general wordpress Archives

Stop WordPress From Changing My Post Code

One thing that truly drives me crazy about WordPress, though I do love using it, is the fact that it will mess up my code whenever I enter something it just doesn’t like.

I came across a video here that’s a bit old but thought that I’d repost it here, since it’s an elegant solution when you just need to add some javascript to a post or page!

Finding A Good WordPress Plugin Developer

Ok, ok. This is a rant. Be prepared!

I recently tried to find a good WordPress plugin developer to develop a plugin for me. I commonly use the platform odesk to find new people and I’ve been horrifed by a trend that has emerged on these types of service type sites.

The folks on odesk have gotten very expensive! Did I say very expensive! Oh ya. Here’s what happened to me. I contracted to find a WordPress plugin developer as I mentioned earlier. The cheapest price – with my hesitation came in on a bid of $200. The average bid was between $500 and $1000!

You did hear me right. Well, I was a little taken aback and decided to see what it would take to just write it myself and how long it would take. I’ll tell you that I’m no master programmer. I do know a lot about WordPress, but again, I kind of hack together what I need.

The end result? After three hours, I completely wrote the plugin. Turned out to be 10 to 12 lines of code! Now, you would have to know what to write, but in my opinion it was too simple. Turns out my time was worth close to $200 per hour or $100 per line of code!

It comes down to the fact that a lot of the India programmers have gotten smart to the ways of North Americans. Why write it yourself when you can contract to someone in a foreign country and get it down for a 1/10th of the price!

Initially when you look at the cost per hour, it looks really good. For example the average programmer price was around $9 to $12 per hour. But they kept telling me that it would take a solid week of building and testing! Yep, it was a load of do-do for sure. For me being a hacker/programmer, I got the job done in under 3 hours.

So, what are we to do? Well, I did find a partial solution to the problem. Whenever I ran into trouble, I’d post a job on odesk asking for a line of php code to solve the problem. Turns out there’s a lot of great programmers who will charge a dollar or two for a solution! With that in mind, I was able to put the code together in no time flat and for under $1.50.

Also, make sure you know what you need. This will mean that you are going to take some time and develop the layout of what is going to happen and what, where and how it will look in the end. Many times, you can find the pieces you need with good old Google searches. This pretty much what I did.

The clearer the job, the cheaper it will be in the end. Even if you do sub it to a wordpress plugin developer.

All in all, my recommendation to you is just be sure of what you want, and how much you think it should cost. And hammer down the developer to a price.

Looking At WordPress 3.2.x

Well, WordPress is finally maturing! Over time the fine folks at WordPress have had to work through some pretty severe growing pains, but luck for us, things have really improved with age.

I’ve been using WordPress since version 1.7 and when I step back to any of my sites that are still running that old of a version (none now), I was just astonished how I could actually use that old version!

But what has made WordPress so much better since the introduction of version 3 and specifically version 3.2.1? Well, there’s a ton of improvements under the hood.

First and foremost security has greatly improved. I’ve faced some pretty bad hacks on hundreds of my wordpress sites and it came down to having my hosting agent restore all the sites from a backup. But with the latest version and some innovative plugins, WordPress has hardened pretty good. We always have to vigilant against potential hacks. Let’s face it, it’s still code, but things have greatly improved.

Next, functionality. What can I say? Wow! I love the custom menus available in WordPress 3. My only complaint is programming information has been slow to flow on the docs site. Over time I can see some great improvements coming down the pipe that will make menus even more exciting and feature filled. Time will tell.

Finally in the latest versions, speed. Things are greatly improving on the speed side of WordPress. There’s been some pretty awesome code optimizations to the code base that has really helped things out. Again lot’s of exciting things coming down the pipe in regards to speed. Time will tell again.

But there are things that I’m still waiting on. The programmers are fantastic. WordPress is definitely a blessing from the open source community. But these suggestions are just that – suggestions. Things that I think need improvement or could be great additions to WordPress.

My first complaint is the structuring of menus. I understand the menuing structure within the database but I have a really interesting question to ask in this regard. Why the heck was it done the way it was done? I can see it broken down as a post or page is. But man to create a menu there are several database touches that must be completed to ‘get the job done’. Well, yes, it fits into the current structure but when another table is not really a big deal, it would have made way more sense, in my humble opinion to split this functionality out.

