Akismet + WP SpamFree = Happy WordPress Blogging

Blog comment spam is inevitable.  That’s just the reality.  Akismet and WP-SpamFree are two plugins that together have saved me a lot of time moderating comments on my blog.

Just a quick look at my most recent spam stats since I activated the two – I first activated Akismet and then realized I needed more:


Now I’m still a small fish in the world of blogging, but I can honestly say these two plugins are life savers.  Akismet comes preinstalled with recent versions of WordPress, and you can download WP Spamfree from Scott Allen’s website .  You can leave him a nice thank you or follow him on Twitter (@TheWebGeek) and say thanks to him there.  You can also WP SpamFree on Twitter (@WP-SpamFree) 🙂

What plugins/strategies do you find useful for fighting spam on your wordpress blog?

From PSD to HTML to WordPress Video Tutorial Series

NETTUTS+ Screencasts and Bonus Tutorials The folks over at Nettuts+ have posted today what promises to be the best PSD to HTML to WordPress Video tutorial series ever.  To access this series, you need to be a member of the tuts+ network, one of the sponsors of our MODx Blog Contest.

Joining the tuts+ network is easy, it will cost you only $9 a month, or $22 for three months (better deal), or $78 for a year (best deal), and gives you access to the entire tuts+ network premium tutorials.  This is not something you want to miss.

Here is a lesson overview:

Continue reading “From PSD to HTML to WordPress Video Tutorial Series”

My WordPress Upgrade Nightmare


I finally went ahead and upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.7. But then I made a mistake. I accidentally deleted the wp-config.php file

Initially I had debated migrating the Coding Pad to Drupal, which is quickly becoming my favorite CMS, but I decided to stay in WordPress since I do love some features of WP, and the Coding Pad is likely going to remain a blog, so I don’t need all the other features, for the moment.  It would be like using a rifle to kill a mosquite.

Nonetheless, I followed the upgrading instructions from http://codex.wordpress.org/Upgrading_WordPress_Extended as I’ve done successfully before, but as I mentioned above, I made the unforgiveable error of  deleting the wp-config.php fileoh my! Moreover, I was using fireftp to do my deleting instead of cpanel, so I had no way to recover the file.  Even attempting to restore it from my backup didn’t work for some reason , I was still getting a database connect error.

By this time I was plenty irritated, so I decided to scratch the whole upgrading thing and start from scratch.

I looked into my wp-content folder/plugin and /theme folder and listed the plugins and themes I’m using.  I then went looking for new versions of these and downloaded them to my desktop.  I downloaded the latest version of wordpress, unzipped it on my desktop, plugged the plugins and theme into the relevant folders, and uploaded the whole thing to my webserver.

Before I make any changes in my blog I always export an XML file of my content, just in case I goof, which as you can tell, I am more than capable of doing.  Fortunately for me this was the first thing I did before even attempting the upgrade.

I deleted the current codingpad database and user, and then deleted all the files in the codingpad folder.  I then went ahead and installed a mint fresh copy of WordPress 2.7 and configured it with the new database information, and then activated all my plugins and new theme.

Once everything looked good, I then imported my XML file with all my posts, and voila, the Coding Pad is back in business!!

If you want more details on how to use the XML file, read my post on how to painlessly migrate a wordpress blog.

I am currently using a new version of the same theme I was using before.  It’s the NobusX2 theme by Dezzain Studio.  I’m using some of the same plugins as before: Akismet for spam protection, Google XML Sitemaps to generate and submit the sitemap.  I replaced the Related Posts plugin which is no longer supported with the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.  And finally, I still have the DoFollow plugin, so that all my commenters get some link love.

New plugins include the Contact Form 7 for my new Contact Me page.  I also added TwitMe which should automatically update my twitter page when I make a new post.  So feel free to find and follow me on Twitter.   I also added the All-in-one-SEO-Pack plugin, I’ve heard a lot about it and I’m curious to see if it improves my SEO rankings.

It was a bit of a nightmare, but thankfully I was able to get it all working as I wanted it to.

Photo Credit

The Painless Way to Migrate a WordPress Blog

First, let me say that the Drupal tutorials are on the burner, and I will be posting the first segment soon. But today I want to talk about moving a blog. I’ve had some hosting issues that have forced me to consider terminating my relationship with one of my webhosts. This means, of course, that I must move my websites that are hosted on that server to another server, a process that I was dreading with all my heart, because there are databases and so much customization involved and I am terrified that I will mess up and lose a lot of time.

I started the migration process with several blogs/websites built on WordPress, and it was a surprisingly painless process that didn’t require me to touch the database or any config files. Bear in mind that the blog was maintaining it’s name and domain name, and all I was changing was webhosts. I will go step by step to describe what I did. First, let me say that I tested this method by creating a subdomain on one of my other domains on the new server and transferring the blog there, to make sure it would work, so that helped reduce my fears.

