My Recommended WordPress Themes and Plugins

After having used WordPress for a number of years, I’ve really started to get into more plugins that help me present and share my content the way I want. I’ve also gone through some themes and picked one I like, including versions for desktop and mobile. Here’s my recommendations for WordPress themes and plugins…

Themes

Twenty Eleven

twentyeleven2Twenty Eleven is still my WordPress theme of choice. It’s feature-full, clean, elegant, and problem free from my experience.

Please note it’s not actively updated so you may need to Google around for fixes. For example, I wrote a post on how to fix the featured image that is buggy in the default Twenty Eleven theme.

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How to fix WordPress Twenty Eleven Featured Image

I like the Twenty Eleven theme and I still haven’t upgraded it. Luckily, some people are keeping it up to date and compatible with the latest WordPress in 2015! But there was one bug that bothered me for a long time and that was featured images were broken. These are the big header images at the top of posts (for example, the big image at the top of this post, or the grid of cars image at the top of one of my other posts). These image are just broken and will not display your custom featured image in the stock Twenty Eleven. So here’s how I fixed it…

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BAMX.com – Free Web Arcade with a Smart Twist

BAMX.com is a web arcade, a collection of flash and html5 games playable in your browser, and is one of my hobby projects these days. When I initially launched the site I didn’t give much thought to game quality or organization but recently the site has undergone a complete overhaul. Here’s a look a the site and I’ll explain the site below…

BAMX.com

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An Easy to Remember, Professional Looking Letter Written in Notepad

Sometimes you need to write a letter, print it out and mail it. Not often, but sometimes you do. I was using Letterly.com but it stopped working for me and I needed to write a letter. So, I popped open Notepad and put the same components (to, from, opening, body, closing) vertically on the page. What results is a clear, concise, professional looking letter that can be written in Notepad, printed on whatever plain or letterhead paper you want, and looks as good as Word templates or other fancy online letter writers.

Sometimes you need to write a letter, print it out and mail it. Not often, but sometimes you do. I was using Letterly.com but it stopped working for me and I needed to write a letter. So, I popped open Notepad and put the same components (to, from, opening, body, closing) vertically on the page. What results is a clear, concise, professional looking letter that can be written in Notepad, printed on whatever plain or letterhead paper you want, and looks as good as Word templates or other fancy online letter writers.

I had to contact my political representative some weeks ago. It should be obvious but anyone respects a physical, written letter more than an email any day of the week. It means the person put some time and effort into their communication. So that’s what I sent. Or, a few weeks ago, FedEx was wasting my time so I decided to waste their time writing a letter that would take a few days to arrive, and use up real time for a real employee to read and process and respond to. I needed a letter.

So, here’s the template (don’t be surprised, I said it was easy):

John Doe
123 Any Street
City, Province Postal Code
Country
Jane Q. Public
456 Any Street
City, Province, Postal Code
Country

Summary of Letter Contents

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Sincerely,

John Doe

It’s that simple. Remember to write your signature in pen in the space following “Sincerely,” after printing.

There you have it. An easy to remember, professional looking letter written in notepad.

WordPress IP Blacklist not working? Remember .htaccess

Word to the wise: If you’re getting comment spam try Wordpress’ IP blacklist feature but, when that doesn’t work, try the guaranteed way: .htaccess.

Update 2011-04-03: Reformatted .htaccess config lines now that I know how to do better formatting.

Word to the wise: If you’re getting comment spam try WordPressIP blacklist feature but, when that doesn’t work, try the guaranteed way: .htaccess.

I get a lot of spam on this blog, mainly to one post that got a lot of links. Akismet is great at detecting this spam and not publishing the comment. But it gets tiring removing comments from the same IPs all the time. So, I tried WordPress’ IP blacklist feature but it didn’t work. For some reason I totally forgot about .htaccess. It’s the fail safe mechanism for protecting your site against IPs that abuse your blog.

Just put a file named .htaccess in your blog directory if you’re running apache. If you’re running some other httpd server, sorry you’llĀ  have to find another way. But, if you can do .htaccess you can do this:

You can put as many “deny from 123.123.123.123” lines as you like.

Free plug for Akismet Anti-Spam WordPress Plugin for being so awesome

This thing is so good. It is doing a fantastic job of letting in the ham and keeping out the spam!

This thing is so good. It is doing a fantastic job of letting in the ham and keeping out the spam!

Anyone with a wordpress blog owes it to themselves to install akismet!

Brilliant!

Akismet. I. Said. Bring. It.

Well, I’ve been running Akismet for a few days now and so far it’s been flawless.

Well, I’ve been running Akismet for a few days now and so far it’s been flawless. I’ve had a few legitimate comments and a dozen spams. Akismet has caught all of the bad ones and none of the good ones. Excellent work!

I believe Akismet is working like gmail’s spam filter which, along with its own algorithms, takes the spam reports of other users and uses them as indicators of spam. It’s distributed and thus quick acting and far better than any single algorithm or single person can achieve.

If you have wordpress, you owe it to yourself to try out akismet!