Muschamp Rd

Redoing sidebar.php Again

September 10th, 2010
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I just spent all evening changing my sidebar.php, that is the chunk of HTML and PHP that makes the stuff to the right of the text appear and work. It relies on a variety of WordPress functions, some Javascript, and of course some widgets and plugins. I did all this revising to try and get Last.fm songs listed on my blog, functionality I already had with a much simpler system.

The author of the plugin actually tried to help me, but of course no love. It probably doesn’t help that I use Opera, which is really not running very well on Mac OS anymore, it keeps thinking I have 28943 unread RSS feeds or something equally strange. Eventually it uses up too much memory and CPU cycles and I force quit it.

I was at Bean Around the World today, but yesterday I spent most of the day sitting right where I am now, trying to fix my blog. I was all set to revise it again, even stopped and bought some Mountain Dew and candy, just like I was back at UVIC in ComSci. Actually I was never a big caffeine user back then, but now I’m always tired and fatigued, that is one of the reason I get so many blood tests. I think exercising more would help, but I just lost four days of my life to a WordPress upgrade. Which just goes to show why I don’t advocate updating early and often.

Maybe I should try to pass myself off as a WordPress guru, the only problem is I don’t like PHP, but I have been using WordPress for over five years, from 1.something right up to 3.0.1 which is what I’m supposedly running now. I’ve also been editing CSS and HTML since 1995 and I do have a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science which most of these PHP scripters don’t. Alas I just feel old and tired, even my eyes don’t seem to be working so well since I got home.

My own music isn’t helping, I was getting really frustrated with some of the rendering issues I was having, so now redoing the entire file (well three files functions.php and style.css) I just fixed yet again seems crazy, but hopefully if I make it more standardized and robust it won’t give me so many problems in the future. Basically I’m going back to using LI tags around items which leads to nested list after nested list and I’m going from H2 the standard in WordPress theme-land to H4 which is apparently better for SEO. And everyone knows Search Engine Optimization is everything.

So if my blog gets busted again, or at least part of it, well it’s because I’m hacking away on sidebar.php and the only way to test fixes is to upload and reload the webpage. Of course I could run an offline version of WordPress I tried that once, but it either had it’s own headaches or I got tired of updating it too. It’s the updating old WordPress installs, especially really old now non-standard ones, like mine, that is the headache. A new fresh WordPress install is easy.


  • Those changes weren’t hard to make after all the hacking I’ve been doing on WordPress the last three or four days, of course the Last.fm plugin still doesn’t work, so it might not be my sidebar.php, but I still think I can tweak it a bit more. I wish I knew why the conditionals are acting weird still.

  • I never did get Justin’s last.fm plugin to work, it always rendered strangely, but my sidebar now uses more nested lists and of course Heading # 4 tags. The third last.fm plugin I tried works OK, but we’ll see if Justin can fix whatever issue I’m having. The WordPress conditionals, despite me blowing away wp-includes again, still don’t work correctly… I have no idea where this bug is, but it is deep into the WordPress codebase, not something I can fix with a quick cut n’ paste into a configuration file.

  • I’m now using Last.fm records by this Dutch Fellow his plugin just seems to work, unless of course Last.fm doesn’t know the song/artist then you don’t seem to be able to click on anything which is strange as I thought Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were pretty well known. I think it is because I got the song off a compilation, probably from Magnet or Uncut magazine…

    Check his plugin out in the official repository:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/lastfm-records/

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