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Photo: Simplicity

Simplicity — a beautiful pink rose

A lovely pink rose on the ground against a pallid background of dirt and a wilting flower. I recall thinking this would be too clichéd, but I’m glad that didn’t stop me. :smile:

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon PowerShot A620, 1/50, F2.8, 7.3mm, ISO50, 2007-04-15T15:03:27-04

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

13 Indispensible WordPress Plugins

I’ve broken my promise about focusing on adding photography, as I spent the last few days solving technical issues and making improvements around here.

Category URIs don’t have “category/” in them anymore, so you can get to the shop at richardxthripp.thripp.com/shop, which is what I’ve wanted for a while. I got this working with Top Level Cats.

The comment section for each entry has been totally redesigned. You can subscribe to comments (Subscribe to Comments plugin), preview comments without a page reload (AJAX Comment Preview plugin), and subscribe to an RSS feed for the comments on each entry. I moved stuff around and renamed stuff so it makes more sense; the “reply to” (for comment threading) is now at the top so that when you click a “Reply to this” link, you don’t have to scroll up to see the comment box. I use Yet Another Threaded Comments Plugin (YATCP) version 0.6.1, in which I accomplished this by moving <?php yatcp_show_comment_parents($post_ID); ?> up above the contact boxes in yatcp_comments.php, and delinking the reply box from the comment form (comment_form) by changing add_action('comment_form','yatcp_show_comment_parents'); to add_action('','yatcp_show_comment_parents'); in template_functions.php.

I added notifiers for disabled JavaScript, because the “Reply to this” links, comment previewing, and the shopping cart require it. Try disabling JavaScript in your browser to see what I mean.

When viewing individual entries, there is a link to the next and previous entries above the similar entries list (Related Posts 2.04 plugin, which has been taken offline by its creator). I added <?php previous_post_link(); ?><br /><?php next_post_link(); ?> in my theme’s index.php file for the previous and next entries feature.

If that isn’t enough, first-time commenters will get an automated thank-you email, with a plug for my RSS syndication feed. The Comment Relish plugin makes this easy to set up.

My cousin wanted his own website, so I set it up for him in the same WordPress installation at jt.thripp.com (which just redirects to his category at richardxthripp.jt.thripp.com). I added him to the banner and sidebar, and he’s already got some photos up. I’m using Role Manager, Bind User to Category, and Advanced Category Excluder, so that his entries stay off the home page, he can only post in his category, and he can’t go on a rampage destroying my website. The three plugins are playing nicely together.

I’m using SEO Title Tag to manually edit the titles of the home page, categories, and other pages; they’re more descriptive and search engine-optimized.

Admin Drop Down Menu makes it a breeze to navigate in the administrative section.

I thought I was adding too much stuff; I’m getting 35 MySQL queries on the home page, and 20 on most individual entries, with query times of 2-3 seconds on the home page and feed, and ~1 second on most individual entries. I have cheap shared hosting from Netfirms, and the WP-Cache plugin speeds up load time and reduces the server load, so this seems acceptable.

To make an even 13, I use Random Image Script for the random photos in my header. It isn’t actually a WordPress plugin, but it’s convenient because you can throw it in a directory with some images and call it like a normal image (an img scr HTML tag). To have three random photos, I just made three copies of the script. It’s an inefficient method, but it’s easy and the cool (or annoying) thing is the same images can show up in each box. Get three of a kind and you’re really lucky.

And finally, there is a bugs and problems page, where I list the problems remaining, which I don’t know how to fix and are fairly minor.

