Posts By: Jon Scaife

1Wordpress LogoFixing Rich Snippets Testing Tool for Microdata

Over 2 years ago I pub­lished an art­icle on how to fix prob­lems with Word­Press themes which didn’t pass the Google Rich Snip­pets Test­ing Tool. Since then lots has changed — Word­Press and most themes have bet­ter sup­port, HTML5 and CSS3 have arrived, and Google, Yahoo and Bing got togeth­er and decided to focus on Microdata, via schema.org. At the time micro­formats seemed the easi­est way to mark up pages, and the test­ing tool had the most com­pre­hens­ive sup­port for these. The move to Microdata and the changes to Word­Press required a new art­icle: this is it!

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0Internet Explorer 9 LogoIE10 for Windows 7 finally arrives

Anoth­er item that we’re a bit late to cov­er is the arrival of Inter­net Explorer 10 for Win­dows 7 (and Serv­er 2008 R2).  As with past releases, older OSes are being left behind with no sup­port for Vista or XP, which are stuck on IE9 and IE8 respect­ively.  If you have Win­dows 7 we recom­mend upgrad­ing (even if you don’t use IE) and of course there is no harm giv­ing it a try.  We’ll prob­ably be stick­ing with Fire­fox and Chrome ourselves, but IE some­times has its uses.

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0BBC HD LogoBBC HD to become BBC2 HD

I’ve been a little slow get­ting round to updat­ing con­tent on the site recently, and this news was one item that got left behind.  The BBC have announced that BBC HD is to be replaced by BBC2 HD.  The major­ity of con­tent on BBC HD was from BBC2 any­way, so most will notice little dif­fer­ence, but expect a new logo and minor changes to the pro­gramme line-up.  The expec­ted switchover date is 6am on Tues­day 26th March.

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5Wordpress LogoAdsense ads above the last paragraph of a post

You may have noticed that we’ve tweaked how we dis­play our adsense ads.  We wanted some small text-only ads near the bot­tom of each art­icle, which would be added auto­mat­ic­ally.  This took a little bit of tinker­ing, but even­tu­ally we developed a solu­tion which works well and doesn’t seem to knock page pro­cessing times much.  Simply add the fol­low­ing code to your theme’s functions.php (don’t for­get to change your adsense IDs) … Read Full Art­icle

0Comment bubbleEasily set the parent of a WordPress comment

As is doc­u­mented in the site update log, for a while we had a prob­lem with our theme where it wasn’t pos­sible to reply to a com­ment so that the reply would appear cor­rectly in a threaded way.  We have no fixed this prob­lem, but have been left with a sig­ni­fic­ant num­ber of com­ments which really need edit­ing so it is easi­er to see what they are in reply to.  With a stand­ard word­press install this requires going into the data­base and edit­ing there, which is very tedi­ous.  Instead, we’ve used some simple func­tions to add an option to the com­ment-edit admin page, to set the com­ment par­ent there.  Even­tu­ally this will be developed into a prop­er plu­gin to enable this func­tion­al­ity.  For now the code is below, just add it to your theme’s functions.php

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0AVStoDVDHow to burn files to compliant DVD-Video

As I’ve doc­u­mented well on this blog I run all my TV through a serv­er and Win­dows Media Cen­ter. Occa­sion­ally I want to archive some recor­ded TV to DVD. Not a DVD of data-files, but a stand­ards-com­pli­ant video DVD that will play in set top play­ers. This isn’t always straight for­ward as prop­er DVDs have to con­form to vari­ous stand­ards, includ­ing being encoded in MPEG2 and hav­ing a PAL or NTSC res­ol­u­tion (480p or 576p). Most of what I have recor­ded is 1080p and I also have some 720p, and most of this is encoded using H.264. So turn­ing these files into a stand­ard DVD video means both recod­ing and res­iz­ing the videos.… Read Full Art­icle

0MS Office LogoBatch convert old MS Office documents

I’ve been try­ing to sort out an enorm­ous (100+GB) or teach­ing resources that I’ve built-up over the years.  After the obvi­ous steps (delet­ing empty, temp and duplic­ated files) and sort­ing the big files (e.g. videos, applic­a­tion installers) I was left with a large num­ber of office doc­u­ments.  I am slowly work­ing through these, but many of them are 2003 or even older format doc­u­ments — some as old as Word 6!  Every time I open one of these files I am promp­ted with vari­ous secur­ity warn­ings.  Whist these can be turned off (see below) it is more secure to leave them on, and I wanted to con­vert all the files to office 2007 (docx, xlsx etc) formats.  Batch con­ver­sion was def­in­itely the way to go.

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0Spell Checker - Spelling PoliceInstall a spellchecker for your browser

Let me start with an admis­sion: I’m one of those ped­ants on Face­book who likes to cor­rect your spelling, punc­tu­ation and gram­mar.  Some of you will think this is per­fectly reas­on­able, whilst oth­ers will prob­ably want an explan­a­tion.  If you are one of the lat­ter read on.

The simple fact is that as a social spe­cies our exist­ence depends on com­mu­nic­a­tion, the clear­er the bet­ter.  When their only con­tact with you is vir­tu­al oth­er people will make judge­ments about you based on what is avail­able to them — includ­ing your SPG.  I cor­rect spellings on Face­book for 2 reas­ons: 1. because I’m a teach­er so it’s a habit; 2. because with mod­ern web-browsers there is quite simply no excuse for incor­rect spelling.  So, to help every­one, here is a quick guide to enabling an auto­mat­ic ‘Microsoft word like” spell-check­er in your web-browser…

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1Comment bubbleJetpack-style comments without Jetpack

One of the best things about word­press is the built-in social aspect provided by com­ments.  Get­ting your com­ment sec­tion right can be very import­ant to any web­site, includ­ing ours.  Over the years we’ve exper­i­mented with vari­ous com­ment plu­gins includ­ing Dis­qus and more recently Jet­pack.  How­ever, we’ve always ended up bring things back in house for man­age­ment, per­form­ance and pri­vacy reas­ons.  When I moved back from Jet­pack com­ments I really missed some of the slick fea­tures provided by Jet­pack, both the social-net­work logins and the gen­er­al slick styl­ing.  Any­way, to cut a long story short I finally had time today to take a good look at how word­press “does” com­ments and fig­ure out a way to build an in-house sys­tem which looks nice and slick like the com­ment inter­face provided by jet­pack.  Best of all its sur­pris­ingly simple and does things the “prop­er” way…
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0VPS ServerNew VPS host

So, there haven’t been many new art­icles on the site in the last 2–3 months.  Partly this is because we’ve been busy in our day jobs, but also it is because we decided it was time to move to a VPS instead of our pre­vi­ous host­ing pack­age.  So, to cut a very long story short, we’re now up and run­ning on the new host.  There is still a lot of tweak­ing and tinker­ing to do, but the site should be not­ic­ably faster thanks to vari­ous cach­ing and oth­er options we’ve been able to use with the VPS.  Once everything has settled down and is fully func­tion­al you can expect quite a few new art­icles, start­ing with a sub­stan­tial (7,000 word and grow­ing) guide to how to set up a VPS!

In the mean­time, if you find any broken func­tion­al­ity please let us know with a com­ment, e-mail or mes­sage via social net­work. You can also see more details on the changes we’ve been mak­ing on our site updates log.

Cheers, Jon