Gravatars Working Once Again

After a period of downtime due to issues with my current host, I’ve been able to start coding on the site once again.

Gravatars have now been fixed, and appear whenever you comment on a post.

If you don’t have a gravatar yet, feel free to signup at http://gravatar.com – many sites now use them, so you’re time won’t be wasted.

blandname forum open!

I haven’t been getting much feedback on the latest poll, and it’s probably my fault because it’s positioned under the adverts… oh well.

As a lazy developer and software-lover, my only choice is to implement ALL of the SEO Services Sydney solutions, one at a time.

So that’s how we got here with our second real announcement, after the Digg plugin for Pandion (thanks to 43things for reminding me once weekly that I needed to start an open-source project).

I’ve opened a forum for all to use – you can feel free to post tech support questions, links you have found, or just general chit-chat if need be. I’ve set up a pretty good spam filtering system, but we’ll see how it works. I honestly have a hard time believing anything could work as well as Dr. Dave’s Spam Karma 2 plugin for WordPress.

So head on over to the blandname forum and check it out!

I’ve set up BBPress there, and to be honest it was a cinch. I’ll post a how to do SEO in Montreal later, but it’s not so involved. I was able to get modrewrite going right away – which in my opinion is an absolute necessity for proper SEO, including the small business SEO. I will be attempting to integrate the themes and users via MySQL shortly, so if you’ve registered with blandname, you’ll have access to the forums as well.

Installing WordPress MU on a Dreamhost Server

Blandname is currently hosted with DreamHost, and we’ve been here for years. It’s cheap, offers lots of goodies, and one-click installs allow us to easily install and test web-based software. Not to mention that they also support Ruby on Rails, and give you SSH access and the ability to run a Jabber server as well as unlimited MySQL databases. If you are wanting to host your own website then choose a UKservers.

You’ve also probably gathered that blandname is currently running WordPress. Dreamhost Circulo Marketing has had a one-click install for WordPress just like ipage has for a while now, and since it was handy at the time, we went for it.

But things change, and one-click installs often are not enough to satisfy most webmasters, which is how we got where we are today. Since my goal with blandname is to create another multiuser blog similar to what has already been running for years at yottabite, but instead of having one big weblog, we’d like to have multiple subdomains like string.blandname.com, which WordPress MU allows you to accomplish, automatically.

Unfortunately DreamHost doesn’t support WordPress MU‘s subdomains by default yet (you can always send them an email), but we can still get away with subfolders, which is more than good enough for a test.

This guide will require familiarity with DreamHost’s control panel, as well as common Bash shell commands as we will be using SSH.

The first step is to make a test domain for you WordPress MU install. In my case, I navigated to the “Domains” section of the left-hand menu, then to the “Manage Domains” section of the DreamHost panel, and created the new subdomain test.blandname.com. You’ll want to make sure to select PHP5, and enable extra security. This typically takes about 10 minutes to complete, but we still have the database to add, so let’s get to that at the same time.

In the “goodies” section of the DreamHost control panel, select “Manage MySQL”. The default view is to set up a new MySQL database, which is what we’re going to do. Create a unique database name, the subdomain you would like it to use, as well as the data base username and password. Make sure to keep note of all of these settings as we will need them when installing WPMU.

DreamHost will have by now created a folder in your SSH root that will allow you to place files there and start some of the work while we wait for the subdomain to be created and propagate. Login to your server using SSH (you’ll need to use either your DreamHost hostname here or another web address for now – you can use the WordPress Mu domain later). Now we’ll navigate to the new subdirectory that was created when we setup the new subdomain by typing: cd test.blandname.com Change the folder name to whatever is pertinent in this case.

Now that we’re in the correct folder, we’ll grab the latest using the always-handy WGET. Here’s the code:

wget http://mu.wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz

gunzip latest.tar.gz

tar -xvf latest.tar

cd wordpressmu-1.0 (this will probably change, ls -al will tell you the dirname)

cp -rf * /home/YOURUSERNAME/test.yourdomain.com/

cd ..

rm -rf wordpressmu-1.0/

Now we’ve got a clean directory structure in the root of our test domain, and we’re set to go ahead with the WordPress MU installation.

By now the subdomain has probably propagated because DreamHost is getting faster and faster, so using your web browser, navigate to test.yourdomain.com

Next you’ll want to retrieve the soiled napkin, SubEthaEdit file or whatever else it was that you used to jot down the database settings, and plop them in here. They are very straightforward, and this is typically the most problematic so check them twice but have no fear: if you mess up WP MU will tell you, and you can retrieve the settings from the “Manage MySQL” section in the DreamHost web control panel.

The rest is quite simple: you’ll be met with a typical WordPress installation page, but instead it’s for WorPress MU. The first question that needs to be asked is whether or not WordPress MU users will be using subdomains or subfolders of the root WPMU installation. As previously stated, DreamHost currently does not support subdomains by default (I’ve put in a request, here’s hoping), so we’ll select subfolders here. WP MU will have already placed the domain name you will be using in the yellow textfield, but if you had decided to use subfolders instead of the webroot, you’ll want to specify that here as this will affect all links as well as your RSS feeds.

Lastly, we’ll want to name our multi-user WordPress MU blog, and specify the email address that you will use for things like spam reports, and replies to your comments on the parent blog.

Click on that small “submit” button, and let’s see what happens!

Hopefully on the next screen you’ll see this message:

Creating Database Config File: DONE
Congrats! Your WPMU site has been set up and you have been sent details of your login and password in an email.

Click on the link provided, and get with customization, as we’re all done.

Allow Multiple Logins/Users for Mint Stats Tracker

I have been testing the Mint PHP web statistics script for my development sites lately, and though I love it and the modular plugins you can get for it, one feature is sorely lacking – multiple user logins.

This quick hack is by no means revolutionary, but it certainly does get the job done.

A new feature in Mint 1.2.x is to allow what’s called a “client mode” where anyone can access the statistics without the need to login. While this works for locally hosted Mint installations, the is definitely sub-optimal when it comes to a production site.

The solution? I’m sure you may have guessed it already, but by using .htaccess, you can easily set up multiple logins to Mint!

In my case I use subdomains like minttea.mytestsite.com. Using SSH, I logon to minttea.mytestsite.com, and issue this command:

pico .htaccess

In order to add user to the file, you must append the .htaccess file with lines similar to this htaccess guide.

You’ll need to encrypt the usernames and passwords, but once it’s done you will have logins enabled.

Please note that this method is susceptible to a brute-force attack, but it will keep most people from poking around with your stats.

Once I have figured out a better way (using PHP for example) I will post it here too.

blandname launches prefoc.us beta

We finally launched our online RSS reader today, and are looking for testers. The site is called prefoc.us

prefoc.us (prefocus) will eventually allows (!) for more interactivity (!!) but since it’s still in beta these functions aren’t available yet. You can also add feeds to be parsed, and view pictures, listen to audio, and even watch videos!

Stay tuned to blandname as the site develops.

Oh, and more tech tips coming soon!