Before You Report that Bug, Use this Pre-Contact, Self-Diagnosis Routine

Wisdom for bug reporting from Newfangled

There are a few things a developer usually needs to know in order to diagnose a bug, and these are the things we’re likely to come back and ask you about if you haven’t already provided them. So, to ensure we can help you as quickly as possible, here’s a pre-contact, self-diagnosis routine to help guide you in reporting a problem. 

1. Can the Issue Be Reproduced on Other Computers or Devices?

2. What environment are you encountering the bug in?

3. Did you clear your cache?

4. Call vs Email.

via Newfangled RSS FEED:

The first step to being able to fix bugs is having the right information about what is causing them. I can’t say how many times I’ve been tasked with a bug that I can’t reproduce. It ends up taking longer to diagnose it than it does to fix it, or to rule it out as some issue that’s already been fixed and was just caused by cache… The world of bug reporters should read the article though to help exterminate the bugs…

In dependence – Not dead

Great summary and call to arms to write our own content in our own ways on our own sites. Call it what you like but ‘blogging’ is somewhat waning, in the social webs. Since as easy it is to create your own site and express your own voice, we’re flocking to the ‘services’ that will then own our content along with all the restrictions around it. Facebook and twitter and everywhere else make it effortless to publish to the web, but at the cost of us losing our voice…

Jason Kottke wrote an end-of-the-year piece for the Nieman Journalism Lab called The blog is dead, long live the blog:

Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice.

But the second part of the article’s title is as important as the first:

Over the past 16 years, the blog format has evolved, had social grafted onto it, and mutated into Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and those new species have now taken over.

Jason’s piece prompted some soul-searching.

Frank is planting his flag in his own sand with his minifesto Homesteading 2014

I’m returning to a personal site, which flips everything on its head. Rather than teasing things apart into silos, I can fuse together different kinds of content.

So, I’m doubling down on my personal site in 2014.

He is not alone. Many of us are feeling an increasing unease, even disgust, with the sanitised, shrink-wrapped, handholding platforms that make it oh-so-easy to get your thoughts out there …on their terms …for their profit.

Of course independent publishing won’t be easy. Facebook, Pinterest, Medium, Twitter, and Tumblr are all quicker, easier, more seductive.

In all likelihood, the independent web will never be able to match the power and reach of the silos. But that won’t stop me (and others) from owning our own words. If nothing else, we can at least demonstrate that the independent path is an option—even if that option requires more effort.

I have a horrible feeling that many of the people publishing with the easy-to-use tools of today’s social networks don’t realise how fragile their repository is, not least because everyone keeps repeating the lie that “the internet never forgets.”

I hope that you too will be publishing on your own website in 2014.

via Adactio: Journal:

I ain’t ‘fraida no maths

I’d heard of the ‘coding maths’ series, but hadn’t watched it yet. I should have, it’s great! Keith Peters (one of the people who first got me into scripting) has a great series about the math behind coding and as always he has a way of making complex things simple to me!

Learn all you need to know about maths for programming with this brilliant video series from Keith Peters. I always encourage people to learn to code and often they’ll reply that they’re “not good enough at maths”. The truth is … Continue reading

via CreativeJS:

Codecademy & English Computing Curriculum

Today, Codecademy is really pleased to announce our partnership with Computing at School (CAS), the leading authority on the new computing curriculum in England. England is the first country to mandate programing in schools. Starting in September 2014, students aged between 5-16 will learn HTML, CSS, Python and JavaScript. CAS were largely responsible for designing the curriculum objectives, and are leading the way in teacher training.

Continue reading

via Dreaming in Flash:

This is a very interesting trend (along with the hour of code recently) that is focused on educating the next generation of developers. Also pushing the idea that we will need more developers and programmers as we more farther into the information age and will need more people to manage the more systems of more data and computing. Seems those who are best educated will be ready to take it on while the rest watch the “magicians” work.

Leveling Up Your Authorship Skills with Google Plus

Otto has a great post over on make.wordpress explaining how to associate your WordPress plugins with yourself as the author in Google search results. I just tried it, easy, and it worked.

While Google+ may not be the hot social area on the block, it does seem to have some benefits. Studies show that listings with a specified author receive much more clicks and attention than those that do not.

