Browsing the blog archives for April, 2009.
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My New Favorite WordPress Plugin

WordPress Plugins

spam I hate SPAM. SPAM to me is litter on my manicured lawn. Spammers are the lowest technical scum on the net, the bottom-feeders. The Akismet plugin is great about filtering out the SPAM comments and quarantining them to the SPAM folder for later deleting.

But I wanted more. I am yet to have a valid comment from Russia, China or Nigeria. There are a few companies with static IP addresses that bombard my site with airline offers. They always end up in the SPAM folder, but once a day I end up deleting them, like cleaning up my lawn.

This weekend I found a new plugin – WP-Ban by Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan. Lester has written some of the best technical plugins.

Installation is typical. Then go to Settings – Ban and start blocking SPAM. You can even configure the banned message that appears.

The down side is you could block desired comments. Who knows – maybe there is a valid comment from Russia.

Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-ban/
Plugin Site: http://lesterchan.net/wordpress/readme/wp-ban.html

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WordPress.tv

WordPress

com-wptv-buttonI love learning about WordPress. The package has become tremendously popular, and is now being used for applications far beyond what the creators envisioned. Teaching WordPress has become so popular that there is now even a WordPress TV channel -  www.WordPress.tv – a site with exclusively shows about WordPress. The programs range from beginner topics such as how to write a post, to advanced programmer content and talks by key developers.

An interesting aside is the domain TV has nothing to do with television. In fact, .tv is the Internet country code for the island nation of Tuvalu, a ten-square-mile island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. The tv domain has become a very profitable enterprise for Tuvalu.

For WordPress television, visit www.WordPress.tv

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ComicPress

WordPress Plugins

comicpressIn my work with WordPress I sometimes find the unexpected. ComicPress is an example. ComicPress is a theme and plugin for creating a comic site. Tyler Martin created the original WordPress ComicPress theme in November 2005. In May 2008, programmer John Bintz developed the ComicPress Manger WordPress Plugin to make the management of the site easier. Together these ComicPress elements form a powerful web comic publishing system.

I am a big fan of comics, and WordPress is a great vehicle for creating a daily feature. Every morning I start my day visiting some 28 comic strips.

WordPress has a feature called scheduling a post. This means you set a date/time in the future, and at that time the post will become visible. When I used to write automotive articles for the Toronto Sun, they bought 30 days exclusive first rights to the article. I would put the article on my blog and post-date it for 30 days later. I didn’t have to remember; it would just appear. With the WordPress scheduling feature, comics can be placed on the site to appear at a regular interval.

ComicPress makes it easy to manage a comic site, reducing much of the administration. Who’d a thunk it?

http://comicpress.org/ Comic Book WP Theme
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/comicpress-manager/ Comic Manager

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Newseum.org – Newspapers of the World

Interesting Websites

newscomplex2 Newseum.org is a perfect example of how the Internet has affected newspapers. The interface is a map with dots of newspaper locations. Float over a dot and a thumbnail of today’s front page appears. Click on the dot and a PDF of the front page opens. From there you can click on a link to the full newspaper online edition.

newseum

The site is created by the The Newseum, a 250,000-square-foot museum of news located in Washington DC adjacent to the Smithsonian museums.

What an interesting way to browse major happenings around the world.

http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/

Thanks to Pam Kullo for introducing me to this site.

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Printer Friendly – WP-Print

WordPress Plugins

printer-128x128One weakness of WordPress sites is how they print. How a site shows on the screen and how it prints are both controlled by the template. Many templates do not focus on printing.

Here is an example of my wife’s website: www.theWritingFairy.ca

view

This is how the site looks when viewed on the screen. Select Print Preview on FireFox and you see:

print-preview

The entire first page contains menu links and the top area. WP-Print by Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan is a plugin designed to focus on the content and format for printing. WP-Print adds a Printer-Friendly link to the site. The user clicks on the link then prints the resulting view. Here is the same page in the WP-Print printer-friendly format.

pretty-print

The top is the address to the website. In the box, the title and summary are followed by the content, and it finishes up with the details of the address. The command “Click here to print.” will not actually appear on the printout. It is there on the screen as a convenience. Finishing up the page is the copyright statement.

The printout has the important elements: content, how to get there, and the copyright. The printout can be configured with options to print the comments, link details, images videos and exactly what statement appears at the bottom.

Basic installation is standard, but the printer-friendly links have to be manually inserted into the template. This was the first time I had altered a template. Lester has good documentation on the plugin site on how to do this. You can edit the theme from the Appearance/Editor area of the WordPress console. Make a copy of each file of the template before making any changes. Then you can restore the original if you mess it up.

I use WP-Print on most of my sites. It is one of my favorite WordPress plugins.

Download WP-Print: http://lesterchan.net/wordpress/readme/wp-print.html

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Google Analyticator

WordPress Plugins

logo_gaOnce you have created and promoted your website, it is time to check on your site traffic. The basic statistics are: the number of visitors per day, where are they from, how they found your site and which pages they visited. Be wary of anyone quoting hits. To display a web page with 5 images takes a minimum of 6 hits. The real measurements are visitors and pages displayed. A visitor is a person or process accessing a page of your site.

Google Analytics is a free service from Google for site statistics. To use Google Analytics requires a free Google Account ID. Log into the analytics site and add a site to your Website Profiles list. You provide the address of the website and a name for the site. Google then provides you with a small piece of JavaScript code that you add to each page of your site.  In WordPress this can be placed in the theme header file (header.php), but if you change themes you have to make the change again.

Part of the code will be the Google Analytics’ UID. The structure will be UA-123456-1.

googlelist

In the Website Profiles listing, this UID will be displayed beside the site address. The 123456 will be your account number. The first site will have -1 with each additional site -2 and so on.

Rather than inserting the Google JavaScript code in the header, I prefer to install the Google Analyticator plugin. The installation is standard; upload to the wp-content/plugins folder or install the zip file via the WP 2.7 Plugsin/Add New interface.

google-analyticator

Once installed, activate then go to Settings/Google Analytics and put in the UID supplied by Google when you added the site. There are other options that can be set such as not logging in when an administrator is visiting the site. This keeps the stats more accurate by removing your visits from it. Update the settings.

source

To validate that the plugin is working, visit your website and do a “Right Click-View Source.” You should see some code close to the top with your UID. It will take Google at least a day before any statistics will appear.

Google has excellent documentation on how to use the service. Now you can visit Google Analytics for statistics on your sites. There are other Google Analytic plugins, but this is the one I am most familiar with. It has served me well.

Google Analytics: http://www.google.com/analytics/

Google Analyticator plugin:  http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-analyticator/

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