Upgrading WordPress to latest version

I’ve just upgraded this site and several others I oversee and help manage to WordPress 2.0.4, the latest version of the popular blogging software. Upgrading was very easy as you only need to upload the files and overwrite the existing ones in your server.

Unlike previous upgrades, however, you are not prompted with the database upgrade link after you finish uploading the files. You have to use the yourblogaddres/wp-admin/upgrade.php script. I don’t know if you need to run the script but I just did it for good measure. When I finished uploading the files, I noticed that the dashboard already indicated 2.0.4 as my WordPress version even if I did not run the upgrade script.

WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg said in the WordPress developer blog that the upgrade “contains several important security fixes, so it’s highly recommended for all users.” It also contains more than 50 bug fixes, for a listing click here.

Announcing Brighthouse-WP theme for WordPress

I’ve finished Brighthouse-WP, my WordPress port of the Brighthouse theme for Typo. Brighthouse is a simple two-column theme that reminds me of the design of the Signal v. Noise blog. Brighthouse was designed by web interface designer Richard White for the Typo blogging platform.

I spotted the theme when I checked out the features of SlimTimer, an online service that allows you to keep track of the time you spend on tasks. When I saw Richard’s blog, I immediately knew that it was a design that I wanted to implement here. It was a good thing that Richard packaged his theme for download.

I downloaded the theme, converted it to work with WordPress and made a few changes such as increasing font size and placing the search box on the sidebar instead of the header. It took me several days but I was finally able to validate the theme. It wasn’t that hard as the original theme was XHTML valid, I invalidated it when I started chopping it up into different template files.

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A fire, a map, and a WordPress theme

Fire gutted the landmark Plaza Fair building early morning Tuesday. Reports say the fire caused P20 million in damages. The blaze broke out just as we were finalizing the day’s newspaper issue. We no longer had time to include the story in the issue.

But I admit it was tempting to copy Michael Keaton in The Paper-the whole “Stop the press!” bit. Of course you couldn’t do that in Sun.Star Cebu, our printing plant is kilometers away and if you needed to “stop the press” for a late breaker, you’d either have to call or text the plant manager. Somehow texting “stp d prs” isn’t as dramatic as barging into the plant and screaming the words.

The fire was visible from our office canteen, two blocks away (check photos and map below).

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Sign up for an excellent website analytics tool with 103bees

Occasionally, you come across a website or an online service that makes you stop everything you’re doing because you absolutely have to try it. I had that experience with MeasureMap, Crazy Egg, Wridea, Lightbox, Zooomr and now 103bees.

I read about the free website traffic analytics tool in this post in Performancing, a site that should be listed in your RSS feed reader if you’re a blogger. I read about the service shortly after the paper was put to bed early today and went to the site for a cursory browsing of its features. I was hooked.

I signed up for the service a few minutes ago to check the data it gathers and I’m very impressed with its reporting. Activating your account is very easy, you just copy a snippet of code and, if you’re using WordPress, paste it in your footer.php theme file. (click on photos to view larger images)

If you care about your website’s performance in search engines, 103bees should be the first service you sign up to, it is that good.

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Work on blog post ideas with Wridea

I seldom finish a blog post in one session in front of the computer. My typical blogging day starts with reading news feeds to check on updates on topics that interest me. Sometimes I get a blog post idea while reading RSS feed items and I’d write a note in my personal wiki about the topic.

I’d then work on the post in the office, right before the newsroom goes into overdrive chasing page deadlines and after I’ve finished my pages and while waiting for pages assigned to me for line-reading. I’d then publish the post at home, after my early morning meal–that’s dinner for all you morning people.

Most of the time, however, I’m working on several projects that can generate several blog posts. These projects are experiments on content management systems, blogging, wikis and anything that might be of use in a newsroom environment, particularly that of a small community newspaper.

I keep my technical notes on these experiments and my to-do lists in various personal wikis, including a txt file in my K750i. But for blog post ideas, I may have found the best notes repository, for me, in Wridea. (Click on photo to view larger image)

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Hey, Ubuntu’s sending stickers with its free CDs

I got my Ubuntu 6.06 CDs yesterday and was surprised to find three sheets of cool Ubuntu stickers with the package.

