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Tips and Tricks on WordPress usage and development. I am very passionate about WordPress, but it doesn’t work just by itself – it needs a rich environment to live and breathe in.

If you’re after theme and plugin alterations, we have a category for that.

  • Jay Versluis 12:54 pm on August 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Screencast, WordPress ( 67 )

    WordPress Screencast, Part 5: Images 

    In this video I’ll show you how image uploads work in WordPress, and how to embed images into your posts and pages. We’ll also discuss Featured Images, the relation between the “image embed code” and the actual image sizes on the server.

    The full course is aimed at beginners and medium casuals alike. Whether you’ve been away from WordPress for a while, or if you’re a complete newbie, this is a very un-intimidating “getting started” guide.

    I’ll release one episode every week on my iTunes Podcast Feed, or you can watch the full course on one convenient YouTube Playlist.

    Enjoy!





     
  • Jay Versluis 12:53 pm on August 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Screencast, WordPress ( 67 )

    WordPress Screencast, Part 4: Widgets and Sidebars 

    In this video I’ll show you how to use widgets. They usually materialise in a sidebar, but some themes have widgetized areas elsewhere, such as the bottom or the top. I will also show you how to remove unwanted widgets.

    The full course is aimed at beginners and medium casuals alike. Whether you’ve been away from WordPress for a while, or if you’re a complete newbie, this is a very un-intimidating “getting started” guide.

    I’ll release one episode every week on my iTunes Podcast Feed, or you can watch the full course on one convenient YouTube Playlist.

    Enjoy!





     
  • Jay Versluis 12:48 pm on August 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Screencast, WordPress ( 67 )

    WordPress Screencast, Part 3: Custom Menus 

    In this video I will show you how to use custom menus in WordPress. It depends on the theme if and where menus show up, but the principle of adding items to a menu and how to order them are the same no matter which theme you use.

    The full course is aimed at beginners and medium casuals alike. Whether you’ve been away from WordPress for a while, or if you’re a complete newbie, this is a very un-intimidating “getting started” guide.

    I’ll release one episode every week on my iTunes Podcast Feed, or you can watch the full course on one convenient YouTube Playlist.

    Enjoy!





     
  • Jay Versluis 12:46 pm on August 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Screencast, WordPress ( 67 )

    WordPress Screencast, Part 2: Writing Posts and Pages 

    In this video I’ll show you how to create posts and pages, and what the differences between them is. We’ll also discuss formatting and briefly how to use the HTML editor.

    The full course is aimed at beginners and medium casuals alike. Whether you’ve been away from WordPress for a while, or if you’re a complete newbie, this is a very un-intimidating “getting started” guide.

    I’ll release one episode every week on my iTunes Podcast Feed, or you can watch the full course on one convenient YouTube Playlist.

    Enjoy!





     
  • Jay Versluis 12:42 pm on July 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Screencast, WordPress ( 67 )

    WordPress Screencast, Part 1: Themes 

    In this video I’ll show what themes are and how to use them in WordPress (downloading, installing, activating and deleting). I’ll also show you how to preview themes before putting them live.

    Themes are what WordPress uses to style the look and feel of the front page. Depending on what theme you use, options in the back end may vary because some themes provide additional functionality (much like plugins). In this course I’m using TwentyThirteen.

     

    The full course is aimed at beginners and medium casuals alike. Whether you’ve been away from WordPress for a while, or if you’re a complete newbie, this is a very un-intimidating “getting started” guide.

    I’ll release one episode every week on my iTunes Podcast Feed, or you can watch the full course on one convenient YouTube Playlist.

    Enjoy!





     
  • Jay Versluis 9:39 am on July 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Screencast, WordPress ( 67 )

    WordPress Screencast, Part 0: Introduction and Workflow 

    I thought it’s about time that I update my old WordPress course, and here’s the first instalment. I’ll talk you through WordPress 4.2. This part focusses on general workflow, how to log in, how WordPress works and how to use the integrated help system. I will also cover software updates for WordPress, Themes and Plugins.

    The full course is aimed at beginners and medium casuals alike. Whether you’ve been away from WordPress for a while, or if you’re a complete newbie, this is a very un-intimidating “getting started” guide.

    I’ll release one episode every week on my iTunes Podcast Feed, or you can watch the full course on one convenient YouTube Playlist.

    Enjoy!





     
  • Jay Versluis 11:58 am on April 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Plesk, WordPress ( 66 )

    How to fix WordPress Media upload trouble caused by open_basedir restriction 

    I’ve recently migrated a WordPress site from one server to another (running Plesk) and noticed that file uploads were no longer working. All existing files showed up fine, but new uploads were always aborted with a message such as “Is your uploads directory writable?” – which of course it was.

    Here’s what it looked like – a familiar sight for anyone with WordPress issues:

    Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 11.29.46

    Uploads had been working fine on the pervious server, and other sites on the new server didn’t have a problem. Puzzles like that rob me of sleep and sweet dreams. I decided to poke into any error logs on the new server (which wasn’t even that new mind you).

    To my surprise I found that in /var/www/vhosts/system/domain.com/logs, there was an error log that was seemingly growing out of control very quickly. At one point it was over 500GB in size. Obviously this had a very adverse effect on the that server, which was running out of space when it shouldn’t have.

    The repeating error message was this:

    mod_fcgid: stderr: PHP Warning:  is_dir(): open_basedir restriction in effect. 
    File(/) is not within the allowed path(s): (/home/www/vhosts/domain.com/:/tmp/) 
    in /home/www/vhosts/domain.com/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 1501

    Sure I thought, I can understand why the server had a problem with this: the path is just NOT where domain data is saved on my target server. Why was it addressing a path that may have worked on the source server? Shouldn’t WordPress adjust itself automatically?

