Tag: WordPress

Whilst I remember…

Did I mention we are off to Spain on Friday morning?

Well, we are, and there are loads things still to do. Not all are related to going on holiday but the holiday has an impact on them all.

1. I’ve not even considered packing but then you do get rather blasé about it when you are returning to the same place, and will be frequenting the same haunts (for new readers; my father-in-law lives in Spain, and has done for a few years now). We don’t even bother with anything ‘smart’ as we eat out at the more local restaurants than anything fancy, and that’s when we eat out at all.

2. Then, of course, the iPod needs to be loaded, books need to be chosen, and I really MUST start using that alarm to make sure I get to bed on time as we need to be at the airport at 4 a.m. on Friday morning… which means leaving the house sometime around 3 a.m. which in turn means that I am seriously considering just staying up.

However, on Thursday, which we both have off, we are heading up to Perth for lunch with a family friend, nipping in to the butcher to buy some rib-eye steak for my father-in-law, and then I’m hooking up with friends in the evening for dinner and some diet cokes, whilst Louise will be acting like a teenager again and going all wobbly for some oik called Justin Timberloch, or something…

3. Of course there are somethings that need done on this site (search not working?), and that’s before I even bother my arse about thinking about email addresses and whatnot – I reckon I’ll stick with my ‘name’ domain for that, and leave the email address for this domain dormant for now.

And yes, I’m still looking into the whole “coloured name” for my mum (which for some reason is harder than it should be!).

4. Ohh my head, too much going on. I have a new guy starting today, and loads of stuff I really need to get done to give me a reasonably clean slate to come back to, although why we continue to do that is beyond me, what difference does going on holiday make, there is ALWAYS stuff to do.

5. I have a package that I’m quite keen to get my hands on which, currently, looks like it will arrive at my office on… ohhh go on, guess which day…

6. I’m also hoping to pre-publish a few posts to carrying things over whilst I’m away, one of which is quite intriguing, if I say so myself, so keep yer peepers peeled people!

7. The great Scottish Blogs cleanup continues and, whilst I’ve had over half the batches back now, I’ve yet to sit and go through the database and start whacking dead sites. It’ll be a long slow job that one, and I’m not sure I’ll have the time until I get back from my holiday. Ohh and the blogmeet is now organised, Edinburgh, 19th May at 2pm in the Jolly Judge. Be there!

8. Last but not least, I can’t for the life of me get some simple CSS floats to work. A sidebar on the right, main content on the left and the sidebar KEEPS DROPPING BELOW THE MAIN CONTENT!! It’s killing me, and no end nor combination of tweaking margins, padding, widths, nor clearing left, right or all, is making the blindest bit of difference. ARGH!

And breeeaaaaaaatthheeeeee…

Finally, before I dash off, some links/apps that I’ve found useful over the past few days.

1. If you are moving your WordPress installation, to a new domain, or just to a new directory, you must must MUST head over to this wonderful site. This is the page I used to move my WordPress domain, and it went without a hitch. All in it took me about an hour to do, tops.

2. That alarm thing I was asking about the other day, well Banshee Screamer Alarm seems to fit the bill. Ignore the fugly look, it meets all my criteria. It has a “start with windows” option (ok, everything has that via the Startup folder but hey, it’s worth mentioning), minimises to the system tray, needs set only once and will repeat on chosen days at the set time, can start an application or open a URL when the alarm time is reached, and can be used silently.

It’s currently running, and will launch a custom HTML page I knocked up which states, in large red (not yet blinking) letters GO TO BED.

Many thanks to B-Rad for suggesting it.

3. Thinking Rock is a GTD style application which I’ve been using for the past few weeks. I’ve mentioned it before but it’s getting a second mention because, frankly, the past couple of weeks have been frantic and without it I’d be lost. Whilst I have been busy over the past couple of weeks, knocking quite a few things off my to do list, the number of items and tasks that I needed to capture grew exponentially and Thinking Rock has helped me keep on top of all that.

