A recent update to the theme I use for my site resulted in a few weird side effects. My title graphic got replaced, some CSS changes messed with my inline image sizes, and my page icon was removed. All in all, nothing to really write home about, but in the process of putting everything back together, I found a pretty sweet .ico converter called CovertIcon. The concept here is pretty simple: Step 1) take generic image file, Step 2) turn image file into a .ico file. However, I remember having the hardest time finding something that could generate an icon. I eventually settled with a MS Paint style web app where you manually created a really clunky icon to use. Even though it's an incredibly small piece of the website, I like that I was able to clean it up. So if you're OCD about little details like I am, it's worth checking out.

Hoping to cut down on spam comments

September 25th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Site Development - (0 Comments)
I just installed a plugin called Spam Free WordPress in an attempt to cut down on the obnoxious volume of spam comments I've been getting over the last month or so. I guess it's nice that my blog is getting enough exposure to the Internet to warrant spam, but I came home to a little over 50 spam comments pending review this last weekend and I'd just like a system that's a little more proactive. Unfortunately, I'm a little concerned that this plugin may be a little too proactive. It's actually acting as a block instead of a filter, which is nice because I don't have spam comments filling up a database, but it may also mean that there's no log of what's getting blocked (at least it doesn't seem like there is). If a legitimate post get's denied, there's no way for me to know, unless that person contacts me to tell me. Fortunately, I know the only person who actively reads this, so if it happens to them, they'll probably just tell me the next time I see them. I usually get a handful of spam comments a day, so I should know how it's working by tomorrow morning.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my original title for game reviews wasn't so original. However, after a little crowdsourcing, a friend suggested "LAG" as a title and I decided to go with that. I spend a couple nights trying to figure out a subtitle to go along with it, and I just now decided to turn it into an acronym. I still wanted to highlight the key aspect of these reviews (their belated nature), and I also thought the term "appraisals" was a little more fitting for what I've done so far. To me, the word "review" implies a depth of content that I am yet to reach. Still, it's something to shoot for; and since I haven't done any sort of regular writing since I developed this site, I probably shouldn't be setting my expectations too high right off the bat.

