Take 2: WordPress theme screencast

I’ve fixed my initial attempt at doing a video tutorial on turning a web template into a WordPress theme. It now loads. As I wrote earlier, I am still finalizing the screencast but I just posted it to get initial feedback as I’m thinking of redoing the entire thing.

I wasn’t able to capture the part when I activated the theme, tweaked and fixed it because I ran out of virtual memory. I am also writing a blog post based on it. I’ll publish the post as soon as I finalize a screencast. In the meantime, please view the screencast and feel free to leave some comments.

Take 1: WordPress theme screencast for design-challenged non-geeks

(UPDATED) I created a screencast on how to turn any web template into a WordPress theme. I created the screencast for someone like me a few months back: interested to use an open source template for my blog and yet not knowing how to turn it into a theme.

This is the first take because, as you may see, it needs a lot of improvements. The screencast covered how I turned this open source web design into this WordPress theme. I’d appreciate comments on this as I would either be rendering the screencast again from the raw frames capture I saved elsewhere or throwing away the thousands of captured frames and doing the screencast all over again.

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Invitation to a virtual press conference

I was forwarded an interesting e-mail today. It was an invitation to a “virtual press conference” with officials of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia. The press conference will tackle the scheduled unveiling later this month of The Philippines 2030 Roadmap and the Public Governance System. The press conference will be held at the “Presscon Room” of Yehey.com.

Using teleconferencing facilities for press conferences is nothing new. Many government officials do it when they are out of the country. Corporate officials do it. But many of these teleconferencing setups are controlled, reporters are still gathered in a room and the organizers typically use a high-capacity line to make sure the teleconference goes smoothly.

The coming virtual press conference, however, will be decentralized. I don’t know how Yehey! will be doing it as the room is still being set up. I don’t know if they’ll be doing it “chat” style or via a message board. This is a great idea. It allows us in the “provincial media” to attend press conferences, albeit virtual, that would otherwise had been limited to Manila reporters. And why limit it to reporters in the first place? If I were ISA, I’d invite bloggers who discuss governance issues in their sites.

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Announcing nautica-magazine WordPress theme for webzines

To those who were waiting for this theme, I apologize for the delay in the release. I had to wade through various folders to get the latest version of the code because I was working on two sites using this theme at the same time.

I have since been using Subversion via a free project management account with Unfuddle (check my previous post) to make sure that the files are organized. If anyone is interested in helping improve this theme, leave me note so that I’ll host the files in Google Code and we can work on it together.

Nautica-magazine is a WordPress theme based on the nautica05 open source template. It doesn’t work out-of-the-box because you need to edit the index page to make it work with your site’s sections or categories. Read the included readme.txt before activating the theme.

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Back up your mobile phone data online

Most people today rely on cell phones for the storage of contacts and appointments. This reliance on a single device can be risky and devastating when your phone gets lost or stolen.

To prevent a disaster such as losing important contact details, you need to regularly back up your phone data. Most phones today come with PC suites that allow you to easily manage and back up these data. If you’re using a SonyEricsson phone, use Float’s Mobile Agent, it’s the best PC software for your unit.

The problem with using PC software to back up your data is that you need to regularly connect your phone to your PC in order to get an up-to-date version of your data. I don’t have problems with this as my phone is always connected to my PC when I’m in the office because I exclusively use Float’s Mobile Agent to manage it.

But for those who don’t regularly do this, there’s an easier backup option: use the free zyb.com service. Zyb.com allows you to store your address book and calendar online and then synchronize the data between your account and your phone (or phones since you can use multiple handsets with one account.) (See screenshots below.)

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Google Analytics now open for new signups

For those waiting for Google Analytics to open signing up for new accounts again, you can do so at google.com/analytics. The Google Analytics team has announced in its blog that they’ve removed the waitlist for the website metrics service and now allow anyone with a website to create free accounts.

Google Analytics is a comprehensive website metrics service based on Urchin, which was bought by Google. It offers website owners a lot of data on visitor traffic. One of its coolest features is the site overlay, which shows you the parts of your web page being clicked by visitors.

With the recent upgrade of blogger and the opening of signups for Google Analytics, maybe MeasureMap will be improved next. MeasureMap is an excellent website metrics service focused on blogs. For so long now, the service has either been slow or unavailable. I hope Google eventually improves MeasureMap’s performance, it is a service I’m sure bloggers would like to use every day.

For a round-up of blog metrics services I tested, you can read this article.

Version control

I can be extremely disorganized with computer files. My bare desktop hides a labyrinthine hard drive that contains files in sub-folders upon illogically named sub-folders that at times, I actually have to search for files.

I’m dependent on online drives for the centralized storage of files I’m working on. For so long, I used my online drive as repository of the latest versions of the files I’d need. Several times, however, I’d forget to upload the latest version of a file and then I’d find myself working on an old copy and grappling to remember which parts I’ve changed.

At times I’d redo the changes I did earlier but often, I’d just wait to report for work (if the files are in my office PC) or go home (if they’re in my home computer).

This can be such a downer, especially if you’ve already map out the things you’d be doing and you’re all set to pull an all-nighter.

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Don’t just take their word for it, go web host shopping, here’s how to do it

If you use a free website service, pretty soon you’d reach a point when you’d want your site hosted in your own server and using your own domain. If you’re just starting a site or are currently running one but want to change providers, take time to shop around for a web hosting provider that best fits your need.

In choosing which web host to use for your site, evaluate hosting providers based on features, pricing and performance. Give yourself a few weeks if not a month to decide because you’d be doing automatic monitoring of their performance.

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Database down; spirits up

I woke up to a WordPress database error yesterday. The error wasn’t caused by any changes I did to the site but something to do with the server.

I spent hours the night before working on this, a demo of using WordPress to manage a news portal.

With time to kill while waiting for the site to be fixed, I implemented something that had been listed in my “someday” list – customize the WordPress database error message and have the system send you an e-mail when your blog can’t connect to your database. I hate to admit it but I actually enjoyed the downtime as it taught me a lot as well as afforded me the time to play around with something I had long wanted to do.

The hack is surprisingly easy and I enjoyed crafting a database error page that I just might intentionally place wrong config data soon to test my planned addition to the error page.

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Back to basics

I started working before the word processor as we know it today and the graphical desktop became mainstream. In fact, in my first few weeks on the job, I used a typewriter.

When I joined The Freeman, a Cebu City-based community newspaper, in 1996, its newsroom was using networked PCs running DOS. It took me a while to get used to writing using a “word processor.” I was scared at sitting in front of those green monitors and their menacing command prompts.

Back then, when reporters sat in front of the computers it was to write stories. The writing program occupied the entire screen and you could not multi-task. There were no games in our newsroom PCs and the Internet could only be accessed on one computer.

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