WordPress Plugins & Random Thoughts

Do you use WordPress for teaching and learning? What plugins do you recommend for a multisite install? cc @brlamb @clintlalonde @jimgroom — George Veletsianos (@veletsianos) September 8, 2016 Sparked by a tweet, this is reposted from a conversation here (thanks to Alan) but I figured that much writing ought to also be a blog post. flickr photo shared by Internet Archive Book Images with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) And a pre-warning, I may have overdone this . . . . As a secondary warning, I may not give the best advice. Add grains of salt as needed. There seems to be two big buckets here for me. One is managing a large multisite and stuff around that. The other is plugins that are useful when helping people build educational things. Security/Management Be careful with security plugins associated with IP addresses (Jetpack got me early on, more on that later). That can turn bad very quickly if your school shares IPs etc. iframe related – I’ve done iframes via the plugin Alan mentioned but found that getting people to do that was a hassle, I wrote a little plugin that I activate blog by blog that adds a chunk of allowed iframe parameters to the kses file. This way they keep doing things the way they think they should and […]

HTTPS Insecure Content Fixer Plugin

If you’ve got a site running on HTTPS and you try to throw in some HTTP content, the browser gets nervous. If you’ve recently made a shift to HTTPS you might notice content that was successfully embedded disappearing. If you look in the browser (right click>inspect element in Chrome), you’ll see an error like the one above. What you want in this scenario is protocol relative URLS . . . essentially a URL without the leading http/https. That lets the page load via the one protocol that matches (assuming it exists- some sites won’t supply HTTPS options).1 I ran into this problem with files we uploaded via Gravity Forms prior to the switch to HTTPS. There are a number of ways to deal with this (including search/replace at the database level) but we’re under a very heavy load at the moment and I just needed a quick fix. This solution will also allow people to do whatever they want on an ongoing basis better than a database response. This tiny little filter plugin is the result. All it does is use PHP’s preg_replace (regex) function to find any instances of HTTP or HTTPS (capital or lowercase) and remove them. I’m still amazed by regex but always end up having to spend a bit of time reminding myself of how it […]

mouse over sidebar item to get name to remove in php

Cleansing the Dashboard

Pre-Intervention Post-Intervention I’ve often had requests to make the admin dashboard in WordPress simpler for students (although it’s just as likely applicable to faculty or humans in general). The example in the Juxtapose box above (slide it!)1 The result above is an example based on one such request. The goal was to take the initial dashboard and reduce it down to the absolute minimum of items needed for students and to move them directly into the place they were likely to spend most of their time working (not the dashboard). The code below is all stuff that ends up living the functions file of the custom theme or could be incorporated into a plugin.2 This following code from here makes sure that the only posts an author sees are the ones they wrote. I’m not sure why that’s not the default but . . . The following removes menu items from the sidebar. It’s a combination of things I found in the Codex and in this post. It’s probable I can combine and simplify them but I haven’t taken the time to do that yet. Since there was one sidebar item coming from the theme/plugin, I wasn’t sure how WordPress would handle removing it. Turned out to be pretty straightforward. Mousing over the sidebar item got me the http://MYSITE.com/wp-admin/admin.php?page=vc-general and […]

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-08-28

Sent From My iPhone: how a humblebrag became a key piece of net etiquette | Technology | The Guardian And it works. The researchers Caleb T Carr and Chad Stefaniak found in their paper Sent From My iPhone: The Medium and Message as Cues of Sender Professionalism in Mobile Telephony that those receiving a message containing spelling and grammatical errors forgiving of the mistakes when sent from a phone. What’s more,it boosted credibility over and above a perfectly worded message without the caveat. They also found for a poorly worded and incorrectly spelled message from a desktop or laptop, credibility dropped. Users forgave errors attributed to the constraints of writing on a tiny touch screen, but not mistakes made on a computer. Comprehensive list of Twitter accounts for Auburn players, coaches | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Seventy-five percent of Auburn’s roster (100 players) have an active Twitter account going into the 2016 season. Meet the man siphoning money from Donald Trump – POLITICO an Hawes, a 25-year-old Maryland man who has no affiliation with Trump or his campaign and who has preyed on more than 20,000 unsuspecting donors, collecting more than $1 million in the process. In just its first three weeks of operation, Hawes’ PAC spent more than $108,000 on Facebook ads, offering an opportunity to win “Dinner with Donald Trump” […]

Custom Fitted WordPress

flickr photo shared by Internet Archive Book Images with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) I’ve been doing a whole lot of WordPress customization lately for really widely varying purposes/people. It has been a lot of fun and it’s an option that I’m not sure has been conveyed well to our faculty. Many times, faculty are looking for a process for students (or one another) that is semi-structured. The students have options but they need help remembering to do certain things (include at least one image, consider these three topics, add a link, etc.) or they need a bit of guidance to help create uniformity of some sort. If you’ve ever asked more than ten people to answer three questions in an email then you know that virtually all the humans fail to follow directions when given the chance.1 You’ll also see the width and depth of human imagination if you ask someone to fill in a text field answering a question you really thought was straight forward.2 There are also concerns about the complexity of WordPress that we can address through custom post types and custom user roles while still allowing for a good deal of flexibility within our established constraints. This interplay of custom fields, custom post types, and usually a custom theme to display the former is probably […]

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-08-21

Your drain on drugs: Meth seeps into Baltimore’s streams – CNN.com Here’s why: These plants and bugs are the base of the aquatic food web. Birds eat the bugs, as do frogs and fish. As emergent contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors become more common in ground and drinking water, they could affect humans. Scientists say the direct health effects are pretty much unknown, and more research will need to be done. h/t Jon Becker Handwriting Just Doesn’t Matter – The New York Times A month later, Alabama required the teaching of cursive in public schools by the end of third grade by way of “Lexi’s Law,” named for the granddaughter of the state representative Dickie Drake; Mr. Drake believes “cursive writing identifies you as much as your physical features do.” In other words, our script reveals something unique and ineluctable about our inner being. For most of American history, cursive was supposed to do the opposite. Mastering it was dull, repetitive work, intended to make every student’s handwriting match a standardized model. In the mid-19th century, that model was Spencerian script. It was replaced by the Palmer Method, which was seen as a more muscular and masculine hand suitable for the industrial age — a “plain and rapid style,” as Austin Palmer described it, to replace the more […]

Lynda Tutorial Link in Rampages Dashboard Plugin

Nothing fancy here but maybe useful to someone. Based on a faculty member request, I took the WP widget API default code and created a little dashboard widget to put a link to the Lynda.com WordPress tutorials on every dashboard page (network activated). Can’t hurt and I think I’ll end up expanding this into a messaging system so I can publish “breaking” news and other useful tips.

Lynda Domain URL Tip

WordPress Essential Training Lynda.com is new to VCU. It’s good stuff and I wanted to use it more with students but the vanilla links lead you to the non-VCU authentication page which equals confusion and despair. Luckily, there is a simple solution. Just append ?org=vcu1 to the end of the URL and it’ll prompt the user for authentication and all the good things will happen. So this . . . https://www.lynda.com/WordPress-tutorials/WordPress-Essential-Training/372542-2.html becomes this . . . https://www.lynda.com/WordPress-tutorials/WordPress-Essential-Training/372542-2.html?org=vcu Just a little tip to make life more pleasant. 1 or whatever your org is – I spent some time trying vcu.edu and failing