WordPress v2.8.1 – Why You Should Update Now

Although WordPress 2.8 (“Baker”) was a thing of beauty and brought a plethora of significant changes and improvements, it comprised hundreds of patches, fixes and some rather heavy new behaviors – for example the ability to simply deactivate a widget rather than remove it outright, or to drag and drop widgets back and forth.

Given the amount of new functionality added, the release was surprisingly stable, but invariably, some annoyances and even security holes came with it. Well the good people at Auttomatic hurried to get everything patched as best they could, and the real thanks must go to the community of programmers that rushed to plug up the leaks.

Among the most important fixes in 2.8.1:

Files being deleted during upgrade

Many users complained, and some became downright angry that using the automatic updater for Worpdress was a risky affair to say the least, and often left all sorts of junk behind or even worse, it inefficiently removed files no longer needed, often breaking installations completely. Thankfully, it was a bug, it was identified, and has been patched in 2.8.1

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Sometimes terrible things happen after installing a plugin or updating, like an ugly warning suddenly showing up at the top of your meticulously crafted WordPress site. This can lead to great frustration and confusion, especially for those who don’t read php and no real answers forthcoming about how to fix it. The cause for this warning is now fixed, and no it wasn’t your fault.

Warnings after post/page save
Speaking of annoyances and confusion – 2.8 introduced a glitch wherein trying to leave a post entry page warned that the content had not been saved. I am not sure whether this is also what led to the ensuing “there is a previous autosave of this post” message, but rest assured, your work was being saved, but the alarm bells were going off anyway. Fixed in 2.8.1.

Another nice little optimization introduced is that the admin dashboard memory usage is reduced.  Some people were running out of memory when loading the dashboard, resulting in an incomplete page.  This should make things run a little quicker and smoother.

Furthermore they have increase download_url() timeout from 30 to 60 giving you a little more wiggle room before getting a nasty timeout error.

Security Fix

Last, but never least, security is the main reason to update your WP installation to 2.8.1 as soon as possible. As the developer’s state:

“Core Security Technologies notified us that admin pages added by certain plugins could be viewed by unprivileged users, resulting in information being leaked. Not all plugins are vulnerable to this problem, but we advise upgrading to 2.8.1 to be safe.”

Don’t leave your precious site vulnerable to attack. If you are already running WordPress Baker, install this latest point 1 patch now.

To learn more about the WordPress 2.8.1 patch to Baker, visit the official patch notes page at WordPress.org

To see a comprehensive lists of fixes since 2.8 visit this page that displays a complete listing.

One final note – for those of you using the SimplePress Forums, be sure to download and install the latest update


(4.0.4) so that it is fully compatible with 2.8.1

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com

and society at theculturepin.com. Keram recently released a solo acoustic CD titled “Box”.

My Top Five Favorite New Features in WordPress 2.8

Chet Baker, the jazz musician whose silky smooth voice was matched by his seemingly effortless trumpet playing was the inspiration for the name of the latest update to WordPress.  The new version 2.8, titled “Baker” is the follow up to “Coltrane”, and this new version, with much simplified and yet more powerful admin pages, advanced customization options and a whole lot of slick changes to the interface does indeed live up to its name.

Performing the update to your site should be as simple as click the new link that will appear at the top of your admin pages reading: “WordPress 2.8 is available”.  Before you do, be sure, as always, to backup you database.  There are many articles here at WP-Blogger.com that teach you how to do this correctly.

While there are literally hundreds of updates and fixes in this revision, here are my top five favorite new features and changes in WordPress 2.8:

1. Smarter Widgets

At long last, Automattic did indeed answer my prayers with the new drag-and-drop widgets admin interface!  The best aspect of this update (and arguably my favorite overall in all of WP 2.8) is that you can store widget settings when you deactivate them.  For anyone who has ever entered a wall of code into one general text widget (like I do with all the blog directory buttons that I am linked from – for example bloggernity, blogcatalog, technorati etc.) or adsense or other affiliate code – this is a huge time saver. It also allows much easier testing – sometimes you may want to see whether more or less ads are more or less effective.

2. Plug and Play Themes

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Browse the theme directory and install themes from the admin – being able to install themes right from within WordPress rather than having to download, decompress and upload via ftp is another small but significant wonder of this release.

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Allow case-insensitive logins – this makes the process far more semantic. Sure it’s slightly less secure, but in terms of convenience, a smart move as you always want to make the user’s experience as simple and unobtrusive as possible.

4. Multiple Galleries per Page

Support more than one gallery on the same page

5. Per Page option for plugins

The option to choose what plugins manifest on what page is the sort of customization that makes a WordPress portal feel less like a sandbox and more like a dynamic destination.

All of these seemingly small distinctions, can collectively result in a much more customized and accurate representation of the experience you want to bring to your readers.

To see the extensive and complete list of additions, fixes and changes go the official WordPress Baker page at: http://codex.wordpress.org/Version_2.8

About the Author:
Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com America’s Sweethearts full movie . Listen to Keram’s podcast at Keramcast.com Inferno

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Keeping Your WordPress Folders Secured – Important Tip

I once had a reader show up on one of my sites who became a bit obsessive about the community and when I eventually had to ask them to moderate their endless barrage of posts and comments and replies they came back at me with the creepy response that they had been snooping around the backend of the site and that they had some experience with hacking and that I should be more careful.

