Jan 192009
 

Welcome to the second edition of Weekly WordPress Roundup!

Sorry for the late posting!  I was busy making lemonade from life’s lemons…

What Is It?

Weekly WordPress Roundup is a hybrid between a blog carnival and a weblog.  Every Monday morning the editor of that week’s roundup makes a single post linking to the “best” WordPress articles they’ve come across that week.  The choices are made from their own web surfing and from articles submitted via the Roundup’s blogcarnival.com page.  If you’re interested in hosting the Weekly WordPress Roundup, just drop an email to: philaahzophy@gmail.com

On To The Entries…

General WordPress News-

Our first entry comes from Jackie at Internet Marketing Strategy For Moms and even though it was posted last October, it’s still very relevant today.  The title pretty much tells the story: WordPress.com Deleted All Of My Blogs.  Apparetnly the folks at WordPress.com decided she was a splogger simply because she linked out to her other blogs.  Not good news.  And it’s not a problem that’s going away.  It was a full year ago that I posted Isn’t Freedom Of Expression Worth $5 Per Month? right here at Philaahzophy.

Looking for work?  Well, according to the WordPress Publisher Blog, oDesk Reports “WordPress” Fastest Growing In-Demand Skill in 2008!  So it seems like your blogging skills can pay off in the “real world” as well.

WordPress Plugins-

Madeline Begun Kane submitted her brief article on the wonders of the WP-SpamFree plugin titled Life-Saving, Spam-Fighting WordPress Plugin.  I didn’t investigate WP-SpamFree during my own recent search for a comment spam solution, because it’s listed as only being compatible up to WordPress 2.6.2.  If you know that it’s been upgraded for (or is compatible with) 2.7 then I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

WordPress Tips-

As I’ve started exploring the limits of what can be done with WordPress I’ve found myself coming closer and closer to altering the core WordPress files.  Since any changes to the core will have to be redone manually whenever a new update comes out, this is a very bad thing.  Luckily, the folx over at Cats Who Code have an elegant solution in their How To: Overwrite Core WordPress Functions.

Mike Mueller recently posted a great overview on Setting Up Your WP Blog at his Mike’s Minute Real Estate Blog.

WordPress Themes-

Ever wish you could use more widgets without your blog looking overcrowded?  Well check out last week’s Thursday Themeday review of the Quadruple Blue four column WordPress theme!  Considering many people (myself included much of the time) feel that three column themes are, by their very nature, cluttered, the concept of a four column theme may seem preposterous.  But, somehow, this one pulls it off.

Anthony Delgado’s Free WordPress Themes may not be what you expect.  Instead of listing more free themes he actually discusses how to make a theme “your own” with only minor modifications.

Want to use WordPress as a CMS?  Then you absolutely have to check out the WordPress ReMix Theme I reviewed last week!

—–

That’s wraps up this week’s WordPress Roundup!  Look for next week’s edition over at Gilroy Review on Monday, January 26th!  Submit your WordPress-related article (or someone else’s that you find worthwhile!) to the next edition of Weekly WordPress Roundup using our carnival submission form or by emailing it to philaahzophy@gmail.com.  Future hosts can be found on the Weekly WordPress Roundup homepage.  If you’d like to be added to the list, just drop an email!

As always, comments, links and social bookmarks are very much appreciated!

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Jan 142009
 

I’ve been meaning to discuss the WP Remix WordPress Theme in either my Wonderful WordPress Wednesday series here on Philaahzophy or my Thursday Themesday series over at Gilroy Review for about six weeks now but just wasn’t exactly sure where it fit.  You see, both of those series are dedicated to using WordPress as a blog, while WP Remix is all about using WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System).  Of course, you can still use WPRemix for a more traditional blog, but that’s a little like using a sledgehammer to crack open a peanut.

