Big and Tiny Bubbles

March 11th, 2009

Isn’t it strange how when it’s warm outside there’s a bunch of fun things to do that we haven’t thought of for a while!?

Bubbles © Fox Haven Media 2009 

Among other things, I’m working on upgrading the ‘ole Journal this week… a scary proposition.  I’m not a techie by trade, but usually get around okay.  Problem being that I’ve missed (i.e. not done) about the last six WordPress upgrades because I’ve customized this blog theme so much and was hesitant to change anything.  So I’m backing up the database and exporting a bunch of files, deactivating plugins, making notes… and maybe one of these days I’ll get the gumption to push a bunch of buttons and go for it.  

Soap bubbles come to mind when I think of upgrading the blog… I can see it all, even through various parts to ultimate place I want to be, but what if I do everything right, start the upgrade process and then, “Poof!” it’s gone?!  Figuring out how to bring it back is worse than upgrading it.  At least for non-scary-smart-(non-specific-gender)-techie dudes like me.   

Need to grab an ice cold drink before-hand maybe.  But then those other little bubbles might impair my judgement and then where will I be?!  Ah, but the new WP versions are much more friendly to administer (thanks to a lot of really scary smart techie folks) and security is much better, upgrading is easier, media files work better, blah, blah, blah.  So if things look kind of strange around here at some point, you’ll know why… it will either be my fault or well, the bubbles fault! 

Using MS Word to Write Blog Posts

February 22nd, 2009

I’m trying a new experiment today, using the “blog post” function inherent to MS Word 7.0.  This is not the same thing as “copying” and “pasting” from Word- it’s a new capability, and doesn’t insert a plethora (did I just use that word?!) of extra HTML markup that clutters the post code.   Practically speaking, it’s not too different than logging in to your blog platform and using the administration tools built into it. But Word does offer greater flexibility such as using my 19 inch widescreen monitor with a much larger screen size to type/write on, manipulate images, etc. Using WordPress I have to constantly “re-size” the text editor to fit images and such. But with Word, you can maximize it to full screen size just like typing any document offline. I should note that I’m not using the latest WordPress evolution, so other users may have different opinions. It should also be noted that Word’s blog post capability can be used with Blogger, Windows Live, TypePad and other platforms too.

I like the fact that the Word software has made it pretty simple to set up your “accounts” for publishing, offering the ability to publish right away, or as a draft. Which means if you’re using a computer without internet access, you can finish a post and save it for later publication as well. I like that feature in terms of the idea of bringing a laptop with me while traveling and publishing later when internet access is available. Sure you could always do that when writing in Notepad or another text editor, and then “copying” and “pasting” text to your blog platform- but with MS Word you can save all your formatting and image placement too, and simply post right away once you have internet access again.

Sunset while camping

Last year for example, we took a two-week trip camping around the Midwest and didn’t have internet access very often. I remember typing a few posts in advance as a rough draft, but then had to scramble quickly to finish, edit, format and publish the article when we finally had internet access before moving on. So with this ability I can have it ready to go in advance, and upload it quickly at my convenience when we get internet access again. If you’re only typing text without images it may not matter to you though.

Realistically I’m not sure if I’ll use the “blog post” function within Word very often- I like having the functions within WordPress available while writing new posts, and changing your writing habits isn’t easy sometimes! There is one other thing although it doesn’t happen very often- I have lost several posts while trying to publish them after spending an hour or two writing them. That’s a big “Aaarrrghh!” moment.  WordPress has a great “autosave” feature that works pretty well, but sometimes you can still lose a post and writing it up offline in Word may prevent that from happening. It’s nice to have options and other ways to do things. 

So how did it work out?  Well, I first published this as a draft, and it turns out that my pictures didn’t show up- I had to go into WordPress and reload them.  I may not have set it up properly so I’ll try again.  Also I found that Word inserted a backslash wherever a single or double quotation exists.  That’s not helpful… so I’ll see if there’s anything I can do to change that.  Otherwise it seems to work just fine- does anyone else have user feedback on Word’s blog post capability?

By the way, I’m excited that the little shrub, or smallish tree, in the middle of the picture below is growing bigger this year. 

Do you know what it is? 

Winter flora

Fixing Stuff and Heading Outside

March 2nd, 2008

One of the neat things about sharing thoughts and pictures with a blog is the ability to reach so many people. The internet still amazes me, and through writing on a blog we can appeal to a diverse array of people from all walks of life and all over the world.  Sometimes we find a blog accidentally while searching for something else.  But most people who visit a blog or website do so quietly, preferring the anonymity of the web.   In blog jargon, people who visit a site but don’t comment much are called “lurkers.”  I read somewhere that more than 80% of a sites visitors usually just browse the site without commenting.

I must admit that I’m a lurker on most of the sites I visit!  Usually I just don’t think I have much to share or contribute.  When I do make a comment however, I find that the host really appreciates it.  Sometimes I’ll “subscribe to a feed” or RSS link in my newsreader, and receive updates on daily posts. 

