Top 15 WordPress Plugins

Here’s a list of the Top 15 WordPress Plugins I use on this site. Plugins gives WordPress added functionality. WordPress was designed to be lean keeping the engine fast and flexible while minimizing code bloat.

WordPress plugins vary in function from catching spams, providing stats, doing backups, download counters, comment functions, executing PHP, page navigation, creating sitemaps, adding meta tags, displaying videos, etc.

Here’s the Top 15 WordPress Plugins that is running on this site:

  1. Akismet – Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.
  2. All in One SEO Pack – Optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines (Search Engine Optimization).
  3. WordPress Database Pickup – WP-DB-Backup allows you easily to backup your core WordPress database tables. You may also backup other tables in the same database.
  4. WordPress Stats – focuses on just the most popular metrics a blogger wants to track and provide them in a clear and concise interface.
  5. Google XML Sitemaps – creates a Google sitemaps compliant XML-Sitemap of your WordPress blog. It supports all of the WordPress generated pages as well as custom ones.
  6. Subscribe to Comments – enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries. The plugin includes a full-featured subscription manager that your commenters can use.
  7. EXEC-PHP – The Exec-PHP plugin executes PHP code in posts, pages and text widgets.
  8. WP-Download Monitor – Download Monitor is a plugin for uploading and managing downloads, tracking download hits, and displaying links.
  9. Contact Form 7 – Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.
  10. Author Highlight – Author Highlight is a plugin that prints out a user-specified class attribute if the comment is made by the specified author. It is useful if you would like to apply a different style to comments made by yourself.
  11. Audio Player – Audio Player provides you with a simple way of inserting a stylish Flash mp3 player on your WordPress posts and pages. Features include configurable colour scheme, enclosure integration, runtime options such as autostart and loop and ID3 tag integration.
  12. WP-Syntax – WP-Syntax provides clean syntax highlighting using GeSHi — supporting a wide range of popular languages. It supports highlighting with or without line numbers and maintains formatting while copying snippets of code from the browser.
  13. Sociable – Automatically add links to your favorite social bookmarking sites on your posts, pages and in your RSS feed. You can choose from 99 different social bookmarking sites!
  14. Related Posts – WordPress Related Posts Plugin will generate a related posts via WordPress tags, and add the related posts to feed.
  15. WP-Page Navi – Adds a more advanced paging navigation your WordPress blog.

Do you any suggestions, recommendations, substitute? Please let me know.

Black-Letterhead 1.6

Black-Letterhead 1.6 featured with a sample header image.


Black-Letterhead 1.6 is now available. The latest version now supports WordPress 2.7 which comes with several enhancements. The bulk of the WordPress 2.7 enhancements is in the redesign of the administration page – the Dashboard. It sports a new vertical menu bar on the left side with lots of new features too numerous to mention here.

Download.

The new Black-Letterhead 1.6 theme have these new features:

Threaded Comments

Black-Letterhead 1.6 takes advantage of one of the latest enhancements of WordPress 2.7, particularly in the area of threaded comments. Threaded comments are replies within a reply. Replies are placed directly underneath a reply instead of at the end of the list. Threaded replies are also indented to display a thread discussion.

Threaded comments will need to be enabled in the `Settings – Discussion` for the threaded comments to show up on the screen. Once enabled, you will see `Reply` links on every comment. Clicking on the `Reply` makes the comment form jump to that particular comment. `Click here to cancel Reply` will restore the comments form to the bottom.

In addition, Black-Letterhead 1.6 was coded to be downward compatible, meaning it will work with older versions of WordPress, not just WordPress 2.7. The theme contains a code that detects if a new function in WordPress 2.7 called wp_list_comments() is available. If it is, the script will load `comments.php.`

If your blog is running an older version of WordPress, then the theme will run the `legacy.comments.php` file. This is where the old comments.php code is stored. The code here is essential to keeping the Black-Letterhead downward compatible to older versions of WordPress.

Colors and Page Widths

I’ve added a several new features to Black-Letterhead 1.6.  The use of alternate stylesheets and a tiny Javascript allows for the theme to be styled with various colors and page widths. The change is instantaneous with just a click of mouse. The color options available are: the original orange color, red, blue, green, yellow, purple and teal. The two page widths are `default` and `wide` set at 760 and 960 pixels wide respectively.

To change colors or page widths, just click on `Preferences` located at the bottom of the Sidebar. The script sets a cookie in the user’s browser for a period of 365 days. If the cookie gets deleted, it will revert back to theme’s default setting. Cookies allow for browsers to remember the user’s preference for a period of 365 days.

Rotating Header Images

Another feature in 1.6 is the support of multiple and rotating header images. To add a header image(s), just place a 960x200px header image or images in the `images` folder. The script automatically detects an image and will display it. If more than one image is present, the script will randomly display the headers. If there are no images, the theme displays in normal mode.

Black-Letterhead 1.6 comes with a sample header image in the `images` folder. Just delete the image if you don’t want it. If you want rotating headers, just place 2 or more images in the same folder. The rotating script will randomly display the header images. If you use the Firefox browser, you may have to press Ctrl-F5 to refresh the screen.

As always, for support questions, please visit the Support Forum.

Download.

Install Linux In Your Old Laptop

Breathe new life in your old Laptop by installing and running Linux. I have a Fujitsu Lifebook S6210 that’s about four years old. It showing its age. The laptop has cracks in the housing unit, several missing screws, worn out edges and a couple of dead pixels on the screen.

It was running Windows XP Home Edition. It was painfully slow. Applications took over a several minutes to fire up. My laptop needs a makeover. Quick. Well, after years of abuse, installing and uninstalling software, system updates, etcetera, the laptop is about to give up the ghost.

