Writing a Theme Named Duck

I want to write about all the projects I have in motion right now. Too many as usual. But when I go to write I either get distracted or don’t make time because I’ve actually working on stuff. I also realize right now I’m doing what no blogger should ever do, make excuses for not writing. Consider this paragraph a PSA.

Thanksgiving Project

Last week was Thanksgiving weekend and this year I traveled to Iowa. Which is about 13 hours travel time from Pittsburgh to my brothers house. Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about next steps for myself, mainly in the career department. As I spend more time with WordPress I want more and more to just be able to develop themes and plugins myself. Which requires a solid knowledge of PHP, CSS, and HTML.  So I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to take steps to become a super awesome WordPress developer. There is a high demand for the skills and guess what, I love WordPress.

First thing’s first. This year I have gotten familiar with CSS and can comfortably hack any theme while messing with the PHP and creating templates, but always on the shoulders of someone else’s work. Since I knew I had a long car ride (both ways) in front of me I decided it would be the perfect time to start building my own WordPress theme.

Rubber Ducky

I’m calling this theme Duck in honor of Photoshop’s rubber duck that is in every tutorial. If you have never cut this little guy out of the white background with the pen tool you haven’t lived.

This first theme is really me cutting my teeth on writing all the CSS and hopefully PHP for my files. In preparing for this mini project I’ve already learned a great deal about WP core and theme interactions. I’m using an old “build themes” for WP book from 2008 to get started. There are a lot of modern functions missing from this tutorial but it has been good because I can really focus on the basics of what I’m doing.

Here is where I ended after four hours of straight coding in the car yesterday. My four hour limit was imposed by the battery life of Mr MacBook Pro.

Not much to look at but it was an accomplishment for me.

WordPress 3.5

One quick note. The release candidate is out for WordPress 3.5. There are a lot of backend upgrades especially to the image/media uploader and manager. There are some things that I thought were missing but I didn’t read all the dev notes and I wasn’t sure what polish hasn’t been added. Over all it looks like a great update and I’m looking forward to it in the coming months. Also I really like the new TwentyTwelve default theme. Great improvement over the current default. Check it out if you have a chance.

wp-admin White Screen of Death

Dealing with a wp-admin white screen of frustration. Anyone else deal with this before? So far I’ve done the following:

1. Deactivate all plugins
2. close php tags in functions.php of the active theme
3. add to wp-config WP-CASHE=False
4. Install the last four versions of wordpress

I don’t know how to change the theme if locked out of the admin area. but I suspect that is the culprit. I haven’t contacted the host yet, but the problem started when I updated wordpress. The front end is working just fine.

Any have any ideas?

UPDATE

The solution involved contacting the host. They did something to the php.ini file and it was fixed in two minutes. Super annoying that it was on their end, but good to know. Next time I will bug the host first.

Updated PhP My Admin in XAMPP

Getting my hands dirty locally.

If you have ever wanted to create a local blog on your computer (meaning not online) for testing or any other reason you need to check out XAMPP or one of the local host applications. I had wanted to do this for a long time but always thought it would be too complicated to setup. When I finally started poking around I basically had the whole thing setup because it is that simple.

Today I’ve been digging through some pretty complicated database connection errors and have been living in phpmyadmin all day. My need to look at some database tables individually called for uploading them to my localhost (or local server) to save time and energy. While comparing tables I noticed that I had an outdated version of phpmyadmin running on the local host. The official download of XAMPP was still running the old version and it wasn’t clear how to upgrade from the phpmyadmin home screen. So I just downloaded the new version and copied the files into the phpmyadmin folder in the applicaition. Unfortunately it wasn’t that simple.

When I refreshed phpmyadmin the login screen appears no problem. Except the default is configured to require a password. Which is in conflict with how XAMPP is setup locally. With no password. This is for ease of access in a development only environment not online. Anyway after messing around I realized two things. To get the update to work you need to rename the config.sample.inc.php file to config.inc.php. Then open that file up and change the allow no password rule to “true” instead of false. Ha that worked.

Two parts of this process that I still don’t get.

1. I made a backup of the old version of phpmyadmin and when I copied it back in. I got an error on loading that said the config.inc.php file was corrupt and couldn’t be opened. I have no idea why.

2. Where does XAMPP’s mysql store the database tables? I’m assuming it is within the application folders somewhere. Are they hidden folders?

Anyway I’m pumped because tinkering here isn’t my strong suit.

PodCamp Pittsburgh 7

PodCamp Pittsburgh is this weekend!

It feels awesome to type that sentence. An event I think about all year, spend months working with great people planning, and now experiencing the conference. This year’s focus on “Building Your Digital Toolbox” has pulled a great group of speakers that really covers all the bases.

If you want to hear me talk more about this year listen on Awesomecast or read on The Civic Commons Blog.

See you this weekend.

Speaking About PodCamp Pittsburgh 7

Friday I’ll be giving a short presentation about upcoming PodCamp Pittsburgh 7 at a Show-n-Tell event at Catapult.

