Clean, Minimal, and Responsive


Pro­gres­sive Enhance­ment - Credit: DesignShack’s excel­lent arti­cle on Respon­sive Design

I have been busy over the past sev­eral months on a num­ber of things, mostly offline. I am also rework­ing a num­ber of web sites to improve effi­ciency and to improve the front-facing inter­face by enhanc­ing the back-facing tool set.

I have expanded my knowl­edge and use of Word­Press as well as added a num­ber of new giz­mos and neat stuff to both faces to help me grow both my use and my audience.

First step here was to improve on the three words in this post’s title:

  • clean out the excesses that slow down page load­ing to improve your read­ing and response
  • use a new theme that is min­i­mal in nature — the art is the con­tent, not the frame
  • make the con­tent respond to the device being used to read, whether it be a 25″ mon­i­tor, a cell phone, or a tablet, adapt­ing to what ever browser is used

Yes, the web site’s con­tent needs updat­ing — bro­ken images from pre­vi­ous upgrades and missed updates of con­tent. Those updates are in progress, but are still not the high­est life priority.

Thanks for visiting!

Testing the Iron Dome Part II

jm_logo_trans_v01-00-150x150And fur­ther.…

Just some more to push it through. Sorry for the noise — good con­tent shortly!

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Testing the Iron Dome is a new piece of soft­ware that I am devel­op­ing to ward off the evil spir­its that invade this and other web sites that we host. Two evil denizens that it wards off are:

  • Fake Google­bots
  • Idiots who ham­mer wp-login.php

So far, it is work­ing quite well in test­ing so I am now tak­ing it to the next level.

We Are Now WP Multisite!

The first major leap in my site redesign is to finally make use of the Word­Press Mul­ti­site facil­ity. I have tried before and failed mis­er­ably because I did not RTFM before attempt­ing. This time, though, I read this phe­nom­e­nal post­ing on Ele­gant Themes that made the cloudy parts of the Word­Press Codex crys­tal clear.

The next step is to redo the lay­out of My Sed­i­ments Exactly, as well as incor­po­rate the half dozen other Word­Press instal­la­tions already located here under one umbrella of control.

More of the process later — I have work to do!

Design Fever Pitch Around Here

Image from - really nice ones there!

Wish my tools were this organized!

I am cur­rently busy get­ting a num­ber of exem­plary Word­Press instal­la­tions and web sites in place. As a part of the knowl­edge gained, I am mak­ing some rather dras­tic changes here as well. The biggest is tak­ing the plunge into using Word­Press Mul­ti­site here to bet­ter orga­nize the con­tent here already as well as planned.

Using Mul­ti­site brings with it a num­ber of issues, mostly related to what plu­g­ins work with­out mod­i­fi­ca­tion or spe­cial instal­la­tion needs. While going through the ones I use, I found that most func­tion fine and the oth­ers require a lit­tle extra TLC at instal­la­tion and acti­va­tion. I have encoun­tered no major hur­dles (yet).

So as the con­ver­sion takes place, all of the exist­ing post­ings should fall into the same place as they are now, with pages poten­tially mov­ing. Send­ing updated site maps to the search engines will hope­fully clean those up quickly, as well as new site map that I will be generating.

More on this as the process progresses.

Freezing Rain and Theme Changes

Nasty day out there weather-wise, with tem­per­a­tures hov­er­ing around the freez­ing mark. So, as I find time today, I am mak­ing some changes to the lay­out and style around here. Things may be a tad bro­ken, but will def­i­nitely be improving.

So, if you are in the Delaware Val­ley, drive extra care­ful please. Stop by again as the day pro­gresses to see the meta­mor­pho­sis here.

Using Windows Live Writer To Post From Windows 8

Just test­ing out another way to write on my Microsoft Sur­face and post to my WordPress-powered web­sites. This is my sec­ond adven­ture using Win­dows Live Writer, hav­ing used it on occa­sion from my laptop.

Not really the best, but far from the worse. I would pre­fer that the Word­Press Metro app was a bit more robust. It lacks many of the fea­tures I enjoy in the Word­Press for Android app.