Next, I’d like to see posts and pages getting a little closer in functionality. I totally understand the differences between the two types but I’d love to see something like a ‘super post’ that contains the functionality of posts and pages. Allow me to create a post with all the tag love in it but also be able to select a custom template page to create it on.

This is something that I”m surprised that has really never made it.

Another thing is the editor. Things are improving, but there are still some glaring issues with the edit window. WordPress still likes to mess with the code added in the window and I’d just love to have the ability to have wordpress to trust that I know what I’m posting and let me use the visual window without having to resort to the html window. Or at the very least – don’t mess up my html code if I go back to the visual window.

Another thing and this is probably a theme function more then anything else, but I’d love to be able to tackle in custom css code to tweak themes easily within WordPress. In other words, it would be cool to have a tab in the appearance folder that is the ‘custom css’ file tab. Here I could lay in some final css code that would override any other css that may be part of the theme.

I suggest the final thing because I already do so much css customization to sites with firefox and firebug and to me, it would be a slam dunk.

So, the final verdict on WordPress 3.2.x? Well, it’s getting slicker every single day! I’m excited to see what will be coming down the pipe in the future!

The Power of the Press

power of the pressThe power of the press has never something we talk about but it is one of the most influential devices of the 20th century.

The printing press has completely transformed the last few hundred years, making duplication of printed material very easy and very inexpensive.

But I’m not here to talk about printing presses today, but a new movement of a different kind of press that is becoming as influential has it’s ink and paper cousins.

I’m talking about WordPress. This blog engine has begun to completely change the face of the electronic world that we call the Internet.

It allows us to do extremely complex sites with just a few clicks of a button! I cannot imagine how much work it would be to create a web site as functional and feature filled as this electronic press.

With the addition of wordpress 3.0 in the past few months, WordPress has taken on even more of a look and feel of a very professional platform.

The funny thing about this great software is that it’s totally and absolutely free! Still I pinch myself when I contemplate the fact that this software is free. Updates are free. Many add ons are free. And even when you contemplate some of the pay for software that can be used with WordPress, it’s still a tremendous value, overall.

Why? Because WordPress was written from the ground up with the idea of expansion in mind. This expansion has begun to really hit home in 2010 and I only look forward to what we will be seeing from the WordPress team in 2011.

Power to the Press!

Taking WordPress To The Next Level

automate back linksI’m always on the hunt for ways to take my favorite content management system (WordPress) to the next level. You see, with WordPress, I’ve been able to do quite well on the Internet. BUT, I believe I’ve only seen the beginning of what is possible.

So what has been occupying my time in regards to WordPress? More and more automation. That’s the real bomb to wordpress is the ability to automate as much as possible on a web site to gain maximum impact on everything we do.

The one place that I believe there is a deficit is the area of back linking. If WordPress is the bread and butter of a web site, back linking is the same for ranking. Most ranking occurs for several reasons, but for long term ranking, it’s downright back linking to your web site.

Why would I be obsessed with rankings in the search engines though? I want to capture the number 1 spot in Google, MSN and Yahoo. Plain and simple. Any other spot is unacceptable. More then 40% of traffic to a keyword term is given to the #1 spot and I want that traffic.

The more traffic I can get, the greater my visitors and the better my overall profits. That’s what it all comes down to in the end. Profits. Don’t get me wrong, I love to work on the Internet. I love everything about it. I have to pay bills though and if my favorite thing in the world pays the bills too, then I can do more of it!

So, back to the reason for this article. Automating back links with WordPress. Right now, I’ve come across several ways to do just this, but I’m starting to crack out the programming books to create just a few more. As I mentioned earlier, there is definitely a deficit of automated back linking plugins in the market place right now.

Yes, wordpress can ping your site for you automatically. That’s the first base to getting back linked. Next, WordPress can push out your RSS feed information to RSS aggregators and that’s a great second base.

The home run though, is getting authorative back links to the site for each post on it’s topic matter. These back links have to have an element of diversity in them. From experimentation all hard back links are good, but a mix of back links is the magic.

