Brand New Build – Brand New Theme

Well, after I woke up a few days ago to find that this site had been compromised, I wiped the whole thing and started afresh (well, almost the whole thing, I kept a backup of all the content of course). It’s a brand new WordPress installation and I decided to clear out all my old themes and plugins and only install what I needed. It’s quite refreshing sometimes actually to start from scratch.

Anyway, I’ve got a brand new theme in place, the awesome BlogIT! WordPress theme by my mate Hyder. You’ll have to bear with me while I find my feet, these theme makes excellent use of any graphical resources you have on your blog, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve never really devoted much attention to styling. So I’m resting on the theme for that, but hopefully, I’ll be learning as I go along and the site will look prettier and prettier 😉

Have a poke around and let me know what you think!

Have a bit of fun with your WordPress blog

Have you ever looked for a way to make your WordPress blog more interesting? We’ve all looked at different devices to attract and retain readers to our websites but today there’s a new tool in the webmaster’s arsenal. (who can resist a cute kitten right?)

Introducing the Showdown Plugin, a brand spanking new WordPress plugin that lets you create games on your blog and use your content in a new and interesting way. The plugin has two modes, a Battle mode that lets you present users with two bits of content and allows them to vote on the one they prefer, and a “Hot or Not” mode that lets users show just how much they like a piece of content. It works with pictures, videos, text and any other content type you might be hosting on your blog.

Want to see how the plugin works? Check out the Showdown demo video or check out my Joke Showdown or our Cute Kitten Showdown. Check out the demos and if you feel your site could benefit from a bit of fun, go ahead and download Showdown. It only costs a few dollars but can make a real difference to how engaging your site can be.

Upgraded to WordPress 3.2

The logo of the blogging software WordPress.
Image via Wikipedia

A new version of WordPress (codenamed Gershwin) is finally out in the wild. It’s been ages in coming and loads of people have been using the test versions to try and iron out as many bugs as possible. Here’s the blurb on the new release:

The focus for this release was making WordPress faster and lighter. The first thing you’ll notice when you log in to 3.2 is a refreshed dashboard design that tightens the typography, design, and code behind the admin. (Rhapsody in Grey?) If you’re starting a new blog, you’ll also appreciate the fully HTML5 new Twenty Eleven theme, fulfilling our plan to replace the default theme every year. Start writing your first post in our redesigned post editor and venture to the full-screen button in the editing toolbar to enter the new distraction-free writing or zen mode, my personal favorite feature of the release. All of the widgets, menus, buttons, and interface elements fade away to allow you to compose and edit your thoughts in a completely clean environment conducive to writing, but when your mouse strays to the top of the screen your most-used shortcuts are right there where you need them. (I like to press F11 to take my browser full-screen, getting rid of even the OS chrome.)

Under the hood there have been a number of improvements, not the least of which is the streamlining enabled by our previously announced plan of retiring support for PHP4, older versions of MySQL, and legacy browsers like IE6, which allows us to take advantage of more features enabled by new technologies. The admin bar has a few more shortcuts to your most commonly-used actions. On the comment moderation screen, the new approve & reply feature speeds up your conversation management. You’ll notice in your first update after 3.2 that we’ll only be updating the files that have changed with each new release instead of every file in your WordPress installation, which makes updates significantly faster on all hosting platforms. There are also some fun new theme features shown off by Twenty Eleven, like the ability to have multiple rotating header images to highlight all of your favorite photos.

Awesome stuff. I’ve just rolled it out on this blog and the admin is looking just fine! If you’re running WordPress, go ahead and upgrade as soon as you can!

Host your website for $10

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Nexx Online. All opinions are 100% mine.

NexxbannernoflashDo you have a website you need to host? If you do, then you’ll find a great offer down at Nexx, where you can learn more about their Unlimited Web Hosting offer. They have a new service offering which they’re trying to promote, which consists of domain name and 12 months unlimited hosting for the pricely cost of $10.

The great thing about unlimited packages is that you don’t need to worry about hitting any limits in terms of bandwidth, space or even number of email addresses you host. They’re all included in the price of the package and you can focus on putting your site together and working on your content. Nexx even allow you to deploy a number of popular open source packages at the touch of a button. These include WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Zen Cart.

Nexx Hosting seem really confident about their service, in fact the $10 offer is meant to give you a taste of the level of service you can expect from their servers and their staff. They’re hoping that you try it out, find it awesome and decide to stay. The good thing is that $10 is really cheap, so you do ge to try out the service for a very small premium.

Oh yes, remember to use the code SPARK10 if you sign up.

Visit my sponsor: Unlimited Web Hosting + Domain Name for $10 @ Nexx

What to expect in WordPress 2.9

Image representing WordPress as depicted in Cr...

I just received an email from the WordPress Development mailing list outlining some of the major developments in WordPress 2.9. Here’s what to it says:

WordPress 2.9 is currently in beta and is expected to be ready in several weeks.

Major new features for developers:
– comments meta table
– improved support for custom post types
– register_theme_directory() for additional theme locations
– back-ported JSON encode/decode for both PHP and JavaScript

and for users:
– oEmbed support
– “Trash” for posts, pages and comments
– post thumbnails support
– basic image editor

More details are available in the Codex and on trac.

Some great stuff. Looking forward to it.

Check out my new theme

As you can see, I’ve rolled out a new theme to this website. It’s an awesome theme called Freshtweet which incorporates a number of Twitter-ish ideas. Here are some of the great features:

  • Change color styles with a single click
  • Choose a featured category via the theme options area
  • Integrate Feedburner and Email link subscriptions
  • Integrate TweetRoll widget with one click
  • Simple and clean design
  • jQuery sidebar
  • Supports threaded comments
  • Drop down categories at a glance
  • Prominent search area
  • Easily integrate “Recent Comments With Avatars” plugin
  • Compatible with WordPress 2.8+
  • Easy access to admin area for logged in users
  • Optimized for search engine traffic

I find WordPress an excellent platform for blogging, as you can change the look and feel of your blog anytime you wish, without losing any of your content. And I use it for non-blogs too. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional Orange County web design firm or just a sole developer building websites in his free time (i.e. me), but it’s always a great asset having a platform you can build on easily.

What do you think of it? What would you change?

WordPress 2.8 hits the streets

I woke up this morning to find that WordPress 2.8 has finally be released. It was promised for the 10th June, but as I’m based in Europe, I didn’t get to see it till today. I’ve been running the RC down at WordPressGuru and haven’t really had any major problems. So, what’s new in this release? It’s all outlined in this video:

Word of the new release has already started spreading, but most people will find out about it when they log into WordPress and it tells them there’s a new version. I’ve uploaded two blogs using the in-built upgrade mechanism and everything was smooth, thought I had to restart the process a couple of times till it completed. Presumably users on faster servers won’t have the same issue.

Most of the changes are a step in the right direction I think, faster admin UI and better handling of widgets are among those. I’m a bit unsure about the theme uploader/upgrader as I think some people may lose theme customisations this way and I don’t think I like the new plugin interface, but all in all I’ve been looking forward to this drop.

One interesting thing to report. The WordPress admin interface was broken with Firefox 3.5b99, but this new drop of WordPress has resolved that issue because of an upgrade in the Javascript components used by the admin interface. So go ahead and upgrade to the latest versions of stuff, things seem to be working nicely!

(P.S. I’ve noticed that the upgrade has disabled one of my plugins that provided paged comments, but seeing that this is now a built-in feature of WordPress, I was quite happy for it to deactivate it)