CompFight plugin, with 100% more awesome

Heart

Heart

I cannot express to you how much I just love this new CompFight plugin1  Snagging images off of CompFight/Flickr and dropping them into a post is so freaking easy now.  This is definitely going to become one of my stock-plugins for a fresh WordPress installation.  I’m happy to say that I contributed a small bit of code to this very very awesome plugin.  Since that comment, my modification of their code was merged into the main plugin.  I’ve also added a few small tweaks to my version of this plugin.  By modifying the javascript file very slightly, my copy of this plugin also:

  • Adds a caption, that includes the same text as the original photo on Flickr
  • Centers the image, using WordPress’s tags
  • Makes the photo credit part of the text.  I like to include the photo credit using slightly different language.  At some point I’ll get around to modifying the plugin so that I can save my format as a setting.

Admittedly, these implementations are just a little bit buggy – I just hacked those bits in without really doing any serious testing on them.  Once I have kicked the tires on this code a little, I’ll post it to the plugin’s page.  If you want to take a look at it before then, just drop me a line.

Sometimes the right post just needs the right picture – I’ve actually had a lack of a good photo hold up a post before.  I’m happy

  1. Photo Credit: seyed mostafa zamani via Compfight []
April 30, 2012 | Comments Closed

I have re-written this exact post subject line no less than five times

My pencils?  My pencils are sharp enough.

My pencils? My pencils are sharp enough.

and I’m still not satisfied with it.  ((Photo Credit: Emi Yañez via Compfight))  Ze Frank may just be my brand new hero.  You see, all the things he says in this video are the exact kinds of things I could really stand to hear right now.  I’ve listened to this particular video probably three times now.  I don’t want to listen to it too often as I will probably accidentally memorize it.  I don’t want his words to be like the world “oatmeal” when repeated over and over so that it becomes mush in my mind, devoid of meaning.  I want it to feel like he’s calling me up and leaving an awesome voice mail on my phone.

The title of this post is an interesting thing/problem.  I had several amusing and slightly clever titles.  I rejected several of them after writing just a few words, rejected before they were even fully articulated.  Finally, as with the pencils Ze mentions, I found that the pencils at my disposal were sharp enough.  It was more important to start, than to get it right at first.

No, I’m not just referring to the title of this post.  I’m in the process of launching something on this other website.  I’ve been working on this project off and on for three years.  It’s been super close to launch for the last few months – just waiting for me to do some finishing work.  I’m almost there…

My pencils are sharp enough…

| Comments Closed

So that’s how he injured his ankle!

Open mouth, insert foot

Open mouth, insert foot

While the real story isn’t that exciting, it would be a far more apt description to suggest that I did so by wedging my foot firmly in my mouth. 1

  1. Photo courtesy of joshuallen []
| Comments Closed

What was I thinking

Time is the fire in which we burn

Time is the fire in which we burn

I’ve got this website I’m working on and I’m trying to launch a new product. 1 The last time I launched something there I built a quick hacky WordPress plugin using PayPal to serve up the product once a person had made an electronic payment.  Not only was it hacky, but looking back almost 2.5 years at that code I want to cringe.

Here’s part of the problem.  I hate PayPal so much.  They have ugly payment buttons, all the buttons are branded PayPal – which is a mixed blessing2 , unless you have a merchant account your users have to go through PayPal’s payment screens on their site – which causes users no end of angst, the user has to sign up for a PayPal account – which is a whole new layer of tech support nightmares when dealing with the technologically challenged, and I could go on.

I figured I’d give Stripe a shot, it’s supposed to be developer friendly.  After wrestling with it for two hours I’m giving up.  It’s not that it’s bad, it’s that I’m tired and I’m just not getting it and it’s easier to think like myself-as-a-crappier-coder-two-and-a-half-years-ago and fix up what I’d written than it would be to learn Stripe and shoehorn new code into my old code.

Some days I just want to tear down that website and start from scratch.  I just don’t have the time.

On a completely unrelated note, I’m loving this new CompFight WordPress plugin.  I’m extra happy about it since I contributed a quick one-line fix that helped improve the plugin.  This one little plugin is going to basically make it about 100 times more likely I’m going to be able to drop a fun image into my posts.  CompFight is a website that streamlines searching for Flickr CC licensed images.  I was actually toying with the idea of making such a plugin when I found out they just developed their own.  Awesome.

  1. Photo Credit: Riccardo Cuppini via Compfight []
  2. Good:  People know and trust PayPal.  Bad:  It’s freaking PayPal and kinda looks hokey. []

Another way to perform A/B testing in WordPress

I ran across this article on how to do “split testing” also known as “A/B testing” in WordPress.  Basically, this process uses a Google Website Optimizer Plugin and Google’s Analytics tools to handle all the heavy lifting.  Once you create the control, test, and goal pages you would configure your Google Analytics account to look for trends in which of the two pages, the control or the test, performs better.

I’m not crazy about this method which relies on Google Analytics for two main reasons:

  1. Most importantly, it does not appear to swap control/test content for users.  Rather, it appears to simply observe which of the two concurrent pages works better.  This literally requires twice the marketing effort, since you would have to publicize both links to see which works better.  I prefer the ShrimpTest method which swaps out specific content in a single page.  This way all of your efforts can be concentrated onto one single page.
  2. This Google Analytics method is too complex and requires too much coordination between the website and Google.  Now, I love me my analytics.  I like seeing the ebb and flow of visitors, downloads, etc – and few people do it better than Google.  But, with A/B testing I just want to know as quickly as possible whether A or B is better.  Nothing else matters.  I want that knowledge as soon as possible so that I can move on to A/B testing something else.  With ShrimpTest I just need to configure the plugin, make the control and test content, and wait for a result.

I’m getting ready to launch a new product on this other website that I run.  I’ve already got ShrimpTest configured and ready to roll.  I cannot wait to see what happens.

ShrimpTest – how to fix incompatibilities with WordPress v3.3

ShrimpTest is a WordPress plugin with a LOT of promise.  Basically, it is an A/B testing tool for WordPress.  The plugin author, Mitcho, does a great job of explaining A/B testing and why it is important.  If you are already familiar with A/B testing, you can skip ahead to 16:03 in the video to see a demo of Mitcho presenting the plugin

Unfortunately, and this is truly a shame, the plugin also suffers from an almost complete lack of development and updating.  There must have been some change in WordPress v3.2 that stopped the plugin from working.  The effect was that the “A/B” icon in the rich text editor was missing.  Fortunately, someone figured out a work around.  The super quickest way to apply this change to the plugin is to do the following:

  1.  Make sure you’re logged into your WordPress website of choice
  2. Navigate to `http://[DOMAIN].com/wp-admin/plugin-editor.php?file=shrimptest/plugins/variant-shortcode/tinymce.js&plugin=shrimptest%2Fshrimptest.php`
  3. The second line down reads:
    1. ”     tinymce.PluginManager.requireLangPack(‘variant_shortcode’);”
  4. Comment out this line by adding two slashes before the code as follows:
    1. “//     tinymce.PluginManager.requireLangPack(‘variant_shortcode’);”
  5. Click “Update File”

You’re done!  Now you should be able to see the icon in your WordPress rich text editor.

Kids’ books reading lists for parents

Wired’s GeekDad blog recently posted a really great list of book every geek should read to their kids before they’re 10.  I’ve read a lot, but not all, of those books and now I’m looking forward to reading them with my daughter.  Since I kinda wish that list were in a checklist format, I’ve gone ahead and typed it up here:

  1. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  2. The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  3. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamileo
  4. The Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
  5. Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, Falling Up by Shel Silverstein
  6. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  9. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  11. Half Magic by Edward Eager
  12. Arabel’s Raven
  13. Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
  14. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
  15. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
  16. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  17. The 13-1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers
  18. The Cartoon History of the Universe
  19. Danny Dunn series by Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams
  20. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  21. The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon
  22. The Mad Scientists Club by Bertrand R. Brinley
  23. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
  24. Savvy by Ingrid Law
  25. The Shredderman series by Wendelin Van Draanen
  26. The Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
  27. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
  28. The Far Flung Adventures series by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
  29. The Mouse and His Child by Russel Hoban
  30. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
  31. The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall
  32. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  33. The Toys Go Out series by Emily Jenkins
  34. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
  35. The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi
  36. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  37. The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs
  38. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
  39. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  40. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  41. The Silver Crown by Robert C. O’Brien
  42. Holes by Louis Sachar
  43. The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater
  44. Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  45. Stuart Little by E.B. White
  46. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
  47. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  48. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  49. Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage
  50. The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart
  51. A Whole Nother Story by Dr. Cuthbert Soup
  52. The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton
  53. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  54. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  55. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
  56. The Little Bear Treasury by Else Holmelund Minarik
  57. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  58. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  59. The Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish
  60. In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  61. Curious George books by H.A. Rey
  62. Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
  63. Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel
  64. Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant
  65. The Clifford the Big Red Dog books by Normal Bridwell
  66. The Arthur series by Marc Brown
  67. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Dammit.  Just as I finished typing this I noticed someone in the comments had already done so.  Oh well.

I guess I might as well add some of the other books mentioned by the commenters:

  • Paperbag Princess by Robert N. Munsch
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle
  • Story of Babar by Brunhoff
  • Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Buam
  • Secret Garden
  • The Swiss family Robinson
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • Tripods trilogy by John Christopher
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol
  • Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Tripod series (The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, The Pool of Fire) by John Christopher
  • The Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull
  • Watership Down
  • Artemis Fowl series

Stories about Girls part 1, part 2

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/03/67-books-for-kids/?pid=1185&viewall=true

Another Drawing Robot!!!

I’ve added another link to the really huge list of drawing robots for a Facebook Wall Robot.

Posts in the DrawBot Adventure Series
  1. Wanna make a DrawBot?
  2. DrawBot Resources and Links
  3. DrawBot, the Adventure Begins
  4. DrawBots for the slow learner
  5. DrawBot - Parts Ordered!!!
  6. DrawBot - The Breakdown
  7. DrawBot - Parts Shipped!!!
  8. DrawBot - What would you draw?
  9. DrawBot - The Plan!
  10. DrawBot - The Hacks
  11. DrawBot - The Delivery?
  12. DrawBot - The Delivery, Part II
  13. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part I
  14. DrawBot – The Software, Part I (and an existential conversation)
  15. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part IV
  16. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part II
  17. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part III
  18. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part IV
  19. DrawBot – Design Considerations
  20. DrawBot – Halp!!! No - seriously, a little help?
  21. DrawBot – The Face Palm
  22. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part V
  23. DrawBot – The Silver Lining of Failure
  24. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part VI
  25. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part V
  26. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VI
  27. DrawBot – Printed Parts
  28. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VII
  29. DrawBot – The Operation, Part I
  30. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VIII
  31. DrawBot – The Breakdown, Part II
  32. DrawBot – Printing!
  33. DrawBot – Printing, Part II
  34. DrawBot – Why are you crying?
  35. DrawBot – Calibration
  36. DrawBot – Pen Selection
  37. DrawBot – How to Recover from a Stalled Print!
  38. DrawBot – Drawing Success(ish)!!!
  39. DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II
  40. DrawBot – Onwards and Upwards!
  41. Restarting a Stalled DrawBot Drawing
  42. TSP FTW!
  43. Speedier DrawBot Drawings
  44. Excellent DrawBot Slides
  45. Another Drawing Robot!!!
  46. DrawBot Practice Tip: A Watched Pot
  47. The biggest inkjet printer ever
  48. Why do DrawBots draw on walls?
  49. All New Polargraph on the way!!!
  50. Ideas for improving my DrawBot
  51. DrawBot Aesthetic Re-Design Ideas
  52. The Eagle Has Landed
  53. Every Body Needs a Skull
  54. I think I know what I want to draw next...
  55. Overengineered Spools
  56. Overengineered Stepper Motor Mounts, Filament Guides
  57. Overengineered Bolt Endcaps, Case Holder
  58. Sourcing DrawBot Parts
  59. DrawBot - A Tour!
  60. DrawBot - A Preview
  61. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot Poll
  62. Building an Arduino Drawing Robot - On The Cheap
  63. DrawBot - Printed Parts Tour
  64. Unidentified Foam Object
  65. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot - Take 2 (Or 3)
  66. DrawBot, now ACTUALLY wall mounted!
  67. A Study of Drawing Robot Pen Holders and Design Considerations
  68. Drawing Robot Pen Holders, Calligraphy Pens, and Thought Experiments
  69. Ideal Qualities in a Drawing Robot Pen Holder
  70. Enough talk! Finally a pen holder!
  71. DrawBot Pen Holder Post Mortem
  72. To Maker Faire!!!
  73. Skipping! How could I forget the skipping?!
  74. PlotterBot at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013!
  75. PlotterBot.com - a new site dedicated to drawing robots
April 19, 2012 | Comments Closed

Windows and Tabs

My FireFox tabs were getting out of control.  I had about 50 tabs all stacked up and I couldn’t really quite keep them all straight.

