Enhancing blog comments with avatars

I’ve just re-enabled Gravatar support for this blog. Gravatar, for globally-recognized avatar, is a service that publishes avatars or graphic representations of people who comment in your blog. Check out my previous posts to see gravatar in action.

I used the service some time last year but stopped it after a few months when I encountered problems.

To get your own Gravatar, just sign up for an account at the Gravatar website. Prepare a square image and then upload it to the site. Associate the image with your e-mail address and you’re done.

SIGN-UP for a gravatar account to have images show up next to your comments.

With the service, the image you picked will show up whenever you leave comments in blogs and websites that support Gravatar. Make sure you use the e-mail address associated with your account when you post comments.

If you are a website or blog owner, check these guidelines at the Gravatar website on how to implement the service. The service has its own WordPress plugin but I’m using the plugin written by Skippy and now maintained by ZenPax. The plugin allows local caching to deal with problems on server congestion in the main gravatar site.

Upgrading WordPress Lightbox plugin

I just upgraded the Lightbox 2.0 plugin I use for my WordPress installations. I use Lightbox 2.0 extensively for snazzy image loading effects in my blog and all the other sites I run. The script loads images in an overlay window and dims all the other parts of the page.

Lightbox plugin LIGHTBOX FOR WORDPRESS. The Lightbox plugin I use for my WordPress installations now works with the WordPress post editor. Click on photo to preview Lightbox effect in loading larger version of image.

You can try it out with the photo that comes with this post (it won’t work, though, if you read this on an RSS reader or in your e-mail, you have to go to my blog).

In the new version, WordPress Lightbox 2 0.6.3, the lightbox button now works with the WordPress post editor, albeit only in the code view. In previous versions, you had to save the post before the lightbox button appeared. The new version only supports WordPress 2.1 and higher and uses the Prototype and Scriptaculous library that come bundled with WordPress. The new version now allows you to easily enter group names for photo sets.

In upgrading from earlier versions, I suggest you disable the plugin and then delete the entire folder before uploading the new version. I tried just overwriting the plugin and encountered errors.

For more on how to use Lightbox to implement snazzy image loading in your blog, check my tutorial in this post.

Anti-spam plugin Akismet updated

Akismet, the anti-spam plugin created by WordPress founding developer Matthew Mullenweg, has been updated to version 1.15. The new version now tells you, via a tooltip, on which blog article or page a suspected spam comment or trackback has been posted.

When your mouse cursor hovers over the View Post link in the Akismet moderation panel, a tool tip will appear with the title of the post.

Ive been waiting for the download link to be updated until early this morning. Hours after the blog article announcing the 1.15 update was posted, the download link still pointed to version 1.14.

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Get a WordPress admin bar for your blog

If you use the hosted blog service at WordPress.com, you would be familiar with the admin toolbar that appears on top of your blog whenever you are logged into the service. The admin bar is a user-friendly tool that I’ve long wanted to deploy in my blog and WordPress sites I help manage.

What’s great about the admin bar is that this is only visible when your are logged into the blog. Regular users don’t see this bar. (Click on photos to view larger images)

It’s not available out-of-the-box if you install WordPress in your own web server but Easy Admin Access, a recently released WordPress plugin, allows you to put up a WordPress admin toolbar in your blogs. WordPress.com admin toolbar

The plugin, however, isn’t just a copy of the WordPress.com admin toolbar, it improves on it by providing even more links to functions you need to run and administer your blog. WordPress.com would do well to copy the plugin written by blogger Jonic Linley

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Cooking with Lightbox JS version 2

Yesterday I did two things I’ve never done for a long time: play around with a WordPress plugin and prepare pork kilawin. I’ve long wanted to incorporate Lightbox in the WordPress theme I’m making and in a project I’m setting up. I decided to use the WP Lightbox 2 plug-in instead of the original package as the plugin incorporates a quicktag in the post editing field.

Lightbox allows you to load linked images without having to open a new page. It works really great with Flickr because the photo-sharing service automatically generates different sizes of your photographs.

Update: I had to disable, however, the fancy tooltip package I’m using (Sweet Titles by Dustin Diaz) in order for the captions to appear under the photos. The WP Lightbox 2 plugin author had said this was fixed but the caption still wouldn’t appear if you’re using Sweet Titles. For Lightbox to work, the entire page must finish loading. So if you click on photo and you are sent to another page, that means the plugin isn’t working because the entire blog page hasn’t finished loading.

