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Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

Fun(?!) with Plugins

I figured out the initial problem with the WordPress Plugin Manager – it did come down to a directory permissions issue. The temporary folder where the PM downloads the plugin didn’t have any permissions associated with it – including permission for me to get into it. I found references to using the CHMOD command to change it, but I don’t use a command line FTP client – I use FileZilla. By poking around I found a way to issue the CHMOD through a context menu and was able to make the directory accessible.

The Plugin Manager still didn’t work. I found a spell checker plugin that, as I already mentioned, I really wanted, and the PM said it had installed it, but I couldn’t find any of the files that were supposed to be there. I gave up on the PM and tried installing it manually. This involved putting the right files in the right places, which I thought I had done, but I still got interesting new error messages when I tried to activate it. A little searching in the message boards helped me to fix it, and I happened to notice a little comment somewhere saying that I had to set permissions not only on a certain directory but also on all the php files within it (which wasn’t in the readme that came with the package.) The spell checker didn’t report that it was up and running until I did that, too.

So now I have a little “Check Spelling” button under my post editor. Unfortunately, it isn’t there in the comment poster, but now I get to look erudite while all commentators can look like slobbering fools. Since my audience is limited to a few friends (plus the mystery traveler in Chicago), I figure I can risk offending you.

Post Script: The blog gods have punished me for the above statement, and as an act of contrition I have left it in so readers can see the folly of my pride. The @#%@$ “Check Spelling” button produces a JavaScript error!

Post Post Script: What’s worse, when I cut and paste this draft to Word, I came up with three spelling errors. I was especially aghast when I realized there was no such word as “commenters”!

Posted by Greg as My Website at 10:04 PST

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Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005

Format Change and Fixes

Stupid me. I fixed the RSS feed, added the one-click button, then changed the theme without thinking that I would lose all my customizations. I was distracted when I installed a theme that required additional plugins and decided that it was time to install the WordPress Plugin Manager. That didn’t seem to work, and in the process it did some stuff I hadn’t seen before, like changing access levels of directories. Apparently, it changed one to a level that it couldn’t access, which is why it couldn’t work, and when I FTPed in I couldn’t get into it either. Interesting problem.

I was looking for a simple three-column theme that I could customize and this one looks ok. I don’t like the color scheme, but hopefully that’s easy to change. I’m not sure I like the recent comments feature in the right sidebar, either. But it does have a nice admin menu bar that pops up just under the header when I log on, which I really like. I hope to be able to adapt this to create a permanent menu bar for access to non-blog areas on the website.

Posted by Greg as My Website at 13:03 PST

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Monday, May 2nd, 2005

RSS Feed Fixed

Readers have complained that they are unable to subscribe to my RSS feed in Bloglines. I went there, signed up, and encountered the same error. Having no knowledge how of this works, I went to WordPress and tried checking their forums for the same problem. I encountered lots of posts by people complaining that their RSS feeds didn’t work, and lots of rather heavy-handed responses saying “your RSS works, and stop bitching about it”. So I narrowed my search to “bloglines”. Then I was able to find posts reporting a known error with links to how to fix it. The linked documents were pretty obscure, but going to the suggested WordPress bug report I found a link to the sourceforge cvs for the affected file, where I found simple highlighted corrections to one of my php files. All this was pretty simple compared to getting an unsupported wireless card to work under Linux, but I was able to do that the same way – reading FAQ’s, searching posts, and trying the things that you find one at a time, then checking to see what happens.

I uploaded a fixed copy of the file and, lo and behold, Bloglines was able to add my feed. Now I just have to figure out how to use Bloglines. But for now, I added the “Subscribe in Bloglines” button in my sidebar to the right for anyone’s use.

Posted by Greg as My Website at 11:40 PST

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Lessons to Learn

So installing the blog software has been very interesting so far. I can see that I not only need to learn HTML but PHP, CSS and MySQL as well. I am also starting to flesh out some ideas on content. Prior to installing the blog software I had only used the site to stash my collection of my brother’s professional cartoons, the website I am slowly creating for my local chapter of NACE International, and a bio page that is intended only to assist old friends if they try to hunt me down via Google. If only Google would find me again.

I couldn’t find a template that I liked at the collection suggested at WordPress, so I am starting with the default theme and tweaking it bit by bit to see what happens. I figure this a better way to start learning that running out and buying a couple of “For Dummies” books. One feature I find lacking in the WP interface is the absence of a spell checker.

Posted by Greg as My Website at 07:53 PST

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Sunday, May 1st, 2005

Circumcision

My wife asked me a week or so ago whether Penn & Teller’s Bullshit program was still on Showtime. Surprisingly, I remembered the question, possibly only because I hadn’t seen it in a while and liked it myself, and saw that it was on on Friday. The topic caught my attention – this episode was on circumcision.

I’ve been opposed to circumcision for a while now, but as a personal issue. If I try and remember how that started, I’ll probably never get to finish this post, so I’ll skip it for now.

I was interested, so I watched the show. I have found that I am in general agreement with a lot of P & T’s opinions, which can make watching their show a little boring – as in the “yeah, I know that” sort of way, but this one had a lot of good information. I never realized that there is a strong movement in the US to persuade people against routine circumcision, and that various medical societies (notably in countries with a history of circumcision) have prepared position papers on the subject, all against it. Some consider it a human rights issue and on par with female genital mutilation. The history was interesting, too. The US is very different from much of the rest of the world in its practice of circumcision, and it turns out that a lot of it is due to social zealots like Kellogg and Graham back in the 1800’s who thought it would help prevent masturbation.

But the most dramatic scenes for me were of babies getting circumcised. I don’t know how any parent could possibly permit it after seeing something like that.

My wife asked me my opinion when Boo was born, and I was pretty strongly against it. She had seemed surprised and a little concerned about Boo’s fitting in in the future, but she respected me and Boo was never circumcised. I am so happy about that now. There’s a lot of information about the topic out there on the web – any expectant parent should at least look into it.

I have actually mourned for my foreskin. Having no memory of it, it’s hard to appreciate what I lost, but the biggest thorn in my side was that I never had any choice in the matter, unlike other very important issues like baptism.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Society at 10:50 PST

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