New look for the site using the K2 theme – Stage 1

And there we go, a new look! I’ve been meaning to get into the nuts and bolts of the site a bit more, and have used the K2 theme for WordPress to give me a building block to work from. One of the nice features of K2 is that you can write your own styles for it, so you can keep the basics built by them, and then start to mould it how you like. What’s more, you can revert back to their style if you don’t like it.

What I’ve been using to assist me today is a fantastic article on Customising K2 by Paul Stamatiou (which was mentioned recently by the ever-inspiring Lorelle). I’ve had problems working with K2 in the past, but this really helped me get what I wanted working. I’ve now got a nice little set of images that rotate as the header, and a bit more idea of how it all fits together. There are 5 articles in Paul’s series on K2, so I will certainly be reading the rest of them.

My aim now for Stage 2 is to develop my own style a little more, make this blog look a bit more unique than just a different header. I haven’t got it quite clear in my mind yet, but I now think I’ve got the building blocks in place to work with what I’ve set up today.

Moved feeds to Feedburner

I’ve finally got around to moving all my feeds for my sites over to Feedburner. I’m hoping that in the not too distant future, I’ll be able to hook that up to my various Google accounts for Analytics and Adsense, amongst others. I’d also recommend using their WordPress Plugin, as it redirects feed traffic over to Feedburner, and thus gives you more complete statistics for who is accessing your feeds.

WordPress 2.2 available for download and installed

If you’re the sort of person who likes to squint at small type at the bottom of blogs, you will have noticed that I’m now running WordPress version 2.2. It is running nicely on here, no issues with it so far. My ultra simple upgrade process is:

  • Backup your blog
  • Deactivate all plugins
  • Switch to the classic template
  • Delete everything from the WordPress directory bar wp-config.php and the wp-content folder
  • Copy over all the files from a new download of WordPress, having removed wp-content
  • log in and run the upgrade process
  • Reactivate your theme and plugins

As I’m lucky enough to have the space for it on my hosting, I’ve now got a test blog that I try things out on first to see if they cause any problems. It does raise your confidence a bit to see things work, and is better than a first run on your live blog. This is especially worthwhile with your template, as at the moment template authors don’t always keep up with new releases of WordPress, they tend to update in the weeks following a release if there are any problems. I can report that Black Minimalism 1.0 seems happy with the new release.

WP-Amazon plugin – Add Associate Links to Amazon the painless way

So what you would like is an easy way in the middle of a blog posting to find a link to a product, and an image, and tie the link up with your associate ID? Have you tried doing this quickly on Amazon? Not much fun. Here to save the day is WP-Amazon.

I’d suggest installing this using Matt Read’s installer plugin, as you can just upload the zip file for WP-Amazon via your admin interface, and set it up in a minute or two. You just need to choose which country’s Amazon you want to use, and add in your associated ID, and you are ready to go. From there, when you are writing a blog posting, you can just click on the Amazon logo on the right hand side, search for a product, drag and drop an appropriately-sized image and link in place, and you are done.

For example, one of my favourite books is Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. And that was pretty painless to drop in, although it doesn’t like to flow the text around the image, may have to play with that. For a quick book or album reccomendation, it looks spot on.

I killed my WordPress blog, and lived to fight another day

So it was late. It was the wrong time of night to be playing with those sorts of options. And I compounded my error with the classic mistake of “oh, it’s a little change, I won’t need a backup”. Let both of those mistakes be lessons I learn.

So what happened? Well, I have a couple of other blogs with the WordPress theme K2 on them (this is a skinned version of K2 here), and I noticed that on my main personal blog I didn’t have the same options for the sidebar. After some experimentation, I removed a conflicting plugin, then chose to upgrade the theme. I followed the instructions carefully (well apart from backing up of course), disabled the theme, and then…

Nothing. Nothing at all. The whole site was blank. No posts, no admin, no error messages, just a blank screen for every URL. Really not good at all. So what did I do? Panicked of course.

After a good five minutes of quality panic, I decided to have a look at my database. It was there for starters, which was a very good thing. Then it struck me, there must be an options table for WordPress. And there is, wp_options by default. In there is an entry for theme. So as a last chance, I altered it back to K2 from default. And it worked, I could see the blog once more, and could sort out things from there.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend altering tables like this by hand. It was a qualified guess, but I got lucky. I didn’t deserve to after my other acts of stupidity, but I did. It was a handy thing to learn a bit about in case of that sort of disaster, but in this case it should never have happened, if I had backed up it would have been a lot easier to fix.

Fate also dictates that the morning after, I notice Lorelle’s great post on fixing a broken theme.

Geshi-based syntax highlighter for WordPress

This is my second test of a code syntax highlighter, in this case the Geshi-based syntax highlighter plugin.

Geshibased Syntax highlighterThis isn’t very successful either. The problem is with multiline cut and paste, certainly in Firefox. Doesn’t behave how you would hope. I’ve manually added the line returns to the CSS example, and that behaves fine, but the CSS still isn’t working.