Posts Tagged ‘website design’

Some time back, we decided we needed to update our company website and were smart enough to realize we needed to bring in someone who does it for a living, not just try to get by with doing it ourselves, or having it done by someone who does it on the side in their spare time.
After getting quotes for the design of the new website from a number of local design firms, and then settling on who was going to be working with us in this endeavor, we got into the long process of a new from-the-ground-up website, and let me tell you, its taken longer, and required more effort than I realized it would, but it’s finally getting close to launch.
Here’s a sneak peek of the old… vs the new… I think you should be able to tell which is which…
ie-old-websiteie-new-website

We’re hoping to get it officially launched and go live with it next week, which is probably a good thing since the more I look at it, the more I want to tweak and add things… sometimes you just have to say “its done, quit effing with it” and move on.

Besides, it’s not like I’m short on other things I need to be working on.  No rest for the wicked as they say… and I’m getting the feeling I was very wicked in many past lives and it’s all catching up now.

barkerp

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final-logo-tcg(from my other blog…)

A change is as good as a rest.  That’s an expression I heard often as a child and never really got it… until recently.  It kinda clicked for me when stress was getting to me and I would find myself spinning non-productively.  Sometimes, just doing something different can make you feel re-energized, revitalized, refreshed.    Sort of like sometimes you need to physically move to get a different view on things.  For me, this move was a while coming.  What move you say?

I’m on the move again… well, not really moving, just redirecting where my public thoughts reside. My blog has been a constantly evolving thing over the years and many times of late encompasses more than just all things computer/tech related. I’ve had a mirror blog for some time (as a backup more than anything) and have decided to just use that one from now on. I hope you will follow me in my new (er) location… https://barkerp.wordpress.com

The “thatcomputerguy.ca” blog has been a labour of love and most of what it was will continue on at the new location, just under a different name.  Still the same sometimes-warped-mind behind it. Besides, really, what is in a name?  As Juliet said “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  In this case the rose is a blog by the name of “thatcomputerguy”.  A name that served its purpose, but it is time for that change.  Evolve.  Grow.  Refresh.

Please check it out and sign up to follow along so as to not miss any of my future posts,

onward,

barkerp,

the blogger formerly known as thatcomputerguy/tcg

I was updating my blog and noticed that the comments on a particular post that was fairly current were closed. So I checked a few other posts and these were also closed. This confused me since I don’t close the comments on posts automatically. I know some people set time restrictions on older posts, but I never bother to do that so the note at the bottom saying “comments are closed” baffled me.

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First thing I checked was the automatic settings in the comments area of my WordPress Dashboard. I checked in the WP area and the Disqus settings.

First and foremost were the “Discussion Settings” in WP.  Nope, nothing out of whack there. Sometimes updates can cause problems like this and I didn’t remember updating Disqus recently but that doesn’t mean the problem hadn’t been there for a while unnoticed.  As expected, nothing different in there either.

I got thinking about plugins.  They can cause all kinds of conflicts with each other and I had run into this kind of thing before with outdated ones.  The first step is always to ensure they are all updated, which they were.  The next step is to figure out which is causing the conflict, unfortunately the only way to determine which is the trouble-maker is to disable all your plugins and re-activate them one by one until you find the error again.  Being fairly confident of a few of them I disabled most, not all, and sure enough the comment problem disappeared.

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Nice thing about WP plugins is the fact there is a “Recently Active” list for plugins as well as the Active and Inactive lists, especially if you are like me and have plugins that are installed but inactive that you are not currently using but may want to turn back on later as opposed to the ones you just turned off.  So I began turning the recently active ones back on a couple at a time for those I was fairly confident were not causing the issue which left me only a couple of potential candidates.  Sure enough it was a recently updated plugin, which meant thankfully I had only not noticed the error for a couple of days.  As it turned out, it was the “Social Plugin for WordPress” plugin that was causing the error.

The trouble is figuring out what in it is causing the conflict with which other plugin.  Since it was the commenting system getting screwed up, Its pretty safe to bet its a conflict with Disqus, but i’m not about to deactivate Disqus so I guess the Social Plugin will stay inactive until it’s next update.  Sometimes you just have to wait for the developers to tweak it again to get it playing nice with the other kids in the plugin yard.

tcg

I recently switched over to DISQUS for my blog commenting, and the first thing that jumped out at me is I seem to be posting/commenting under the wrong name.

I don’t use my given name for much, too many people share my name for one, and its just something I’ve done since I started venturing in this internet thing, as such it bothered me to keep seeing my real name being used instead of my web persona.

If you are not sure what Disqus is, jump over to http://disqus.com/ and check it out.  In a nutshell it is a replacement for your default commenting system that is much more powerful and with better social integration than what most blogging platforms provide out of the box.

never been so happy & confused at the same time

Getting back to my issue, In checking the Disqus help forums I can find the way it is supposed to work, but instead of being able to change my Full Name I get denied with the following message… “You do not have enough clout to change your display name.” Aside from the cuteness of the error message, I was a little confused.  Not one to give up, I searched and searched thru the settings trying to figure out what was stopping me from changing it.  I scoured the forums, help, and even googled the issue.  Nada. Nothing.  I then had a thought, what if I try changing to a different name than the one I actually wanted to use.

