Muschamp Rd

WordPress Plugin Woes

November 12th, 2016
Recent Post Widget

Although I and indeed the whole world have much bigger problems, I’ve continued to tweak and try to improve my WordPress install and theme. I am waiting for replies or updates for several plugins or support threads as detailed in my previous post. What I should probably be doing is studying but my heart isn’t in it and what I’m really waiting for is the company I interviewed with last to get back to me…

I take some solace that in the long and trying interview process I correctly identified the biggest risk facing the US eCommerce industry as political. I’m tired of being right and ignored. Someone who is less risk averse than me could make money placing bets based on my predictions and scenarios. The US election is over, we shall see just what President Trump chooses to do, I’m a Canadian in China but a lot of the world depends on the US for trade. Twitter has been crazy and my personal life is in limbo though it appears I will stay in China longer and devote even more time to the CFA exam because what else can I do?

The first thing I read about that I wanted to try to see if it improved the SEO or stickiness of my blog was to feature my recent posts and my carefully chosen thumbnails in my sidebar. This was recommended by someone and I wrote down the plugin they recommended. However in order to use it how I wanted I needed to add a second dynamic sidebar widget zone to my sidebar.php which I would only show beside single posts. I followed these instructions to do that. I’m not super impressed with how it looks, the plugin has lots of options and of course he has made a paid version which probably has the options I really want including the ability to use the plugin without it being a widget, but now my whole theme should be better as it can handle multiple widgets more easily. It also should send a lot of Google Juice and potentially some real people to my recently published posts.

Upgrading WordPress did not make the spammers, scrapers, and script kiddies go away. But it did get me back tweaking my website which may help my personal branding. I removed the tag cloud from the sidebar on the homepage and will replace it with more social media integration in the form of pretty pictures from Flickr and Instagram. With WPTouch handling mobile phone users maybe my blog front page can have a few more widgets and plugins, but the official Twitter plugin is too slow for my liking indeed Jetpack is too slow for my liking even using only a few of the features, I’m often on bad WiFi network and a VPN  so I know how frustrating slow loading webpages can be.

A rendering issue I discovered with JavaScript Image widgets

The plugin I read about to integrate Flickr into your blog more deeply is called Slickr Flickr and of course it comes with a Pro version. I am quite capable of editing CSS and following documentation so I once again will just try the free version. I do worry adding a slideshow to my sidebar will slow page loading down of course.

Slickr Flickr runs pretty quick in my initial testing, it uses shortcodes which autocorrect always fixes for me to be “shortcakes”. However in order to use it in the sidebar required even more work, including modifying my functions.php file. This plugin seems to have the same rendering issue I discovered with Last.fm Records whatever you put below it seems to be pushed to the very bottom of the page. I tried various CSS and HTML fixes, the reason might be an empty div tag that gets added with clear both. I took a screen shot and left a comment, but the moral of the story is I need to reorder my sidebar and maybe only have one of these image widgets running.

I of course was going to integrate Instagram into my sidebar too and had planned to use Simply Instagram as one of the many blog posts I read recently recommended it, but it didn’t “just work”. Now I may try another plugin or wait for support from the plugin author. In the mean time I removed Last.fm Records from my sidebar making it an inactive widget.

For posterity the error I got when trying to authorize Simply Instagram was as follows:
{"code": 403, "error_type": "OAuthForbiddenException", "error_message": "You are not a sandbox user of this client"}

I know Instagram changed their API, I’ve yet to use it but I’ve been told it is not as good as Flickr’s. Changes to both Google’s and Facebook’s API will require more coding and time than I have to fix/improve/update my mashup codebase. My quotation mashup still runs and that is the only one I use.

Update: I couldn’t sleep after a less than successful studying day plus my back is still bad. I went looking for alternative Instagram plugins and found this list.

I am out of time for WordPress tweaking and I want to see if tweeting a blog post with #wordpress gets it instantly scraped. I will probably make one or two more blog posts this year, but I must study a lot today. I am even missing the historic UFC 205 in New York City in order to try and catch up on my CFA readings and problem backlog. If you have advise on improving WordPress, fixing any of the bugs I’ve documented, alternate plugins, or even personal branding during a never ending job search leave a comment below.


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