I’ve Worn the Letters Off My Keyboard!

It’s been a long, long day at the keyboard! I’ve been an article-writing fool, finishing four articles for Thesis Theme Tools and a long one on Anxiety Sensitivity for my other blog, Anxiety, Panic & Health. Also spent some times making replies in the DIYthemes Forums, and other miscellaneous stuff. And… I went public with the blog, announcing it in Twitter and including it in my signature in the Forums. Anyway, I’ve got a lot done:

  • Finished the articles on setting up Google Custom Search and Google Analytics. Includes work in PhotoShop for the illustrations.
  • Wrote two articles on free FTP and text editor software for the Mac and Windows.
  • Wrote two other posts announcing the new articles.
  • Announced this new blog in Twitter and in the signature in the DIYthemes Forum.
  • Changed “Info” button to “Index” and created Index page. Made new button in PhotoShop.
  • Set up my 404 page — no gnarly dudes for me!

I’m about done for today, but my list for tomorrow includes:

  • Finish the article on Google Webmaster Tools setup.
  • Write articles on various Newbie topics, some already started.
  • Work on menu organization — I can see it will get out of hand if I don’t think about it now.

And as I have time and opportunity (and need a break):

  • Continue thinking and research what it would take to do video tutorials. Find out about post-processing and pro-con of storing on server or with a service like Vimeo.
  • Contact HostGator about some necessary server setting changes for enabling teaser images.
  • Bring into DEVONthink Thesis-related bookmarks from Safari.

Off to read a book, or do something, anything, not connected with the computer!

Free FTP Programs and Text Editors for Mac and Windows

New users will often try to get by with using their host’s cPanel software for file transfers and NotePad or TextEdit for editing the custom.css and custom_functions.php files. It’ll work, but it’s clunky and frustrating, at best.

There’s a better way. Two new articles just posted recommend free FTP and text editor programs for both the Mac and for Windows computers. These programs perform just as well as their paid counterparts and introduce a whole new level of productivity to the new Thesis user. The articles are:

Take a look!

New Tutorials: How to set up Google Custom Search and Google Analytics!

Google provides a number of great services for you and your site. Two of the most important are Google Custom Search, and Google Analytics.

The stock WordPress search function is pretty lame, and Google Custom Search far outstrips it in speed and depth of search. The new article, “Google Custom Search Setup,” gives you step-by-step instructions with many illustrations on how to get a Custom Search account, and how to implement it easily in your Thesis theme.

Everybody needs information on what’s going on with their site to plan and make decisions. Google Analytics is a very powerful tool that gives you what you need. “Google Analytics Setup” shows you how to set up a Google Analytics account in an easy-to-follow format with lots of illustrations.

Both these new articles are found in Tips under the “Google Services Setup” submenu.

P.S. Watch for an article on how to set up Google Webmaster Tools soon!

Hot Keys, and Content is Still King

Been really busy here in the Nichols Nuthouse, writing articles and code, and cleaning up various little odds and ends. My main thrust is to flesh out my beginning content so that there will be something here when I start advertising the site. So it’s hot-and-heavy on the keyboard for me!

Here’s what I’ve done so far since yesterday. Much of it wasn’t on my to-do list:

  • Wrote the Tutorial for Contextual Submenus.
  • Wrote the Tutorial on the Image Button Bar Menu/Submenu. I finally settled on a name for it, but I prefer to call it the Button Bar.
  • Set up the contact form with cformsII and changed field color.
  • Wrote the pages for the remaining dummy menu buttons: Tricks, Tips, Newbies, Resources, and Info.
  • Coded four different post announcement boxes for different purposes.
  • Updated the Sociable plugin’s opacity. I like it to be 70% rather than the stock 40%.
  • Researched other Related Posts plugins. Trouble is, most of them won’t work with pages, which is what this site will have the most of. Right now I’m sticking with Simple Tags just because it does pages, too.
  • Worked out an in-page call-to-action. These will actually be part of the page text, since I’ve yet to find a way to append them on selected pages only.
  • Worked on articles about how to set up Google Custom Search, Google Analytics, and Google Webmaster Tools while setting all three up for Thesis Theme Tools. Took screen shots, too.
  • Put Google Search into the sidebar, since I don’t know where else to put it right now. Also set up a search results page.
  • Found a way to display tags on the blog front page and on pages. Just check the box to display them on Archives in Thesis Options. Easy but unintuitive.

My to-do list hasn’t changed much since yesterday, since it has open-ended projects that will take a while to accomplish. Here ’tis:

  • Finish the articles on setting up Google Custom Search, Google Analytics, and Google Webmaster Tools. Includes preparing screenshots in PhotoShop.
  • Continue writing content, focusing on material I already have.
  • Continue more detailed planning of the menu tree.

