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Category: Coding

Question for the WP theme devs in the audience

I mentioned this on twitter, but I wanted to get it out here too…if you use TextMate to do your theme development, would you use a bundle that contains a variety of functions for your functions.php file? I’ve got quite the collection set up that I use regularly, and I am thinking of releasing it for download. Any comments are appreciated, leave them either here, or send me a @reply on twitter.

Linux, SwissCenter, and the PopcornHour A-100

So I’ve been using the awesome SwissCenter media streaming server with my PopcornHour A-100 for a while now. Over the weekend, Windows XP decided it didn’t want to run on my file server any longer (yeah, I know… 🙂 ). In it’s place I installed Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron”. After migrating my SwissCenter settings over to the new Linux install, everything worked, except SwissCenter no longer showed up on the Sources page on the A-100.

After a few hours of searching and a post to the SwissCenter forums, I got a reply from the SwissCenter team pointing me at the script that comes with SwissCenter. Out of the box, things were promising, as I could see the A-100 talking to the broadcast script, but still no link on the sources screen. After another few hours of testing (and a good nights’ sleep), I found the problem.

You can read more about the script and my fix, and download my broadcast script package over at the SwissCenter UPnP/SSDP Broadcast Script for PopcornHour A-100 page. If you have any questions, please leave a comment either on this post, or on the download page.

Dynamic Page Graphics in WordPress

Recently, while developing a WordPress theme for a client, I devised a handy trick to use different headline graphics for pages (it should work for posts too) based on the page title. The basis of the trick is to name your headline graphics the same as the pages they are to show up on (ex. about.png for the About page). Once you do this, you simply need to insert the following bits of code into your theme’s page template:

Part 1: Add this to the beginning of your template (just after the line that starts with “<?php get_header(); ?>”):

NOTE: Modified this to actually, you know, WORK! 🙂
If you tried it before, and it didn’t do what you expected, change the code at the top of your template to this new version.

	global $post;
	$title = $post-<post_name;
	$title = strtolower($title);
	$titlepic = $title.".png";

For those who don’t read PHP, what this block does is gets the title of the current page, stores it in a variable, converts it to lowercase, and then adds “.png” (changes this if you use gifs or jpgs) to the page title to create the image’s file name.

Part 2: Add this where you want the graphic to appear:

<img src="<?php bloginfo('template_directory'); ?>/images/<?php echo $titlepic ?>" alt="<?php $title ?>" />

This is a standard XHTML image tag. Change the directory to suit your needs, but leave the “<?php echo $titlepic ?>” bit as this is what does the magic. The alt parameter could likewise be changed, but it does need to be there for the XHTML to validate.

So there you have it. A painless method to get dynamic graphics for your blog, based on your page titles.

CTC Updated, Version 4.5 Released!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I have bumped everyone’s favorite tag cloud plugin for WordPress 2.3+ to version 4.5. What’s new? The biggest change is the addition of an Options page for configuring the plugin when used as a template tag. As always, you can see the full changelog, get the new version, and leave comments from the CTC page.

Fun With Shell Scripts: autons

Being a freelance web developer, there are many times where I’m moving domains for clients (or more recently, myself), and need to know when the DNS entries change to point at the new version of a site. I could just keep submitting an nslookup request manually, but that requires me to stop whatever it is I’m doing, switch to my terminal app, and execute the command. After doing a few sites this way, I decided that there had to be a better way…and there is. I came up with the following bash script to automate this process.

#! /bin/bash
while [ 1 ]
echo Attempt $count
nslookup $1
sleep $2
count=`expr $count + 1`

Yes, it’s just that simple. As you can see, the script takes 2 parameters, the domain name to check, and a time (in seconds) to pause between each check. I don’t know if there’s a rule about the amount of time between requests for nslookup, but I usually don’t use anything lower than 5 minutes (300 seconds).

To use, just paste the code above into a file, save it (I named mine “autons”), and give it execute permissions (“chmod +x autons”). To test a site, use something like the following: “autons 300”. This would check the DNS address for every 5 minutes.

CTC – Version 4.1 Released

Just a quick release to add a feature and fix one. The new feature is the ability to randomly sort the tag cloud. This option will show a completely different order of the tags to each visitor to your site. Not really earth-shattering, but it was asked for, so there it is.

The fix is in relation to the use of categories in the cloud. Due to laziness on my part, I released version 4.0 before thoroughly testing this aspect of the plugin. The problem was, your category links were being treated as tags, and therefore not getting a valid link created for them. This has now been fixed.

As always, you can find the download and comment on the plugin on the CTC page.

CTC – Version 4.0 Released

Hot on the heels of version 3.1 (and the very minor 3.2) comes the all new version 4.0 of my configurable tag cloud widget for WordPress 2.3+. What makes it new, you ask? Well, how about the ability to include your WordPress categories in your tag cloud? It’s a feature that people have been (erroneously) assuming CTC supports for a while, but I never could get it to work…well, now I have. It’s as simple as adding another parameter to your template tag, or clicking a radio button in the widget admin. Give it a try, I’m sure you’ll like it!

Also new in this release is some tweaks to the color functions. Prior to this version, if you wanted your tag cloud links to use the same color as the rest of the links in your site or sidebar, you had to manually enter the color definition in both the min and max color fields or parameters. No more. Now, if you leave both colors blank, your tags will be the same color as the rest of your links. If you only use one of the two fields, your tag links will all be that color.

As always, you can find more info and the download (and leave your comments) on the CTC page.