Widget Area in WordPress Admin

I run a website, wycliffe.me, for redirecting traffic (URL redirector). But I need it to have a CRM sort of component to it. So I added some custom fields to the Posts using Just Custom Fields. (I am using Posts, but I could just as well use a custom post type Custom Post Type UI.) But now I want a summary of some of those fields in a special panel on the back-end. So I have collected some links to read and start hacking.
First I need to create an options page in the admin area: http://buildinternet.com/2010/01/create-custom-option-panels-with-wordpress-2-9/.
Next I need a way to collect the data. So I look for a plugin which can search my database and return fields…. sorta like views for Drupal. And wala there is such a plugin: Query Wrangler. (Query Posts might be another option, but I did not try it.) However, this plugin is not powerful enough. I can not search all the fields created by my other plugins, only my custom fields and content types. More power would be ideal.

Next I need to be able to see the widget in my admin area… so I need to widgetize my options panel. Here is where the Reading is a little fuzzy, ’cause I am not sure if many people do this. (Possibly indicating that there is a better way.)

MAMP Helps

I use MAMP for my local test environment. But I have recently moved beyond just PHP apps. I am also looking at using Tomcat. I would like to mess around with DSpace locally and use Solr also. But I have found a couple of helps for adding things to MAMP.

One of the problems I am facing is that I really like apps like MacPorts. But I do not want to tinker with the CORE and default setting of my OS X machine. So I find that MAMP is a good alternative, but I can not type a command in the command line and have all the dependencies download automatically. I recently found that I could do something like this with Homebrew…. Never used it before but it looks to be the tool for the job. So I have collected a few tutorials like: installing php5.3, Using an gmail as a smtp server, and setting up solr.

Pulling Interactions back to WordPress

Interactions on FaceBook vs. WordPress

For a while I have been importing my blog posts to FaceBook as Notes. FaceBook as a method of doing this via RSS. I was encountering more interaction on my posts inside of FaceBook than I was outside of FaceBook. (In addition to leaving large quantities of text, as notes, in my FaceBook profile.) This is not the kind of interaction I wanted. While I do not mind having interactions or discussions inside of FaceBook I want the discussion to be portable and to move with the content. That is, If I move my blog I want the content and the discussion both to be carried to the new hosting URL or location.

This means that I needed to make the comments which are in FaceBook integrate with the comments on my self-hosted WordPress site.

I also want to encourage more traffic to my website rather than just interacting with the content as it appears on Facebook. My first step was to stop importing my Blog posts via RSS and to find a WordPress Plugin to facilitate the integration.

A Plugin to do the Job

I found Add Link to FaceBook, a plugin which will post a link to my article to my FaceBook news feed and also sync comments and likes between my FaceBook feed and my post on WordPress. I installed this app followed the instructions and voila it works. I now have a “like” button on my pages and hopefully am increasing traffic to my blog or minimally recording a the comments made on FaceBook on my self-hosted web-site.


Considering comments from a privacy perspective, some users inside of the FaceBook ecosystem could comment on content in my feed and think that only I had access to view that comment and this plugin would then pull that comment into a publicly accessible space. There is no way I currently know of to tell potential commenters inside of FaceBook that their comments will be made public. If it is so important that things should be kept private then perhaps making a comment on FaceBook was not the right medium to make the comment in, perhaps the commenter should have used an email. But this is not the pretense that FaceBook sets up its users to expect. (Though there are plenty of examples in the news about how FaceBook is not the most secure place to make remarks or comments which could have impact outside of FaceBook.)

MiniCard Review

I have been looking at the WP Theme, MiniCard. It is really cool. The design follows a Tim van Damme style layout.

Tim van Damme's Famous business card layout

I have been playing around with Minicard for some time. I have used it as my splash page for about a year. (I have been using K2 since 2005 so any change in theme is a big step). There are some things I really like and some things I think could be improved upon. (Granted I am using and looking at the free version.) I really like the minimalist business card design. However, one of the things that I find difficult is separating what is too much info from what is just enough. Right now I have quite a few social networks loaded on my front page so, even though it is Minimalist, it is almost not business card.

TheJourneyler.org as I had from 2010-2011

Most of my suggestions have to do with the options page, but a few have to do with layout.


