Category: General

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When WordPress Plugins Go Wrong: How to Deactivate

Sometimes a wordpress plugin has just had enough of you. It happens. And what you’re often left with is a just an error page and a broken site. It can be scary, but fortunately it’s easy enough to fix by deactivating the plugin without having to just spend hours googling the specific error codes.

Disable via SFTP

So here’s what to do:

  1. Login to your site via SFTP (you really shouldn’t be using FTP!)
  2. Navigate to /wp-content/yourpluginname
  3. Rename yourpluginname to yourpluginname-disabled

You’ll now be able to login to your wordpress installation, where you will be able to delete and reinstall the affected plugin. Phew!

Thanks to thehostingnews.com

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
Find Sage One P32s

Find old P32s Sage One Payroll

Sometimes things are just not that easy to find in Sage One Payroll. We’re doing our end of year accounts and filing for 2014/15 at the office today and I had missed a few P32s across the year (not filed or printed – bad boy) so I thought it’d be really straightforward to find… which I suppose it is if you know where to look (just don’t ask Sage Help).

Find Previous P32s

Go to the Pay tab and at the bottom of the page you will see a table with all of your payroll months, you can just click on a month and access the appropriate P32 as you would following a normal payroll run…

Find Sage One P32s

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
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WordPress Plugins: Lightbox

I’ve used the wp-jQuery-Lightbox plugin for many years now, it makes images look nice on wordpress and effectively creates galleries out of individual images embedded in a page.

wp-jquery-lightbox

I’ve become a little complacent in recent months though, given that Jetpack enables pretty, nice, lightbox galleries; it doesn’t however do this for individual images. So wp-jQuery-Lightbox is a must.

Once installed. The only option I check is: Shrink large images to fit smaller screens, which makes it more compatible with mobile devices.

Anyhow, you can find it here, courtesy of Ulf Benjaminsson. Flattr him here.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
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WordPress Cleanup: Database Optimisation

So the database is the most dangerous place non-experienced/non-technical users can mess around in. And I’m certainly not comfortable rolling around in there. So you have to be cautious and if you’re going to hand this responsibility over to someone else then you need to be sure they can be relied upon. So I proceed with caution, as should you.

I spent a lot of time googling, reading guides on database optimisation, etc and I finally I came across the oddly named Optimise Database after Deleting Revisions plugin now this only has 60,000+ installs acording to wordpress, whereas the WP-Optimise plugin had 400,000+ installs, however it was updated less than a month ago as opposed to over 7 months ago for the more popular plugin and that worries me.

Optimize Database after deleting Revisions

I generally won’t install a plugin without an official release via wordpress but I also like to have a read of the developers page and the more detailed that is, the more comfortable I feel. Finding video reviews by other bloggers, such as below, is also reassuring:

So suitably reassured I went ahead and installed the plugin.

Selecting Settings

The plugin is reassuringly neat and well behaved installing two menu options:

  • Plugin settings in: Settings > Optimise Database
  • and Tools (run the plugin) in: Tools > Optimise Database

This is even more re-assuring. I really can’t stand wordpress plugins that clutter up your dashboard menu, after all they’re mostly plugins rather than entire feature sets.

I opted for a relatively simple setup:

  • Maximum number of – most recent – revisions to keep per post / page: 3
  • Delete trashed items: YES
  • Delete spammed items: YES
  • Delete unused tags: YES
  • Delete expired transients: YES
  • Delete pingbacks and trackbacks: NO
  • Keep a log: YES
  • Number of excluded tables: 0

I decided not to schedule optimisation. With something that can screw your entire installation I think you should opt for manual control, plus it means you can always – and you always should – backup your solution before you run any optimisation (in case you need to restore it). I also wouldn’t run it just after I’ve updated wordpress, particularly a full digit update, without checking for an update to the plugin.

So here are my Results

  • 587 post revisions from 75 posts; I selected to keep a minimum of 3 revisions per post.
  • No TRASHED ITEMS found to delete.
  • No SPAMMED ITEMS found to delete
  • No UNUSED TAGS found to delete
  • 7 expired transients deleted
  • 1 Postmeta Orphans deleted

Size of the Database

  • 7.229 MB BEFORE optimization
  • 5.372 MB AFTER optimization

So I saved 1.857 MB or 25 percent of the size of my database for a process that took 1.4988 seconds. And this was just on my site, on my work site I saved 7.007 MB more than 50 percent of the size of that database!

Thanks

Thanks of course to Rolf van Gelder of CAGE Web Design for writing the plugin in the 1st place. Without people like this the wordpress community wouldn’t thrive.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
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Blog Page Posting Styles in WordPress

So as you’ve also probably noticed I’ve been spending a bit more time examining this blog and my own personal one, as well as trying to standardise the approach I recommend to customers and friends.

Blog (Posts Page)

When a reader arrives on your website looking to find something you’ve read they’re going to end up (hopefully) on your Blog (Posts Page) and here’s where you need to make some decisions about how things are going to look. And through the customising panel in wordpress you’re offered lots of choice.

Excerpts

The first thing I’d recommend is not to publish your blog entries in full on your Blog (Posts Page), even if you’re chosen to use numbered pages rather than the infinite scroll feature from Jetpack (hopefully your theme supports it), instead publish an excerpt – then people will be able to scroll through more content and be able to more quickly to find what they’re looking for. WordPress will even generate the excerpts for you. To make this change open the customizer and follow the route:

Layout > Blog (Posts Page) > Content > Tick “Generate excerpts automatically”

Author Information

I also tend to hide author information on the Blog (Posts Page). I find that all this adds is visual clutter and for most people who are the only author on their website the reader is likely to know (or assume) it’s you, you don’t need to tell them!

