Cool Stuff

The ThemeShaper WordPress Theme Tutorial: 2nd Edition

Back in June 2009, Ian Stewart wrote a fantastic tutorial called How To Create a WordPress Theme: The Ultimate WordPress Theme Tutorial. This tutorial proved very popular and useful for so many developers. So popular in fact, that a second edition has now just been launched. This tutorial consists on one lesson each day and uses Automattic’s Underscores (_s) as the starter theme.

If you’ve ever wanted to develop themes like an Automattician, now is your chance. Today’s first lesson entitled Develop Theme Sense covers what you need to know about WordPress themes and it’s file structure. It’s easier than you think and with the Automattic team behind you, it’s the perfect tutorial for anyone wanting to learn about theme building.

WordCamp Vancouver

Time is almost running out, WordCamp Vancouver 2012 is next Saturday, Oct 13th!
We have a jam packed day in store with 16 sessions, spread over 3 tracks. Talks from how to make your WordPress site mobile, to demystifying SEO, to building member sites, to developing properly with jQuery, to caching, to BuddyPress, and so much more! I’ll be giving a presentation about the WordPress community. If you want to learn how to get jobs, make friends and get involved, come check it out.

The whole day will be filled with talks for every level from beginner to advanced. So check out the schedule, and then grab your tickets.

Code Poet Interview

Code Poet has been around for a while and back in May I wrote that the site was now transformed form a directory to a full resources site. Code Poet is a great place to find quizzes, free e-books and interviews. Last week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Krista Stevens and the interview is now live. This articles focuses on my teaching rather than theme building, but if you’ve ever wanted to know why I love WordPress, check it out.

Releasing themes using underscores as a starting point

One of my year’s goal for 2012, was to release a theme in the WordPress theme repository. Releasing a theme is an easy enough thing to do as long as you follow all the guidelines and ensure that your theme meets all of the requirements. But the bar is set quite high. Although I’ve been building/creating themes for years now and average one a week, creating themes for the masses is a whole different ball game.

I unsuccessfully tried in 2010 and then got busy, so just keep “Adding a theme to the repo” on my teuxdeux list. Then a few months ago, Ian Stewart and his team at Automattic announced the release of _s theme.

This theme is the perfect starter theme for anyone wishing to create themes. It’s not meant to be used as a parent theme, but instead, it’s your foundation.

Knowing that Ian is an incredibly smart guy and that the theme had the Automattic stamp of approval, I proceeded to study it, poked around and came up with my very own theme – Stripay. Feel free to download it and check it out to see how it works. I also urge you, if you are a theme developer, to look at _s. It’s FREE for anyone to use and makes theming way easier.

PS: Why such a weird name? There’s a lot of themes in the repo. Stripes, stripey, were all taken, so I just started randomly choosing letters!

Intro to HTML & CSS with Ladies Learning Code

Have you ever wanted to learn HTML and CSS basics, but not sure what book to buy, what class to sign up to? One-day workshops are a great way to determine if indeed that $60 book or that one year programme is for you. Following a series of very successful workshops last year in Toronto, the Ladies Learning Code have announced two workshops right here in Vancouver. Sponsored by Simon Fraser University, the workshops will be offered Friday, August 24th & Saturday, August 25th from 10 am to 5 pm.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn, now is your chance. I’m thinking these tickets will sell out fast. Check it out.

Protect yourself and your site with strong passwords

In a previous blog post, I discussed my latest woes fighting hackers and spammers. Since then, I’ve discussed this situation with colleagues, did some more research and cleaned up many more hacked sites.

The biggest “Ah Ah” moment for me has been looking into password strength.  For the longest time, I used pretty easy to remember passwords, but with the use of 1 password, I no longer have to and can use incredibly long and difficult password.

If using such a tool is simply not an option for you, you might want to keep these rules in mind:

  • Use at least half a dozen letters. Mixed-case is good. Use random letters or uncommon acronyms only. Do not use words. If it’s in a dictionary… DON’T USE IT!
  • Use Numbers. At least a few integers (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). More is better.
  • Use Punctuation. Punctuation is essential in a strong password. WordPress will let you use pretty much any punctuation mark that you see on your keyboard.
  • Change your passwords a few times of year.
  • Do not use the same password as your username or part of the username.
  • Do not use your name, family members or pets names.
  • Take advantage of online password generator tools such as Strong Password Generator.

Avoid using these types of passwords at all times:

  • P@ssw0rd
  • BusinessName123
  • may191968
  • 4257770707
  • admin

Finally if you’re more of a visual person, here’s a comic strip that explains password strength.

WordPress Resources by Code Poet

This weekend at WordCamp Seattle, I was pleased to hear that Automattic has revamped their Code Poet website. What used to be a directory of top-notched WordPress developers, is now a resources for anyone who uses WordPress to make websites.

There are loads of tutorials and WordPress how-to out there. Do we really need another? The difference with Code Poet, is that all the resources found here are written, published or recommended by Automatticians. So you can be sure that it’s the best info.

I myself had a lot of fun last night taking the WordPress quiz. I failed to get the Master ranking, but Expert is pretty good. I’ll have to review those questions I missed.

But before that, I’ll be reviewed one of their first eBooks, “Getting Pricing Right“.

Oh and in case you were wondering, yes, it’s all FREE.

Three ways to give your WordPress site a full screen background image

New design techniques are popping up everyday and now that there are less bandwidth issues, designers have been incorporating full screen background images in their design more and more.

If you wanted to do that yourself but didn’t know how, here are a few techniques ranging from super-easy to advanced.

Super easy plugin solution

The Simple Full Screen Background Image WordPress plugin allows you to easily upload and set a full screen image as the background of your website. Once installed and activated, you’ll see in your Appearance section a new area called, Fullscreen BG Image. You can then browse for your image, upload it and insert it like you would for a blog post. Once uploaded, the plugin will do the rest and make sure that it re-sizes to fit your browser. You may need to play with the size and resolution, but using this plugin couldn’t be easier.

Read more…

A five year old’s take on branding.

Companies spend thousands of dollars on branding and logos. Ohio-based identity designer Adam Ladd showed his 5-year-old daughter popular logos and asked her to comment on them. Some of these are most likely familiar to her and thus her comments aren’t surprising, but others are very interesting. This video reminds us that we can learn so much from children.