I performed several backups and upgrades on this site today. We are now on WordPress MU 220.127.116.11, and all plugins are up-to-date. Based on the change logs, I hope this will resolve some of the posting issues our contributors were having. Please report any bugs or problems.
I just put the Ethereal Land through a number of updates. Here’s what I did:
1. WordPress-MU install was upgraded to the latest version: 2.8.4a
2. All plug-ins were update to their latest versions.
3. Post’s from Ethereal Land blogs are once again being pulled automatically into the newspaper.
4. The site administrator can once again change post authors on the Newspaper.
5. The duplicate “Front Page” category was removed to prevent confusion.
6. Backups were run.
7. The search box on the newspaper was fixed.
Please let me know if there are any outstanding issues.
The Technical Exorcist
Most of the work on been doing on EtherealLand.com has been related to getting advertisements in place with Google Adsense. Google Adsense provides us with content sensitive advertising in an unobtrusive manner. It is my goal to eventually have the site pay for it’s own hosting. As easy as Google makes it to put ad’s up, it has still taken a fair amount of work on my part, in part because I am working with people whose goals are artistic in nature rather than economic. Another problem I ran into was Google limitations on ad placement. Google doesn’t want people to create Ad-Farm sites with their product, so they limit you to three text ad’s per page. I wanted to put a text ad at the bottom of each post on the Troll Cave, but I wanted to have more than three posts on the main page. In the end, I decided to have one Google ad per day, rather than per post. To my disappointment, WordPress doesn’t have any built-in function to make this easy, and I had to write one of my own.
If you’d like to try out targeted advertising, you should
Tatterdemalion asked me for help with her site the other day. The titles on some of her posts were so long the didn’t fit on the sidebar, and it was messing everything up. Since she didn’t want to change the width of her sidebar, we needed a way to truncate really long post titles when they were listed on the sidebar. I didn’t feel like going through the headache of figuring out the PHP myself, so I searched the web for a WordPress plugin that would do the job. I managed to find one that works well called ODEN latest posts. Simple installation, and works well.
Today it was reported to me that Internet Explorer wasn’t displaying the Troll Cave or the Ape Man’s romping grounds correctly. The Troll cave only displayed one screen’s worth of text, and the way she likes to go on, I knew that they wouldn’t let me let it slide. After banging my head against it for a while, I figured out that she’d copied her post from Open Office, and it contained some non-standard code that threw IE off. The W3C Markup Validation Service was big help figuring that one out.
The Ape Man had lost his sidebar at the bottom of the screen, and that turned out to be a bigger pain. When I ran his code through the W3’s validator, it couldn’t even begin to validate because it said there was a character on line 190 that wasn’t part of the UTF-8 character set. I quickly located it and deleted it, but when I told it to recheck the site, it still claimed the character was there. I figured it was probably lying, so I saved the source code for Ape Man’s site to my hard drive and then had the W3’s validator check that. It shouldn’t have made any difference, but since it actually was lying, the validator didn’t choke on it. Instead, it found over 100 problems. Ape Man has a post that is really messed up, and he’s planning on fixing it soon. I didn’t feel like fixing it for him, so I gave up on getting his site to validate for the moment and decide to pursue other avenues.
A Google search turned up a lot of clues. Most of them said that IE was idiotic about margins, padding, sizes, percentages, and anything else you might think of. They all said you had to use a kind of a hack to get things working. They got me all off track investigating the “Holly Hack”, “Star Hack”, and a couple of other different names for basically the same thing. Problem is, those hacks really only seem to help IE 5 and below, and I was having problems with IE 6, which was ignoring the hack code.
In the end, I just made the sidebar float on the right side of the screen, and gave it a -100px left margin. It sounds like the kind of trick that would goober everything up, but it actually made all the browsers happy, and preserved the intended look of the site.
It’s been almost a month since the other inhabitants of the Ethereal Land and I set up a private server to test our little project out on, and now we’re finally up and running in public webspace. It’s taken a lot of work on my part setting up back-end stuff, and helping the other’s get their spaces set up the way they wanted, but I’m pretty happy with our start. There are a lot of things that aren’t anywhere near how we eventually want them, but we’ve made a good start.
In the future we should have the site tied together better, and a lot of design flaws should be worked out. I’ll try to let everyone know about the bigger changes I make here as time goes on. You can also expect to seeÃ‚Â myÃ‚Â takesÃ‚Â on some computer/science articles here.