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Michael Gracie

Taking this blog to new heights of petulance with WordPress 2.7

I’d barely gotten use to the 2.6 switch when a new version hit. The new automatic updating functionality kind of freaked me out (hence the delay), but since I’ve been tinkering with the code on this site since time immemorial I figured something was bound to break anyway. And much to my chagrin, nothing did (at least on upgrade), which means I’m forced to do real work, the lure of a winter fishing day notwithstanding.

The new WP dashboard is outstanding – everything is laid out much more intuitively, and the ability to reorganize said layout (along with the rest of the back end interface) only adds to the ease of use. I’ve enabled OpenID commenting too. I was hankering for OpenID some time ago (enough to even pay for it), and just hadn’t had the time to seek out the latest release.  I haven’t installed XRDS-Simple yet so I’m still using a third-party OpenID provider, but frankly I’m astounded that server functionality even exists – Will and Chris have done one hell of a job with the plug-in. Thanks guys.

Have a safe and happy new year.

WordPress and FeedBurner FeedSmith: Getting to your category and tag feeds

Last time I touched on WordPress and Feedburner, the topic was how to tweak the Feedsmith plug-in so you could get access to your raw feed with Yahoo! Pipes. This time, I’m making some alterations to the plug-in so you gain access to your raw category and tag related feeds without those requests getting redirected back to your blog’s main Feedburner feed.

For most folks using the Feedburner redirect plug-in, getting access to WordPress’s category and tag feeds seems like a nightmare. I searched and searched myself, and all I found was numerous iterations of .htaccess file solutions. None of them worked for me, so I decided to go back to the Feedburner_FeedSmith_Plugin.php file and tool around. This turned out to be a quick fix, with one caveat – I don’t care to burn additional feeds for each of my categories, and this change won’t work for you if that’s your intention. In my case the blog categories are organized by “origin” of the post, not subject matter – what I really wanted was access to the tag feeds, which do relate to the subject of the post at hand. Here’s how to do it…

First, look to the bottom of the Feedsmith plug-in file (located under /wp-content/plugins/feedburner_feedsmith_plugin_2.2) for this:

if (!preg_match("/feedburner|feedvalidator/i", $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'])) {
add_action('template_redirect', 'ol_feed_redirect');
add_action('init','ol_check_url');
}

That “!preg_match” bit tells WordPress to ignore redirect requests from Feedburner or FeedValidator so those services don’t wind up in an endless loop when trying to grab your raw feed. And it’s this same section of the plug-in code that pushes requests for category and tag feeds back to Feedburner for so many agitated users. We change that block of code to this (changes emphasized):

if (!preg_match("/feedburner|feedvalidator/i", $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT']) && !preg_match("/category|tag/i", $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'])) {
add_action('template_redirect', 'ol_feed_redirect');
add_action('init','ol_check_url');
}

That additional “!preg_match” string tells WordPress to ignore redirects to Feedburner when the requested URL contains “category” or “tag”, but there is still one more thing you’ve got to do. In this blog’s case, my category base is “origin” – so in place of “category” I use the word “origin”; I still use “tag” for my tag base, so that stays the same. You set your category and tag bases in the WordPress admin panel under Settings..Permalinks – look for this:

wordpress-optional-permalink-controls

If your optional permalinks are set, change the code snippet above to reflect the same (/’s excluded) and save – otherwise set them as desired first then do the same. Now you should have raw category and tag feeds that work.

Two of the most popular tags on this blog are “Fly Fishing” and “Fannie Mae” – and here are their feeds:

  • Fly Fishing
  • Fannie Mae
  • Try it for yourself!

    A much needed upgrade to WordPress 2.6

    I bagged going fishing this morning, and decided to upgrade this blog to WordPress 2.6 instead. The long delay (over a year) in upgrading was due to the fact the new WordPress had built-in tag functionality, and I wasn’t sure how things would go with Simple Tagging already in place. I had some database issues that needed attention too, but fishing/fun has taken precedence up until now. In other words, I was lazy – but finally the blog crashed – I couldn’t save anything, so it was as good a time as any.

    The upgrade from 2.1 went pretty smoothly. The Simple Tagging import function took two runs to get everything in the right place, and I had to do some manually editing to the database to account for the use of both categories and tags (and had to delete a few tags too, since the slug field was indexed unique). The style sheet needed only minor changes – the call to tags (it’s now the_tags()), and a plug-in which I did some modifications on had to be removed.

    The plug-ins (yes, there are some plug-ins here) got upgrades, with few exceptions. My tweaks to Sphere placement went off just fine, but the ShareThis plug-in was another issue. The plug-in is now run as a service – unfortunately I don’t do widgets and the last upgrade to the “classic” version wasn’t doing the trick. I wish Alex and Company much success, but for these web pages it’s now gone. The Flickr plug-in from Joe Tan is much improved, and the remaining utilities are business as usual.