Who doesn’t want more attention to their hand-crafted WordPress plugins? More traffic? More readers? More leads? More collaborators…?

google authorship screenshotI think it makes the listing much more attractive as well, of course, that all depends on your mug too =)

Plugin authors developers are “contributors” to WordPress and should be benefiting from these Google author listings.

Go set up your WordPress profile with a link to Google+ as well as a link to your WordPress profile on your Google+ profile.

This gives Google the data they need to give you “credit” for your work in their search listings. Not that this by any means guarantees that your listings will include this data, but it does do all the set up so it is possible.

Google also provides a Rich Snippet Tool to preview and test that all your associations are set up properly. So don’t stop at WordPress. To me, this is all related to branding, and in having a consistent showing and presence across the web.

WP Features: Theme or Plugin

Reading my updates today and saw this post talking about WordPress theme features. Eric explains the debate:

Generally-speaking, the conversations have always circled around features: There are those that believe every feature you could ever imagine should be included like text color, font selector, and more. On the flip-side, there are those that feel WordPress themes should be finite and extra features should only be added when it’s niche specific.

He says the the main problem is theme bloat, but I think it’s more about the lock-in effect some themes have on users. If they customize it or add content via functionality provided by the theme, then if they switch they no longer have access to it (although the content does persist in the database, there’s just no longer an interface to accessing it).


If users are stuck in your theme because it’s the only way they know how to show their content then it becomes problematic. I’m curious as to how often users are going around changing themes though. Are they changing themes for more/different functionality or for a new look? I find myself changing a theme every couple years or so to update the site, but that’s usually in a whole redesign phase and not just switching around for fun. Should theme switching be more frequent?

I also see it from the user perspective. They just want to purchase/install a theme and be running, they may not have the patience or expertise to 1) find the right plugin 2) install it and set it up, so they’d prefer it be in the theme as a package deal.

Partly, I don’t see it a problem including CPT info in a theme, because that’s where you have to style it anyways, right? Users want their post types, but they also want the templates and styles and functionality/integration with the site that go along with them, and I think a theme is the easiest place to keep all that for the developers as well as the users. Plugin shouldn’t have all the styles for the CPT content and can’t have the template files because then if they switch the theme the styles conflict with the new theme. They may end up having to learn CSS to switch the theme anyways. The users are going to want their data displayed properly as well as it be accessible on their site. So if a new theme would not properly display or integrate the CPT data, then why have it included at all.

Eric does offer some alternative solutions:

Offer a Support License purchase option that allows users to follow tutorials for their own customization.
Offer free downloadable plugins that work exclusively with your premium theme that adds easy functionality.
Offer tiered theme versions–beginner, advanced and developer.

I like the idea of including a plugin to add functionality, but I’d suggest that rather than making it exclusive, make it work with any theme, just make sure your theme supports it (along with other popular plugins).

There is talk about making extra theme functionality ‘opt-out’ for those experienced enough to do so. Set a variable in the functions.php file or even comment out a block of code to remove some customization options to it can be done via a plugin. This, although more work, seems like a good option. Providing the features by plugin makes sense, but asking beginner users to do that extra work seems like unnecessary friction.

Also, it’d be nice if WP had a built in UI for custom post types and custom taxonomies and even custom fields and meta boxes in core. Lay users could then easily create content types and manage data. WordPress would be a tool to create your own custom CMS. Theme developers could create post types as well and then WP would be smart enough to detect data in a CPT table and include the needed UI. Then the users could create/manage content types so if they installed a theme that created a custom post type, since it was now in the database, it would stay even if the theme changed. There are many rabbit holes here, but I feel like I’m onto something and would be excited to see WordPress go this direction.


A More Interactive Portfolio

I think a portfolio is something that should be very interactive and intuitive. Check out what that has led to: circlecube’s interactive pog portfolio. I’ve been toying with trying to get something that was fun to look at, but also showed some work. Here is a first look at my Interactive portfolio of work which includes physics simulations and many options to play with the presentation of the body of work. Showing it to a friend he said it made him think of pogs (since the thumbnails are round and moving everywhere).

