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Complicated WordPress Upgrade

Dear Reader,

Ok, I took the plunge and moved “Postcards From My Life” to WordPress 2.5. I was hesitant because over the years I’ve hacked plug ins and themes so I was worried that something would break along the way. This has really grown to a pretty complex WordPress install; but then again, I like pushing the envelop.

I know I’ve said it before but huge props to the WordPress development team. Upgrading the core went exactly as they said it would.

Most of the plug ins I use worked fine because I usually keep them up to date anyhow.

Here are the exceptions:

  • aLinks 1.0rc1
    Throws a fatal error on activation. No automatic upgrade. Have not checked the site for a manual upgrade.
  • Extended Comment Options 2.0
    Throws a fatal error on activation. No automatic upgrade. Have not checked the site for a manual upgrade.
  • Popularity Contest 1.3b3
    Throws a fatal error on activation. No automatic upgrade. Have not checked the site for a manual upgrade.
  • NAVT 1.0.16
    I have a love/hate relationship with this plug in. On the one hand, it gives me control over the order of my menu items and some other cool features. The downside is the admin is so ajax heavy that it’s almost impossible to work with. It has gotten better, the previous version used to throw a dialog box in FF telling me the script was taking to long to load. The new version is nicer but there is no “Save”, “Publish” or “Commit”. I guess changes are immediate which I don’t really like but I’ll put up with. Oh and when I upgraded to the current version, it forgot all my menus I had built. Lucky for me, I only had 1 but that could be a pain if you have a lot.

That’s all I have to report. Everything went smoothly, which is why I’m constantly recommending WordPress to anyone who needs a quick but powerful Website. If you are waiting to see if there are problems, I’d say the water is fine, come on in.

Until next time,

The 2 Hours After the WordPress 5 Minute Install

Dear Reader,

I now run WordPress on 4 of my web properties. So let me first say a big thank you to the entire WordPress development community for all their work. It’s an excellent platform for the types of projects I’ve been working on lately. More importantly, it allows me to get going quickly and move on to working on my main idea.

In the process of installing and managing these properties, I’ve learned just a little bit about WordPress and decided that I had better document some of it before it falls out the back of my head. So while I was spending time yesterday installing and configuring WordPress for, I decided to document my steps. I’m putting them down here, mainly for me but if you find it useful as well, I’m glad.

These are the steps I take in installing a basic WordPress site. If you are not sure why you would want to use WordPress, check out “The Secret to Cheap and Easy Websites” over at my podcast, Sixty Second Tech.

Pre-Install Preparation

  • The night before you want to do the install, make sure you make any DNS changes that need to be made. If you have the site parked, go ahead and move it. Yes, I know change are distributed in 5 minutes these days but it takes a while for some people to see the change, especially Google. (That’s important when we get to the sitemap section.)
  • Pick a theme. There are some good, free, WordPress theme sites out there. There are also some very talented designers who are happy to build you a site from scratch. Which ever way you decide to go, do it before you start your install.

Installing and configuring WordPress

  1. Install WordPress
    There are several good options for doing this. On my hosting service, we have Installatron that will walk you through it. You host may have another installer but the thing you want to ask yourself is do you want to bother with the nuts and bolts of the install or do you want to trust the installer? If you trust your installer, it will be quicker overall but you have to make sure that they upgrade on a regular basis. Otherwise you may be stuck unable to upgrade your installation later. Your other option is of course, WordPress’ famous 5 Minute Install.

    No matter which way you go, you need to follow the instructions to get a working installation.

