Tag Archive for Plugins

Plug in to Win!

Better, stronger, faster.

Better, stronger, faster.

Still playing around with WordPress plugins and am quite impressed with the variety of functions that can be added to a local WordPress installation. I am concerned though that continually adding to the core functionality of WordPress through third party tools increases the software complexity of the whole thing, which may introduce issues later on with upgrades due to the different combinations of software versions interacting with each other without the same level of rigorous testing that the core stuff goes through prior to each release.

Oh well. If it really starts to become an issue down the road, maybe I’ll just switch to a dedicated CMS with all that stuff (hopefully) built-in already.

Anyways, here are some of the more interesting plugins I’ve added or tweaked:

  • WordPress Mobile Pack:  This isn’t a new plugin, but I’ve finally finished configuring it fully.  You can now access the mobile version of this site by navigating to http://m.reginaldtiangha.com on your mobile device or desktop.  The plugin will also try to guess what theme to serve you based on your browser type, but the domain thing is new.  There’s also a QR code that you can scan into your mobile device to be read with barcode reader software displayed on the sidebar.  More details about the mobile aspects of this site and how to access them can be found here.
  • WP-Print:   This plugin allows you to display a printer-friendly version of the site.  To use it, I had to manually add it into my theme, and the plugin offers you different choices on where to put it.  I chose to add it to single posts and pages.  So if you drill down to a specific blog post or page link, at the top will be a link to a Printable Version.  Clicking on that will display a printer-friendly version of the entry which you can then print to your printer.  This should come in handy for some technical HOW-TOs that I plan to write and post here in the future so that if people want to follow along, it’ll be easier for them to print an offline copy.
  • Scissors:  This plugin allows for quick editing of images for inclusion in a blog post.  Before uploading an image to the blog, I usually use GIMP to do the majority of my editing, or ImageMagick‘s mogrify command in Linux to do quick resizing and resampling of an image if I’m happy with it, but if I’m on a shared computer or operating in the field with time constraints, this should allow for some quick and dirty editing if needed with no need to install anything on a computer that isn’t mine.
  • Deko Boko:  This is one of many contact form plugins available for WordPress.  I chose this one over more popular (and powerful) plugins like Contact Form 7 for the simple fact that it uses and includes reCAPTCHA support.  I’m a big fan of reCAPTCHA specifically because it is so effective compared to other CAPTCHA options.  I say that if it’s good enough for a high volume and profile site like TicketMaster, it’s good enough for me.  If Contact Form 7 ever includes reCAPTCHA support (and many people have requested it), I might switch in the future, but if this plugin continues to be maintained, who knows.  This thing works and works well and is good enough for my simplistic needs.  I’ve used it to create a simple contact form that people can use to reach me.  I wanted to offer visitors the ability to contact me, but I did not want to give out an email address for fear of spam.  A contact form lets me get around that, and the reCAPTCHA support will ensure that it’s probably a human who’s trying to reach me.
  • WordPress Video Plugin:  This plugin simplifies the embedding of video from various sites into a blog post.  It’s sometimes a pain to copy/paste the relevant embed code, so hopefully this plugin will make that stuff easier.
  • WordPress.com Popular Posts:  I see many blogs these days highlighting their popular posts, so I figured I’d do the same, mainly because I was curious to see which of my posts garner the most reads.  No other reason than simple curiosity.  This plugin gives you a widget that you can include on a sidebar.

I’m not sure if I’ll add any other plugins as I’m concerned about bloat.  I would like to add an image/photo gallery plugin to help manage and display photos, but there are so many options out there right now and I don’t have the time to evaluate each and every one.

However, I find it facinating that the functionality provided by Scissors, WordPress Video Plugin, and whatever will statisfy my photo gallery needs are functions that were recently voted for inclusion into WordPress 2.9.  It could be that soon there will be official versions of software worked on by WordPress developers included in a default install of WordPress, which would make me very happy.  I’m ecstatic that WordPress has come so far in such a short time.  With one-click upgrades and theme/plug-in installations, it is much more user-friendly than it used to be when you had to FTP files over and use shell access to extract and install them.  I’m excited to see what comes next.

Recovered?

So I think I’ve finally recovered from Stampede week (in that I no longer feel exhausted). My sleeping schedule hasn’t quite returned to normal, but I’m sure that’ll fix itself eventually.

One thing I had wanted to do towards the tail-end of Stampede was to upload some more videos that I had taken with my camera on the final days of Stampede and to write about them. I didn’t get a chance to as there was a lot of post-Stampede work to do after the fact, but I hope to get around to doing so once I’m able to transfer and process the video.

In the meantime, I’ve been amusing myself with playing with the back-end of this blog, experimenting with various WordPress plugins to either extend functionality or to make things easier on myself.

Some of the new plugins I’ve installed are Google XML Sitemaps (to auto-generate sitemap.xml files; never had them before), WP Super Cache (to try and reduce the CPU load on this shared hosting account as I’ve noticed that sometimes the serving of pages gets slow), and the WordPress Mobile Pack (to give a better experience to those who visit here using various mobile devices like iPhones, Blackberries, or Sony PSPs).

I also made some changes to the layout and content of this site, primarily adding a couple of links to the top navbar, fixing some pesky typos/formatting, and going back and tagging/categorizing some of the older postings to make searching easier (I’ll probably do more of that later once I get more organized).

The main changes I’ve made to the layout of the site (that are noticeable anyways) are that I’ve added a Stampede page to showcase and keep track of everything I’ve done during my tenure as a volunteer at the Calgary Stampede, and an About page that talks a little bit about me and what this place is about (I’ll probably add a picture to that page eventually, once I find one that I deem worthy).

So that’s what I’ve been up to recently. Hopefully I’ll be able to start posting here more regularly again. Stampede was fun this year, but now I’m ready to start concentrating on other things again.