WPRemix is one of the few “premium” (read: you must purchase a license) WordPress themes that I’ve actually considered purchasing.  When I first discovered WordPress I actually purchased two premium themes and was sorely disappointed both with the coding itself (with a little searching I could have found all of the features I liked for free) and with the level of support (essentially none).  WPRemix solves both of these problems, offering a huge amount of features (smart drop menu, over 50 pre-structured page templates, seven color schemes, theme admin options, it’s pre-configured for such famous plugins as Contact-Form, Page Navi, Gravatar, Flickrss, Post Rating, and Author Highlight, and so mouch more) and having an excellent support forum available 24 hours a day to assist with whatever your WPRemix needs are.

There are literally far too many features and possibilities with WP Remix for me to go into them all here.  But if you’re looking to use WordPress as a CMS and are more interested in operating your business ro storefront than in tweaking your website, you absolutely need to spend a little time exploring the website dedicated to this premium wordpress theme.

For those of you astute enough to realize that this post is filed not only under “Blogging”, but also under “Affiliates”, here’s the kicker.  Just this week the affiliate program payout for sales of WP Remix has increased from an already generous 20% to an amazing 50%.  That means that if someone purchases a single site license for this incredible WordPress theme through yuor link you’ll receive $37.50 and if they purchase a multi-site license you’ll earn a sweet $137.50!

Now, before you think I’m only recommending WP Remix in order to earn those commissions, double check the links in this post.  Both go directly to their website without any sort of tracking.  They aren’t affiliate links! I just think this is an awesome product with a great affiliate program.

Dec 172008
 
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Welcome to the ninth installment of my Wonderful WordPress Wednesday series.

NOTE: Although the main focus of this week’s tutorial is sponsored blog posts, there are many, many uses for what I’ll be sharing with y’all today so don’t run off just yet. After the tutorial I’ll share some other great uses for today’s lesson.

Anyone who has ever taken a sponsored post through any of the ‘paid to blog’ companies knows that they’re all full of various rules restricting how you can lay out your blog. Anyone who has taken sponsored posts for more than a few months has no doubt run into frustrations at what seems to be the usurping of your blog by these companies. Well, I’ve finally found a simple and elegant solution – separate templates for individual blog posts.

To see what I mean click over to my latest post at Gilroy Review about how columnist Cynthia Walker hates poor people.  Scroll down and take a look at the entire layout of that post.  Then click on the navigation to go to the post before it on Mary Jane Goods.  Notice anything different?  The ad placements are totally different because one is a sponsored post while the other is not. (BTW, if you’re reading this Google, the sponsored links are all nofollowed so don’t get your servers in a bunch).

All I had to do to accomplish those entirely different post layouts was tell my blog that a different author wrote each post.  I use author because I’m the only person writing on these blogs and my blog themes don’t mention author names anyway.  I could do the same thing with a specific tag or category as well.  I only use author because it’s completely transparent on my blogs.  Now, this did take a little set-up which is what I’m going to layout for y’all here in this post.

I learned how to do this, BTW, thanks to a great post by Justin Tadlock on his terrific Life, Blogging & WordPress blog.  That post contains a lot of code because it covers so many options, and all of that code can be pretty intimidating to people who aren’t used to messing about ‘under the hood’ of their WordPress installation.  So I’m going to stick to one simple system here.  If you want to change templates based on something besides the author of the post then please visit Justin’s site and you should be able to follow along just fine after seeing how easy it is here.

How It’s Done-

Enough blathering.  On to the tutorial itself…

First you’ll need to visit Appearance > Editor within your WordPress Admin and select your Single Post (single.php) file.  Select the everything in the text box there (either drag your cursor over all of it or simply click in the box and hit CTRL-A) and then paste it into your favorite text editor.  Personally I use EditPad, but Notepad works just as well in this case and is available on every Windows computer.

This is the basic template file that determines the layout of the single post pages on your blog. It’s probably already setup in an ‘advertiser friendly’ manner so you’re going to leave this copy alone.