Featured Images

So I don’t use featured images very much, but I do use images, and my theme seems to be bright enough (unless it’s a wordpress default?) to select the first image if a featured image is not selected. Personally I think featured images (and the management for images in general and particularly for social media could be better handled) are best full-size at the beginning of my excerpt, particularly as I don’t use photos that work well as thumbnails. But you can choose here:

Layout > Blog (Posts Page) > Content > Featured Images

Where you’re offered the following options:

  • Post header
  • Thumbnail
  • None

And whether or not you want to align them so a thumbnail could, for example, be on either the left or the right of your excerpt (not sure how it’d work in the centre…).

Conclusion

Whatever you decide when laying out this crucial page, what the customizer panel does it let you see live previews of the changes so you can fiddle and find a solution that looks right for you and then just press “Save” and it’s live. Fab.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
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WordPress Cleanup: Themes

So I’ve recently got back an old website that I lost due to notifications going to an old email address (sucky domain registrars). Here we are two years later and I’ve managed to get the domain back with my main host and registrar now dreamhost.com (gotta love their simple but effective renewal of domains policy) but it was not without it’s problems.

Once I’d overcome the technical issues with my wordpress installation (thanks to dreamhost support) I decided to read up and undertake some basic wordpress maintenance. One of the suggestions was to minimise the themes you have installed, but are not using. Seems pretty straightforward, but wordpress has no in-built way to delete multiple themes. Step in the delete multiple themes plugin.

Mass Theme Delete Plugin

This simple plugin does what wordpress should do, allows an administrator to delete multiple themes. So I’m deleting all but the theme I’m using and the basic default wordpress themes like 2012 (as backups).

You can find out more about the plugin here and the authors Happy Plugins here.

Update

So a few mins later I’m down from 47 to 8 themes. Quite a clear out.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk

Finding Child Themes on Theme Foundary

So Theme Foundary are by far my favourite wordpress theme designers (and a fav of wordpress.org themselves) but they don’t seem to have read my links, links, links article (mind why would they?) but they could definitely learn a thing or two or rather learn to use 301 redirect.

Helpful tools I highlight include the fab redirection plugin and the broken link checker plugin to help you find links on your site that are broken and then easily allow you to setup 301s to point your readers in the right direction.

No customer or potential customer should have to search google and/or your site repeatedly. Hey but none of us are perfect, we can just commit to constantly improve!

If you’re having trouble finding child themes for a Theme Foundary theme then click here.

PS Thanks Theme Foundary for providing child themes!

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
Vimeo

Vimeo Roles

I spend my time telling people they need to make sure that they are on each and every social network they may work on, now or in the future, but sometimes I don’t get round to following my own rules (do what I say and not what I do I suppose is the exception proving the rule).

So there’s something really important to know about vimeo, if you don’t have an account (and then later set up one) even if someone credits you to your email (and the email you use to setup your account) then it will not translate across… i.e. you’ll have to rely on the poster of the video to change your credit.

Luckily for me I’m in control of most the videos I’ve been involved in so far, so no loss, but you may not be so lucky (BTW Vimeo this should be really easy to correct and why haven’t you done it already?). So Ree Collins, set up an account asap, so I can still amend your credits.

Oh and if you’re uploading a video then I’ve a few wise words of advice (firstly I’m thinking of you Andy Berriman) always use the credits rather than add them in the text otherwise you lose the web part of the web; (secondly I thinking of you Ian Paine) if you’re contracted to make a video rely on your commissioner to credit you rather than post it yourself.

Proper use of credits will improve the penetration of your films and improve your overall position in google.

Check out the films I’ve been part of by looking at my vimeo profile and one video I helped to get off the starting blocks and am most proud of (18k views!) but am not credited in :-(.

And John Kirkbride I still can’t find you on vimeo. WTF?!

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk
Synology DS Power Button

Switch off a Synology DS box from the Power Button

Can you switch off a Synology DS box from the Power Button? I asked myself this morning when I got a text from our building manager to remind me that the electricians would be in at my day job this morning and I couldn’t login via quickconnect.

This is not an easy thing to find out (if you’ve not actually switched off your box physically before) and no-one wants their box to be inadvertently powered down. But it is possible.

Synology DS Power Button
Power button circled in red. Press and hold until you hear the beep.

Fortunately I have a box at home too and can practice. The key is to hold down the blue power button until it makes a loud sharp beep and then it’ll power down gracefully.

Update

And it worked. The fabulous Dawn was able to easily shut down the server. Crisis averted. Re-wiring of our lighting underway.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk

Filming at the Dorman

  

So this Sat I spent the day getting to grip with the office’s new GoPro whilst filming a 1 day conference: The English Civil War on Teesside for River Tees Rediscovered partners the Dorman Museum and Tees Archaeology.

This was not my first run at recording a live event, that was earlier this year at the River Tees Rediscovered VIP launch where I experienced first hand the lacklustre performance of the GoPro battery (I bought plenty with me this time!).

All in all despite having to spend the lunch break running into Boro to buy another 64gb micro-SD card it went pretty well, though I’m guessing I’d better wait for the footage until I judge that one fully! 

Anyhow the videos will be posted to our account as soon as I (or someone more eminently qualified) edits then and you’ll be able to see them on my vimeo.com account too… So watch this space.

Update

See the full set of videos here.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk