Frustrations with Tagging

As some of you may have noticed, I finally got around to implementing tagging a while ago, via the Simple Tagging plug-in. The categories in the sidebar are more like a table of contents, and the tags work more like the index at the back of a book. Generally, I’m very happy with the tags; I love having the list of related posts show up on the single view, and the Tag Cloud on the archive page makes it easy to find posts by specific topic.

My only problems are minor formatting issues, really. I want the Tag View page (the page you go to when you click a tag) to display just like it displays all the other archived entries. It does, mostly; I’ve made it use the same template that I use to display archived entries. The only problem is in the number of posts it displays at a time. I installed the Custom Posts Per Page plug-in ages ago, to dictate how many posts show up on given page views. On the home page, it is supposed to show 4 posts. On the daily view, monthly view, and search result pages, it’s supposed to show no more than 10 posts per page, and for all other views it’s supposed to show 999 posts. For whatever reason, the tag view page thinks it’s the home page, and displays only 4 posts.

The other minor bug relates to the footer. The 5 most recent posts and 5 most recent comments show up at the bottom of the page; on the tag view pages, the 5 most recent posts for that tag are displayed instead. The 5 most recent comments show up correctly, though.

I suspect the quirks may be related, but I don’t know for certain. My reasoning is that since WordPress thinks the Tag View is the home page (as the query property comes up true when I check if it’s the Home view), it’s using that same query to get the 5 most recent posts. I can create a workaround for displaying the proper number of posts on a tag view page, but I’ve exhausted most of my ideas for fixing the Recent Posts in the footer. Any ideas out there?

Reading List Plug-ins?

So, I’ve been checking out “reading list” type plug-ins for WordPress, because I’m getting sick of just keeping a text file on my PDA of books I’ve read, and ones I want to read. Whenever I come across a book that looks interesting, it gets added to the text file, but then I forget about reading anything on the list until I come across a new book that looks interesting. Wash, rinse, repeat. I was searching online, and came across the Now Reading plug-in, which is great – it lets you add books to a “library,” and you can mark books as “Have Read”, “Reading” or “To Read,” along with other details like when you read the book, and your own review. There are some beautiful implementations of it (Example) as well. The author of the plug-in has a nice implementation as well (here). I really like that rather than hiding the reviews away in the library, where someone may never see them, he’s made each review into a post, and linked to them from the book summary in the library.

Of course, the “Now Reading” plug-in made me think about what else I might consider applying it to. It would be nice to be able to create a library of video games; what I have, what I’ve played, what I’m playing now, what I plan to play. And for movies, as well; what movies I’ve seen, what I thought of them, what movies I own, et cetera. Of course, I already have lists of what movies & video games I own; reviews could be easily accomplished by simply creating and using a “Movie Review” or “Game Review” tag. So would I really NEED to extend “Now Reading” to include Movies & Video Games? For how I would use it, probably not.

Thunderbird with PDA’s?

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I use MS Outlook as my e-mail software. If I used it for just e-mail, I would have switched to Thunderbird ages ago. After all, I switched from IE to Firefox a few years ago, and haven’t looked back. No, I use Outlook for everything; the contacts section is my address book. It maintains birthdays, anniversaries, email addresses, home addresses, website addresses, almost anything I could want. I have a task list to remind me when certain bills are due, with a checkbox so I know if I’ve paid them this month. I keep my work schedule in there, since my schedule changes from week to week. And it syncs to my Dell Axim, so I can take my contacts and lists with me anywhere.

I’ve installed Thunderbird in the past, to try it out, and see if I could switch. It’s nice for email, but the contacts section was sorely lacking, and it had no calendar function. I decided that I would switch to Thunderbird only when it could replace Outlook for me; decent contacts, decent calendar, and syncing with my Axim. Well, come to find out you can now synchronize Thunderbird with a Pocket PC. About a month ago, Lifehacker had an article detailing just how you can sync your Pocket PC to Thunderbird. I think maybe it’s time for me to re-evaluate Thunderbird, and see how the advances in the calendar plug-ins have come.

