How to publish posts to WordPress blog via Email

I am actually writing this post in my Gmail account. Here is what you
need to do when you want to publish a post to your WordPress blog by
sending email messages:

  • Enter the Mail section on your C-Panel.
  • Create a very secret email address, the one that nobody could guess. If other people know this email address, they can post to your blog with no restrictions.
  • In your WordPress Settings, go to Writing Settings, and find Post via e-mail section. Input the your secret mail address and password, and choose a default category of your emailed posts.
  • Send an email to your secret address.
  • Edit your wp-mail.php under the WordPress installation directory, find this line, and change the line below it into ‘publish’:
// Author not found in DB, set status to pending. Author already set to admin.
$post_status = 'publish';
  • In your browser, visit your wp-mail.php so that your emailed posts will be published. This is the url I feed to my browser: http://www.thinkweird.info/wp-mail.php

Your emailed posts should appear in your front page now.

Limitations:

  • I am not sure how to tag this post, neither do I know how to insert pictures into this email message which is going to be posted.
  • You can’t use Rich formatting to format your posts, just use plain text. As common HTML tags will be stripped.
  • Only good for a very plain, words only post.

Advantages:

  • Good for travelers with limited computer availability.
  • Very efficient. It is like writing an email message to your readers, and you may even be inspired when posting in this unorthodox method.

Tip:

To automatically publish emailed posts, and avoid visiting wp-mail.php every time after you send a post, add the following line to the bottom of footer.php of your theme. Remember to use your own URL instead of mine.

Robots.txt made simple

For beginner WordPress bloggers, creating a search bot friendly robots.txt is a headache sometimes. This is particularly true for me: I first blindly copied a robots.txt from some site, which resulted in the blocking of all my posts from the search engines. I later found out the robots.txt I copied deliberately blocked all posts with a ? in the default permlink format.

Learning a hard lesson, I found a simple robots.txt will just do the job. Don’t copy robots.txt from sites that claim their robots.txt can do magic to SEO.

So how to create a simple and easy robots.txt for your new WordPress blog?

  • You want to allow all search bots to crawl your site, so simply put this simple line into your robots.txt:
User-agent: *
  • Create a Sitemap and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools. How to create a sitemap? Just install the plugin google-sitemap-generator for this purpose.
  • Block search bots from crawling certain directories – the directories which do not provide contents of your site, and are there for administrative or maintenance tasks. For WordPress, you certainly want to block these three directories. Remember, don’t disallow wp-contents. Because it holds your site’s contents.
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/
  • If you feel like generating a robots.txt automatically, here is a robots.txt generator you can try and it can also help you better understand how robots.txt works.
  • Still want to know more? Actually you can learn a lot from your favorite sites. Just add robots.txt to the end of the url of your favorite sites, and you can see how they configured theirs. For exmaple, you can see my robots.txt by this url.
http://thinkweird.info/robots.txt
  • Feel lazy? You should be just fine if yours robots.txt looks similar to this (remember to supply your own site’s url to the sitemap line).
Sitemap: http://www.thinkweird.info/sitemap.xml.gz
User-Agent: *

A Plugin to Show Tag Clouds in Animated Flash

I stumbled upon a cool WordPress plugin called WP Cumulus. It animates the Tag Cloud widget using Flash, and renders tags into a rotating sphere. I am a little tired after an overhaul of my blog a few days ago, so I’ll bookmark this plugin in this post and implement later. It appears to support WordPress 2.5.

Download: Flash based tag cloud frontend

Update: I finally implemented this Flash Plugin on my site. It can’t show Tags in Chinese, and I hope it has an option to display Tags in a cube. Other than these minor complaints, it is easy to install and configure, and certainly make your site look cool.

Reorganize Categories and Tags

I’m Knight” provided some valuable insights on the reorganization of categories and tags under WordPress

Why reorganize?

  • consolidate into fewer categories and make it one level only. No more hierarchy category.
  • the tag feature is build-in now. I can just make a open source category and tag each entry with more specific tag like Debian and LAMP.
  • tag your old post too, make it more visible to the search engine
  • tags can sort out the related posts and help display them to visitors

Tools to use

Change Category Names under WordPress

When I tried to change category names, WordPress simply prompted “category not updated”. I digged into the WordPress forum and find the solution in this post.

The issue may be that you are trying to change a category slug description to a category slug description that already exists within your blog. No doubles are allowed.

I changed the category slug into a unique one and the problem was resolved.

Or better, instead of changing the slug or category, deleting the conflicting tags seems to be a better solution:

This happen after wordpress 2.3 release and introduce tag feature , the database structure has been changed, it combine the links category, post category and tag in one table, because for category slug it need to be unique, when you unable to change means the “word” has been used either by link category or tag.

