Archive for the ‘WordPress’ Category

WordPress Editor Shortcuts

Monday, July 21st, 2014

When you start out blogging with WordPress, using the visual editor and icons on top of the editing box are easy and convenient. When you become a power blogger and blog from different devices like your phone, your tablet, and your desktop, you get in a groove and don’t want to lift your fingers from the keyboard to get the mouse. It is at this point that it becomes easier to use the editor shortcuts.

Here’s a list of the Keyboard Shortcuts that use the CTL key (Command key on a  MAC):

What do you want to do?

  1. Bold
  2. Copy
  3. Cut
  4. Italicize
  5. Link: Insert/Edit
  6. Paste
  7. Redo
  8. Select All
  9. Underline
  10. Undo

Letter

  1. b
  2. c
  3. x
  4. i
  5. k
  6. v
  7. y
  8. a
  9. u
  10. z

More WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts

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THE Must-Have WordPress Plugin: Limit Login Attempts

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Limit Login Attempts is THE must-have plugin that every WordPress blogger needs to install TODAY.

Limit Login Attempts does just what its name says; it counts consecutive login attempts and disallows further attempts from a location when the max number of attempts allowed at one time has been reached.

Limit Login Attempts Admin Screenshot

Limit Login Attempts Admin Screenshot on a live WordPress website

By default WordPress allows unlimited login attempts either through the login page or by sending special cookies. This allows passwords (or hashes) to be brute-force cracked with relative ease.

Limit Login Attempts blocks an Internet address from making further attempts after a specified limit on retries is reached, making a brute-force attack difficult or impossible.
(from the Limit Login Attempts plugin page)

 

The location is locked out for a period of time (default 20 minutes), and over time, the location is locked out for a longer period of time when other lock-out criteria is met. All of the plugin’s parameters (number of retries, lock-out period of time, notification to admin, etc) are customizable. Above is the Limit Login Attempts admin screen customized for a WordPress power blogger who is the only person who maintains the blog.

How to interpret the Limit Login Attempts admin screen

If this blogger fails to enter a correct username-password combination within 3 tries, the blogger has to wait 20 minutes before attempting to log in again. If the blogger gets locked out 4 times (has made 12 unsuccessful attempts to log in), he/she is locked out for 24 hours. These are more than reasonable parameters because power bloggers tend to know and remember their log-in credentials.

Limit Login Attempts Statistics

Total number of lockouts…Limit Login Attempts has been installed on this WordPress website for a little over a month. You can see that it has already enforced 426 lockouts.

Why do you need this plugin?

Because WordPress is a hackers dream, and you need to protect yourself.

WordPress is open...
WordPress is an open-source software product. Open-source means that the program code is available to everyone in the world, including you – to view, use, tweak, exploit!

WordPress is prolific…
There are about 1 billion websites (watch total number of websites grow). A little over 20% of those are WordPress-based. That’s about 2 hundred million websites. If you are a hacker, you want to make a name for yourself by impacting as many websites as possible. Imagine writing a  hack that could affect 200M websites.

Taking security one step further…

When Limit Login Attempts sends a message to the admin (in this case, the power blogger), the blogger sends me the IP address so that I can permanently deny access to the website.

Notes:
– Limit Login Attempts displays a notice with the remaining number of login attempts a user has
– If you get locked out AND you are a client of Adventures Online, call us and we’ll clear the lockout.

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How to Change the WordPress Admin Interface Colors

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Since January, I’ve been upgrading WordPress websites and blogs to WordPress 3.8.1. After each upgrade, I test, and then I ask my clients to take a look and provide their feedback. One comment I have been hearing a lot is how dark the new WordPress Admin Interface default color scheme is.

Here’s a look at the WordPress admin interface in earlier 3.x versions. Although it is simple, the change in the width and color of the border lines made it look like there was depth to the design.

WordPress dashboard in earlier 3.x versions

 

Here’s the WordPress admin interface default color scheme installed with WordPress 3.8.1. Flat, straight color changes; no depth.

WordPress dashboard in version 3.8.1

Kind of dark for my taste, too.

The VERY good news for WordPress bloggers is that the new admin interface colors can be changed. Well, actually, the color scheme could always be changed. Before, we only had two schemes to choose from – so it felt like we had no choices. With this new version of WordPress, there are 8 color schemes to choose from. Here’s a look at the differences in the admin interface color scheme choices.

WordPress dashboard color schemes

To change the color scheme for the WordPress admin interface *:

  1. Log into the dashboard
  2. Hover over “Users” on the (left) menu and choose “Your Profile”
  3. When your profile customization page displays, you will see the choices as shown above in the “New Choices” section. Tick the circle to the left of the color scheme you prefer.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of your profile and click Update Profile.
  5. You will see the results immediately.

Rinse and repeat if you want…This is easy enough that you can do it as many times as you want until you find a color scheme that fits you! And when you get bored, come back and do it again!

* The admin interface color scheme display is a personal choice, so, this process will need to be repeated for each User.

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Upgrading WordPress

Friday, March 14th, 2014

I’ve been using WordPress at my website and the websites of clients since 2004, when WordPress was known as b2.

All this time, I have been adding WordPress to more websites, and indeed, for the past several years, have been building entire websites on the WordPress platform. At the same time, I have been upgrading WordPress installations as the newer versions of WordPress have become WordPress Update Messagestable. Notice I said “stable” and not “available”. Not all upgrades work right out of the box. I like to wait until feedback about the upgrades is available. If comments are positive, I start upgrading. If not, I wait it out. If circumstances warrant an immediate upgrade, I write up a manual upgrade process and upgrade WordPress that way.

Preparation for “auto” upgrading WordPress

Here is the preparation I do before “auto” upgrading a WordPress installation. The WordPress upgrade process that I use is excessive, however, being a technologist and having years of PHP programming experience, the excessive backups allow me to recover from a bad upgrade from a number of angles – and bad WordPress upgrades happen.

  1. Record the version number of the current WordPress install (in case I have to call the hosting company)
  2. Log in using FTP and copy all the files onto my local system.
  3. Log into the WordPress installation (wp-admin) and use the Export (Tools, Export, ALL content)
  4. Log into the hosting account’s admin (cPanel, siteadmin, Plesk, etc) and use phpMyAdmin to export the entire database to a file that is saved to my local system.

At this point, I have two copies of all the data and all files.

Auto Upgrading WordPress

auto-upgrade WordPress button
Pressing this button generates the auto-upgrade of WordPress

It is time to “do” the WordPress auto upgrade.

  1. In the Dashboard,  Deactivate all the plugins
  2. In the Dashboard, click on Please Update Now.
  3. When the WordPress Updates page displays, I click on the Update Now button on the left.
  4. I read the log that the upgrade process displays on the screen. If there are errors noted, I print the screen so I know what the errors are and where to look.
  5. When there are no errors, I go back and Activate the plugins one by one. After each activation, I look at the website to make sure that all is intact.
  6. When all the plugins are activated, I Update the Plugins that have new versions; again, one at a time. After each update, I review the website to validate that WordPress is still working as expected.

Notes:

  • FTP: Filezilla, CuteFTP, and Dreamweaver are three popular programs for FTP
  • WordPress Updates page: My experience has been that every time I have checked Upgrade all the Plugins at the same time, the WordPress upgrade fails. Now, I do not check anything in the plugin section. When the WordPress upgrade completes successfully, I upgrade the plugins one by one. [I will try upgrading all the plugins with the WordPress core upgrade again after a period of time when the auto installs have been working without a failure.]
  • WordPress Updates page-> Update Theme: The Theme is a bundle of code that sits on top of WordPress and works with the WordPress code. When the WordPress code is changed (you’ve changed the foundation), there is no guarantee that the Theme code will continue to work with the new version of WordPress. So, I upgrade the WordPress core first. Then, I check to make sure everything is working as it should, and come back on another day (after the client has worked with the upgraded version of WordPress) to upgrade the Theme.
  • Activating plugins one-by-one: Plugins are pieces of code that were written to work cooperatively with pieces of the WordPress code. When the WordPress code is changed, there is no guarantee that the plugin code will continue to work. This is why it is a good idea to deactivate all the plugins before upgrading and then activate the plugins one-by-one after the upgrade to ensure that each plugin still works with the new code.
  • Updating plugins one-by-one: For the same reasons above – a different version of WordPress code working with a different version of the Plugin code, I update plugins one by one, validate that WordPress continues to work as expected, then continue updating Plugins.

