Shared Links December 7th – December 10th

Shared Links November 16th – November 19th

Shared Links November 13th

Amazing Grace Theme

New year, new-ish version of WordPress (2.7) and I thought it was time to check out a new theme.

This one is called “Amazing Grace” by Vladimir Prelovac and seems to work pretty nicely out of the box. Instead of a long banner image rotated across the top on various pages, it has a smaller snapshot (which will be easier to deal with, editing wise). Those are not currently my pictures, but they’re similar to some I’ve taken on various trips, so I’ll be able to figure out how to substitute my own for the default ones. I’m not sure why it has links to 3 categories across the top, but they’re good ones to highlight, being the “uncategorized” one, the one for mini-posts or asides only, and the travel one. I may tweak font size a bit for readability so would appreciate any feedback. It looks good on Firefox/Windows but of course will also check it on Explorer and will need to hear from any users of other browsers or operating systems.

Will also add my beloved drop-shadow CSS, of course. That goes without saying.

UPDATE: Followed the instructions for adding social networking buttons to the entries. Not liking the pulsing, almost BLINKtag effect. More research is needed to turn that bit off but it’s not a deal-killer. I really like the color palette and probably won’t mess with it much, as it’s similar to another theme I had called “Talian.”


It turns out that Flickr makes it pretty simple to add photos from your Flickr stream to your website, but they aren’t entirely obvious about how to do it. Flickr calls this method of displaying photos on your site a “badge”, and doesn’t display the link to the configuration page very clearly. I can’t even recall the last time I found the page anywhere on the main Flickr navigation, but instead had to track it down myself using Google.

So, save yourself time and just run over to

This sounds very familiar and do-able. I used a simpler version of this when I was using a template called Tiga on my own site and on the old Holy Moly blog and website. Basically, I specified 4 or 5 square thumbnails in the center column, which were random images from specific sets, in a horizontal array. The one for the church website utilized a lot of face shots of different parishioners and closeups of interesting things inside the church. It was designed to make it a friendlier and familiar place to visit. Worked pretty well, too: I got a lot of compliments from visitors and from the Diocese. I had edited the Flickr-generated mishmosh of code to take out the text link and some other unwanted stuff, similar to how Ryan describes, but without his attention to clean coding. I’ll see if I can get this working for sure; there’s something about the background image and there’s also something about the size of the images specified in Vlad’s theme instructions that I may have to tinker with.

UPDATE III: Further hint on how it’s done and a slightly different method using a modified background image is at Theme Hack.

UPDATE IV: Eureka!! Theme Hack’s method works like a charm. Here are the full instructions [with one minor modification-ed.]:

Modify header.php and place the following in the style tags near the top.

#portraitbg {

#flickr_badge_image1 img {
  border: none;

Create a badge with Flickr for the tagged photos you want in the header and in the final screen with the code to paste into your site look for the javascript call. Place this between the div with the id portrait-bg in header.php


Once this is done, place the following image in the Amazing Grace theme directory under images and name it bgportraitB.jpg.


NOTE: I arbitrarily renamed the image “bgportraitB.jpg” when I originally saved it because that was what it was actually named, so I adjusted the name of the image in the instructions above. The original instructions reference “bg-portraitB.jpg.” The theme’s original background portrait is called “bg-portrait” and that is how it is still referenced in the CSS. If I need to I can revert to the standard theme by commenting out the Theme Hack code. I think this is why the style statements above go into the header.php file, not the main CSS file. I think the style statement is actually calling out Flickr’s “image 1” and so it’s more precise than the general “uber-wrapper” statements that Frontender was using. Either method should work, with a little tweaking. Ignore that stray “P” tag in the text area box, it’s an artifact that I can’t seem to delete due to the weird way WordPress shows page returns in the editor.

UPDATE V: The Ultimate guide to Amazing Grace theme goodness and trickery is here. Vladimir’s WordPress forum, where an Amazing Grace theme board lives, is here. I’m thinking I need to figure out how to add more bookmarking links, specifically Google’s. I’ve seen mini-icons for a bunch of different sites at Pam’s House Blend. Oh, goodie, I get to edit the functions.php file again.

UPDATE VI: Merry Christmas 2009! I couldn’t remember how I’d set this theme up; basically any picture in my stream can be used as long as it’s in landscape mode, with the proper tag. So theoretically I could use my iPhone to add images to the pool “on the fly.” Just have to remember to add the tag.