  1. A place to store a Child Theme.
    K2 has a really cool way of selecting where the author wants to store their child theme so that when the theme is upgraded the child theme is not written over. Because the Code is GPL’d, I think this code could be copied from K2 into the GPL’d version of MiniCard. Being that the whole Tim Van Damme (TVD) idea is to be unique with style, it seems that Minicard would benefit from embracing child themes by providing a user the option to not just use a child theme, but also facilitate where to store that child theme.
  2. More Networks.
    It seems that it would be really easy for users of MiniCard to use more or some Social networks which are not on the list provided on the options page. I think it is crazy for any user to expect a developer to have anticipated all the possible social networks out there. I went through TVD’s wall of fame just to get some inspiration and noticed a few networks that minicard does not offer out of the box:

    • iusethis.com
    • ffffound.com
    • vi.sualize.us
    • corkd.com
    • wikipedia.org
    • www.colourlovers.com
    • soundcloud.com
    • filmreviewfriday.com
    • github.com
    • pandora.com
    • themeforest.net

    In one of the past revisions to the Minicard theme there was released, an easy way to add a custom social network. This is much improved over earlier versions of this theme. (I think this is still the case in the current 2011 release.)

    The Plug-in Find Me On has an interesting interface for adding new network. It is sort of Drag and Drop. I use this plugin on hugh.thejourneyler.org.

  3. A Contact Info page separate from my social networks page.
    One thing that might be helpful too is separating Messaging and Contact from social networks. “Messaging and Contact info” is usually treated differently from “social networks”. That is social network info like skype, aol, google chat, IRC, etc. are not really conceptualized in the minds of the people on the TVD wall of fame as “social networks”. If this information is provided then it most often falls under the “contact” section rather than “my social networks” section. Out of the box MiniCard does not have a contact section, so I can understand how this info is lumped together with the users social networks.

    Perhaps one solution to this is add an optional (included in the theme by default but not active by default) template page that could be added to MiniCard for contact info and pull data from the hCard data as well.

    This contact info page might also display Online Status of Messaging information. One caveat suggestion pertains to aim v.s. iChat. That is the syntax to open these protocols is a little different if the website admin wants ichat to open… it just aint going to work on a windows machine… I am wondering if a little javascript magic might be able to sniff out a OS X machine visiting the site as apposed to a Windows OS and put in the proper syntax for opening up iChat.
    Interesting enough Themeforest had a theme much like MiniCard.

    MiniCard like Theme displaying Contact info

  • Add direct color and background pattern.
    There are more color options “out of the Box” on the pro version of the theme. However, the color options are not as user selectable as they could be. I have seen color wheels and a palates for suggesting associated colors as option panels for selecting css values. A color selector for the background, and the various parts of the theme would be nice.
  • More hCard options:
    MiniCard does support hCard, but as I was looking over the format of hCard I think that more can be embedded in hCard content than what MiniCard allows for out of the box. That is I think that MiniCard could be improved with more fields in the admin section for the site admin to input their data. There is an hCard creator on the Microformats website. It shows the supported values in the hCard speck.
  • Many Facets to Planning a Website

    I found this image which I think explains many of the kinds of things that Website builders need to think through. For some in the industry this is like.. Duh! but for others this kind of layout really helps us see the complexity and the parts we need to be thinking through to implement the website.

    Many of the different kinds of things that website planners have to think through.

    OS X Error -36

    I had an OS failure while I was in Mexico. I managed to reinstall the combo update and things started working again. However, some of my big files (movies) will not copy, Time Machine fails, Some PDFs are now failing to copy. It always comes back to a -36 Error. I cannot find the error report for this online. It seems to be some sort of I/O error. I left a comment over on this blog.

    prompt%> mv /Users/phil/Desktop/movie.avi .

    I tried the command line mv command and the command line told me Input/Output error.

    Failed mv

    Failed mv

    But I can play the file on my harddrive. – I have the same error if I try to copy the file to somewhere else on my internal harddrive.
    Using OS X 10.6.5 on MBP 15″ moving the file to a WD My Passport via USB. The file in question is a .mts movie file. I can move other .mts movie files which were made with the same camera, at the same time, and are in the same folder to the external hardrive.