I’m $3.25 away from recouping my hosting costs on this website, though domain renewal is up in March and I’ll have to pay more for hosting in August. Save me from insolvency. :help: Buy three prints from the shop today—$3.85 shipped in the USA). :big-grin:

List of the plugins:
Top Level Cats
Subscribe to Comments
AJAX Comment Preview
Yet Another Threaded Comments Plugin (YATCP)
Related Posts (Original site, offline currently)
Comment Relish
Role Manager
Bind User to Category
Advanced Category Excluder
SEO Title Tag
Admin Drop Down Menu
WP-Cache
Random Image Script

Photo: Two of Us Against the World

Two of Us Against the World — dandelion clocks

A pair of dandelion clocks against a vivid pink and blue sky. My camera was on the ground, pointing up, for this photo; at a normal angle this would be nothing special. Enjoy. :smile:

I added contrast through curves, and shifted the wight-balance to cooler tones to achieve this striking image.

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon PowerShot A620, 1/20, F2.8, 7.3mm, ISO100, 2007-01-19T18:03:02-05

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Photo: Raindrops

Raindrops — drops of rain in beautiful black and white

One of my best photos: raindrops, captured in motion. It took about 70 shots to get this; it’s of water drops falling off the roof of my back porch. The sun came out, so I had light to use a fast shutter speed (1/2000 second).

I sharpened and added contrast to make this perfect.

Fujifilm FinePix A360, 1/2000, F4.71, 5.8mm, ISO64, 2006-06-13T13:34:10-04, 2006-06-13_13h34m10

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Raindrops Wallpaper.
More of the Raindrops series.

Sweet Progress

My pages’ URIs don’t have /index.php in them anymore, thanks to this WordPress plugin (Netfirms Pretty Permalinks). I can’t use canonical URIs because the hack requires them to be disabled. :frown: So, just use the links around here when linking to me, as they’re all fine. Looking at the WordPress forum, I’m glad I can have nice links at all.

I was getting memory errors in the administration panel, but they went away when I disabled MySpace, Facebook, and Xanga cross-posting. 2008-01-04 Update: It was the Google Sitemap Generator; I increased the amount of memory available to it (from the default of 16MB to 64MB), and it works fine. MySpace cross-posting still generates blank screens on my end, so it won’t return. I can’t get the threaded comments reply link to work with the new URIs, so you have to use the list below the comment box.

The Netfirms permalinks plugin doesn’t fix calls from PHP scripts using $_SERVER[‘REQUEST_URI’]. They still have the /index.php in them, which broke the sidebar log-in panel and reply buttons in comments. To fix this, in Yet Another Threaded Comments Plugin (YATCP) version 0.6.1, I replaced a portion of the template_functions.php file. This:

function yatcp_get_url(){
$my_url = '';
if($_SERVER['HTTPS']){
$my_url = 'https://';
} else {
$my_url = 'http://';
}
$my_url .= $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'];
if($_SERVER['SERVER_PORT'] != '80'){
$my_url .= ':' . $_SERVER['SERVER_PORT'];
}
$my_url .= $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];
$my_url .= '#comment_selection';
return $my_url;
}

became this:

function yatcp_get_url(){
$my_url .= '#comment_selection';
return $my_url;
}

I’m not going to use the extra functions in the original code, so I removed them.

For the sidebar script, I just hard-coded the log-in/log-out URIs to the home page. Unfortunately, this means you don’t go back to the page you logged in or out from. These are both kludges though; I won’t need them once I leave Netfirms in August.

I changed the layout; the sidebar is stream-lined and the page margins are smaller to leave more space for the content. I’m particularly proud of the banner at the top; it displays three random photos on each page (currently, 26 of my photos are in rotation).

The website is looking pretty good, so I’m going to stop tweaking it for the next month, and instead work on adding photos. :)

2008-01-03 Update: Fixed comment reply buttons and sidebar log-in panel; updated entry.

Write Concisely

New Year’s Day. A time to make commitments for self-improvement and then break them a week later. I have one I’m going to keep.

My resolution is to speak and write concisely and correctly. While filler and disfluencies are excusable in speech, in print they are intolerable. Rewriting is writing, so the standards are higher because you can polish your work easily. “Kinda,” “sort of,” “like,” “more than,” and “less than” have no place in writing. If I ever use “in all circumstances that I know of,” yell at me to replace it with “always.” More examples:

• Don’t say “America has over 300 million people,” say “America has 300 million people.” We know what you mean.