Case in point is the site move, with multiple little things to remember, and new items being triggered as I stumbled across something else I hadn’t considered, the ability to quickly dump a one line ‘thought’ into Thinking Rock, processing it later on to add more detail and group it with other similar items, has been a life saver.

Even if you don’t ascribe to the GTD method, it’s worth a look. You WILL need to understand how the app works though as it’s maybe not immediately obvious, but the site has some good info on that front. Think of it as GTD-ish..

Right, that’s enough for now. Things to do, coffee to drink.

Moving Identities

Changes are afoot. I wonder why that is, why are they never “ahand” or “aknee”?

Anyway, having received notice that I’m shortly due to renew my hosting account for this site, I’ve decided that now is probably a good a time as any to move my site. I’ve been reasonably pleased with 34sp in the past but having recently used other sites that are running WordPress (PostoftheWeek, One Man Writes), on other hosts I’ve noticed the improvements in speed, and in one case, price.

So, I’ve been quietly preparing to move this blog and implement a few other things whilst I’m at it, but I’m still not 100% sure on how to best implement things and as it’ll impact you, dearest reader, I thought I’d ask for your opinion(s).

Part of this is more to do with sorting out my online identity than about different URLs, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, I guess I just needed the push to do it.
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Gripes and Groans

I know a few of you use Movable Type. If so, how do you build a test system? For WordPress work I use XAMPP on my PC, it’s an absolute doddle.

There are Perl add-ons for XAMPP, and I found a guide to installing Movable Type in a XAMPP system but the buggering thing won’t work. I’ve checked and double-checked paths, filenames and all that gubbins but still get errors. There MUST be an easier way.. or is that why people switch to WordPress (or something else?).


At the risk of illiciting “told you so” style comments… I’m having hassles with iTunes. For some reason it just stops working. I was working at home yesterday and listening to music quite happily. I restarted my PC at one point after having installed some new software and iTunes refused to start!

A couple of un-installs later and some not inconsiderable time spent browsing the iTunes support forums found me uninstalling QuickTime only, repairing the install and it works. So far. I’ve not yet had to reboot and try it again so I’m reserving judgement. From what I can tell, once again, it seems like Apple haven’t tested their software properly, and the forums suggest that’s true as well as there are many people having issues with the fact they have different logins on their Windows boxes and iTunes is ‘losing’ preference files, then crashing when it can’t find them. Not elegant and pretty basic if you ask me.


My other blog has stalled. Mainly because I want to tweak the design a little before I publish. I have a few articles written up but can’t find the enthusiasm to get it going. What happened? Less than a month ago I was raring to go, fired up and… ohh what. That’s what one of the articles is about. As a quick aside, has anyone taken the Belbin team role tests? If so, what ‘team role’ are you? And can you guess which one I am??


Anyone know of a flat, vertical, wall-mountable, radio alarm clock? Thinner the better, must have digital clock and radio alarm and be wall-mountable. In case you didn’t get all that the first time…


And yes, I’m still “twittering”.

Not Planned

I’m a planner. I plan. It’s what I do.

But sometimes things happen and plans need to be adjusted.

I received a somewhat alarming email from 34sp, an ISP I use for a couple of sites I run, including this one. Apparently a couple of my sites were hacked recently. I don’t visit the sites in question very often so it wasn’t something I noticed, although as they were both only ‘down’ for a few hours I seriously doubt that anyone else noticed either. Thankfully both sites have now been restored to their previous state.

Of course this mean that I’ll need to change my FTP passwords and review my internet security in general. I very much doubt that my machine has been hacked, and I’m fairly careful when sending emails around but it pays to be vigilant, and a few additional precautions won’t do any harm. Of course I don’t want to go over the top but it’s funny how these things make you more paranoid than usual.