    Error -36

    Error -36

    I can’t figure out why I have this error or how to solve it.

    Merging iLife Libraries

    The Problem:
    One user on in a small business / family network can’t use (with metadata) all the media in a colleague’s or family member’s iTunes or iPhoto Library.

    In our family there are three Macs (2 everyday machines and a server). On many work and personal tasks we function as a small workgroup. Unfortunately iTunes and iPhoto do not facilitate the sharing of media libraries (or for that matter the merging of media libraries). For instance, my wife had her own music and photo collection before we got married. Now if I want to browse that collection from my machine, there is iPhoto & iTunes sharing. But I can not add tags or other metadata to photos on her Mac. I can not create smart folders which we both can use.

    For our music we moved my collection to the Server and made it like a “media center”. When we get new music we add it to the server. If we want a copy on our own machines we pull it as needed. i.e. for an iMove project. This solution has not allowed my wife to add her collection to the server, nor has it solved the manny duplicates which exist because we like many of the same songs. Now I have found a solution to this: PowerTunes.

    Now the same problems exist for our photos. However, there is no real advantage (or software) for hosting the family photos on our sever. But we still need to define a photo capture strategy.

    • When we take new photos, to which computer are we going to download the photos?
    • Where will we have the master library?

    I don’t have a complete solution to our photo capture, retention and access needs but iPhoto Library Manager is the only software out there that will let us maintain the metadata and merge our iPhoto Libraries. However, This is a fantastic first step strategy:

    • Consolidate the iPhoto Libraries.
    • Designate an computer to be the Master Library holder.
    • Share that iPhoto library across the network.
    • Back that computer up.

    Mastering Missions Marketing

    Last time it was Missions Masters Marriage… but that didn’t work out as planned. It turned out to be Missions Marriage Masters.

    When we think of the term Marketing we might think of a logo, a brand name or some gimmick to make me want something I don’t need. In some circles, especially the non-profit arena Marketing may have a negative connotation. In the context I am talking about here I am going define marketing as intentional effective communication. Effective communication can have some very positive outcomes and covers a wide variety of communication issues and strategies.

      Effective communication implies:

    • Something is being communicated
    • More than one party is involved
    • Meaning is being conveyed
    • An image is being conjured in the mind of the receiver
    • The image being conjured in the mind of the receiver is affirmed or agreed to by the transmitter

    As a business professional I need to realize that effective communication can happen. But, if I am not intentional about it, it is not going to happen as often as I want it to happen. This may result in adverse consequences for my business. The point though is that even in non-profit work like missions, to have effective communication one also needs to be intentional about their communication. This intentionalism is strategy.

    So what is your communication strategy? Lets ask some of the basic W’s.

    • Who are we trying to communicate to?
    • What are we communicating?
    • How are we going to get them to listen, think and respond to us?

    In the non-profit world we have several kinds of people we want to communicate with:

    • the people we want to benefit
    • the people who help us benefit these people; donors, volunteers, employees, colleagues
    • the people watching us, wanting to know what we are doing and why we do it.

    We need to be aware of each kind of person and talk to them. But, not just talk to them; engage them.

    So the What which are we going to tell them might change, but what we are about never changes. So even though we might use different stories, reports, figures, pictures, etc. in communication they should all point to the part of us that never changes. This part of a communication strategy requires a bit of introspection. A core of knowledge of who we are and what we are about, and why we are doing it. It is from this knowledge we get our passion to do what we are doing, and challenge others to become part of what we are doing.

    How are we going to get them to respond to us? We have to know where they are and how to talk to them. What they are paying attention too, reading watching, listening to, replying to. You can’t engage a person you can’t communicate to. This is were marketing comes in. How am I going to engage people? When I have an answer to How, I will have a communication strategy. The last question I have to answer is: does my strategy achieve the results I want it to achieve? or to put it another way is it an effective strategy? If it doesn’t achieve what I want to achieve,

    • it may be the result of not having a good, well thought through strategy,
    • or it might be the result of not having the right strategy for this group of people (or market).

    At the end of the day though, if something is not achieving the desired results; I need to know:

    • What the desired results are
    • What results my strategy is producing
    • Why my strategy is not working

    and then I need to make some adjustments to the strategy and apply the new revised strategy.