InfiniteWP: A True Worksaving Plugin

InfiniteWP Administration Interface

InfiniteWP Admin­is­tra­tion Interface

I came across an arti­cle some­one had writ­ten about InfiniteWP, a Word­Press plug-in to auto­mate the man­age­ment of mul­ti­ple, self-hosted Word­Press instal­la­tions. In their own words:

InfiniteWP is a self-hosted, freely-available mul­ti­ple Word­Press man­age­ment plat­form that sim­pli­fies your Word­Press man­age­ment tasks into a sim­ple click of a button.

With us now man­ag­ing over 35 Word­Press instal­la­tions, I had to see how this works and if it could make our rou­tine main­te­nance more efficient.

InfiniteWP has two com­po­nents. First, there is the InfiniteWP Admin­is­tra­tion Server with its web-based inter­face. You sub­mit your email address and receive a link for the down­load. instal­la­tion con­sists of unpack­ing the soft­ware into its own sub­di­rec­tory on your server. We set it up as a sub­do­main on a com­pany web­site. Then, you need to cre­ate a MySQL data­base and user for the soft­ware to store the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion about the Word­Press instal­la­tions you wish to admin­is­ter. Addi­tion­ally, you need to add a cron job so that InfiniteWP can do sched­uled checks and send out update emails con­cern­ing your sites.

With these steps done, you bring up the admin­is­tra­tion panel for the first time to setup the autho­rized user and pass­word for access. The next step is to add your Word­Press sites that you want to admin­is­ter which is a two-step process. First, you install the InfiniteWP plu­gin to your Word­Press site. Upon acti­va­tion, you will get a mes­sage with the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion — URL, ID, and key — that needs to be used in the admin­is­tra­tion panel to add the site. That is all that is needed to make the connection.

A nice added fea­ture is for server password-protected web­sites. You can enter the needed cre­den­tials once and InfiniteWP will use them when access­ing those par­tic­u­lar sites.

It took me approx­i­mately 45 min­utes to add 36 Word­Press instal­la­tions to InfiniteWP. Then, InfiniteWP went out and checked for updates needed. In under an hour, all of our sites were 100% up to date.

The basic InfiniteWP has four main functions:

  • Check Word­Press version
  • Check all hosted themes
  • Check all hosted plugins
  • Per­form back­ups and restores of each site

Any themes and plu­g­ins that are man­u­ally installed and not res­i­dent in the library at will not be checked or con­trolled. A few words of cau­tion. If you have locally mod­i­fied any plu­g­ins or themes, you will over­write any changes if you are not care­ful. I prac­tice safe Word­Press by cre­at­ing child themes or mod­i­fy­ing the plu­gin name.

I am going to write more about InfiniteWP later since I have not delved far enough yet into selec­tive updat­ing, as well as other doc­u­mented func­tions. So far, InfiniteWP gets 5 out of 5 stars in our book!

Looks Like Very Cold and Snowy

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Look­ing at the lat­est data from the National Weather Ser­vice, it looks like we are in for a very cold and blus­tery snow storm around the Philadel­phia area tonight through mid­day tomorrow.

Depend­ing upon which fore­cast that you look at, the snow­fall amount varies from 3 to 6 inches, up to 8 inches. What con­cerns me is that the wind speeds are pre­dicted to be 15 to 20 mph with higher gusts, and vis­i­bil­ity under a half mile. With a snow­fall rate of an inch an hour overnight, it tells me that all those won­der­fully crazy peo­ple are going to be going out for a drive to see how bad the roads are. Cor­rec­tion: to make trav­el­ing haz­ardous for those of us who need to go out, to respond to emergencies.

If you don’t need to go out, don’t! Watch the weather out your win­dow and check back here reg­u­larly for the lat­est weather news and obser­va­tions. You will also find out about the updates here on my Twit­ter stream like this one I just posted a short while ago:

More to come as the evening pro­gresses! While I wait for the pager not to go off, I think I will make dinner!