    And…I like the new interface!

    UPDATE: Almost forgot…there was one permanent issue with tags. Simple Tagging joined words with underscores (_), while the WordPress taxonomy uses dashes (-). So if you linked to say “../tag/fly_fishing/” you may want to try changing it to “../tag/fly-fishing/”.

    UPDATE 2: I’ve also installed Google Gears support for WordPress, when using Firefox. And while I’ve noticed that Safari 3+ doesn’t crap-out entries like it did before the upgrade, I’ll probably be using Firefox for accessing the system anyway. With Google Gears running (done by clicking the “Turbo” link in the top right-hand corner of the interface) the WordPress 2.6 interface runs significantly faster than it did beforehand.

    (more…)

    End of year filings

    Read tomorrow when you’re nursing your hangover – it’ll certainly make more sense then.

    Filed under Do As I Say, Not As I Do:

  • Security warning! A flaw in WordPress could expose your draft posts. This news bulletin was originally brought to you via WordPress-driven social networking blog Mashable, but has since disappeared. This blog runs on WordPress too, and this post will be deleted in roughly 24 hours.
  • Filed under The Lord Works In Mysterious Ways:

  • Jeff Jarvis, one of the few high profile bloggers I’ve seen that actually mentions something about their religious affiliation online, says “Google is God.” Meanwhile, the only ad on Buzz Machine is delivered by Google, and the displayed inventory is an attack ad by Compete against Alexa.
  • Filed under The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall:

  • I was working on a joint venture deal in China, with a pre-negotiated price. Each time I checked with the accountants working through the due diligence the assets got smaller and the liabilities larger. Seems the theme runs throughout the Chinese economy. Of course, you could also surmise the same about the US economy and the housing market it’s been so entirely dependent on.
  • Filed under More Than You Bargained For:

  • Everyone wanted an iPod for Christmas (again). Some folks got cryptic notes espousing anti-capitalism instead.
  • and…

    Filed under That Overpriced Conditioner Won’t Help:

  • Sweetheart…knots are natural!
  • Happy Holidays (and headline hoopla)

    Cheer and good tidings first; light reading last

    • Charlie Crist calls for an investigation of “Florida’s subprime-tainted fund.” It’s really a SIV tainted fund and a sub-prime tainted SIV, but I’ll spare you the details. More on the Florida Fund fiasco here, here, and here.
    • Research In Motion: no slowdown. Is it a consumer thing? Personally, I’m very happy with my Blackberry, although I consider it a business tool.
    • Myspace. Facebook. Go WordPress!? This may sound a little outlandish now, but the open source blogging application has the install base and the development community to really put a hurting on the “traditional” fare.
    • A Home Price Heat Map, compliments of Stephen Heise. Data runs from 1975 to Q3-2007. Very interesting – hit the pause button along the way.
    • A reminder: next time you look into that camera someone might be recording the color of your eyes, among other things.

    Again, happy holidays!

    Today in computing security non-surprises…

    Microsoft privacy guru Kim Cameron fell victim to a blog hacking. Commenters on the site went crazy, at once blaming Microsoft products and playing nutty fanboy over LAMP. Unfortunately for them, Cameron’s blog doesn’t run on an MS backend…it’s FreeBSD cranking WordPress. No surprise…it’s neither Cameron’s or Microsoft’s fault, unless a jury concludes guilt by association is a crime.

    In other news, Stan Schroeder pounces…Macs are susceptible to viruses, despite what all the Apple fanboys think. I’m a longtime (but only semi-smug) Mac user, and I’ve previously warned Mac users to stay humble. A history of the OS X security debate via this susceptible-to-hacks blog can be found here.

    Web 2.0 – Hype v. Innovation

    There’s an interesting conversation that’s been taking place over the last twelve hours regarding recent innovations in the Web 2.0 space, or the lack thereof.

    It started with John Heileman of New York Magazine taking a few swipes at the hype, which was quickly picked up after Fred Wilson made it clear some of the article got his goat. Steve Rubel followed up, and despite the fact that I’ve had a tough time following Mr. Rubel’s ramblings about Google Reader/Gmail as groundbreaking “research tools” yada yada, I have to give a general thumbs up to his prognosis – there is a lot of Kool-Aid hitting the gullet, and a dearth of “wow.” The few bright lights in the bunch are hardly world changing either – Twitter, for example, may be nifty, but as Richard McManus put it:

    “Twitter, which Steve mentioned, is one – albeit it is still extremely niche and no mainstream people I know use it.”

