New book on WordPress Theme Development: WordPress Themes In Depth
Jeff Starr
Author Archive

Switching from PC to Mac

I finally made the switch from PC to Mac. My previous machine was an old Sony Vaio purchased in 2005. It was top of the line then, and actually worked great until about a year ago, when it inevitably began dying a slow, complicated death. The time to finally buy a new computer was fast approaching.. Read more »

Notes on Switching Servers

Switching servers & migrating sites can be a HUGE deal (or not), depending on things like: Number of sites to transfer Size and complexity of sites Who is hosting your sites Experience I recently did this, switching from a 3-year run at ASO to my new home at Media Temple. Total of 24 properties, with WordPress running on around 10 sites. Past experience with VPS servers really had me paranoid about running out of memory. A few years ago, Perishable Press alone gobbled up 256MB of RAM at WiredTree, so add another 23 sites on top of that and needless […] Read more »

Switching to New Server

Just a note that PerishablePress.com will be migrating to its new home at Media Temple. Thanks for your patience as the DNS propagates. If you encounter anything seriously weird, like unexpected errors or anything, please comment on this post or send an email. As always, thank you for your help. Okay – here goes nothin’! Read more »

Canonical URLs and Subdomains with Plesk

I am in the process of migrating my sites from A Small Orange to Media Temple. Part of that process involves canonicalizing domain URLs to help maximize SEO strategy. At ASO, URL canonicalization required just a few htaccess directives: # enforce no www prefix <ifmodule mod_rewrite.c> RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^domain\.tld$ [NC] RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://domain.tld/$1 [R=301,L] </ifmodule> When placed in the web-accessible root directory’s htaccess file, that snippet will ensure that all requests for your site are not prefixed with www. There’s also a force-www technique if that’s how you roll. Either way, the point is that on most shared hosting, URL […] Read more »

Recent Drama, News, and Other Stuff

Okay so it’s been awhile. That’s a good thing because it means I’m busy. But it also sucks because life moves too fast to blog about everything that happens. Especially with web design: you get started blogging about your discoveries, and then you find yourself learning and doing too much to post or tweet about even just the big stuff. But now I have some time to write and share some of the awesome and insane things that have happened since my boring 2009 personal update. So much has happened since then but I will try to stay focused because […] Read more »

HTTP Headers for ZIP File Downloads

You know when you you’re working on a project and get stuck on something, so you scour the Web for solutions only to find that everyone else seems to be experiencing the exact same thing. Then, after many hours trying everything possible, you finally stumble onto something that seems to work. This time, the project was setting up a secure downloads area for Digging into WordPress. And when I finally discovered a solution, I told myself that it was definitely something I had to share here at Perishable Press. Apparently, there is much to be desired when it comes to […] Read more »

Latest Blacklist Entries

Recently cleared several megabytes of log files, detecting patterns, recording anomalies, and blacklisting gross offenders. Gonna break it down into three sections: User Agents Character Strings IP Addresses User Agents User-agents come and go, and are easily spoofed, but it’s worth a few lines of htaccess to block the more persistent bots that repeatedly scan your site with malicious requests. # Nov 2010 User Agents SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent “MaMa ” keep_out SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent “choppy” keep_out SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent “heritrix” keep_out SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent “Purebot” keep_out SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent “PostRank” keep_out SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent “archive.org_bot” keep_out SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent “msnbot.htm)._” keep_out <limit GET POST PUT> Order Allow,Deny […] Read more »

Importing WordPress Users via CSV Files

I recently did some time in Microsoft Excel, preparing large CSV files for import into WordPress. Each of these CSV files contained data for 1000 WordPress users. Here is a screenshot showing the structure of the file: Conceptually, the idea is simple: import the data to create actual users for a WordPress-powered site. The trick is to clean the data as much as possible to ensure valid username and password information. Once the data is good, importing is easy using a plugin. Here is a step-by-step tutorial that combines WordPress and Excel techniques to register users en masse from a […] Read more »