Titles Need Fixing

June 28th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Site Development - (1 Comments)
Quick update on the fix I posted a little while ago regarding apostrophes in post titles, specifically getting them to show up. It's something you can probably guess, but the change is overwritten when a new version of WordPress is installed or when an update replaces your baseline default-filters.php file. When that happens, you just have to comment out that line again. So far I haven't noticed any other issues causes by removing that filter, so that's nice. Secondly, I've discovered that my idea for a Late in the Game game review segment is aptly named for another reason, that being it's already been done (several times over actually). It's various parallels include Late to the Game, Late Game Reviews, A Late Review, and finally Late in the Game which is exactly what I wanted to do except much better in both its content and execution. Alas, I'll have to come up with something new, clever, and (ideally) original to call my reviews. It's one thing to have similar or even similarly named segments out there, but when someone else has the exact title you do, thought of it before you did, and does a better job with it, it's best to start anew. Alternatively, you could also get it trademarked before they do.
I noticed when I published my first "Wednesday's Weekly Comic Cover" post earlier today that pages that aggregated posts (the main page or category/tag pages) would not display the apostrophe in the post title. While I'm certainly not a grammar expert, obvious lapses in grammar (like you're versus your) really annoy me, and that apostrophe being omitted was no exception. Fortunately for me, the fix was pretty simple. After reading around I found some of the code governing how post titles (and many other items) are displayed in WordPress's default-filters.php file. Specifically, I commented out line 131 which appeared as: // Display filters add_filter( 'the_title', 'wptexturize' ); While I haven't done a lot of extensive testing to see what other effects removing this filter will have, it appears to have fixed my issue with little impact elsewhere. So if you're having a similar problem, try this simple fix to see if it works for you.
So this might still be a bit of a wonky solution by some standards (not mine), but it's the best I've found so far, and I can't think of how this could be a lot better. I've been trying to find a way to create a page that only shows posts for a designated category, and until now, my solution was a plugin that gave you shortcode to create a list of posts by category or tag. It worked, but the CSS was plain and wouldn't match what you had on the rest of your site unless you did a lot of matching up of elements and adapted the existing CSS to cover the material generated by the plugin. The other issue that I had with this solution is that the pages I want are already inherent in a WordPress install. If you have posts categorized, you can click on a given category and it takes you a page that shows only those posts and the CSS matches and everything is great. However, these pages were more of a PHP result than a actual coded page in the sense that I couldn't add it as a page to my template's header navigation or assign it a featured image that would display in my header or anything like that. What I wanted was to create a blank page that I could do that kind of stuff with and would also redirect a user to the URL I wanted when the page was actually visited. At first, I thought that maybe there was some shortcode in WordPress baseline that I could use to achieve this redirect, and for all I know there is. However, while I was looking through a forum thread about redirect shortcode, one of the posters mentioned a plugin called Page Links To. Page Links To allows you to change the permalink for a given page to anything you want; it works for pages, post, and anything else that has a distinct permalink. So using this, I cleared out the shortcode from the other plugin so all I had was a blank page with a title, it was my Comics page, and changed the permalink to end in ?cat=7. When I clicked my Comics banner graphic, it took me right to the WordPress default category page for my Comics category. It was perfect; thanks Mark Jaquith.
I finished the title graphics for The Photo Shop and my Sci-Fi & Fantasy post page last night. The Photo Shop one isn't terribly artistic (then again, most of my stuff ins't anyway), but I did think it was clever. My initial idea was to do a single picture of a project that was sort of a gradient of completion; finalized at the far left and transitioning to blank canvas as the far right. I liked that idea a lot, but I had two problems, the largest of which was not having the requisite skill to actually pull it off. Then I thought about doing a kind of three-panel timeline of a Photoshop project that essentially illustrated the same idea - blank, partially complete, complete. On that item I ran into another problem, which was actually the second problem I had with my first idea, and that was that I just don't have any interesting Photoshop projects that would look good broken down that way. So after a couple failed attempts at that, I decided to just go with a blank canvas background, which brings us full circle. The Sci-Fi graphic was hard to make simply because there were too many things I wanted to put on it. Like my Gaming header, I wanted it to show the aspects of the topic that were the most relevant to me, and in that regard, I think it work out. However, there were some items left out, the most important of which would be Farscape. While I don't dislike Star Trek, it was never an important element in my life and thus will rarely surface here. Farscape on the other hand made a much more pronounced effect on my list of interests, and I am a little sad it didn't make the cut. I didn't even manage to cover Ben Browder or Claudia Black on the crossover with Stargate SG-1, but a capture of O'Neill and Teal'c golfing through the Stargate was a little hard to pass up (that's from "Window of Opportunity" in case you're interested). I also noticed the predominance of sci-fi over fantasy, with Lord of the Rings being the sole representative of the genre on the graphic. Still, there were only five spots, and that's how things stacked up.
I haven't been working on this for a long time, but I did get a second title graphic done. This one is for my gaming posts and while missing quite a few games, I included the ones most relevant to me (with the exception of KOTOR and Warcraft III). I suppose the characters will get dated after a while, but I suppose I can keep creating new gaming headers as the market for games, and my personal taste for them, evolve. Oh, and I created category pages (like what you get when you click on a category type) using a plugin called Link category posts. It's a pretty simple plugin that gives you a shortcode to display posts for a defined category or tag. I know that's something you can do with a category page template, but I found this a lot easier for what I needed it for. Here's what I added for my gaming page: [ catlist name=gaming categorypage=yes content=yes ] Yup, that was it. Maybe there was an easy way do to this from a custom template, or maybe there's a way to link the variable header graphics I have to the category pages that wordpress gives you out-of-the-box when you click on a category type, but I'm still new to any kind of wordpress development, and this was a good, simple solution for me.

New title graphic

March 9th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Comics | Site Development - (0 Comments)
Only took me a couple nights but I finally got my comic header graphic done. It's doesn't really fit with any specific page I have so far, but I think it's awesome. At the least I can make a page that sets aside comic-related posts and have it link to that. Yeah, and on that note I think I'm going to do an "Awesome Cover of the Week" series or something like that, because I clearly need more opportunities to describe something as "awesome."

Found a template I like

March 6th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Site Development - (0 Comments)
I think I found a template I'm going to stick with. It's called Delicate, and you can find it here. I wanted to be able to display a different header graphic for each main page, and it looks like I can do that here. So that's exciting. I haven't gotten to look around the settings much. It comes with a default header graphic and ended up wasted a couple hours going through fonts while watching Stargate SG-1 episodes on Netflix. Hopefully, I'll be able to look through a little more of the new template tomorrow.