    My personal opinion: Twitter is a great platform, but Richard is spot on. I was skeptical at first, and then got an explanation. I embraced it, installing plugins for this blog, applets for my Blackberry, and Twitterific for the desktop. But Twitter is a social app, meaning you need your friends on it for it to be either fun or even remotely effective as a communications platform. Unfortunately, all my friends are those same mainstream kind of folks, and despite prodding some to join none saw any long-term value. Throw in the fact that I’m no groupie (meaning I quickly dumped my follow list as I personally knew none of the people I was following), and the rest is history.

    Outrageous

    This is classic hype: a article in VentureBeat this morning that exclaims in the most recent blown-out headline that Facebook may now be worth $100 billion (go look for it…I just couldnt bear to link). It was worth just $15 billion a few days ago, and only a billion a year ago. And nothing has changed for this enterprise other than the fact that they have many more users who either a) are too poor to turn advertising dollars spent into consumer purchases made or b) spend so much time on the internet that they are completely oblivious to any and all web advertising. That, or they’re like me…they have money to spend, but clean out their cookies with ever increasing frequency. The really sad part about this – nobody but the digeratti will ever even read it, and even if a major publication does pick up on it (like so many do nowadays), the general populous doesn’t care one iota. All it’s going to do is make them aware that they need to clean out their cookies more often!

    I know why it was written – the author wanted some traffic – that traffic begets ad dollars. A ridiculous headline is a sure fire way to get there – write some complete bull about a system wholly dependent on advertising so you can get some advertising revenue yourself. Doesn’t seem like there is much value add to me.

    I guess it’s fun for some, but…

    I was bored with Facebook in about a day – to me it was AOL on steroids. I tired of Twitter in a few months – it’s useful but extremely distracting. MySpace…a bid childish. Meebo – neat, but isn’t “everywhere” IM access what phone-based apps are for? Tumblr – clean and simple, but so is a WordPress install. I could go on and on, but I don’t have much in the way of ads on this site.

    How about showing me something that actually helps me get work done, makes me money, for goodness sakes…catches me more fish. Take some of these information technologies and point out how they apply to an industry sector I’m interested in – securities arbitrage, corporate-owned life insurance, distressed and/or hard-to-price assets, composites and extrusion, far-east import/export, or the promise of nuclear fusion reactors the size of air conditioning compressors. That would be innovation.

    Gotta go…I’ve got a phone call (remember those?).

    50+ Tools For The WordPress Admin

    Nice list. I’ve already pulled a few helpful components from here.

    Explanation of Twitter…priceless

    A couple of burgers and salads, and a few soft drinks…uh, I’ve already lost the receipt (and I already threw the punchline out in the title anyway).

    I grabbed lunch with Alex King earlier today, the original idea being picking his brain on some WordPress stuff I’m tooling around with (as well as paying my respects for all the great plug-ins he has developed and I have pilfered without coughing up donations). It was worth negotiating the highway at midday, and it came with an unexpected gift – getting a real down to earth explanation of what Twitter is all about (you know, the explanation I was still waiting for).

    Anyway, I’ve had this Twitter plug-in for WordPress activated for some time, but never bothered to use it because I wasn’t really using Twitter in the first place. Alex pursued the development of the plug-in after some initial skepticism regarding Twitter himself – the genesis of the project was a quick and easy way to archive Twitter posts, and it grew from there.

    I’m not going to get into detail regarding Alex’s take on the service other than to say that my initial suspicions regarding the success Twitter would have as a result of their open API are shared. Mr. King also pointed out TwitterBerry to me, which I’ve now installed on my 8700, OTA. It makes a lot of sense for any Blackberry user who doesn’t have unlimited SMS (although I have plenty, I hate keeping track of that kind of stuff, and already have unlimited data).

    I still have doubts, based primarily on the fact that Twitter is a social service and I’d be hard pressed to get any of my “old fart” friends to join – I can’t even get them to read this blog (although that may be due to its low quality nature. Nevertheless, I like the idea of being able to record snippets that wouldn’t otherwise be appropriate for a blog entry (like one liners), and having them compiled at the end of each day.

    Thanks Alex.

    I’d love the plugin, but don’t have time to read the terms of service

    A shining example of how not to release a plugin for an open source platform?

    In this case, the culprit is HP and the target is WordPress. After reading about HP’s new weblog printing plugin over at Mashable, I thought it would be great to have easy printing capabilities on this site. So I search around the HP’s Tabblo site for a bit and finally find a link to download the WordPress plugin.

    Next stop…this. I’ve got to give them my email address and site location and agree to a bunch of terms and conditions in order to download a plugin for an free, open source software package that I originally received no-questions-asked?

    I don’t even know if it will work. Is it compatible with my theme? How much hacking will be required? Does it jive with the other plugins?

    Tell you what – I’ll save some folks the temptation of using the overpriced ink cartridges instead.

    UPDATE: I took the leap of faith since someone from HP (?) was kind enough to respond. More in the comment thread…