Feb
17
2009
1

Website updates and other random things

Refresh for updates

Refresh for updates

In no particular order:1

  • I often refer to myself as a Workers’ Compensation nerd.  The other day I realized that would be a GREAT website name!  Unfortunately, WCNerd.com is already taken by “white collar nerd.”  Bummer, no?  What a great e-mail address that would have been, too!
  • With well over a 100 posts and counting I thought it was time to include a “tag cloud.”  Its on the bottom of the right sidebar of this website.  Its basically a grouping of the common words I use to tag various posts.  The more common a word is the larger it appears.  The top contenders are pretty telling
  • To help with the website navigation and use of the “tag cloud” I’ve started being more liberal with how I tag my various posts.  Its actually kinda fun.
  • I’m  using a new e-mail contact form.  I was using “Contact Form 7,” which has a truly impressive feature list. While effective, I didn’t much care for this plugin because of its complexity.  What I really wanted was a quick and easy way for website visitors to send me e-mail.  Recently I found “Tiny Contact Form” by Tom Braider to be exactly what I needed.  It is small, simple to configure, and easy to include.  I’m actually using a modified version of the really fantastic “Tiny Contact Form” plugin.  I’m rather proud of my modification on this plugin and even sent Tom Braider my changes which he ended up incorporating into the next version!
  • Google recently swallowed up Feedburner.  I was using Feedburner to manage the RSS feeds for this website.  The only problem was that it was causing all kinds of problems.  My RSS reader wasn’t picking up the new posts from my own blog!  So, I scrapped the Feedburner management of my RSS feed and went back to the native WordPress support for RSS (which is pretty damn good).
  1. Photo courtesy of RandomChu []
Feb
12
2009
0

WordPress Upgrade! Version 2.7.1!

Wordpress Upgrade

Wordpress Upgrade

I upgraded to WordPress v2.7.1 as soon as it came out (after testing on another website, of course).  I can honestly say WordPress is the only software I use that I actually look forward to upgrading.

Since version 2.7 RC 1, upgrading to the next version of WordPress has been this easy:

How to Upgrade WordPress

How to Upgrade WordPress

You click “Upgrade Automatically” and wait about 5 seconds.

You’re done.

Not entirely off topic: a friend of mine asked me yesterday about the best way to put up a new website.  She had thought about using Yahoo Site Builder or some such.  Yahoo and its like are great at building free, quick, and ugly websites.  If you’re going to publish on the internets, why not just opt for something just as easy and that has hundreds, if not thousands of possible totally free themes to choose from?  I say, go with WordPress.

I used to code sites by hand – that’s a chump’s game.  Just install WordPress and call it a day.

Nov
11
2008
0

Safer Software Practices

Wordpress

Wordpress

I’ve been upgrading to the latest releases of WordPress as soon as each one comes out.  And, its a good thing too.

Over the last week or two a website named “Wordpresz.org” ((I’ve edited the link so that it goes to WordPress.org instead.  I don’t want contribute to these hackers fooling anyone else.)) was discovered.  The people who created this website were using a vulenerability in WordPress version 2.6.2 to redirect users to their website.  Their website purported to release WordPress version 2.6.41.  The problem was that they had hacked one file in the installation package to create a bigger security vulerability.

This just goes to show that:

  1. Monitor for Updates. Many programs these days automatically check to see if new versions are available.  If the program does not have this feature2 , its a good idea to check about once a month or so.
  2. Update Frequently. Not all software updates are equal.  If the program is being updated to fix security vulnerabilities or improve the program’s stability, you definitely want to install the update.  This website’s installation of WordPress was already “inocculated” against this kind of attack because I had alled version 2.6.3 almost as soon as it came out.
  3. Use Official Sources. WordPress is open source software built using PHP and MySQL.  Since the program is open source, its easier to modify the code. ((As Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”))  The themes and plugins available through WordPress.org are reviewed by other users for malicious code and for possible improvements.  If you’re not certain how to examine source code for malicious code, its best to only use official sources.
  1. The latest version is 2.6.3 which is just version 2.6.2 with a small but important security fix. []
  2. Or if you turn it off, as I sometimes do. []
Oct
24
2008
0

WordPress Update to v2.6.3

Wordpress Upgrade

Wordpress Upgrade

Quick Update

or those of you keeping score at home, I’ve updated to WordPress v2.6.3 last night. 1  This version was released as a security fix.  Unlike other WordPress upgrades, this one took only a few seconds.

