Updated Facebook Comments TNG

We use the Facebook Comments TNG wordpress plugin here to keep comments on Facebook coming into the Blog.  If you’ve ever noticed a comment you’ve made on one of my notes in Facebook that showed up here… this is how we do it.

Anyway, a short time ago Facebook changed their website layout and as a result the Facebook Comments TNG plugin was broken.  Unfortunately the developer has not had time to update it to match the new Facebook layout, but as it’s breaking some functionality I depend upon (here and elsewhere)  I did a little digging to see if I could fix it.

WARNING

I’m fairly certain this plugin breaks the ToS with Facebook so if you’re not comfortable with that, Don’t use it!

The results are less than spectacular, but it seems to work (mostly) with the following caveats:

  • It requires you to enter a profile ID in the options window
  • It is limited to only examining the most recent 10 posts (regardless of your setting)
  • It may or may not handle multiple pages of comments (untested)
  • Somehow the copy I started with was an older version, so some of the newer features are unavailable

NOTE: I do not warranty anything this plugin will do and I will NOT be keeping this up to date.  I’m simply providing a temporary location for the fixes I implemented.

If you’re good with that list and can’t wait for an official update, feel free to download my version (in TEXT form).

If the list is too much for you, feel free to wait for an official version here.

Save Money Flying With Yapta

Yapta LogoPlanning a trip? Yapta can in two big ways.

  1. While you’re looking for flights. Yapta has a Firefox plug-in which allows you to tag flights across multiple websites in order to compare prices and track their price changes before purchase.
  2. After you’ve purchased your tickets. This is the best feature in my mind. Much like what PriceProtectr does for common online retail stores, Yapta allows you to list tickets you’ve purchased and at what prices so that it can monitor price drops.

Something you probably didn’t know about most airlines is many offer reimbursements for price drops on air flights. The old saying that everyone on your flight paid a different price no longer applies. Everyone can pay the same price if you’re using Yapta!

Direct from Yapta’s FAQ here’s a list of some of the vouchers and refunds available:

Each airline has a different set of rules and regulations. However, here is a quick look at the policies for each airline. Click each of the airlines for the specifics.
Airline How much it will cost to get a travel voucher? How much it will cost to get a “cash refund” for a non-refundable ticket?
AirTran $75.00 Not Offered
Alaska Free $50.00
American $100.00 Not Offered
ATA $60.00 Domestic
$100.00 Hawaii
Not Offered
Continental $100.00 Not Offered
Delta $75.00 Not Offered
Frontier $100.00 Not Offered
JetBlue $40.00 Not Offered
Midwest Free within 7 days of purchase
$100.00 after 7 days
Not Offered
United Free $100.00
US Airways / America West $100.00 Not Offered

Carbon-Free Stackable Cars

Carbon-Free Stackable CarI recently ran across an idea from MIT students for Carbon-Free Stackable Cars. The idea is to simply extend the range of public transportation. Public transportation typically only allows travel to the most common places. Often your real destination is off the beaten track. If that’s the case and the distance is too great people will often choose private transportation instead. This idea attempts to close that gap.

This reminds me of ZipCar in Boston. They leave cars in residential neighborhoods and allow you to reserve them online. You simply walk to it and pick it up to make use of it by the hour or the day. There’s no attendant and no complications. It’s simply a service you use at your convenience.

The fact that the cars are Carbon-Free is a huge bonus. Since the idea is to travel just small distances it seems like the plugin electric idea is a great fit. I can’t wait to see something like this put into place.

Dynamic Categories

I determined a while ago that I wanted to reduce the clutter on my blog and eliminate most of what’s normally displayed on the front page of any blogs. However I didn’t want to lose any functionality and wanted to always have the ability to add links and categories and have lists of them that were generated dynamically somewhere. I figured that adding a page for each makes a lot of sense so I wrote a dynamic content wordpress plugin. At the moment it has 3 hard coded keyword tokens that it replaces with corresponding content. However the next release will allow you to specify a keyword token and what widget to insert in its place.

Gravatar

Gravatar LogoI generally like the idea of consolidation. I’m tired of all the logins I have all across the web. I try to use a very small list of identical names and e-mail addresses but with the shear number of sites out there and the different security requirements it’s very difficult to keep them all up to date. I’m a fan of openID although I don’t think they quite get it yet. I love the concept I’m just not sure about the execution. Using a website address as your one unique login is awkward.

