Shoosh, Jetpack!

I wrote a new plugin based on code by Matt Medeiro that I’ve mentioned in a previous article. This is a super quick solution to get rid of any and all Jetpack Nags at the top of your Admin Interface.

I was working on a site that didn’t have a Child Theme, so it wasn’t easy for me to add that one-liner anywhere. The easiest way was indeed to wrap this up in its own little plugin, so now it’s as simple as

  • downloading the repo from GitHub
  • uploading the ZIP to the website in question
  • and activating the plugin

That’s it! There are no settings or admin interfaces to deal with. Once activated, those Jetpack messages simply disappear.

Enjoy. Because Less is More 🙂

How to redirect a URL in NGINX

I’m a fan of easy to remember URLs, rather than long cryptic ones. For things I give our verbally or in chat I sometimes setup redirects using one of my domains and NGINX directives.

So when I’d like to point users to my 3D Shenanigans channel, I can tell them to go to https://3ds.wpguru.tv rather than https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmBV6fLZMzCaIEXzF1SSJuQ/ (because which human in their right mind could possibly remember the latter).

Thing is, I can never remember what the exact syntax is, so I thought I’d write myself a note for such future redirection setup. Here’s what the above example looks like when added as a directive to the subdomain:

Note the use of the semicolon at the end of the line and the curly braces. I’m not that versed in NGINX, but every time I look at it I think “that’s easy”, and promptly forget only seconds later. I hope this helps both you and me to remember next time.

Phicool iPhone Storage USB Stick Review

My friend Sven told me about these types of devices that can interchange data with your mobile device and essentially extend storage. He teaches music and has a large sheet music library that does not comfortably fit into his iPad Mini. These things used to be so expensive. I wanted to try one for my own needs and found this Phicool model and thought an additional 128GB would come in handy. I’m glad I tried it.

The device is size of a wide memory stick, about the size of a mini BIC lighter. There’s a small slider in the middle of the device: press and slide up to reveal the Apple Lightning port, or a full-sized USB port at the other end. The latter can flip up to reveal a micro USB port. Slide it in the middle and both ports are protected on the inside of the stick. Exchanging data is very easy, I’ll talk more about it below.

Continue reading Phicool iPhone Storage USB Stick Review

Lanniu HS910 Neck Speaker Review

I saw Techmoan review several of these neck speakers a while ago. Up until then I had never heard of this type of listening device, but as he explained what they were all about, I was intrigued to try one out. I like the idea of listening to music without having earbuds in my ears, while not annoying those around me too much. Usually such devices easily cost over $100 and more. This LANNIU HS910 seemed to tick all the boxes without breaking the bank at under $50.

The sound quality of the speakers is OK, and the volume is remarkable when worn around your neck. While you can hear things perfectly, a person next to or across the room from you can barely hear what you’re listening to. There’s also the natural experience of speaking while not wearing anything in your ears. These neck speakers are practical when you want to hear the world around you plus music, but still want to participate in conversations. You can still be aware of traffic – unlike with some headphones. What a concept! 

The device is a combination of a bluetooth speaker/microphone unit, but it also has its own internal 8GB of memory for MP3 storage. Hence it is not strictly necessary to use it with a mobile device and can be used standalone. To use it that way, connect it with the included Micro USB cable to a computer (Windows or Mac) and drag over some MP3 files. They start playing automatically and immediately when the unit is turned on. Internal memory mode is the default when the unit is switched on, and when no other files are present, a variety of genuinely ghastly music is played for a few beats. I recommend adding an MP3 file with silence to stop this from happening.

To enable bluetooth mode, the unit needs to be paired first. Thankfully that’s very easy: pick HS910 from the list of devices on your favourite bluetooth host and you’re connected. Oddly enough, it is necessary to switch to bluetooth mode explicitly on the device by holding down the little key with two arrows, otherwise you’ll stay on internal MP3 mode. I wish it was the other way round.

Several controls on the device let you change the volume (long-press on the plus/minus icon to do this), summon Siri, answer/reject calls and switch music playback modes. During phone calls, I can hear the other party fine and they can hear me, but the quality isn’t as good as using wired headphones (it sounds like limited frequencies, or in other words, a telephone from the 1960ies). The software could do with an update or a re-think: when I made a call and ended it, the device immediately started playing my MP3 file although it was still connected to my phone via bluetooth. It’s sometimes difficult to convince the HS910 to stop playing MP3s and play Spotify instead. Perhaps I haven’t worked out how to do it, or perhaps it’s a little unintuitive.

On the whole I like the idea of this device. It sounds good, it’s a new idea of listening to music, it’s lightweight and doesn’t move when I’m wearing it. I am however a little disappointed with how the internal MP3 function gets in the way of the bluetooth control I have from my phone. I wish they had made it a little easier.

