Sprucing up my WordPress Theme and Plugins a Bit

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I’ve been accused in the past (by Jamie) of being a little boring with this site. That’s code for being a luddite, I’m sure. It’s also true. I have been using the default WP theme since I started blogging, and only recently added a few plugins.

Well, tada, that’s all changed now. As of a few minutes ago, I decided to install a new theme. I guess I’d prefer it if this one had the same exact look, but had the two sidebars on the right side. I don’t care enough to peek at the code (yet), and I’m not sure I’ll stick with this theme, or play with some others, etc. At least, for now, I’m not on the default theme any longer.

So, while the full credits for this new theme appear at the footer of each page, let me also credit them in this post. I found the theme on Kate’s Theme Viewer site. The specific theme I downloaded is The Gladiator. The author of the theme is feeldesign/plannetworld.com.

On to plugins. I’m now running a few of them, and even using them. 😉

I run Akismet, which is included, and is fantastic. That said, two days ago, I installed WP-SpamFree by Scott Allen, aka WebGeek. The aim of this plugin is to stop automated comment spam from bots, not to flag human spam (which Akismet still does extremely well). To underscore the point, WP-SpamFree is meant to stop the spam, not mark it. So, I installed v1.0 and it seemed to work. Then I upgraded to 1.01, and it too seemed to work. However, I don’t get many legitimate comments, so I couldn’t be sure. Now I see he’s upgraded to 1.02 (which I’ve just installed while writing this paragraph), so we’ll see if 1.01 was blocking all comments.

I use simple-tags by Amaury Balmer for tag management.

I use google-sitemap-generator by Arne Brachhold to automatically generate Google Sitemap files.

I use Ultimate Google Analytics by Wilfred van der Deijl. This makes me laugh, because so few people read my blog (or visit the site in general), that tracking their behavior with Google Analytics is really a joke. Still, Google makes it brain-dead easy, and this plugin makes that statement even truer, so, why not? 😉

I use FeedSmith by FeedBurner (purchased by Google) to track what types of feed readers subscribe to this site. This is as funny as the above, for the same reasons…

Finally, just today, I added a single download which installs two related plugins, called Advanced Search and Advanced Search Lite by Alex Günsche.

OK, that’s it for now. Credit where credit is due. Now that the adventure bug has hit me, I might play a bit more, but I’m at least somewhat pleased with the current iteration. 🙂

So, I just previewed this post, and noticed some problems. The new theme has what I consider to be a layout bug. When I end a paragraph with a smiley or wink (an emoticon), because the graphic takes up more space than the new smaller font, it wraps, and the next paragraph starts indented. I don’t like it, and I’ll likely be doing something about it (like choosing a different theme) pretty soon…

I updated three plugins while writing this, as WP 2.3.1 informs you when a newer plugin is available (cool!) and I had to check the plugins page to report on which ones I was using. Unfortunately, the new simple-tags 1.2.2 release appears to have a bug. I want my tag cloud sorted by popularity always, and it’s now displaying randomly on each reload. Bummer…