Better photo presentation in your website in 2 easy steps

Photos are best presented with captions or cutlines. The caption adds context to photographs and provides readers such information as the identity of the people in it, where it was taken and any other data not obvious in the photograph.

I used to publish photos with captions by creating an HTML table to contain the image and caption and then floating this within the text by giving the table a left or right alignment. Not only is the process cumbersome but many experts in web design advice against using tables for anything but tabular data.

There is a simpler way to do it.

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How to convert any web template into a WordPress theme

Among blogging applications, WordPress probably has the largest number of great-looking themes to use. Still, there are hundreds of free and even open source web templates not yet converted to work with WordPress. Knowing how to make this themes work with WordPress broadens your choice of design to use for your blog.

Converting a web template is fairly easy if you take the time to learn how to do it. I wrote this guide for someone like me a few months back — eager to use a great looking web design and yet not knowing how to start converting it to work with WordPress. If you want to view a video tutorial on how I turned this open source web design into this WordPress theme, click here for the blog post.

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Turning a web template into a WordPress theme: a video tutorial

Knowing how to turn any web template into a WordPress theme broadens your choice of designs to use for your blog. I created this video tutorial for someone like me a few months back: eager to attempt turning a great looking open source web template into a WordPress theme but not knowing how to start. If you want to read a tutorial based on the screencast, click here.

For the screencast, I turned this open source web template into this WordPress theme. The video tutorial ends with the creation of the different WordPress theme files. The part when I activated the theme, tweaked it, and fixed errors wasn’t captured as I ran out of virtual memory. I just included notes on the tweaking after the screencast below.

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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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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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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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Personalize your free blog, website URL

If you’re using a free web or blog service like MySpace or Friendster, you’d have a long domain name like username. blogs. /your blog name or www. username and some number.

This is fine when you’re just interacting in the Web, when all users have to do is click on a link to get to your blog. But when someone asks you for your blog address, can you just say it to him or her or do you have to write it down? Chances are, you’d need to write it down because of the length of the URL.

You can shorten your free blog or website URL by using redirection services. I’ve tried several redirection services in the past, when I was still using free website hosting. The problem with these services was that they’d put pop-up or pop-under ads or even a landing page. Enter URLdoctor.

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Segregating trackbacks from comments in WordPress

In most WordPress themes, trackbacks aren’t segregated from regular blog comments. This is fine but if you get a lot of trackbacks in a post, it gets in the way of the arrangement of comments.

For a long time, I just used WordPress’ stock comments template but at the back of my mind, I had listed the segregation of trackbacks and comments as something that I would be implementing in this blog and the theme that I’m finalizing. Last week, however, my post on using Dreamweaver to modify a WordPress theme got a lot of trackbacks and I saw the need to separate these notifications from regular comments on the post.

I didn’t have to search for a solution because I had already bookmarked this post by web designer Rachel Cunliffe. Just copy the code she posted in her blog post and paste it into your WordPress comment loop in comments.php. Replace the code in comments.php starting at <?php if ($comments) : ?> until <?php endforeach; /* end for each comment */ ?>, don’t replace the entire code in your comments.php or else you’d encounter errors.

How to edit WordPress themes using Dreamweaver

It has been more than a year since I used Dreamweaver to design a site. I’ve mostly been running sites using PHP-MySQL content management systems (CMS) and depend on the thousands of ready-made themes and templates to control the site design. For the occasional static page, I use Nvu for visual editing. But after reading this article on SitePoint, I wanted to try using Dreamweaver to edit one of the templates I’m using.

WordPress, like most PHP-MySQL CMS, uses template files to control the appearance of websites. The webpage is assembled from several PHP files controlling specific aspects of the site like the header, sidebar, main content and footer.

To use Dreamweaver to edit or customize WordPress themes, you need to combine these different PHP files into one page so that you can immediately view, while editing the codes, how the page would appear.

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