New Look: Unfolding Neurons 3.0

Time for a change around here.  A change that’s actually been in the works for quite a while.  I started working on a new theme for Unfolding Neurons at the beginning of 2008 but got sidetracked by changes in my life and never could get back to working on the theme I was developing (realized I didn’t like it anyway).  Part of the prep for the new look involved restructuring my blog and doing a major decompress of all my categories.  I eliminated over 40 categories I was using and decided I would use categories for the major themes in my blog and tags for all the other ways of describing what I write.

When I saw what was coming through the pipes with WordPress 2.7 I decided that rather than developing a theme from scratch, I’d take a look at what other good themes are out there and modify one to suit my needs.  That’s when I came across the excellent “Hybrid” theme framework by Justin Tadlock which he developed with WordPress 2.7 in mind.  What I like about Hybrid is that it is a framework that you can build child themes off of and if Justin updates Hybrid I can switch in the update without having to worry about the custom changes I’ve made for my site.  Unfolding Neurons 3.0 is actually built off of a child theme for Hybrid that Justin created called “Old School“.

Launch of vohzimbabwe.com

This entry is part 27 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

vohzimbabwe.com screenshotAs part of the team of men who went to Zimbabwe in June – I was amazed by the work being done to make a difference in the country of Zimbabwe by the Village of Hope and their work with children. One of the things that I discovered in working with them is that they don’t have a website to promote what they are doing and provide an information/communication portal for their current and potential supporters. I decided to donate my services to design and host the website because I believe so strongly in the work the Village of Hope is doing.

So without further ado, I’m announcing the launch of the brand new website for the Village of Hope in Zimbabwe (vohzimbabwe.com).

Coincidently, that is why there’s been some inactivity on this blog lately (and also why development of the Organize Series Plugin has been stalled)…

When Surface Acquaintaince Becomes Practical Knowledge

In my pursuit to become more literate in the web-development world I recently made a few purchases of technology books that I hope will accelerate my understanding of things like Ajax, DOM, Json, JavaScript, Java…etc. I know that there is a wealth of material available for free on the internets but there’s just something about a good book that makes learning so much easier. Key word there is good!

A good book I’ve just finished reading (and written a review on) is “Head Rush Ajax“by Brett McLaughlin. Thanks to the freaky layout and writing style (it’s definitely not your typical technical resource!) this was a book that I quickly worked through and at least now I have a firmer grasp of concepts that were just acquaintances before.

For instance, I now know:

  • AJAX – isn’t a new language. It is simply a “method” of coding (using existing languages – JavaScript primarily) to enable visitors of a web-page interact with a page without having to reload it. Of course, I already knew of AJAXian goodness from using all the various web-apps that apply it – but it’s neat to know that it’s really not that hard to work with – it certainly isn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be.

Organize Series 1.6.2 release – minor bug fix

Right on the heels of 1.6.1, one day later, I’m releasing another version of the Organize Series WordPress Plugin.? Again, it’s a minor bug fix – ordinarily some of this stuff I’d leave until I can add more features etc.? – but since my life is pretty busy lately I’ve decided to release any fixes as I do them so that it can benefit those using this plugin.? I never know how long it will be before I can work on it again.

Anyway, enough with that dribble…you can download the files on the page here.

Minor Update to Organize Series WordPress Plugin

I just finished version 1.6.1 of the plugin.? There’s nothing big in this version – just a minor bug fix and some added files to make it compatible with the new WordPress plugins page.? I want to thank Jim for his communication with me that alerted me to a potential problem with my plugin resulting in this bug fix.

You can find out more and download the Organize Series WordPress Plugin on this page.

Organize Series 1.6 Released! Bug fix and New Feature

I’ve just pushed live the new version of my Organize Series Plugin for WordPress.? I was going to hold off doing a new release until I got some more features added I had in mind but the bug fix that is in this publish couldn’t wait.? So without further ado here’s the scoop on what this version includes:

  • BUG FIX: Blank screen/errors in the options panel when plugin installed in WordPress versions below 2.1.
  • NEW FEATURE: You can now set how posts will be displayed on the series ?table of contents? page (i.e. ascending or descending, ordered by date, author, title etc.) This can be selected via the new options panel on the plugin options page. (NOTE: This appears to only work with WP 2.1+ for now – I?m still investigating if it works with other versions)
  • NEW TEMPLATE TAG: ?is_series()? This tag will check for if the displayed category archive page is a series category. Returns true if it is, false if it isn?t.