 

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WordPress for Android App

Monday, November 18th, 2013

I find myself traveling more and more with my Acer A700 tablet. It is compact, light and all I need when reviewing websites, blogs and PHP program functionality with clients.

Sometimes I find myself with time in between client meetings; not enough time to return to the office, but enough time to get a little something done, like updating my own or a client’s blog.

Until today, I have been logging into the blogs that I maintain using the browser interfaces (Firefox, Chrome, Dolphin) on my Android tablet. When I would write in the content box for a post, the ‘browser-accessed’ WordPress would have difficulty keeping the writing area in control. No matter how many times I would place the cursor, the cursor would move serendipitously to another section of the post and insert letters in the middle of words or in the bullet above the one that I wanted to be writing in. Even when I got the cursor into the correct spot, as soon as I typed one letter, it would float to another area. It has always been laborious to make even small updates to blogs.

So, I recently downloaded the WordPress for Android app to my Acer Android tablet. This is my first test using it.

The interface is familiar. Abbreviated list of dashboard menu items on the left. Writing area to the right. Plenty of room to write. When a menu item is clicked on the dashboard, the dashboard slides out to the left, and a list of the posts, pages or comments appears in its place.

There are icons in different sections of the window. Pretty easy to figure out what each icon does: a Plus sign (+) for adding a post or page, three lines stacked on top of each other toggles the display of the dashboard menu that overlays the current listing of posts, page, or comments.

Already, I am impressed with the app. I’ve written quite a few words so far with my WordPress for Android test, and I’m typing as I normally would; two hands on the keyboard and always in control of the location of the cursor. I’ve tried portrait and landscape orientation, and both work as expected. I prefer the portrait because the QWERTY keyboard takes up less space and I can see more content at a time.
The icons for Bold, Italicize, Underline, Strikethrough, Link, Quote, and More… are located just above the keyboard on the left. The icon for including Media is above the keyboard on the right. Let’s try that out…

image

I just clicked the icon for media. There are four choices:

  • Select a photo from the gallery
  • Select a video from the gallery
  • Take a new photo,
  • Shoot a new video.

I chose take a new photo, and you can see the shot I just took of the coffee shop I am in. The photo was automatically included with a link to the full size photo on its own screen. The photo was included as 2000 x 1500 pixels. [Using my desktop machine, I edited the image to shrink to about 1/5 of that size.]

The WordPress for Android editor is in HTML mode. I’ve searched around and have not yet seen how I can edit the photo in WYSIWYG (View) mode to add an ‘alt’ and ‘description’ and remove the link. I have not found a way to generate the photo dialogue box.

The spellchecker/suggested spelling drop down list works well.


Okay – so I have edited this over several days. There were more paragraphs and I had manually formatted a bulleted list because there are no list options on the app menus. In the course of saving and logging in and out of WordPress for Android, I lost the version that I had wanted to publish. I had saved it for one more read-through, and now it is not available on my tablet nor in WordPress on my website. I can only imagine that I had had a bad connection and it really didn’t save, because just about every other version is listed in the “versions” section of my WordPress blog.

Truth be told, I am currently finishing this up in my office using my Dell ‘desktop’ setup. Not wanting to lose another version, I decided to take the safe route to getting this published.

So, moving forward, I will continue to use the WordPress for Android app for smaller blog articles and minor updates. As I learn more about the application, perhaps, I will be emboldened to write longer blog posts such as this.

What about you? What is your experience using the WordPress for Android app? Any insight into what I might have done incorrectly?

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