  2. Change the Admin password
    The last step in your install gives you a randomly generated password for the admin account. Log in right now and change it. Go ahead and setup the entire admin account while you are there. WordPress 2.5 has a great new feature that helps you decide whether the password you have chosen is secure or not. This is the key to the kingdom so you will want to make sure it’s secure but memorable.
  3. Delete default post
    Go ahead and get rid of it. The thing you don’t want is for your new feed to start with the default “This is a new WordPress” message, it just looks amateurish.
  4. Delete About Page
    Same reasoning as above. Unless you have content to go into it immediately, go ahead and get rid of it. Worst case scenario, you will have to add it back in later when you have content to put in it.
  5. Change the settings in Settings->General
    Go ahead and change the name of your blog, the tagline and browse the other options while you are there. As with the default post, the idea here is not to look like an amature by leaving “Just another WordPress blog” in the tagline. You can always revisit this section after you are up and running and fine tune the settings.
  6. Activate Permalinks
    If you are going to activate Permalinks (and I always do) then do it now. In a couple of steps we are going to be building our sitemap and we want the URLs to be correct for that. Click on Settings and then Permalinks check everything over and then save changes.
  7. Install Your Theme
    Hopefully you took my advice and have already selected your theme or had one designed for you. If not, stop now, go get you one, we’ll wait. Now, once you have it, fire up your FTP program and upload it into wp-content/themes. Then in the Admin control panel, select Design and activate the theme you just uploaded.
  8. Activate Akismet (optional)
    If you are going to allow comments on your blog (and that’s not a given, it’s a choice) then you will want Akismet installed and activated. If you are not familiar with Akismet, it helps control spam comments. It’s free and it comes with WordPress so all you do is have to install and configure. If you don’t have one already, you need a WordPress API Key for Akismet to work. They are free, you just need to go to and register. If you already have an account with and an API key, you can use it on multiple blogs.
  9. Setup Feedburner feed
    I run all my feeds through feedburner because it gives me the stats I want on my feed reader. FeedBurner (Google) has a FeedBurner plugin for WordPress that makes everything simple. It’s a multi-step process though so I’ll list them.
    1. Create a FeedBurner account.
    2. Register your feed with feedburner
    3. Install the plugin.
    4. Activate the plugin
    5. Configure the plugin
    6. In a browser, visit http://yourblog/feed/ and make sure it’s working. If it’s not, backtrack and make sure you’ve got everything configured correctly.
  10. Register with Friend Feed
    Ok, you’ve got a feed, let’s use it. If you have a account, go ahead and register your feed with it. If you don’t have one, is a great tool for aggregating all of your content into a single feed that people can follow. Of course your new feed won’t have any content in it because we deleted the default post earlier. Registering now will ensure that when you do post for the first time on your new blog, it will be listed.
  11. Install Google Sitemap XML Plugin
    Sitemaps are an important way to get your site spidered. Since it’s an off-site service like Akismet and FeedBurner, installing and configuring is a multi-step process.
    1. Register with
    2. Install the plugin.
    3. Configure the plugin. You may have some trouble at this point. Some systems are finicky about permissions. If, after configuring everything, you still can’t generate a sitemap because of permissions issues, here’s a tip. Create a file on your local computer called sitemap.xml, just an empty text file. Now, upload that file into the root of your blog. Now you should be able to create your sitemap. You will probably need to do the same thing with sitemap.xml.gz and possibly robots.txt.
    4. Go to and register your site and then your new sitemap. This can be tricky and it’s really beyond the scope of this article to describe. The only advice I have is what I gave in the pre-install instructions, make sure you make any DNS changes the night before. Google caches DNS entires for about eight hours. Any changes you make just before installing may slow things down a bit.
  12. Install wp-db-backup
    If your blog is important to you then make sure you have nightly backups. Code is easy to reinstall, the hear of your blog is the database. I use wp-db-backup to do this on a daily basis for all my blogs.
  13. Install SimpleTags
    Tagging is an important part of blogging. To help me tag my posts I install SimpleTags. It allows me to use TagTheNet to analyze my post and suggest tags. It also takes care of “related posts” and even has a TagCloud widget. It will also place your tags in your header if you don’t have the following plugin installed.
  14. Install All in one SEO Plugin
    This is going to surprise a lot of you that know me and know my feelings about SEO but yes I use All in one SEO plugin. No, I don’t think it helps my page-rank one bit, my content does that and I preach this message every chance I get. However All in one SEO gives me a degree of control over keywords and the title field that I occasionally want. I always install this plugin because it’s simple to install, requires very little configuration and when I want to tinker with things I can. Don’t take this as an endorsement of anything revolving around SEO though.
  15. Write something!
    If you don’t have a blog post ready to go, why did you go through the last 2 hours of work? Seriously, the point of all of this is to give you a place to blog. Don’t skip the most important part, Write something and write something relevant.

