What Was I Thinking?

Archive for March 2008

Where Did The Month Go?

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OMG, it’s time for another monthly post on my food site already. Feels like I haven’t made any progress at all, even though I’ve found a plugin to overcome my biggest barrier to user participation, got the author to fix an ugly bug in it and posted a bunch of fruit. I’ll post a run of nut photos this week and then do the monthly update at the weekend.

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Written by Weefz

18 March, 2008 at 11:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Traffic

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This graph makes me happy :)

One Serving stats graph

None of those Friday visitors are me and one person is responsible for 27 of the pageloads. It’s nice to know that some one finds the site useful.

(Or, y’know, they’re showing it to their friends going “OMG, I can’t believe someone would make such an ugly site. Look at this. Look at this!” )

I’m choosing to believe the former ;)

Written by Weefz

14 March, 2008 at 3:36 pm

User Participation, and Lack Thereof

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Way back in October, I mentioned that I wanted OneServing to be a place where people could post their own food tips – just little tricks you pick up with experience, like how to peel tomatoes quickly.

For the past few months, I’ve all but abandoned that idea because there was no way to prevent users from posting in the categories that I’ve reserved for the food info posts. All the common plugins cited around the net date from the pre-WordPress 2.3 era – i.e. before they moved to the “taxonomy” system. I spent days searching for one that works with WordPress 2.3+ but there was nothing out there. Eventually, I decided that user participation would have to wait until I could pay someone to do it for me. This would destroy the only sticky aspect of the site in the first place, but I don’t have the time to teach myself about the inner workings of WordPress and php AND do all the research for the food.

(Come to think of it, lack of time is a common theme in these posts, isn’t it?)

Yesterday, I got very excited because I fiiiinally found a plugin to do the job – Level2Categories 2. It allows you to set a minimum user level to access each category. As the admin, I can allow myself and future Editors to post into the Site News and various food categories. Any authors who self-register will be limited to Tips, Articles and Recipes and subject to moderation. Perfect!

No.

After spending ages setting the plugin up for my 50+ categories, I ran into the fatal flaw. The plugin links some WordPress tables on the wrong ID, so it doesn’t always correctly identify the categories. Several of my categories were being identified as tags and a few of my tags were showing up in the category list. Shit! I can understand how the author might have missed it, because the problem only shows up if you add categories AFTER adding native WordPress tags.

Never mind. I might spend some time rewriting the whole thing later this month if I get the chance. Would probably be easy if I was any good at php but with my limited experience, I spend more time fiddling with syntax errors than actually achieving things. It’s like my MUDding days, all over again.

[For those in the know, he’s linking wp_terms_taxonomy to wp_terms on terms_taxonomy_id = terms_id and copying them into his own table. That’s fine if you only use categories or use fixed categories that won’t change after you start adding tags or other taxonomy types. Doesn’t work with my constantly-expanding list of tags and categories.]

The author has seen a few comments I left on the plugin page before I figured out the real problem, so I’ve asked him to email me to explain it properly. With any luck he’ll fix it for me.

Written by Weefz

6 March, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Update: March 08

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As I said in the last post, OneServing got a bit of traffic coming through from WordPress.org. Most of those visitors did have a quick browse round the rest of the site so there’s a little bit of interest.

Looking through my visitor patterns showed that one poor soul had been searching repeatedly to find out just what one serving of fruit was. Unfortunately for them, I wasn’t completely happy with the post explaining how I chose the amounts I did, so it wasn’t available. With any luck, they had a look through a few fruit pages and realised that one serving of fruit is always 80 grams or 2.8 ounces. Still, I’ve posted the explanation for the fruit and veg and nuts and seeds categories. I’m sure future visitors will want to know the same thing. Better to have visitors leave the site happy and successful than frustrated and unfavourable.

Posted another 5-odd fruit and vegetables, bringing us up to 21 in total. I’ve also given in and plundered my savings to buy a couple of proper studio lights. My current equipment so far has been:

  • 80cm photo cube/light tent from eBay (£14.50)
  • Table lamp with 100W equivalent CF light bulb from ASDA (£12)
  • Boyfriend’s halogen bulb table lamp (free)

Yeah, not the greatest of macro lighting setups. OTOH, £26.50 is pretty good for a low-cost startup. Problem is, I spend way too much time processing the shadows out of photos and fiddling with contrast. Even devoting an entire day to the task only gets me about 6 usable pictures. The photo on One Serving of Whole Peeled Banana is pretty borderline.

The new lights cost me just under £85 so I shall expect a four-fold increase in productivity ;) They arrived yesterday and I have an exciting hour of almond, grapefruit and sunflower seed photography planned before my Pilates class tonight. Hope the lights will prove their worth!

I wonder if I can claim them as a business expense, since I’m now registered as self-employed…

Written by Weefz

4 March, 2008 at 12:38 pm