My mate Wayne is the kind of programmer who loves to program. I am not. I think of programming as a means to an end. Something I have to do if I can’t find what I need – which, thanks to the old internet, is rare these days. Wayne writes his own version because he can, because – like Everest – the challenge is there.
I am convinced that the day he takes up blogging he will, of course, write his own blogging software before sharing his thoughts with the world. I am very excited by this prospect and will be on standby to dish out usability advice. Until this fateful day (and probably even after), I will be sticking with WordPress. I am a WordPress groupie.
Like all self-respecting geeks, I set up WordPress on my local server. I had Apache2 already installed, but needed to upgrade php and MySQL. I used the latest versions, which at the time were php5.2. and MySQL 5.0, and was really impressed with the new style php install wizard which offered me a choice of what modules to install and update.
My php installation didn’t work first time as the last version I had installed, following random tutorials on the web, meant that I had been copying files from the php directory into other directories such as C:\WINDOWS. After much fiddling, I was resolved to:
- Be tidier in the future and clean everything up as I go along so I know what I have changed: in different directories, in the environment variables and all those random lines I keep sticking into the apache conf file.
- Read the rubric (there is excellent documentation at www.php.net.)
- Use Xampp – although I don’t think I would get the same sense of achievement that I got when everything worked. I felt like I was a Wayne!
Getting online with the cpanel
Once I bought this domain I followed the WordPress famous five minutes installation which would have worked had I gone on to read the part about installing with the cpanel. I would have known that I have to associate the wordpress database with the user. The cpanel has a dodgy user interface as seen below:
The way these boxes are laid out – not in lines under each other – makes it harder for the eye to interpret and understand. Humans look for grid layouts to more easily assimilate information, and there is a limited amount of information we can absorb at any one time. We just discard the rest. Therefore, it is really easy for a user to miss the large button ‘Add User to Db’. It is absolutely essential that you associate the user and the database using the odd ‘Add User to DB’ button. I kept missing this. Eventually, I put the resulting error message into google and found the instructions.
Templates and creating a theme
I like a navigation that runs across the top and then has second level navigation for the specific page that I am on. The wordpress default doesn’t do this as it is a blog with bonus static pages and not originally designed for creating websites. However, the pool theme does and with a bit of tinkering it is possible to have the theme behave like a static site, with only the relevant sub-pages showing. This is done by using some php code in the sidebar.
I love the kubrick theme that I have installed here but I have been playing with one of my own. The urban giraffe tutorial gave me a headstart.
Forgetting my password
I forgot my password the other week and a bit of googling said that I could go into my cpanel and to the MySQL manager and pop this into the sql query panel:
UPDATE wp_users SET user_pass=md5(new_password) WHERE user_login=admin;
Where new_password is, of course, a meaningful, security conscious password.
Got the book – where’s my t-shirt?
This is a good book for newbies. I still look in from time to time as it has a mix of information, from how the user interface is laid out, to various plug-ins such as collecting stats (http://dev.wp-plugins.org/wiki/wp-shortstat) and preventing spam (http://akismet.com/). Most of the information can be found by looking on the WordPress website but sometimes it is easier to navigate a book.