• Use “always” and “never.” English is a language for humans, not computers—treat it as such. If you are wrong, plenty of people would love to correct you.

• We have plenty of words already; don’t make new ones up. “Servers” are waiters and waitresses. A “chair” is a chairman or chairwoman. Unless you are referring to a woman or women specifically, he, waiter, and chairman will do just fine. Don’t use they in place of he; it’s imprecise and dehumanizing. Gender inclusivity is a crock.

• Don’t use “special” to describe the retarded. It takes away from people who really are special.

• All our jungles have disappeared and been replaced with rainforests, while all our swamps have become wetlands. How did this happen?

• People are not sewers! Have a little respect for our tailors and seamstresses.

A lot of the Newspeak doesn’t even make sense. What is a “flight attendant” anyway? I know what a steward is (female: stewardesses), but isn’t a flight attendant anyone who has ever been on (attended) a plane?

English is losing its humanity. Don’t let them steal our language.

Photography Shop

2008-06-18 Update: There is no more photography shop, so I took away the broken links. Read about why I removed it: Everything Old is New Again.

2008-08-17 Update:: The photography shop is back, reincarnated.

I’ve set up a photography shop here. Took me a lot of time to hash out the technical issues (I’m using yak and WordPress), so I’ve only posted one photo for sale so far. I’m selling 4*6’s only (you’d be surprised how artful they can look), matted on white card-stock. This is different from my deviantART shop, because I oversee the entire production and shipping process (my standards are high), keep more of the profits, and can offer my art at affordable prices. The prints are 95¢ each, plus $1 shipping in the USA, $3 shipping to Canada and Mexico, and $5 to Australia and the UK (no other countries yet). Shipping is flat-rate, encouraging my customers to purchase more of my work.

The shop integrates well with my blog too—I can post an “Add to cart” button right in the text of my entries, as I will be doing for most upcoming photos.

All the payments go through PayPal since that’s simple and easy to set up, though they take a chunk off the top (30¢ + 3% per transaction). Check it out and buy something sometime so I can have more money for photographic equipment. :big-grin:

Photo: Implicity

Implicity — a beautiful yellow rose

Darkness surrounds a fallen yellow rose. I darkened and desaturated the rose’s surroundings to make it stand out.

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon Rebel XTi, EFS 18-55mm, 1/15, F5.6, 55mm, ISO100, 2007-10-10T17:41:04-04, 2007-10-10_21h41m04

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Entry Mirroring

I added WordPress plugins to cross-post my entries to LiveJournal, MySpace, and Xanga from this blog. The LiveJournal and Xanga ones work best as they link here for comments and duplicate the content. The MySpace one only posts a link to the entry here.

Tomorrow, I’ll start adding new photos instead of fluff like this.

2008-08-17 Update: I’ve only kept the LiveJournal one. The other ones failed when I switched to WordPress MU.

Comment Threading

I added comment threading, similar to deviantART. deviantART lets comments nest infinitely and after each ten levels, you must click a link to view the deeper levels. Mine stops at four levels though, so the page indent doesn’t become too great. But at the fourth level, you can continue posting replies like normal (they’ll just stay on the same level), and it will still be easy to keep track of the conversation, as other commenters will be on different threads. Try it out on this entry. Click “Comments” in the bottom-right, and then on my comment, click *REPLY TO THIS*.

I don’t know how to get comment previewing to work with the plugin, so it’s gone for now. 2008-01-10 Update: It’s back!

Also, each entry has a printable version, which you can view by clicking “Printable Version” at the bottom. Above this, there is a ShareThis button, so you can share my articles with friends and strangers alike, by email or through Facebook, digg, del.icio.us, et cetera. Finally, there is a dynamically generated list of three similar entries at the end of each entry, and a “random page” link in the sidebar. Both of these features will become useful as I add content.

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