Less Quick Updates

Admittedly, prior updates probably only take about 10 minutes, max.  This 10 minutes includes roughly 9 minutes of backing the website and database up and 1 minute of actually uploading the new version.  Since the 9 minutes of backing up is essentially all processing/downloading time, there’s nothing for me to monitor which makes the whole process very painless.

Upcoming Updates

The kind folks over at WordPress have been hard at work on the version 2.72  If you scan through the above link, you’ll get to see what the new WordPress 2.7 control panel/dashboard is supposed to look like.

Best Thing About WordPress

(If you just can’t wait, skip down two paragraphs.)  Regular readers have heard me go on and on about the virtues of WordPress3  The interesting thing about new versions of WordPress is that any upgrades would be seamless to a website visitor. 4

A website that is easy to read is a function of the author

Website content is really all that matters to a website visitor.  Visitors don’t care about what software a website owner is using – just as long as the content is useful. 5

A website that is easy to write is a function of the program

The single best thing about WordPress is that this program makes maintaining a website a breeze.  I would recommend WordPress to absolutely anyone interested in creating a website.  For the novice, the program makes it easy to write, edit, and delete single pages or the entire website without any knowledge of programming.  For the tech-minded, the program makes it easy to install, upgrade, and personalize a website.

If you know a little PHP, MySQL, and javascript you could do some c-r-a-z-y things with WordPress. 678

  1. Talk about unnecessary decimal places. []
  2. I call them “kind” since a lot of these people are working for free. []
  3. You know, you three should really form some kind of support group for people who read unnecessarily nerdy and self-referential blogs. []
  4. I think its interesting, anyhow. []
  5. If they don’t care about what kind of software, they sure as heck don’t care its version 2.6.3. []
  6. You could even put together your own workers compensation calculators and EAMS search engines! []
  7. Am I going overboard with these footnotes? []
  8. The answer is “No, I’m not going overboard.”  In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “You can never go too far.” []
Oct
17
2008
0

Website Tweaks

Changing themes for a WordPress website is incredibly easy.  However, sometimes there can be slight problems in the transition.  I had heavily edited and customized the prior theme’s code so that it would be better suited to this website.1

Fixing things

Fixing things

Changing the website’s theme has involved a few small tweaks2 :

  • For about four days the Articles section was merged with the Blog section.  This has been fixed.
  • I’ve found a really great plugin that allows me to insert footnotes into blog posts.3  My previous attempts at inserting footnotes manually were either time consuming or incredibly clumsy. 4
  • I’ve made minor alterations to the current theme – background colors, menu ordering, etc.
  • Some people were separating their WCAB “legacy” number to ADJ number searches by semi-colons, rather than commas.  I believe there’s really no sense in fighting users. 5  If a slightly different method makes sense to users, go with it.  I’ve adjusted the WCAB “legacy” number to ADJ number search function so that you can separate by semi-colons or commas.6
  • In printing out some Average Weekly Wage calculations, I discovered to my dismay that this website looked terrible when you tried to print it out.  Worse yet, the website header, sidebar, and other navigation information took up nearly a page.  This meant that a printout of a calculation might span two or more pages.  I’ve since fixed this using some particularly cool CSS.7
  1. Click this link see what the prior theme looked like. []
  2. Photo courtesy of CharlesThompson []
  3. Cool, no? []
  4. A special thanks to Mr. Simon Elvery for writing this great footnote plugin. []
  5. Unlike a certain “web-based” electronic adjudication management system… []
  6. Or both! []
  7. Well, my definition of cool, anyhow. []

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