Archive for ‘Tinkering Bites’

November 11th, 2008

Why I’m Ditching CommentLuv

by Venomous Kate

Back when I first installed it, CommentLuv — the plug-in that fetches and appends the title of a commenter’s last blog entry to any comment they leave here — the thing was accurate, helpful and non-intrusive. With the latest “upgrades”, it’s now anything but.

Some of you, in fact, may have noticed that CommentLuv has taken to appending outdated entry titles to your comments. That is because the makers of CommentLuv decided that if you want accuracy you have to register at their site. Personally, I’m not a fan of having to register in order to use something billed as “free”, so I haven’t bothered.

If you do register, however, you then have the option of picking which recent entry title you’d like to post. Again, what was once helpful is now bloated and adds to the increasingly numerous steps involved in posting comments on blogs (entering data in the fields, typing the comment, answering the captcha if there is one, scrolling down the CommentLuv entry options… blech).

Most of all, the plug-in has become a downright eyesore that sneakily inserts links back to the plug-in homepage. Yes, I realize this is ostensibly configurable — you can go to Settings -> CommentLuv and opt to display nothing next to the latest entry title.

All that does is eliminate the gaudy button CommentLuv now tries to slip in by default. What you get, instead, is a stupid little red heart with a pop-up that shows whether a commenter has a CommentLuv profile or not. And since I hate both stupid little red hearts and pop-ups, it pisses me off.

So, goodbye, CommentLuv. You’re relegated to the dustbin around here as being just another plug-in that got too big for its britches. Somehow, I don’t think you’ll be missed.

October 14th, 2008

Asides Are Back!

by Venomous Kate

Long-time Venomites will remember how I used to run “Asides” — very brief one- and two-liners between posts — until around a year ago. I loved the flexibility the Asides provided; sometimes I find something I want to share but don’t want to bother with a full entry. Their disappearance was due to WordPress changing its code, along with the fact that I was too lazy to figure out how to fix it.

Those who remember Asides around here will also recall that, after I stopped doing them, my blogging frequency dramatically declined. They’re back now, and I couldn’t be happier. Feel free to comment on them. You’ll find them easily: just look for the “Asides” graphic.

April 12th, 2008

Got 5 Minutes? Upgrade!

by Venomous Kate

I think we all know by now that I don’t like change. I’m the type who has to contemplate changing things like her hairstyle for, oh, a decade or so. Then, just as I decide it’s safe and take the plunge things once again change.

Not that I care, mind you. It’s been my experience that if I just wait long enough, my “outdated” style will suddenly become cutting-edge, which means people find themselves mistaking me for a trend-setter when, in fact, I just hate change.

That’s precisely why I wasn’t going to upgrade to WordPress 2.5. I’d just upgraded to 2.3.3, after all, and I’d have been perfectly happy using it until, oh, WP 2.6 came out. (Besides, I can’t stand the Web 2.0-ish look of the new dashboard, even after switching to the ‘Classic’ color scheme.)

Unfortunately — or so I’d thought, at any rate — Technorati forced my hand when Ian said Technorati’s not indexing blogs running WordPress 2.3.3. Apparently there’s a security flaw being exploited by spammers to insert links into templates and bloggers don’t even know that it’s been happening to their blogs.

So today I did it. I took the plunge, sucked up my dislike of change and upgraded my blogs. All five of ‘em, as a matter of fact. It took less than 3 minutes per blog thanks to the slick 3-step upgrade instructions.

I didn’t have any issues with plug-ins, either and — to make things even better — I am loving the automatic plug-in upgrade ability in WP2.5. (Thought it’ll take a nice bite out of my blog consulting income now that clients don’t have to pay me to upgrade their plug-ins anymore.)

If you’ve got 5 minutes, spend it wisely: upgrade to WP 2.5. It’s one change that’s actually worth doing sooner, rather than later.

February 22nd, 2008

Looking Good In Black and Blue

by Venomous Kate

I’ve been banging my head against my desk for much of the past 12 hours thanks to all kinds of site weirdness. You probably think I’m exaggerating, but I’ve got a bruise on my forehead to prove otherwise.

It began when I installed the BadBehavior plug-in to stop some of the spam bots that swarm all of my sites. Not that I don’t find reading about naughty Asian girls, camel toes and naked grandmas fascinating, but I’d rather do it at some other website if you know what I mean.

If you were unable to leave a comment here or at any of my other blogs over the past day, I apologize. Things seem to be working well now, with the exception of ChubbyMommy.com. There, I’d been running the blog out of a subdirectory but wanted to move it to the /public_html/ location.

Let me just warn you: that’s not as easy as it sounds when you’ve been running your blog as an add-on domain sharing hosting space with your other blogs. Or maybe I shouldn’t have tried to do it after only 4 hours of sleep and a really, really crappy day.

Either way, 4 of the 5 blogs are working just hunky dory now. ChubbyMommy.com is up and running again, but at some point I’ll need to tinker with the templates (I restored them from an old version). But not tonight.

Tonight, VH and I get to go out for a Parents’ Night Out, something we haven’t had an opportunity to do since late October. That night only lasted a matter of minutes since I sprained my wrist by falling off my high heels.

Needless to say, I’m wearing flats tonight.

December 30th, 2007

Rassin’ Frassin’ Upgrades

by Venomous Kate

There’s an urgent release of a WordPress upgrade that addresses a potentially serious security issue, particularly for those of us who like to save unfinished entries in draft mode. Since I’d missed out on the last three upgrades, I figured I should probably jump on this one.

