Using TimThumb with WordPress MU

A few days ago, I saw a post on Smashing Magazine outlining ten tips to give your WordPress blog a little more personality. While most of the tips don’t really apply to the blogs on which I’m currently working, tip number two piqued my interest.

Tip number two explains how to display a list of “related posts” at the bottom of each post, and tells you how to add icons to each of those related posts. Unfortunately, when I attempted to implement the tip on one of my WordPress MU blogs, I found that it didn’t work for a few reasons.

  1. The tip uses a meta element called “post-img” which, as I’ve found since attempting to implement the tip, isn’t a standard WordPress element.
  2. TimThumb doesn’t work with WordPress MU out-of-the-box.

So, I set out trying to figure out how I should implement the tip. Following are the results of my tinkering.

WordPress 2.8.5 Upgrade Available

Curtiss noticed that WordPress has posted a new version of their downloadable blog software today. The update takes the latest public version of WordPress to 2.8.5.  WordPress employee Peter Westwood calls this a “hardening release” and is mostly related to security.

From the announcement, the headline changes in this release are:

  • A fix for the Trackback Denial-of-Service attack that is currently being seen.
  • Removal of areas within the code where php code in variables was evaluated.
  • Switched the file upload functionality to be whitelisted for all users including Admins.
  • Retiring of the two importers of Tag data from old plugins.

WordPress suggests that you update your WordPress installations to the 2.8.5 release. You can update manually by downloading the update and reinstalling all of the files or by clicking the upgrade button inside of the WordPress admin. Always make sure to backup your database before you upgrade your blog.

Posting to Twitter from Your Web Site

Most content management systems and blogging platforms have a Twitter plug-in available nowadays that allows you to automatically submit tweets when you update a page or post a news item. However, for those of us that aren’t using packaged systems, we have to look elsewhere for solutions to post updates to Twitter.

The other day, while making some changes to the news posting script we use at work, I decided that we should post our news updates on Twitter when we post them to the Web site. As such, I started reviewing the Twitter API. Thankfully, Twitter has a good resource on libraries you can use to make your life easier (after all, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel if you don’t have to).

Why are social networks so unreliable…

…and why do we put up with it?

Lately, it seems that many social networks have become more and more unreliable and unpredictable. Twitter seems to be “over capacity” at least a few times each day, and even when it is available it fails to load all the way much of the time and followers seem to disappear randomly from follower lists. Recently, Facebook seems to be unavailable almost as much as Twitter, and pages, fans and wall posts seem to be disappearing quite a bit, with no explanation as to why from Facebook.

What’s more, it’s not just social networks, either. It seems that everything in the cloud seems to be experiencing issues and problems more and more lately. How many times has Gmail been down in the last few months?

My question is, why do we continue to put up with it, and, even more, why do we still seem so shocked when these things happen? Why do many businesses and institutions seem to rely so much on these tools? What are your thoughts on the matter?

By the way, this is the first blog post I’ve composed entirely on my iPhone, so please excuse any oddities or errors. Thank you.

An Open Letter to WHATWG

For the last decade or so, Web developers have been moving more and more towards standardization. With the advent and popularity of XHTML, we’ve all been encouraged to ensure that all of the elements we open are closed when we’re done using them, to use all lowercase type for entities and attributes (we could just as easily used all uppercase, but then we’d look like we were shouting in our code), explicitly define attribute values and more. We have come to a golden age in Web development.

Whenever we view the code from other Web sites, assuming it’s written in valid XHTML, it makes sense to most of us. We can tell specifically where paragraphs, divs, spans and other HTML elements begin and end. We have come a long way from the wild west days of the mid-nineties when anything could happen. Some of us are old enough and have been writing HTML long enough to remember the days when HTML was loose and fast and can also remember when browsers would do strange things when attempting to figure out where we really intended one element to end and another to begin.

Setting Up Google Apps (Gmail) For Your Domain

The other day, I was talking with my friend Aaron (@riddlebrothers) about all of the various e-mail addresses we have and how we use them. At one point, after discussing the virtues of using Yahoo! Mail, I mentioned that the e-mail addresses I have hosted on my own servers are often unreliable. I told him that I rarely give out anything but my Yahoo! e-mail address, because a lot of messages get lost in cyberspace with my other accounts.

He asked me if I had looked into using Google Apps for my domain-based e-mail services. I honestly hadn’t thought about it before (in fact, I made a post a while back about how strange it was that everyone was moving to Gmail). However, his suggestion made sense. Following are some of the advantages I see in moving your e-mail over to Google Apps:

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