I hope you’ve learned something. Feel free to post any additions to the process that you normally go through. I’ve done this countless times now but I’m still learning new tricks.

Until next time,

PHP Bloggers! Help Me Out…Make a Few Bucks!

Dear Reader,

Most of you that I know personally, I contacted back in September about a new project of mine, Now, I’m putting out the call to all my friends, virtual or other wise, asking for your help.

securePHPhosting Elevator Pitch
My goal with securePHPhosting is to build a shared hosting environment as safe and reliable as possible. We go to great lengths to make sure that it’s always up to date and monitored on a 24×7 basis. I’ve been managing shared hosting since 1998 and know quite a bit about it. securePHPhosting is just for PHP developers and it’s run by a PHP developer. Most importantly though, I personally offer all clients money back guarantee if your not happy. Additionally, if our service goes down, we start refunding money.

Here’s how you can help me and possibly yourself.
securePHPhosting has an affiliate program. No, you don’t have to host with me to participate. If you want to, hey, I’d love to talk to you about your hosting needs; but this is about us helping each other, not just me asking for your business. Since I’m really only targeting PHP developers with this service, I’m only looking for affiliates that are PHP developers and have blogs.

If you sign up for the affiliate program, I will pay you 100% of the first month’s hosting fee for each and every client that comes in through your blog. It’s really easy, you sign up, you put the graphic on your blog, you get paid if people sign up. I’ll be honest with you when I say that this isn’t gonna make you a ton of money. is a premium web host and as such our prices are higher than your normal web hosts. I do not apologize for this as a lot of time and effort goes into the upkeep of our servers. However, since this is targeted at the audience you are already bringing in on your blog, the chances of you getting a payout are good.

So the upside is I could be paying you $25 or $50 for you sending me a customer, the downside…well, there really isn’t one. It will cost you about 10 minutes to fill out the form and place the graphic.

There’s my pitch, if you know me and I’ve not pissed you off (lately) think about it. Nothing would make me happier than to share the wealth with all my PHP friends.

To sign up for securePHPhosting’s affiliate program, click here.

Until next time,

Goals for the New Year

Dear Reader,

Ok, that last post was as close as I’m gonna get to a “year in review” post. I just don’t like looking backwards that much. So let’s take a moment to look forward and set some goals.

  • Lose 30 lbs.
    Yeah, I know it’s a cliche but I really want to drop 30 this year. These guys just opened up down the street, I think I’ll give them a try. Aside form the fact that they use ColdFusion for their website, they seem to be pretty cool.
  • One blog post per week in 2008.
    Guess what, I’ve got the first week covered. Seriously, I’ve been real lax in posting here for the past year, mainly because most of my writing efforts go to DevZone. However, I do have several ideas that I want to discuss here that revolve around technology but are not necessarily related to PHP.
  • Write One new article per month.
    With all the opportiunities I have to write, you would think this is a no brainer but like everything else, I get sidetracked on other projects. So I hope to post or have printed, one new article per month.
  • Another Book in 2008.
    Ok, so my first book isn’t officially released yet but even so, it was all written in 2007. I’d like to come up with another idea and sell it to a publisher. I’m guessing my ability to do so is greatly dependent on the sales of my first book. So do me a favor…go order a copy.
  • A picture a day in 2008.
    Inspired by people like Chris Wage, Andrei Zmievski, Sebastian Bergmann and Terry Chay, I really want to post one new picture per day in 2008…I’m already behind, this being Janyary 2nd and I’ve yet to post a picture. As soon as I finish this post, I’ll start figuring out what and where to shoot. Note: my goal is not to be as good as any of those four, just to post a new picture every day. I’m shooting for goals I can actually hit.
  • Learn a new language
    The Lovely an Talented Kathy and I will be learning French this year.

So those are my goals for the year, only time will tell whether I can hit them. Hey, have you posted your goals for the year? let me know, I’ll link to them.

Until next time,