Talking Plugins With KLCK Bloggers Network

Kilkenny Pembroke Hotel

I don’t usually go out of my way to speak at events or gatherings, social, business or otherwise. But when Keith Bohanna asked if I could fill in for him at last night’s KLCK Bloggers Network gathering in Kilkenny I figured I couldn’t say no, the event being on my doorstep and all.

I would equate the gathering last night to something akin to Open Coffee only minus the coffee and a bit more formal. The KLCK Bloggers Network was formed by Amanda Webb (of Spiderworking.com, in the running for best videocaster at this year’s Irish Web Awards) and Lorna Sixsmith of Garendenny Lane who I had met previously at Kilkenny Open Coffee (also turns out we’re both writing for a Carlow magazine). The event itself was held in the Kilkenny Pembroke Hotel who were providing one of their conference rooms complete with projector, screen, notepads, pens, all you would need to run an event like it.

While I was the second speaker on the night (which worked out a treat in terms of the content), Marie Ennis-O’Connor was first up to bat leading a great talk on driving additional traffic to your blog, from starting out as a blogger to building a community around your blog through email, comments, guest blogging and more. The audience (about 18/19 of us there) was a mix of beginner and experienced bloggers with some people simply coming in to get an understanding of what blogging is and does for people.

My own talk was quickly cobbled together yesterday on the back of what I call my WordPress toolbox – the plugins I deem essential to any WordPress installation and ones that I keep handy in a zip file whenever I’m starting a new blog either for myself or a client but I felt it went well for something that was a technical overview of additions you can make to your WordPress blog for the both the admin side of things and your theme out front. You can get the list of plugins and links here on Slideshare. The slides also feature a glimpse of the new branding I’m rolling out across the business later in the month.

Last night was the fourth monthly gathering of the network which heads to Kildare for November and should be back in Kilkenny come February or March. The name – KLCK – is an aconym for Kildare Laois Carlow and Kilkenny and they’re actively looking for topics for discussion that would benefit all in attendance, along with speakers. If the rest of the gatherings are along the lines of last night then they’ll be well worth heading along to. Having it hosted in the Pembroke created an opportunity for people to stay on for drinks and further the conversation in the bar but there’s signs there of a good group and network in the making, with everyone being able to contribute on some level from the own experiences. One thing I did note though is that for the 18 people in the room, there were only four men around the table, one of them being me as a speaker for the evening. Makes a change from the male-dominated Open Coffee mornings in Kilkenny.

That said, it’s also opened me up to the notion that I need to get to more events. Outside of Kilkenny, I think Media2020 and the Blog Awards in Galway were the only events I’ve been to for the year. Time to get back on the road, maybe as far as Kildare for the second Monday in November…

WordCamp Ireland All Weekend

WordCamp Ireland

WORDCAMP IRELAND takes place this weekend, kicking off this morning in my own back garden (Kilkenny) where hopefully I’ll get to pop my head in for a few minutes over the course of the two days.

Langton House Hotel is the venue for the first Irish WordCamp conference and for bloggers, techies, non-techies and WordPress users of all levels there’s plenty to choose from. Things kicked off informally last night with some nibbles, drinks and a photowalk around Kilkenny and registration has just opened this morning for the start of talks proper. Up first are Hanni Ross & Sheri Bigelow, Leo Ibanez & Loughlin O’Nolan and Daryl Koopersmith all split across the three tracks – Intro, Bloggers and Tech.

Check the full WordCamp schedule.

Langtons are looking after the catering and judging by mentions of croissants and scones for the morning, lunches in the afternoon and the (ticketed) dinners in the evening, along with a special WordCamp cocktail menu, nobody will be going home hungry. There’s full childcare available, free wifi for all and plenty for speakers and attendees to link up with.

For those who haven’t picked up tickets yet, there are limited numbers available on the door with tickets today available for €50 and tomorrow (Sunday) available at €25.

It’s possible I’ll make an appearance this afternoon disguised as a clown (or I could be mistaken for a clown in the garb I’ll be wearing for the day) so if you see a grown man running in the door of Set Theatre wearing lime green dungarees, a bright pink shirt and a very white face, do say hello. To all those visiting Kilkenny for the first time, you’ve got the weather for it, you’ve got plenty to see and do so don’t miss out on what the city has to offer as well!