And as I have time and opportunity (and need a break):

  • Continue thinking and research what it would take to do video tutorials. Find out about post-processing and pro-con of storing on server or with a service like Vimeo.
  • Contact HostGator about some necessary server setting changes for enabling teaser images.
  • Bring into DEVONthink Thesis-related bookmarks from Safari.

That’s all, folks!

Two New Menu System Tutorials for You!

I‘m proud to say that new articles on two different kinds of menus/submenus are up! They’re

I use the Button Bar for the main navigation of Thesis Themes Tools, with the Contextual Menu right under it. Right now, the best places to see them in action are under the “About” or “Tricks” buttons.

The Button Bar is composed entirely of images, with both a selected and an unselected state. You can have any kind of document in the Button Bar in any order you choose, unlike the Thesis nav menu. It can be used either as a main menu substitute for the Thesis navigation bar, or as a submenu.

The Contextual Submenu displays as a strip below the main menu, and changes according to the current menu item. Both of these menuing systems are easy to use and implement, and offer many possibilities for user-friendly navigation.

Take a look at these interesting and functional menuing systems! I’m sure they can enhance your site!

Content is King Despite Outrageous Storms

I‘ve accomplished quite a bit since yesterday, despite a violent storms outside and frequent power blips (thank goodness for the UPS!). Although I “knew” it, it’s still surprising how much work there is to do getting the site set up — much more than just making the theme look and work ok. As they say, content is king, and I’ve been busy preparing the beginning content so that people will have a reason to visit TTT.

Here’s what I’ve done so far since yesterday:

  • Fixed wp-config so WordPress saves no drafts. A “feature” that bloats the database.
  • Removed the line separating content and sidebar. Godhammer calls it a “laugh-line.”
  • Brought into DEVONthink all the wandering snippets of code and DIYthemes forums snippets on my hard disk. Got everything set up to write the pages and posts for TTT, as well as organizing future materials.
  • Started a color table in custom.css for all the colors I’ve used, plus my color scheme.
  • Worked on the footer to get the fonts larger in the copyright and attribution lines. Changed footer widget body plain text font colors to the same as what Thesis uses for links. Found that I can’t change footer widget body font sizes without messing their alignment up. Oh well.
  • Restored the Anxiety, Panic & Health widget I lost in The Move.
  • Started writing content, such as the landing page, the About page, and all the policy pages. Set them all up in contextual menus.
  • Built a yellow box for post announcements based on the color scheme.
  • Did some research on what it would take to do video tutorials. I already have the software. I just need a good microphone.

My basic goal for today’s work is to add to TTT’s starting content. I want to have the site up and running as soon as practical, and I need starting content to do that. I can add bells and whistles later.

Here’s my to-do list for today:

  • Continue more detailed planning of the menu tree.
  • Continue writing content, focusing on material I already have.
  • Replicate the tutorial on Contextual Submenus I lost in The Move.
  • Finish writing the tutorial on Button Bar Menu/Submenu. Still not satisfied with the name.

And as I have time and opportunity (and need a break):

  • Continue thinking and research what it would take to do video tutorials. Find out about post-processing.
  • Contact HostGator about some necessary server setting changes for enabling teaser images.
  • Find a way to display tags on the blog front page and on pages.
  • Bring into DEVONthink Thesis-related bookmarks from Safari.
  • Set up Google Custom Search for Thesis Theme Tools.
  • Decide where I want the search bar. I was thinking in the header, but it’s already pretty crowded. May just put it in the sidebar for right now. I do want to have a cute little spyglass, though.

That’s all folks! See you tomorrow!
©2009 Thesis Theme Tools. All rights reserved.

Fourth of July, El Stupido, and Wandering Snippets

Happy Fourth of July!
Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July! Most people take the day off and do the barbecue thing. I will do hot dogs at my best buddy’s house, but otherwise I’ll be plugging away here at the Nichols Nuthouse. My wife is in England and my daughter is doing her own thing, so I have the space to do what I want, which is plug away.

DEVONthink Pro – try it!

I set up a database in DEVONthink Pro for Thesis Theme Tools. Here I will keep my daily posts, along with all the code snippets and articles I clip. Not only a central repository, but searchable. It’s where I’ll write my posts, too. I’ve used DTP from the beginning for my other blog, Anxiety Panic & Health, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it for this blog — I wouldn’t have lost those posts if I had. Oh well.

Yesterday I do what I intended — life intervened — but I did get a few things done:

  • Got a FeedBurner account.
  • Set up an image-based subscribe by RSS and email, and Twitter images in a widget. I already had the images from before The Big Stupido, so it didn’t take long — ripped the code off from the Mom Talk Blog with 3 Kids and Us rather than exercise my rusty HTML table skills.
  • Refined the look by making the contextual menu and background behind the button bar black and cm text white. Not so garish. May make the border a different color, too.