So I tried TCG since its the name I write under on my blog and low and behold it allowed me to change it.  Ah-ha, it seemed it didn’t like to have my username and display name the same.  Or so I thought.  I decided to test the theory and tried to change my name again.  Son of a b*****, it let me change it to the name I was previously trying unsuccessfully to change to, “thatcomputerguy”.  Argh.  The old adage of “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome” was apparently wrong, or at least in this case.

that's better

Importing your old comments from a WordPress blog was dead easy, a couple clicks and you were done.  It seemed to be slow working the other way at first, a slight lag from the time Disqus moderated comments were reviewed to when they eventually showed up in my blog comment dashboard or on the website.  Speaking of which, the moderation of potential comments is relatively easy, not that it wasn’t easy with the out of the box WordPress commenting system though.  The Disqus way is roughly the same.

You get notification of comments depending how you set up the moderation features.  I prefer to see all comments before letting them go live, just because, well, its my blog and I don’t want flamers or spam getting through, so I have email notifications sent to me which can be moderated via email (replying with “Approve” or “Spam“, or typing a reply will also approve the comment and post the reply at the same time) or by logging in and moderating on the WP plugin in my blog’s dashboard.

all the settings you could want... almost

As you can see you can make it as loose or as tight as you’d like.  Even denying links or images but allowing comments if you like.  Now if I can just get it to remember me so I don’t have to log in to Disqus in my WordPress Dashboard every time I want to review comments.

I’m sure that is some sort of security thing on their end, but if i’m already logging into my blog’s WP dashboard with a password, I shouldn’t have to log into the commenting system inside it with a password too.

It needs a toggle of some kind to allow your login to work for both your blog and Disqus at the same time, after all it is a plugin.  That way you can turn off the feature if you like having to type passwords.

I for one, would rather not.

Disqus is free for personal blogs and aside from the comment moderation, also handles your spam if you enable Akismet protection.  You’ll need an Akismet API key, which are also free for personal blogs.  I did it and my spam dropped from the normal 50 to 100 a day down to one or two every few days.  One less thing for me to worry about, which is always a welcome change.

One other little glitch was the conflict with another plug-in I was using: YARPP. (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin).  For some reason right after installing Disqus I started to see the error log in my website growing at a ridiculous rate.  I may not have noticed it had it not been for the fact I backed-up the site before switching to Disqus and then in doing a compare and sync backup after it was set up, noticed the 280 meg error_log file that was only a couple of Kb before switching.  Disabling the plugin stopped that in a hurry.  I deleted the large error file, created a new empty one and it hasn’t grown at all since.

So all in all after a little speed-bump at the beginning, the initial verdict is its a good change, lets hope the new-car smell doesn’t wear off and leave me with a clunker.

tcg

For a while now, I have been trying to figure out if I wanted to maintain more than one website/blog and recently came to the conclusion it would be better to concentrate on one instead of spreading myself (and my musings) out across numerous sites or blogs.  With this decision came the tough part of the process.  Figuring out how to accomplish the task of merging all my entries and pages into one “blogsite”.

Many of my musings were simply the same posts on different sites, so i knew there would be some duplicates to be weeded out, and also a few that were really not (to quote Elaine from Seinfield) “spongeworthy”.  By that i mean, they were either dealing with issues specific to the blog taken from or not interesting enough to be part of the mass merging of entries.

Part of the problem was trying to get all my old posts from the www.thatcomputerguy.org website which was recently redone with RapidWeaver into the http://www.thatcomputerguy.ca website which is created with WordPress.  WordPress has the ability to import a lot of information in various formats from numerous other blogging programs, but not one specifically for importing the info from RapidWeaver.  A little poking around on the web pointed me to a plug-in for RapidWeaver called RapidBlog.  This plug-in gives you the ability to blog from anywhere using a Blogger account (once its all set up that is.)  The nice thing about this was that my WordPress site (www.thatcomputerguy.ca in case you lost track) has the option to import from a blogger account built into it.  Woo and Hoo i say.

I did the importing the long way, kinda.  I had already imported some of my other WordPress blog entries (yes, another blogsite -that’s 3, and then blogger was the forth) into the Blogger account prior to using RapidBlog and manually syncing it to the Blogger account, which resulted in a number of duplicate blog entries when i imported into the .ca website.  Most of the entires worked fine, some were missing images or tags, but nothing so far that i couldn’t remedy, i’m a pack rat when it comes to digital information and had retained many of the images used in the posts just-in-case.  Even if I had not done that, its a simple process to copy the images from the other blogsite and insert them into this one.

I’m not big on change for changes sake, but i am taking the time to tweak the layout , the info, and the entries a bit as the merging occurs.  It was good before, for the time i did it, it made sense and i liked it, but as with anything a fresh coat of virtual paint on your website can revitalize it and possibly renew interest, or as with a house, make you not want to move just yet.  Time will tell, as i seem to be a bit of a cyber-nomad when it comes to my web presence, thankfully its much easier to pack up virtually and relocate or change – no boxes or moving trucks involved and i don’t have to bribe friends with pizza and beer to get help.

TCG