Not One to Get One’s Hope Up

Kristin's blogrollI was walking a fine line most of the afternoon and all evening with Kristin today. She put in a “work order” for her site, kris·tin·ol·o·gy, via e-mail for a blogroll that shows up like so many of those crappy Blogger designs that are out there.

I am fundamentally opposed to Blogger because it’s not as customizable as I need to do what I want. I want fully-customizable or quick and dirty. That’s why I work in WordPress or Posterous. Posterous has a decent amount of control, but I use it because I can post from anywhere with anything quickly and easily without thinking about style. I don’t mind the lack of design control because I don’t want design control in this case. It’s for writing and publishing to Facebook and Twitter.

So, you can imagine my horror as I see that she wants a Blogger blogroll, just because it’s like Blogger. It’s actually a good idea to display what she wanted: the latest blog post title and when it was last updated. Who wants to go to a site that hasn’t been updated all week or month, right?

Then she said it after dinner: “then I want a Blogger site.” I knew she was both joking and serious at the same time. “Nooooo!!!! You’re not getting a Blogger site after all of this WordPress work. You can’t ditch the best blogging platform available just because you want links to show a certain way!”

I tried to explain how much code is involved in getting the RSS information to get the title and the publishing date and said I’d have to hire someone to do that programming for me. Partially true. Well, if I was going to do it myself, it was totally true, but I was holding out hope that there was a plugin that would do exactly what she wanted. There has to be, but it would likely be a matter of whether or not it’s still being updated for WordPress 3.0.

I’ve learned my lesson to not say I will do something and then not do it, but I also knew she had strong suspicions that I can do anything I set out to do. I tell her those stories of my coding conquests almost daily, so it’s possible that there is some slight undue over-confidence in my abilities. She went to bed thinking it wasn’t going to happen…

It took me two tries and to wait about 15 minutes of frustrating testing before Google’s AJAX feed API went through their system before the plugin started working correctly. It was just showing it like before no matter what I did until the API started working. Amazingly, the plugin even has a “Bloggger (TM)” display setting. LOL!

All said and done, I’ve once again proven why I’m the “WordPress go-to guy for WordPress people” and gotten the job done for my most important client. She said she’d pay me for any work I do, but I don’t think she’s got anything I don’t already own. 😉

Kicking it, Busy Style

Sorry for so many posts in a row about American Idol. It’s time to write something for once, but I’ve been working all day every day doing my design work for clients. Thankfully, I’ve got work that I can see all the way through April as far as projects go. I won’t be working all day every day between now and then, but work is still trickling in consistently enough that this venture looks like it’s going to work.

Inter-Disciplinary.netAbout a month ago, I finished a site using Darren Hoyt’s Mimbo Pro theme for Inter-Disciplinary in the U.K. for Dr. Rob Fisher. The site has over 1,600 pages (that’s not a typo) and needed some server intervention to allow the WordPress pages.php to load without a white screen of death in the dashboard. Wild! We ended up using a javascript menu tree in the left sidebar, but it does tend to crap out in Internet Explorer, which he was okay with since no one should be using that stuff anyway.

PhilGerbyshak.comLast weekend was an exciting time as I launched Phil Gerbyshak’s new site using Thesis by Chris Pearson as the framework. It was my first time using Thesis and it was like re-learning theme design all over again, but now I LOVE using it. That project stretched my CSS knowledge to the max and I often spent 4-6 hours figuring out how to implement the design in my head, but I came out on top with ridiculous skills that I can use on other sites now.

OakwoodFL.orgOn Tuesday, after months of office and personal frustration with my church’s website theme that I installed last February, I decided it was time to pull the plug on that theme and do a quantum leap to the latest and greatest one company has to offer with Church Life and get the Oakwood Community Church site going with something kickin’, modern, and functional. They’ve started with Facebook and using video communication, so this was the perfect time to get something to allow that to happen with minimal training and (hopefully) little or no assistance from me to make them look like web pros.

FTPressScience.comAfter more than a month in development for content and graphics, I wrapped up FT Press’s newest division and launched FT Press Science today. I used WP Remix for this theme, which looks really good, but I do not recommend it for people who do not have patience or pretty advanced CSS skills due to the vast number of CSS and PHP template files (in the neighborhood of 100 files) that tend to override each other from time to time.

That’s what I’ve been up to, and I have about 5 sites on the calendar for the next couple of weeks, so I think that my portfolio will begin to round out nicely with a good variation of clients, themes, and content to show my design and customer service skills. Here’s to the future!

WordPress Fixed the Plugin Search

After months of unsuccessful searches for cforms 2 and all the various ways to spell it, Matt Mullenweg announced that he has fixed the plugin search tool.

That sure got my day off to a good start!

Help Your Site Out – First Step: Hosting

Whether you are starting out to create a new site or you have a site and are miserable with its performance, you really need to consider the hosting plan your site is/will be utilizing. In the world of customer support, the host is the factor in a vast number of issues experienced by users and the software running on the sites.

If you want to cut to the chase and see a list of terrific hosts, visit and browse the ratings and click through to see what the current offers are. Some of the plans are better than others on the same host, so once you choose a host, choose the plan carefully according to what I say below, so stick around a bit longer.

Easy WordPress HostingHere are the essentials for an excellent host experience. If you don’t know what some of this means, it’s okay… look for it anyway.

  • MUST be on a Linux server to ensure a good experience
  • Unlimited storage space
  • Unlimited bandwidth (transfer data)
  • Unlimited domains
  • Several, if not unlimited, SQL databases
  • cPanel is a must-have feature
  • Fantastico (or SimpleScripts)
  • 24/7 customer support (live chat or phone # preferred)

If you make sure you have hosting that meets these requirements, then you are probably just fine in that respect and you can wait for my next tip this week: WordPress Security.