And whilst I’m at it I need to get the miniblog working again. I’ve tried a couple of plugins and neither have worked. Admittedly I think recent changes to WordPress haven’t helped much, but until things settle down on that front I’m just gonna go with some custom code. More hassle for me but at least it should work, and will protect me a little the next time I upgrade WordPress.

These things were not planned.

However I did manage to go out for a run this morning, that WAS planned, and there will be more on that, later.

WordPress permissions

Because I said I would and because this type of thing is still very much a “black art” as far as I’m concerned (networking in general falls into that category), here are the permissions I have set in my WordPress install.

This is what I have setup for my WordPress Theme folder (wp-content/themes/MYTHEME/) but I guess it’s likely to be similar if you have a custom WordPress install. I had loads of problems not being able to edit files through the WordPress admin interface, and various timeouts and 404 errors. I’ve not had any problems since I did the following:

Set the permissions (CHMOD for tech speak users) for the theme, or WordPress, FOLDER to 755.
Set the permissions for all the FILES in that folder to 776.

And that should help. Maybe. As ever with these things, YMMV.

To do this using FileZilla users, connect to your site, then right-click a folder or file, and select File Attributes. In the dialog that is displayed, type in the appropriate number and click OK.

Here’s hoping it helps. Someone.

Feeds? My aRSSe

Ohh yes, hitting top form with the witty post titles now!

Two posts today, both of which may hold limited appeal. First up, a few questions about my RSS site feeds, and later a nice tale about good customer service.

If you don’t use the RSS feeds, then I’d ignore this post.
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Right there are a few things that have zipped past the McLean radar in the past few days, none of which are THAT big they warrant a mention outright but I do just want to say that:

  • I’m beginning to see the appeal of the iPod Shuffle (the new ones come with newer headphones ya know) since getting Louise one at Xmas. The simplicity of it, plug in and press play, hits home hard during the past few weeks of hectic activity. Yes, choosing a playlist has become a hassle. Yes, I am one lazy bastard. I’ll have a blue one please.
  • Creating a theme for WordPress has been hugely rewarding. Mainly because I now understand more about the platform than I had previously. Still some way to go, but there will be some spiffy new pages coming… soon.
  • Still jogging, and currently trialling lock laces (bought from the wonderful wiggle). They were too tight last night so some minor adjustments required but I liked them. Yes, my ‘gadget’ fetish knows no bounds!
  • Still not taking that many photos though. However I still find it odd when people compliment me on my photos as, honestly, I don’t think they are all that great. Don’t get me wrong though, compliments are good.
  • Post of the Week is moving along nicely. Still got some bugs to fix and new features to implement but on the whole I’m quite pleased with the design and functionality. You are visiting, aren’t you? And I’d encourage you to take a turn being a judge as well. The site is very much BY and FOR the people.
  • That reminds me, I must add a Post of the Week link/badge to my sidebar.
  • Which is much easier to do as I have finally sorted my access permissions on my server, I can now edit my WordPress theme files using the WordPress admin page. If you visited a couple of nights ago and the site looked funny, that was me mucking about with CHMOD settings.
  • The football transfer deadline wasn’t that exciting, but the rolling BBC page tracking the gossip was hilarious. Amongst various players being seen all over England the best ‘spot’ was reported around 9pm, I’ll let you read where Robbie Fowler was spotted.
  • Switching hosts – following on from Ian’s recent move I’ve started to look into doing the same. Like him I’m finding 34sp a little limiting, and can get better deals elsewhere. Multiple databases will allow me to install web apps on MY server, something I’m wanting to do more and more. I’m truly becoming a ‘web worker’. A Small Orange is in the lead at the moment, but other options are welcomed.
  • And finally a new version of a ‘must-have’ app has been, um, launched. Launchy now supports plugins and comes with some default examples including a web search, calculator and a new way of quickly navigating your computer. Yes, it takes a wee while to get used to but when I used another PC the other day I was amazed at how much longer it took me to get stuff done without my favourite little app. AND it comes with documentation, better than a little of open source apps I’ve tried.
  • New music filter – none, nada, nothing. Will be picking up the new Arcade Fire album and… well I’m out of the loop. Who should I be listening to this year??
  • Holy shit. It’s FEBRUARY!
  • Air Travel Tax has gone up. Why the hoo-haa now? It was announced last year, and let’s be honest, an extra fiver on a trip sure ain’t gonna stop anyone from flying. What was the aim of this tax? If it was to reduce flights then it should have been bumped up to something more substantial, £30 say? More? At what point would it start to have an impact on the number of flights? Of course it’s not about that at all but I wouldn’t doubt if that becomes a reason to hike the tax higher in the future.

