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Two Months…

It's such a relief to have fixed something that has been bothering me for like three weeks. I can get very, very anal retentive and obsessive compulsive about certain things and this styling issue was seriously driving me mad...

So, two months ago today, I essen­tial­ly launched this web­site. After years of say­ing I was going to do it, only to lose inter­est and move onto some­thing else, I actu­al­ly fol­lowed through with this project. Um, go me or some­thing.

In the last two months, I have gone from basi­cal­ly know­ing noth­ing about Word­Press from a back­end lev­el (the last time I even test installed it was like pre 1.5), to being able to suc­cess­ful­ly help oth­er peo­ple use it. I’m by no means a Word­Press Rock­star, but for two months I think I should at least get to open for a band that’s kind of pop­u­lar. Truth be told, I’m writ­ing that out to kind of reas­sure myself because when I get frus­trat­ed when I strug­gle with get­ting some­thing to work the way I want it to work, I real­ly don’t think in terms of, “you’ve used this sys­tem for two months total” — I guess because I’m usu­al­ly a fast learn­er and because I have cer­tain expec­ta­tions of myself to become pro­fi­cient very, very quick­ly. Espe­cial­ly if it has any­thing to do with tech­nol­o­gy.

Any­hoo, it is fit­ting that today is the two-month anniver­sary of my site because I just solved two styling issues that were bug­ging the beje­sus out of me. Ever since I updat­ed my theme, I’ve had an issue with the styling of my blogroll. To be clear, this is NOT Chris Mur­phy’s fault — in actu­al­i­ty, the pret­ty link only scheme with a CSS descrip­tion tag would be more than suit­able, except for one thing: Safari has issues with dis­play­ing cer­tain types of tooltips and I don’t know or care to know enough about how it works to try to fix it. Plus, I kind of like hav­ing the descrip­tions on my blog roll itself.

See, basi­cal­ly what hap­pened, from what I can tell, is that when Word­Press moved to 2.3, they dep­re­cat­ed the old blogroll link­ing sys­tem. So when Chris updat­ed his theme, he changed the mech­a­nism of call­ing up the link list to reflect that. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, one of the issues with the new link sys­tem is that if you want to style an image and a descrip­tion in the same “linked” state — it like does­n’t work. So get­ting my blog roll to look the same as my “recent com­ments” and “recent posts” box­es was pret­ty much dri­ving me insane.

In the wee hours of the morn­ing, after tear­ing my hair out, I was final­ly able to get it look­ing like I want it to look. It does­n’t look iden­ti­cal to the oth­er side­bar mod­ules — again, Word­Press makes that kind of impos­si­ble — but it looks close enough and it is infi­nite­ly bet­ter than what it was before.

I’ve also restyled the CSS for my Twit­ter plu­g­in and again, it might not be per­fect yet, but it is sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter than it was before and I actu­al­ly like it bet­ter than any of my oth­er attempts at styling.

Oh — I feel I should post an update to my spam-plu­g­in woes: Akismet was updat­ed and the update seemed to fix the whole, “we’ll auto-delete your com­ment tables with­out even ask­ing” bug. I briefly switched back to Akismet because Defen­sio’s accu­ra­cy rate is not com­plete­ly reli­able, but then Defen­sio updat­ed, so I switched back again. I’d be will­ing to just use Akismet because I do think it is more accu­rate, I just don’t feel like I can trust it not to delete my com­ments or pre­vent them from being viewed in the Dash­board.

And final­ly, I would like to thank every­one who has tak­en the time to vis­it this site in the last two months and for all your com­ments and e‑mails. The fact that peo­ple will­ing­ly sub­scribe to my RSS feed or reg­u­lar­ly vis­it my site still kind of blows my mind, and I thank you for vis­it­ing my tiny cor­ner of the web.





February 2008

7 people have left comments

Sean - Gravatar

Sean said:

Yes I feel your pain! I inher­it­ed some very very bro­ken CSS when I found my theme and it took a while to get it right. Not to men­tion the trou­ble of deal­ing with var­i­ous plug-in authors’ own CSS schemes that you have to back­ward-engi­neer into the theme. My biggest issue with my cur­rent theme is the fact that it uses CSS and tables togeth­er; I’ve been try­ing to get away from tables all togeth­er when it comes to lay­out. What issue are you hav­ing with the blogroll side­bar issue (you men­tion “it’s impos­si­ble the way word press works” or some­thing to that effect)? You can always dig into WP source and make it work the way you want if you don’t like it. I had to do that on a cou­ple of occa­sions, which is why I still have much trep­i­da­tion to com­plete the WP upgrade to 2.3.3 (though I went in an man­u­al­ly patched the secu­ri­ty holes). Let me know what you don’t like about your blogroll and what you want it to do and per­haps I can cook some­thing up!

