24 July 2008 - 9:19amWP-SpamFree at last

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For the last few weeks I’ve been getting 15-25 spam comments per day on my blog.  I have had Akismet installed since the beginning, but I was getting tired of having to clear the queue on a daily basis. I went looking for a better option and found the WP-SpamFree plugin. WP-SpamFree uses some complicated JavaScript and who knows what else to make it very difficult for a spambot to post a comment (I haven’t looked at the source and the description of how it works was very vague). As I understand it, the plugin can’t possibly block a real human from posting, since the logic used only affects bots (because of this, all spam comments are just deleted, there’s no queue to sift through). Since this is a “front-end” spam blocker, you have to deactivate any other “front-end” spam blockers, such as captchas, but you can leave “back-end” spam blockers, such as Akismet, active (though the plugin’s author says it won’t be necessary). So far, the plugin has blocked about 10 spam comments and nothing has slipped through to Akismet.

In addition to WP-SpamFree, I also installed WP Super Cache and AJAXed WordPress. WP Super Cache adds caching functionality to WordPress to reduce the load on the server when pages are requested (by creating static HTML pages to serve up instead). So far it’s working quite well. AJAXed WordPress adds some awesome AJAX to WordPress if you have the time to modify your theme to accomodate it (there’s only like two things active out of the box, the rest require theme modification). I haven’t had time to play with it yet, but there’s a lot of potential.

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23 July 2008 - 3:34pmSweet!

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I was looking at my site’s stats on my Google Analytics account today and I noticed three referrals from a URL I’d never heard of before. Drilling deeper into the report revealed that the referring URL was the “plugins.php” page of this person’s blog. Still not understanding what was going on, I went to this person’s blog and poked around a little and then it hit me… the author of http://burkeism.com/blog is using my Google Calendar Feed Parser plugin! Woo!

What a good feeling it was to see someone actually employing my code on their own website. If you are a Google Calendar Feed Parser user, please leave a comment and let me know. And, if you’re the author of burkeism.com, leave me a comment and let me know how it’s worked for you. And, if you’re a user and you really like my plugin, link to it on your blog so others can find it too!

Edit: Further perusal of my Analytics reports revealed more users of my plugin! I’m psyched. In addition to these referrals from other blog’s “plugins.php” (which are a result of someone clicking on my name in their WP admin panel), I’ve also had 150 referrals from the WordPress Plugins site and my plugin has been downloaded 93 times. Also, a simple search for my plugin (or any derivative thereof, including “google calendar feed”) on Google gets you to my plugin from the first page of results (a search for the exact title “Google Calendar Feed Parser” yields the number one result!).

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22 July 2008 - 9:30pmSilly Girl

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We’re playing “Would You Rather” and this is what Joelle had to do for two turns. :D

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21 July 2008 - 11:14amValidation

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Today I decided to run my homepage through the W3C’s Validator. I found a couple errors (ampersands in URLs that needed to be converted to entity references and also some bugs in the way WordPress formats a post with misplaced <p> tags). I fixed them quick and then added the provided badge thing to my sidebar.

Then I was reading this article by Jeff Atwood on his blog, “Coding Horror,” in which he mentions that Google’s homepage has 63 validation errors. I think I did it once before, but just for kicks I decided to run Google through the validator to see how it’s doing these days. Check it out for yourself.

Now, considering the fact that Google employs some of the smartest people in the world, why on earth can they not manage to include a DOCTYPE at the beginning of their page?

Moving past that issue and manually selecting a DOCTYPE from the dropdown yields far less than satisfying results. What could you possibly be doing on such a simple page that you end up with 180 errors? Get one of your geniuses to fix them real quick. By the looks of the errors it would only take about an hour or so. I’ll even do it for you.

Does anyone else think that’s ridiculous?

2 Comments | Categories: COSI, General

14 July 2008 - 8:04pmMobile Posting

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Today I set myself up with the ability to post to my blog from my cell phone (without paying for a data plan). I know this isn’t really anything new, but the thought hadn’t ever really occurred to me before, so I was excited about it. Using the Postie Plugin for WordPress, I configured my blog to post e-mails from my cell phone to a particular e-mail address. I can send SMS or MMS messages (I pay for unlimited within-Verizon SMS/MMS and that comes with 500 outside-Verizon SMS/MMS) and anything that’s attached (like a picture) will be posted inline. Postie has a lot of cool features, including the ability to cut off the Verizon-supplied message that appears at the end of whatever text I sent. This functionality (among many other things) is not available in the core WordPress installation, so if you’re looking to post via e-mail or SMS, Postie is the way to go (also, posting a picture attached to an e-mail or MMS message is broken in version 2.5 of WordPress… hopefully to be fixed in 2.6).

So, expect to see random postings of things I find entertaining while I’m out and about. They’ll be categorized under “Mobile” for easy reference.

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8 July 2008 - 2:03pmUpdate

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Hello all. Updates follow, categorized for easy digestion:

Wedding Plans: Not much progress on this front lately. We did purchase some paper the other day to use for making “save the date” cards (a task we need to get started on). Other than that, there isn’t much to do at this point. We’re going to look at the guest list some more to see who’s missing and how many we have (we’re trying desperately to keep the numbers down so we don’t end up spending a fortune). We were in the paper the other day! Our engagement announcement appeared in Saturday’s edition of the Press & Sun Bulletin. Check out our wedding website for a link to the announcement online.

Google Calendar Feed Parser: As many of you know, I wrote my first WordPress plugin recently and I’m happy to report good news. My plugin has had 50 downloads so far with 9 being the most downloads in one day! I’ve also had some comments on the plugin’s post on this blog. Check out that post or its page on the WordPress Plugins site.

Future Plugin: My second plugin will come in the form of a directory application that can be integrated into a WordPress blog. This idea stems from a directory app I’ve been working on for my church. I recently set up a WordPress blog as the main site for the church and rather than have a separate login for the directory, I decided the directory would function better as a plugin to WordPress, thus allowing a user to access both the blog and the directory without logging in twice (creating a plugin is the only way I know of to accomplish this). Look for more information in the coming weeks.

New computer: I’m in the beginning stages of building a new computer for my parents/sister. Our Dell has held up over the years, but it’s just too old to handle Windows Vista (our new Dell laptop came with Vista and because we needed to be able to use the printer attached to the desktop computer from the new laptop, an upgrade to Vista was the logical solution). Now, no one uses that computer because it takes so long to do anything on. So after some researching online, I’ve come up with what I think will be the final specs and we’re going to purchase a few pieces at a time over the coming weeks.

New phone: I recently purchased a Samsung SCH-i760 off of eBay for a hefty price. This was a long-awaited upgrade from my Motorola v325i and I have to say I’m very pleased so far. I really like having a full keyboard and the touchscreen is excellent as well. Joelle likes it because it has Solitaire and Tetris (which I have to say are quite nice).

Work: Work is alright. I’ve had an opportunity to do more of the web development work that I was supposed to have been doing all along. When I get to work on that, I like my job a lot more. Somewhere around the beginning of August I’m being reassigned to a new department: the operations center. This department monitors web application availibility, network traffic, server availibility, etc. for the entire site and many of the remote sites. I’m looking forward to it.

I think that’s about it for right now, stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks.

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