As always, for the download and installation/upgrade and usage instructions, check out the plugin page.

Choosing WordPress: “She’s got guts”

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Wordpress as a CMS

In the previous article in this series I introduced the first reason for why I chose to use WordPress as the engine for three CMS-like sites that I designed recently. I wrote about the theming/template system in WordPress – the “looks”. In this article I’m going to talk about the “guts” of WordPress.

Why I chose WordPress

2. The Guts

When I refer to guts, I mean the following things that are “inside” the WordPress engine:

i. File Structure

From the perspective of a newbie developer, the WordPress file structure greatly aids in comprehending where things are and what files need to be edited/looked at in the development process. The fact that directory trees and file names are descriptive of their function cuts down on a lot of the guesswork into where things are located.

Here’s the layout of the directory tree structure:

/wordpress (root): You’ll find all the main configuration and base level files such as config.php (database settings), wp-blog-header.php (calls necessary includes and header information), and various feed related files among others. I’m not going to go into detail about each of the files but I’ll just mention that for the most part, the files in the root wordpress directory are what WordPress accesses when initializing.

Organize Series Bug Fix: Disappearing Content

Thanks to Thomas Sutton, I became aware of a bug in the plugin that caused the post content for all posts to disappear when the auto-tag toggle for the series-meta was disabled. I’ve updated the .zip file for the download – which you can get quickly here. The only file that needs to be replaced is orgSeries.php.

Or if you are comfortable editing .php files do the following in the orgSeries.php file:

Find,
if($settings['auto_tag_seriesmeta_toggle']) {
$content = wp_seriesmeta_write($postID) . $content;
return $content;
}

which is at about line 375 (to 378)

ADD (at line 379 right before the })
return $content;

That’s it! I really apologize for that bug. It is something I should have noticed earlier. Thanks Thomas for pointing it out!

Choosing WordPress: “ooo doesn’t she LOOK fine?”

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Wordpress as a CMS

In the previous article in this series I gave a summary of some of the core differences between a CMS (content management system) and a blogging engine. I talked about some of the cases where one system is more preferable over the other when designing websites. In the conclusion to the article I mentioned that in light of what I had just written, it would have made more sense for me to go with a CMS for the website designs of Hanover Pentecostal Church, UnashamedSermons.com, and VigliottiWoodworking. Yet, as can be observed from the title of the series I obviously used WordPress instead. This article will focus on the first reason for why I made that choice.

But before I get to that I’ll give a quick rundown of some of the requirements that needed to be considered for each site.

UnashamedSermons.com
UnashamedSermons.com UnashamedSermons.com is where I host all the various sermons I have (and still am!) written and preached while pastoring at my church. There were predominately two purposes for me creating UnashamedSermons. One, I wanted a place where I could archive all my messages and access it for personal reference. Two, I wanted to make available to as many people possible these messages in the hopes more people would be impacted.

Organize Series 1.5 Released!

I just can’t get away from working on this plugin – I find it too useful for the various websites I write and I keep tweaking it to make it easier for me to write posts that are a part of a series and display the information that I want to display. The problem is, I’m spending so much time on developing this plugin that I have little time to actually write articles 😆 !

Anyway, this release of the Organize Series WordPress Plugin is chock full of great enhancements and minor bug fixes including the following:

  • Added a function/tag for counting the number of posts in a series. (tag returns a value). See usage instructions below for manually placing this tag (it is automatically included in the auto-tag insertion for series meta information)
  • Added a function for writing series meta information (?This entry is part x of x in the series, ?The name of my series?) to the posts that belong to a series. This is automatically added by default to your blog but it can be disabled for manual insertion via the new option on the options page for the plugin. See usage instructions below for manually placing the series meta tag.