Performancing Metrics

Archive for June, 2006

WordPress Theme: Round Box Green 2

Round Box Green 2TalkXHTML.com has released a new theme created by the Skins for WordPress folks. It is a two column theme that is primarily green and grey, but it does look like it would be easy to modify for different colours and usages.

This theme was created by Skins for WordPress who are offering this theme as a special promotion. Completely free, and pretty nice too. I’m very impressed with this theme and I see a lot of modification possibilities out there.

Check out the Preview and then download from Here.

Categories: WordPress Themes

Akismet Worst Offenders Extension

Now even plugins are getting plugins, as Richard Boakes adds onto Akismet, a powerful and popular anti-comment spam plugin for WordPress and other software.

The extension, allows for users to easily see and delete mass groupings of spam easily. It shows you the worst offenders, IP Addresses of computers sending you the most spam, and allows you to delete all their spam with one little click.

Akismet Worst Offenders Extension

So I wrote a small addition to Akismet 1.15 (pictured above) that tries to help. It pre-processes the spam comments and identifies the worst offenders in terms of the domain that’s being advertised, or (perhaps more usefully) the IP Address of the spamming computer.

It’s not uncommon for me to get several hundred spam comments each day, so certain machines and websites are hitting my site many times. What the plugin does is make those worst offenders really obvious, so they can be removed en masse, reducing the ham-hunting to a smaller and more managable task.

Very interesting. He has also gone to the next level of blocking the computers that send him the most spam, and while it has been working well for him, I would be very careful in watching its effects when testing his htaccess extension to make sure it does not stop legitimate people from accessing your site.

Check out the Worst Offenders Extension and the htaccess extension.

Categories: WordPress Hacks, WordPress Plugins

WordPress Slowdown and a Challenge

Warning Rant Below
skip to My Challenge for You for details on the end of June Challenge

After what I consider to be a relatively unsuccessul series of theme contests, and the lackluster response to other people trying to strike up creativity in the WordPress community, I am a bit worried about the future of the WordPress theme and plugin communities.

Theme Recycling
Theme releases lately, all seem to be small changes on already released themes. People are releasing “flavors” of their favourite themes, with a link back to their site in the credits. This is not only a bit shady, but also very boring. While some make perfect sense, like totally shifting a theme from being a black theme, to a white theme, others are silly, like replacing a header graphic, changing a few link and header colors and re-releasing it.

The amount of really new themes being added to the pool, seems to be shrinking every day as people rehash old ideas. Those rehashed themes lacking the same creativity and originality of the original theme creator. Are designers feeling paralyzed by something, making them hold back their ideas? I know the reward that you can get by giving to the WordPress community is insignificant looking at it from a money in your pocket perspective, but imagine seeing your design, or a variation of your design being used by thousands of websites? Seeing that, is definetly its own reward, and it is a very fulfilling experience.

I was really excited when Phu Ly had his theme a day self-imposed challenge, as I hoped it would inspire others to run similar challenges, even if it was more in the theme a week or month realm. Phu’s themes showed that a theme does not have to be overly complex, or rely heavily on dozens of crazy graphics, and actually, I have found that graphically light themes that are easy to edit and modify actually do the best in the WordPress community.

Does everyone feel like they have to re-invent the Kubrick experience? That is honestly not the case. You have to design a theme for a niche that you feel you can fit. Are you good at doing grunge websites? Do a grunge WordPress theme. If you are interested in a certain type of design, no doubt there are atleast one hundred others out there looking for the same type of theme, but without the design or coding talents required to make it happen.

Plugins Not Worth Downloading
Plugins are also hurting lately. It honestly feels like the amount of really revolutionary plugins have dropped considerably over the last four to six months.

Sure, I could be missing many of the great plugins, but I don’t think so. It is at the point where the plugins area of the WordPress.org support forum is filled with support on plugins rather than new plugin releases, where half a year ago, there were new plugins coming out every day.

Plugins are also an area where people are just rehashing old ideas or mixing two plugins together. While many times this produces a better plugin than the originator had, there is almost no new plugins where I think to myself “I have to have that plugin!”

Many of the great things coming out for WordPress mostly seem to be coming from a small circle of people, and many of them are part of Automattic, the company that is WordPress as they continue to add new features to their hosted WordPress service, WordPress.com.

My Challenge to You
My challenge to you, the WordPress community, is this.
Create a theme or a plugin. Ignore what you have seen before. Don’t worry about similar themes or plugins. Just sit down in your image editing program or your coding application and hash out something new over this week.

Link to this post in your release, or contact me at [email protected] and let me know about your new development. I want to see what kind of originality you can come up with. Then on the 30th of June, I will feature the five best plugins and the five best themes, and they will each get a post on Blogging Pro. On top of the post the ten “winners” will also get a link in the links area of this site for all of July. That is over 30,000 unique visitors that will see a link to your plugin or theme.

If even 1% of them use what you create, that is 300 people using your theme or plugin. If you don’t think that is rewarding, then you are probably not the type of person I am looking for to take part in this challenge, as this is only supposed to spur on those that are holding back, not line your pockets with money.

For those of you that are not in the top five in each category, I will also have a list of all of the plugins and themes submitted to the challenge in its own post, so you can discover everything that was created in the last week of June for the challenge.

Categories: BloggingPro News, WordPress News

WordPress.com Custom Headers Everywhere

Over at the hosted WordPress service, WordPress.com, they have recently expanded their custom headers code to other themes, and it looks like custom headers are coming to just about every theme if we give the WordPress.com developers enough time.

Based on your feedback we’ve added a button to the custom header section that allows you to hide the header text, so for example if you already have text in your image. The text is hidden but still there, so it still shows up for search engines and such and you don’t have to blank out your title or description anymore.

We’ve also enabled a big batch of themes to have custom header functionality, the ones in this run are:

  • Ambiru
  • Benevolence
  • Blix
  • Contempt
  • Neat

We’ll be finishing up the other ones that can accept images in another batch.

So if you are over on WordPress.com, and like one of these themes or already use one of them, get your custom header groove on.

Categories: WordPress News

WordPress Theme: Day Dream

Influenced by Tarski and other first rate themes, comes Day Dream, a one column theme that looks really slick. It is interesting that more and more themes are going the one column route. I have thought about doing it a few times on my personal blog, and maybe I will now that Day Dream is out.

Released by Jim Whimpey, it is for WordPress 2.0.x and above.

Why Single Column?

There’s a few reasons why it’s single column. The reality is that the sidebar is rarely used, it doesn’t deserve it’s attention stealing spot at the top of the page, inline with the important stuff – real content. Single column themes give you one thing to look at, the most important part, the content. The sidebar sits below the content for the user to take a further journey into your site after reading the front page.

Check out the theme at its Project Page.

Categories: WordPress Themes

WordPress Plugin: Trashbin

Ever deleted a post, and then realized that deleting it was not what you really meant to do? Ever have a another writer delete all his or her own posts to spite you? Well, now you can install a plugin that could help you save you from yourself or someone else. The plugin called Trashbin keeps a copy of your deleted posts, pages and drafts so that you can easily restore them.

Trashbin is a plugin to rescue you from yourself. Trashbin keeps a copy of your deleted posts, pages, and drafts (and soon more) in your database so that you can restore your accidentally deleted posts without searching through those backup files and without the risk of losing your permalinks. Trashbin is currently for WP 2.0.3 (or higher, when 2.0.4 is released) only, due to database schema changes in the 2.1 series.

A great plugin, though it would be better if you were just more careful with your blog posts… Grab it from Mirashii’s Blog.

Categories: WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugin: WWW-Redirect

A new plugin coming at you today that is to help people solve their domain problems. Many know that Google can see your site as two sites due to having the www. or not, and that is where the WWW-Redirect plugin comes in.

The continuous plague of several pages being indexed using numerous variations of the same domain name has definately been experienced by most of us. In an attempt to remedy this extremely aggrivating issue; WWW-Redirect was born. Originating from the source of Matt’s no-www plug-in, www-redirect takes it a step or so further by allowing users to opt for different redirect settings. This plugin allows users to have more control over the uri in which their users access their blog. By doing so, you’re giving search engines and users a consistent link for accessing your content.

Features

  • Ability to set redirect to www prefix. (i.e.: www.bleah.com)
  • Redirect to non-www prefix. (i.e.: bleah.com)
  • Redirect index.php requests to /

Grab it from Justin Shattuck’s website.

Categories: WordPress Plugins

Blogsitter

An interesting idea that is starting to gain some attention is the idea of blogsitting, a service that would connect bloggers with a bit of extra free time, looking for exposure to blogs where the primary writer is taking a break, but does not want the site to do the same.

Darren Rowse takes vacations from time to time, and has asked his readers to write on his sites while he was gone, but for someone not as high profile as Darren, they probably would not get a even one person looking to help out and take over, and that is where BlogSitter.net steps in.

Are you a blogger? Do you face some no-internet-days, holidays or something else that keeps you from updating your precious blog? And you know that a blog without daily updates dies very fast?

Don’t worry any longer! blogsitter.net is the plattform for bloggers who need caring people to sit their blogs. Register and place your advertisment to search for a fitting blogsitter. Someone who has your skills in the field of your blog, someone who is trustful and eager to care about your blog.

I don’t really feel very excited about their service yet, as there is not many people using it yet, and their site could use a bit of a makeover in my opinion, but the concept is interesting. Would blogging networks use a service like this to fill a hole in their network while one of their principle writers go off on vacation? It will be interesting to see if it grows, or if it is something that never gets off the ground.

Categories: Blogging News

Title Tags and SEO

Darren Rowse tackles the subject of SEO a bit today, looking at the different ways you can set up your title, to best optimize your blog, and its posts, pages and whatnot.

He goes over some great tips, and as always practices what he preaches. Here is just one of the tips in this great article:

Factors to Consider When Deciding Title Tag Configuration

SEO is not the only factor to consider when working out how to set out your title tags. Here’s are a few things to consider:

  • Brand
  • SEO
  • Usability
  • Selling your Post
  • Title Tag Length

Check it out at Problogger.net

Categories: Blogging: How To

Technical Tips for Publishing a Series

Lorelle on WordPress has an article up that talks about the technical side of publishing a series of blog posts on your blog. Lorelle talks about the WordPress plugins used, and how to set them up to work effectively.

While I did put on my wish list for a WordPress Plugin that would automatically recognize links to non-published posts within the content of a post and keep them hidden until the post publishes, there is a WordPress Plugin that will hep you connect the dots of your series, though not within the post content. It creates a series list at the end of the content on a page.

Skippy’s In-Series WordPress Plugin is one of my favorite WordPress Plugins. I write a lot of series articles on my blogs. Skippy saw my need (and tears of linking frustration) and worked overtime to put this together, realizing how important it is to help article series bloggers or writers to connect their articles together.

A very useful article that points out mistakes people make and some great tips and tricks to make sure you make the most out of a series of posts on your blog. Check out the post at Lorelle on WordPress.

Categories: WordPress Tips