Archive Page 2

Selling Furniture

If anybody in the Phoenix area wants to buy a big armoire, I’m selling one here.

Huzzah! After a long time of having a broken theme and struggling with a complicated photo database and gallery plugin that wasn’t updated to the latest versions of WordPress, I gave up. And it’s just as well. I could never get the plugin working properly and things seemed to vanish from the theme without explanation — probably because I monkeyed with something in the code. It’s the danger of a little knowledge as opposed to enough.

The good part it I finally managed to upgrade my installation, found a nice theme that works well (Anaconda), and a really solid gallery plug in (NextGen Gallery) that is simple enough for me to use.

Overall the result is positively frightening. I declare myself the winner of this round!

Battles with Software, Round 2

I’m writing this post in the post-flush of victory. This weekend’s project was getting a bunch of family photos online. Putting them in a place where everyone could see them without having to email them to everyone seemed like the best idea.

Since I didn’t want to try resurrecting my atrophied HTML skills to build a web page filled with pictures, I decided instead to take advantage of the work of others, specifically Phpwebgallery and Photon. I tracked them both down through the Wordpress plugins page. Phpwebgallery is a stand-alone that lets you create and manage galleries complete wtih thumbnails, while Photon is a Wordpress plugin that links the galleries to your blog. All around it seemed like a good idea, especially since they’re both free.

However, good ideas can stumble a bit on execution. In this case it was a concatenation of circumstances. My “install web sofware and plugins” skill is almost as bad as my HTML skill. Now the creators of both these pieces of software are wonderful people simply for what they have done, but they are also French and my French is only slightly better than my HTML. There’s English documentation but when you run on the rocks of errors you pretty quickly need to know more. Fortunately, persistence, digging through forum posts in French and English, and downloading a few community fixes got things to a conclusion. It was definitely a case of two steps forward, one step back, mostly due to my own mistakes, but it now works, sort of. Somehow the gallery doesn’t look as nice as it is supposed to and I had to change Wordpress themes to get it to appear at all, but it does work.

The best lesson learned from the experience was how hard it is to write clear documentation — no matter what the language. Just like writing game rules, it takes practice not to fall into the trap of assuming readers know what you know. It wasn’t that the instructions were ever wrong. It just assumed certain things were understood without explanation, which for a software dilettante like me is not always the case.

If you want pictures for you blog, check out Phpwebgallery and Photon. Once you work out the hitches in installing, they’re very well done.