A more useful 404 for wordpress

I stumbled upon a great article by Dean Frickey, entitled A More Useful 404, which discusses the need for blogs (and other pages) to have a more elaborated 404 page. I couldn’t agree more with the fact that most website out there offer very slim possibilities to their users to find what they were looking for on your site. I immediately thought that it would be a great little plugin to add to the ever increasing collection of wordpress plugins out there (about 3758 as I write this). To my surprise, and delight, someone had already written a plugin for it, creatively called Useful 404 (Also found on wordpress’s download site). I was happy to find that this plugin works great on wordpress 2.7, which is fabulous by the way.

Unfortunately, I may have to tweak the plugin a little bit since it is missing what is, in my opinion, the most important feature of a customized 404 page, which is to offer the user a list of possible candidates that actually exist on your site. This feature is apparently already available in another 404 plugin called Smart 404 (Also on wordpress’s download site), but this one doesn’t seem to function on WordPress 2.7 yet. Anyways, I highly recommend the plugin Useful 404 for now. Simple to install and does the job very nicely for now. Any other 404 plugins out there?

Auto margin shifts my page content to the left

I found myself wasting about 2 hours of my time trying to understand why only one of my pages moved about 16px to the left when switching back and forth between the different page. My problem is that I was using a template and that everything on the two pages were exactly the same. Here is an example of what I mean.

Using the famous divide-and-conquer problem solving method (ha ha!), I started to remove some text to find out the culprit paragraph, and realized that the problem was only present when I had a lot of content on the page. After a few google searches, I found a thread on sitepoint’s site that explains exactly my problem (titled: Web Page Wiggle Issue and Margin Auto Wiggles & The Vertical Scrollbar). The problem lies in the use of “auto” for centering pages, much like in the very popular “body {margin: 0 auto; width: 960px;}”. This causes the page to wiggle (move to the left) between pages where the vertical scrollbar is needed (longer content) and where it doesn’t appear (firefox adds the scrollbar as needed, whereas IE always keeps it!). From the website, I found two fixes for the problem:

You can easily fix this, using CSS, by adding this one line in your stylesheet:

html {overflow-y: scroll;}

Another fix, if you are using JQuery, is the following:

$(function(){
    $('<div/>').css({
        position: 'absolute',
        top: 0,
        width: '1px',
        height: ($(window).height() + 1).toString() + 'px'
    }).appendTo('body');
});

Upgrading WordPress from 2.3.3 to 2.6

I reluctantly upgraded my WordPress installation yesterday night. I say reluctantly because, for some reason, even after having upgraded from 2.2 to 2.3.3 a while back, i thought that this was going to be a long and painful process. I once again was able to upgrade my whole installation, including backup of all my files, in less than 30 minutes. I followed the great Three Step Upgrade from the wordpress folks! I will not wait as long as I just did before upgrading next time. The design of the 2.6 version is awesome and was definitively worth the 30 minutes spent on the upgrade. I can’t wait for great new things that the next version promises. Good work wordpress!

What are you waiting for? Go get the latest version and get blogging!

WordPress upgrade from 2.2 to 2.3.3

I’ve been very reluctant to upgrade WordPress because of the dreadful “backup” that needed to be done in advance. My problem was not that I didn’t know how to backup my databases, but more that I am just simply too lazy to undertake the task. Well, also the fact that they mention it just scares me and makes me think that I may have to re-install lots and lots of things.

If you a little like me and you’re scared to try to upgrade your wordpress engine… well, fear no more! I did it in about 30 minutes, following wordpress’s superb three step process, and this including the upgrade of a handful of plugins (about 10 of them). Yes, among other things, WordPress 2.3.3 will tell you when a plugin is out-of-date and which, to my surprise, helped me realize that most of my plugins were due for a tune up.

The nicest thing about this upgrade is that my site is now using a much more secure, powerful, and faster blogging engine. It also fixes some glitches with my new template K2 which were really annoying me. The problem was that when I was browsing categories, I would get the following error:

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 1]
SELECT wp_posts.post_date_gmt FROM

That was because the fine folks behind the latest K2 template were using the new mySQL database structure that WordPress introduced in their version 2.3.

I am usually reluctant to install a new version because of all the little bugs that tend to come out. I specifically waited a little while before installing, but now that I know that it takes about 30 minutes to upgrade, I don’t think I’ll wait as long next time. I highly recommend moving to 2.3.3!!

Askimet is amazing

I’ve been bombarded by spam comments on my website lately. About 150 a day I’d say. I got tired and decided to do something about it. I knew that there was a tool out there that did the work for me. It took me a minute to find it using my favourite search engine and installed it. The spam comment problem was so bad that while I installed it, I got about four or five spam comments in my mailbox… Well, today Askimet stopped 160 spam comments… I can’t believe it. This is so amazing, I’m loving it.

I’ll write more very soon. I am working on a personal project for the wedding and it’s been taking a LOT of my time. Anyways. Right now, I need to crash.

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