Warning re: Advanced Automatic Updates

! I have had a lot of trouble, including the notorious “white screen of death” since installing the Advanced Automatic Updates plugin. Be careful with it!

I set it to automatically update plugins, and for some unknown reason some update failed, messing things up.  If you get the white screen of death, you will have to delete plugins until you find the problem.  If you have no access to the control panel, via wp-admin, you will have to delete plugins manually.  See https://thethemefoundry.com/blog/wordpress-white-screen-of-death/ for the details.

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Headers Gone, Turned Into Images

What do you do when you start to hate your theme?  Um, well, that’s a time when creativity and patience are the most rewarding.  I’m a little short on both, so after a couple of days trying out themes, I gave up and used some of the options of my current one.

I have been using Twenty Ten since 2010.  Going through 50-plus installations three times in three weeks, I’ve come to hate the large 940 by 198 header images which shows up at the top of each page.  They just overwhelm the page.  Sometimes I’ve clicked on a link to go to a different page on the same site and note noticed that I’d actually reached it — the header was too distracting.

So I’ve just been removing the headers, resizing them to 640 by 135, and inserting them into the front page text.  Looks pretty good to me.  Matter of taste, I’m sure, but at least it makes it easier to keep track of what I am doing.  You might check out this site itself, to see the difference — but an intermediate change is no longer visible.  I changed the header to a more boring one before moving the image down into the front page.  You might have to empty your browser cache to see the new version of the page.  Caching is driving me crazy, but that’s another issue.  If you change something and don’t see the changes, it’s the cache.  Every browser has a way of emptying it.  It’s under Advanced Options in Firefox.

I’ve  made several other small changes, such as inserting text with a few embedded links into the sidebar, using the Black Studio Visible Editor widget.  I’ve now added that to my list of the plugins I always use.   I’ll write more about that in another post.

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Trivial Python Tool that I Always Use, to Download

I have to go through my websites again, to my great annoyance.  I’ll explain why later.  For now, I thought I’d just give you a silly little Python program which I nevertheless find indispensable.

It it written in my usual overly explicit style, with long self-explanatory variable names and no fancy stuff at all.  If you speak Python, you should be able to understand it in microseconds, and I should be able to maintain it long after I’ve forgotten how it works.

It’s written for Microsoft Windows, Python 2.7 and runs from the command line.  Not at all sophisticated, but it’s what I use.  The program itself is SiteVisitor.py (save it, don’t just open it) and I have included the data file nameAndhref.dat which I use for my own sites.  Its format is obvious, two columns, the site name in the first, the URL in the second, so you can easily create your own with any text editor.

I include no copyright notice, license, or even my name, so it is automatically public domain.  Do with it what you will.

If you have any problem with these files, I won’t have time to help you, but feel free to comment on this post.   I anticipate jokes about the way I code.   I just don’t care; if I can read and maintain it, I like it.  I find this one extremely useful; could barely manage without it.

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Publicizing to Social Media with the New, Inferior, Jetpack Version

This site is about what I always do, and I use Jetpack, which I more or less like, though some people are critical of it.  I can’t help but be critical of the new “improved” version which came out yesterday.  It used to be easy to change the settings, or at least clear how to do it.

I’ve been going through changing the “Publicize” settings.  Once I did not bother with them at all, then a while back I connected my site to Twitter.  Now I’ve been going through and adding connections to Tumblr and Google+.  I don’t know if this is a waste of time or not, but I have something to say, and nobody seems to be listening — maybe social media can make a difference.   (I am trying to tell people that I know how to make society work, if you’re curious.)

If you are using Jetpack, you will see it listed near the top of left-side menu on your dashboard.  You used to be able to find something useful by clicking on it.  Now doing so reveals two choices, Dashboard and Settings.  Each of these lets you set a small number of things, but they aren’t very useful.  To set something like the publicize options, you need to click on Plugins, then Installed Plugins, and look at the Jetpack plugin.  Under the name of it, in blue, are some choices, Jetpack, Settings, Support, Deactivate.  Ah, there, that’s where you finally get access to the real options.  Click the Settings link, and you are presented with a long list of Jetpack features.

