Random musings, observations, squeaks, whimpers and perhaps the ocassional rant. About what, I'm not sure.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Awesome Power of the Internet...

I’m really starting to like WordPress.  Have pretty much given up on the Movable Type install, as no matter how I describe the path problem I’m having to my ISP, they don’t have a solution for me (I know its a minor problem, and its one that SixApart has a technote on, but I’m worn out from trying to resolve it).

BlogJetOne shortfall I saw in WordPress right away was the lack of a WYSIWYG editor for creating entries.  True, I’ll rarely use it, since BlogJet is chugging along posting to WP for me, but for other users this would be a real pain.  But, through the process of researching posting, I came across the WordPress Plug-ins DatabaseWordPress is extensible, you see, and there are a gazillion plugins to extend it with (OK, maybe a gazillion is an exaggeration).

Browsed around Google, found a number of links to/mentions of WYSI-WordPress, downloaded and drag-installed it, and in less than 5 minutes I had WYSIWYG post creation.  Haven’t figured out how embedding photos in a post works yet (its a feature of the plugin), but if I had to use the web interface to create posts, that would do it.

But that’s not the cool part, believe it or not.  The cool part is how the Internet collapses time and space, and helped me solve another problem – tracking stats.  For a year or so I’ve used the Pro version of WebStat for basic site stats management.  Couple of weeks ago was lucky enough to get a Google Analytics account, and what do you know – there were several GA plugins available for WordPress.  One of which is by a guy named Ronald Hess, Jr.

Ron wrote a very basic but very useful WP plugin called Google Analyticator that inserts the Google Analytics tracking code in the header of every page in your WP site.  And, it has a feature to exclude your own administrative traffic if you’d like… its pretty slick.  Installed via drag and drop, configured with two mouse clicks, and that was it.  But then I got thinking… hey, what I REALLY want is a similar plugin for WebStat.  Having manually altered my Blogger templates to facilitate WebStat tracking I knew it was only a couple of lines of code and I could insert it manually into the proper file(s) for my WP template, but what happens if I switch templates?  Or update a template.  Trouble, that’s what.

So, like the programming genius I am, I tried hacking Ron’s plugin.  After a half hour of not getting the syntax right, I gave up and just e-mailed him, along the lines of “loved your GA plugin, will you make one for WebStat?”.  Long story short, an hour later and I had the plugin and had it implemented.

CavemonkeyNow I’m not saying you should all try to get Ron to write free plugins for you for WP (see Ron’s plugins page on his CaveMonkey50 site for more).  But I really appreciate his work, which made mine easier and more maintainable.  Great work, Ron… hope lots of other folks use the plugin too.

Finally, and to me this is the coolest part, Ron is a high school Senior.  In Pennsylvania.  Who I’ve never met.  Now THAT’S the power of the Internet.  Good on you, Ron, and restart that PayPal tip jar – cash is king!  Or should I say, cha-ching…


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