I claimed the package at the Cebu City central post office at the port area and the clerk in charge of releasing the shipments said inquiringly “Ubuntu Linux?” It turns out that they’ve been releasing several Ubuntu CD packages already.

If you’re in Cebu and you want to try Ubuntu, send me a message, I still have one for Mac, a couple for 64-bit processors and several for your regular PC. I also have one sheet of Ubuntu stickers to give away.

If you still haven’t tried a Linux distribution, Ubuntu is a great flavor to start. PC Magazine describes Ubuntu as the “current desktop Linux champ.”

I’ve already tried Ubuntu version 6.06, codenamed “Dapper Drake,” and really liked the ease in setting up a certified Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP server during the install process. With the help of the IT personnel detailed to the Sun.Star Cebu newsroom, we’re using Ubuntu to run a newsroom intranet managed by MediaWiki.
Ubuntu CDs and stickers Ubuntu server running MediaWiki

Adobe releases Lightroom beta for Windows

Adobe Lightroom, the software “built from the ground up by photographers, for photographers,” now has a Windows version of its beta. I tried it and I was blown away with the way it allows you to edit your photographs.

The Windows version is labeled Beta 3 but Adobe’s announcement says the program is slightly behind the Mac version.

Adobe LightroomLightroom, according to Adobe, “is an efficient, powerful way to import, select, develop and showcase large volumes of digital images. It allows you to spend less time sorting and organizing images, so you have more time to actually shoot and perfect them.” Here’s a comprehensive post on the capabilities of Lightroom.

To run Lightroom in Windows, you need to have Windows XP with Service Pack 2, a Pentium 4 processor with at least 768MB of RAM (albeit they recommend 1GB), 1 GB of hard disk space and 1024 x 768 resolution screen. I tested Lightroom with less than the required RAM and it was slow. Even then, I was still blown away.

Put some oomph into your blog with Zooomr and Lightbox

Use snazzy image loading effects in your blog with Lightbox JS and a Zooomr account (quick, they’re still offering free pro accounts to bloggers, get yours).

Lightbox JS allows you to load larger versions of images on the same page via a cool overlay window. The rest of the page is dimmed with a grayish transparency. To preview the effect, click on the thumbnail in this blog post after the entire page has finished loading. For the effect to work, the entire page must finish loading, otherwise you’d just be taken to a new page that contains the larger image.

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Zooomr 2.0 now live

After days of being delayed by a denial of service attack, Zooomr finally launched version 2.0 of its service today. Apart from finally being able to try features the Zooomr team has added, I’m just relieved that I can finally use the service.

I really like Zooomr, especially with the way it promoted its service among bloggers. If you open an account with Zooomr and you blog a photo stored in its servers, you can get a free one year pro account, which gives you a monthly uploading quota of 2 gigabytes. After meeting the conditions of the promo, you can upgrade your account here.

I’m still trying out the new features of Zooomr, one of which is geo-tagging your images (click on photo to enlarge). I browsed through the photos that I’ve uploaded to enter tags and I find the service almost as fast as Flickr’s. This is an improvement because when I first started using Zooomr, it was a bit slower than Flickr, albeit not by much.
Geo-tagging in zooomr

Newsforge: A lot to like in Serendipity but nothing compelling to switch

Open source news site Newsforge has published a review of the 1.0 version of Serendipity, the blog script that I used for previous versions of the Cybercafe Experiments.

According to the article, installing Serendipity to manage your blog “is a breeze” and shouldn’t be a problem to someone who has experience installing web scripts like WordPress. What sets Serendipity apart from other blog content management system (CMS), according to the article, is that it gives you the option to use databases other than MySQL: PostgreSQL and SQLite.

Serendipity also got high marks from Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, the author of the Newsforge article, for its ability to import data from other blogging scripts. Brockmeier tried it out and he was able to import data from his blog with two years worth of posts “with no problem at all.”

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