Follow WordCamp Ireland on Twitter.

Testing WPtouch, Make Your Blog iPhone-friendly

kenmc.com running WPtouch, iPhone-rendering plugin for WordPress

A tweet from Donncha pointed me in the direction of WPtouch earlier today, now running on kenmc.com.

What does it do?

It’s a plugin for your WordPress-based blog that renders a very iPhone and iPod-friendly theme of your blog. Forget bulky images, scrolling screen after screen – load in the plugin, fire it up and browse a great looking lo-fi version of your blog (see the image above).

You can customise how particular pages are displayed, tie in Flickr photos, full links pages login / logout function and, to an extent, set a colour scheme for the theme via the plugin options. I might as well do a little digging into the plugin and bring across some kind of consistency between the actual blog and the iPhone version of it but I’m impressed.

Grab the plugin yourself here. It requires WP2.3 or higher and has support for WP2.7.

A New Look For September…

I’ve spent more time in recent weeks blogging around the web than here on my own blog. Music, theatre, tutorials… a whole lot of things semi-related to technology but not hardcare about technology.

Perhaps it’s a shift in my blogging habits. Perhaps it’s my lack of time to sit down in the evening and gorge on mountains of tech-related RSS feeds as I used to do; arming myself with an abundance of tech news (once for a segment I was doing on KCLR 96FM), getting the brain thinking about blog topics for the week ahead.

I’ve been so wrapped up in the world of theatre and music this summer that I haven’t gotten around to a whole lot of sharing of the same. Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to turn kenmc.com into a theatre and music blog, I’ve got other outlets for that. But it got me thinking – I live a creative live. One surrounded by all kinds of technological wonders, but one steeped in creativity and boosted by certain realms of the tech world, online and offline.

So maybe it’s time to bring in some of that creativity.

That or I’ve just been fed up of the way the blog was looking (subsequently putting me off posting) and I figure a new look will get me on track.

What have I done? In comparison to the old theme, I’ve narrowed the main content column, added my live Qik channel (in an effort to get me Qikking), returned my Flickr photo stream (in an effort to get me uploading photos again), added gravatars, hacked a few themes together and away I go.

Until October… then we’ll see about turning pink all over again.

PodPress Ain’t Dead Yet

Some late night trawling of Jaiku yesterday highlighted a stir around the popular podcasting plugin for WordPress, PodPress.

I use PodPress for delivery of both the Playlist Mix podcast and Sound System Podcast with KilkennyMusic.com and much to my surprise last night I had read online that development on the plugin had ceased and the site had been whipped down.

This, however, appeared due to a “domain registration snafu” as Jeff at Weblogs Tools Collection points out.

The plugin is, in fact, alive and well and the next version is almost set for release. The current version, 8.8, has been around for a while now but the plugin is working fine in WordPress 2.5 so there was no major panic on when the next version would be out. But when the thought of it disappearing altogether arises, it puts many a podcaster into a spin.

But all is well in the world and users of both Joomla and Drupal will be happy to hear that there are ports in the pipeline for both CMS options.

Stumbleupon, Spammers and WordPress 2.5

While I’ve had a manic enough week in the office, I grabbed some time yesterday to poke around recent web stats and tackle personal email building up in my inbox. The two things I noticed?

Four out of five blog posts I’ve penned recently have been picked up by Stumbleupon users, so – welcome SU users. I hope you’ve enjoyed the articles you’ve found and have been reading – plus I hope the assistance with the Popularity Contest plugin has helped, though Alex King will be releasing a fully WP compatible version shortly.

The other thing I notice, as I sift through my email, is that the spammers were certainly out in force this week – trackbacks and comments alike. Clear out Akismet and it’s slowly but surely begins filling up again – and again, and again and again. Is there an issue with Akismet or has there just been a global increase in spam activity for the week?

Finally, I will say that I’m enjoying the use of WordPress 2.5. The media gallery has taken some getting used to but functionality-wise and from an end-user’s point of view I think it’s bang on.

Now, it’s time for the weekend.

