Tag Archives: book

2009 Wrap Up

This is my first post as part of an Absolute Write blog chain.  The site runs blog chains every month, and this month, the topic is “Wrap Up List 2009” – a chance to reflect on the previous year. At the bottom of this post you will find a list of the other people participating in the chain. I encourage you to take a look at their blogs – there’s some good writers taking part.

I’m pleased to say that 2009 was a decent year for me.  I’m looking forward to 2010, and plan to build on the foundations set this year.

Health

I had some health issues this year, but my doctors have been great.  I think this is worth mentioning because I moved relatively recently, and the doctors at my former place of residence were terrible.  At one point I had to get so sick I was hospitalized – for something that turned out to need a course of antibiotics – because my old doctor insisted all my symptoms were in my head. If you have a good doctor, be thankful!

I took up weight lifting this year, and I’m working towards a weight goal in bench / deadlift.  I’m planning to buy a squat rack next summer so that I can start squatting more regularly – at the moment it’s awkward  and a little dangerous to try to squat heavy weights, so I’m only doing weights I know I can manage easily to get the form down.

Next year I hope to compete in a powerlifting competition.  I’m not expecting to do well, but at least I’ll be able to say I’ve competed.

Writing

In 2008, I started working on my first book, the WordPress-MU Beginner’s Guide. It was published by Packt Publishing in October 2009, and next month I’ll find out how the early sales went.  Initial reviews have been positive, and I learned a lot about the publishing process while working on the title.  I’m looking forward to writing more books with Packt in the future.

I also started working as a proof reader (and I’m sure that mentioning that will mean this post is riddled with typos and other errors).  It’s a job that I enjoy because I get to read interesting books – before they’re published, and get paid to do it!

I’m currently working on a technical review of a book about Ubuntu for tech publishing company O’Reilly, and I’m really enjoying that title too.  My publisher has cleared me to work on a short ebook for O’Reilly, something that I’m very grateful for.  I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about option clauses, so having a publisher that’s willing to work with their authors to maintain a good relationship makes me feel blessed.

Ubuntu Membership

Writing about, and reviewing a book on Ubuntu has made me get more involved with the community.  I’ve already posted about Ubuntu Membership, and that’s something I plan to pursue next year.  This year I started to learn packaging, and I got involved with the bug triaging project, and I hope to continue both of those things long term.

Business

Myth Games – the site I run which offers game reviews and news, moved to a new server this year.  I’m working on ironing out some bugs and adding some new site features which should make it easier to update and to add new content.  The site move and the associated downtime killed our traffic in the short term,but it’s going back up, and I hope it will exceed it’s former traffic levels by the time E3 (the biggest trade show in the industry) comes around again.

We missed E3 last year because of my health issues.  Hopefully that won’t happen again in 2010.

Fiction

I have a lot of respect for people who can write fiction. I’m working on a couple of short stories, but I have a lot to learn in that regard.  I didn’t take part in NANOWRIMO this year, and that’s something I regret.  Rather than delay the whole thing until next November, I think I’ll have an unofficial NANO sometime in the spring – anything to get me writing, and get over this fear of fiction.

Legends Reborn is still in progress.  It’s a mammoth project, though, so I’m not expecting to have much to show for it until this time next year. I have a couple of betas lined up, but I don’t want to pull them in until I know what *I* want to do, because I fear too many changes will burn them out.

Life

I got my provisional driving license recently, and I plan on learning to drive in the spring.  The weather is far too bad (icy / dark / wet) to learn at the moment.  I will be taking an advanced course, assuming I pass, so that I have an idea how to handle such weather.  I just don’t want my first experience of handling a vehicle to be skidding off the road!

That concludes my wrap-up. The other participants in the blog chain are listed below. Please do take a look at them, and wish them all well for next year!

Lost Wanderer – http://www.lostwanderer5.blogspot.com
Claire Crossdale – http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com/
coryleslie – http://corrinejackson.wordpress.com/
bsolah – http://benjaminsolah.com/blog
DavidZahir – http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/
RavenCorinnCarluk – http://ravencorinncarluk.blogspot.com
Ralph Pines – http://ralfast.wordpress.com/
shethinkstoomuch – http://shethinkstoomuch.wordpress.com
Lady Cat – http://www.randomwriterlythoughts.blogspot.com
truelyana – http://expressiveworld.com
misaditas – http://misaditas-novels.blogspot.co

collectonian – http://collectonian.livejournal.com/632314.html (PREVIOUS)
razibahmed – http://www.blogging37.com
(Next)

beawhiz – http://beawrites.wordpress.com
FreshHell – http://freshhell.wordpress.com
AlissaC – http://alissacarleton.blogspot.com
Aimee – http://writing.aimeelaine.com
Forbidden Snowflake – http://www.alleslinks.com

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WordPress MU 2.8 Beginner’s Guide Reviews

The first set of reviews for my book, the WordPress MU 2.8 Beginner’s Guide, have started trickling in.

They’ve been mostly positive so far.  There’s been a couple of things pointed out (such as a plugin conflict that went un-noticed in testing) that I’ll raise with the publisher in case they decide to make a second edition.

I hope to work on another book for Packt in the future, so it’s great to learn what people liked, and what they didn’t.

Here’s a sampling of the reviews:

WP-Toy.com

Omninogin

The Open Sourcerer

FiddyP

Thanks to all the reviewers for taking the time to read and write about the book!

Hiding the WordPress-MU Dashboard

This post is intended to accompany Chapter 4 of my book, the WordPress-MU 2.7 Beginner’s Guide.

If you have a WordPress or WordPress-MU powered blog, then you’ve probably noticed the dashboard.  It’s the default ‘landing page’ when you log in to your admin panel.  The dashboard provides some useful information, such as the number of posts you’ve made, the number of comments that have been approved and the number that are awaiting moderation, and even a traffic stats graph.

However, the dashboard can take a long time to load.  This isn’t a problem for everyone – if you’re blessed with a nice fast cable or DSL connection it probably isn’t an issue for you.  But not everyone has a good connection.  I’m making this post via mobile broadband because my usual connection has failed. HSDPA isn’t reliable in this area, so I’m on 3G, and even a page as clean as Google’s is taking an irritating length of time to load.

You can remove some of the clutter from the Dashboard by using the ‘Screen Options’, but you will still land on the Dashboard page when you log in to the admin panel.dashboardPersonally, I don’t mind the dashboard on my main blogs, but I have some niche blogs on various community sites, and my favourite sites are the ones that blur the line between ‘community’ and ‘blog’.  When you go to manage your blog, you are dumped straight on to the Write Post page – after all, the chances are that’s why you’re visiting the admin panel of your blog.

Sending your users straight to the ‘Write Post’ page will most likely be saving them a click or two.  If it turns out they wanted to do something else, then it hasn’t cost them much time.

If you want to hide the dashboard, then one way to do so is to use the ‘Hide Dashboard‘ Plugin created by Bavotasan.  This plugin will allow you to hide the dashboard for users with certain user levels.

The default version of the plugin hides the dashboard for users who are not admin.  If you would like to hide the dashboard for everyone, you can do that with a simple edit:

Just open the plugin file, and remove the following lines of code:

if (current_user_can(‘level_10’)) {

return;

} else {

Also remove the closing ‘}’ above the ‘add_action’ line near the end of the plugin file.

For your convenience, you can download the edited version of the plugin here.

Editing UserThemes Revisited

This post is designed to accompany Chapter 4 of my book, the WordPress-MU 2.7 Beginner’s Guide.

Would you like to allow users to edit their themes on your WordPress-MU blog?  One of the most common requests from users on WordPress-MU sites is the ability to edit the themes that are offered.  Giving users the ability to edit the PHP files that make up a WordPress-MU theme is a little risky, but it is possible to allow users to edit CSS files, which will give them some freedom to customize their site, and is much less risky from the site owner’s point of view.

If you want to allow your users to customize their WordPress-MU themes, the first thing you need is UserThemes Revisited.  You can download the plugin here.

Before you install the plugin, I would recommend making a few changes.  In it’s unedited state, the plugin allows your users to access both PHP and CSS files.  Offering unrestricted access to PHP files means that you are risking the possibility of malicious code being ran on your server.  Let’s block PHP files from being edited:

Open up /wp-admin/theme-editor.php – under the line that begins with $parent_file,  insert the following code:

if((get_option(‘ut_use_user_theme’) != 1) || (get_option(‘ut_enabled’) != 1))

{

wp_die(‘Either you have not been granted permission from the site administrator to access the theme editor OR you do not have a usertheme as your active theme, theme editor will die while a system theme is active.’);

}

ds_redirect_theme_editor();

Look for this line:

$allowed_files = array_merge($themes[$theme][‘Stylesheet Files’], $themes[$theme][‘Template Files’]);

Comment it out, and insert this below:

array_merge($themes[$theme][‘Stylesheet Files’],$themes[$theme][‘Stylesheet Files’]);

Next, open the file /wp-admin/includes/mu.php and comment out this line:

unset( $submenu[‘themes.php’][10] );

Now it’s safe to upload and install the UserThemes Revisited Plugin.  Your users should see a screen like this one, which allows them to create their own copy of a theme they want to edit.6545_04_utruser1

Once they’ve made a copy of a theme, they can edit the CSS files using the theme editor.

6545_04_utruser2

For your convenience, you can download the edited versions of the core files here.