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Dictionary

Last week was the 52nd Wordsmith Wednesday, marking a full year of my vocabulary-themed posts.  In light of that, they will be undergoing a change. This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday (right before this post) was the first under a more flexible posting order.

In the past, there was no guarantee that I would encounter a word I didn’t know every single week.  And so I found myself on several occasions having to search for a word expressly for the weekly post.  Although not really a problem, I found it somewhat less satisfying than posting a word I had genuinely run into in the course of my regular reading.

What I’ve decided to do is keep Wordsmith Wednesdays going, but rather than sticking to a strict, once-a-week schedule, I will be posting only words that I encounter naturally.  This means that there may be consecutive weeks where no words get posted.  However, when I do add new words to the list, it will still happen on Wednesdays, to keep with the theme.

As always, I’ll be keeping the list solidly up to date on the Wordsmith Wednesdays section of my blog.

Image: Dictionary by gadgetgirl via Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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I’ve always liked it when people tweak their websites to the tune of approaching holidays. It’s a fun way to spice up routine web browsing. So, since there’s less than a week left before Hallowe’en, I thought I’d give my blog some seasonally fitting décor.

I admit, the main column of my blog being white takes away from the effect, but unfortunately that style isn’t in my power to change—not for free, anyway. And fret not, dear readers . . . on the first of November the standard WTP graphics will be back.

Will you be promoting Hallowe’en on your blog or website with spooky decorations, eerie editorials, or frightening fiction?

 

Resources used for decorations:

Bookie Graveyard by autumn-icestock on deviantART

Moon Clouds by Prateek Karandikar via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

Jack-o’-Lantern 2003-10-31 by Toby Ord via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 2.5

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Automattic needs to draw more attention to the secure login page on WordPress.com.  It exists, so why not direct users to it? There are support pages on configuring your dashboard to run through HTTPS, which is fine, but as long as the login process remains unencrypted, some information is still left exposed.

ADSL router with Wi-Fi (802.11_b-g)If a user blogs through an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot (as many travelling bloggers might do), all it takes is someone sniffing while the user logs in for his or her account to be potentially compromised.

Many popular online services offer links to their secure login pages right from their home pages.  Some email services, such as Gmail and Hotmail, have even defaulted to HTTPS.

Until Automattic provides a link to make the secure login page more obvious to users, you can navigate to https://wordpress.com/.  And don’t forget to update your bookmarks.

On a related note, Twitter seems to be in the same boat.  You can navigate to https://twitter.com/ to get their secure login.

 
Image: Asim18 via Wikimedia Commons under GFDL

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This blog uses the MistyLook theme.  You may have noticed (either here or on your own MistyLook blog) that when images are posted, they are automatically given a sort of “shadow” under the bottom and right edges.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t like having the shadow placed under my images by default.  Here’s how you can go about removing it.  This solution is a bit of a kludge, so it’s up to you whether or not you want to use it.  Also, keep in mind that this information has only been tested on the MistyLook theme, even though there may be other themes that put effects on images, in which cases a similar solution could work.  Here we go.

 
This is what you normally get when you insert an image.

Late Tulip
As you can see, there’s a shadow under the bottom and right edges.  This link will show you the background image that the theme uses to create the shadow effect.  It gets placed underneath each image after being resized accordingly. One way to avoid the shadow border is to use the caption feature that’s built into WordPress.  A captioned image will turn out like this:

Late Tulip

Late Tulip

 
However, you may not always want (or need) captions.  Sometimes you might just want a plain image.  To achieve this you can use the HTML tab of the Edit Post screen.

Edit Post Screenshot (small)Be aware: Sometimes, returning to the Visual tab after using the HTML tab can cause certain changes to be lost—non-breaking spaces, for example. For more on this issue, see the note at the end of this post.

 
In the HTML tab, you’ll see your image tag (which is sometimes surrounded by a link tag):

<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-602" title="Late Tulip" src="https://walkingthepattern.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/stargrass.jpg&quot; alt="Late Tulip" width="170" height="210" />

 
To remove the shadow border, we have to override the image style that has been specified by the theme.  To do this, add the following line after “img” in your image tag.

style="background:#fff; border:none; border-top:0; border-left:0; padding:0;"

 
You should end up with an image tag that looks something like this (the added line is in red):

<img style="background:#fff; border:none; border-top:0; border-left:0; padding:0;" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-602" title="Late Tulip" src="https://walkingthepattern.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/stargrass.jpg&quot; alt="Late Tulip" width="170" height="210" />

 
Now if you preview your post, your image should look nice and clean-cut, like so:

Late Tulip

 
Basically, we have forced the image to ignore the theme’s style by specifying our own. If you find that your images are being displayed too close to your text, you can substitute your own values for the borders and padding, which are now set to zero. This will give your image a little more breathing room.

 

Note on the Visual and HTML tabs

If, before using the HTML tab, you’re worried about messing something up, I suggest taking advantage of the Save Draft, and Revisions features. You can access the revisions (which act sort of like restore points) by clicking on Screen Options near the top of the Edit Post page, then checking off the box labeled “Revisions”. You should then see the Revisions section at the bottom of the page, which allows you to restore a previously saved version of your post should you ever make a mistake.

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Awarded an Award

The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

My first ever blog award was given to me a few days ago by Alexis from Bunny Ears & Bat Wings. As per the terms of the award, I submit the following.

 
1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.

Thanks for thinking of this blog, Alexis!

 
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.