In general there’s just too much clutter on the web. Too many things that accomplish the same task. Too much information being generated by every individual. I wrote before about consolidating the feeds I generate into 3 main categories.

Today I consolidated my avatars. An avatar is what people see of you. It’s often the first image they’ll get of you, or perhaps even their first impression. It’s a drag to update these avatars on every site you use. I myself hardly used to use them simply because I don’t like searching for a photo to use and trimming it down to size etc.

Gravatar makes it very easy. Essentially you attach an image with an e-mail address and thats it. Any website which is Gravatar-enabled will display your Gravatar wherever it detects your E-mail address. Your Gravatars also have ratings so that certain sites can say they only want to allow ‘G’ or ‘PG’ Gravatars for example. The only Gravatar I have is this:

I have now enabled Gravatars on RandyAldrich.net and RandyandRachel.com. I’ll probably do so on any website I administer in the future as I think its a great way to build community.

If you hate seeing the Gravatar logo, Create yours today!

If you’d like to enable Gravatars on your wordpress blog simply download and install this plugin and then add the following line of code in comments.php wherever you’d like them displayed:

<?php if (function_exists(‘gravatar’)) { ?><img src=”<?php gravatar(“X”, 80, “”); ?>” class=”gravatar” alt=”Gravatar Icon” /><?php } ?>

As a sidenote… I may create an updated version of the plugin myself (or send the needed changes to the original author) which inserts the above for you when I get a chance.

WordPress 2.3

wplogoWordPress 2.3 has been out for a while but I’ve been hesitant to upgrade. I finally decided it was time. RandyAldrich.net was running on 2.1.2 until now and I thought the upgrade might not go as smoothly as it should. As with any upgrade I did a database backup and instead of overwriting the install directory I created a new one (randyaldrich.upgrade). Once I was satisfied that I had all configuration, plug-ins, themes and uploads transferred to the new directory I simply deactivated all my plug-ins, switched the directory names and ran the upgrade script. It went perfectly smooth. So smooth that I also upgraded R & R today.

Along with the upgrade I always do some general house cleaning. Remove any plugins no longer used, upgrade any plug-ins which have upgrades available. I like to embed videos with my posts now and then and WordPress does not make this easy. Because of this I have been using Viper’s Video Quicktags for quite some time now and recently realized I was 2 versions behind. The new versions provide some nice enhancements and fixes to issues I have been noticing.

All in all. A good upgrade. I highly recommend it.

WordPress 2.2

I’ve taken the plunge.  For one its speedy.  Secondly it includes the widgets plug-in which is nice (although I was already using it).  The biggest difference I can see is the speed improvement.  However this was the first opportunity I had to test my new DEV server procedure.  I’ve had WordPress 2.2 on http://dev.aldrichfamily.org since about 5 minutes after it was released.  I’ve played around a little bit, made sure all the plug-ins I want to use still work.  After I was sure I had a database backup of the current install (via the daily scheduled backups now) I decided it was time to take the plunge.  Probably the easiest upgrade thus far.

Widget Trouble

I had some trouble finding examples on how to Widgetize your WordPress Theme. I found plenty of links but all were dead. I figured I’d mirror a how-to guide here to make it easier for people to find out how to make their Theme work with WordPress widgets.

First of all you’ll want to put some code in your sidebar.php file to have a default sidebar as well as a dynamic sidebar when available. to do this use something like the following:

<ul id="sidebar">
    <?php if ( !function_exists('dynamic_sidebar')|| !dynamic_sidebar() ) : ?>
    <li id="about">
        <h2>About</h2>
        <p>This is my blog.</p>
    </li>
    <li id="links">
        <h2>Links</h2>
        <ul>
            <li><a href="http://example.com">Example</a></li>
        </ul>
    </li>
    <?php endif; ?>
</ul>

This will enable your site to use a dynamically generated sidebar. Next we need the ability to implement a dynamic sidebar. To do this simply add the following to your functions.php file:

<?php
if ( function_exists('register_sidebar') )
    register_sidebar();
?>

Provided you have the Widgets plug-in installed and activated, you should now see a ‘Sidebar Widgets’ section under Presentation in the Admin section of your site.

I am not the original author of this tutorial nor am I a contributor in any way to the Widgets plug-in. If you have questions about the plug-in itself, or this method is not working please contact the author or see the plugin website.