Why so many?  I had about a dozen tabs for things like Gmail, Twitter, a few random sites/blog posts I’d been meaning to read/scan, two YouTube videos I wanted to watch, and a few things I wanted to blog here.  Another dozen tabs were devoted to things related to a business/blog/website – images I wanted to use in posts, post drafts, etc.  And, about two dozen consisted of awesome stuff in Thingiverse and around the web I wanted to blog over at MakerBot.

For someone who gets easily1 distracted like myself, having so many tabs across so many different topics makes it very easy for me to get sidetracked.  It occurred to me that I could just open up a few FireFox windows and drag and drop my mess of tabs into three broad categories.  I opened up two additional windows, which makes one for MakerBot blog post drafts, business/blog post drafts, and a third for miscellaneous stuff. 2

So far I’ve been able to clear out a bunch of tabs – which feels great.  One interesting and satisfying side effect is that when you close the last tab in a FireFox window, the window closes!

  1. Ohh!  Shiny! []
  2. Like this post! []
| Comments Closed

Excellent DrawBot Slides

Dan Royer just posted his slides and notes from a recent talk at his local hackerspace.  What I particularly like about these slides is that they simply and clearly lay out the math required to operate a DrawBot as well as some potentially practical implications and applications for a well designed DrawBot system.

Posts in the DrawBot Adventure Series
  1. Wanna make a DrawBot?
  2. DrawBot Resources and Links
  3. DrawBot, the Adventure Begins
  4. DrawBots for the slow learner
  5. DrawBot - Parts Ordered!!!
  6. DrawBot - The Breakdown
  7. DrawBot - Parts Shipped!!!
  8. DrawBot - What would you draw?
  9. DrawBot - The Plan!
  10. DrawBot - The Hacks
  11. DrawBot - The Delivery?
  12. DrawBot - The Delivery, Part II
  13. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part I
  14. DrawBot – The Software, Part I (and an existential conversation)
  15. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part IV
  16. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part II
  17. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part III
  18. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part IV
  19. DrawBot – Design Considerations
  20. DrawBot – Halp!!! No - seriously, a little help?
  21. DrawBot – The Face Palm
  22. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part V
  23. DrawBot – The Silver Lining of Failure
  24. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part VI
  25. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part V
  26. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VI
  27. DrawBot – Printed Parts
  28. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VII
  29. DrawBot – The Operation, Part I
  30. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VIII
  31. DrawBot – The Breakdown, Part II
  32. DrawBot – Printing!
  33. DrawBot – Printing, Part II
  34. DrawBot – Why are you crying?
  35. DrawBot – Calibration
  36. DrawBot – Pen Selection
  37. DrawBot – How to Recover from a Stalled Print!
  38. DrawBot – Drawing Success(ish)!!!
  39. DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II
  40. DrawBot – Onwards and Upwards!
  41. Restarting a Stalled DrawBot Drawing
  42. TSP FTW!
  43. Speedier DrawBot Drawings
  44. Excellent DrawBot Slides
  45. Another Drawing Robot!!!
  46. DrawBot Practice Tip: A Watched Pot
  47. The biggest inkjet printer ever
  48. Why do DrawBots draw on walls?
  49. All New Polargraph on the way!!!
  50. Ideas for improving my DrawBot
  51. DrawBot Aesthetic Re-Design Ideas
  52. The Eagle Has Landed
  53. Every Body Needs a Skull
  54. I think I know what I want to draw next...
  55. Overengineered Spools
  56. Overengineered Stepper Motor Mounts, Filament Guides
  57. Overengineered Bolt Endcaps, Case Holder
  58. Sourcing DrawBot Parts
  59. DrawBot - A Tour!
  60. DrawBot - A Preview
  61. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot Poll
  62. Building an Arduino Drawing Robot - On The Cheap
  63. DrawBot - Printed Parts Tour
  64. Unidentified Foam Object
  65. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot - Take 2 (Or 3)
  66. DrawBot, now ACTUALLY wall mounted!
  67. A Study of Drawing Robot Pen Holders and Design Considerations
  68. Drawing Robot Pen Holders, Calligraphy Pens, and Thought Experiments
  69. Ideal Qualities in a Drawing Robot Pen Holder
  70. Enough talk! Finally a pen holder!
  71. DrawBot Pen Holder Post Mortem
  72. To Maker Faire!!!
  73. Skipping! How could I forget the skipping?!
  74. PlotterBot at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013!
  75. PlotterBot.com - a new site dedicated to drawing robots

 

April 13, 2012 | Comments Closed