ETA:

Ok, until Thunderbird improves the address book, I’m sticking with Outlook. I’ve been spoiled by the birthday and anniversary fields, and the auto-creation of birthday and anniversary events.

Archive Complete! And Colophon, too

I finished building my archive, and honestly, it was a lot easier than I expected. The default WordPress theme comes with an archive.php, so I just copied that, and modified it to match the rest of my theme. Essentially, I just copied the index.php and displayed the excerpt instead of the entire content. After browsing online to check out other archives in an effort to determine what I want, I decided that having an “archive” page is the way to go, if for no other reason than it’s convenient for browsing. Basically, archive.php controls how the archives are formatted, but archives.php is the page for navigating. After getting my archive up and running, though, I realized that while I know what plug-ins I’m using to format things, people without admin access have no idea what I’m using. So I figured I’d include a list of plug-ins I’m using, a colophon of sorts, in case anyone out there is curious.

  • Glossy Blue Theme – Not a plug-in, but still worth listing. The theme I currently use, and love. It does everything I want, style-wise. Anything it didn’t do (like archives) I built myself. This is his first theme, if you can believe it.
  • Widgets – For themes with a sidebar, this is fabulous. It lets you easily customize the sidebar without hacking the code. You can also easily downoad other widgets to add to your sidebar, and place them however you like. It’s like Lego bricks.
  • Drop-down Archives Widget – I don’t have this problem yet, as I’ve only had my site running for 3 months, but the longer your site runs, the longer your list of monthly archives becomes. This widget turns that long list into a drop-down menu, to conserve space. Apparently some themes come with a drop-down menu for the archives, but enabling widgets will overwrite that option in the sidebar.
  • Brian’s Threaded Comments – I LOVE this plug-in. I want to be able to reply to a specific comment, and not just have my reply be tossed at the end of a list of comments, so you have to guess what you’re replying to. I’m a huge fan of threaded comments, and this plug-in accomplishes it well.
  • Custom Posts Per Page – This lets you change the number of posts displayed on various types of pages, without editing the reading options on the WordPress dashboard. If you want 4 posts displayed on the front page, but 20 displayed on the archives, this will do it.
  • Clean Archives – This plug-in displays beautifully formatted archives. It breaks everything down by month, and further by day. This is exactly what I wanted for an archive.
  • Polls and more – I’ve not actually used the poll plug-in or widget yet, but I’ve downloaded and installed them just in case. There are actually quite a few good widgets here. Definitely worth exploring.

And there you have it! A complete listing of all the plug-ins and widgets I use.

Adventures in Building an Archive

So, I’ve determined that the one thing I really want for my blog is archives. But I don’t want a static archive page, like the “About Me” page. Ideally, when you click on the monthly archive in the dropdown box, or one of the categories, it will take you to a page, with a list of all the posts that meet that criteria. But I don’t want all the posts there – just the subject lines, the date posted, maybe a line or two excerpt, maybe the number of comments on each post. It sounds like I’m going to need to code this myself, unless I can find and modify something else that already exists. This should be fun, considering I have NO experience with PHP. Oh well, I’m a relatively quick learner. Wish me luck.

The search for a good calendar…

So, I’m mostly happy with my blog. I have nested comments working, and some fun plug-ins for stats and polls (assuming I ever want to make a poll). The only thing I’m really lacking, is a calendar. I’m not even so sure I need a calendar, but it would be convenient. I’ve played with different calendar plug-ins before, and most aren’t bad, but seem to lack something. I’ve tried the one from firetree before, and it’s almost perfect. It lets you add future events, multi-day events, and subscribe to the calendar, which is cool. The only problem is how it adds events to the calendar; for whatever reason, everything is added to the calendar by the date of creation. While this is fine for posts, I don’t really want my static pages added to the archives, and I’d rather my events show up only when they’re scheduled, and not ALSO on the date when I created them.

I’ve tried a few other options, with not much luck. I’d like to be able to display and modify my google calendar from the blog, but I don’t know how feasible that is. Has anyone out there come across a calendar plug-in that they are particularly attached to?