Setting up WordPress blogs on Flickr properly

En el Desierto - Flickr NO SE VENDE
En el Desierto – Flickr NO SE VENDE, a photo by Rocorocks on Flickr.
Flickr allows you to connect your WordPress blog, which allows you to use a Flickr photo to illustrate a blog posting by pressing a button.

(I always use this in conjunction with Donncha Ó Caoimh’s “Blog This To Draft” to prevent it from getting published immediately.)

However, Flickr’s standard WordPress code isn’t very good. It encapsulates the whole thing in <div>s, which means that WordPress cannot work out that it’s an image, which leads to all sorts of problems when you’re trying to pull out the first chunk of text from a posting, for instance in an RSS feed.

However, if you know what you’re doing, it’s quite easy to change. You need to go to your Flickr settings, and then click on the “Sharing & Extending” tab.

You should now see your blog (if it isn’t there, add it by clicking on “More sites” and following the instructions).

Now click on the “edit” button next to the name of your blog, and click on “select a blog layout”.

Now pick one of the layouts by clicking on it, and then choose “customize”.

This should display some HTML code such as this (I’ve added some white-space):

<div style="float: right; width: 240px;
    margin: 0 0 10px 10px; padding: 0;
    font-size: 0.8em; line-height: 1.6em;">
  <a href="{photo_url}" title="{photo_title}">
    <img src="{photo_src_m}" alt="{photo_title}
      by {uploader_name}" />
  <span style="margin: 0;">
    <a href="{photo_url}">{photo_title}</a>,
    a photo by <a href="{uploader_profile}">
    on Flickr.
<br clear="all" />

Now change it to use WordPress’s [caption] syntax, e.g.:

[caption align="alignright" width="240px"]
  <a href="{photo_url}">
    <img src="{photo_src_m}" alt="{photo_title}"
      width="240px" class="size-thumbnail" />
  <a href="{photo_url}">{photo_title}</a>,
  a photo by
  <a href="{uploader_profile}">{uploader_name}</a>
  on Flickr.

Now click “preview”. This will look dreadful, because this is WordPress code, not HTML, but just click on “save this layout” anyway.

You should now be able to use the “share” button on Flickr to generate pretty WordPress posts.

Tweeting in many languages

Most of the people I follow on Twitter tweet in English, and so do I most of the time.

However, I often retweet stuff written in other languages, and I do also from time to time tweet in Danish and occasionally Spanish myself. This shouldn’t cause any issues for those of my followers who know the same languages as me, but if you only speak English, it must be a tad annoying to see your Twitter stream filling up with gibberish.

In theory I could set up separate Twitter accounts for all the languages I’m likely to tweet in, but that would be a complete mess. Not only would I need to flit back and forwards from one account to another, but it would appear that I had fewer followers than I do, and many people would only follow one of my language personas, even if they would be capable of following more.

I think Twitter should consider adding languages to the user interface, even if it would make it slightly more complex. This would involve adding language capabilities to the user profiles (allowing you to list the languages you can read) and tagging each tweet with a language (presumably everybody would have a default tweeting language). Twitter would then hide tweets written in languages that you cannot read.

I think this would really make life easier for the multilingual twitterers out there.


Usenet World Map by the 90’s
Originally uploaded by Lulobyte

In the days before the World Wide Web, the best way to procrastinate on the Internet was probably Usenet.

(If you don’t know it, it’s basically hierarchical discussions ordered by topic. You can read Usenet newsgroups for instance by using Thunderbird and the Eternal September newsserver.)

At first, the advent of the WWW didn’t really threaten Usenet, but Wikipedia and the social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter caused a lot of people to leave Usenet. I was one of them — I didn’t post anything from 2007 until last month.

However, I then decided to go back and have a quick look at my favourite newsgroup, dk.kultur.sprog, and to be honest it was really nice to be back. It’s actually better than it used to be, because it appears the trolls have mainly disappeared off to pastures new.