Kuma of Fox Haven

But for other sites I’ll sign up directly for an email subscription so that whenever a blog post is made, I’ll get that email on the same day even if I have not visited the site in a while.   I find it easier because I don’t always remember to visit different sites, and frankly I just don’t have the time.

One of the companies that has simplified blog feeds and email subscriptions is FeedBurner.  The company grew so quickly and was so effective that Google bought them last year!  But FeedBurner is not perfect as I found out yesterday.  I’ve had a “Subscribe vie Email” page and link on the site for some time, and when I went to help someone sign up yesterday I found it wasn’t working. Arrggh!  It seems that if FeedBurner makes some tweaks to their system without notifying users it results in a broken sign-up process. 

So that link is now fixed… if you’ve tried to sign up in the past and didn’t succeed, I offer my apologies.  And if you haven’t tried to sign up in the past, well then I hope you’ll consider it now! :)   


I certainly understand if you enjoy reading quietly from afar.  But if you ever think about commenting on a post or topic, please feel welcome to do so.  Soon it will be time for the garden, and I hope some of you can share your growing insights! 

After fixing the links on this site, it’s time to head outside.  It’s supposed to warm up to 73 degrees today before turning colder again this week.  But the cold won’t last for long!  I hear the birds singing… Best regards-

10 Things to Know about WordPress in 2020

January 25th, 2007

Updated for 2020. 

Beginning in 2003,  WordPress now commands nearly 40% of the published webspace for everything from self-authored blogs and niche sites, to galleries, forums, shopping and advertising sites, and so much more through an amazing range of creative business and media organizations. 

Here are my 10 Things to Know about WordPress:

  1.  WordPress has revolutionized self-published content on the internet.  Through WordPress and similar platforms, everyone can publish nearly anything they can dream of directly to the internet to share with the world. 
  2. WordPress has produced entire new media, software, advertising, publishing and other related industries, leveraging creativity into economic expansion.
  3. WordPress has made people a lot of money. (see #2).
  4. WordPress has given a voice to people; even providing opportunity to the smallest publisher in the farthest reaches of the world.  In some ways, WordPress has enabled free speech and liberty where previously voices struggled to be heard.
  5. WordPress has lifted people and communities out of poverty through education and awareness of issues, and fostered visibility and relationships through the stratum of local community and national economic needs. 
  6. WordPress has helped people survive disasters and enabled recovery efforts and continued charitable and government support.
  7. WordPress has helped people to learn and to improve their lives both at home, in schools, and in their communities and workplaces.
  8. WordPress has enabled families, relatives and friends to share thoughts and stories across time and distance in ways they never would have before.
  9. WordPress has helped people learn to do new things, to fix things, to create things, to understand things, to recognize things and to appreciate things in so many new and different ways.
  10. WordPress has driven countless publishers crazy with the need and desire to keep writing and publishing!




Conversely, I will add that through WordPress (and similar platforms) we may also risk suppression of the very same free speech, creativity and economic freedom by the intolerance of those who would force their narrow viewpoints, ideas or beliefs on the rest of the world.  

I believe WordPress is a force for good– and will continue to be an amazing publishing platform.  We must remain vigilant and stand up for freedom of speech, the rights of every citizen, and the ability to share individual expression in positive ways. 


If you are new to WordPress and considering your own hosting enviroment, please see the WordPress Homepage.  Or you can visit WordPress.com for a simple, managed hosting environment.


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Upgrade Tips for WordPress

January 25th, 2007

Update – 2020: This is obviously an outdated post, but I’m leaving it here for archive purposes.  This site is currently running the latest WordPress Build.   With the fantastic new tools and block editors that WordPress includes in the platform, upgrading should be fairly simple for most users.  Nearly all web hosts now use managed WordPress hosting options, or Fantastico / Softaculous install software for installation, and they work fine as well.  Best regards with your journey!


  I finished a manual upgrade from WordPress last night.  Wahoo!  Not too complex, but took longer than I thought.  Fortunately now WordPress offers automatic upgrades within the site itself, which simplifies things immensely- for most people that is the place to start.  However, this post was written orginally when it required manually updating- and it’s not too difficult honestly.  However, sometimes Plugins or other files can cause a broken site or pages/categories. Consider deactivating your plugins first if you think your site is broken- you can reactivate them one at a time and see how it does.

For manual updates, your favorite FTP utility will be essential.  I previously used FireFTP within Firefox (it no longer works with Firefox / Mozilla as of 2018).  There are many other simple FTP programs to choose from. Now about the WordPress upgrade…. with all due respect to those of you reading, I try to remember this quote by Douglas Adams (1952-2001):

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof, is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”  

That seems more appropriate with the passing of time!  So here’s how I completed the upgrade.  If anyone has other useful information, please comment:

Remember: If you are using an older version of WordPress,  you may require staged upgrading to later versions before upgrading all at once.   That being said… you may need to consider a rebuild or “clean installation” of your WordPress site-  there are many relevant sites out there discussing this issue- take a look at where you are before you start, and consider that option.

If you are willing however, think about your upgrade stages – and consult the WordPress Codex for the latest support and Upgrade recommendations.