Painless Upgrade To WordPress 2.5 (Plus Working Plugins)

Well, the update to WordPress 2.5 went painlessly. After disabling each plugin I use, the overall upload time, upgrade time and plugin-check took about 30 minutes. Plus, I’ve remembered to set the time forward on the blog (the clocks went forward last night in case you’ve forgotton – happened me last year).

For the first time too I’ve also used the automatic plugin upgrade which was used to update the Jaiku widget on the sidebar and Google Sitemaps plugin. Handy knowing a simple click from your plugins menu will retrieve the update automatically for you without the need to disable > download new plugin > ftp plugin across > re-enable etc.

The following is a list of plugins I’m currently using, all of which showed no problems in upgrade.

I’ve one or two advertising plugins to check across other blogs yet (as well as PodPress – has anyone had any notable issues?) but with a smooth transition to 2.5 I’ll be rolling out the update across the rest of my little blogging empire over the next few days.

Upgrading To WordPress 2.5

I’ll be upgrading kenmc.com to WordPress 2.5 starting within the next half hour or so. If you’re visiting the site between 1:30pm and 2:30pm and spot any abnormalities then I’ll apologise in advance and ensure you that normal service will resume shortly.

After spending a lot of time last night testing out a local install with some of my preferred plugins, I’m not expecting any real damage to occur and foresee a relatively smooth transition.

Of course, stranger things have happened….

If you’re updating to WordPress 2.5, don’t forget to disable any and all plugins before you begin uploading and activiting. Once you’ve completed the necessary upgrade steps (normally be executing yourdomain.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php), switch them back on one at a time and see if you spy any difficulties. Hopefully I won’t see anything too radical.

WordPress 2.5 Is Live And Wild (Plus Popularity Contest Notes)

Update April 5th: Download patched version of plugin here.. Note you’ll still need to make the database changes if you don’t have the tables already in place.

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The long awaited WordPress 2.5 has been released. In fairness, some of the advances in WP2.5 are as great that it could well have been labelled WordPress 3.0 but who’s to argue with version numbers.

Before rolling out upgrades across a number of my own blogs and blogs I manage for others, I’ve been doing the precautionary thing of testing WP2.5 locally with a variety of homemade themes and some of my regular plugins.

Plugin Issues

So far I’ve only found an issue with with Alex King‘s Popularity Contest plugin – if you try to activate the plugin under WP2.5, for the moment, you’ll see it triggers a fatal error. This can be fixed as outlined here

Open popularity-contest.php and scroll down to line 59. Replace require(’../../wp-blog-header.php’); with require(’../wp-blog-header.php’);

However, in running the plugin locally I found that after making the changes in order to get the plugin to activate, it wouldn’t create the two tables needed in order to run, so these had to be entered manually (via phpMyAdmin). To create the tables, you’ll need to run the following SQL queries.

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `PREFIX_ak_popularity` (
`post_id` int(11) NOT NULL,
`total` int(11) NOT NULL,
`feed_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`home_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`archive_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`category_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`single_views` int(11) NOT NULL,
`comments` int(11) NOT NULL,
`pingbacks` int(11) NOT NULL,
`trackbacks` int(11) NOT NULL,
`last_modified` datetime,
KEY `post_id` (`post_id`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM;

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `PREFIX_ak_popularity_options` (
`option_name` varchar(50) NOT NULL,
`option_value` varchar(50) NOT NULL
) ENGINE=MyISAM;

Note that PREFIX refers to your WordPress table prefix, in most common cases it is simply wp_ unless you’ve got multiple copies of WordPress running in the same database.

Initial Impression

Love it. I downloaded the latest SVN version only yesterday in the office though never got around to playing with it (of course not knowing the full release would hit today). The admin interface is much smoother, I’m liking the customisable dashboard (I used to edit the admin index and strip out everything bar the ‘write a post’ link and stats) and the overall colour scheme is much more appealing. I was never a visual editor user before (and won’t change in a hurry), but I do like the changes they’ve made, including the full screen option for those intensive blogging moments.

I’ll have a full play around with the gallery / media functions yet as well as making sure my other preferred plugins (sitemaps, podpress etc.) are all up to working order before doing a widescale upgrade.

You can download the latest version of WordPress 2.5 right here. You can also see a full list of new features right here.