  • I like sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humour.
  • I taught myself to touch type in my early teens by removing and mixing up all the keys on my keyboard.
  • I’ve played all the games in the King’s Quest series except KQ7: The Princeless Bride.
  • I accidentally wasted the Master Ball on a Venonat. (Years ago. I don’t still play or anything. Really.)
  • I wish I was as tough as those guys you hear in the distance red-lining their engines and squealing their tires.
  • My favourite movie is The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel.
  • Though I’ve never been told, I consider myself to be occasionally (though unintentionally) pedantic and pretentious, correcting the grammar of friends and family in conversation, answering Jeopardy! questions out loud, laughing during Frasier, and using roman numerals where they aren’t necessarily needed.

 
3. Pass the award along to 15 deserving blog buddies.

In the words of a certain robot from Futurama: “Like most of life’s problems, this one can be solved with bending.”  . . . the rules, that is. I’m afraid I’m going to have to make 15 a running total, as I really can’t think of that many blogs of which I’m a dedicated reader. But for now, I’ll send the award along to these:

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
Out of the Woods
Yikici
Just Rambling…

 
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

Alright.

 
On a related note (let me just put on my lab coat and glasses): I briefly attempted to trace the origins of the Irresistibly Sweet award. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat chain letteresque, and you don’t have to do much math to know that 15 people sending to 15 people, and so on is a lot of awards. So, I was unable (read: too lazy) to find the award’s creator.

However! I did make an interesting discovery. And that is that the award seems to have mutated over time, resulting in several different “strains”, if you will. I’ve put them in the order in which I imagine them changing.

On Strain #4, we’re actually lucky enough to have caught a mutation in progress! You only have to trace it one level to the previous recipient to see it change.

  Link Back Facts Send To Congratulate Image
Strain 1 No 0 15 No Cake
Strain 2 No 4 guilty pleasures 6 No Cake
Strain 3 Yes 7 10 No Cake
Strain 4 Yes 7 10 Yes Cake/Ice cream
Strain 5 (this award) Yes 7 15 Yes Cake
Strain 6 Yes 7 15 Yes Doughnuts

 
Image credit: Whoever created the award

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New Theme

If you’re a returning reader, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the theme change.  If you’re a first-time reader, first of all, welcome!  And know that you’ve missed Walking the Pattern’s era of DePo Masthead.

Screenshot of the old theme

I’ve chosen the MistyLook theme because it has several of the characteristics that I was looking for.  Wider columns, a custom background, a custom header image that doesn’t have text floating on top of it, and a few other aesthetic attributes.  I know that earlier on I said I didn’t want to focus too much on the design aspect of my blog, but now that it’s been up for a few months, I thought it might be time to give it a few tweaks to make it more appealing.

Even though the theme has been changed, I’m still in the process of fiddling around with a background and header that work well, among other things.  Many people like to keep their projects covered up, and once complete, dramatically pull away the sheet revealing the final result.  Not here (if tweaking theme options can qualify as a project).  This will be transparent.  When I decide to make a change, you’ll see it happen even if the rest isn’t yet finished.  So if the blog looks to be in disarray for a while, you know why.

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The Ups and Downs of My WordPress theme

For the past few weeks I’ve been debating whether or not to switch to another WordPress theme.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of DePo Masthead, which is what I’m using at the date of this post.  There are definite benefits to using it, but there are also a few things about it that irk me.

I figured that if I’m going to change themes, I’d be better off doing it early on in the life of my blog while my reader base is still relatively small.  I doubt a new theme would cause return visitors to think that they were in the wrong place, but still, the less confusion the better.  Consider this post my official “heads up!”

The DePo Masthead theme has got a very clean, simplistic look, which I love.  Also, the three-column layout on the front page has a very slick, newspaper slash magazine feel.  The borders are only a pixel wide, adding to the cleanliness of the theme, and I find that using plain black text for the header, rather than an image, keeps it sleek (which is surprising considering its size).  Having a serif font as the default for all the body text makes for great readability, too.

On the downside, the narrow width of the columns turns the inclusion of images and videos into a balancing act.  Too small and they aren’t visible enough; too big and they disrupt the flow of text.  The width of a post on the front page is also different from that post’s width on its permalinked page (the page you see when you click the post title), so when previewing, I don’t see exactly what will appear on the front page (again, sometimes a little tricky when placing images).  I’m generally not a widget glutton, but if I want to use more than three (which I do) I’ve got to stack them in the three designated sections at the bottom of the page, which can be done, but looks a tad dogdy depending on widget choice and placement.  And finally, the point that troubles me the most: tags.  Tags for posts are displayed before, yes, before the title, and in a font almost as large.  You can still put as many tags as you want, but I usually have to limit myself to no more than four or five, otherwise, my title gets nudged slowly down the page (as I made sure to demonstrate with this post).  That may sound like a lot of negative stuff, but it was really the tags that prompted me to consider a change.  I also want to stress that I’m not saying the theme is bad.  It’s just not for me.

I would recommend the DePo Masthead theme to someone who uses exclusively (or almost exclusively) text, and who has already established a significant reader base, thereby eliminating some of the need for tags.  I know that from my archives it may look like I don’t use images very often, but now you know why.

So, after weighing the ups and downs of my WordPress theme, I’ve decided to select another one.  I’m not entirely sure which one yet, but it will probably be done sometime during my next few posts, so if you come back and my blog looks completely different, don’t come unglued!  Just think back to this post and all will be well.

I’ll miss you, DePo Masthead.  Perhaps one day, if I have a blog with fewer images and embedded videos, we’ll meet again.  Au revoir!

 
Image: WordPress & Walking the Pattern under GPL

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