A word of advice: follow the directions about disabling all of your plugins. I’d never really followed that step in previous upgrades, so I didn’t this time, either. Big mistake, that.

You’ll probably also notice once you’ve upgraded your WP installation that several of your favorite plugins have also been upgraded. Half of mine were out of date, so I’ve spent the better part of today upgrading each one. Not fun.

All I can say is thank goodness for the Firefox FireFTP plugin.

September 19th, 2007

Why Try BlogRush?

by Venomous Kate

Bloggers love traffic. I’m firmly convinced that bloggers who claim not to care about hits would change their mind the first time they got a taste of 5,000+ people swarming their site in the span of 2 hours. That happened here yesterday and let me just tell you it feels good.

Unfortunately, that kind of traffic doesn’t come along too often. When it does, it comes without warning: an A-list blogger decides to link you and WHAM! your hit counter is spinning faster than a drunken sorority girl looking for a place to puke.

Sure, you could definitely help your own traffic statistics by, say, writing regularly instead of waiting for inspiration to strike and leaving comments at other blogs rather than just lurking. But, golly, that takes a lot of effort doesn’t it?

And you like things easy, don’t you?

In that case, BlogRush is for you. Think of BlogRush as the easiest way to earn web-wide syndication of your blog entries by writing entries that attract traffic from other sites running the widget.

Sure, there’s a video explaining how it all works — if you really want to know the details — but the gist of it is this: put the widget up and you’ll start drawing more traffic. At least, that’s the theory.

I’m trying it out myself for a few days. Whether I keep it will depend, of course, on whether it brings me any traffic, or whether it just acts to siphon off EV readers to blogs not on my blogroll.

July 12th, 2007

Watch Your Step

by Venomous Kate

With two kids, two cats and a husband who’s constantly engaging in various indoor and outdoor projects (all of which seem to generate dirt and dust), I’m the last person who should have white carpets in her house. That’s right: white, or at least they once were.

No doubt the folks who built the house years ago were older and childless, as were the people from whom we bought the place. Their tidy lifestyles were evident in the immaculate condition of the carpet on closing day. Not one spot, spill or puddle of cat puke marred the flooring: a condition, which I’m sorry to say, is most certainly not the case anymore.

As with all new home purchases, the sellers were nevertheless required to pay for a whole house cleaning after they moved out. We knew nothing about the companies in town and let our Realtor pick one. Big mistake. Big, big, BIG mistake. He hired a company that uses dry chemicals to clean the rugs — something I’d have objected to in a heartbeat had I known about it ahead of time. Silly me, I let VH handle that detail. Another big mistake. Big, big, BIG mistake.

See, those chemical-based companies like to claim their system traps grease and dirt. So they sprinkle on their chemicals and rake them in: literally rake them in. As we quickly discovered, one overzealous employee armed with chemicals and a rake can make a mess of even blemish-free flooring. Two years later, I still find rake grooves embedded deep in our rugs whenever I move furniture. (VH considers this not so bad: he hates moving furniture.) Every time I see that, it just sets me off on another rant. Like this one.

Besides the rake marks and the thought of nasty chemicals still peppered along the edges of my floor — an area, I admit, I don’t vacuum nearly as often as I should — I’ve always wondered how much junk those dry chemical places leave behind. I mean, imagine if you used one of those “dry shampoos” on your hair every day: would it really be clean, or would it just look like it was?

So now that summer’s in full-swing, the A/C is going full-time and the house is closed up to help out my allergies. That means we’re trapped indoors with whatever’s in here, and that means it’s time to think seriously about a good cleaning. The real kind: with a major vacuum beforehand, spot treatment for the cat puke and good power-scrubbing followed by hot steam to get all the gunk out of the rugs. (Ours as well as whatever those nasty chemical cleaners left behind.)

I’m a much more savvy shopper now when it comes to this task. Not only do I know to look for a carpet cleaning company that does a pre-vaccum for me, but I want one that guarantees their work. That’s something the chemical guys didn’t do: when I called to complain about the rake marks they simply advised me to vacuum them out. Would’ve been nice had that actually worked!

Living in a small Kansas town makes it even more difficult to find a good, reputable company. Try looking for carpet cleaning in Los Angeles and you’ll find a company that offers exactly what I’m looking for — including upholstery and drape cleaning along with pet spot removal — backed by a 30-day guarantee. They even do tile and grout.

Not here in Kansas, though. The best I can get is a nationwide chain that schedules its service in our area well in advance so they can minimize the number of trips they make out here. Next opportunity? Two months from now. Oh, and they don’t do tile. For that I have to go hire the wino in the corner who claims to own a home steam cleaner. Well, heck, so do I. But if those worked well my floors would already be clean now, wouldn’t they?

July 11th, 2007

Now, Here’s A First

by Venomous Kate

Email from Venomite Cammi today says that the front pages on all three of my blogs are too short.

“You’ve been adding four entries and sometimes more to each blog every day. I keep missing things ‘cuz they’re not there on the front page. I can’t use a reader at work. That’s where I usually read blogs. Can you make more stories show up on each site?

Used to be WordPress gave an option to select a certain number of days to display. I loved that, because I always chose to display an entire week. Now, though, it requires bloggers to pick a certain number of entries to display on the front page. I’ve got EV set to display 30 entries, while I Think Therefore I Blog and Chubby Mommy both display 15.

But, as Cammi notes, I’ve been updating a lot each day (an average of 6 times daily here on EV and 3 on the other blogs). Frankly, there are times I actually resist posting something new to focus attention on things that are already there.

So, what say you, fellow Venomites? More posting and longer pages? Stay “as is”? Or would you prefer a shorter front page?