Diversity in back links are back links from multiple types of sources. For example, from articles, then from comments and then from forum links and then from pdf’s and then from web 2.0 sites and so on. This is the real magic here.

There also has to be diversity in where the backlinks are created. You are trying to reduce the ‘footprint’ of the back links. Let me explain. If you created a new post on ‘fishing rods’. Then right behind it the site can automate a social bookmark to Digg. Then it creates a web 2.0 property on wordpress.com. Then it posts an article to ezine.

Then you create a new post on your same site on ‘red fishing rods’. Then the same syndication occurs exactly the same way on the new post. Well, it won’t take long for the pattern to emerge and the search engines are going to start to discount your back linking efforts.

So, there has to be diversity in the back linking as well when back linking. My question in all of this is how to accomplish this in a semi or fully automated fashion to give us the necessary back links that will boost our site in the long run.

What are we to do? How do we accomplish this grand task. That’s where I’m at right now. How to accomplish all of this in a manner that will satisfy the search engines while at the same time not send us to the loony bin.

I need your help. What can you tell me about what you know in this area or what you’ve come across. Help me build a plan and I’ll reward you by letting you in on the plan and the product when it’s done.

So send me your comments and I’ll be sure to get back to you on this.

Ushering In a New WordPress

Well, WordPress 3.0 is official out and I’ve held my breath for a while on it until I got over the initial birthing pains.

You see, I’ve been in the computer business for some time and I really do avoid major updates to any software. I prefer others to run ahead and ‘test the waters’ so to speak. This way, they can initially iron out the major bugs and I can reap the benefits. Read the rest of this entry

Speeding Up WordPress

I recently had a funny thing happen to me about two weeks ago that involved WordPress and my wife. You see, having someone in the house that understands wordpress is just too handy to let go by. So, she had me setup a site for her and she has started to blog in earnest!

But it didn’t take long for her to run into troubles. She is running a slightly older laptop that is running Vista with just enough ram to say that she has a computer. Whenever she fires up her WordPress site and goes into the administrative back end, her browser window locks up.

Believe me, it had me stratching my head just for a few moments. I’ve been administering well over 300 blog installs for the past two years and this has never happened to me.

With investigation, I could only come up with the fact that the javascript on the page was just bogging down vista too much. Fortunately the fix is pretty simple too.

It was just a matter of performing a ‘Turbo’ install. You’ll find the turbo application in your administration panel at the top right hand corner.

It’s literally the matter of clicking on Turbo and then selecting the ‘Turbo:Speed up WordPress’ install now button. Follow through with the install and quickly reboot your computer.

Now, my darling wife is very happy to blog to her heart’s content. With the local cached copy of page elements right on her computer, everything clicks along as it should.

After performing on her computer, I did the same to mine. I did notice a small difference in speed, but my pc has more ram and isn’t running Vista.

So, I hope that this very quick tip helps you with your WordPress slowdown problems, if you are having them!

A Year In Review 2009 – 2010

It’s hard to believe that already a year has flown by here at usingwp.com! The first post was written exactly on the 20th of March 2009.

Things have changed quite a bit here on usingwp.com too. When I started this blog, I thought that I would make it very techie like, but as time marched on, I found that my readers enjoyed a blog that was more informative then techie.

Sure there is some technical things mentioned but overall, the site talks about general use of WordPress and topics that surround these ends.

But here’s a bit of a highlight of some of the articles that appeared here over the past year:

I know that this is a short post this week, but there’s plenty to read in the posts mentioned in this post. I’ll be picking up the year in review in the next post.

As always, I’m interested in hearing your comments!

WordPress 3.0 – What’s Troubling Me

There’s quite a bit of hype in regards to the feature of multiblogs within one installation of WordPress. This has been a feature of WordPress mu, the cousin of WordPress.

It’s actually been stated on several other sites that this a code merging between the two platforms. I’m not sure I’m too pleased about this, just yet.

Why? Well, I’ve worked with the wordpress mu code quite extensively and found many (did I say many) shortcomings to the code base.

Security Issues

In the forefront we can talk about security. WordPress natural has it’s security issues which can be overcome, but WordPress mu is a nightmare in comparison.