    Why yes, usually it does – unless of course there’s an old database entry that specifies this path. Many options have been removed from the WordPress admin interface over time, but the values that could be set are still in effect. Thankfully it was an easy fix – even though it took me days to think of this: that nasty path was defined under Settings – Media:

    Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 11.28.24

    Anything in the top field is a full server path. If it starts with a slash it’s a root path, while no slash at the beginning is a relative path. A wrong path (like mine) messed up all future uploads. All I had to do was delete anything in that field.

    Note that this option only shows up if a path is defined: as soon as I cleared the field, the option disappeared.

    Thanks to cleasterwood for this tip, who had this problem 5 years ago (goes to show how old my WordPress installation really was):

    As for that huge 500GB log file, that’s another story: simply deleting it was not enough to free up space on the server. Because Apache kept an open write connection to that file, I was still running low on space – even though the file was gone. Restarting Apache didn’t do the trick either.

    What did work here was a full server restart. It took a little longer than usual, but the massive log file was gone, and over 500GB of space was back at my disposal. And more importantly, my WordPress instance was accepting uploads again.

    Phew!





     
  • Jay Versluis 9:54 am on April 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Categories: WordPress ( 117 )

    What is the Prove your Humanity login feature in WordPress 

    Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 08.31.32

    Some of my clients have recently noticed a new math question on their WordPress login screen. It prompts to Prove your humanity in addition to your user name and password.

    This feature was recently introduced in Jetpack as part of the Protect Feature, which prevents hackers from trying to gain access to your WordPress site via brute-force attacks. Prove your humanity means that bots have a hard time logging in. You can even see how many times Jetpack has prevented unsuccessful login attempts.

    To remove the math question you can whitelist your own IP so that Jetpack knows you’re logging in from a legitimate address. To do this, login to your admin interface and head over to Jetpack – Settings – find the Protect Feature and hit Configure. This brings up a window similar to the one below.

    Screen_Shot_2015-04-23_at_09_38_18

    You will see your current IP address. Add it to the list and click save – and you won’t see the additional math question again, provided you login from the same IP. Repeat the process and add additional IPs if needed. If you have multiple users on your team who all contribute to the site, ask them to provide their IP via http://whatsmyip.org or similar services.

    If you’ve been accidentally logged out can cannot gain access to WordPress anymore, you can add a single IP address to your wp-config.php file by defining the following constant:

    define('JETPACK_IP_ADDRESS_OK', '12.34.56.78');

    Replace 12.34.56.78 with your actual IP address (obviously).





     
  • Jay Versluis 11:00 am on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Editor   

    Categories: WordPress ( 117 )

    How to disable the WordPress Theme and Plugin Editor 

    AppIcon76x76@2xOne of my readers had a mysterious problem: the WordPress Editor was not showing up under Appearance or Plugins. It’s a handy tool for quick edits to any plugin or theme file, and I’ve relied on it more times than I can count.

    Having it enabled is a double-edged sword of course, because with great power comes great responsibility too: make a change to a plugin file and accidentally remove a semicolon from the end of a line, and your WordPress site will go down – and the best minds will have a hard time tracking the problem down.

    There is a way to remove the editor functionality completely from WordPress to save tinkerers from themselves: add the following line to the wp-config.php file:

    define('DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true);
    

    This will remove the Editor from both Appearance and Plugins. The change will be in effect as soon as you save the file and refresh the admin interface.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 10.51.27

    Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 10.36.58

    To bring the editor back, simply remove the entire line from wp-config.php, or set the value “true” to “false”.

    Many thanks to Dr. Markus Drabe for bringing this puzzle to my attention!





     
  • Jay Versluis 10:06 am on February 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Categories: WordPress ( 117 )

    How to block Spam Trackbacks in WordPress 

    wordpress-iconTrackbacks are a great way for other blogs to notify your blog about a link back to you. Many blogging platforms support this feature, including WordPress.

    But sometimes it’s very obvious that those trackbacks aren’t coming from a legitimate source, especially when you get several dozen of them every day from the same source.

    No one loves you that much.

    The most recent two examples are semalt.com and buttons-for-website.com, the latter can’t even properly mix a plural with a singular. But that’s not for here.

    To make sure those trackbacks don’t bother our WordPress site anymore, we can add a bit of code to your re-reite rule file. If your host is using Apache then this will be your .htaccess file, famously in use for Pretty Permalinks and some cache plugins.

    A typical .htaccess file is either empty or contains a block of code courtesy of WordPress. It’s a simple text file. If we add this little snippet to the bottom of the file, friendly trackbacks from semalt.com will no longer notify our website:

    # Block Semalt Trackbacks
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} semalt\.com
    RewriteRule ^.* - [F,L]
    

    This rather strange looking code is a rewrite rule. It says “if you encounter a link or a visitor from semalt.com, then forbid them access to anywhere on this site”.

    Notice the backslash, followed by the domain extension in semalt\.com. This is necessary to escape the dot character, otherwise Apache would interpret it as an instruction. In our other example, buttons-for-website.com, we need to deal with the slashes in the domain name in the same way:

    # Block buttons-forwebsite Trackbacks
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} buttons\-for\-website\.com
    RewriteRule ^.* - [F,L]
    

    You can stack these rules in your .htaccess file and add as many as you like for your very own Trackback Spammers. Simply replace the URL in the code with your own, escaping special characters as seen above (a special character is anything that isn’t “a to z” or “0 to 9”).

    Note that these rules do not prevent such websites from linking to you. However as soon as someone from the offending website clicks a link to your website, they will be denied access. On the other hand, when the same visitor would type in your URL, or come from a different website, they will be able so see your content without problems.





     
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