  1. Back up all files and database: As always, whenever you’re planning to make any major changes, you want to make sure you have current backups on your computer. So using cpanel, I downloaded a backup of the WordPress database, and then downloaded the whole folder that my website was in using FireFTP. This is an important step because it will allow you to recover your files should anything go wrong. You will also need the wp-plugins and wp-themes folders for your new setup.
  2. Create and Export an XML file of the blog: This is what makes the migration so painless, that new versions of WordPress have this capability. While in the admin area, click on “Manage” and then open the “Export” tab. This creates an XML file that you will then use to recreate your blog. Since my blog has only one author I didn’t need to use the filter, so I just hit “Download Export File”. You want to make careful note of where you save this file.
  3. Change DNS settings for domain name: Once I had my backups saved, and I had exported the XML file onto my desktop, the next step was to transfer my domain name to the new webhost (Hostgator) where I wanted to set up the blog. This was simply a matter of changing DNS settings at my registrar. I logged into my GoDaddy account and made the changes, and waited for the confirmation email so that I could continue.
  4. Install WordPress: Once the domain name changes showed up in my email, I then proceeded to the cpanel for my new webhost, set up the domain as an addon domain and installed the latest version of WordPress on the domain name. I then logged into the new WordPress install, and deleted the default post, page, and comment.
  5. Import posts into the new blog: Now that I had a clean install of WordPress running, I imported all my posts from my old blog into this new one. The process was pretty much the same as exporting. In the admin area, go into “Manage”, and select the “Import” tab. Choose WordPress as your source, and then hit browse and navigate to where you saved the XML file you downloaded in Step 2. In my case, I used the same username creating the new blog as the old one, so I just used the default import setting for the author. Voila! My posts and comments were all imported!
  6. Restoring themes and plugins: The next step was to set everything up the way had it on my old blog, including ads, Analytics, and all my plugins. Again this proved to be really simple. Using my FTP program, I uploaded the wp-plugins and wp-themes folders that I had downloaded from my old location and overwrote the new ones. I then had to go into “Presentation” and select the theme to activate it. To restore my plugins, I found I had to go into “Plugins” and reactivate them all to et them working again, but that was pretty trivial in this case. If you have uploads you may want to upload the whole wp-contents folder.
  7. CleanUp: The last clean up steps involved scrutinizing my blog and making sure that everything was in order. Sometimes you link to other files that aren’t necessarily in the WP folder, such as images you may have saved somewhere else, so you want to make sure you check all that and migrate any other external files as needed. I also needed to clean up the blogroll. Once I was satisfied that the new blog was working like it should, I then went back to my old hosts and deleted all the files, the database, and the addon domain.

So in less than 30 minutes, I transferred my blog with all my posts and comments from one host to another. That was pretty painless!

Kings among Content Management Systems

In the world of Content Management Systems (CMSs), there is an array of options and choices so dizzying as to be completely overwhelming for the newbie, and sometimes even for the seasoned programmer or webmaster. These CMSs are capable of so much and they all have different things to offer. One major advantage of using a CMS is the ease with which you can set up and deploy a website! Using a CMS can save you a lot of building time and allow you to concentrate on creating content and marketing your website.

I have tried and played with many free content management systems to see what their different merits are, and have settled on two favorites on the basis of my needs – blogging and building content websites (for which I use either CMSs or hand coding).

For blogging, I definitely consider WordPress to be the master! With a strong community committed to creating themes and plugins, you can do almost anything with WordPress. It’s easy to set up and configure, and to add functionality to. With a little PHP knowledge, you can configure the files and play with them with ease.

For building larger content based websites, I declare that Drupal is King! I haven’t been playing with Drupal for too long, but I’ve been able to build some interesting websites, and have only glimpsed the possibilities. While many argue that Joomla is easier to use and has many more themes available, I am still enamored by Drupal. I will happily sacrifice the beautiful Joomla themes for the functional for the amazing functionality of Drupal. Granted, it’s not the easiest CMS to set up, but once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll find that the possibilities will whet your appetite for more and more, and there’s an excellent and very helpful community of Drupal users at Drupal.org and all over the web.

In the next few days I will be creating a tutorial to walk you through creating a Drupal website, and will show you the different things you can do. This will definitely be a newbie tutorial of sorts, but will evolve with time as I learn the ropes of more advanced topics. So stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss any of the tutorials.

In the meantime, here is a list of impressive websites built with Drupal to get you thinking, and to whet your appetite. While a lot of these websites have been heavily modified and themed, they show you what Drupal is capable of:

Drupal (of course)
Team Sugar
The New York Observer
Best Credit Shop

…and the list continues. If you have or know of any remarkable sites built on Drupal, feel free to share them here. And stay tuned for the tutorials.