Playing with software

I have been playing with a few things here, trying out some new plugins, widgets and themes. I am afraid that is is quite addictive. Considering the lack of traffic here, I really don’t need most of this, but I like seeing how it works. And trying out new themes is certainly one way to while away the hours, and avoiding the thought that I really should go buy some groceries. Since it has been cold and freezing rain here today, the software won.

I have been working with the Vigilance Theme, from Jestro. I like the rotating header and sidebar photos, along with the wide sidebar at the top. So, after getting most of that site set up, I decided to try it out on my site. No sooner did I get it installed, and get some photos up for the headers, then I saw that version 1.2 was out in my RSS feed. So I had to immediately download that and install it. And this is where the child theme they use is so great. I didn’t have to redo all my CSS changes. Unfortunately, I did have to redo some php hacks I did on the other site. I just wish I had thought of it before I overwrote the old files.

Then there are the widgets. I added the Amazon Showcase widget a couple of days ago. I like being able to show things I like without having to create a new post or page about it. Very handy and worked out of the box.

Of course, I have the very popular All in One SEO Pack, Stats, and Akismet plugins activated. I love the WordPress Database Backup plugin. I can work my way through a backup using phpAdmin, but the plugin makes it much faster and easier. Now I am more likely to keep things properly saved.

I am using ShareThis for social networking, in case someone ever wants to pass on what I write. (Hey, it could happen. Someday.) It was easy to set up and is nicely customizable.

Menu Maker looks like it has some potential. I like the idea of being able to easily set up my own menus on the sidebar, but it is still a bit rough. Knowing exactly what php file to put the code in, and where exactly to put it,  is not always easy. And it would be nice if it had the ability to include sub-menus of some kind, as well as making it easier to apply styles to the menu. But for something with a version of 0.4.4, it is making a nice start.

I have also added in the Wikipedia Autolink plugin. It is a nice little plugin that makes linking to [W:Wikipedia] a real breeze. The only thing that would make it better would be having a button for it at the top of the writing area. Well okay, there are a few other things that would improve it, as pointed out by David Potter. But as he says at the end, it is a simple plugin that works well. What more can you want?

On the other hand, there is the Validated plugin. I like the idea of web page validation. I try to make sure that any new pages I code do validate properly. Unfortunately, the programmers that have been making the best themes are writing them in XHTML 1.1 Strict. This means that anything, like widgets or WordPress widgets that are not in 1.1 Strict, prevent validation. So the plugin is a nice idea, but not actually very practical, since XHTML 1.1 Strict is not that prevalent on the web.

I also like BlogCopyright, which automatically updates the year in your copyright notice at the bottom of your pages. Another simple plugin that does what is says, but it does not work will with the Vigilance theme. So it will wait until I try a different theme.

That is all I got through so far. I will certainly try other later, they are fun to play with.

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