Target iPhone and iPad with CSS3 Media Queries

When designing a website, it’s always a good idea to test on as many different platforms, devices, and browsers as possible. These days, pimping your websites for the iPhone and iPad is an important step in the design process. Especially on the iPad, sites tend to look about 20% cooler than on desktop browsers, so you definitely want to take the time to fine-tune the details. And when dealing with iDevices, it’s often necessary to deliver some custom CSS to make everything just right. Want to apply CSS styles to the iPad and iPhone? Here is the plug-n-play, copy-&-paste code […] Read more »

Print Version of Digging into WordPress 3.0

Just a note to let everyone know about the new printed editions of Digging into WordPress 3.0. This is the latest version of DiW, featuring revamped core content, new graphics, popouts and asides, as well as a new chapter devoted entirely to WordPress 3.0. It’s certainly packed with WordPress goodness, with nearly 450 pages of practical, hands-on tips, tricks, and information. The PDF is awesome, but seeing it all printed up in full color on quality paper and heavy, glossy card-stock cover is enough to make you drool: Read more »

How to Deal with Content Scrapers

Chris Coyier of CSS-Tricks recently declared that people should do “nothing” in response to other sites scraping their content. I totally get what Chris is saying here. He is basically saying that the original source of content is better than scrapers because: it’s on a domain with more trust. you published that article first. it’s coded better for SEO than theirs. it’s better designed than theirs. it isn’t at risk for serious penalization from search engines. If these things are all true, then I agree, you have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, that’s a tall order for many sites on […] Read more »

Country, Regional, and State Abbreviations

Creating dropdown menus for web forms is such a fun way to spend the afternoon. One of the funnest things for me is adding all of the regional, state, and country codes when they’re required. Here are a few lists to make my web-dev life a little easier. Here’s a quick jump menu: Country and Regional Abbreviations US State Abbreviations US States Download as plain text file Read more »

Digging into WordPress Version 3.0

It’s here! Digging into WordPress Version 3.0 is packed with goodness, including a new chapter on WP3, updated core content, and a super-sleek new cover. DiW3 cover by Chris Coyier Updated Core Material Much has changed with WordPress since our previous book update (v2), so for version 3.0 we went through the book and updated/removed outdated core content. Everything is now hot-wired and fine-tuned to the latest version of WordPress, with new popouts and fresh links throughout the book. Here’s a shot from one of the updated core pages (a flow-chart for page templates – more graphic wizardry from Chris!): […] Read more »

Lessons Learned after 5 Years of Blogging

This Fall, I celebrate five years of blogging. I have written tons of web development stuff at Perishable Press, lots of helpful WordPress stuff at Digging into WordPress, some creative/artistic stuff at Dead Letter Art, jQuery stuff at jQuery Mix, and some business-related web-design stuff at Monzilla Media. Plus a bunch of interviews, guest posts, and other blogging projects. So yeah, lots of blogging and writing during the past five years. And they just flew by. Despite what the haters may say, there are some tangible benefits to blogging. As I write, I continue to learn a great deal – […] Read more »

2010 User-Agent Blacklist

Update: Check out the new and improved 2013 User Agent Blacklist! The 2010 User-Agent Blacklist blocks hundreds of bad bots while ensuring open-access for the major search engines: Google, Bing, Ask, Yahoo, et al. Blocking bad user-agents is an effective addition to any security strategy. It works like this: your site is getting hammered by rogue bots that waste valuable server resources and bandwidth. So you grab a copy of the 2010 UA Blacklist from Perishable Press, include it in your site’s root .htaccess file, and enjoy a more secure and better performing website. It’s that easy. Proven Security The […] Read more »

Best Method for Email Obfuscation?

Awhile ago, Silvan Mühlemann conducted a 1.5 year experiment whereby different approaches to email obfuscation were tested for effectiveness. Nine different methods were implemented, with each test account receiving anywhere from 1800 to zero spam emails. Here is an excerpt from the article: When displaying an e-mail address on a website you obviously want to obfuscate it to avoid it getting harvested by spammers. But which obfuscation method is the best one? I drove a test to find out. After reading through the article and its many findings, here are what seem to be the best methods for obfuscating email […] Read more »

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