Yeesh. That was longer than I thought it would be… I do prattle on, don’t I.

[Ed: Yes you do, I thought you were supposed to be writing better posts these days, you know, concentrating on the writing? You’ll never win a Bloggie posting random lists like this.]

Coming soon, a post about the Bloggies, and possibly a list or two (yeah yeah, big surprise).

Too.. many.. posts..

Anyone else get this?

Over the past couple of weeks I struggled to find inspiration for posts, I kinda clawed at a few things just to fill the space but I was aware it was an effort. Didn’t bother all that much, I’d just started a new job and my brain was busy processing a gazillion other things, but it still annoyed me.

This week though, bloody hell, I can’t STOP coming up with post ideas. So, and with the caveat that this may, or may not, be expanded at a later date (ohh who am I kidding, I’ll chuck them in this post and forget about them), here are some of those potential blog post topics in brief:

News item 1
Prisoners should have the right to vote.
My thought: They lost that right when they broke the law!

Driving thought 1
Just what IS the percentage of guys that pick their nose whilst sitting at traffic lights?

Bloggies 2007
Naked Blog for lifetime achievement, but.. dammit.. beautiful revolution or unreliable witness. I’m torn!

Good to see Pandemian in there too, well deserved. Blog of the year for me is Lifehacker (from the choices).

Although the entire thing is getting a little samey in some categories. Surely Heather and Zoe should retire from the competition to give the other poor buggers a chance!

And yes, once again I wasn’t shortlisted for “best kept secret”. Tell you what, next year I don’t WANT to be nominated. Reverse what? Sorry, no idea what you are talking about.

WordPress 2.1
Is worth an upgrade SOLELY for the auto-save feature. Never lose a blog post again! Start writing, accidentally close your browser after three paragraphs… and your post is still there! GENIUS!

This site
Or more accurately, a new site that I’m toying with starting. That’s what triggered the minipost query about shuffling the blog to a subdirectory. Or possibly a sub-domain of blog.gordonmclean.co.uk… still to be decided.

Driving thought 2
When you are on a dual-carriageway, and you want to overtake the car in front, pulling out into the outside lane is fine. But is there any chance that you could check the road behind you first? I don’t mean for the car that is already in the outside lane (that’s a given to be honest) but could you also check what’s BEHIND that car.

‘Cos if there is nothing behind him for, say, a mile or so, then pausing for a split second to let him past BEFORE swerving out into his path might just stop him almost ending up in your boot and calling you a “WANKFUCK” at the top of his voice.

And for the record I was doing about 74mph at the time, and he didn’t fucking indicate.

Mine that is. I’m toying with doing an MA in Technical Communications. I don’t actually have any formal qualifications for my profession you see. This won’t be until September, as I’m hoping my company will pay for it (or part of it) and asking them to do that in February when I’ve only been there a month is a bit cheeky (mainly because I also want them to send me to a couple of conferences first). Still just an idea, and I’m holding off committing to it too much as I’m aware I’m still in the ‘enthused zone’ as I’ve just changed jobs.

News item 2
Well not one item as such but a variety. From the catholic adoption agencies, to the football (soccer) team in the USA, it’s so disheartening to see such horrible horrible prejudices still alive and well. Is this really the world we live in?