, so it deserved equal visibility on my blog.
  6. Email Immunizer – One thing I liked about Joomla out of the box is how it automatically identifies e-mail addresses in content and makes them clickable links with Javascript masking to prevent spammers from harvesting e-mail addresses. This plugin does the same thing: turns e-mail addresses in posts into masked links.
  7. Google Sitemap Generator – More SEO goodness, also notifies the other major search engines that your sitemap.xml file is recently updated.
  8. NextGen Gallery – My first dip into image gallery plugins for WordPress, this looks pretty nice…
  9. NoFollow Case by Case – Allows you to selectively set links to follow or nofollow, so you can give your friends special SEO loving.
  10. Twitter Tools – Twitter has become the ubiquitous life/micro blogging platform, so you want to incorporate this into your regular blogging stream.
  11. WP Touch – This is a slick one: a iPhone/iTouch THEME masquerading as a plugin. Install this plugin, and your site becomes mobile phone friendly automatically.

Two plugins worth looking at:

  1. WP-Invoice – Great for freelancers, allows you to generate and send invoices by e-mail.
  2. WP e-Commerce – Turns your WordPress into a basic shopping cart!

There are a million WordPress plugins lists on the web, but maybe this will help someone out there identify something useful they hadn’t encountered yet.

What plugins do you find indispensible?

BrooksBelhumeur.com now live

Over the weekend, I installed a new WordPress blog for Brooks Belhumeur. I took the Plain Box 2.0 theme together with a couple of plug-ins and viola, website.

Since Brooks is between a career in restaurant management and a new career in … something else … I put together a business card with the same look and feel.

The photo of Brooks is one I took back in the summer of 2006 in the back of the Memphis B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street. You can see the original image here.

You can visit Brooks’ new site at www.brooksbelhumeur.com

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