Well, enough, I’ll let you see what you see… Interactive POG Portfolio

The details

Well, if you’re interested, this is the same portfolio that is listed statically on my website. That’s because I’m using amfphp to read my wordpress database and get the custom post type of portfolio and access all the tags, images and details of each portfolio item. I’m using TweenNano from greensock for some of the motion but all the physics is coded in as3. I’m using the slider and switch from Nick Jonas.

Enjoy playing with the settings!

Now I’m thinking of other ways to implement it: specifically hooking into API services like, dribbble or twitter. Or rebuild it with jQuery and html5!

circlecube Relaunch

Not just a redesign but a whole new site and location! After having built loads of sites for clients/friends I kept learning things I wanted to employ on my own site, but the cobblers kids are always barefoot right? I kept implementing new things and knew that they were making my clients lives easier and I wanted it easier as well.

circlecube logo
I’d already updated my logo a number of times since my last redesign and I wasn’t happy with how my collection of sites all looked different and required repetitive work to maintain. circlecube-sketch-3Well, I did some sketches and committed to working on it just a few minutes a day. I really work best as I visually think through a design so sketching is always the first step in my designs. After I nailed down the basic elements and concepts I needed in the site through sketches I installed a new wordpress site, the thematic framework and then got started on a child theme. I really surprised myself and in a mere couple weeks I had a short list of things to do before I could “flip the switch”. The hardest part by far was trying to do 301 redirects from all the old posts which lived on either my blog or portfolio sub-domains. But thanks to my friend we were able to iron that out and I learned more than I ever wanted to know about mod rewrites and such. I was able to combine my blog and portfolio and my home page all into one site. I always felt weird pushing friends/potential clients and everyone else to my blog or my landing page or portfolio… but now they can all simply go to the same place!

circlecube-sketch-1My goal was to enable all content to be updated in the back-end, I didn’t want any content in the theme. And I didn’t want to have to redo the css or layout to move something from the header to the footer or sidebar for example. I placed a lot of content in widgets and a few pages that were wholly widget areas. I also needed a portfolio section that displayed a little gallery of images and possibly flash content automatically. It needed to be easy if I were going to ever update the portfolio, so I used custom post types and custom fields to attach images and other data to each portfolio item. Then one of my favorite pages is the social page, it’s just a collection of my social feeds all displayed neatly in one place.

While I’d love to release the theme for everyone, I cheated and used quite a few plug-ins to accomplish my designs so the theme itself doesn’t include all the functionality and I’m pretty sure it’s bad for to require plug-ins and set up to get a theme functional, but if you’re interested, let me know.

As usually happens though, I learned some more tricks as I built this site. So I have a list of things I’m ready to write and share about on the blog: custom post types, custom taxonomies, thematic customizations, css tricks, fancybox, custom fields, jquery, widgets, htaccess, importing/exporting wordpress, new favorite plug-ins and more… So be excited!

My only regret so far is the lack of texture on the site so I may come back and apply slight noise to the site background to make it more tangible. But I also like the clean look. Well, to see snapshots of the site I added the circlecube redesign to the portfolio section of this site (cheesy to include my own site in my portfolio? yep, but I’m excited to use the feature and I always retrospectively wish I’d documented site updates).

Still, there may be a few things that don’t fully connect, so please, please let me know if you see anything broken or experience a broken link. But stay tuned for some posts since I’m not spending time building the site I’ll put a little time each day into putting content on the site again.

Update a thematic child-theme for wordpress 3.0 menu

The new menu system in wordpress, while not perfect (yet), is a huge step in the right direction. I have had to update many old themes to support this feature, and as most of my theming is down with thematic, I finally got a standard block of code together to add to a functions.php file of a child theme to add theme support for menus and add them to the theme. Here is the code, all you do is add it to your functions file and then you can manage menus thorugh the new menu page in your pw dashboard! Enjoy!
[cc lang=”php”]
//// Add support for new menu in WP3
// declare that our theme supports wp_nav_menu()
add_theme_support( ‘menus’ );

// Register the a new menu for the theme called “Primary Menu”
function register_primary_menu() {
register_nav_menu( ‘primary-menu’, __( ‘Primary Menu’ ) );
add_action( ‘init’, ‘register_primary_menu’ );

// Remove the standard Thematic menu
function remove_menu() {
add_action(‘init’, ‘remove_menu’);

// Create the new wp_nav_menu called “Primary Menu” in theme
function new_access() { ?>