It is not explained, but those options with a blue line at the left of them are active.  You will see that a lot of them are.  If you hover your cursor over the individual options, the word Deactivate in red will magically appear.  Too clever by half, if you ask me — someone just seeing the long list of options might not realize that they can be activated, deactivated or configured.  Why not have these choices visible all the time?  If an option can be configured, that word will appear in blue next to the word Deactivate.  Publicize can indeed be configured, and if you click on Configure, you will see a list of social media which can be linked to your WordPress blog.

As I discovered earlier, connecting both Twitter and Facebook will produce double entries on Twitter if it is connected to Facebook — Facebook gets it from WordPress, then immediately passes it on to Twitter.  So I skip Facebook and sent notices of my posts to my Twitter, Tumblr and Google+ accounts.

I still have no idea if doing this will accomplish anything.  The effectiveness of social media depends on the number of followers you have, and I am just not all that popular.  Knowing how to make the world work with hi-tech social technology is not nearly as interesting as being able to provide pictures of kitty cats or celebrity scandals.  However, if you do have a lot of followers on your social media, then using the Publicize option of WordPress is certainly going to spread widely what you want to be out there.  I wish it was easier to set up, as easy as it was yesterday, but that is the price of progress.

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Double Posts to Twitter and Subscription Bug

I’ve told you what I always do, but obviously haven’t gotten it down to a science yet.  I see I am still getting double posts to Twitter — I mean when I make one post on this blog, two tweets show up on Twitter.  Maybe Facebook was bouncing it back.  I dunno.

I disconnected Facebook from Twitter in that direction, so Facebook posts would not go to Twitter, though Twitter ones will still go to Facebook.  Maybe that will work.

I’ve been testing the Jetpack subscription widget, and it doesn’t seem to work properly.  Trying to subscribe to my own blog from a different e-mail account, the Confirm Subscription link fails, saying maybe it had expired.  This is a familiar Jetpack problem which people have been complaining about for years, and the Jetpack people seem unable to reproduce it, or have some other excuse for not fixing it.  I’ve started a forum thread on it, maybe someone will know what is wrong.  If you do, please let me know.

Anyway, when I find more things I am doing wrong and figure out solutions, I’ll let you know.

 

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Social Media Buttons, Twitter Timeline, and Adblock Plus

I spent a lot of time looking for a plugin which would display social media buttons, but nothing seemed to work, not even those in Jetpack  Then it occurred to me that Adblock Plus could be hiding them.  Sure enough, disabling Adblock Plus let the buttons show.

I decided to ignore this.  Either people are using an ad blocker or they are not.  Maybe they are using one less picky than Adblock Plus.  Either way, there is nothing I can do to control whether they see social media buttons or not.

I tried to use the Twitter Timeline widget, but couldn’t see anything.  Aha, Adblock Plus again.  With it disabled, I could see my Twitter feed.  I wasn’t all that pleased with the result, though.  All I really wanted was to put in a link to my twitter timeline.

So I added a text widget with the title See me on Twitter, and the URL of my Twitter feed,  which is https://twitter.com/dpwsoctech .  Just that.  I put it up after a Subscribe widget on my sidebar.   Seems to work, doesn’t look bad, and is not too distracting.

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Steps: Partly to Help Others; Mostly to Remind Myself

Having been creating one website for each key idea, and so have dozens of them, all WordPress sites. To help others wanting to create a site, but mostly to remind myself of all 21 or so steps, I’ve created this site (yes, another one), and put a list of all the steps on the front (About) page.

Whether it is really worthwhile creating all these sites is another question. They could just as well be individual pages on my own personal site — or could they? It still seems best to keep them separate, but hey, maybe I should collect their front pages and put them all on one site! I’ll resist the urge to do that, and put copies of them somewhere else. Maybe here or on my websites website.

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First Post, Because There Should Be One

I think its always best to have at least one post, even a rather trival one.  This is it.

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