Offline Blog Editor for WordPress

Writing directly on the WordPress interface can be very time consuming. I realized how much time I wasted in the process of formatting and publishing a blog entry.

The solution, it seems to me, is to write blog locally and publish it with a click of a button. I asked this question on WordPress forum and got a pointer to a few programs:

Though I am wary of the Microsoft programs in general, Word 2007 is currently the only editor at hand to do this job. Right now I’m writing this post under Word 2007 and I will see how it works. So far I have noticed it lacks the following features:

  • No tagging capabilities
  • Probably insecure authentication handshake
  • No “read more…”
  • Can’t schedule a time for a post to be published

I haven’t tinkered with image insertions in Word 2007, but I’ve noticed how much faster to publish a post using a local blog editor!

I will try other local blog editors in the future, preferably a free editor with advanced blog editing features. Stay tuned.

Update: WordPress provides a complete list of “weblog clients”. Go there and pick one for your own needs. Right now Zoundry Raven is my choice.

A Breif Review of Qumana — the Heinous Blog Editor

Warning: Do not use Qumana (version 3.0.1) to edit the old posts which has html code <!–more–> in it.

Because Qumana can only see the content before <!–more–> markup in your post, and the rest of the content will be permanently lost if you edit your old posts and save them under Qumana. I have lost a great proportion of my Ron Jeremy post because Qumana only showed part of my post, leaving me the impression that the post was incomplete. After I pressed Update Post, I only had one sentence of my post left.

Due to this serious design flaw, I will not use Qumana and do not recommend it to anyone who will edit their old posts.

Pros

  • multi-platfrom since it is base on Java
  • can insert tags in posts
  • decent image insertion functions

Cons

  • destroys your old posts which have html code <!–more–> in it
  • not responsive and resource hogging because it is Java-based
  • marks posts with UTC time, totally unaware of time zones

This is my first post under Qumana and it will be the last one under this post-destroyer.

Side thoughts: Stay away from Java-based programs. I don’t need the portability of Java programs and I don’t want to sacrifice performance for portability.

Upload images in WordPress 2.5.1

When I attempted to upload an image to WordPress 2.5.1, I was prompted to input my login and password in the image uploader. After feeding the information to it, it just gave me an error and no image was uploaded at all.

I used the No-Flash-Uploader plugin and the issue is gone. The moral? The newest version isn’t necessarily the best version!

Update: The plugin appears to be the simple solution to the problem of failing to upload pictures in version 2.5.1. But I recommend you to upgrade your WordPress to a newer version to avoid using an extra plugin to upload images. Right now I am using version 2.6.1 and the default picture uploading function works well.

Simplified Chinese Translation of Dkret3

Here is the Simplified Chinese (zh_CN) translation of drket3 version 1.9.

I haven’t thoroughly tested it on my blog, but it should be usable generally. After I test it or get some feedbacks from other users, I will update my translation.

Download: dkret-zh_CN Version 1.9

Update: I keep this post for its reminiscent value because dkret3 has been upgraded to Version 4+ as of writing this upgrade. Although I use other themes, I still love this theme and planning to use it someday.

How to find the perfect theme for your blog

Finding a theme is as important as choosing a name for your site. Once you pick a design or presentation for your site, it becomes your identity and you generally don’t change it. Every blogger wants to have a perfect theme for his blog. Here is how I located my perfect theme.

  • Find a good theme site. Sites that have a large pool of categorized themes will save you a lot of time. The official theme site does a good job in this respect.
  • Know your personal preferences. Limit the pool of themes by deciding the color scheme, number of columns, and sidebar positions for your blog. Some features like widget and plugin support should also be considered. I like themes with clear and decent design, and avoid the themes that obscure the contents. Use filters on the theme site to narrow download your selections.
  • Test the themes on your blog. You can preview and test run the themes, but the first impression is often deceptive. You need to test them one by one on your blog. Here is the steps I took to quicken the process:
    • Let your browser automatically download the theme files when you click on a download link.
    • Use Winrar to extract all the theme files in a batch.
    • Use a FTP client to upload the theme folder to your site. C-Panel is just too weak for mass uploading.

    Some themes look great, but they may not have the features you want. For example, some themes do not support widgets and this is a big minus.

  • Meet the designer. After picking out your favorite themes, visit the site of the designers and see how the theme is maintained. Some designers may no longer maintain the theme, and some don’t bother to answer the questions.

After testing about 50 themes one by one on my blog, I finally picked dkret

and I must say it is just perfect for me. It has the right font size, good widgets and plugin support, and the general design is just elegant! There are other themes that had my attention in my quest for perfect themes: Complicated (by a French, a bit out-dated), CypherFS Bliss, Clasikue, Estila, Soft White, Conestogastreet and fHeaavn.