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 4:53 pmQuote this Comment
Christi­na - Gravatar

Christi­na said:

Thanks for your offer — I’m actu­al­ly pret­ty con­tent with how the blogroll looks now (final­ly), but here was my basic issue: I want­ed to use the same hov­er affect and CSS styling that I’m using for “recent com­ments” and “recent posts”, how­ev­er imple­ment­ing that would prob­a­bly require me to actu­al­ly alter the core WP code, and I’d just rather not go there. The cen­tral prob­lem is that when Word­Press dep­re­cat­ed get_links_list and replaced it with wp_list_bookmarks, some of the styling behav­ior changed. Specif­i­cal­ly, hav­ing both an image and a descrip­tion appear togeth­er is impos­si­ble with­out hack­ing the core files — which ruins a big part of my whole hov­er-over effect (because it is an image in the CSS tag). I could ulti­mate­ly deal with that, but the big thing is that apply­ing a link to the descrip­tion and the title seems to require some­thing more than I’m will­ing to ded­i­cate, thus I had to cre­ate a new list­ing class for book­marks and tweak it so that the CSS would look appro­pri­ate. It took read­ing through the Codex, old forum posts and anti­quat­ed doc­u­men­ta­tion (that’s Word­Press’s biggest flaw, I know it is Open Source, but the doc­u­men­ta­tion, espe­cial­ly for dep­re­cat­ed and replaced changes are hard to come by and the old stuff is usu­al­ly mixed in with­out being cit­ed as incor­rect as of ver­sion what­ev­er) to fig­ure this out and although I think that if I inde­pen­dent­ly declared some para­me­ters in the PHP using get_bookmarks, I could achieve the styling I want (because those para­me­ters could then cor­re­spond to an exist­ing list­ing class in the CSS), I’m a lit­tle too new to WP to real­ly feel con­fi­dent in pulling it off effec­tive­ly.

Plus I solved the prob­lem, and I’m hap­py with it.

But major word for the styling issues with plu­g­ins — and that’s with­out even dis­cussing wid­gets. The them I’m using isn’t wid­get com­pat­i­ble out of the box, though I have fig­ured out how to make it so, but it isn’t worth doing that because I have to cus­tom style all the CSS any­way so I might as well just make my own PHP wrap­per.

Have you tried just updat­ing Word­Press using SVN? That would absolve a lot of the upgrade trep­i­da­tion stuff — but from what I could tell, only 3 files were changed in WP 3.3 any­way, the xml­r­pc file and two oth­er things. 2.5 will be out soon enough, and that’ll be the time to bite the bul­let.

Inter­est­ing that your theme is using tables and CSS — yeesh. I actu­al­ly almost used that theme (that theme design­er does some real­ly attrac­tive work) before I dis­cov­ered Chris’s awe­some Lemon Twist and decid­ed to mod­i­fy the col­ors.

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 6:05 pmQuote this Comment
Jay - Gravatar

Jay said:

Well, for just 2 months you’ve cov­ered a lot of ground. 🙂

I took your twit­tered advice on the paste from YouTube and it turns out… it works. Heh. What tripped me up was when I went back and edit­ed posts and the xhtml fil­ters or some oth­er grem­lin altered my post entry input.

Now I’m look­ing at the dif­fer­ent ways to push a post direct­ly and not involve the Word­Press native non-plu­g­in-ed Write edi­tor. I’m guess­ing your using a client or a plug-in for writ­ing posts?

I tend to be a “watch and won­der how some­one did that” kin­da Word­Press user.

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 6:18 pmQuote this Comment
Christi­na - Gravatar

Christi­na said:

There is some sort of MAJOR bug in Word­Press that is total­ly fuck­ing up any edit­ing you do do via the Word­Press Write menu in Fire­fox and Safari on the Mac (Safari gets the worst of it) and in IE 7 on Win­dows. Some­thing hap­pened and the line breaks and oth­er stuff, it just start­ed recent­ly, but it’s fur­ther proof that the Word­Press web write tool is total shit.

MarsEd­it is real­ly, real­ly great for Mac and Win­dows Live Writer is actu­al­ly a good pro­gram for Win­dows.

Glad the YouTube thing was able to embed — aggra­vat­ing that edit­ing via the Dash­board screws stuff up,

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 6:23 pmQuote this Comment
Sean - Gravatar

Sean said:


The way to get around the YouTube embed­ding prob­lem tem­porar­i­ly any­way is to sim­ply dis­able the rich text edi­tor under “My Pro­file -> Use the visu­al edi­tor when writ­ing.” Then you can go and get every­thing just the way you want it; I strug­gled with get­ting the embed­ded code to live with­in a div tag until I did that. Save it and nev­er ever look at it again unless you have the text edi­tor dis­abled; it will fuck up the code again!

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 6:41 pmQuote this Comment
Jay - Gravatar

Jay said:

Christi­na and Sean: Thanks for the val­i­da­tion and con­fir­ma­tion. I’m going to just suck it up and drop the WP web inter­face for post­ing unless I am com­plete­ly des­per­ate.

Posted on: February 27, 2008 at 3:56 pmQuote this Comment
Stephen Ris­tich - Gravatar

Stephen Ris­tich said:

Hey you! Been a damn long time…things look like they’re going well for you. I’m very hap­py to know that 🙂
So, I need to amal­ga­mate my blogs into one ser­vice and not feel­ing like pay­ing for my own domain, so I need one that will host. Do I go with Blog­ger or Word­Press?

Oh, and you seri­ous­ly need to spam my face­book wall…it gets lone­ly.

Posted on: March 28, 2008 at 9:10 pmQuote this Comment