  1. First- read, heed and become very familiar with WordPress Upgrade instructions. WordPress is the authority and reference for how to upgrade- so go there first!  The following information is simply a guide for how I completed my upgrade, in case it might be helpful.
  2. Plan for at least a couple hours (or more) of time in case something doesn’t upload correctly or you forget where you were in the upgrade process… if you have to leave and come back eight hours later, you may not remember something, and your site could be hard down and require starting over.
  3. Complete all database backups as indicated, both within WordPress and phpMyAdmin. I like to save the backup files both to the web server and my local computer. WordPress has excellent database backup instructions here: WordPress Backups.
  4. Make a copy of the .htaccess file and the wp-config.php file in case they are accidently deleted. I also like to save a copy of my WordPress wp-content folder in case I accidently delete or overwrite those files.
  5. Do you have backups of all images and other customized content that you have uploaded to the webserver? Do that if you have not done previously.
  6. After downloading and extracting the file to my computer, I set up Windows Explorer to show the file tree of the new files and the file tree of the files on my blog (using cPanel File Manager) to see what was different.  I familiarized myself with the folders and files I would be adding to the webserver. WordPress recommends deleting webserver files first to ensure a clean install/upgrade. However I chose to overwrite the files as I went along, paying attention to exactly which files would be changed.  I am not familiar enough with every file used on my web server to simply delete them all.  Some of those files are used by other components, functions or plugins, and I wanted to ensure I kept them there.  Your choice.
  7. I have a duplicate functional localhost site of my blog (using Windows WAMPSERVER) which helps in two ways:
    • First, it allows me to test and verify that certain components, plugins and upgrades will work on my blog.
    • Second, I can then reference exactly what files are used while I upgrade via FTP to my live hosted blog. So after first completing the upgrade/install on my localhost site to verify compatibility with my theme, plugins, etc. I was confident to upgrade my live hosted site.
  8. I read the WordPress Upgrade  instructions a couple more times… “measure twice, cut once!”  Now I started the FTP program and went to work.
  9. In my FTP program, I expanded the file tree of the newly extracted WordPress files, and once step at a time verified exactly which files and folders would be transferred to the webserver. Ensure that you don’t simply tell FTP to transfer folders without verifying what files are in them!  After you’ve done this a few times it will be easier, but you don’t want to overwrite (or delete) your wp-content folder on the webserver!
  10. I uploaded the main/root WordPress files to my webserver root.  Follow the WordPress Upgrade instructions if your blog is not in your root directory.
  11. I uploaded all the wp-admin folders and files, then all the wp-includes folders and files.  Some of you may have other files or customizations here, but I knew I didn’t and simply replaced them.
  12. Then I started on the wp-content folder files:
    • In the wp-content plugins folder, I only uploaded the new Akismet and “hello” plugin files to my plugin folder.  I have other plugins in the folder that I wanted to save.
    • I then uploaded the new Classic and Default themes in the wp-content folder (making sure I left my own themes and files in the wp-content folder on the webserver!). If you are using the Classic and Default themes, you should know if you customized any pages or templates, and uploaded images- these “customizations” should be known by you, and the images saved as well in case you overwrite or delete them.  I don’t use the Classic or Default themes, so I simply replaced those folders with the new WordPress Classic and Default folders.
  13. That should be it!  Uploading everything took about an hour because I went slowly.  Now you simply add “/wp-admin/upgrade.php” to your site URL in your browser, (e.g. https://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php or https://www.yourdomain.com/wordpress/wp-admin/upgrade.php if WordPress is not in your root directory) hit enter and follow the simple instructions.  Remember to restart your plugins one by one and see how the site runs.
  14. Any Problems?  Lets hope not- Here are more detailed WordPress Extended Upgrade Installation instructions and Troubleshooting instructions to figure out any potential problems.
  15. One of the problems I did have on my localhost upgrade was that after everything was up and running, I went to update my permalink customization in the WordPress admin site.  Guess what?  I got a 500 server error… and then couldn’t go back or restart the site at all.  I was bummed but checked my log files.  I found in my Apache log file a list of errors with one commonality:
    • “.htaccess: RewriteRule: bad flag delimiters, referer: https://……./wp-admin/options-permalink.php”
  16. After a Google search, I learned there could be code errors, spaces, etc. in my .htaccess file.  So not having any php coding skills, I took a clean, basic .htaccess file with only “RewriteEngine on” and replaced that with the one in my root directory that wasn’t working.  And voila! Success!  WordPress modified the .htaccess as it needed.
  17. Some of you have many different .htaccess configurations, and that is why it is recommended to back it up before starting the upgrade.  My original .htaccess file had a php test configuration added to it, and that appears to have been the problem.
  18. I did not have any file permissions issues after the upgrade. I have seen this happen with other files I have added to my webserver, so that is one area to look at if you do have problems.  You can adjust file permissions via FTP or through the cPanel File Server program as necessary.

Hope your upgrade goes smoothly… remember not to underestimate the process!  Again, with all due respect to those of you who have read this far…. Douglas Adams also said:

“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair!”

We should probably remember to think of this process as something that “might go wrong”…   But hey, you’ve got to love WordPress…

Thanks to the WordPress team!

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