I run a BuddyPress site that uses the mu version of WordPress as it’s core and trying to secure it is impossible. I had a run in with an automated spammer that continued to generate new accounts, even after I turned off new account generation in the settings!

Now, I’ve read plenty of articles that talked about manually changing the core code to ‘fix’ the issue, but that to me is not a fix. Whenever you have to alter the core code of WordPress, you are asking for future problems. One update and all of your changes could very well be gone.

Also, you are moving into no-man’s land. If you are altering core files, you may also break many plugin and themes.

Spammers Ahoy!

Also the code base of WordPress mu seems to scream ‘spammers ahoy’! Time and time again, I’m finding it close to impossible to control content created by spammers.

First, when a new person registers, it will gladly send you an email with the IP address listed. But nowhere within the control panel of WordPress mu is the IP address listed, or is searchable. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see all the accounts created by a single IP address? Hmmm.

Next, if you wish to search across multiple blogs that were installed with WordPress mu, you simply can’t. No functionality is there for this critical function.

The search, sort and action functionality is completely inadequate in WordPress mu right now. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

But Am I Blowing Things Out of Proportion?

I’ve sorrily discovered that 1 (just 1) spammer can create several hundred accounts and 1,000’s spam blogs overnight! That’s just one spammer.

I recently had to spend 3 – 10 hour days to clear out spam from a WordPress mu install and found that I only cleared out maybe a week’s worth!

Maybe I’m spouting off where there is no need to and maybe I’m just a tad ungrateful. But there have been many posts about this very issue within the WordPress mu and BuddyPress forums on this very topic.

In my opinion, it just doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue to the developers. Again, I haven’t seen what is coming out, but this is a big problem if things are placed as they currently are.

So, first off, sorry to the developers who are working hard on this, but please listen to the users. Security and spammers are a huge problem within WordPress mu and I’d hate to see it become a general WordPress problem.

It could mean the end of what we currently enjoy with WordPress.

Ok, I’m off of my soap box.

Building Your Social Network With Buddypress

Welcome to the latest and greatest for building your very own social network – buddypress.

This specialty plugin is a plugin and theme combination. And at this time of writing, only is compatible with wordpress mu. This is the multi-blog version of WordPress.

So, what do I think about Buddypress?

Buddypress is not a terribly hard package to install. I did make a few mistakes along the way, but if you ‘carefully’ read the errors, you should be able to correct problems as they crop up.

So, installation wasn’t too bad. How about usage. Here’s where I did struggle a bit. Now, I’ll be honest, it’s not a Facebook killer.

Facebook excels in a few areas and is the reason it’s so popular:

  • Simple interface – in Facebook’s history, they had a very simple but functional interface. It totally oriented on allowing you to easily communicate with others who join Facebook too.
  • Simple content insertion – again, they allow you to upload pictures and written facts, aka, the wall. Very easy to use and simple to implement. This made Facebook a winner.
  • Simple security – Facebook has one policy. If the other person is a friend, then they are allowed in your world. Otherwise, no access.

Now, Facebook has continued to raise the bar on a ‘freely available’ social network. Chat, specialty apps, higher degree of sophistication when embedding media.

This, in my opinion, is the starting point that Buddypress should aspire to, IF, they are trying to be the next Facebook killer.

I did see some of this fuctionality in Buddypress, but the end product is very far from this goal. To me, it’s a killer at this time. With Facebook having a bar so high, it makes it very hard for others to just compete.

If Facebook charged a membership fee, free alternatives could at that point compete, even if they didn’t have the same level of sophisticated simplicity.

The future of Buddypress and why bother with it?

Well, if this open source project doesn’t get de-railed and grows into a Facebook competitor, it could provide you and I a unique opportunity in business.

Imagine creating a virtual community of daily visitors who come by the 1,000’s or 10,000’s to visit each day to chat and talk about issues of the day.

The advertising opportunity would be very lucrative to say the least. All you have to do is look at the likes of Facebook or Google, to know how profitable it could be to provide a ‘free service’.  So, we have to give the open source project time to grow, much like planting an apple seed in the ground.

As the old saying goes, ‘you can count the number of seeds in an apple, but you cannot count the number of apples in a seed!’.

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