Comica CVM-AX3 Audio Field Mixer Review

I’ve been looking for a way to record two separate microphones in the field for interviews. If you’ve ever tired this, you know how much of a challenge this can present. When I found this Comica CVM-AX3 I thought it could be the ideal solution to this problem and gave it a try. I’m glad I did, because it fills the void of the challenge I had before me.

Continue reading Comica CVM-AX3 Audio Field Mixer Review

How to setup Loop Recording on the GoPro HERO 8

Loop Recording has been fairly intuitive to setup up until the GoPro HERO 7. The option is still available on the HERO 8, but it wasn’t obvious to me how to enable it. Now that I’ve found out how to do it, I thought I’d share it with you.

The trick is that any of the new settings presets (i.e. Standard, Cinematic and Activity) cannot enable Loop Recording. You have to create a fourth (custom) preset with which you can activate it.

Continue reading How to setup Loop Recording on the GoPro HERO 8

How to remove the Streamlabs Donation Link on YouTube

I’ve noticed that mildly annoying Streamlabs Donation link at the top of my YouTube descriptions. While I appreciate what they’re trying to do, I don’t use their service for live donations. Sometimes the page doesn’t work and it’s WAAAAY to complicated for casual users to figure out. So I’d rather this link wouldn’t be added automatically.

I did some digging and found the setting: it’s in your Streamlabs.com dashboard, under Donations – Donation Settings. There’s a section at the bottom that reads Your Page, with a tick box that’s enabled by default, called “make this visible in my description”.

If you have linked accounts, make sure you select YouTube from the top right first, otherwise this setting is missing (Mixer and Twitch don’t have this option).

This tip is courtesy of a Tweet from Streamlabs in answer to a question – thank you guys 🙂

How to add Category Descriptions in TwentyNineteen

Some themes implement the WordPress Category Descriptions, others do not. Often they’re not necessary, but sometimes they are. Here’s how to add them to the TentyNineteen theme.

Make a copy of the archive.php file and call it category.php. There’s a block of comments at the top, I recommend changing the description to remind you of what this file is in there for. Leave it at the root level of your (child) theme.

Find line 22 (or thereabouts), starting with the_archive_title(). This line is pulling in two lines Category Archives and your category title (Project Diary in this example).

To remove the top line, and simply print a title to the category without it becoming a URL, we can use this little workaround trick to replace the_archive_title() with this:

To add the description underneath, we can use the_archive_description() function. It’ll print out the text we set, inclusive of any formatting we choose. TwentyNineteen has several options to choose from. I’m going to use the block quote style, but feel free to use any class you like.

Hope this helps!

How to tweak the featured image filter in TwentyNineteen

Last year’s WordPress TwentyNineteen theme does nice things with the featured image in more than one level. The default wasn’t exactly what I was looking for though and some tweaks were necessary for me to feel happier. In particular I felt that the way featured images are displayed needed an adjustment.

There are three areas we can adjust:

  • the colour overlay
  • the opacity of the overlay
  • the darkened filter effect

The Colour Overlay

The colour overlay can be changed in the Theme Customiser. Under Appearance – Customise – Colors there’s an option to set the accent colour, which is also applied as an overlay to each featured image. Untick the box and the colour won’t be applied to your images.

The Overlay Opacity

By default the image is darkened quite a bit to make the white headline font more readable. They’ve overdone it a bit I think, making every image a hard contrasty shadow of its former self. That’s especially annoying if you’ve spent a lot of time crafting your own colour scheme and contrast. To soften the whole thing, we can adjust the opacity of the darkened image to make it look a little lighter, while not deviating too much from the character the theme authors had intended.

Add this piece of CSS and adjust the opacity value to your liking (I find that 0.9 or 0.8 work quite well).

The Dark Filter Opacity

While the above trick works on the whole (darkened) image, we can go one step further and leave the image opacity intact and only influence the dark filter. By making it less intense, more of the original image character will come out. Again, I find an opacity value of 0.9 or 0.8 works nicely. The lower you make it, the more dark filter gets removed. Choose 0 to get rid of it entirely.

I hope this was helpful.

How to export a Clip from Twitch to YouTube

There’s no direct way to export your Twitch Clips to YouTube, or download the material like we can do with Highlights or Past Broadcasts. However there is a way to turn any of your Twitch Clips into Highlights, and those can be downloaded or exported.

Let me show you how this works.

Head over to your channel, then select Clips at the top of the screen. You’ll see a whole page full of clips if you or other users have made any. Now select the big purple button that reads Manage Clips.

Continue reading How to export a Clip from Twitch to YouTube