I asked them what exactly they were looking for and they filled me in that it was nothing in particular – a lot of people like to hack things just because they can, for bragging rights or even in some cases to test and help out the hackee.

Whatever the case, I learned my lesson.  One of the most important steps you can take to preventing unwanted snooping around your virtual back office is to ensure that the contents of your folders are not easily viewable by simply typing in their path in a browser line.

To see what I am talking about – go to your own website and add


to the end of your main URL.

What do you see?

Now remove what you added above and instead append:


Here’s a third one to test out:


If that doesn’t spook you, it should.  Not all plugins and themes are created equal; some are still in early development and may be filled with vulnerabilities, and security leaks that can be exploited.  Affording someone with the know-how and malicious intent an easy glance at all the plugins or themes you are using, is like handing a ball of chum to a hungry shark.

In the third example, you are allowing anyone a direct download link to anything you may ever have uploaded through your site.  This may include images you changed your mind about using, software, mp3s or whatever else.  It kind of defeats the purpose of all that nice formatting, affiliate marketing and newsletter sign-ups forms doesn’t it?

The solution is really very simple:

Create an empty text file and rename it index.html

Drop that file into the top level of each of those directories (for example, using an FTP client, drag and drop your empty index.html file right onto your “Themes,” “Plugins” and “Uploads” folders), and any other directories that do not already have an index file (make sure to look for index.html, index.htm and index.php How the West Was Fun dvd – you do NOT want to overwrite these or even put the above file in a directory that normally uses any of the above, or it will potentially break your site).  If you don’t know what you are doing, make sure you back up your site first.

The above can also be handled by using an .htaccess file, but not everyone will be able to implement an .htaccess file, so I feel the above method for at least keeping the contents of these folders private is the best one for those of you less familiar with advanced hosting methods.

I found a nice article and discussion thread that echoes the idea above, and also offers some additional security tips at DailyBlogTips.com

Be sure to read the comments posted in response to their article for more insight and ideas about working with this matter.

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com

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and society at theculturepin.com . Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com and find him on Twitter @ConstantChange

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Understanding Categories in WordPress

Get Off To A Good Start – Identify The Parts

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When you first install a WordPress site, it is a little like opening a box of disassembled furniture from IKEA: you have a simple, uncluttered guide showing all the separate pieces you should have found in the box and a series of steps outlining how to assemble them together to arrive at the finished product.  But at the outset, it is just a lot of parts spread out across your living room floor with little indication how important any one of those pieces might be until it is time for it to be implemented.  The best way to get started is to identify all the parts, arrange like-with-like, do a rundown of the various steps involved, then go back to step one and get started.

Tags vs. Categories

One of my first experiences with WordPress involved me migrating an existing Blogger.com blog over to a custom WP installation and what it did was take all kinds of tags and convert them into categories, leaving me with dozens of categories for my new WordPress blog.  I am assuming this functionality has been straightened out in the interim, but it sure left me confused about what categories were, especially as compared to tags, so I hope to shed a little light on what Categories in WordPress really are, and best practices for using them as you plan out how to build and organize your site.

Let’s start with what a Category isn’t.  It isn’t just a Tag or a Keyword.  A tag is used as a keyword (for search engines, for example), but isn’t just a keyword because it can be used to identify what you feel are the operative terms of your article that may not be otherwise obvious.  For example, in this article I open with an analogy about IKEA furniture, but this article is about running a blogging content management system.  While I could add “IKEA” as a tag to “trick”  search engines into adding my site to any searches about one of the world’s wealthiest companies, I will not make many friends by using this trick.  Instead, I would be wise to add tags for this article that include terms like “optimization,” “SEO,” and “WordPress tips.”

Organizational Logic

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file_cabinet1Think of tags as the tabs you put on file folders when flipping through a drawer, whereas categories are like the names of the drawers themselves.  Choosing the appropriate top-level labels for the drawers of your filing cabinets takes some proper planning; it will make your future self much better organized, happier, and efficient.  It also makes it easier for you to delegate work to others, because they will have an easier time understanding not only your organizational logic but the logic of your Organization; the way you divide and compartmentalize your content says a lot about the nature of your business.

If a burglar were to break into your office and see drawers labeled “Locations”, “Wardrobe” and “Camera” – they could infer that you are either a photography or video production studio.  If the same drawers were labeled “Accounts Payable,” “Accounts Receivable” and “Budget Sheets” they would quickly realize they had broken into the Accounting department.

The same goes for your blog.  Your categories should be carefully chosen and kept to a bare minimum.  The reason for this is that you can utilize this organizational workflow to great advantage in tandem with a well designed theme that automatically displays tabs or other graphic elements based on your categories.  Not all themes display categories in a prominent way, but some (like WP-Blogger) actually use categories to automatically display as tabs along the top of the content so that readers can easily navigate your site and get a better understanding of what you are about.

TIP: When setting up your blog, create a new category and then go to your Admin Panel->Setting->Writing and select if from the drop down menu beside “Default Post Category.”  This will prevent you from inadvertently filing something under the standard “Uncategorized” option.  In fact, remove the Uncategorized category altogether since you would not want that to ever display within your theme as it is both unprofessional and nonsensical.

Learning how to use categories early will save you a lot of time later on.  Categories are a powerful way to organize and structure your site and its content in a way that can be exploited by a well-designed theme.

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Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com Middletown full movie and find him on Twitter @ConstantChange.

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