Now return to your WordPress admin, go to Users > Add New and make a new user that you’ll only use for your sponsored posts (or whatever pots you want to use the old template for).  By the way, if you want the author to display the same as your current account on your blog just include the same name in the Nickname box and select that name in the “Display name publicly as” drop down menu.  Ok, once that user is made click on them to go to their edit page and look at the URL in your address bar.  Roughly in the middle you should see something along the lines of "?user_id=4". That number is the key to our next step. Return to your text editor program and save the file as single-author-?.php, replacing the ? with the number you saw in the URL above. Pretty easy so far, right?

Okay, now you just need to open your FTP program and connect to your server. Navigate to Your Blog > wp-content > themes > Your Theme and make a new folder or directory there called single. Then upload your newly saved file to that folder/directory. It should end up looking something like my FTP directory to the right.

That was the hardest part, I promise.  Now you just need to return to your WordPress admin area again and go to Appearance > Editor but this time select Theme Functions (functions.php). Each of these is going to look a little bit different depending on what theme you’re using, but you don’t need to worry about that. Just scroll down to the very bottom where you’ll see ?> and place your cursor on the blank line above that one. Then paste the following into the file and hit Update File-

/**
* Define a constant path to our single template folder
*/
define(SINGLE_PATH, TEMPLATEPATH . '/single');

/**
* Filter the single_template with our custom function
*/
add_filter('single_template', 'my_single_template');

/**
* Single template function which will choose our template
*/
function my_single_template($single) {
	global $wp_query, $post;

/**
	* Checks for single template by author
	* Check by user nicename and ID
	*/
	$curauth = get_userdata($wp_query->post->post_author);

	if(file_exists(SINGLE_PATH . '/single-author-' . $curauth->user_nicename . '.php'))
		return SINGLE_PATH . '/single-author-' . $curauth->user_nicename . '.php';

	elseif(file_exists(SINGLE_PATH . '/single-author-' . $curauth->ID . '.php'))
		return SINGLE_PATH  . '/single-author-' . $curauth->ID . '.php';

/**
	* Checks for default single post files within the single folder
	*/
	if(file_exists(SINGLE_PATH . '/single.php'))
		return SINGLE_PATH . '/single.php';

	elseif(file_exists(SINGLE_PATH . '/default.php'))
		return SINGLE_PATH . '/default.php';

	return $single;

}

Now just go back to your Single Post (single.php) file and make whatever changes you want to your single post layout – ad layouts, styles, backgrounds, etc – without having to worry about the opinions of the sponsored blog companies you work for. Just make sure to select that other (fictitious) author whenever you do a paid post and theirs will appear on a page that meets all of their requirements.

Personally, I also plan on using this when setting up a Daddy-Daughter blog with Zaira in the near future to give my posts a black & white color scheme and hers a pink & black scheme. This system would also be perfect for when you have guest bloggers and it can also be used to differentiate between categories or subjects on your blog rather easily. For example, if you have a weekly photo feature as many do, or host a blog carnival you could use an entirely different template for those posts. As I mentioned above, if you want to differentiate by category or tag just visit  Justin Tadlock’s original post on the concept at his Life, Blogging & WordPress.

I’m sure there are plenty of other uses for this as well, so if you’ve got any ideas, please leave a comment and let me know!  Or, if you have any questions or problems, just leave a note and, as always, I’l ldo my best to help.!

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Dec 112008
 

It’s not exactly news that I’ve been far from happy with Izea, PayPerPost and SocialSpark for some time now. I actually abandoned writing for them for about two months, but have returned as they’re still one of the most consistent money makers available to me on the web. Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse over at Izea.

The last time I wrote about PPP was back in August related to Izea’s love of PageRank and how they’ve further embraced it instead of abandoning it as they had promised when Google attacked the bulk of their bloggers.  It seems good old Ted Murphy has decided that PayPerPost’s original critics were right and it really is all about selling PageRank and text links and actually has nothing to do with quality bloggers writing thoughtful and detailed reviews about products and services.  Why would I say this?  Well, according to Carri Bright (Izea’s Communications Diva)

The good news, though is that as of tomorrow (12.11.08), Tack Rating is no longer going to be a segmentation factor for Opps in PPP. So, while you may still receive a ban (deserved or otherwise) this will no longer affect your ability to take Opps from OTHER advertisers or lower your Tack score.