However, I must admit using Usenet is a pain these days. Using Google Groups to access Usenet isn’t as good as using a dedicated reader, but using a specialised tool for one social media just feels wrong (and yes, these days Usenet would have been considered a social network). Also, the Usenet is just text, and it’s sometimes annoying you can’t easily attach images and sound files or use HTML tags.

I can’t help thinking somebody should reinvent Usenet, because the discussions you can have there are superior to what you can do on newspaper website comments sections, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter or Branch.

Multiple categories in WordPress – an undocumented feature?

For a long time, I’ve been looking for a way to find postings that are filed under two or more categories in WordPress. It’s very easy to click on any of the categories in the column on the far left to find all blog postings within this category, but how do you find all blog postings about linguistics in Danish, or the blog postings I’ve written in English about Scottish politics?

I assumed there was no easy way to do it. I read the documentation I could find, I searched through lots of of WordPress plugins, but to no avail.

Today I then suddenly got the idea to see whether they had implemented it anyway, so I decided to try the different URLs that would make sense to me as a programmer.

My first instinct was to try a ‘+’ sign, and much to my surprise it actually worked!

For instance, category/fooddrink+es gives you food and drink in Spanish, linguistics+da gives you linguistics in Danish, and politics+en+scotland gives you Scottish politics in English.

You even seem to be able to get a feed, such as category/kids+linguistics/feed for the RSS feed for kids & linguistics.

The only problem seems to be that the generated heading is wrong – I’ll need to have a look at that to see whether it’s something I can fix.

Nuisance calls

[29/35] Robot phone man
Originally uploaded by B. Tse

We had started getting an increasing number of nuisance calls, mainly recordings being played to us several times a day.

So on the 30th of November, I signed up for a free service to avoid nuisance calls, the Telephone Preference Service.

The website wrote that it could take up to 28 days to become effective, but we’ve hardly had any such calls for the past fortnight.

I strongly recommend signing up!

Google+ again

Originally uploaded by keso

Google+ has now finally been opened up to those of us using Google Apps-hosted email accounts (e.g., my private email address is on the domain, but it’s Gmail internally).

However, all is still not well.

First of all, there’s a big problem with duplicate accounts: I now have two Google+ accounts, but I really just want one; I’m being offered Google+ for my work account, too, which again I’d prefer to be included in my normal Google+ account. I feel Google have made a huge error by making an equivalence between Google-hosted email accounts and other Google accounts – people tend to have many email addresses, but just one Facebook account.

Secondly, I think it’s disastrous that there’s no posting API for Google+, which means that Twitter, WordPress and the like can’t post to Google+. It’s probably a feature rather than a bug (my guess is that Google are trying to prevent lots of annoying autogenerated contents), but it simply does not tally with the way I (and many others) use social media. When I have something to say, I typically write a blog posting in WordPress which then automatically posts a link to Twitter and Facebook. (Actually, one of the things that are annoying me about Facebook is that it’s hard (or impossible?) to integrate Facebook comments with the comments in WordPress.) I just can’t be bothered posting links manually to Google+, so the likely result is that I won’t post very much there, and people are advised to follow me on Twitter or Facebook instead.

Along the same lines, Google+ seems to force you into using Picasa; however, lots of us are happily using Flickr or whatever, and a lack of integration will just annoy us, it won’t make us use Picasa instead.

Google really need to sort out these issues soon. If they don’t, I fear Google+ won’t ever get close to kicking Facebook off the throne.

Google’s annoying Apps transition

I’ve used Gmail for Google Apps for both my private email and my corporate one for a couple of years now.

I used to run them in separate tabs in Chrome, which worked really well without any interference between them.

However, last Thursday I received an email from Google announcing that they “recently transitioned [my] organization to the new infrastructure for Google Apps accounts, a change that makes over 60 additional Google applications like Google Places, Google Reader, Picasa Web Albums and AdWords accessible with Google Apps accounts.”.

At first, that sounds like a good thing, but a side effect seems to have been that I now cannot run both in separate tabs – they keep logging each other out.

As a result, I’m now accessing one email in Chrome and the other one in Firefox, which works OK, but I’m not sure Google’s intention was to force Google Apps users into using rival browsers!