Lazy Saturday Snooze


UPDATE: GRRR! Uploading a photo direct from my iPhone via the WP plugin strips out some but not all angle brackets, breaking the img tags. Sending a photo to Flickr via email, which re-directs to the blog with pre-formatted div tags, also strips angle brackets. Thirdly, using a Firefox plugin called ScribeFire to blog from my desktop computer also strips angle brackets. Only posting from the HTML editor screen within the main WP installation results in SUCCEED. The other third-party applications for sending posts with photos results in various flavors of FAIL.

New and Improved, or New and Unproved?

Because I had a positive experience playing around with WordPress 2.5 on Rileycat’s blog, I asked David to go ahead and upgrade me here.

Some of the new features replace various plugins I was using before (Image Manager, and ST Visualize Advanced Features ). I’ll be using a new plugin – my husband David wrote a simple one for converting WP tags to Technorati tags, so I’m going to give that one a whirl. Whee!

I will say that I like one feature; the edit window has a visual editor tab and an HTML editor tab, and previously, it would always revert to the visual editor as soon as you clicked SAVE on a post you were editing in raw HTML (or at least in WP’s version, where line breaks are built in with the return key). Now, it stays in whichever edit pane you were in, even when starting a new post.

I moved some widgets around in the sidebars – that looks very different from the method used before, and after I got used to it, I eventually liked it (especially when I was finally able to remove something that was a “feature” of the Talian theme).

However, there are some things I’m not crazy about at all – many of the most frequently done functions when editing used to be in the right hand column, like making a post a “mini-post” or adding categories. You could move them up or down or minimize them if you didn’t use them. Now, all the posting options are below the edit window, requiring a long, tedious scroll each and every time you post… and now the checkbox to make an “aside” (ie., a mini-post) is at the very bottom.

Many other users are unhappy about the look and the feel, so I’m not alone. Also, why doesn’t clicking control-K in WordPress invoke the link/make a URL dialogue box anymore? Boooooooo!

But I’m going to try a few of the new media button goodies and see how they work.

The advanced “upload image” button works fine, but it’s a little fussy – it tells you up front you can’t upload an image bigger than 2M. Okay, fine, I’m used to resizing photos to export to Flickr and such.

But wait, there’s a second image button, what does that do? Not that much for me, because it’s only used for adding images via URL (in other words, hotlinking). I prefer to upload images and host them. So I’ll be using the advanced version. In my previous WP 2.3 installation, I was using Image Manager to do this, but it was kind of annoying to deal with and wouldn’t resize itself automatically when invoked, and apparently the author was not updating it (or may have died), so I was stuck with some pretty annoying behavior.

Hmm, now what does this “Add Video” button do? Previously, I was using Anarchy Media Player to handle embedded video clips and things, which I’ve deactivated to test this out.

Stephen Hawking at TED: the nature of the universe

Hmm, that just inserted a standard URL. One moment, it may want the actual vid URL and not the page URL.

Stephen Hawking at TED: The Nature of the Universe and Aliens Too

Okay… I’ll try an actual embed of YouTube’s thoughtfully provided code:

That seems to work, but one of the problems I had before was that the embedded video player would not show up in my feed, so it remains to be seen. The video is awesome, a 10 minute talk by Stephen Hawking using his own kind of visual editor… in it he discusses the nature of the Universe, and theorizes that the aliens must be out there, but not close enough for us to tune in to their quiz shows. He does not credit UFO sightings, and wonders why it is that those particular aliens choose to appear only to cranks and weirdos. There’s a rather musical cadence to his artificial voice, and I’d really like to hear it set to a background of music.

Okay, “Add Audio” is the next new media link (they’re not buttons, they’re little image links above the rest of the visual/html editor buttons). This is the one I’m most interested in playing with.

Cordero: Vamos Nenas

Er, that just added a link, but I filled out a bunch of other fields, including a title and caption. One moment.

Cordero: Vamos Nenas

Still just a link, but at least it works, although it’s got a 2M limit on it, too. I’ve re-activated Anarchy, but the buttons are only visible in the HTML editor for now. I see now in preview mode that it adds a little “audio mp3” graphic.

I had previously played with the “custom fields” doohickey… in one theme, I even had a stylesheet for it. I’ve added a couple of fields but don’t know if they’ll work until I publish…

All told, I’m reasonably happy with the upgrade (and there was a security bug with my previous installation, so I had to either go to the bugfix or WP2.5) but I’ll be watching for some fixes and tweaks.

UPDATE: I’ve been messing with custom fields, but haven’t found the spot where I put the


tag yet. Hmmm.