Check my photo series when I prepared kilawin yesterday. Kilawin, my favorite pulutan (I’ve given up drinking but not eating pulutan), is typically prepared with roasted goat meat but I prefer roasted pork. Just click on the photos below:
Bankal marketSpices for pork kilawinChopped spicesPork kilawin

Upgraded to WordPress 2.0.2

I was in the middle of editing the new theme I’m using when I read the announcement of a security release for WordPress. Version 2.0.2 contains bugfixes and security fixes.

Matt Mullenweg said in the version announcement: “The problems addressed are unannounced XSS issues privately discovered and reported to the WordPress team.”

The announcement doesn’t say, though, whether the security issue is just with the recent WordPress 2.0.1 release or this is something that exists even with previous versions. I upgraded this blog to the latest release last night, and the upgrade went without a hitch: back up all files, change theme to default one (which I left unedited) so that calls for plugins that will be deactivated wont spew out errors, disable all plugins, upload new files to overwrite existing ones in the server (I used to delete the files but WordPress upgrade guide says you can just overwrite the old ones), run upgrade.php and Im now using WordPress 2.0.2.

I checked my site and everything seems to be okay. I edited a post and again encountered a bunch of errors.

WordPress database error: [You have an error in your SQL syntax. Check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near ” at line 3]
SELECT post_id FROM wp_post2cat WHERE category_id =

A quick search using the error phrase (which I should have done weeks back) showed that the errors that I wrote about earlier were caused by the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin I was using. I promptly upgraded the new plugin version and the errors are now gone. Back to blogging.

Some notes on upgrading to WordPress 2.0

All the sites in my domain are now using WordPress 2.0. I just finished updating last night. I also spotted the plugin that’s preventing the new visual editor from loading. It’s Linknotes, a plugin I used to put footnotes in some posts in my blog. Luckily, Linknotes is well crafted so that even if you turn the plugin off, the links to the footnotes just turn into regular hyperlinks.

Later today, I’ll be upgrading other WordPress sites I help manage.

I did encounter an error in this blog because of the Akismet plugin. The Akismet plugin file previously resided in the main plugins directory. The Akismet plugin that comes with the new WordPress is inside a subfolder and when I uploaded it, the site started spewing out errors because there were already two akismet.php files in different locations. But overall, the upgrades have been trouble-free.

Performancing.com releases visual editor for blogs

Performancing.com, which is turning out to be an excellent resource on blogging, released a Firefox extension that puts a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) blog editor in the open source browser.

I tried it out for a few minutes (screenshots below) and even used it to publish the previous post and found that it worked flawlessly. The editor allows you to assign your blog’s categories to your posts. It doesnt have a button, though, to allow you to split your posts the way the more link works in WordPress but since you can edit the code generated by the

You can just right-click on a web page you want to blog and launch the WYSIWYG editor. With the plugin plus the del.icio.us extension, Firefox now has the capabilities introduced by Flock.

The plugin visual editor works only in Firefox 1.5 and the following blogging services and platforms:

Blog services:

Blog scripts
Movable Type

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Blogs Of The Day down

I was working on my and Marlen‘s WordPress theme early this morning when I noticed that my site was so slow. I suspected that I may have made a mistake in the codes and so I went through the theme files I changed line by line but couldn’t find anything wrong.

When I tried opening the site again, I noticed that it was trying to contact blogsoftheday.com and couldnt get through. I checked on the the Blogs Of The Day site and found that it was down. I checked on blogs that I knew were using the plugin and found that these were also very slow.

Blogs Of The Day is a portal that tracks traffic in WordPress blogs using its plugin. It ranks the most visited member blogs and pages.

I deactivated the plugin and the site rendered pages at its usual speed again.

Update: Just as I was about to publish this, Blogs of the Day is back up again. I have just re-activated my plugin.

Installing Akismet to deal with comment spam

Ive been hammered with comment spam in the last few days and had to deal with more than 30 of such comments daily. I never thought of installing an anti-spam plugin before, thinking that an occasional Viagra or poker spam would be easy to moderate. But having to delete comment and trackback spam every once in a while proved to be irritating. I download Akismet, installed the plugin, copied my WordPress.com API key and activated it. I havent had comment spam since then.