This will be the fourth Show-n-Tell an event that showcases events an happenings around town. I’m excited to be part of the lineup. As an added bonus the event is hosted by Catapult a new shared work space that I’ve been meaning to checkout.

Unblurred is also that evening so swing by if you are planning to be in the neighborhood.

Shotgun with Woycheck

Last week I had the pleasure of riding shotgun with @woycheck while driving to somewhere Latrobe, PA. It’s always great to get alone with Mike because conversation is lively and we can talk about tech, blogging, and the past, present and future of social media. But if you know Mike you already knew that.

Observations

One item that is worth sharing was our conversation about listening to podcasts and reading blogs in your feed reader. Finding time to read and listen to shows has become a challenge since news is consumed in Twitter size chunks anymore. We both remarked that our Google Reader feeds have woefully become unattended as we turn to social media as our places to share and receive daily information. For Mike this is the chief reason he doesn’t currently maintain a blog. I couldn’t give up my website/blog as easily so I toil on.

Back 2 Work

As we talked about time management. Mike wanted to make sure I know about a workplace productivity show, Back 2 Work by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin. I’m always interested in workplace productivity ideas and theories and I wasn’t aware of this show. After checking out an episode I do like Back 2 Work’s approach and enjoy hearing their view points. I’m worried each episode is a bit long for me, but I’m willing to add it to my list of shows.

Getting back to work seems fitting on this day after Labor Day. One work focusing process I’ve started is contemplating the first hour of my day and using it to get focused. This usually involves planning what I want to carry out and setting realistic expectations for the day. I can easily let my day-to-day grind pull me in a lot of directions but focusing on one direction can really work wonders for my productivity.

Blogging

This is true for a lot of bloggers I know. They spend the first part of their day writing and getting their blog posts written. Usually earlier in the morning that when the world starts to impede on their attention. Mike and I talked about how getting into the habit of blogging is important but getting into the habit at the right time of day is also important to the success of a writer/blogger. Feel free to share your blogging habits in the comments.

Speaking of blogging there is a new(ish) blogging group for Pittsburghers on Facebook. It independent from Pittsburgh Bloggers, a PGH blog directory that has been around since before MySpace and Twitter. The Facebook groups is creating their own directory and sharing tips, news, and opportunities with each other.

So check out the Facebook group and Back 2 Work. Let me know what is working for you as you start your day and get focused.

 

PodCamp Pittsburgh 7

PCPGH7

PodCamp is back and we finally have our dates set for this year’s event. We are returning to Point Park University and are looking forward to our second year in their space. After a first time in a new location there are lots of thoughts about how we can do it better and Point Park was such a gracious host that we wanted to stay another year.

Annual Theme and New Vision

There a fundamental shift happening in PodCamps across the east coast. Where the “traditional” PodCamp is moving a way from the open-ended un-conferece and focusing itself to better serve the attendees. When I spoke with Whitney Hoffman, organizer of PodCamp East, earlier this year we both identified the need for our events to have a clear vision. In the early years of PodCamp the communities were just forming, new media was emerging, and web 2.0 was still maturing. Those of us on the edge have been living in this world for years, but we all know much of the world is behind the curve. PodCamp is the place to fill that gap for the uninitiated.

This year our theme is “Building Your Digital Toolbox.” The fruit of many discussions and brainstorming meeting with this years organizing committee. The average attendee at PodCamp used to be bloggers, podcasters and new media advocates. Over the past few years a shift has taken place. The average attendee is a small business owner, or an employee charged with managing their companies social media strategy, or a marketer looking to find inspiration in the latest SEO trend, or an old school podcamper looking to rub elbows. So PCPGH7 will cater to this more mature audience and aim at producing a higher quality event for everyone involved.

Building your digital toolbox will be the vision statement that drives us in achieving our goals. We would like for attendees to have a clear idea of what they will encounter in each session and what they can expect to walk away with. Finally we also would like to incorporate more interactive sessions. Where attendees can contribute to content being produced right in that session.

Remembering Our Roots

As much as I talk about focusing this year we can’t forget that PodCamp is a community event brought together by the need for people in the new media space to connect in real life. So if this will be your first PodCamp or your 7th, know that you are among good people and like-minded individuals.

OH and Fun. PodCamp is always about having fun and meeting new friends.

Looking Forward

Finally keep up-to-date with the new PodCamp Pittsburgh website. We have four pre-PodCamp evenings planned between now and October 27 so stay tuned for those announcements. Session submissions opens tomorrow and registration will open toward the end of August. I look forward to seeing old faces and meeting new ones this year!

Facebook SDK for iOS

I’d love to spend more time learning about the new SDK Facebook just released for iOS. Unfortunately I have no projects that require it and I’ve got too much in the pipeline as it is. Necessity is the mother of invention and I lack any.

So if I have any friends out there with free time would you poke around and report back? I’d suggest my sister who newly equipped with MacBook Pro has lots of poking around time. Except she refuses my every attempt to convince her to learn html…

Anyway new software.