Today I plan to (most of which are brought over from yesterday):

  • Bring all the wandering snippets of code into DTP — this may take a while, but necessary.
  • Start a color table in custom.css for all the colors I’ve used so far.
  • Set up Google Custom Search for Thesis Theme Tools.
  • Decide where I want the search bar. I was thinking in the header, but it’s already pretty crowded. May just put it in the sidebar for right now. I do want to have a cute little spyglass, though.
  • Work on the footer widgets more to get the fonts larger in the heading and body.
  • Restore the Anxiety, Panic & Health widget I lost in The Move.

And if I have time:

  • Do more detailed planning of the menu tree. I’ve decided not to make dummy pages for all my planned documents, because users would get irritated if they clicked on something and it was just a placeholder.
  • Replicate the tutorial on Contextual Submenus I lost in the move.
  • Finish writing the tutorial on Image-Based Menus/Submenus. Try to think up a better name for it. Button Bar Menu/Submenu?
  • Start writing content, such as the landing page and some content pages. I can take some of the latter from the DIY Snippets document where I keep some of the more common and/or long-winded replies on the DIYthemes Forum.
  • Think and research what it would take to do video tutorials.
  • Decide whether I want pictures on the blog and teasers. If I do, I need to contact HostGator about some necessary server setting changes for the teasers.

That’s it. See you tomorrow!

The Inevitable First Post

This is the fourth day I’ve had this blog, Thesis Theme Tools, but that is a lie. Actually, it’s the first day, and I had another one called Thesis Tools built off a subdomain of my main blog Anxiety, Panic & Health, for three days.

A dumb mistake

Let me explain: Just today I got the domain name for this blog and set it up. Stupid me erased the subdomain before I got everything moved over, though I did have copies of my custom.css, custom_functions.php, images, and an article I had written.. I lost all my Thesis settings, the first 3 days’ posts, and a couple of widgets, but I think I got off pretty clean for such a dumb move.

Anyway, in these 4 days you can see that I’ve got the basic setup done, my button images and header made, the fat footer in, and a few widgets. I decided not to try to replicate the posts, because you don’t want to read them, and I’ve got better things to do.

Fortunately, I have the whole day (mostly) to tinker with TTT. So far I’ve:
  • Set up the new domain, email, and installed WordPress 2.8 and Thesis 1.5.1.
  • Copied over the custom files, and found and copied the images I had made. Also did a search-and-replace on the domain name in my custom_functions.php file (145 of them!) so things wouldn’t break.
  • Made a new header image for TTT. It was the same size, so all I had to do is change the file name and it just worked — menu adjustments and all.
  • Made new dummy pages so my button bars will work.
  • Brought in some plugins and set them up.
Pretty good for 3 hours’ sleep, huh? So what’s to do after I take a nap? Here’s my list:
  • Finish this post and get it up.
  • Set up a FeedBurner account for Thesis Theme Tools.
  • Set up Google Custom Search for Thesis Theme Tools.
  • Decide where I want the search bar. I was thinking in the header, but it’s already pretty crowded. May just put it in the sidebar for right now. I do want to have a cute little spyglass, though.
  • Work on the footer widgets more to get the fonts larger in the heading and body.
  • Do my image-based RSS, email and Twitter for the sidebar that I lost. Fortunately, I’ve still got the images!
  • Do more detailed planning of the menu tree. I’ve decided not to make dummy pages for all my planned documents, because users would get irritated if they clicked on something and it was just a placeholder.
  • Replicate the tutorial on Contextual Submenus I lost in the move.
  • Finish writing the tutorial on Image-Based Menus/Submenus. Try to think up a better name for it. Button Bar Menu/Submenu?
  • Start writing content, such as the landing page and some content pages. I can take some of the latter from the DIY Snippets document where I keep some of the more common and/or long-winded replies on the DIYthemes Forum.
  • Think and research what it would take to do video tutorials.
  • Decide whether I want pictures on the blog and teasers. If I do, I need to contact HostGator about some necessary server setting changes for the teasers.

Is the design too garish and busy?

I’m concerned about the header. The design looked good as “Thesis Tools” but a bit crowded and busy using the same basic design for the current one. And I’m beginning to think that the whole color scheme looks a bit garish, what will all the different button colors. I actually do have a color scheme, and tried to get as close as I could to it with the button colors, but it’s hard when you have 8 of them. I’m still tinkering, so you may come back one day and it will be all different.

That’s enough for any day, especially since I need to spend some time on Anxiety, Panic & Health as well as visit the DIYthemes Forums a few times.
See you tomorrow!