I found the original Fujitsu box containing several factory CDs. One of the CD is the Recovery Disk. Perfect. It was time to reinstall the software as if it were new when I first bought it. I ran the recovery, rebooted, then the Blue Screen of Death.

I reinstalled twice. Each time I got the same result, the Blue Screen of Death. This I know for sure, the Factory Recovery CD image does not work. Next move. Install Windows XP Home Edition from another source. The problem is I don’t have one.

My brother has Windows XP Professional. So, I tried that. I found out my OEM Serial Key does not work on Windows XP Professional only with Windows XP Home Edition. It was so frustrating.

Finally, I was so fed up. I switched over to Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. I even tried Fedora 10. That worked as well. Needless to say, I didn’t have issues with the install. Just a couple of tweaks and I was ready to go.

So, if you have an old laptop that’s dying, don’t chuck it away. Install Linux. Install Ubuntu, Fedora or any other distribution you like. You’ll be amazed how your old hardware has found this fountain of youth called Linux.

Firefox 3.0.4 in Ubuntu Hardy Heron

After a clean Ubuntu 8.04 install, Firefox 3.0.4 web browser was not working quite right. Flash plugins and MMS videos were not working on some websites that use them. A prime example is the MLS or Major League Soccer website.

This post provides all the details to in order to get your Firefox browser working after a clean Ubuntu install. Just follow the steps below.

1. Install the latest Adobe Flash player. Download it directly from Adobe’s website. Select the Ubuntu 8.04+ deb package. Choose Save to the Desktop. Once saved, go to your Desktop and right click the file. Open it with GDebi Package Installer. Click Install Package!

2. Next, remove the SWFDEC plugin; the open-source replacement for Adobe Flash.

$ sudo apt-get purge swfdec-mozilla

Or you can also use the “autoremove” option.

$ sudo apt-get autoremove swfdec-mozilla

3. Finally, install MPlayer for sites running MMS videos.

$ sudo apt-get install mozilla-mplayer

There you have it. 3 easy steps to get your browser running in no time.

IE Explorer Losing More Ground

The latest web metrics from Net Applications, Inc. gave Internet Explorer a market share of just below 70%, a decrease of a few percentage points from last month’s numbers.

Meanwhile, Mozilla Firefox climbed above the 20% mark for the first time, while Safari increased to 7.1% and Google Chrome settled at 0.83%. The market share for browser use is available here.

I expect Internet Explorer use to diminish as the months go by as more and more home users will opt for Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari or Google’s Chrome which is currently in Beta mode.

A large percentage of the 70% market share for Internet Explorer is corporate use. Corporations can’t easily depart from Internet Explorer due to legacy applications that only work with Internet Explorer.

As more of these applications are phased out and new applications becoming more compliant to run on any browser – not just IE, you’ll see more companies turning over to Mozilla’s Firefox.

Another factor is the economy. Belts will tighten, more corporations will opt for open source solutions if and when available. The Internet Explorer market share can dip further down under the current recession.

With IE 7 having been out for a while now and IE 8 looming in the horizon, many corporations will not upgrade to the upcoming release of IE 8. At least not right away.

Expect the trend to continue for IE Explorer. It will lose more market share in the upcoming months.

Turn Off Google Ads in WordPress If Admin

You’ve implemented Google Adsense in your WordPress blog. Now, you want to avoid accidentally clicking on an ad to avoid being penalized by Google.

If you’ve manually added Google Adsense to your WordPress theme, this article is for you. If you are using one of many Google Adsense Widgets, this article might be for you assuming you know how to modify an existing widget.

This article will give you an idea on how to add a simple PHP code in your template to suppress Google Ads if a user or an admin is logged in to WordPress.

We will use the “is_user_logged_in()” function to determine if a user or an admin is logged in to WordPress. A simple “if” statement is employed to display or not display the ad.

Sample 1 – The format:

<?php if (is_user_logged_in()){ } else { ?>
...
Place your Google Adsense code here ....
...
<?php } ?>

Sample 2 – With actual Google Adsense Code:

<?php if (is_user_logged_in()){ } else { ?>
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-3054947306505000";
/* 468x60, created 10/8/08 */
google_ad_slot = "5105451758";
google_ad_width = 468;
google_ad_height = 60;
//-->
</script>
<script type="text/javascript"
src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">
</script>
<?php } ?>

Place this code to every Google Adsense code in your template. To view the ads, simply logout of WordPress.

Reason To Stay With Ubuntu 8.04

Cononical just released Ubuntu 8.10 otherwise know as Intrepid Ibex. It features the latest update from a series of releases from Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 8.10 features the latest updates of Gnome, X.org, a new Linux kernel, an Encrypted Private Directory, Guest Sessions, a new Network Manager, Samba and tabbed Nautilus file manager.

Is there a valid reason to stay with Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron? One reason for staying with Ubuntu 8.04 is the Long Term Support or LTS.

Ubuntu LTS releases are scheduled releases with extended support services. The Ubuntu Desktop LTS is maintained for a period of 3 years, while the Server Edition LTS is maintained for a total of 5 years.

Standard Ubuntu releases generally receive 18 months of free updates. LTS releases doubles support period to 36 months or 3 years.

There are 6 monthly updates for the long term support cycle. They are primarily bug fixes and patches with occasional feature enhancements. An upgrade will be available when the LTS release is available.

Companies who want to deploy the Ubuntu to their desktops should seriously consider Ubuntu’s LTS releases for its stability and reliability.

In addition, Canonical provides a professional support team for those wanting an enterprise-wide type of support.