If you’re unfamiliar with PPPs workings, a ‘tack’ is the rating system advertiser’s have to give feedback on how well the blogger performed their duty when taking the advertiser’s opp (opportunity / sponsored post). Up until now, advertiser’s have been able to require a minimum average tack rating before a blogger could take one of their opps. This system allowed better blogs to (theoretically) rise to the top as an advertiser could require a 4 or 5 tack rating, leaving out all of those who previous advertisers have rated one or two tacks for poor English skills, outright lies, or rule bending.

The system was far from perfect, but was at least based on advertiser input and not the conflicted interest of PPP’s “reviewers” who (according to this ongoing thread) don’t seem very interested in disqualifying low quality blogs or even outright frauds and cheats.  In the past advertisers could allow even the one tack rated sploggers take their opps of they so chose, but now every PPP advertiser is required to let anyone and everyone who manages to game the (seriously broken) PageRank and RealRank systems get paid for linking to their website despite the quality of their writing or ability to follow simple instructions.

Dec 102008
 
Part of the Wonderful WordPress Wednesdays Series - Previous in series         Next in series

Welcome to the eighth installment of my Wonderful WordPress Wednesday series.

I first started blogging about six years ago, discovered WordPress in 2006, fell in love with it in 2007, and started sharing that love with y’all (through this series) a few months ago.  However, I must confess, I hated the changes that WordPress 2.5 brought to the WordPress admin panel and flat out refused to update beyond 2.3.3

That all changed when I gave WordPress 2.7 Beta a try on a new blog.  Today Release Candidate Two (RC2) of 2.7 was released and I spent the day upgrading all of my blogs.  While this only took 15-45 minutes (based on which plugins were installed) handling so many blogs still took me many, many hours.  All well spent!  So what is it that’s got me falling in love with WordPress again?  Let me count the ways…

  1. Collapsible, click & drag boxes in the admin panel.  These allow me to set up my admin pages (particluarly the Dashboard and Add New/Edit pages) with only the features I want and in th elocations I want.
  2. Simple, internal upgrades.  Now when I get that annoying little “A new version of WordPress is available! Please update now.” at the top of my admin pages I can simply click on the link and the update is handled automatically!  Plugins are updated in the same way.
  3. Simple, internal way to add plugins!  The ability (or desire) to use an FTP program is no longer necessary to install the latest WordPress plugins.  Now when I find a nifty new plugin I want to try I can simply search for it from my admin panel’s Plugins page and click “Install”.  All of the background “tech” stuff is then taken care of automatically.  Why this hasn’t been implemented for themes as well is beyond me.


WordPress 2.7 isn’t without its problems, however.

For example, I have a grand total of zero interest in my “Akismet Stats” but since the folx at Automattic seem to think these are somehow vital I’m stuck with that link taking up space in my menu bar.  Of course, I can close the Dashboard box to return that space to me, but whenever I click over to my dashboard it just pops back up.  I could also move the Dashboard box further down the menu, but I frequently use the Dashboard link so this isn’t really an option either.

Okay, that’s a pretty minor quibble.  So how about the fact that all of my drafts are now included in the ‘Edit Posts’ page, in date order, like regular posts.  I use drafts to keep notes for future posts and most certainly do not need them cluttering up my previously clean Manage Posts page.  Still minor?  Hmmm…

How about all the plugins that have conflicts with 2.7?  What?  That list keeps getting shorter as the plugin makers update their work?  Hmmm…  I guess there aren’t that many problems after all.  No wonder I’m in love!

So, what’s keeping you from upgrading to WordPress 2.7?

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